Matt Ryan, Farm Operations Manager
Matt Ryan has been involved in urban agriculture and community gardening for over 7 years. In 2012 he graduated from the Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Sustainable Urban Agricultural Certificate Program. In 2012 was hired as the Assistant Farm Manager at The Talking Farm along with managing the ETHS school garden the “Edible Acre”. In 2015 he became the Talking Farms Operations Manager and has since been working to further develop both the educational and production capacities of the organization.
Susanna Lohmar, Assistant Farm Operations Manager
Susanna Lohmar graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.S. in Environmental Science, with a concentration in Food Systems. Susanna has been farming for three years, working at Radical Root Organic Farm, a 13-acre farm, Loyola’s Urban Agriculture Program, and Planted Chicago, a small-scale culinary-driven urban farm. In addition to farming, Susanna has worked at Local Foods, one of The Talking Farm’s main produce outlets. Currently, Susanna is helping to manage all the aspects of growing at the Howard Street Farm and education for The Talking Farm’s projects. When she’s not at the Howard Street Farm, she can be found managing farm production and client education for Orchard Village, a non-profit for developmentally challenged community members, and helping to manage ETHS’s Edible Acre. Susanna is passionate about growing and eating her own food. With an artist’s eye, she loves producing food for and educating the community while making everything around her beautiful. Being connected with and taking care of the earth is her ultimate goal.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Wendy Aeschlimann, President
Wendy is an attorney by trade who splits her time between Chicago and Fennville, Michigan, a small, rural town with a population of about 1,500. In Fennville, she spends her time exploring the orchards, farm stands, cheesemakers, and fruit farms along the back roads of the area, and uncovering the burgeoning local wine and spirits industry in Western and Northwest Michigan. She is dedicated to cooking, storing, and canning local foods. She compiled the inaugural CSA Guide for TheLocalBeet.com, an online guide to eating local in Chicagoland, and in 2013, she moderated a panel on CSAs at the Good Food Festival. She also has volunteered for Working In The Schools (WITS), a one-on-one mentoring and tutoring program in the Chicago Public Schools, and the Lawyers in the Classroom program for Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago. She joined the Board of Directors in 2012.
Lali Watt, Vice President
Lali has over thirty years of wide-ranging experience in Public Accounting, non- profit organizations and with a multi-national Corporation. She is multi-lingual and multi-cultural, having lived and studied in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Lali has extensive experience in developing non-profit boards, strategic planning, communication plans and training. She has served as a local elected official and lead a successful grassroots referendum effort to save a historic building and open land. Lali is passionate about leveraging ideas to build communities and improve people’s lives and is particularly interested in social entrepreneurship and public-private partnerships. Lali was named a “Pathfinder CPA” by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and honored as an Unsung Heroine by the Cook County Commission. She has presented programs on being a locavore, travel, and leveraging community feedback to affect local government. Lali currently serves on the boards of the League of Women Voters of Wilmette and the Cook County League of Women Voters. As a past President of Angelic Organics Learning Center, she was particularly pleased to join the board of The Talking Farm in late 2013.
Dyan Camodeca, Treasurer
Dyan joined the Board of Directors in January 2017.
Molly Gross, Secretary
Molly became a member of the Talking Farm board in January of 2016. She currently teaches science at an alternative high school in Chicago. Before teaching, Molly spent 5 seasons working on organic farms in varying capacities- as an environmental educator, a farm manager, an urban garden educator, and more. She has a passion for food justice, and she loves working with children of all ages. Molly hopes that her experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the YWCA in Birmingham, AL will come in handy with event planning and community outreach.
Max Grebenschikov, Past Treasurer, Internal Affairs Committee Chair
Max joined the Board in February 2010 as the Treasurer and has continued to serve in this capacity to-date. Max brings 11+ years of accounting, financial analysis and compliance experience with extensive emphasis in the not-for-profit industry. As a kid, Max remembers spending summers at his grandparents’ countryside home where they had a mini-farm and grew many different vegetables and berries. To this day, Max enjoys being out on the Farm along with other outdoor activities such as fishing, golfing and hiking.
Jeannie Boutelle, External Affairs Committee Chair
Jeannie joined the Board of Directors in January 2016. Jeannie left the high yield finance business to follow her passions, sustainable food and beverages, which led her to work for Edible Chicago magazine. She has contributed pieces to several publications, including the monthly Local Calendar on The Local Beet.com. She has served on the Board of Slow Food Chicago, as the Social Media Chairman for Chicago Food Day 2012 and 2013, the 2014 Hunger Messaging Co-Chair and 2015 Engagement Chair for Taste of the Nation fundraising event. Her essay, “My Mutton Given For You: Thoughts on Merciful Meat Consumption” was published in the first issue of Graze magazine. She has contributed food opinion pieces particularly on GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) to the Chicago Huffington Post blog. Most recently, she acquired her CSW and WSET Level 3 wine accreditations. She is excited to join the board of the Talking Farm and help it to continue to grow.
