Our Team

The GrowHaus is run by a talented and committed group of individuals that represent the diversity of Denver. As we grow, we are making an effort to hire neighborhood residents and others directly impacted by food injustice. 

To read extended Board of Directors bios, click here

To read about our Founders, click here.

Directors

Kayla BirdSong | Executive Director | kayla@thegrowhaus.org

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Kayla joined the staff of The GrowHaus in summer 2013 while living in the Elyria neighborhood. She first served as  Director of Food Distribution for two years and helped to start our retail market as well as no-cost grocery program that still impact thousands of people every year. For the following two years, Kayla served as the Director of Operations, helping the GrowHaus' thrive on a day-to-day basis. Kayla moved into the Interim Executive Director role in June 2017, and into the permanent position in October 2017. Kayla is passionate about working with community to shape our local food system. She grew up in Florida, and studied Business Management and Spanish at the University of Florida. She has studied abroad in Spain, traveled extensively through Asia, and volunteered on organic farms in Nepal. She speaks Spanish, has a Permaculture Design Certificate, and has a deep passion for all things food. Kayla believes that by leveraging the amazing partnerships The GrowHaus has, we can ensure lasting access to healthy food in our neighborhood and thus serve as a model for other communities with similar barriers across the nation.

ISABEL SANCHEZ | PROGRAM DIRECTOR | ISABEL@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

Isabel is a permaculture designer, teacher, urban farmer, and activist. She is the Program Director at The GrowHaus where she joined the team in 2013. She oversees all of the educational programming, supervises community outreach, and the Roots to Health Seedling Project. For the past few years, she has been one of the lead permaculture facilitator for the Denver Permaculture Guild and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.

For the past twenty years, Isabel has been a passionate advocate for self-reliance and sustainability. She organizes urban farming workshops and educational classes for adults and children that help empower sustainable and healthy lifestyle changes. She is an active board member for Colorado Vincentian Volunteers and is President of the Mapleton Mobile Home Association. She has also travelled to  Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico to work with indigenous people on self-reliance, but has learned even more from them. She is a beekeeper, artist, mother of eight,  and lives in a ‘tiny house’ with 3  rabbits, 6 chickens and 2 dogs. She does all of her food production in a 34 x 87 square foot urban lot in Boulder and uses her tiny lot to demonstrate permaculture design practices.

Nathan Mackenzie | Director of Development | Nathan@thegrowhaus.org

Nathan leads The GrowHaus' development and communications efforts. He is a proud born-and-raised Denverite, went to East High School, and graduated from Wesleyan University with honors in government. After graduation, he moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where he spent a year-and-half working with Shining Hope for Communities, a non-profit  that addresses gender inequality and extreme poverty in urban slums.  There he learned the power of local communities to develop dynamic locally-based solutions to community challenges. After coming back home to Colorado, in 2014 he was selected to join El Pomar Foundation's two year leadership and professional development Fellowship program in Colorado Springs. 

Nathan is passionate about strengthening local food systems, economies and communities. When he's not at The GrowHaus you can find him enjoying the mountains, cooking, or reading.

Emily Hoel | Director of Operations | Emily@thegrowhaus.org

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Emily is originally from Richmond, VA and has also lived in Santa Fe, NM and in various cities in Spain over the last several years. She joins The GrowHaus as the Director of Operations and brings with her several years of nonprofit experience and a passion for supporting local communities to be healthy and empowered. Emily speaks Spanish and jumps at the opportunity to engage with anyone in Spanish, especially when that means removing a barrier to engagement for a community member. 
Previously, Emily spent time working with a food justice organization in Virginia named Shalom Farms and has also worked on issues of educational equity in Aurora. She loves cooking, knitting, and exploring Colorado with her husband and dog.

Kathryn Ardoin | Director of Food Initiatives | Kathryn@thegrowhaus.org

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Kathryn moved to Colorado from Florida in 2014 and immediately found a home in The GrowHaus community. After working as a Food Distribution intern, she was hired on to manage and expand the Food Distribution programs. She helped grow the community market/mercado to include a wider variety of products in efforts to make it a viable option for the grocery needs of the community of Elyria, Swansea, and Globeville. She also directed The Food Box Program which, similarly to a CSA, sells a weekly assortment of produce, eggs, and bread/tortillas. Today she is expanding healthy food access by directing our food distribution strategies, building external partnerships, and engaging in policy opportunities.

Kathryn now focuses her work on expanding and improving food access programming in North Denver both inside and outside of The GrowHaus walls. 

