Meet Our Team

​Jeanette Koncikowski
Executive Director


Jeanette Koncikowski joined Grassroots Gardens of Western New York in May 2018. She is a long-time community educator and activist, bringing almost 20 years of experience with nonprofit organizations such as the Center for Development of Human Services, Crisis Services of Buffalo and Erie County and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Jeanett spent five years as the Western New York Community Leader for Change for Breast Cancer Action, where she fought to bring attention to the link between Buffalo’s high cancer rates and environmental toxins. Jeanette is thrilled to be combining her personal passion for gardening with community development. She is focused on building Grassroots Gardens’ organizational capacity and sustainability.

Jeanette believes it is essential that all neighborhoods and families in Buffalo Niagara benefit from our region’s revitalization and that everyone has a right to healthy, affordable and accessible food. Community gardens should be the cornerstones of such efforts as they provide nourishment for our bodies and spirits. Jeanette is a graduate of Hutch Tech High School and the University at Buffalo. She received her Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University, specializing in human development and psychology. In 2021, she is beginning a certificate program in Horticultural Therapy with the New York Botanical Gardens. She is the proud mother of two resilient daughters, two rescued Shih Tzus, and an ever-growing collection of houseplants saved from the clearance cart at Lowes.


Jeanette can be reached at director@grassrootsgardens.org

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Tim Chen

Program Manager

Tim joined the GGWNY team in November 2020 to supervise the day-to-day operations of the Community & School Garden program. Tim looks forward to reconnecting with his birth city after being away for close to a decade. His background has ranged from youth development and education to environmental justice work. Most recently, he spent several years working in outdoor leadership training while based out of Boston, MA. Tim is particularly excited to support community-driven work and advocate for increased community agency over land use in the city. Aside from enjoying all things connected to the natural world, Tim spends an embarrassing amount of time thinking about getting a rescue dog. 

 

Tim can be reached at tim@grassrootsgardens.org

Greg Wilder

Garden Education Coordinator

Greg joined Grassroots Gardens WNY in the spring of 2017 as the school garden coordinator. He has a bachelors degree in adolescent education and has been an avid gardener for many years. In 2014 he purchased an empty lot at the city foreclosure auction and transformed it into a garden where he grows fruits, vegetables, and perennial flowers. He enjoys how gardens can be effective conversation starters as a way to build positive relationships within the neighborhood. Outside of gardening, Greg is active in the local cycling community and helps to promote alternative forms of transportation with Go Bike Buffalo. For recreation, he loves spending time hiking and camping, especially in the Adirondacks. He also unsuccessfully tries to be a fisherman, but enjoys it nonetheless. 

Greg can be reached at greg@grassrootsgardens.org

Christine Krolewicz

Community Garden Coordinator

Christine Krolewicz is a community builder and placemaker working to make connections with the natural world. Her formal studies at SUNY Buffalo State and the University at Buffalo were in anthropology, environmental science, and urban planning. Christine served as a steward for the Richardson Olmsted Campus historic preservation project for almost a decade, inspired by the former hospital's roots in the healing power of nature through therapeutic landscapes and agricultural therapy. In 2020, she spent six months living and working on a regenerative agriculture farm in Vermont where she created a community supported agriculture (CSA) program to expand food access in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of working as the Community Garden Coordinator for Grassroots Gardens or in her own community garden plot, Christine can be found climbing trees and mountains and exploring natural swimming areas!

Christine can be reached at christine@grassrootsgardens.org

Gerldine Wilson

Project Consultant; Gardening for All Coordinator

and They That Sow in Tears Facilitator

Founder of the Victoria Avenue Community Garden, longtime Grassroots gardener, and retired educator, Gerldine leads our Gardening for All Task Force and Accessibility initiative. The goal of the community-led task force is to evaluate barriers to universal access to our community garden network and make recommendations for modifications and improvements over the next few years. The task force has also held trainings on advancing cultural competency and accessibility. Gerldine is a community activist by nature, and believes "everybody speaks dirt." Gerldine has also helped to develop and now co-facilitates our They That Sow in Tears workshop, which is part of our Grief in the Gardens programming.

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Gail Wells 

Project Consultant & Founder of Buffalo Freedom Gardens

As President of the Copper Town Block Club, Gail is serving as a project consultant with us on a 2020-2022 DEC grant to build rain gardens and provide related education on stormwater management and pesticide use in her neighborhood. She will be leading our educational efforts on this project in Coppertown and at our partner schools. Gail also founded Buffalo Freedom Gardens in 2020 as a rapid response to the COVID19 pandemic. For 15 years, she has also led community efforts at the  Jesse Clipper Park, our only public park/community garden joint effort. 

Gail is an urban planner, a dancer, and a teacher. She wanted to work for Grassroots Gardens to bring the beauty of nature into urban spaces. 

Emere Nieves

Garden Consultant

Following her time with us as our Community Garden Trainer, Emere Nieves will remain with our network as a consultant through her company, Gardeness, Inc. A Buffalo native, she's been an active community gardener since 2013 when she started volunteering with Buffalo in Bloom at Niagara Square. The following year, she completed her Master Gardener training and remained an active volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension from 2014-2019.

Garden consultations by Eme for our community gardens will begin later this summer can be arranged by contacting our Program Manager, Tim Chen.

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Special thanks also to Paula Pirson at PRP Financial Solutions, Anthony Armstrong at Make Communities and Briana Popek of Briana Popek Grants, LLC for their ongoing contract work to support our programs and operations.

Grassroots Gardens couldn't thrive without the dedication of our strong, working board. Each member shares time each week to support our growth. 

 

Our 2021 Board Officers:
 

PRESIDENT: Ellen Barnum
VICE PRESIDENT: Bob Doyle
TREASURER: Kristin Re
SECRETARY: Minesh Patel 


Board Members at Large:


Raana Azam

James Ciliberto
Jessica Corrigan

Denis Guerin
Diane Kozlowski

Ranisha Litten

Kevin Meindel
Daniel Roma
Gail Graham | Board Member Emeritus

 

 

Interested in becoming a board or committee member with GGWNY? Contact director@grassrootsgardens.org to learn more.

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