Katherine Soll, CEO/Director. Kathy Soll believes that all New Yorkers should be committed to ending hunger, food insecurity and poor nutrition in one of the world’s greatest cities and that connecting youth to this mission and each other is a critical part of achieving that goal. Teens for Food Justice was built on the concept that hands-on volunteering and helping others builds character and creates a unique level-playing field where people of all backgrounds can contribute equally through hard work and commitment, something hard to find in an increasingly polarized, stratified world. She also believes that a service is a powerful tool for tapping young people’s talents, resources, and abilities, helping them flourish and work productively with others, and that youth who help solve social problems become more positive, engaged, hopeful adults who remain active throughout their lives on behalf of social change. Prior to forming Students for Service in 2010, Kathy raised and educated two children in New York City’s public and independent school systems, serving in various leadership capacities within their schools’ PTAs and other community organizations. A lifelong New Yorker, she has also worked in the for-profit sector in management and marketing.
Harrison Hillier, Hydroponics Manager. Harrison graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in 2013, before doing further coursework at NC State. At these institutions, he gained hands-on experience and insight into both soil-based and vertical hydroponic farming techniques. He has over four years of experience designing indoor vertical hydroponic systems and developing commercial grade methodology for crop management from seed to harvest in greenhouses and indoor farms.
Clare Hyre, Program Manager. Clare graduated from Guilford College with a double major in Peace and Conflict Studies and Religious Studies in 2008. After graduating and prior to joining Teens for Food Justice, Clare apprenticed on several small-scale CSA farms, as well as managed several farm education programs and farmers’ markets. In 2016 Clare graduated from New York University’s Food Studies Master’s Program, where she studied the intersection of food systems and social justice. Clare is thrilled to bring her experiences in working with youth, building sustainable food systems, and strengthening communities in New York City to Teens for Food Justice.
Joshua Serrano, Development and Communications Manager. Joshua received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in May 2016. Before joining the TFFJ Team, Joshua was an Americorps Public Ally at Fair Chance, where his work focused on partner communications and new partner outreach, and a Research Assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he worked on the Criminalization of Poverty Project, focused on the growing ways in which those in poverty are disproportionately targeted, marginalized, and prosecuted. He is from Brooklyn, New York and spent time as an undergraduate studying in Vietnam and Washington DC. He also is a former New Economy Maryland Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.
Taylor Pate, Advocacy & Community Engagement Coordinator. Taylor graduated from Hendrix College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Politics. During that time, Taylor worked for various non-profit organizations such as Heifer International and The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance on addressing local and global food insecurity through agriculture and nutrition education and food policy. In 2017, Taylor received an M.S. in Food Security and Development from the University of Reading in Reading, UK, where she also carried out research studying the impacts of gender mainstreaming in urban food systems. After graduation, she moved to New York City to work with Slow Food USA on their national policy and advocacy efforts. Taylor looks forward to further integrating food justice and public policy themes into the TFFJ programming and providing students with tools to increase their own confidence in becoming community advocates.
Jena Chakour, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Americorps Public Ally. Jena earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas. During off campus studies in Washington, D.C. she interned with the United States Congress as part of the NTDC program and completed the US STARTALK program learning Mandarin. Jena also studied in Costa Rica as part of the Emerald Eagle Applied Sustainability program, where she focused on food access and quality. Additional internships include a summer at Good Roots organic farm where her work focused on farming methods, and work in emerging technologies and public relations.
Matthew Horgan, Curriculum Writer. Matthew graduated from SUNY Binghamton University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree and from St. Edward’s University with a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, where he studied in Texas, France, and Costa Rica.
He is passionate about environmental education and maintains a person blog, SustainEveryone.com, about sustainable food systems. Lastly, he is an amateur hydroponic gardener, who spent some time over the past year taking introductory classes on hydroponic systems and constructing a deep-water culture hydroponic system in his apartment to grows leafy greens and herbs. He hopes to continue working at the intersection of hydroponic systems and environmental education in the future.
Alyssa Vazquez, Farm Manager, Urban Assembly Unison School. Alyssa joined Teens For Food Justice as a member of its first teen volunteer team in fall 2013 and returned as a mentor the following year. She is currently in her fourth year of college at Brooklyn College, where she is majoring in Urban Sustainability with a concentration in Environmental Science. She is involved with Ecology clubs at Brooklyn College and volunteers at the aquaponic greenhouse on campus in the Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center, or AREAC. She also spends her summers teaching high school students about gardening and environmental sustainability at Brooklyn College.
Erika Nillo, Farm Manager, Dewitt Clinton HS. Erika is from a small town in Wisconsin and has experience with administrative work, working with children as a nanny and instructor, management in the restaurant industry, yoga and meditation. She’s passionate about creating change and inspiring people in any way she possibly can. She leads by example with her own health and fitness goals along with acting through kindness in all situations. She’s easy to approach and cooperative. All her life she’s been a people person with communication skills both personal and professional; which she attributes to growing up in a large family surrounded by various types of personalities and a wide range of age groups. Giving Erika a platform and tool to guide her while working with people. Her hobbies include reading, music, writing and the arts.
Taylor Gordon, Farm Manager, Brownsville Collaborative Middle School. Taylor is an East New York, Brooklyn native, and began working as a youth farm leader at East New York farms at age 14. As a community gardener, he is dedicated to the fight for better access to fresh produce in his community and has worked on developing community gardens in formerly vacant lots. Taylor is also an audio engineer; he graduated in 2009 from Recording Connection in New York City. He believes in community-based solutions and using food justice and music to usher in positive changes.
Debbie Chan, Communications Intern. Debbie Chan is a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she studies Philosophy and minors in Digital Media, Journalism and Sociology. In addition to her work as a communications intern at TFFJ, Debbie is Photo Editor for The John Jay Sentinel, her school’s newspaper, and serves as the Executive Marketer on her Student Council. She is dedicated to being a ripple in the waves of change around food insecurity by informing and educating others about this important issue.
Tiffany Silverio, CUNY Service Corps Intern. Tiffany is currently a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College studying Writing and Literature. In addition to being a CUNY Service Corps member and intern at Teens For Food Justice, Tiffany works with her local food bank and serves her community through the church pantry.
Matheus Carvalho De Godoy, CUNY Service Corps Intern. Originally from Brazil, Matheus lives in New York and studies Criminal Justice at John Jay College. As a member of the CUNY Service Corps, Matheus is working with Teens For Food Justice to promote nutrition education and farm development.