Meet The Board

Wangari Gardens is a 501(c)(3) corporation led by a rotating volunteer Board of Directors. Board positions are two-year terms. If you’re interested in serving, please get in touch or talk with one of us at the garden.   


Ben Schifman – Board Chair

SONY DSCBen has been at Wangari since it was first planted in 2011. He enjoys growing beans, garlic, and cruciform vegetables. His gardening nemesis is the harlequin beetle. He’s been on the board since it was formed in 2013 when he helped write the bylaws, and was elected to a two year term as chair in 2017.


Alix Neenan – Vice-Chair and Secretary 

Alix joined the board this spring, and is very excited to be working more closely with the garden and broader community. She is relatively new to DC, having moved here two years ago. She was first introduced to gardening by her mother. Alix hopes one day to grow hydrangeas half as beautiful as her mother’s.


Lucretia Jones – Co-Treasurer and Medicinal Garden

image1-2Lucretia Jones is a wise woman herbalist, artisan, mother, companion, community garden member, and owner of House of Lukaya, an online source for herbal remedies and handicrafts. Her House of Lukaya specialties are incense twists, moontime undies, body buttah, candles, and custom herbal bath blends. In 2015, Lucretia established the DC chapter of Herbalists Without Borders, and recently published the House of Lukaya Guide to Nourishing Herbal Infusions. As a community herbalist, Lucretia offers guidance using the Seven Medicines model, as well as field walks, tincture tastings, and home remedy workshops. She welcomes your communications by phone, 804-482-0585, by email, and on Instagram @houseoflukay.


Tamara Neuhaus – Membership 

imageTam has been with Wangari Gardens since 2015. She enjoys growing kohlrabi, carrots, beets, lettuce, garlic, herbs, and tomatoes. She’s been on the board since 2016 and has filled in as needed, including with outreach and communications. Now she focuses on membership and keeping all the beds assigned and growing. Tam completed the Baltimore Master Gardener program in 2013 and was a founding member of Pigtown Food For Thought and the first garden it created. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Guatemala and Colombia where she worked in food security establishing family and community gardens. Her garden nemesis is the squirrel who eats one bite of every almost-ripe tomato!


Katie Cerretani – Communications 

Katie started volunteering on the board at the end of 2016 and has enjoyed getting to know more about the Wangari community through her work on the garden’s newsletter, website, and social media accounts.  She is grateful to have access to such a lovely outdoor space as an antidote to office work, a place to chat with neighbors, and a complement for her container garden at home. She sometimes likes to spend a little too much time at the garden in the morning before work.


Amanda Wilson – Events 


Amanda is a resident of Petworth, DC and loves biking back and forth to Wangari Gardens where she grows basil, peppers, and tomatoes. She is excited to serve as a member of the Board in a role dedicated to bringing people together to celebrate and learn about Wangari Gardens. Originally from North Carolina, she works as a writer in downtown DC. In the picture at left, Amanda is enjoying some downtime at the 2017 Fall Festival.


Ryan Lavery – Orchard 

IMG_3539Ryan first felt at home in the city when he got involved in the DC garden community.
He started out as a backyard garden enthusiast, community garden volunteer and guerrilla gardening experimentalist. He first got involved with Wangari as a weekly volunteer helping with garden maintenance and special projects. As co-manager of the Wangari Gardens Food Forest, he hopes to foster a closer relationship between people and their food, build awareness of how food production is connected to many other aspects of environmental and personal wellness and provide opportunities for the community to learn about alternative food production techniques. Outside his work with Wangari, Ryan helped found the DC Urban Garden Network, taught cooking classes as a volunteer in the YMCA’s learning kitchen and is an alum of University of DC’s Master Gardener program.


John Murphy – Compost


John has been gardening and composting at Wangari since it began. He’s a co-manager of the Wangari compost cooperative, which processes about 1,000 pounds of food scraps per month.  He has lived on Columbia Road for ten years with his wife Nikki and their two cats. In addition to gardening, he’s an opera and ballet enthusiast.


Vanessa Peña – Grants


Vanessa has been gardening with Wangari since 2015. This is her first year serving on the Board as Grants Chair.  She has previously served as a maintenance team leader, helping to run the work days for a team of 20-25 gardeners once monthly. She enjoys experimenting with diverse vegetables, including corn varieties. Vanessa works for a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. and has a background in Environmental Science and Policy.


Kelly Collins – Grants


Kelly loves being a part of the Wangari garden community, and watching her young daughter joyfully dig up carrots.  Kelly is new to the Board, and hopes to use her experience in natural resource planning and grant management to support the growth and resilience of the garden as vital community green space.



Andrew Bahrenburg – Public Gardens


Veronica Baird – Co-Treasurer


Patrick Conley – Maintenance


Rachel Stone – Volunteer Groups


Nihar Vora – Water