The Leichtag Foundation’s Board of Directors comprises leaders in the San Diego County community. Each member brings a unique perspective and expertise to the Board and has enjoyed a professional and personal connection to the Leichtag family.
- James S. Farley, Esquire, President and CEO
- Bernard Reiter, Esquire, Chairman
- Emily Einhorn, Vice Chair
- Robert Brunst, M.D., Ph.D., CFO and Treasurer
- Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon, Vice Chair
Leichtag Foundation Staff
- Jenny Camhi, Senior Manager of the Hub and North County Jewish Life
- Laura Diede, Office Assistant and Receptionist
- Sharyn Goodson, Director of Philanthropic Strategy
- Janine Hewitt, Accountant
- Jenny Jacobs, Project Administrative Assistant
- Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development
- Jenny Jacobs, Project Administrative Assistant
- Jessica Kort, Philanthropy Manager
- Eileen Linden, Executive Assistant
- Vanessa Oshiro, Grants and Operations Manager
- Mitchell Price, Program Associate
- Naomi Rabkin, Director Of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships
- Leilani Rasmussen, Director of Finance and Grants Administration
- Makana Rowan, Hub Animator
- Jesse Saucedo, Part Time Events Assistant
- Charlene Seidle, Executive Vice President
- Joshua Sherman, Cultural Programs Manager
- Brachie Sprung, Director of Jerusalem Partnership
- Carmen Stephens, Events Manager
Leichtag Commons Staff
- Mil Krecu, Leichtag Commons Assistant Operations Manager
- Lorenzo Meza, Ranch Hand
- Ray Mills, Facilities Maintenance Coordinator
- Ryan Parker, Landscape Maintenance Coordinator
- Dempsey Sawyer, Leichtag Commons Operations Manager
- Dan Walsh, Security Manager
Coastal Roots Farm Staff
- Sona Desai, Associate Director
- Nora Feldhusen, Educational Program Manager
- Raymond Gaboola, Part Time Community Farmer
- Ellie Honan, Animal Husbandry & Compost Coordinator
- Jaclyn Kellner, Jewish Farm Educator
- Ross McFarland, Field Worker
- LyOr Rabinowiz, Food Forest Coordinator
- Itai Siegel, Maintenance and Equipment Technician
- Aaron Stewart, Community Farmer
- Sara Telzer, Social Enterprise Manager
- Damian Valdez, Community Farmer
- George Workman, Production Manager
- Daniel Yabrove, Assistant Production Manager
- Molly Zimmerman, Field Production Coordinator
Past Board Members of Blessed Memory
James S. Farley, Esquire, President and Chief Executive Officer
Jim is the Foundation’s President and CEO, a position he has held since 2007 when the Foundation became independent. Prior to that appointment, Jim served as General Counsel of the Foundation from 1995 – 2007 when he was practicing as an attorney.
Jim’s professional background and diverse community leadership experience catalyzed the Foundation’s purchase of Leichtag Commons. He is a mentor and takes particular pride in being a champion of young leaders. He is a frequent presenter about the power of place in community engagement and in developing new models of social change.
A longtime San Diegan whose community activism dates back to his youth, Jim draws upon many years of volunteer leadership experience in the nonprofit sector. Currently, Jim serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Funders Network, an international organization dedicated to Jewish philanthropy and social enterprise. In past years, he served as President of the Board of Seacrest Village Retirement Communities and the Quail Botanical Garden Foundation doing business as San Diego Botanic Garden and as a member of the San Diego Foundation’s Board of Governors
Jim is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned a law degree from California Western School of Law and a Master’s in Taxation from New York University. He practiced law for 33 years. He and his wife live in Carlsbad, California. They have two married children and five grandchildren. Jim is a passionate horticulturalist, an avid reader, and a lover of music.
In Houston, Mr. Reiter was an attorney and businessman for over 35 years. He initially was Patent Counsel for the Manned Spacecraft Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and thereafter a partner in the law firm of Hyer, Reiter, Matthews, and Eichenroght until 1993. The practice of the firm was primarily in intellectual property law and dealt with the acquisition of employer/employee inventions, improvements, innovations and the protection and sale and licensing of those rights to others. The firm also engaged in federal patent litigation and licensing throughout the country.