Kathryn graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and a minor in Public Health. Food justice has always been a priority in her life and works hard to ensure good food is accessible to all. Kathryn enjoys hiking, biking, camping, skiing, cooking, and exploring far off destinations.

Education and Community Outreach

Alicia perez | community outreach coordinator | Alicia@thegrowhaus.org

Alicia Perez is the Community Outreach Coordinator and a Resident Promotora for The GrowHaus.  Alicia oversees our Resident Promotora program and coordinates our no-cost grocery program, Cosechando Salud, home visits, and Promotora-led adult education programming. She coordinates all of the events for our community, as well as many of the community classes. She has gone through her Permaculture Design Certification Course and continually strives to serve as an example to educate and empower women and youth in her community. A longtime resident of Elyria-Swansea, she has been involved with The GrowHaus for the past 6 years and is a proud mother of a 5-year-old son.

Claudia zubia | promotora Claudia@thegrowhaus.org

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Claudia is originally from Mexico but has been living in Denver for the last 22 years.  She has five children and loves to spend time with them. They love to go out to places with a lot of nature because they can learn about the gifts that life has given them and it helps them to relax. Her favorite hobby is going out to exercise. Her biggest challenge in life is to learn how to swim someday. She feels very happy to belong to the family of the GrowHaus. She loves it because she is more connected to her community.

Guadalupe rodriguez | PROMOTORA GUADELUPE@thegrowhaus.org

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Guadalupe Rodriguez is married and has 5 children and 2 grandchildren. She’s from Mexico but she’s been living in Colorado for over 20 years! She likes Colorado’s beautiful nature and weather and her favorite hobby is to spend time with her family on walks. She enjoys working at The GrowHaus because it gives her the opportunity to do what she likes best, spend time with the community, share resources, and support those in need.

Eva Valdez | Promotora EVA@thegrowhaus.org

Eva Valdez is originally from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico but has been living in Denver for the past 19 years. She has three beautiful children; Stephanie, Steven, and Sarah. She likes to spend quality time with her 4 year old girl. Her favorite hobbies include anything with music, like dancing and zumba! She is happy to be part of the GrowHaus team, because she shares our philosophy. She feels it is nice to be able to support the different families of the community and to be able to return a little of what the community has given her.

Angela Ortiz | program support | Angela@thegrowhaus.org

This Colombian native became passionate and started educating herself about the concepts of Food Systems and Food Justice shortly after migrating north in 2001. Simultaneously, Angela has formed herself as skilled language service provider (Spanish/English/American Sign Language) and in her short experience in this field she has gained a unique understanding around the community’s cultural and linguistic needs and has been able to facilitate and promote communication for the diverse Denver population. Also, with her experience as an Urban Agriculture Educator and after receiving her Permaculture Certificate she has strengthened her commitment to serve the community. As a multicultural and multilingual individual she hopes to continue to contribute in the development of a resilient and sustainable community by building bridges between people, natural resources and the earth. Angela is also passionate about motherhood, music and dance

MARIA CONSTANEDA ARROYO | PROGRAM Assistant | 

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Maria started working part-time at The GrowHaus in 2013, assisting with the mobile market and childcare. Since then, Maria’s role has transformed to be an integral part of the organization, and she now helps to facilitate a number of programs including the Roots to Health Seedling Nursery, Movil deliveries, Cosechando Salud, youth summer programming, and making free meals available to the community. Maria loves working here because she feels she is making a difference in the neighborhood. She has lived in and not far from the 80216 zip code for a number of years and enjoys seeing familiar faces while riding the Movil bicycle route. She also loves to work with children and with the plants in the seedling nursery. Maria hopes that everyone feels welcome when they enter The GrowHaus building. While not at work, you can find Maria riding her bike or tending the flowers in her rose garden. Maria is extremely proud to be a part of this organization and truly feels The GrowHaus is her second home. 

JACKIE Haven | EDUCATION PROGRAM lead | JACKIE@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

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Jackie is passionate about education, the environment, and healthy living. She studied Anthropology at the University of Florida, has taught internationally, has worked a couple of farm seasons with a community supporting agriculture (CSA) farm, and travels as much as she can. Jackie is very excited to be working with the Elyria- Swansea- Globeville community as well as fostering many relationships with schools and youth in the Denver area through education programs about food justice, sustainability, leadership, and community. She believes that education is the strongest tool we have to combat many of our world’s issues and is proud to be working with the Growhaus’s education program. When not at the Growhaus, Jackie loves exploring the mountains and having new adventures. 

