Stephanie Van Parys – Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org General & Operations Mananger Educator & Oakhurst Garden Site Coordinator Atlanta Schools Program Manager Education Director Hawk Hollow Site Coordinator Development Director Plant Sale Coordinator & Mulberry Fields Site Coordinator Farm to School Manager Lead Educator Membership and Public Programs Coordinator Edgewood Community Learning Garden Site Coordinator Sugar Creek Site Coordinator Executive Director Farm Fellow Shelby Buso, Chair Julie Jones Boulée Kristin Allin
More About the Wylde Center Staff
Board of Directors
Neida Arrington – General & Operations Manager email@example.com
Christopher Aleman – Oakhurst Garden Site Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Dasher – Atlanta Farm to School Manager email@example.com
Allison Ericson – Education Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlee Martin – Lead Educator email@example.com
Josh Daniel- Greenspace Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamara Jones – Hawk Hollow Site Coordinator email@example.com
Blair Keenan – Development Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Jane Leach – Plant Sale Coordinator email@example.com
Nichole Lupo – Farm to School Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Nessanbaum – Membership and Public Programs Coordinator email@example.com
Derek Pinson – Edgewood Community Learning Garden Site Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Walker – Farm Fellow email@example.com
Joining the staff in January 2015, Neida Arrington is the General & Operations Manager of Wylde Center. She also helps manage our annual Beer Garden fundraiser. Previously she managed an office for a landscape architect firm but was eager to join a nonprofit. A childhood rearing in Lyons, Georgia, amidst Vidalia sweet onions coupled with an educational background in environmental studies made Wylde Center the perfect team for Neida to join. Outside of the office, she enjoys baking cheese cakes and bikepacking.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Cucumbers
Favorite plant to grow: Marigolds
Favorite place to eat: Desi Spice
Chris grew up in Rochester, MN and has lived all over the US: studying in Madison, WI, serving two years with AmeriCorps in Seattle, WA, and finishing up his Sustainable Community Development degree in Prescott, AZ. He returned to his hometown for a while to work as a garden manager for an alternative high school but decided to settle somewhere closer to the equator after skipping the Midwest winter/WWOOFing for several months in New Zealand. He then completed a farm apprenticeship in Mansfield, GA and joined the Wylde Center staff in late 2016 as an educator and site coordinator for Oakhurst Garden.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Lacinato kale
Favorite plant to grow: English Ivy (when it’s not horribly invasive to local ecosystems)
Favorite place to eat: Ria’s Bluebird
Sarah develops curriculum for and leads gardening and nutrition programs at public schools and other organizations that the Wylde center partners with. Before joining the Wylde Center’s staff, Sarah worked with the Captain Planet Foundation while serving in the first team of FoodCorps service members in Georgia, building, maintaining, and teaching in school learning gardens around Atlanta. She also works with the Georgia Farmers Market Association, which supports strong local food economies across Georgia. She loves being outside, playing in the dirt, making food, and working with kids.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Black cherry tomatoes
Favorite plant to grow: My jade plant and all the little jade babies it makes.
Favorite place to eat: Taqueria del Sol
Allison grew up in Kennesaw and attended Georgia Tech where she majored in biology. Upon graduating she taught high school science for three years. She went to work at the Chattahoochee Nature Center as the education manager. After moving to Connecticut, she worked at a nature center where she was the education manager for 10 years. Allison moved to Decatur two years ago and worked as an environmental educator for a preschool. Joining the Wylde Center staff in August 2015, she is looking forward to working with local community groups and schools. Allison stays busy with her two children and on the weekends leads naturalist guided canoe trips down the Chattahoochee.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Tomatoes
Favorite plant to grow: Pitcher plant
Favorite place to eat: Mexican
Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tamara Jones joined the Wylde Center as the new site coordinator for Hawk Hollow in June 2015. She brings her experience as site manager of the Decatur High School community garden and her work with the DHS culinary arts department. She completed the Dekalb County Master Gardener program in 2010 and has put in many volunteer hours gardening. She is excited to be working at the Wylde Center because she loves working in gardens, especially when it involves working with people of all ages. She is also looking forward to learning about planting Georgia’s native plants at Hawk Hollow.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Basil, tomato, okra!
