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Three woman smiling at REC plant sale

Our Team

Ashley Carter

Ashley Carter (she/her)

Farmers Market Program Coordinator

ashley [at] | ext. 105

Ashley was born and raised in Massachusetts. She achieved her Bachelors in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture at the University of Vermont, and spent many years working on farms in New England. Her love for permaculture and ambition to travel guided her to Nicaragua for a handful of years, before returning to Massachuestts and diving into food system work in Worcester. She managed a new American centered community farm, which grew and sold culturally significant produce to communities throughout Worcester and neighbrohood CSA's and including at the REC Saturday Farmers Market.  She now coordinates the REC Community Farmers Market program, including our mobile farmers market. She feels passion for strengthening the food security of Worcester, one market, and one customer, and one farm at a time.


Eliza Lawrence (she/her)

School Gardens Coordinator

eliza [at] | ext. 110

After graduating from Clark University in 2014, Eliza worked as a Youth Mentor for the YouthGROW program for 3 summers where she fell in love with both youth work and gardening. In 2018 she joined the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship AmeriCorps as the Garden Education Fellow serving both the YouthGROW and School Gardens Program. Eliza then joined the team as staff and our first School Gardens Coordinator, where she works with students of all ages implementing garden based curriculum. When not at work, Eliza enjoys making food with friends, dancing, roller skating and gardening with her neighbors at her own community garden.


Noel Allen (she/her)

Community Gardens Coordinator

noel [at] | ext. 108

Noel has been passionate about nature and ecology most of her life; that passion came to head when delving into the Horticulture Program at Penn State University. Shortly after, Noel became involved with the REC after moving to Worcester in 2013. Combining a passion for nature and social justice is a dream come true. When not working Noel enjoys spending time with her family, listening to music, and cooking.

Gwen Weissinger

Gwen Weissinger (she/her)

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

gwen [at] | ext. 109

Graduating with her degree in Psychology from Bridgewater State University, Gwen cultivated a passion for food justice while volunteering in the permaculture gardens on campus. Gwen joined the REC team as the Communications AmeriCorps VISTA in 2020. Currently on staff as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Gwen enjoys capturing moments of our community learning, growing and coming together around locally grown food. When not at work, Gwen loves playing with her nephews, IDing trees and cooking meals with loved ones.

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Owen Chase (he/him)

Farm Associate

owen [at]

Owen Chase is a YouthGROW graduate who has been with the REC since 2019. He found his passion for agriculture through the program and says it sparked a commitment to feeding the community. Now a student at Clark University, Owen majors in Global Environmental Studies with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Alongside his studies, Owen founded Just For Fun Farms, delivering freshly grown microgreens to local farmers markets, restaurants, and community members. 

Stacie Brimmage

Stacie Brimmage (she/her)

YouthGROW Coordinator

stacie [at] | ext. 103

In 2009, Stacie joined the REC to work with a group of YouthGROWers to build an educational garden at the Worcester Public Schools Fanning Building downtown. Since then she has served as a YouthGROW Youth Mentor, the School Gardens AmeriCorps volunteer, the UGROW Coordinator, and currently is the YouthGROW Coordinator. Stacie loves working with young people growing food for the Worcester community and really enjoys working outdoors on the YouthGROW Farm. Outside of work, she loves a good campfire, playing board games, and walking the trails at Greenhill Park.


Steve Fischer (he/him)

Executive Director

steve [at] | ext. 106

Steve Fischer, REC’s Executive Director, has lived and worked in the city of Worcester for the past 30 years. He has more than 20 years’ experience in community organizing, campaign advocacy, youth development, and nonprofit management. Steve started at the REC as a volunteer with the YouthGROW program 20 years ago. SInce then, he has served as a board member, program staff, and became REC’s Executive Director in October 2009. Outside of work, Steve likes to spend time outdoors with his wife and children and his dog Poochie.

Tracy Andryc

Tracy Andryc (she/her)

Development Director

tracy [at] | ext. 102

Tracy joined the REC in May 2022 as Development Director. She comes to the REC with 15 years of non-profit fundraising and marketing experience, most recently working for a human services agency for the past decade. Tracy studied professional fundraising at Boston University and marketing design at Dean College. She holds the designation of Professional Fundraising Executive (CFRE) from CFRE International. Tracy is passionate about creating inclusive, accepting, and equitable communities. She joined the non-profit workforce after 20 years of working in the for-profit industry because she felt the desire to help improve people’s lives and contribute to the betterment of society. Outside of work you can find her working on her farm in CT with her husband to bring organically grown produce to their community, in her pottery studio being creative, enjoying time with her six adult kids, or exploring the forest that surrounds her home. 


