Matt Ryan, Farm Operations Manager
Matt Ryan graduated from DePaul University with a double major in Sociology and Humanities with a focus on community service. Matt has been involved in urban agriculture and community gardening for over 6 years. In 2012 he graduated from Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Sustainable Urban Agricultural Certificate Program and has since taught numerous workshops for the Botanic Garden on sustainable agriculture. Since 2012 Matt has worked with the ETHS school garden the “Edible Acre” where he teaches students about the importance of healthily food/sustainability as they grow food for the school cafeteria and farmers market. Matt has been the Farm Manager at TTF since 2014 and has helped to build out and operationalize the Howard Street Farm site and has also helped to further farm educational activities at the Howard St Farm location and with partnering organizations.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Wendy Aeschlimann, President
Wendy splits her time between Chicago, where she works as an attorney at Jones Day, 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.
Nicholas Wyatt, Treasurer
Nick joined the Board of Directors in January 2015.
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 grandparent’s 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.
Ross Greenspan, External Affairs Committee Chair
Ross is a native of Chicago and a futures trader. He graduated from George Washington University in 2008. After moving to Evanston in 2011, he joined the site planning committee of the Talking Farm which was basically cutting down a lot of buckthorn by hand. Ross joined the Board in January 2015. He brings diverse experience in farming, hospitality and non-profits to support the mission of the farm. He is an avid gardener who is planning to enjoy growing, preserving but most of all eating a big garden at his new home in Skokie.
Peter Carlson, Secretary
Peter joined the Board of Directors in late 2013.
Bala Chaudhary, Ph.D., 2017 Board Development Chair
Dr. Chaudhary is a professor at Loyola University Chicago in the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Her scientific expertise lies in the role of soil organisms, specifically mycorrhizal fungi, in the restoration of degraded ecosystems. She teaches a multitude of courses in Loyola’s undergraduate programs in Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation and Restoration. She has also worked as an ecological consultant designing restoration plans for drastically disturbed urban soils, and studied traditional agricultural techniques with the Hopi Indians of Arizona and the Pemon Indians of Venezuela. Recently, Dr. Chaudhary and her students have researched how soil microbial additions to green roofs can improve heat insulation and storm water retention. A Skokie resident, she joined the board in January 2015, and looks forward to helping the Talking Farm grow healthy soil.
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.
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.
Gina joined the board in January, 2016.
Kevin joined the board in January, 2016.
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.
Susie joined the board in January, 2016.