Melissa Fratello took on her role as Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo’s Executive Director in 2014. After ten years in community development and government administration, Melissa transitioned from her role as Regional Director for US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for the opportunity to lead Grassroots Gardens into a new era, focusing on collaborative relationships, strategic growth and programmatic delivery focused on social capacity building and environmental justice. Grateful to have an active role in Buffalo's renaissance, she firmly believes that true revitalization happens at the neighborhood level, block by block, and that community gardens are strong vehicles for neighborhood transformation and health, as well as tools for environmental awareness in under-served communities. Melissa currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Audubon Society, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, and Buffalo Green Fund, as well as the Advisory Board of the New York State Land Trust Alliance. She is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a Master's degree in Urban Planning, where she specialized in community development. Melissa lives in North Buffalo with her son, Nick, and spends her free time practicing Tae Kwon Do, fiddling around the house with power tools, or gardening. Obviously.
Melissa can be reached at email@example.com
Derek Nichols Director of Education and Outreach Derek is originally from Vestal, New York, where gardening and farming was everywhere. He has his Master's in Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo. His studies were focused on food access and active living. He is the co-chair of the Buffalo School Garden Committee, sits on the Buffalo Farm to School Committee, is an adult facilitator for Healthy Youth Positive Energy (HYPE), and the Vice Chair of the Western New York Environmental Alliance. At Grassroots Gardens, he is responsible for programming at schools, refugee organizations and with an exciting partnership with the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. In his spare time, he is a fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo and is a huge comic book nerd.