Grace Dennis | Education Program Support | Grace@thegrowhaus.org

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Grace first got involved with The GrowHaus as a Service Learning intern in March 2017 and was hired on as Education Program Support later that summer. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Colgate University with a special focus on the social and economic impacts of agroforestry. After graduation, Grace spent a year and a half working on Permaculture farms and education centers in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Colorado’s western slope. Grace has been involved with experiential education since high school and is excited to be connecting students of all ages to the natural environment through The GrowHaus education programs. When not at the GrowHaus, Grace can be found working in her garden, learning about fermentation and herbal medicine, or exploring the Rocky Mountains. Grace also has her Permaculture Design Certificate.

Food Distribution

Laura molina | Market Coordinator | laura@thegrowhaus.org

Laura Molina is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico but has been living in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in Denver for the past 18 years. After taking The GrowHaus Micro-farm class, Laura fell in love with The GrowHaus and began working in El Mercado de al Lado. She is now the Market Coordinator and calls The GrowHaus her second home. In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with her three kids in the mountains of Colorado.  

 

Maria Campos | Market Attendant| mariac@thegrowhaus.org

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Maria is originally from Aguascalientes, Mexico, moved to Denver when she was 12 years old, and has lived in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood for the last 16 years. She came to The GrowHaus out of curiosity and fell in love with the place. She loves working at The GrowHaus because it makes her feel at home and wants to contribute to getting the Hispanic community involved in improving the health and wellness of our neighborhood. Coming from a farming family, she believes in the idea that nobody should struggle to get healthy food no matter where you live or where you come from. She also enjoys motherhood, dancing, and family time. 

Farmers

Jamie Yeast | manager of food production | JAMIE@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

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Jamie started as a facilities intern with The Growaus in the autumn of 2015. He was hired as the farm apprentice a year later, working in both the aquaponic and hydroponic farms. He previously worked for an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) farm for 12 seasons in northern Colorado. Jamie combines his carpentry and farm experiences with his love of food to enhance the local urban agriculture community.

Jamie graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English Literature and continues to read, mostly comics. When he is not growing or gardening, Jamie spends his time with his family. He enjoys spending time in the mountains, creating art, or napping in the back porch hammock.    

ALLIE RUNNE | Hydroponic FARM MANAGER | ALLIE@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

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Allie is a Denver transplant from North Carolina. She began her relationship with the GrowHaus as a Hydroponic Farm intern in June 2016 and was hired on later that summer as Assistant Farm Manager for the Hydroponic and Aquaponic farms. Allie has a degree from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Sociology and Sustainable Development with a minor in Business. Her passions in urban agriculture and sustainable food production blossomed from her interests in gardening and cooking with home-grown ingredients. Allie believes that food security involves the entire product life-cycle of food from the seeding/planting stage, production, growth, transportation and allocation, focusing on sustainability at every level. Her hobbies include hiking, gardening, working with animals, and learning the flora and fauna of her new home in Colorado. Allie is interested in the healing powers of food and herbs. In the future, she hopes to delve into permaculture design, herbalism, and to travel the world!

Alyson Wells | Aquaponic FARM MANAGER | alyson@thegrowhaus.org

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Alyson is from Georgia. She studied Horticulture at UGA with an emphasis in sustainable food production, and received certifications in Organic Agriculture and International Agriculture. In 2013 she spent six months working on an organic polyculture farm in the mountains of Costa Rica, where she developed conversational Spanish skills working with a Spanish speaking only crew, from whom she learned to manage an integrative and sustainable farming operation. She fell in love with farming and the self empowerment it brings in Central America. At UGA she worked as a plant breeder’s assistant, where she performed hand pollinations utilizing the backcrossing method for the development of disease resistance and dwarf trait in cucurbits. 

Alyson moved to Colorado in February 2017 to be closer to her sister and to pursue hands on experience in aquaponics and hydroponics. She is grateful to work for an organization whose mission she aligns with, and to continue her education in farm management and permaculture design. 

She loves seeing live music, snowboarding, hiking, camping, and gardening. She hopes to have her own farm and food forest one day where she can homestead and provide a nutritious array of crops for her community.

Alexander Albu | MYCOLOGIST | alex@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

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Alex manages our mushroom farm and mycology program. In addition to producing gourmet mushrooms for The GrowHaus Market and local restaurants, Alex helps educate the local community about fungi and their uses and human benefits. His goals are to build up a sustainable mushroom growing operation and culture bank, as well as to implement local mycoremediation experiments. A recent convert to sustainable agriculture, Alex has homesteading ambitions and great faith in controlled environment agriculture as a means to solve food access issues worldwide. He has BS in Biology from MSU Denver, as well as a BS in Political Economy from UC Berkeley. When he’s not at The GrowHaus, you can bet that Alex is hanging out with his newborn son.

