Jessica Pendergrass

Interim Executive Director

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Jessica Pendergrass first joined Louisville Grows as a master gardener volunteer working on urban agriculture and urban forestry projects in 2013. In 2014, she joined the Louisville Grows Board of Directors and served as Chair prior to becoming the Interim Executive Director in 2016. She grew up farming and gardening in rural Kentucky with her family, is a University of Louisville alum, and has her J.D. in International and Environmental Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. She is an international business attorney, master gardener, healthy cooking and gardening consultant, and youth educator with 18 years of experience working with non-profits. Through various roles as an employee, consultant, board member, and volunteer she has served the University of Louisville Women’s Center, PEACC Program, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, Hearts for Kenya, Neighborhood House, Family Scholar House, SlowFood Bluegrass, Louisville Nature Center, Center for Women and Families, New Directions Housing Corporation, Jefferson County Master Gardener Association, The Humane Society, SEEDS, and others.

Jinn Fuller

Director of Operations and Finance

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In 1994, Jinn left a corporate position as the Hyatt Regency Louisville's first-ever Systems Administrator to become a member of the first class of AmeriCorps volunteers, serving as a case manager/resident advocate in VOA's transitional homeless women's center. After her year of AmeriCorps service, she joined Louisville's Coalition for the Homeless as Administrative Director and ANCHoR Project Director, where she coordinated The Coalition's Quality Assurance Standards program, supervised the Jefferson County Data Collection Project, developed and implemented the annual Special Needs Surveys and homeless censuses, designed and produced resource directories and--with a team of homeless and formerly homeless folks--wrote the "best-selling" Affordable Housing Guide (over 10,000 copies distributed in the first printing). Working with the University of Pennsylvania, The National Coalition for the Homeless, Fannie Mae, HUD and HHS, she participated in the development and national beta-testing of a case management and collaborative software to provide a better continuum of care to homeless citizens. This work led to her being recruited by the ANCHoR Project, and from 1997 to 1999, she traveled around the country as a national consultant and trainer, helping cities implement the software; she also developed and wrote training materials, help manuals and guided multi-site development of policy and procedure and was a keynote speaker at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness.

From 1999-2005, she served Healthy Families, Indiana--a child-abuse prevention program--and helped multiple sites pass a national credentialing process while directly supporting Healthy Families, Floyd County with training, statistical analysis, technical support, grantswriting and policy and procedure development. From 2003-2009, she served as the Director of Development and Administration for CHUM Church, helping a small and eager congregation expand service and outreach to the community through a non-profit incubator program, comprehensive health and wellness ministry, educational health workshops, annual health fair and the prestigious Calvin Institute of Christian Worship revitalization grant. She served as the Executive Director of Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana and increased the program's support services by 24 new monthly education and exercise programs, many of which were leading-edge (dance classes, yoga, music therapy), developed two new program management positions, actively collaborated with numerous hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, corporations and nonprofit agencies to increase the continuum of care for people with Parkinson's disease, oversaw the internal grants program and wrote and administered external grants for the organization, and guided the organization's healthy growth in funding, service and outreach. Jinn has also served as a grant reviewer for the Susan J. Komen for the Cure Foundation (2010 and 2011), as Treasurer of Jeffersonville Token Club (2011 to present) and has had active membership in many neighborhood associations, the Wayne E. Oates Institute and the American Society on Aging.

After 16 years in the world of social work, she thought she'd retired to focus on photography and writing, but her passion for gardening, social activism and justice and concern for our shared environment lured her back to community service. Jinn has served as our Director of Operations and Finance since March 2015.

Whitney Sewell

Director of Urban Agriculture

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Raised in the corn fields of rural Indiana, Whitney Sewell found that after completing a B.A. in design and French at Indiana University, she wanted the best of both worlds – community, art, and nature. Whitney arrived at permaculture seeking out the intersection of people and agriculture as an active life practice.

