Grow Dat Fellows
T. 504 228 7982
Mike grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley. Since moving to New Orleans in 2008, he has been involved in youth development, urban agriculture, and food security projects at the local, state, and national level. At Grow Dat, Mike works with a diverse team of staff and youth to offer land-based education and youth leadership development, while envisioning and helping to build a more just and sustainable food system.
Prior to his present role, Mike worked as the Communications and Public Affairs Director for Second Harvest Food Bank, as a project manager for an urban agriculture and youth education program at Covenant House New Orleans, and as a political organizer for Environment America. He earned a Master’s degree in Geography from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College.
T. 504 616 1777
Leo Gorman earned his BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from Tulane University in 2000. He worked for three years in Mexico and Colombia with Witness for Peace, working with partners to educate U.S. citizens about the impacts of free trade policy on civil society and the environment. He earned his MA in History at the University of New Orleans in 2009 and has co-authored several published articles and book chapters on indigenous rights, popular education and immigration. Leo taught social studies at Warren Easton High School and ran market gardens near Xavier University in New Orleans. He has interned multiple seasons on three organic vegetable farms and is thrilled to be part of a project that merges his passions for experiential education, social justice and sustainable agriculture.
T. 504 307 1200
Glenn Caston is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied mathematics at Tulane University and secondary education at Our Lady of Holy Cross College. Glenn's desire is to provide space that promotes equitable learning experiences to the young people of New Orleans. His professional roots are in the public education sector where he served as a teacher, instructional coach, data coordinator, and curriculum specialist. Working as a high school math teacher, Glenn noticed a lack of advanced opportunities for the students he served. As a result, Glenn teamed up with members of the Cowen Institute in an effort to provide advanced placement courses for the students of Algiers. Glenn has also served in the capacity of a learning team leader at Greater New Orleans Teach For America, where he provided professional development opportunities for first-year corp members. He continues his work at Grow Dat Youth Farm in the capacity of program manager.
Social Enterprise Manager
T. 917 846 7418
Clara Lyle is a native New Yorker with experience in kitchens, in classrooms, and on farms. She came to New Orleans in 2013 to teach first grade, and in her classroom, she saw firsthand the food and nutrition barriers affecting her students' success. Ready to dive into food systems, Clara spent a year working as a line cook at Cochon Restaurant while also volunteering as an Ag Apprentice at Grow Dat. In early 2015, she took off across the country with roving-restaurant Outstanding in the Field, where as the social media manager, photographer, and expeditor, she met dozens of farmers and chefs across the country. She returned home in 2016 and is thrilled to be working with Grow Dat at the intersection of her passions for local, sustainable agriculture, food justice, and education. Clara graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a degree in Religious History and Global Health. She is an avid bicyclist and fan of groovy tunes.
T. 601 260 0509
Jabari Brown is an avid outdoorsman interested in the relationship between people, the land, and other living beings. Growing up in rural Mississippi, he believes that nature, if listened to, can be our greatest teacher. Upon graduating from Jackson State University, he sought work that would unite his passions: enjoying nature and sharing his life's experiences with others. Shortly thereafter, he was selected as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Grow Dat via the Center for Public Service at Tulane University. He is a founding staff member and is an integral voice in shaping the culture of the organization. His life's motto is, "What good am I if I can't teach others what I have learned?" As Hive Coordinator, Jabari trains others in Grow Dat's models of youth leadership development and creating successful multicultural teams.
T. 850 240 3048
Kevin Connell is a teacher, farmer, and musician from Valparaiso, Florida. Starting out in education as a paraprofessional, he has taught bilingual social studies to new immigrants, ESL in Indonesia and Tanzania, special education science in New York, and adult education in New Orleans. As a novice urban farmer trying to grow vegetables with teenagers in Battery Park, Kevin discovered the power of farming as a tool for social justice education. He is happy to be back among live oaks and pelicans and to be teaching outdoors, helping the young folks of Grow Dat to question our food system and envision more just and sustainable alternatives. He holds a master’s degree from Teachers College and is a certified special education and social studies teacher.
