Staff Directory

Karen von Huene

Executive Director

Karen comes to Community GroundWorks by following a serendipitous career path. Until 2008, when she became the Executive Director of Wisconsin Lakes, a statewide lake advocacy organization, Karen worked in community-based social service agencies. She has had the unique opportunity to change her focus from social work to working with water, environmental advocacy, and stewardship.

Karen relocated to Madison from Santa Fe, NM, a decision driven by a desire to be closer to water and a verdant landscape. Having spent most of her adult life in the desert southwest, she has much more experience with water conservation than the average Wisconsinite. Karen lives in Waunakee on Six Mile Creek with her husband, Karl, a lab named Harper, and too many cats.

Anna Varriano

Administrative Assistant

Anna is a Montana mountain woman who moved to Madison in 2014. Her prior nonprofit experience includes work in conservation and food security, so she is a great fit for Community GroundWorks. She started out as an administrative intern and was hired to full time shortly thereafter. She is excited to explore the Midwest with her best pal, Molly the Rottweiler.

Garrett Peterson

Farm Production Manager

A lifelong Wisconsinite, Garrett landed in Madison in 2006, where he was introduced to the thriving local food movement and has been working on discovering his role in it ever since. Instrumental along his journey has been time spent with Fitchburg Fields, Community GroundWorks, Voss Organics, Edgewood College’s Sustainability Leadership Program, and the Community Action Coalition. Garrett is grateful for the opportunity to return to Troy Farm to help connect others to this land and organization. During his free time, Garrett enjoys indulging in Wisconsin treasures: craft beer, artisan cheese, and homemade meals prepared by his patient and supportive partner, Joslyn.

Annali Smucker-Bryan

Farm Education Manager

Originally from Pennsylvania, Annali hails most recently from Waco, Texas where she worked on an educational farm and ran an after school gardening program for two years. In January of 2013 Annali and her husband Zac moved to Madison for its vibrant local food scene and bikeability. Working at a chocolate shop in the off season, Annali worked at Troy as an intern the last two seasons and fell in love with farming in the North and the unique Troy community. Passionate about food, earth care and education, Annali is very excited to join the Community GroundsWorks staff as crew leader for the farm. When she is not farming, you can often find her biking places with her husband, spending time with her church community, and cooking and eating the food she grows.

Cathryn Herlihey

Farm Crew Leader

Ginny Hughes

Education Director & Bookkeeping Clerk

Before joining Community GroundWorks, she earned a master's degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She co-founded and managed the Sherman Middle School garden on the northside of Madison. She is passionate about sharing the magic of the garden with kids and is delighted to be working at Troy Gardens. She also enjoys bikram yoga and color-coded filing systems.

Alisha David

Troy Kids' Garden Manager

Alisha joins Community GroundWorks after teaching high school chemistry and working on an organic farm in the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and St. Croix. She loves to share with children how incredible nature is and how powerful it is to grow your own food. When she's not working in the Kids' Garden or Capitiol Garden, she can be found experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, testing out her sewing skills on her machine, or taveling to another beautiful place in this world.

Nathan Larson

Director of the Cultivate Health Initiative

Nathan Larson is the director of the Cultivate Health Initiative, a joint project of Communtiy GroundWorks & The Environmental Design Lab at UW-Madison to grow the school garden network and movement in Wisconsin. He joined Community GroundWorks as the Education Director in 2006. He has worked as a garden and nature educator for the past sixteen years. Nathan provides professional development for school teachers, college students and community educators locally and nationally through workshops, courses, and trainings including the annual Growing Minds course. He writes garden-based curricula and recently authored Teaching in Nature's Classroom: Core Principles of Garden-Based Education. Nathan—a third generation Madisonian—lives with his wife and children at Troy Gardens. In addition to growing food, he thoroughly enjoys skiing on freshly fallen snow and walking barefoot in the sand.

Beth Hanna

Farm to School Director

Supported by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's Wisconsin Partnership Program, the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative aims to build off the success of the Got Dirt? Garden Initiative to employ youth gardening and garden-based education strategies to reduce rates of overweight and obesity in Wisconsin's children. Beth is eager to use her background in teaching and Public Health to get more Wisconsin kids in the dirt. 