In 1995, Mr. Reiter acquired an ownership interest in the American Transcriber Corporation of Texas. Ultimately, he became the principal owner and Chairman of the Board. The company, which was engaged in medical transcription for hospitals, expanded to offices throughout Texas, Florida and New England. In 1999, Mr. Reiter sold the company and moved to California. After moving to North County San Diego, he became active in the community. He served on the Board of Directors for Seacrest Village Retirement Communities and later as Chairman of the Community Advisory Board for Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas.
Mr. Reiter graduated with a Bachelors degree in engineering from Ohio State and a Juris Doctorate in law from Georgetown University Law School in Washington D.C. Currently, he resides in Rancho Mirage, California. He has three daughters and three grandchildren.
Robert F. Brunst, M.D., Ph.D., has served on the Leichtag Foundation Board since its inception in 1991. As Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, he oversees the Foundation’s financial operations and accounting processes.
Dr. Brunst practices adult medicine in Encinitas and is affiliated with Scripps Memorial Hospital’s Encinitas and La Jolla facilities. He has been Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine since 1986 and is the Medical Director of InnerVision Wellness Imaging in Carlsbad, California. Dr. Brunst has authored a number of publications; most recently on the subject of anti-aging.
Dr. Brunst earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry and his M.D. at the University of Southern California. Over the years, Dr. Brunst was a physician at La Costa Resort and Spa from 1979 to 1992 and Chief of Staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas from 1992 to 1994. He also was Founder and Medical Director of Hospice of the North Coast in Carlsbad, California and Medical Director of Tri-City Hospice in Oceanside, California. In addition, he has served as Community Advisory Board Chairman of Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas, and as a member of the Scripps Foundation Board.
Dr. Brunst’s professional and personal relationship with the Leichtag family dates back more than three decades, when Lee and Toni Leichtag engaged Dr. Brunst as their family physician. Throughout the years, he served them and members of their immediate family.
Robert Brunst was born in Amsterdam, Holland. He and his wife have one son. They reside in Olivenhain, California.
Emily is a businesswoman with involvement in numerous ventures. Since 1993, she has been Chairperson of the Board of Summit Properties which is one of the top ten owners and developers of industrial real estate in Portland, Oregon.
Emily is co-owner of Chella Textiles, a world leader in the design, development, and sales of luxury performance textiles for the hospitality industry and for residential use. The company has developed world-wide distribution through showrooms and representatives.
Since 1993, Emily has owned and managed the Silverado Apartments, a senior apartment complex in Solana Beach, California. She is also part owner of Turf Paradise, the 300 acre Phoenix horse racetrack which operates nine months per year. Emily also is an investor in Huya Biosciences where she served on the business advisory board. Huya identifies and licenses promising Chinese pharmaceuticals for commercialization in Western markets. She has invested in dozens of other private businesses and real estate related ventures.
In 1982, Emily graduated from Harvard College receiving her BA in Economics. She worked at MA/ACOM Linkabit, the predecessor company to Qualcomm. She received her CPA in 1987 having worked at KPMG Peat Marwick in both the auditing and private business consulting areas. From 1987 to 1990, Emily worked at Grubb and Ellis, a national real estate brokerage firm where she specialized in apartment and industrial investment properties.
Emily is extremely active and involved in the Jewish philanthropic community of San Diego. She is a Wexner Fellow graduate and is the past Chair of the Board of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. Since joining the board fifteen years ago, the Foundation has grown from $25 million in assets to over $260 million. She has served as chair of finance, human resources, and audit, and as a member of the strategic planning group, among other functions. She also was the founder of the Jewish Day School Scholarship fund helping all five of the Jewish Day Schools in San Diego. Emily is also on the Board of 2-1-1 San Diego and has previously served on the boards of Soille Hebrew Day School and Congregation Beth El.
Emily is married to Dan Einhorn, a physician specializing in Endocrinology. They have two children, Max, 22 and Estee, 20.
Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon is the President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, a group of foundations operating in Canada, Israel and the United States. Among the foundations’ innovative launches are Birthright Israel and Reboot, two initiatives aimed at connecting young, assimilated Jews to their tradition, The Gift of New York, a powerful response to September 11, helping to heal families of victims through the power of culture, and Project Involvement, an educational reform program serving some 265,000 Israeli elementary school students.
