BOARD OF DIRECTORS &
ADVISORY COMMITTEE
BIOS

D

Rhonda Dubin

Rhonda, now retired, was the Midwest Regional Program Director at New Teacher Center (NTC), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning by accelerating educator effectiveness. She worked side by side with educational leaders to design, build and sustain high quality mentoring & coaching programs across the Midwest ranging from urban to rural districts, consortia and universities.  Her work focused on building the capacity of district, university, and state program leaders to translate regional, statewide and district level strategies into action plans that made mentoring & coaching the foundation of all teacher development within and across the system.

 

Before joining NTC, Rhonda taught pre-school, elementary and middle school for 21 years and pre-service classes in the College of Education at Cardinal Stritch University for four years. These experiences ignited a passion in her to dedicate herself to help change the way new teachers are brought into the profession.

F

Jamie Ferschinger

Jamie is the Director of the Department of Environmental Health & Community Wellness at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers where she works with a team and the community to positively transform the environmental conditions where people live, learn, work, and play to optimize health and to promote Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Justice, and Resilience. Jamie earned her Master of Science degree in Conservation Biology from State University of New York – Environmental Science and Forestry.

 

In addition to her work at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Jamie serves on a number of governance boards for environmental and social organizations in Milwaukee.

G

Bridgett Gonzalez

Bridgett brings extensive experience in engaging and connecting Milwaukee’s youth. She currently serves as a Program Officer at Bader Philanthropies where she oversees both The Arts and Youth Development portfolios.  Previously, she was the Director of Diversity and Community Engagement at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. In this role, she planned and coordinated educational outreach and cultural programming, with a focus on integrating health and the arts into the lives of Milwaukee’s youth.

 

Prior held positions in the community include United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) and Wisconsin Correctional Services (WCS). She holds a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, as well as a master‘s degree in business from Cardinal Stritch University.

Dana Guthrie

Dana is Managing Partner at Gateway Capital, a venture capital firm focused on Wisconsin-based, early-stage startups. Prior to her current role, Guthrie founded and managed Alchemy Angel Investors, an angel investment network. She founded Alchemy while being employed full-time at a Fortune 500 company and managing a multi-million dollar, global product offering. 

 

Guthrie is a two-time patent recipient, holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering, and a M.S. in Energy Engineering from University of Illinois at Chicago.

H

Carmelia Harris

Bio coming soon!

J

Tylon Jones

Hello, my name is Tylon.  I am a Teens Grow Greens board member. I am also an TGG intern graduate from 2021. Growing up, I loved exploring the weird things nature had to offer, and now being actively close to it, I’ve grown to love it a bit more.

K

Rawi Khateeb

Bio coming soon!

L

Todd Leech

Todd is a founding board member of TGG. His journey as an anti-racist activist brought him into the movement for equal justice in food systems.  His current and past affiliations include Sweet Water Foundation, Lotfotl Community Farm, Riverwest Workers Co-operative, Anti-Racist Action and The East Side Green Market.

Vanessa Llanas

Vanessa is committed to leadership development within herself and the community at large.  She believes strongly in civic service is an Alumnus of AmeriCorps VISTA (Chicago), Public Allies (Milwaukee), Latino Non-profit Leadership Program and Leadership Wisconsin (formerly the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program).  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Family Community Services from Bowling Green State University. Vanessa worked for the City of Milwaukee in community outreach positions that allowed her to support Milwaukee residents who were working to strengthen their neighborhoods through a variety of innovative approaches.  She assisted over 5,000 Milwaukee residents to access over $400,000 for the implementation of community projects that helped improve their neighborhoods. 

 

After working for the City of Milwaukee, she went on to serve as Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Representative for United States Senator Tammy Baldwin for over five years. Vanessa has continued her career in public service and recently became Deputy Director for the Milwaukee Office Of Governor Tony Evers.

Al Liu

Al has served as Vice President of Coffee at Colectivo Coffee since April 2016 and spent seven years at the company in the 2000s under the Alterra banner. He has worked in the specialty coffee industry for 21 years and has extensive experience in building supply chains all over Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia as well as marketing and branding of both green and roasted coffee. 

 

A native of the Milwaukee area, Al is a graduate of Georgetown and Tufts universities and has served on numerous professional and community boards, including the Specialty Coffee Association of America, Latino Arts, Inc., and Public Allies/Milwaukee.

M

Jon Mariano

Bio coming soon!

Nydia Maurus-Jones

Milwaukee is my adopted home. I love the energy in this city, especially all the people working hard to make Milwaukee better every day. Teens Grow Greens brings together my experience as a teacher and a small business owner.

 

When I'm not supporting TGG, I am a designer/creative director at my company, Odvant Creative, mom of two amazing kids, and plant mom to not enough plants.

Samantha Mitchell

Samantha is a community champion with more than a decade of marketing and community relations experience. In her current role as engagement manager, diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, she is charged with leading efforts that promote equity and inclusion, while engaging a diverse and prominent pool of donors.

