MEET OUR TEAM

​Jeanette Koncikowski
Executive Director


Jeanette joined Grassroots Gardens of Western New York in  2018. She is a long-time community educator and activist, bringing 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.

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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 and has a certficate in Trauma Counseling from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She is currently pursuing a certificate in Horticultural Therapy with the New York Botanical Gardens. She is the proud mother of two resilient teens, 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 enjoys spending time with his 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

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Loc Tran

Community Garden Coordinator

Loc joined the staff of Grassroots Gardens WNY in 2022. He has a degree in Botany from the University of Oklahoma and a passion for gardening and addressing food insecurity. He previously worked in southwest Colorado as a food security coordinator and a garden coordinator. He has also served as a food security volunteer with Peace Corps Nepal from 2017-2019.

 

Loc moved to Buffalo in 2021 and looks forward to making Buffalo his home. Loc enjoys listening to jazz and poorly playing his clarinet at the dismay of his neighbors.
 

Loc can be reached at loc@grassrootsgardens.org

Sylvin Ashbrook

Land Stewardship Coordinator

Sylvin joined the GGWNY team in June 2022 as the Land Stewardship Coordinator. In this role, Sylvin will
be responsible for the support and growth of the Grassroots Gardens Land Trust. Sylvin has well over a decade of gardening experience and has an extensive background in native plant gardening.


Sylvin moved to Buffalo in 2018 with their husband and dog, two cats, a bird, a snake, and a frog. Sylvin looks forward to growing closer to the Buffalo community in this new role. They recently got their Masters in Sustainability Leadership from the University at Buffalo. When Sylvin is not gardening, they can be found either reading a book, enjoying their houseplants and two planted aquariums, taking a hike in the woods, or working on their art.


Sylvin can be reached at sylvin@grassrootsgardens.org

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Gail Wells 

Project Consultant & Founder of Buffalo Freedom Gardens

A long-time Grassroots Gardener, Gail has stewarded community gardens in the African American Heritage Coordinator. She currently leads the community efforts at Jesse Clipper Square. In 2020, Gail founded Buffalo Freedom Gardens as a rapid response to the COVID19 pandemic, ensuring BIPOC community members effected by the pandemic had access to growing healthy food at home. In 2021, Freedom Gardens entered into a formal agreement with Grassroots Gardens and we are proud to be there fiscal sponsor.

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

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 2022 Board Officers:
 

PRESIDENT: Minesh Patel
VICE PRESIDENT: Dan Roma
TREASURER: Kristin Re
SECRETARY: Eitan Stant


Board Members at Large:


Raana Azam

James Ciliberto
Jessica Corrigan

Cara Cox

Dixie Farr

Lindsay Haubenreich

Daun Nicholas

Derek Nichols

Fiona Reid
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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Board members Raana Azam (on left), Jim Ciliberto (middle) and former Board Chair Ellen Barnum (right) pitch in at Shakespeare Garden in 2020.

Many former and current board members joined our staff and gardeners to celebrate our accreditation in 2021.

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Board member, Raana Azam (pictured on the far left), is one of the lead gardeners at Universal School of Buffalo. 

Board member, Minesh Patel, participating in the  GGWNY 5K in 2020.