He previously served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UJA-Federation of New York. Other past positions include executive positions at Altro Health & Rehabilitation Services, Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged and Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Miami. Dr. Solomon also served with the City, State and Federal Governments. An author of over 100 publications in both professional journals and outlets such as The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, he served as an adjunct associate professor at New York University. He sits on numerous nonprofit and foundation boards including the FJC, a community foundation in New York, the Jim Joseph Foundation in San Francisco, and the Leichtag Foundation in San Diego, where he serves as Vice Chair. He also served on the Board of the Council on Foundations, where he chaired the Committee on Ethics and Practice and sat on its Executive Committee. He is a founding trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue and has received a number of honors from professional associations and universities.
His widely acclaimed book, The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, co-authored with Charles Bronfman, was published by Wiley/Jossey-Bass in October, 2009. It has been awarded the Axiom Gold Medal in philanthropy and has been translated and published in South Korea. They completed a sequel, The Art of Doing Good: Where Passion Meets Action, also published by Wiley/Jossey-Bass (September, 2012), which explores the principles and practices of nonprofit social enterprise, extracting the lessons from the journeys of eighteen social entrepreneurs.
Jenny Camhi, Senior Manager of the Hub and North County Jewish Life
Jenny is the Foundation’s Senior Manager of the Hub and North County Jewish Life where she is responsible for facilitating connections between the Hub members and the Farm, recruiting and on boarding new Hub and Hot Desk members, and managing the Professional Development program offered to Hub members.
Prior to joining Leichtag, Jenny worked for Jewish Family Service of San Diego as the North County Outreach Social Worker where she worked to reduce the barriers to accessing both local Jewish life and community resources.
Jenny holds a Master’s in Social Work from San Diego State University and a BA in Human Development from Connecticut College. She started her social work career at the Community Resource Center in Encinitas where she provided individual, couples and group therapy for community members as well as residents of the agency’s domestic violence shelter. She is a proud Encinitas resident where she lives with her husband and two children.
Laura Diede, Office Assistant and Receptionist
Laura Diede is the Foundation’s Office Assistant and Receptionist where she is responsible for helping with office operations.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Laura worked for Athena San Diego as Program Assistant, as a Community Manager for 10 different HOA’s, a General Manager at an architectural survey company and as a manager of the Farmington Woods Pro Shop.
She has lived in Virginia, California, Costa Rica, New Jersey, Connecticut and Colorado. Her home is now in Encinitas where she and her husband and high school sweetheart moved to be close to their first mutual grandchild. Her passion has always been non-profit work and being a part of the Leichtag Foundation is a dream come true.
Sharyn Goodson, Director of Philanthropic Strategy
Sharyn Goodson is Leichtag’s Director of Philanthropic Strategy where she is responsible for leading funder partnerships, developing giving opportunities for community members, overseeing a new giving circle initiative, managing a portfolio of grants, producing special educational programs and initiatives and looking at ways that Leichtag Foundation can increase its impact and leverage across funding areas.
In April 2010, Sharyn was hired as the Leichtag Foundation’s first Program Officer. Beginning in 2012, Sharyn also began to manage the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego’s philanthropy programs and served as the lead contact for major family funds and foundations. Her most recent role at the Jewish Community Foundation was as its Vice President of Philanthropy.
Previously, Sharyn was Director of Grants of Jewish Family Service of San Diego and Program Director of the Aspen Community Foundation in Aspen, CO. Sharyn also held professional positions at Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Pittsburgh.
Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development
Daron is the Foundation’s Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development, where he manages the strategic planning, community engagement and operations of the 67.5 acre Ranch property. He is also leading the launch of the Jewish community farm and all other farming projects; developing new tenant and business relationships; and participating in the Foundation’s management team.
Daron is a nationally recognized organic/biodynamic farmer, educator, speaker and eco-entrepreneur. He is the author of the acclaimed book Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities and Give Back to the Earth. He is the founder of Farmer D Organics and Farmer D Consulting and has spent the past 20 years designing and building biodynamic farms and gardens all over the country.
From 2003-2005, Daron was a Joshua Venture Group Fellow for his project Gan Chaim which provided innovative programming for Jewish Community Centers, camps and schools through the creation of hands-on educational therapeutic gardening experiences.
Daron’s commitment to integrating organic and biodynamic farming has gained national attention. Early in his career, he was selected as Biodynamic Rookie Farmer of the Year; shortly thereafter, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles selected him in the top 20 under 40, and Georgia Trend in the top 40 under 40. He was awarded the Pillars of EARTH Award from Earth University for Entrepreneurial Spirit. Whole Foods has partnered with him to develop the Farmer D Organics Signature Biodynamic Blend Organic Compost available at Whole Foods and other places.
