Jill Volat, Founding Executive Director
Jill Volat’s life-long passion for health, community and the environment began at an early age. The seeds were sown while planting, harvesting and cooking homegrown veggies along side her dad at 8 years old. She received her B.A. in Art History from the University of California at Santa Barbara, her Victory Gardener certification from the U.C. Cooperative Extension and studied Italian at the University Per Stranieri in Siena, Italy during her semester abroad. Jill founded her landscape design firm, Farmista LA 15 years ago, and served as Director of the edible garden program at Clover Avenue Elementary School for five years. She has worked with Ron Finley of The Ron Finley Project, Mud Baron of Muir Ranch in Pasadena and numerous other food champions here in Los Angeles. She is the founding Executive Director of The Edible Apartment, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that re-purposes underutilized land (particularly on apartment building properties) into organic urban farms, with the purpose of creating a sustainable food source, building community and promoting health. The mission of the organization is also to partner with Veterans, rehabilitation facilities and prisons to share the healing benefits and optimism that the simple act of building a garden brings.
MEMBERS of the BOARD
Ajna Sharma-Wilson was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. She has been a practicing attorney for over 10 years and became involved with food activism after she attended culinary school when a small food coop was raided in 2010. This ignited a desire to learn more about our food systems and led to national activist and defense litigation work throughout the country, including working Amish farmers. In 2013, Ajna took her desire to understand food to a new level by becoming a Master Gardener through the UC-Davis program, Los Angeles chapter. This has allowed her to work with school and community gardens in LA. Ajna believes that the more we learn about our food systems, the more empowered we feel about our health. To her a garden is wealth! She stands for sustainability, integrity and love!
Nikki Parrish is Program Administrator of UCLA's Sustainable Los Angeles Grand Challenge Project and a Certified Nonprofit Professional. She holds an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University and a B.A. in Communications from Pennsylvania State University. Nikki joins us with over 20 years of special event experience, including over a decade spent at HBO as a mainstay in Talent Relations and Special Events, before transitioning away from entertainment and into the nonprofit sector as a freelance event planner. In addition, Nikki manages a niche consultancy focused on environmentally conscious and sustainability driven programs and initiatives for NGOs across the Greater Los Angeles area, where she had successfully produced inaugural events for some of the fiercest nonprofit organizations in the City of LA, including: L.A. Kitchen, Trash for Teaching, and The Ron Finley Project. Most recently, Nikki has cultivated a unique and dedicated community of devotees as Event Producer for the 2014 and 2015 seasons of the Muir Ranch "Farm-to-Table Supper Series" and the 2015 "Gathering of Community Gardens" for the Los Angeles Community Garden Council. Nikki is excited to bring her skills and experience to The Edible Apartment and welcomes the opportunity to help launch this new and exciting project in our shared community.
Randy Ryan is the first food grower hired in the 91-year history of The American Heart Association. With the goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent by the year 2020, AHA decided to take a new route in the fight against obesity, hiring Randy to lead Teaching Gardens. Rooted in AHA’s dietary recommendations for children, Randy and the Teaching Gardens team have built over 350 urban gardens nationally and developed a curriculum full of garden-themed lessons teaching nutrition, math, science and other subjects that lead to healthy behaviors and positive learning. After military service and 15 years in New York City, entertainment opportunities brought Randy to Los Angeles, where he appears in films. Randy has been part of the Farm Aid family for 6 years, and is the National Spokesperson for the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which helps veterans transition into meaningful agriculture careers. He appears on HSN raising awareness on the stories/needs of veterans and farmers.
Renee Gunter was born a DOER, curious, highly creative, involved and fully present. These characteristics surely have solidified the foundation for her richly diverse life explorations to date. She was a former haut couture model in Paris during the eighties,(YSL,Givenchy,Ballenciaga)et al., living and traveling the world for seven years. Founded a highly regarded landscape design company (Urbanscapes for Sustainable Living) specializing in drought tolerant gardens which have been featured in the L.A. Times, Country Gardens Magazine, Food and Wine magazine, CBS Eyewitness News and others. She returned to South L.A. in 2004, to share her commitment and artistry to the community that raised her. In 2006 Renee ran and was elected to UNNC (United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council, board member from 2006-2009. She was Awarded a certificate of appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, Community Environmental Activist 2009. Appointed by Councilman-Council President Herb Wesson to the Urban Design Committee for Expo Line light rail transit parkway, Phase one and two and Art Advisory Board member for Metro 2006 to present. Concerned about healthy food options in her community known as a food desert, founded Daily Organics an organic produce market in West Adams Los Angeles since 2013. A mother of two and Fully present!
Shanelle Thoreson, Graphic Designer
Bio Coming Soon!
Kelly "Kelebek" Travers, Web Spinner
Kelly "Kelebek" Travers works with organizations that are committed to making the world a happier, healthier, more peaceful place. With a diverse background in computer sciences, film animation, art and jewelry, she finds many ways to contribute. She has worked for Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures Entertainment and is currently self-employed. Under the name Kelebek Travers, she designs and creates jewelry, a venture that originated in 2000 when she created a line of anklets to support The Michoacan Reforestation Fund (currently known as The Monarch Butterfly Fund). Kelly is on the board of advisors for Future Doctors for South Sudan and holds the Annual Silver Cuff Giveaway to raise funds for cancer research. Her technical skills and artistry have been featured in film and television, donated to support The Peace Project in Los Angeles, and utilized in several web projects.
Andres Ramos, Consultant
Bio Coming Soon!