Katherine Soll, CEO/President. Kathy Soll founded Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) because she is a lifelong New Yorker, who cares deeply about her city. She watched with dismay and alarm as resources, including basics like good healthy food, became more inequitably distributed across neighborhoods and less available to lower-income communities, particularly those of color. TFFJ tackles this problem by empowering youth as 21st-century, school-based urban farmers who grow large quantities of produce for their food-insecure communities, and who serve as nutrition educators/advocates changing the “foodscape” of our city and leading themselves and others towards healthier futures. TFFJ’s multi-faceted approach offers more than a technologically-advanced solution to affordable fresh food access in neighborhoods that need it; where the organization is laying the foundation for a sustainable youth-led social movement that will close the alarming gaps in food access, health, and opportunity between lower-and upper-income communities in NYC and beyond.
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, Office Operations and Finance 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.
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.
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 on developing STEM curriculum around urban farming, hydroponics, advocacy, and food justice. 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 started a blog to practice his writing skills, to raise awareness around these issues, and to explore the solutions (SustainEveryone.com). He recently relaunched his blog in recognition of the need to expose the racist systems that produce environmental injustices. The relaunch of Sustain Everyone is exploring how marginalized communities share the disproportionate number of environmental burdens (and very few environmental benefits) that contribute to poor health conditions and lower quality of life. This exploration will look at how racism, on all levels, created and upholds segregation of black and white communities historically and today (particularly in housing and education), widening disparities among people, and thwarting our mutual interest of environmental and social well-being.
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.
Renae Cairns, Advocacy and Community Engagement Manager. Renae is committed to working at the intersection of sustainable agriculture and equity. Renae graduated from Davidson College with a degree in anthropology in 2014. She has since worked for organizations fighting for food justice, small-scale sustainable farms, innovative food businesses as well as managed a farm-based education program for high school students and young adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. Renae is excited to return to their home state and support TFFJ’s work of ending food insecurity and cultivating food justice in New York City.
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.
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!
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.
Empowering Teens • Feeding Communities • Building a Healthy Sustainable Future