Daron continues to work with selected Farmer D consulting clients and maintains his brand and business.
Jenny Jacbos, Project Administrative Assistant
For over a decade Jenny Jacobs has studied the principles of intentional living, stress management, and self development. Jenny is a dynamic speaker, coach, and blogger and is passionate about helping people integrate their personal and professional selves.
In a world of accelerated change, workplace stress can take an enormous toll on employees and organizations as a whole. Jenny is instrumental in helping employees remove self-limiting barriers, promote emotional resilience, self-efficacy and confidence.
As a Employee Engagement Specialist for Center for Executive Excellence, Ms. Jacobs helps organizations empower their employees by implementing tools that help manage stress, achieve self-awareness, and challenge mental barriers that may hinder behavior change.
Jenny holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Masters candidate for Organizational/Industrial Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. Having worked in diverse industries ranging from healthcare, to legal, to fashion, she guides employees of all ages through a structured method that improves bottom lines and results in changes that last.
Jessica Kort, Philanthropy Manager
Jessica is Leichtag Foundation’s Philanthropy Manager, responsible for developing giving opportunities for community members, overseeing a new giving circle initiative, building the Foundation’s philanthropic consulting practice and looking at ways that the Foundation can increase its impact and leverage across funding areas.
Jessica most recently served as Managing Director of Foothold Foundation, an initiative dedicated to supporting collaborative efforts in San Diego’s social sector. Prior to that, she served as Communications Officer at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and Program Coordinator at Temple Emanu-El of San Diego.
Jessica currently serves as a steering committee member of the San Diego Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. She is a former advisory board member of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network San Diego and was a 2012 San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute Fellow. Jessica received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from UC San Diego, a Master of Arts in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Diego.
Eileen Linden, Executive Assistant
Eileen is the Foundation’s Executive Assistant where she helps handle the smooth operations at the Ranch as it grows.
Prior to joining Leichtag, Eileen worked in hotel management, accounting and human resources departments.
Eileen holds an Associates in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales College in Providence, Rhode Island. Eileen currently resides in North County and enjoys living in this beautiful community with her husband and two children.
Vanessa Oshiro, Grants and Operations Manager
Vanessa is the Foundation’s Grants and Operations Manager where she oversees grant administrative processes from concept to evaluation, analyzes strengths and limitations of grantees and prospects, monitors performance of active grants and prepares funding analyses that capture the program rationale and expected measurable outcomes, and prepares and participates in the assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of program strategies.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Vanessa served as Grants Manager at The San Diego Foundation responsible for managing donor-advised grant making for the organization. In this role, she also worked with donors to align their philanthropic goals with community needs.
Vanessa holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from University of San Diego. She is also an active member of Emerging Practitioners of Philanthropy (EPIP), serving on the steering committee for the San Diego Chapter.
Mitchell Price, Program Associate
Mitchell is the Foundation’s Program Associate where he splits his time between the Philanthropy Department and newly created San Diego-Israel Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to strategically promote, support and catalyze discourse and interaction on the modern state of Israel through scholarship, engagement and collaboration. He is responsible for planning and implementing all logistical details associated with outreach programs and events for the initiative. His role within the Philanthropy Department allows him to exercise creativity in event planning, donor stewardship, database management, and the creation of Leichtag’s giving circles.
Prior to joining Leichtag, and before managing earlier stages of the San Diego-Israel Initiative at the University of California, San Diego, Mitchell worked at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties as a Development Associate. In this role he identified and devised strategies for cultivation of prospective donors, oversaw donor recognition, planned donor and membership events, and managed annual giving campaigns.
Mitchell holds a B.A. in Political Science from Point Loma Nazarene University. He is actively involved in San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, volunteering a majority of his free time to mentoring high school students. He enjoys going to concerts and experiencing new cultures, nearing his goal of traveling to 30 different countries before he turns 30 years old.
Naomi Rabkin, Director Of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships
Naomi is the Foundation’s Director of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships where she develops new programs to stimulate Jewish life and community at the Ranch and in the region. She also helps to support Jewish North County residents, organize events at the Ranch, oversee the North County Jewish Hub and coordinate ongoing community engagement, research and conversation.