Vanessa Calixto (she/her)

YouthGROW Coordinator

vanessa [at]

Vanessa, originally from Worcester, is deeply involved in her community as a cultural organizer and youth worker. Beginning her journey with REC in 2019 as a YouthGROW mentor and mobile market team member, she has now taken on the role of YouthGROW Coordinator, bringing with her over 14 years of experience in positive youth development. She is passionate about mentoring youth, equipping them with job readiness skills, and amplifying the voices of marginalized artists. As a Latina, she advocates for more representation in our cities to foster stronger connections with marginalized communities. Vanessa finds joy in spending time with her son and loved ones, indulging in good food, dancing, and crafting when she's not working on the farm.


Efrain Viera (he/him)

Office Associate

efrain [at] 

Efrain has been connected to the REC since 2015, when he joined the YouthGROW program which he participated in for two summer seasons. He sold phones and services with T-Mobile before joining the REC team as Office Associate in 2023. Efrain is passionate about food justice because he sees the difference it makes in giving back. Outside of work you can catch Efrain doing fun adventures on my own, with family & or friends.

Erika Akerson

Erika Akerson (she/her)

Lead Farmers Market Manager

erika [at] | ext. 105

Erika is from Worcester and proud to serve in a position that supports our city and the local economy. She has experience working on urban and rural farms, in food service, trail restoration, and has been employed in various roles at the REC. Her previous jobs and experiences have solidified her passion for working in the field of local food systems and her affinity for community-based efforts.

Grace Sliwoski

Grace Sliwoski (she/her)

Director of Programs

grace [at] | ext. 111

A Worcester and Main South native, Grace is a proud alumni of Jacob Hiatt Magnet School, Sullivan Middle, and South High, and later on in life, Columbia University and Clark University. Grace first fell in love with food justice and the REC as a Mass Promise Fellow AmeriCorps member serving with the YouthGROW program, joining our staff team after two years of AmeriCorps service as our YouthGROW Coordinator. She currently serves as our Director of Programs and represents the REC community as a co-chair of the Central MA Youth Jobs Coalition, Steering Committee member of the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester and Worcester Food Policy Council, board member of Central MA Grown, and member of the Mayor's Food Security Task Force. When she's not at the REC, she enjoys trying new restaurants and making art with her kids. 


Katie Flanagan (she/her)

Development Associate

katie [at] | ext. 112

Katie graduated from Holy Cross in 2021 with a degree in sociology and gender studies. During her first week of college, Katie volunteered at the YouthGROW Farm and has been involved with the REC ever since as a YouthGROW Youth Mentor, Earth Day Coordinator, and Farmers Market Manager. Working with each of the REC's programs has strengthened Katie's passion for food justice, youth work, and urban farming. Now, as the Development Associate, Katie looks forward to spreading the REC's mission and supporting each program to increase their reach and impact in the Worcester community. Outside of work, Katie enjoys being outdoors with friends, playing soccer, listening to music, and sewing. 


Shanice Nelson (she/her)

Farmers Market Warehouse Assistant


Shanice Nelson was born and raised in Worcester, MA. She was a  South High graduate of 2006 (Go Colonels!) Shanice joined the REC in 2022 and says it has been an amazing experience. Shanice has a passion for helping others. She says "I know all too well what it is to not have enough food at the table. I'm going to do what I can to end food insecurity, one fruit and vegetable at a time." When Shanice is not at work you can find her with her children or at one of the community fridges donating food. 

Steven Murphy

Steven Murphy (he/him)

Administrative Director

steven.m [at] | ext. 104

Steven Murphy has lived in Worcester since 2013 and first became acquainted with the REC as a community gardener while living in the Main South neighborhood. Steven is the REC’s Administrative Director, and has served on the Earn-A-Bike Worcester board and the CMRPC Brownfields Advisory Committee.  Steven holds a masters in community development and planning from Clark University.  When he's not at the REC, Steven enjoys cycling and spending time with his spouse and two children.