 

Additionally, Samantha is the owner and CEO of SamanthaStarr Events, sits on several boards and committees that support youth development and the arts, and holds a B.A. in Public Relations from Columbia College Chicago. 

N

Tony Nguyen

Tony is the Regional Banking Director for Eastern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago Region. 

 

Tony began his Wells Fargo career in 2003 as a mortgage closer for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and in 2009 was promoted to Business Development Relationship Manager for Wells Fargo Financial. In December 2011, he joined Community Banking as a Branch Manager and in November 2012, he was promoted to District Manager in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 2014, Nguyen joined the Wisconsin/Michigan Region as Area President; during this time he led a leadership development program that propelled the advancement of over 40 high potential team members. In 2017, he was named Region Bank President for the Wisconsin Region. 

 

Nguyen graduated from Drake University with a bachelor’s degree in international relations. He also graduated from the Waukee Leadership Institute in 2009 and served two years as Council President for Wells Fargo Financial Bank President’s Leadership class of 2010. These were some of the leadership attributes that awarded him the Des Moines Business Record “40 under 40”award in 2012. He graduated from the Iowa Banker Leadership Institute in 2014 and is a 2019 graduate of The Pacific Coast Banking School.  

 

Focused on diversity and inclusion, Nguyen completed the Wells Fargo Asian Pacific Islanders Leadership course in San Francisco. He sourced this development by serving as chairman of the Iowa Asian Alliance. He served as chair for the Upper Midwest Diversity & Inclusion Council; leading initiatives in team member/marketplace outcomes and D&I advocacy for the region. Tony was also chair of the Wisconsin Leadership Council, the Executive Sponsor of the Diverse Abilities Team Member Network and serves as the Wisconsin Team Member Network leader.   At present, he serves as the Enterprise Generations Connection President.  

 

Nguyen passionately serves on four boards that are meaningful to him both personally and professionally; Safe & Sound, Teens Grow Greens, Penfield Children’s Center and Catholic Community Foundation.  He also serves as on the advisory committee for LISC.

 

In his spare time, Tony enjoys attending his daughters’ gymnastics and softball games. He also enjoys traveling with his wife Arin, daughters Maddy and Johnny and his son Zach.

P

Tamara Pacada

Tamara, CFRE (she/her), currently serves as the Development Director of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) where she is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining systems that ensure the successful and effective implementation of the department’s annual development plan. Prior to joining CASEL, Tamara served as the Managing Director of Development at City Year Milwaukee for nine years. In that role, she oversaw the fund development, civic engagement, and brand/communications work.

 

Directly prior to joining City Year in 2012, Tamara was the Fund Development Manager for Menomonee Valley Partners working on behalf of the From the Ground Up campaign in partnership with the Urban Ecology Center. The goal of this $25 million campaign was to remediate a 24-acre brownfield into a park and community asset, expand the Hank Aaron State Trail, and build a third branch of the Urban Ecology Center.

 

In 2010, Tamara achieved her Master’s in Business Administration from Marquette University as part of the Trinity Fellows Program, and in 2017 completed the Developing Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals at Columbia University.

 

Tamara resides in Glendale, Wisconsin with her husband Allan and two sons, Elijah and Louis. As a family, they enjoy traveling, hiking, reading and visiting all the great restaurants, civic attractions and neighborhoods Milwaukee has to offer.

Avelina Poppert

I work for Waukesha State Bank and currently serves as Vice President – Commercial Banking Officer with nearly 15 years of financial experience. I have extensive experience in multiple aspects of commercial banking and loan processes, especially SBA 7(a) and the USDA business and industry programs. One of my favorite reasons for working with small business is to be part of their journey as an entrepreneur, and to provide guidance as best I can.  I currently serve as the Vice-Chair of the Community Involvement Committee with Tempo – Emerging Women Leaders, as well as I serve on the Advisory Committee for META House.

 

I am married and I have two children who love sports and keep our family busy. I am really looking forward to being a part of the Teens Grow Greens family.

S

Jon Smucker

Bio coming soon!

T

Shary Tran

Shary is the Global Head of DEI for Amazon - Global Distribution Services.  Prior to joining Amazon Shary served for 8 years as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health System, and 15 years working in the field of Diversity and Inclusion for Fortune 500 manufacturing organizations such as Briggs & Stratton and Johnson Controls.

 

Shary is a life-long resident of Milwaukee, WI and is deeply committed to her community.  Shary is a Milwaukee Business Journal “40 Under 40” Alumni, and in 2020, Shary was recognized as one of the 40 Most Influential Asian Americans in Wisconsin.  She is a board member of Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee and the Sojourner Family Peace Center.  Shary serves as an Executive Board member of the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin, and co-founder of ElevAsian – a social media network of community members dedicated to elevating the visibility of AAPI businesses, professionals, and issues facing the AAPI community of Greater Milwaukee. 

Shary holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University and a Bachelor of Administration - International Business from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.

Shary Tran is the youngest child in an immigrant family of 12, and a first-generation Wisconsin native. Her culturally diverse upbringing helped drive her passion for work in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

w

Ned Witte

Bio coming soon!