Renata Solan

Communications Manager

Renata is originally from New Jersey but is proud to call Wisconsin her home. She joins Community GroundWorks' Wisconsin School Garden Network after completing Master's degrees in agroecology and environmental communications. She loves to hear and tell stories about the infinite ways that people connect with each other and with their environments through food and gardens. Renata spends her free time gardening, knitting, and exploring the state with her husband and daughter. Her favorite places include Pope Farm Conservancy in Verona and Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips.

Jennica Skoug

Goodman Youth Farm Manager

Before joining Community GroundWorks, Jennica earned a master's degree in Environmental Education from UW-Stevens Point, where she helped run environmental education programs and care for 33 chickens at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station. Jennica has worn a variety of educational hats, such as coordinating a school garden program in Kalamazoo, Michigan and teaching math as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu, where she gardened next to banana trees. Her love of well-grown food and the outdoors began in her family's garden, from which she sold gigantic zucchinis out of a little red wagon with her brother. Besides vegetables, Jennica enjoys collecting corny jokes and puns, early morning runs, and winter canoeing adventures.

Shelly Strom

Community Land and Gardens Director

On the day Shelly was born, her parents planted a willow in honor of her birth. Her family’s love of nature and gardening put her on a life-long tree-hugging and beet-eating trajectory. Since then, she has lived around the world, studied natural resources, science communication, landscape architecture and horticulture therapy. She is now deeply rooted in Madison and pleased to call Community GroundWorks her home for outdoor wonderment and engagement with nature. 

Yimmuaj Yang

Gardens Network Manager

Yimmuaj is a Madison native who loves growing food, cooking and feeding people. Her passion for food stems from her parents’ hard work in providing for their family; they have always grown vegetables for as long as she can remember. Food is at the core of her own cultural connection and relationship building.

Yimmuaj brings many experiences, skills, and knowledge to Community GroundWorks; she has been working with community gardeners for the past ten years. In addition, she has worked with local minority farmers for the past four years; providing technical assistance and consultation with management in keeping operations sustainable and fiscally sound.

Aside from working at Community GroundWorks, Yimmuaj and her husband own a small vegetable farm business which they hope to grow in the future. During the summer season, you can find them at their very own stand at the farmers’ market as well. Food is such a part of their lives.

Jill Carlson Groendyk

Farm to Early Care & Education Trainer

Jill is an Ohio native that came to Madison in Fall 2014 to relocate with her partner Mike. Jill has always been interested in how we can live well and healthfully, while also taking care of the ecological system that sustains us. This passion and interest led to an array of work and educational experiences studying renewable energy systems, completeing the first greenhouse gas inventroy for the City of Detroit,  serving as an Americorps Farm to School Speacialist with REAP Food Group, and coordinating an agricultural conservation project in the Great Lakes Basin.  Jill is very excited to contribute the the farm to early care and education work in Wisconsin and champion the value of bringing local food into early care settings. Outside of Communtiy GroundWorks, she also works as the assistant market manager for the Dane County Farmer's Market and loves to cook up a stew, write snail mail and eat pastries.

Sarah Karlson

Gardener-in-Residence: Badger Rock Middle School

Sarah comes to Community GroundWorks with over decade of experience working in education, food justice and urban agriculture in Oakland, California, primarily with two nonprofits, City Slicker Farms and Urban Adamah. She has a Master's degree in Culture Ecology and Sustainable Community with a concentration in Ecological Agriculture from New College of California and has a passion for gardens as tools for education, food access, joy, connection, and community building. When not at work, she can often be found in her own garden or under a pile of her own fabulous kids.

Osha Waterdu

Gardener-in-Residence: Lapham Elementary School

Osha's interests in education and agriculture developed in college, as she studied Education at Beloit College and worked summers at small organic farms in the Madison area. Before joining Community GroundWorks, Osha served an AmeriCorps service term with REAP Food Group in Madison, and with Common Threads Farm in Washington state, where she helped students fall in love with growing and eating healthy, local food. When she's not teaching students at Lapham Elementary, Osha enjoys tending her own garden plot and riding her bike. 

Susan Gaeddert

Gardener-in-Residence: Crestwood Elementary School

Susan holds advanced degrees in music and is active as a professional piano teacher, collaborator and writing coach. She has experience working with groups of all ages, from preparing schoolchildren for opera performances to teaching beginning piano students at the college level. Her interest in gardening and working with children comes from many years of volunteering with the outdoor education program at Crestwood Elementary, and maintaining vegetable and herb beds at the school, her own home, and at community gardens. Above all. Susan is passionate about education for all ages of subjects that she feels connects us to our better selves: music and nature!