Whitney completed her PDC under the guidance of Peter Bane, Keith Johnson, and Rhonda Baird in 2009 at The Lazy Black Bear in Paoli, Indiana. Enamored with this holistic system, she immediately put her education into practice during an apprenticeship at Cooley Family Farm in Lafayette, Indiana. Whitney installed perennials and explored systems development for saving water on this 14 acre organic farm while learning the formal techniques of annual production for a 100 family CSA and market.

Whitney’s interest in developing urban permaculture systems for community use took her to St. Louis, where she spent 7 years turning acres of empty lots and a downtown rooftop into food producing and water saving systems. She provided support to both the city government and the community for citywide land use, agriculture re-zoning, sustainability, and recycling initiatives. Whitney’s comprehensive efforts were recognized with St. Louis’s first sustainability award.

Whitney relocated to Louisville, KY in May of 2016 to continue her urban permaculture practice in developing a 7 acre reclaimed property, once public housing, near Churchill Downs to establish her second agriculture training program for new Americans. Whitney intends to also use this space as a community practice and demonstration space for permaculture principles in the urban environment.

Ron Whitehead

Property Manager

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Poet, writer, editor, publisher, scholar, professor, activist Ron Whitehead grew up on a farm in Kentucky. He attended The University of Louisville and Oxford University. As poet and writer he is the recipient of numerous state, national, and international awards and prizes including The All Kentucky Poetry Prize, The Yeats Club of Oxford’s Prize for Poetry, and many others. In 2006 Dr. John Rocco (NYC) nominated Ron for The Nobel Prize in Literature. He was recently inducted into his high school’s (Ohio County High) Hall of Fame, representing his 1968 graduating class.
Ron taught college/university for 20 plus years at the University of Louisville, Spalding University, St. Catharine College, Jefferson Community College, and Bellarmine University. He has presented numerous talks, lectures, and writing workshops around the world at colleges, universities, and institutions which include Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), The University of Iceland (Reykjavik, Iceland), The University of Braga (Braga, Portugal), The University of Nijmegen (Nijmegen, The Netherlands), New York University (New York, New York), Hofstra University (New York, New York), The University of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky), The University of New Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana), The University of Jyvaskyla (Jyvaskyla, Finland), and many more. In 1992 Ron founded The Global Literary Renaissance, a non-profit organization, supporting the global literary (& all arts) community. Ron was Director of the Global Literary Renaissance for 14 years.
Ron has produced 3,000 music and poetry events throughout Europe and the USA including many 24, 48, 72 & 90 hour Non-Stop Music & Poetry INSOMNIACATHONs plus he produced The Official Hunter S. Thompson Tribute featuring Hunter, Johnny Depp, Warren Zevon, Douglas Brinkley, Roxanne Pulitzer, David Amram, Hunter’s mother, Virginia, & son, Juan, & many others, the London International Poetry & Song Festival, The New York City Underground Music & Poetry Festival, The Netherland’s 10-day International Meer Dan Woorden Festival, LIVE at THE RUD Benefit Concert, with Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, plus many more. Ron is co-founder of Gonzofest Louisville, an annual celebration of the life and work of Louisville native son Hunter S. Thompson.
Ron has edited, published, and recorded over 2,000 titles including work by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter, Seamus Heaney, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, Diane di Prima, Lucien Stryk, Allen Ginsberg, John Updike, BONO, Frank Messina, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Amiri Baraka, Rita Dove, Thomas Merton, Wendell Berry, Edvard Munch, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Herbert Huncke, James Laughlin, Douglas Brinkley, Lee Ranaldo, Robert Hunter, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Bob Holman, Eithne Strong, Theo Dorgan, Jim Carroll, Jean Genet, Jan Kerouac, Christopher Felver, Brother Patrick Hart, Robert Lax, Olafur Gunnarsson, Jim Irsay, Frank Messina, Michael Madsden, John Ventimiglia, Gerald Nicosia, Bragi Olafsson, Jim James, Ed McClanahan, Birgitta Jonsdottir, Richard Taylor, Guy Mendes, Frank X Walker, Crystal Wilkinson, Jim Wayne Miller, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Stephen Donaldson, and many others.
Ron’s work has been exhibited round the world from New York City to Louisville to New Orleans to San Francisco and from India to Czech Republic to Italy to Portugal to Ireland to The Netherlands to Iceland and beyond. The UN/UNESCO “Poetry On The Peaks” program selected The Dalai Lama/Ron Whitehead “Never Give Up” message/poem poster as its theme for 2002. Thousands of copies were donated and shipped to cities, mountain villages, Buddhist, and other communities, groups, and organizations round the world. The “Never Give Up” poem has been published in numerous publications including NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, books by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and many others. Ron’s “Never Give Up” poem can also be found on t-shirts, cards, posters, and banners all over the world. Cameron Crowe and Nancy Wilson featured a poem by Ron on the cd soundtrack cover for Cameron’s film ELIZABETHTOWN.
For the past 26 plus years Ron has been living and being his dream going non-stop on fire birthing creativity in all its manifestations. He is the author of 30 books and he has work on 40 CDs plus dvds and numerous videos. Thousands of Ron’s works have been published round the world in a diverse range of publications (all mediums) from TRIQUARTERLY (Northwestern University/Illinois) to ARTFORUM (Czech Republic) to BLUE BEAT JACKET (Japan) to BEAT SCENE (England) to SOUTHERN REVIEW (Louisiana) to TRIBE magazine (NYC). Ron’s work has been translated into 15 languages.
Ron has presented over 6,000 readings of his own creative work round the world. He reads his work solo and with musicians from around the world, in all genres of music. Ron performs with the energy of ten bands. At 66, he continues to collaborate with musicians and artists in all genres round the world.

