Associate Vice President
Urban Agriculture/Windy City Harvest
In more than 12 years with the Chicago Botanic Garden, Angela Mason has grown the urban farming/Windy City Harvest program from one site to 13 throughout Cook and Lake Counties. She has managed Windy City Harvest from its second year through the development of the certificate program with the City Colleges of Chicago, developed a transitional jobs program and a partnership with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and developed the incubator farm program, supported by the USDA. Mason administers the sustainable urban agriculture training and production programs, manages federal and state funding for these programs, and directs a staff of 15 full-time and 64 seasonal and part-time employees, including interns and justice-involved youth participants. She regularly evaluates and enhances programs, adapts curricula, pursues expanded partnerships, develops job opportunities, investigates new marketing and business opportunities, and works with allies in urban agriculture to address food security issues within Chicago and beyond. Mason is a certified National Foundation for Teaching Young Entrepreneurs instructor and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Harold Washington College. She has been honored as an Environmental Hero by the lieutenant governor of Illinois. Mason serves on the board of OAI, Inc. and was recently appointed by the governor to the Illinois Workforce Investment Board. Mason graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor of science in plant and soil science and a master’s of science in plant, soil, and general agriculture.
Urban Youth Programs Director
Eliza Fournier has served in the Windy City Harvest department for more than 10 years. In that time, she has helped more than 200 communities and schools plan and implement gardens in their neighborhoods, and she now oversees the operations of all four Youth Farm sites. Fournier earned her bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and her master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University, where she concentrated in urban management. Lately, she has been seen presenting a variety of gardening topics during regular appearances on Chicago Tonight.
Director of Operations
Kelly Larsen joined the Windy City Harvest team in 2008. She oversees production and operations at all farms as well as the Windy City Harvest Corps and Incubator program. Before joining the Chicago Botanic Garden, Larsen managed the herb and vegetable departments at Gethsemane Garden Center and worked with the Talking Farm in Evanston. She has a degree in environmental studies from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and is a certified Roots of Success Environmental Literacy instructor as well as a TreeKeeper. Larsen is honored to be a part of creating access to sustainable food-system employment and seeing the amazing work Windy City Harvest graduates continue to do after completing their programs.
Rafael Arredondo completed the Apprenticeship program in 2010; previously, he had worked in the steel industry. Arredondo officially joined the team as a staff member in 2011 to install the Kraft Corporate Campus garden which he coordinated for 3 years and then went on to run the Rodeo Farm for 2 years. Currently, he can be found checking in on production at any of the 13 farm sites, turning compost, and whistling at early hours in the greenhouse to classic rock. He also runs his own business called Frances' Edible Landscaping.
Lake County Youth Farm
Audrey Brinkers first started growing food in her hometown of Indianapolis, where she planted a garden in the bed of her pickup truck in a naïve and hopeful attempt to fix global hunger. Still relatively naïve and hopeful, she now has a bit more experience, going on to work with various urban farms, food sovereignty organizations, and environmental education groups. Brinkers joined the Windy City Harvest team in 2014 as a summer intern and now works as the coordinator for the Lake County Youth Farm. She graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in biology; she loves amateur bird watching, munching on fresh veggies, and playing 16-inch softball with her students.
PCC Wellness Community Farm Coordinator
Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship
Britt Calendo joined the Chicago Botanic Garden for the 2014 growing season. She started working in Harvest Corp as the compost crew leader. Calendo currently coordinates an 8,000-square-foot community farm in the Austin neighborhood in collaboration with PCC Wellness Family Health Center. PCC Community Farm's goal is to increase access to affordable and naturally grown produce in Austin through a weekly farm stand, health education, and an allotment garden. In her role, she leads her crew in managing, creating, and learning about compost. Before working at Windy City Harvest, Calendo interned with Gateway Greening-City Seeds Urban Farm with their therapeutic horticulture program. Also, she earned her master's degree in social work from St. Louis University in 2014. She is passionate about mixing her background in social work and public health with sustainable urban agriculture.
Kris De la Torre
Urban Garden Lab & Sustainable Urban Agriculture Short Courses
Kris De la Torre started with Windy City Harvest in 2016 as an apprentice in their 9-month Urban Agriculture Certificate program. One year later she joined the Windy City Harvest staff as the Urban Garden Lab and Sustainable Urban Agriculture Short Courses Coordinator. Kris brings experience in non-profit communications, advocacy in food equity, youth education and sustainable farming to her role with WCH. She feels passionately about helping others make connections between their food, the environment, our local communities and individual wellness. She has degrees in Art History and Spanish from Lake Forest College and certificates from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City for Culinary Nutrition as well as certificates from Windy City Harvest programs in Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Entrepreneurship for Food Business.
Windy City Harvest
Kate Gannon joined Windy City Harvest in September 2012 as an intern through Loyola University Chicago's School of Social Work, and she was hired as the program assistant in 2013. Gannon helped Windy City Harvest develop both a resource tool kit for the transitional jobs program and a referral network that Windy City Harvest can use for transitional employees and students. She is a licensed social worker and works with the Corps crews, referring them to community-based services as needed. She works with the Corps and Apprenticeship students during Roots of Success, teaching and leading job-development activities such as resumé and cover-letter writing, and mock interviews.