Anca Oviedo, 2017 Board Development Chair
Anca joined the board in January, 2016 as a member of the Internal Committee. Anca is a CPA with 16+ years of experience working as an auditor and an executive in the health care industry. Throughout her career, Anca has worked and continues to work closely with business owners and financial officers to develop budgets and create goals for companies in need of financial restructuring. Anca grew up in Romania where she had the opportunity to spend summers at her grandparent’s rural farm, witnessing and appreciating the hard work that goes into harvesting the land while also enjoying organic produce and learning about healthy cooking and healthy eating. Anca now resides in Highland Park with her husband, daughter and dog. She enjoys cooking and frequenting the neighborhood farmer’s market.
Gina joined the board in January, 2016.
Kevin joined the board in January, 2016.
Susie joined the board in January, 2016.
Cynthia Anderson joined the board in January of 2017 and serves on the Fundraising Committee. Cindy holds a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Ohio State and is currently a candidate for a PhD in Architecture at UW-Milwaukee where she also teaches in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Cindy’s research focuses on the interactions of the participants and players in places where food is grown and how these relationships affect the spatiality of the cultural landscapes of urban agriculture in Chicago. She is an avid (if sometimes negligent) gardener of ornamentals and edibles and delights in sharing her knowledge and experience by serving as a Master Gardener volunteer in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plant Information department. Cindy embarked on this agriculture adventure after a successful career in the healthcare industry running businesses internationally and domestically; she became interested in the practices of urban food production while living in Switzerland and the Czech Republic where weekend allotments played a significant role in supplementing grocery store purchases.
Ed joined the board in January, 2017.
Konstandina (Konnie) joined the board in January 2017 as a member of the Fundraising Committee. Konnie has a Masters degree in Public History from Loyola University Chicago. She has worked in the non-profit field since 2006 for various museums and archives in northern Illinois, with a present position as a grants seeker and maker for a local non-profit. Growing up in a Greek restaurateur family, fresh food, food cultivation, and meal preparation were always popular discussions at the dinner table. Sustainable family gardens, both locally and abroad, made up a large part of her childhood and young adult life and presently occupy many of her spring and summer days. These life experiences and family background fostered her understanding of what it means to have fresh foods, to support local economies, and to take an active role in improving your community. Konnie is an avid home cook with an interest of learning the old European secrets of canning, pickling, and syrup-ing, much to her husband’s delight. She also looks forward to developing her own personal garden one day. Konnie plans to use her non-profit background and skills to help The Talking Farm continue to grow and make a positive impact on the community it serves.
Elaine joined the Board of Directors in January 2017. After a long and fulfilling career in marketing research, she decided to leave it behind to learn how to farm sustainably. To learn how to do that, she’s currently a full-time student at the College of Lake County working toward a degree in Horticulture with a focus on sustainable agriculture. She also obtained her first hands-on experience in farming by interning at The Talking Farm during the 2016 growing season. Elaine enjoyed her experience with the farm so much that she jumped at the chance to join The Talking Farm Board of Directors so that she could continue working to advance its mission. In addition to school, working on another sustainable farm for the 2017 growing season, and participating on this board, she’s also involved in an initiative that will increase the availability of locally grown produce in traditional retail channels e.g., grocery stores.
Tim joined the board in January, 2017. A Washington D.C. born, San Diego-raised sports enthusiast who first ended up in the Chicago-land area in pursuit of a journalism education at Northwestern University, Tim’s Odyssean journey into sustainable food advocacy was spurred by the chance meeting of his future wife, Allison, near the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in 2011. Since then, they’ve moved to Elgin, Ill. to be halfway between her aspiring boutique farm project in Marengo, Ill. and Tim’s office in Berwyn, Ill. in his second career as a municipal lawyer. There, Tim spends the non-billable parts of his life amazed at how many varieties of heirloom tomatoes he’s now familiar with and pondering how to leverage his writing background into non-profit work, grant-writing, marketing, and other administrative skills potentially helpful to expanding local food enterprises. Tim joined The Talking Farm Board in 2017 toward that end and is excited about the collaborative, community-building opportunity assisting in its growth represents.