Ron’s work is in museum, library, and private collections around the world. The University of Louisville Rare Books & Archives, Directed by Delinda Buie, is the permanent repository for Ron’s work (past, present, future). Six exhibits have been held. A major exhibition, with catalog, is being planned. Several thousand, of tens of thousands, of items have already been catalogued. For a time Ron was Velocity’s (Kentucky’s Courier-Journal) Advice Columnist. He has been Guest Editor for numerous publications including TRIBE, STORY, and LITERARY LEO. He has written for and been featured in a multitude of publications around the world. Ron has been a featured poet at International Poetry Festivals in Nicaragua. Brazil, The Netherlands, Estonia, England, Iceland, Finland, Portugal and other countries. Ron recently returned from performances with rock band Blaak Heat (Paris/Los Angeles) in Copenhagen Denmark, Oslo Norway, and Helsinki Finland.
Ron´s official website,, annually receives over one million hits from more than 80 countries.

Natalie Reteneller

Director of Urban Forestry

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Natalie, born and raised in Louisville and a graduate of Central high school and two time alum of the University of Louisville with her Masters of Public Administration, is super excited about working with trees! She has fond memories of hugging, climbing on, playing in and with them and now enjoys helping others to plant and care for them. She is especially passionate about building inclusive programming that heralds the leadership of young people, encourages those in lower incomes and inspires local residents to take ownership of the land and its bounty around them. If done with integrity and love, she believes, this vision builds community and improves the health and well being of all of our citizens. After four years supporting LGBTQ young people as the director of the Louisville Youth Group and another ten years in fundraising with both YMCA Safe Place Services and Family Scholar House, Natalie is enjoying the shift back into nature and working with communities in new ways. She is always open to listening and helping to connect the dots of individuals and organizations in our community and is hopeful of the beautiful changes to come as we work together.

