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. She also co-founded Prevention Educators, a community education collaborative that trained thousands of youth, parents, and professionals on topics related to violence prevention and social justice. 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

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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

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

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Emere Nieves

Community Garden Trainer

Emere Nieves joined our staff in March 2020 in the new position of Community Garden Trainer. 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. She studied Physical Geography and Environmental Science at Buffalo State College. Prior to her new role at GGWNY, Eme was the Specialty Gardener for Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, managing and developing some of Buffalo’s favorite ornamental, public gardens. 


Eme says, "Working in the public gardens raised my awareness of the positive effects they have on our communities and humanity. My first home garden was a vegetable garden. Working with GGWNY is reconnecting me with my roots to grow healthy food and support our community." 


Eme can be reached at

Channing Hill

Gardening Specialist

Channing is joining us for the 2021 season as a Gardening Specialist. A retired Navy veteran, Channing said he wanted to join Grassroots because, “I wanted to be a part of something established. I took off my (Navy) uniform and I put on this uniform. This green t-shirt isn’t just advertising. It means something to me.” - 

After volunteering with Buffalo Freedom Gardens and leading the inaugaral efforts at the Broadway Community Garden,Channing will be working this season to help support installations for our accessible gardening and therapeutic gardening initiatives. 

We are so glad he is part of the team!

Channing can be reached at

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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.

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. 


Casie Keegan 

Therapeutic Gardening Coordinator


Casie joins us through a placement with the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, where she is currently completing a Master of Social Work degree. Prior to joining Grassroots Gardens, she worked with individuals experiencing homelessness, developed and coordinated a volunteer recruitment and outreach program during an AmeriCorps service year, and has served youth ages 8-18 from under-resourced communities throughout New York City and Western New York at a summer residential program in central New York. Her time working in youth development demonstrated the significant role one’s environment plays in providing support and healing, which is why she is excited to join the GGWNY team. Casie considers herself a nature enthusiast and loves to hike, camp, and kayak.

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
SECRETARY: Minesh Patel 

Board Members at Large:

Raana Azam

Jessica Braunscheidel

James Ciliberto
Natalie Cook

Denis Guerin
Diane Kozlowski

Ranisha Litten

Kevin Meindel

Daun Nicholas
Daniel Roma
Gail Graham | Board Member Emeritus






































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

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