Planting Justice Board of directors



Haleh Zandi

Haleh Zandi is a co-founder and the Educational Director of Planting Justice. Her approach towards the food justice movement particularly draws connections between the United States dependence upon fossil fuels within the industrialized and globalized food system and the unjust militarization of the Middle East and South Asia. She believes the modern colonial food system is in a paradigm of war, and she is dedicated to the ways in which diverse communities may build alliances and practice strategies that collectively resist the violence of the industrial food system and structurally shift the United States towards more ecologically sustainable and socially just methods for growing and sharing our food.

She has taught over 200 workshops in our community gardens using Planting Justice's self-designed curriculum in food justice, culinary arts, and permaculture design. Haleh received her MA in Postcolonial Anthropology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haleh is the proud mama of baby Azadeh. 

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Leah atwood

Leah grew up on a ranch in the redwoods of Arcata, CA and moved to the Bay Area to pursue degrees in Environmental Policy and Spanish at UC Berkeley. She has lived in South and Central America as well as in Bangladesh working on behalf of social, environmental and food justice initiatives. Thanks to her work experience abroad she gained further insight into international agriculture systems and the value of socio-ecologically mindful practices and unconventional multi-stakeholder collaboration. Leah currently serves as Program Director for the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA). Founded in 1994, MESA is a non-profit dedicated to supporting seasoned and emerging small-scale farmers to strengthen resilient, local food systems worldwide through cross-cultural exchange and hands-on training in ecological production and innovative marketing. MESA advances a new generation of agrarian leaders, linking current innovations with global traditions to promote land stewardship, localized economies and cultural awareness.  Leah’s prior work experience includes program development for the International Institute for Bengal Basin to address water rights and pollution mitigation as well as fund development for the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant to provide advocacy for indigent refugees. She currently serves on the board of directors for Planting Justice, an Oakland non-profit transforming the Bay Area food system by creating green jobs and democratizing access to affordable, nutritious food. She deeply enjoys: teaching and practicing yoga; being outside on rocks, waves and trails; growing food and befriending bees.


Paul Sheldon

Paul Sheldon serves on the Planting Justice board of directors, in part because of his extensive connections within the “Sustainable Corrections” movement, nationally and internationally.  An internationally-recognized authority on sustainable food planning, natural capitalism, and local community organizing, Paul is well-known in the fields of "greening corrections"; neighborhood planning; energy, water, and resource efficiency planning; sustainability; fund raising; and board development.  Through his articles, publications, and conference presentations, Paul has existing connections with correctional institutions and associations, as well as community-based support organizations in communities in around the US, as well as in the Czech Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, and beyond. His work on energy efficiency in Alaska, economic and energy alternatives to coal plants on the Navajo Nation, and his background working on sustainable agriculture, energy, and water systems at Natural Capitalism Solutions (with his older sister, Hunter Lovins) prepared him well to support the work of Planting Justice.  Paul's recent Greening Corrections Technologies Guidebook, published by the National Institute of Justice, included Planting Justice as an example of successful, self-funding re-entry programs for formerly-incarcerated people.  Through his participation in such organizations as the American Correctional Association, the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, and the American Jails Association, as well as his extensive background with neighborhood development programs such as the Los Angeles-based TreePeople, and Boulder, CO's community energy planning process, Paul complements PJ’s existing fund raising, board development, and outreach to community-based organizations and leaders in providing resources and planning for continuing success as well as replication of PJs ‘s programs and activities in other regions.  .


Andrew Chahrour

Andrew grew up in Ohio and got his BA in Environmental Studies from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, he was exposed to a variety of Midwestern agricultural systems, both conventional and organic. Andrew's degree in Environmental Studies led him to a job with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming where he researched the recession of Aspen stands, whose disappearance across the Western US has been poorly understood. After the completion of this assignment, Andrew moved to Boston where he co-founded ConsumerConscience, a wiki-based website devoted to ethical consumerism. Soon thereafter, Andrew moved to the Bay Area and began working with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture.  After working with MESA for 3 years, Andrew changed jobs in favor of more hands-on work with Planting Justice.  For the last 4.5 years, Andrew has been working with Planting Justice as a Permaculture Designer, designing and installing edible gardens for clients all over the East Bay.  And for fun - Andrew loves to play ultimate frisbee, climb rocks, windsurf, and play with his dog whenever he can!