Tom Trepanier

Tom Trepanier (he/him)

Farm Manager

tom [at] | ext. 100

Tom Trepanier graduated from UMASS Amherst in 2011, with a degree in Plant Soil and Insect Science and a concentration in Sustainable Food and Farming. Tom has worked on many types of farms across Massachusetts at various scales. Tom's been the REC's Farm Manager for the past three years, working closely with YouthGROW. When asked what he loves about the REC, Tom said "everyone here is passionate about what they do, and it shows in the work that we do." Outside of the REC, you can find Tom walking his dog Carrot through local parks and hiking trails.

Valeria Nyonkuru

Valeria Niyonkuru (she/her)

Farm Mentor

valeria [at]

Valeria Niyonkuru is a Burundi farmer and Farm Mentor with the REC. Valeria supports YouthGROW farm cultural crop production. She works with the YouthGROW team training youth and adult staff on cultural growing practices. Outside of the REC, Valeria works at New Lands Farm and owns/operates Misigaro Farm.

Commonwealth Corps Members

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Cameron Gill (she/her)

Commonwealth Corps Member

School and Community Gardens Engagement Specialist

Cam is from Shrewsbury, MA and graduated from Clark University with her Bachelor's degree in Community, Youth, and Education Studies. Cam is currently getting her Master's degree in Community Development and Planning after spending the summer interning with YouthGROW. She is passionate about food justice because everyone deserves access to healthy, delicious food! Outside of work you can find Cam playing volleyball, hanging out with her dogs, or spending time in the sun.


Abhinav Ahlawat (he/him)

Commonwealth Corps Member

Farm and Market Specialist

Prior to joining REC, Abhinav contributed his expertise to various non-profit organizations in India. He holds a Master's in Public Administration (MPA) from Clark University. Abhinav's unwavering passion for food justice drives him, as he believes it offers a pathway to address multifaceted societal challenges, including poverty and crime. Beyond his professional pursuits, he indulges in a love for hip-hop music and soccer.

YouthGROW Junior Staff


Erica Ramirez (she/her)

YouthGROW Team

Junior Staff

Erica Ramirez joined YouthGROW in 2022, where she's flourished in leadership, communication, and active listening skills, embodying the organization's ethos of growth. Currently a senior at Worcester Technical High School, where she is part of the National Honor Society, she also dedicates time to volunteering at the Exavior Center twice a week, showcasing her commitment to community service. Known for her vibrant energy, insatiable curiosity, and eagerness to learn, Erica is a beacon of positivity and continuous self-improvement.


Richlove Boateng (she/her)

YouthGROW Team

Junior Staff

Richlove has been working with YouthGROW for almost four years, and has gained a lot of experience working with the community and the farm. Since being with YouthGROW in the summer of 2020 she’s been able to learn basic farm skills, tool safety and develop her leadership and social skills. She enjoys being with YouthGROW as it has created a safe and enjoyable place for her. Outside of YouthGROW she finds herself babysitting. She is a junior at Worcester Technical High School and aspires to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) after completing university. 


Lulu Quijada (she/her)

YouthGROW Team

Junior Staff

Lulu has been an integral part of YouthGROW for over two years, where she's not only developed essential skills but also set ambitious goals for her future. Currently a sophomore at South High School, she plans to pursue studies in business, finance, economics and real estate upon graduation, driven by a desire to make a meaningful impact on her community. With dreams of land ownership and sustainable farming, Lulu embodies resilience, determination, and a steadfast commitment to her personal and professional growth journey.


Cynthia Rodriguez (she/her)

YouthGROW Team

Junior Staff

Cynthia is going on her third summer here at YouthGROW. Cindy loves meeting new people and learning to grow new things here at the YouthGROW farm. She has enjoyed every experience at YouthGROW. Her hobbies include painting and competitive dancing. She is a senior at Pennsylvania Foster and is planning on attending college to pursue a career as an art teacher.


Xander Monsanto (he/him)

YouthGROW Team

Junior Staff

Xander Monsanto's journey with YouthGROW spans almost two enriching years, during which he's gained invaluable farming experience and honed his leadership prowess. As a senior at North High School, he aspires to translate his passion for fashion into entrepreneurship by launching his own clothing brand. Xander attributes much of his professional growth and ambition to the supportive environment fostered by YouthGROW, shaping his aspirations and work ethic for the future.

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