Windy City Harvest Corps
Joan Hopkins was born and raised in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. She is a certified carpenter and worked in carpentry, sales, and housekeeping before working for Windy City Harvest. She enrolled in the pilot Windy City Harvest class, joined the staff as a grower after graduating in 2007, and was promoted to her current position as the Windy City Harvest Corps coordinator; previously, beginning in 2009, she ran the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center. A certified Roots of Success instructor, Hopkins teaches the environmental literacy curriculum to all Windy City Harvest participants. As coordinator, she leads crew leaders and transitional jobs participants on farm tasks and still leads all Windy City Harvest hoophouse construction projects.
Washington Park Youth Farm
Rachel Kimpton, the Washington Park Youth Farm Coordinator, has one foot firmly planted in outdoor education and the other in museums. Before joining Windy City Harvest in 2017, she worked as an educator with science organizations and museums. She received her Masters in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016, focusing her research on the dynamic intersection of science, art, and education present within gardens. When she's not working with youth and farming, she loves to cook for her friends, go on bike-ventures through the city, play boardgames, and develops public programs through her side project Museum Game Night.
Legends South Incubator Coordinator
Windy City Harvest
Paul Krysik is a Chicago native. While working on a bachelor's degree in law and environmental studies at Oberlin College, he became involved in local food policy and practice. He began organic farming in Ohio, and then moved onto a two-year fellowship at the Allegheny Mountain Institute. In early 2015, Paul joined the Windy City Harvest team as a Harvest Corps Crew Leader. He is now into his seventh season of agricultural study and practice. Paul now coordinates and manages the Legends South Farm and Incubator Program, a two-acre incubator farm site in Bronzeville, where he mentors new agricultural businesses aspirations of Windy City Harvest graduates and grows crops for Midwest Foods, a local produce wholesale company. Paul is certified as a Roots of Success instructor, G.A.P. Handler, ServSafe Food Handler, in O.S.H.A Fall Protection, and in Windy City Harvest’s Aquaponics.
Windy City Harvest
Rosario Maldonado graduated from Windy City Harvest's nine-month Apprenticeship program in the class of 2013 and has been on staff since as Sales Coordinator. She coordinates produce sales and aggregation for the majority of the urban Windy City Harvest sites. She oversees quality control of harvests and efficiency of deliveries. She feels the most passionate about produce distribution through our Veggie Rx program and participating in the Food as Medicine movement.
Windy City Harvest
Andy McGhee had retired before joining Windy City Harvest as a volunteer in late 2011. With a lifelong interest in biology and natural systems, and an interest in alternative uses of resources within the modern urban environment, he now focuses on alternative and experimental growing technologies which may be adapted to future urban agriculture enterprises. He designs and builds aquaponics systems for the Windy City Harvest program, and manages the daily operation of the program’s aquaponics system. McGhee teaches one day seminars in the theory, design, and practical management of aquaponics systems as well as instructing the Windy City Harvest industry specific certificate course in Aquaponic Production, with sessions offered in both the spring and fall.
Windy City Harvest Entreprenuership & Careers
Micheal Newman-Brooks is the instructor for the 14-week Business and Entrepreneurship for Local Foods course. She completed the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship Program in 2015 because of her passion for environmental and food justice! Her 12+ years experience in non and for profit businesses include Marketing and Advertising, Project Management, Construction Escrow, Investments, Finance and Accounting. She serves as Chief Financial Officer of Canaan Community Redevelopment Corporation in the Englewood Community as well as partnering with several local urban gardens and community organizations. Micheal earned a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and Accounting from University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne Indiana. Micheal is married to Jonathan and has two daughters.
North Lawndale Youth Farm
A graduate of the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program in 2014, Sam Vergara will be working out of the North Lawndale Youth Farm coordinating a ¼-acre farm with up to 20 local youth between the ages of 15 to 18. A Chicago native from the Little Village neighborhood, Vergara looks forward to demonstrating general agricultural practices as well as exposing youth to their literal roots. He previously worked for the Student Conservation Association, managing youth program in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and local projects in Chicago neighborhoods.
Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship
Tim Wilson is a farmer and biologist from Illinois who has worked with different urban and rural communities to expand alternative agriculture enterprises and train new farmers. Tim has a Bachelor’s degree in Agroecology from Sterling College in Vermont, and did his graduate work examining the effect of plant nutrition on a forest disease at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Tim has managed profitable vegetable production and community gardens in Chicago on city property since 2003. He moved and built gardens for free leases and utilities on abandoned lots as the Director of the Resource Center's City Farm for five years. He also taught and employed youth and adults to sell their city-grown produce to Chicago restaurants and institutions, as well as at sliding scale farm stands in each gardens' neighborhood. Tim taught the Sustainability course at Kendall College for two years, and enjoys working with forestry and farming projects in Illinois and throughout the country.