Gavin Raders

Gavin Raders is a co-founder and Executive Director of Planting Justice, a social justice activist, and a permacuture demonstrator/teacher. He dedicates his time to practicing permaculture wherever he can, having gone through extensive training with some of the most inspiring and effective permaculture teachers in the world: Geoff Lawton, Penny Livingston-Stark, Brock Dolman, Darren Dougherty, and Nik Bertulis. Before his stint as an intern at the Regenerative Design Institute, he studied cultural anthropology at UC Berkeley, and organized on a range of anti-war, anti-nuclear, environmental and human rights issues both on campus and off. He has knocked on nearly 30,000 doors in California, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada as a community organizer with Peace Action West.

He comes to permaculture and ecological design through a social justice framework which recognizes the right of all people to peace, security, housing, healthy food, clean water, jobs and healthcare, and the rights of future generations to a just and livable world. For this to happen, he believes that Americans need to understand and respect the intimate connection and the shared fate we have with all people and all life on this planet, and organize effectively on the local level to come up with replicable and effective solutions to the range of hardships and oppressions we currently face. When families, communities, bio-regions, and nations work with nature instead of against her to provide their own sustainable food, water, and energy, this not only makes us more resilient, but also makes us less likely to violently take what they need from someone else. He is still riding on the inspiration and jolt of passion he experienced in India, studying and advocating for the right to water and against its privatization by massive water corporations (such as Coca-Cola). You can read the paper he published on the subject here:


Jennifer Jacobs

Jennifer brings 25 years experience in high tech and non-profits to the board at Planting Justice, along with a passion for permaculture and the vision of creating a just, thriving, and sustainable world for everyone. Over the years she has landed at many rapidly growing organizations including Apple, Cisco Systems,, and a handful of non-profits, collaborating and managing a diverse array of multi-national programs, people and software implementations. Currently she also serves on the board of directors at the Dharmata Foundation. Jennifer lives in the East Bay with her family and a menagerie of animals at the edge of Tilden Park. She is excited and honored to serve alongside all the inspired people at Planting Justice.


Erica meta smith

Erica Meta Smith is a native to rural Northern California, and is dedicated to sustainable systems of design. She works in Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) carbon development - linking communities to carbon markets through carbon off-set creation. She received her undergraduate degree in Forestry and her Masters of Forestry from the University of Caliornia, Berkeley.  Erica's respect for living systems is based upon her family's practice in Forestry and their dependence upon natural resources as their income. She believes global climate change affects all parts of society and she is committed to helping communities through the creation of alternative livelihoods.


Rachel Resnikoff 

"Gramma" Rachel Resnikoff is a singer, gardener, cook, philanthropist, retired typewriter mechanic, and of course a Gramma to three plus whoever else is in need of sage advice and comfort. She tries to bring the wisdom of her years to the Board, but sometimes forgets and launches into her stand-up routine. 


Katrina Zavalney

Katrina is a change agent with a Masters in Organization Development from Sonoma State University and fifteen-years of experience in community development, facilitation, and sustainable event management. Currently she is the program manager for ACTION: A Creative Transformation In Our Neighborhoods with the Numi Foundation

In 1999, Katrina fell in love with localization while working with City Repair Project in Portland, OR. While working with this renowned re-localization nonprofit, she collaborated with many community and governmental agencies to increase community benefit programs. In 2007, Katrina served as Co-Chair of the Built Environment committee with the HOPE Collaborative in Oakland, CA. Before coming to the Numi Foundation, Katrina worked at the Walt Disney Company to help develop their environmental policies company wide, including the most recent Paper Policy. Katrina has been a permaculturist for many years and loves stacking functions and beatifying spaces with a practical, edible touch - and loves learning about the incredible healing power of plants studying herbalism whenever she gets a chance to dive in.