Prior to joining Leichtag, Naomi worked to build Jewish community through experiential education in a number of positions including at Spark: Partnership for Service, Jewish Funds for Justice and Project Otzma. Her other professional experiences include Teach for America, The Service Learning 2000 Center and The Wexner Heritage Foundation. She was the first Executive Director of Limmud Atlanta + Southeast and founded the Jewish Food Alliance, a volunteer run organization which organized people around community supported agriculture, workshops and an annual community wide Sukkot festival. Most recently, Naomi launched Pachie’s Place, a new parenting program, at Jewish Family Service of San Diego.
Naomi holds a Master’s in Education from Stanford University where she focused her thesis on the intersections between Jewish Values of Social Action and Service Learning Education.
Leilani Rasmussen, Director of Finance and Grants Administration
Leilani is the Foundation’s Director of Finance and Grants Administration where she oversees the Foundation’s financial management and analysis including human resources, risk management, and grants administration.
Prior to joining Leichtag, she spent nine years at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a place based community building operating foundation.
Leilani holds a B.A. in Business Administration, graduating with Magna Cum Laude, from National University. Currently, Leilani serves as Treasurer of the Mana de San Diego Board. She enjoys volunteering for San Diego Venture Group and for a local community youth football organization.
Makana Rowan, Hub Animator
Makana is the Foundation’s Hub Animator where he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Hub.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Makana spent the last several years in administrative positions at various creative companies. Most recently, he worked for the Del Mar Village Association where he acted as an ambassador for the Del Mar Village area, executed their fundraising events and handled all administrative duties.
Makana’s background is in creative writing. He is a published song writer who has had songs on a number one album. He has also written treatments for many music videos and has published several essays.
Charlene Seidle, Executive Vice President
Charlene is the Foundation’s Executive Vice President of the Leichtag Foundation, a private independent foundation which works to honor the legacy of Lee and Toni Leichtag through igniting and inspiring vibrant Jewish life, advancing self-sufficiency and stimulating social entrepreneurship in coastal North San Diego County and Jerusalem.
Charlene won the 2013 JJ Greenberg Memorial Award, an international prize given to one outstanding philanthropic professional under the age of 40 each year.
Charlene is a frequent speaker, presenter and writer about topics pertaining to philanthropy, Jewish community trends and social change. She is on the board of the Jewish Funders Network, formerly served on the board of San Diego Grantmakers and has served on many committees and councils. Charlene spent 18 years working for the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego in increasingly responsible positions including serving as President and CEO of the organization.
Joshua Sherman, Communications & Creative Manager
Joshua is the Foundation’s Communications & Creative Manager where he is responsible for sharing the stories of the Leichtag Foundation grant programs and the Ranch.
Prior to joining Leichtag, his passion for stories brought him to Los Angeles, where for 3 years he worked as a writer’s assistant for several high profile TV shows on HBO and ABC.
Joshua holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University. He is interested in using new tech platforms for social good. In New York City, he launched “BuycottForChange,” a monthly meetup centered on raising awareness of sustainably-minded NYC businesses. He served as the marketing and social media associate for Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference on how technology is changing politics, and as the coordinator for the New York Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering for the New York startup scene.
Brachie Sprung, Director of the International Office of Jerusalem Partnerships
Brachie Sprung is the Director of the International Office of Jerusalem Partnerships, a new initiative spearheaded by the Jerusalem Mayor’s office and the Leichtag Foundation. In this capacity Brachie serves as a point of contact to help expand the city’s reach and impact globally, connecting between the city of Jerusalem, the Mayor’s office, the Jerusalem Municipality, organizations around the world that are working to promote Jerusalem, and the international community. The Office serves as a platform to advance important philanthropic projects for the City of Jerusalem.
Prior to assuming this role, Brachie served as Mayor Nir Barkat’s Senior Advisor for International Affairs from 2013 through 2016. Before joining the Mayor’s team, Brachie was the Associate Director of Business Development at PresenTense Israel.
Brachie is married to Ari and they live in New York CIty with their three children.
Carmen Stephens, Events Manager
Carmen Stephens is the Foundation’s Event Manager where she is responsible for event logistics and assisting to create and organize events held at the Leichtag Commons.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Carmen worked for multiple event production companies where she had a hand in organizing and managing everything from private events such as fundraisers and weddings and large scale events such as the Giants Wold Series Parades and Makers Faire.
