Katherine Soll, CEO/President. 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.
Gabrielle Mosquera, Deputy Director. Gabrielle has worked at the intersection of public education and equity issues for the past 13 years. Before joining TFFJ she held development roles at PowerMyLearning and Turnaround for Children, nonprofits that provide educational technology and trauma-informed classroom practices to district-run public schools, respectively. She also worked as a Senior Director within the NYC DOE’s Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships, where she monitored and evaluated the academic, organizational, and operational performance of 23 network-affiliated and independent charter schools. Additionally, she worked in new school development at the Newark Charter School Fund, where she helped launch two charter schools, and at EdisonLearning, Inc., where she managed proposals for new and renewed charter schools as well as for supplemental education services. She currently serves as the Founding Board Chair at LEEP Dual Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, and is a high school mentor through the iMentor program. Gabrielle earned a BS in Journalism with honors from Boston University, and is currently earning her Executive MPA from Baruch College.
Cherech Allam, Bookkeeper and Office Manager. Cherech is an accountant with experience in both for-profit and non-profit accounting spanning more than 10 years. Her background includes working as an analyst for the largest Non-profit Media company in the Midwest, coordinating the Financial Literacy Program at Women Initiative for Self-Empowerment and leading the Non-Freight department in the US for Canadian Pacific Railway. She became excited about agriculture as part of an immigrant farming program at Big River Farms located on Marine on St. Croix, MN. She relocated from Minneapolis, MN to NYC and holds a MS in Accountancy from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
David Goldstein, Farm Operations Manager. David is a hydroponicist that provides expertise in farm management, system design, and horticulture. Combining his passions for food and technology, David uses controlled environment agriculture to emulate the farm-to-table lifestyle he experienced while working on small farms in the US and Italy. After moving to New York City, he managed hydroponic farms for a multitude of non-profit and private organizations ranging from community food pantries to Michelin starred restaurants. Now David is engaging educational and high-tech industry members to optimize production in urban food deserts. He holds a BA in Psychology from Brandeis University and MS in Organizational Behavior from NYU.
Harrison Hillier, Senior Hydroponic Systems 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.
Joshua Serrano, Senior Marketing and Development 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.
Debbie Chan, Communications and Development Associate. Debbie graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Spring 2019, where she majored in Philosophy, Digital Media & Journalism, and Sociology. As a former copy editor for the John Jay Sentinel and Executive Marketer for Student Council, she found that it is not enough to just be informed about issues and strives to change the system for the better, especially under topics about education and food. She wants to be a ripple in the waves of change around food insecurity by informing and educating others about this important issue.
Matthew Horgan, STEM Programming & School Partnership Manager. Matthew began as a mentor with Teens for Food Justice’s after-school program, was later hired as a part-time curriculum writer, and now works as the Senior Curriculum Development and Training Coordinator, where he writes curriculum and trains teachers and staff around the hydroponic systems in the classroom. He was born and raised in Rockaway Beach, NYC, and he graduated from SUNY Binghamton University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Studies and St. Edwards University with a Professional Science Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development. His studies of the environmental field brought him to Upstate New York, Texas, France, Vermont, and Costa Rica. During this time, he grew excited about urban agriculture’s potential for environmental sustainability and potential to deliver healthy and nutritious food to people living in cities. He also became aware of the powerful tool writing has in depicting the environmental challenges of our time and began a blog to practice his writing skills (SustainEveryone.com). His intention with the blog is to explore the impacts of our actions on human health and wildlife, and to discuss solutions that consider the well-being of people and the natural world.
Kendra Lathan-Ciernik, Program and Communications Engagement Associate [Manhattan/Brooklyn].
Kendra studied Political Science and Journalism at the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. Since then, she began tutoring and mentoring youth to help them achieve their educational goals, and that has led her to many grassroots organizations that helped her understand the essence of helping struggling communities and in any way she could. Her skills and knowledge reflect her diverse background in many areas that include finance, advertising/marketing, and production management.
Michael Sterenberg, Hydroponic Farmer-Educator, Martin Luther King Educational Campus. A New York City native, Michael graduated in 2017 from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Upon graduating, he began working in New York’s restaurant industry, gaining service experience at some of the city’s best fine dining restaurants including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Eleven Madison Park. Inspired by the scale, reach and influence of the top restaurants, he became passionate and curious about learning how food can be leveraged to create change in larger social and environmental contexts, leading to his discovery of TFFJ. He is very excited to be working with students on the farm, and believes it is a tremendous introduction into the world of sustainability and health. In his free time, Michael enjoys playing basketball, reading books in coffee shops, and fermenting all types of food!
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.
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. As a senior in college, she is currently majoring in Environmental Science and Geology. She is involved with Ecology and Sustainability clubs at her school and volunteers at the aquaponic greenhouse on campus. She spends her summers teaching high school students about gardening, environmental justice, and sustainability and is also involved in Participatory Budgeting efforts in Brooklyn.
Deanne Brown, Communications and Development CUNY Service Corps Intern. Deanne currently attends New York City College of Technology where she majors in Architectural Technology. She wishes to develop marketing and designing skills, plans to incorporate her previous experiences in fundraising and outreaching to inspire and engage audiences in health education and advocate for food security for all in NYC and beyond. Deanne also enjoys volunteer beach clean-ups, reading, and learning new things.
Aiman Satter, Communications and Development CUNY Service Corps Intern. Born and raised in Queens, Aiman is a junior at Queens College where he studies Economics with a minor in Business and Liberal Arts. He has experience working with SEO tools such as Google Analytics and Ahrefs in addition to presenting to executives like CFOs and CISOs to communicate effective solutions. Fascinated by the rise in urban farming, he is excited to contribute his skills to the TFFJ mission while expanding his own knowledge of hydroponic farming. He enjoys going to comedy events, journaling, and exploring New York.
Brandon Smith, Farm and Program Assistant CUNY Service Corps Intern. Brandon is a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice studying Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Law. Born and raised in the Bronx, he understands what food inequity, discrimination, and injustice feel and look like. As an aspiring civil rights lawyer, he has a deep passion for social justice and plans to use his role as a CUNY Service Corps intern to give back to communities in need and fight for more access to healthier food options. Brandon is looking forward to assisting students in maintaining the Sun Club/TFFJ Hydroponic Farm at DeWitt Clinton HS, which supplies food to the school’s cafeteria and surrounding community.