Favorite plant to grow: Fig
Favorite place to eat: My house using produce from my garden
A Georgia native, Blair grew up in Gwinnett County and later attended Florida State University, majoring in Communication and English. Prior to joining the Wylde Center staff in January of 2016, her most recent work was with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society where she spent 8 years directing and developing national fundraising campaigns, raising millions of dollars to aid in the fight against blood cancer. Having lived in Los Angeles and Seattle, she is thrilled to call Oakhurst home and be part of the Wylde Center, an organization that speaks to her interests in urban greenspaces, gardening, conservation, and local movement. Blair is passionate about passionate people, and thrives on rallying communities and individuals around a common goal. When not at the Wylde Center, you can find Blair outside with her husband and two children, enjoying their backyard garden, hiking around in North Georgia, or just exploring the neighborhood.
Mary Jane Leach is thrilled to be back in the Atlanta area after many years growing gardens and local food initiatives in several locales in the Piedmont, including Davidson, NC, where she ran the farmer’s market and developed a food systems curriculum for the local middle school. With a background in nonprofit and business, she has led several local food and sustainability initiatives, most recently as part of Sustainable Jersey in the Princeton area. In her current role, she will plant more than 10,000 seeds in August and September. Since August 2015, she has enjoyed being a part of the Wylde Center’s initiative to grow an amazing variety of food plants for year-round harvest and supplying heirloom varieties alongside tried and true hybrids.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Greens in the fall, winter and spring
Favorite plant to grow: Zinnias
Favorite place to eat: Leon’s, because of the great veggie sides
An educator and musician, Nichole Lupo grew up gardening with her dad in Lexington, South Carolina. She got her first job in a restaurant and her love of good food was born. Searching for a way to combine her love of growing and eating fresh food with her desire to continue teaching children, Nichole began working with metro Atlanta’s Farm to School movement in 2007. She has spent the years since writing and implementing garden-based whole foods nutrition curricula, leading Farm to School workshops for teachers, instructional coaches and principals, and teaching in classrooms and gardens connecting existing curricula to delicious, garden-fresh food. Nichole has been the farm to school manager at the Wylde Center since November 2012. She enjoys working with her committed colleagues, her talented teachers, and her excited, inquisitive students.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Sweet potatoes
Favorite plant to grow: Herbs
Favorite place to eat: My kitchen table—my husband is a handsome, gifted chef!
Growing up in a military family, Charlee started school in Germany and lived in several states across the US before her family retired in Georgia. She has always had a passion for teaching, animals and exploring the outdoors. Naturally, she graduated with a degree in Biology in 2007 from Clayton State University. Shortly after graduating, she took a position with the Ecological Society of American in Washington DC coordinating an undergraduate ecology program. Longing to work more directly with students, Charlee left the ESA for a temporary position with the GA DNR where she gained valuable experience teaching environmental education programs using birds of prey, reptiles and amphibians. After the position came to an end, Charlee found her way to Fernbank Museum of Natural History and then Cochran Mill Nature Center where she managed education programs, taught and rehabilitated lost and orphaned wildlife. Charlee joined the Wylde Center team in February of 2017, excited to be adding farming to her resume while doing what she loves most, teaching!
Originally from New Jersey, Sara came to Georgia by way of a cross country bike trip rooted in raising funds and awareness for affordable housing. Continuing to be deeply rooted in the cycling community and a sprouting triathlon habit, she is also passionate about greenspace and recycling, using the sources of the Earth as to not be wasteful! Who doesn’t love recycling!? She studied IT at Rutgers but has always been about a cause. After 3 years at Marriott and doing AmeriCorps (twice!), she found home at the Wylde Center in February 2017. She enjoys promoting all the great Wylde Center does, meeting people, and forging relationships in the community to spread the greatness. She is grateful to be a part of the team!