When she is not working she enjoys the beautiful Encinitas beaches, spending time with her friends and family and traveling to faraway lands.
Leichtag Commons Staff
Mil Krecu, Assistant Ranch Manager
Mil is the Assistant Ranch Manager and Farm Advisor where he helps keep everything running.
Prior to joining Leichtag, he worked as an advisor to small farms in the area and on many different construction projects.
Mil’s accomplishments include being one of the original organizers and managers at Tierra Miguel Foundation Farm in Pauma Valley. He has consulted and taught classes at numerous farms, gardens and schools on organic, sustainable and biodynamic food production. Mil is also a retired building inspector for Los Angeles Power and Water. This experience lead to his passion for designing, building and researching practical and interesting structures and power resources.
Francisco is the Ranch Hand where he cuts the grass, trims the trees, repairs and paints, performs carpentry, and general maintenance.
Prior to joining Leichtag, he worked at a tree nursery in Bonsall planting, trimming, and taking care of trees.
Francisco enjoys to keep busy and problem solve on the job. He is a family man who lives locally in North County.
Lorenzo is the Ranch Hand where he performs general maintenance, carpentry, plumbing, and landscaping.
Prior to joining Leichtag, he worked at nursery planting and maintaining the nursery.
Lorenzo is a proud father. He loves to go to the park and play basketball.
Ray Mills, Facilities Maintenance Coordinator
Raynell is the Foundation’s Facilities Maintenance Coordinator where he is responsible for the professional upkeep of the Foundation’s administrative offices and building, including the HUB, Farm House, and Guest House, and also supervises janitorial staff.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Raynell worked at Sollie San Diego Hebrew Day School, supporting the areas of security, recess duty supervision, and coaching the basketball and football teams at the school.
Raynell is a native San Diegan and in his spare time enjoys listening to music and watching football and basketball. He is an avid Chargers and Lakers fan. Raynell played pro basketball in Mexico for 6 years and enjoys coaching any child in the sports of football and basketball.
Ryan Parker, Landscape Maintenance Technician
Ryan Parker is the farm’s Landscape Maintenance Technician where he is responsible for the maintenance of existing and new landscape plantings with an emphasis on local California native plant species.
Prior to joining the farm, Ryan worked at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, CA and was the IPM Program Manager where he was involved with rare plant surveys and collection of California native plant species. He also worked for a farming company in Redlands as a PCA/QAL where the company oversaw thousands of acres of citrus, hundreds of acres of avocados and grew fruits and vegetables on approximately 40 acres to sell locally at their fruit stands.
Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Horticultural Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He grew up in the small desert town of Borrego Springs and often returns to the desert to enjoy the beauty, peacefulness and the occasional search for arrowheads.
Dempsey Sawyer, Ranch Manager
Dempsey is the Ranch Manager where he oversees the overall development, rebuilding and construction on the property of Leichtag Commons.
Prior to joining Leichtag Commons, Dempsey worked at the former Paul Ecke Ranch on the same location developing a plan to incorporate renewable energy.
Dempsey holds a B.S. in Geology and a Minor in Crystallography from Texas University.
Dan Walsh, Security Manager
Dan is the Security Manager where he runs the overall security programs and day-to-day operations for the security and safety of the Foundation.
Prior to joining Leichtag, Dan was a reserve police officer for the City of Carlsbad and a Security Director for multiple organizations.
Dan holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the Union Institute and five associates degrees in Investigative Security, Fire Technology, Law Enforcement, Industrustrial /Residential Security, and Retail Security from Palomar College. Dan was once a powerlifting champion, but now enjoys his life as a family man.
Coastal Roots Farm Staff
Sona Desai, Associate Director
Sona is the Associate Director of Coastal Roots Farm where she is responsible for capacity building, strategic planning, program development and business development.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Sona was the Food Hub Manager at the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont. She led the community-based social enterprise since inception, and is recognized nationally as a leader in food hub and community food systems development. She has also been serving as the President of the Board of Directors for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont for the past five years.
She holds a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Colorado State University, and a M.S. in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. Sona has been working to build community food systems in Vermont for over 20 years, and is now looking forward to growing community here in Encinitas and North San Diego County.