Public Programs Coordinator
T. 504 491 9123
Asia-Vinae was born in San Jose, California, and grew up in Eunice, Louisiana. She began her career in education co-facilitating summer art classes in 2007. In 2010 she moved to New Orleans and worked with Young Audiences of Louisiana, where she taught Spoken Word to high school students and Visual Arts to Pre-K - 8th Grade students. As an artist, she worked on many murals across the city, most notably at Martin Behrman Charter School, Blackstar Books & Cafe, and Grow Dat Youth Farm. Asia-Vinae is passionate about encouraging youth to use their voices, challenging them to think critically about the world they live in, and reminding them that imagination is the step before change. Before coming to Grow Dat, Asia-Vinae interned with American Friends Service Committee and Ashé Cultural Arts Center. These organizations have served as meaningful guides to the way Asia-Vinae understands and approaches community engagement and encourages her to envision and act on a better tomorrow.
Youth Services and Operations Coordinator
Kelly is a social worker from Charlottesville, Virginia. She has been working with youth in the New Orleans area since 2010 in a variety of educational and therapeutic roles. She is passionate about supporting educational access, social-emotional wellbeing and strong communities for all youth. She moved to New Orleans after completing her undergraduate degree at Randolph-Macon College, earning a degree in Sociology and German. Kelly holds a masters degree in Social Work from Tulane University.
Grow Dat Fellows
Head Crew Leader & Farm Fellow
Sean Winford is 20 years old and has lived in Louisiana most of his life. Coming from a military family, Sean was born in Kreuznach, Germany, and moved to New Orleans at the age of 3. Sean was introduced to Grow Dat by his school counselor during his junior year at Carver Collegiate Academy. Sean took the opportunity to pursue a job at Grow Dat as a way to learn more about sustainable farming, better his skills in public speaking, and to become a better leader. After his first year as a crew member, Sean became an Assistant Crew Leader during the 2015-2016 program year. Now in his third year at Grow Dat, Sean is Head Crew Leader and a Farm Fellow. In this role, Sean helps lead young people through the fall and spring leadership programs. In the future, Sean plans to travel overseas to Europe to study naturopathic medicine.
Alexander Sanders was born in Louisiana but moved to Tennessee after the hurricane. After a few years Alex moved back to New Orleans to finish school. As a junior attending G.W. Carver Collegiate high school he found his first job at Grow Dat. As a crew member working in the field and learning about sustainable agriculture he fell in love with the life of agriculture. He returned to Grow Dat to complete another year as an assistant crew leader to help teach youth like himself about the importance of agriculture and social justice. In his third year with the organization Alex has taken on the role of Farm Fellow. In the future Alex hopes to continue the lifestyle of agriculture and start his own recycling company.
Crew Leader and Farm Fellow
Kaya Jones grew up in North Florida were she was able to enjoy beautiful beaches and gorgeous trees. She graduated from Florida A&M University with a bachelors degree in Environmental Science. While in college she founded a student community garden and worked with different organizations to help fight environmental injustices in the Sunshine State. After graduating college in 2016 Kaya worked as an Environmental Educator at the Mcdowell Environmental Center in the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama. She is super excited to be working at Grow Dat and to learn about farming in Louisiana and the amazing culture of New Orleans.
Crew Leader and Farm Fellow
finn is a human farmer, teacher, cook, diy-er, and artist from Wisconsin. finn was influenced and inspired through witnessing and participating in growing, preparing, and preserving food, and living sustainably through their childhood with their mom’s family who participated in subsistence gardening to feed nine kids. Following an intense case of graduate-school induced imposter syndrome, they reconnected to their identity as a farmer again and built community through food both personally and professionally. They traveled through Italy and Switzerland living and working on farms and homesteads, cooking and sharing meals with farmers and travelers, learned to roast coffee, worked and lived in cooperative environments, and learned to identify, harvest, and use wild edibles and medicinal herbs with friends. Simultaneously they grew into their activist identity and became dedicated to playing a role at the current intersection of food, economic, environmental, racial, and gender justice. finn believes in the transformative power of building relationships with youth and nurturing and stewarding their dreams for a just and balanced future into being.
Crew Leader and Farm Fellow
Jemal is a 22 year old New Orleans native with a huge love for agriculture and the outdoors. He is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. He believes that healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand. Jemal's parents are also New Orleans natives and throughout his childhood owned and managed several community gardens. He discovered his passions at a young age, through the medians of gardening and holistic life practices. He attended Delgado's Horticultural Technologies Program in 2014, which helped to deepen his understanding of sustainable farming practices. He has led several projects, including a community garden that he started with his little sister and her friends in the New Orleans East area. He believes that through education and exposure we can change people, who can help to change the world through the median of sustainable farming practices.