Jhana Waddell

Citizen Forestry Assistant

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Jhana is currently a senior at the University of Louisville majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in social change. Jhana is the Director of Green Initiatives, a sustainable group that promotes sustainable living and social justice issues. Jhana's previous involvement includes serving as a Citizen Forester for 1 year and four tree plantings, which has helped to make her an active participant in both the community and on UofL’s campus. Jhana's goals include creating simple and easy planning for Love Louisville Trees, supporting and volunteering at Louisville Grows events, graduating from UofL, creating a community garden in Park Duvall neighborhood, reclaiming the Shawnee Park flower field, and promoting gardening to youth K-5.

Carolyn Waters

Community Green School Coordinator

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Sarah Morgan

AmeriCorps VISTA, Volunteer Coordinator

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Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Sarah graduated with her Bachelors in Social Work in May of 2016 from the University of Louisville. She has worked on numerous projects in Louisville focusing on food insecure neighborhoods and the need for health education in communities. While preforming her practicum at the Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging, she worked the Louisville based non-profit New Roots, coordinating fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers to food insecure older adults, as well as assisted in implementing a diabetes clinic without walls at a food pantry in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Through these projects, she saw how important fresh food access and community based agriculture was to improving the quality of life for people, their families, and their neighborhoods. Her favorite insects are honey bees, and her favorite vegetable is okra!

Madeleine Loney

Americorps VISTA, Marketing and Communications

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Madeleine Loney graduated from the University of Louisville in May 2015 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies. Madeleine was a Brown Fellow at the University of Louisville, and also received the World Scholars Enrichment Grant and the Critical Language Scholarship to study abroad. Her international and language experience includes two summers of teaching in Bhaktapur, Nepal; studying Arabic in Meknes, Morocco for an academic year; a summer of intensive Arabic at the University of Texas in Austin; and the Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic in Ibri, Oman, with the U.S. State Department.

While at the University of Louisville, Madeleine served as Freshman LEAD Director where she mentored seventy incoming freshmen at the University of Louisville, planned and facilitated bi-weekly meetings, established dialogue and connections with community mentors, and organized several service leadership projects. Madeleine also worked as a Study Abroad Office Peer Advisor to assist students in their study abroad program selection, paperwork preparation, and scholarships/financial aid application.

At Louisville Grows, Madeleine builds capacity by managing social media and online newsletters, planning large- and small-scale events, implementing a community outreach and empowerment policy, and designing training manuals.

Brianna Harlan

Americorps VISTA, Healthy House Coordinator

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Brianna Harlan enjoys mission-based business, the creative process, and media with a purpose. She has a BA in Studio Art with a Business concentration, making her the perfect professional for creative marketing and program development. She has a passion for people, culture, and problem solving and enjoys the challenge in each opportunity.

Lucas Do

Americorps VISTA, Development Coordinator

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A Louisville native, Lucas Do graduated from Centre College in 2016 with BAs in Environmental Studies and Spanish. His primary interest is in sustainable land use and agriculture, especially in urban settings. While learning about this field, he researched alternative forms of food production for two summers at Centre, which included a research trip to Australia and an internship with FoodChain, an educational aquaponics farm in Lexington. He is fluent in Spanish, and his language experience includes living in Lleida, Spain for five months to immersively study Spanish and Catalan. After his year as a VISTA, his goal is to pursue an M.Eng in Ecological Engineering. At Louisville Grows, Lucas works as a Resource Development VISTA, primarily writing grant applications and building the organization's capacity to develop a diverse and sustainable base of funding.


Board of Directors


Tony Curtis, Board Chair (Kentucky Historical Society)

Yvonne Adkins, Vice Chair (I Can Schools)

Brian Caudill, Treasurer (Kindred Healthcare)

Scott Osborne, Secretary (Tom James Company)



Victoria Boggs (Napier Gault Schupbach & Stevens)

James Bushong (RFX Technologies)

Kevin Cowherd (Humana)

Regan Hunt (Humana)

Daryl Proffit (Ben Tyler Building and Remodeling)

Ked Stanfield (Metro Louisville Department of Public Works)

Katina Whitlock (Louisville Urban League)


Interested in joining the board or staff? Contact us for more information.