Nora Feldhusen, Educational Program Manager
Nora Feldhusen is the Farm’s Educational Program Manager where she is responsible for volunteer coordination, school and youth group coordination, holiday celebrations, tours as well as family and intergenerational programming.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Nora was a co-founder and the manager of PeerCorps Detroit, where she worked with Jewish youth to build meaningful relationships with communities throughout Detroit through service and learning.
Nora holds a B.A. in Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Community Development. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, she has spent the past ten years in Michigan and is excited to build community here in Encinitas. She hopes to do that through her love of the outdoors, activism, cooking, and an excitement to learn the art of surfing!
Ellie Honan, Animal Husbandry & Compost Coordinator
Ellie is the Farm’s Apprentice. In her position, she focuses on rotational grazing, milking, value-added products (like dairy, eggs, meat), breeding, composting and educational programs related to these topics.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Ellie spent a year traveling in Kenya. She worked on the farms of families who hosted her. It was there that she discovered her love for cultivating food. Since then she has worked with a number of farms and CSAs and has developed a passion for sustainable agriculture and the communities built around it. During her time at Grinnell College, she served as the Grinnell Area Local Food Alliance Apprentice, a member of the Women Food and Agriculture Network’s Board of Directors, and head of the Grinnell College Garden Club. She also led a spring break service trip to sustainable farms around Iowa and organized and facilitated a two-day Permaculture workshop for the Grinnell community.
Ellie graduated from Grinnell College in 2014 with a degree in Sustainable Development.
Jaclyn Kellner, Jewish Educator
Jaclyn Kellner is the Farm’s Jewish Educator where she is responsible for Jewish and other educational programming.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Jaclyn taught residential Outdoor Education to 4th through 6th graders in Calabasas and Livermore. Jaclyn is also the Director of Education at Amir where she is updating and enhancing their summer camp farm and garden curriculum.
Jaclyn graduated Brandeis University in 2015 with a degree in Environmental Studies. She enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors getting really excited about things and then getting other people excited about them as well.
Ross MacFarland, Field Worker
Ross MacFarland is the Farm’s Field Worker where he is responsible for all duties farm related, from seed to table and everything in between!
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Ross worked for an organic vegetable farm in upstate New York doing all things food related. Most recently he worked as a beekeeper at a local apiary where he harnessed the energy and love of the bees to make that sweet delicious honey and pollinate all the flowers of the world. He hopes to incorporate some bees into the farm life soon.
Ross loves being outside working with plants, nature and mother earth.
LyOr Rabinowiz, Food Forest Coordinator
LyOr is the Farm’s Food Forest Coordinator where he is responsible for the design, implementation, maintenance, and programming on the 8.5 acre Food Forest and Silvopasture.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm he worked in Israel designing, maintaining, and installing food forests. Previously, LyOr worked with Planting Justice (where he still serves on the Board of Directors) as a Permaculture Designer and Educator, managing urban garden installations and co-facilitating classes with the Insight Garden Program in San Quentin. He also co-facilitated classes with inmates in a collectively designed sustainability, self-sufficiency, and personal transformation program called the Green Life.
Following his love for the natural world, LyOr received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from UC Santa Cruz. He is passionate about the intersection of environmental, social, and personal sustainability and social justice. His passion for social sustainability and ‘tikun olam’ has led him to explore different forms of intentional community and cooperative structures. He has been building and living in community for the past 15 years and has led workshops on the topic. His heart’s work is in grappling with the question of how to live most harmoniously on this planet with all the diversity of creatures that share this space. This has led him to the work of Be Present where he is a co-facilitator in the Be Present Empowerment Model, a tool for dialogue, developing effective relationships, and addressing the impact of race, gender, class, power, and other divides, on our personal and collective well-being.
Itai Siegel, Maintenance and Equipment Technician
Itai is the Farm Apprentice. In this position, he focuses on the vegetable production.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Itai lived in Kibbutz Gezer, Israel. He grew up in a small rural village and likes to say he was brought up on community values like sharing and working hard for a common purpose. Growing up in a rural area helped Itai make an early connection to the land where he discovered his love for farming. His passion for the land deepened and his interest on how to live sustainably began after completing a permaculture diploma course at Hava Veadam in Israel.
Since then, Itai has been increasing his knowledge and experience in different areas of sustainability, such as farming, water conservation, building and more. He loves traveling and discovering new cultures, and that love has led him to Coastal Roots Farm!