Alex madsen

Alex currently serves as Admissions Manager for Citizen Schools, a national education reform non-profit. At Citizen Schools she works to expand the learning day, promote student achievement and re-imagine education in the United States. After receiving her BA in East Asian Religion from Bucknell University, Alex spent over two years as an early childhood educator with Teach for America in an undeserved community of San Francisco. After teaching, Alex moved to Colorado where she received an MA in International Human Rights from the University of Denver. In Denver, she worked with the Human Trafficking Clinic as well as with the Morgridge College of Education on the development of a comprehensive human rights and human trafficking curriculum (K-12th grade) and supplementary teachers’ compendium. She also spent time working with Denver non-profits as a consultant in non-profit administration, program development and financial management. Alex has worked with local Bay Area non-profits such as SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) and Deer Hill Ranch on creating educational resources, tool-kits and models that work to go beyond traditional academics. She is thrilled to be a part of a dedicated team of individuals who are passionate and determined to transform the food, education and justice systems in this nation.


Alexis Stavropoulos

Alexis Stavropoulos received her M.A. in Geography at California State University, Fullerton. Her research focused on local food production, famers' markets, and homegardens in Irvine, CA. During this time she worked at Orange County Produce, which led her through a world of conventional and organic agriculture. Her experience introduced her to the wasteful system of large-scale industrial agriculture. This inspired her to receive a permaculture design certificate from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Her support for food justice comes from years of watching people give their lives to fields of strawberries, moving from county to county following the harvesting schedules of the central valley, and being underpaid and under respected. Her central mantra is let food be your medicine. Her life pleasures include yoga, photography, running in the rain, and travel. 


amy butler

Amy Butler is a Berkeley resident, mother of two, gardener, aspiring permaculture designer, and a client of the Planting Justice Transform Your Yard program. Professionally, Amy leads program management with the web team at Adobe Systems, where she facilitates inclusive, collaborative teams to design and build web experiences that inspire creativity. Outside of work, she is obsessed with organic gardening, native habitat restoration, permaculture principles, community farmers' markets, and the promise of green jobs turning our paved, polluted, and wasted earth into food-producing public spaces and community farms. Amy is very excited to be working with Planting Justice to bring technology, community, and the food justice movement together and to discover the magic that happens in the process.


Sky Buenavista 

B.Thomas "Sky" BuenaVista is a greencollar worker and activist for the Mother Earth Paradigm. His activism began with an underground campaign for Violence Against Women Awareness in 2007, at Solano Prison and continued in his training at San Quentin's Insight Gardening Program. A college tourist, Sky excelled in Biology with lab, Public Health, Statistics, Comparative Religions, but holds no degree.  He is certified in computer programming/coding and was once a combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps. In the private sector Sky was once the president and founder of A.S.C., a physician referral service based in San Diego.  He organized the first ever Fists to Butterflies Mandala Healing Rite at San Quentin's H-Unit. He also organized Contrition, a mentor project for men who never had positive male role models in their lives, and Warrior Meditation, a meditation class utilizing desert and sun visualization and the five-mantra, warrior chant of Tibet. 




Nicole wires

Nicole Wires was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, where she made a promise to the mountains she loves to swim in every mountain stream, creak, river or lake that she comes across.  While her paid work does not define her, she loves working with the Transform Your Yard Team at Planting Justice as a permaculture designer, designing sustainable, California native, and edible landscapes for clients all over the Bay Area.  Her unpaid work includes organizing with the White Noise Collective, exploring the intersection of white privilege and gender oppression in the struggle for racial justice, and working to dismantle the prison industrial complex with the #DefundOPD working group of the Anti Police-Terror Project.  She also loves to garden, read, dance, climb, hike, play guitar, drum, and explore.