Caden Werner | Greenhouse assistant | caden@thegrowhaus.org

Caden started as an aquaponics intern at the GrowHaus and was hired as the farm apprentice shortly after. Prior to coming to the GrowHaus, Caden worked seasonally at farms throughout the U.S., learning to grow food in multiple climates and soil types. In their free time, Caden enjoys gardening, writing, and exploring new hiking trails with their border collie, Layla. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly verhey | farm sales and distribution representative | molly@thegrowhaus.org

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Growing up in central Washington Molly spent summers helping out on her family's peach farm and in her Mom's garden, where her favorite thing to plant and harvest was garlic. Her farming upbringing lead her to study Environmental Studies and Politics at Whitman College before moving to Colorado shortly after graduation in 2017. Her interest in sustainable farming, passion for equitable healthy food access, and belief in the power of community-driven social change lead her to The GrowHaus. As the Farm Sales and Distribution Representative, Molly coordinates with all three GrowHaus farms and local businesses to supply Denver area restaurants and markets with GrowHaus produce. When she's not at The GrowHaus, Molly enjoys rock climbing, crossword puzzles, and cat naps. 

irving reza | 2018-2019 farm apprentice | irving@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

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Irving G Reza Alarcon is the current Farm Apprentice for 2018-2019. Irving comes to The GrowHaus every week ready to learn how the hydroponic, aquaponic, and mushroom farms operate. He is grateful for receiving the chance to learn about food production in the metro area.

Irving holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of New Mexico. He has been living in the neighborhood of Montbello, Denver for the last 4 years. 

During his free time, Irving enjoys to spend time with his family and 2 Chihuahuas. He also participates in political events for immigrant rights.

Salvador Gonzalez | Executive ASSISTANT | CU NEW DIRECTIONS FELLOW | Salvador@thegrowhaus.org

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Salvador is from the Rocky Mountains and has been living in Denver for nearly 25 years!  He grew up in the West Colfax neighborhood and graduated from the CEC Early College in Denver Public Schools. He enjoys spending quality time in the outdoors and considers himself an original Rockies fan.

He became interested in community organizing at a young age and and soon became involved with urban gardening. He has a degree from the University of Colorado Denver in Political Science. It was in college where he first learned about the GrowHaus while researching the issue of food deserts and what communities are doing to end it.

His interests include working with Denver’s youth to develop tomorrow’s leaders through the building of community and spaces to do so. His devotion has been to work to keep youth in school and use extra-curricular activities, like athletics and after-school programs, to develop healthy skills and foundations for leadership. Previous projects he has been able to work on include Ending The School To Prison Pipeline, Voter Access and Registration, Immigrant Rights, Higher Education and Health Access.

At the GrowHaus he works closely with the Executive Director and rest of the team to ensure things run smoothly in the organization. He is really excited to see the new farm additions at the GrowHaus and work with the great people of Elyria Swansea Globeville.

Joe Phillips | Facilities Manager | joe@thegrowhaus.org

Joe joined The GrowHaus team as an intern in January of 2015 and was hired as the Facilities Manager in June of 2015.  He is a former manufacturing business owner from Ohio and moved to Colorado in 2011.  Joe has a bachelor's degree from the University of Montana in Resource Management.  At The GrowHaus, his duties include maintenance, repairs, intern oversight, and special projects.  

Nina Roumell | Development and Communications Officer | NINA@THEGROWHAUS.ORG

As the Development and Communications Officer, Nina works to capture and communicate the impact of the GrowHaus with partners and funders. She has spent the past seven years living in Colorado, first in Colorado Springs while earning her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Colorado College – Go Tigers! She spent a semester abroad in India analyzing the effectiveness of a government program in combating children’s malnutrition and left with a deep interest in community development and public health. After graduating, she moved to Denver and spent three years working on health policy advocacy and research at the state level.

Nina is also the proud coach of the Lady Mammoths basketball and soccer team at Wilfley Boys and Girls Club. 


In Memory of Kaela Allton

It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we remember our colleague and friend, Kaela Allton, who passed away on October 22nd, 2015, after a bicycle accident. Kaela worked at The GrowHaus as Programs Assistant for several months through the program Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. She supported many programs including Cosechando Salud/Harvesting Health, Service Learning, Mercado de al Lado, tours, volunteer groups, and was the assistant to our Director of Programs. She made a lasting impact on our community with her welcoming and willing attitude, and especially her hilarious sense of humor.  We will all miss her more than words can express.