Aaron Stewart, Community Farmer
Aaron Stewart is the Farm’s Community Farmer where he works as a supporting member to all of the farm team’s efforts.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Aaron’s background focused around a passion for business startups and business admiration. In 2009, Aaron started GRNS, a business focused on inspiring home owners to transform their landscapes into edible gardens. This business brought him into the world of agriculture and into a new heart passion that has not gone away.
Aaron prefers to label himself a Father first and farm hand second. His number one priority has been raising his five boys and hopes someday his sons will discover a similar passion for work that produces life and benefits future generations.
Sara Telzer, Social Enterprise Manager
Sara is the Farm’s Social Enterprise Manager where she is responsible for developing and supporting social enterprise initiatives at the farm, as well as for cultivating strategic partnerships and coordinating the farm’s impact evaluation efforts.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Sara worked as the Programs Manager for a sustainable, conservation ranch in Colorado owned by The Nature Conservancy. Previously, Sara worked as the Partner Development and Management Specialist for Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders program where she worked with corporate partners to build skills-based employee volunteer initiatives aimed at accelerating the scale and progress of social enterprise organizations working to alleviate poverty around the world. Prior to Grameen Foundation, Sara worked for Ashoka’s Youth Venture, helping to implement programs aimed at encouraging young people to become Changemakers and improve their communities by starting their own social enterprises.
Sara earned her Master’s degree in Social Enterprise from American University and her Bachelor’s degree in Law and Society from UC Santa Barbara. She is passionate about social enterprise, sustainability, innovation, and responsibly utilizing our environment to support positive social impact. In her free time, Sara enjoys riding her horse, hiking with her dog, and appreciating the beautiful beaches in Encinitas.
Damian Valdez, Community Farmer
Damian Valdez is the Farm’s Community Farmer where he works as a supporting member to all of the farm team’s efforts.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Damian was the head farmer for San Diego City College’s sustainable urban agriculture lab, Seeds@City Urban Farm. Damian taught students and interns the skills necessary to be successful out in the field.
An active member of San Diego’s Farming community he designed downtown San Diego’s Smarts Farm, implemented a 12 acre orchard in Oceanside, and taught classes with the San Diego International Rescue Committee. His first experience in agriculture came from years of volunteering with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation where he planted home and school orchards from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to Kenya, Africa.
George Workman, Production Manager
George is the Farm’s Production Manager where he works with the Farm Team to produce annual vegetables for the emergency food system and the community.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, George worked at a hydroponic farm in Orange County.
George holds a B.S. in Plant Science from California Polytechnic University of Pomona. In his free time, George can be found surfing and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle.
Daniel Yabrove, Assistant Production Manager
Daniel is the Farm’s Assistant Production Manager where he focuses on vegetable production, building soil fertility via composting, cover cropping and animals rotations, and encouraging native ecology and biodiversity on-site.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Daniel built backyard vegetable gardens, worked on a landscape crew for UC Berkeley and ran an organic farmers market stand for a farm based out of Santa Cruz.
Daniel holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz. While there, he interned with the CASFS Farm and UCSC Arboretum.
Molly Zimmerman, Field Production Coordinator
Molly is the Farm’s Field Production Coordinator where she is responsible for supporting the farm team in all aspects of vegetable production.
Prior to joining Coastal Roots Farm, Molly worked for Adamah Farm in Connecticut as the Field Apprentice.
Molly is an amateur bike mechanic during her free time and her favorite vegetable to eat, plant, and harvest is the potato.
Past Board Members of Blessed Memory
Mr. Scharlin’s professional and personal relationship with the Leichtags dated back to 1970. He served Lee Leichtag as a financial advisor for many years. Mr. Scharlin was instrumental in facilitating the sale of MD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 1991 as well as the establishment of the Leichtag Family Foundation later that year.
Mr. Scharlin earned his undergraduate degree from New York City College in 1951 followed by his Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School. He worked in the accounting profession for more than five decades. Early in his career, he worked for mid-sized accounting firms.
After moving to the San Diego area in 1970, Mr. Scharlin opened an accounting partnership that evolved into the Sheldon S. Scharlin C.P.A. sole proprietorship. He served companies and individuals in diverse fields, including businesses, partnerships and trusts. Throughout the years, he also was actively involved with and served on the boards of faith-based organizations.