Favorite vegetable to grow: Tomato
Favorite plant to grow: Basil
Favorite place to eat: anything sushi!
Derek Pinson oversees the daily maintenance and activities of the Edgewood Community Learning Garden while spending additional time working as garden coach for our partner gardens. Hailing from the little mountain town of Ellijay, Derek has always been an avid gardener and lover of nature, ultimately leading him to obtain both a B.A. in environmental geography and a permaculture design certification. After some time volunteering on farms from Costa Rica to New Zealand, Derek managed a small organic farm in the Appalachian foothills of Jasper. While residing in the barn was an idyllic dream, an urge to experience urban living and the larger community around the good food movement brought Derek to Atlanta. Derek joined the Wylde team in August 2015 and is excited about educating the community about home-scale food production.
Favorite vegetable to grow: Kohlrabi
Favorite plant to grow: Paw Paw
Favorite place to eat: Rise -n- Dine
Joining the staff in March 2016, Jen is excited to serve as the Sugar Creek Farm and Garden Site Coordinator where she will oversee the growth and sale of a variety of herbs. Jen relocated to Atlanta with her husband and two cats last summer after living and farming in Charleston, SC for five years. While in South Carolina, Jen apprenticed on several small sustainable farms, eventually progressing to managing a small farm focused on selling vegetables, herbs, and microgreens to local restaurants. Hailing from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Jen enjoys time on the water and cheering on her alma mater, the Virginia Cavaliers. She and her husband can be found checking out local restaurants and breweries, cooking, and working on their historic Grant Park home.
Favorite vegetable to grow: French breakfast radishes
Favorite plant to grow: Hydrangeas
Favorite place to eat: Miller Union & Little’s Food Store
Stephanie Van Parys spent 8 years of her youth living in Germany, where she spent many hours roaming the pastoral landscape and food gardens around her grandfather’s house. When it came time to choose a field of study, the gardening trait that runs throughout her family could not be denied and she studied horticulture at the University of Georgia. Joining the Wylde staff in 2005 as the executive director, Stephanie is just as committed as she was on her first day to creating spaces for the community to discover the wonders of nature and teaching everyone how to grow their own food. Never one to keep her nails dirt free, you will find Stephanie in her own garden each weekend. Favorite vegetable to grow: Eggplant Favorite plant to grow: Pink Coneflower Favorite place to eat: I have to choose?!
Pat has roots in New England. It was in Providence where he learned the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture and fell in love with growing food and composting. After spending two growing seasons as in Providence as an urban farmer and community partner, he then went to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts to fine tune his vegetable skills, play kickball, dance to Dan Deacon, and work for the first time with pastured poultry. Pat will be growing food on two plots and running a 20 member, market style CSA for the summer and fall!
Board of Directors
Josh Becker Vice-Chair
Jenna Mobley, Secretary
Jim Bowman, United Parcel Service
Tayiba Ahsan (2007-2010)
Mary McCall Cash
Vandy Vail Dickson
Gary and Patti Garrett (2006-2010)
Hull Louise Jackson (Garden co-founder)
Paul McClendon (2008-2010)
Robin Miller and Marty Samuels
Leslie Myers (2009-2010)
Shelley Parnes (2008-2010)
Mary Helen Ramming
Jessica Lee Reece
Michelle Rork (2009-
Wendy and George Thomas (2008-2010)
Stephanie Van Parys
Jennifer Walcott (2007-2009)
Stephanie Van Parys – Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
General & Operations Mananger
Educator & Oakhurst Garden Site Coordinator
Atlanta Schools Program Manager
Hawk Hollow Site Coordinator
Plant Sale Coordinator & Mulberry Fields Site Coordinator
Farm to School Manager
Membership and Public Programs Coordinator
Edgewood Community Learning Garden Site Coordinator
Sugar Creek Site Coordinator
Shelby Buso, Chair
Julie Jones Boulée