Meet the Team

Who We are

The Common Acre came together when artists and urban farmers decided in 2012 to work together on a shared mission of maximum social impact.

Since our inception, our team has grown to encompass doctors of medicine and science, city planners, educators, and strategists, and a great crew of multi-talented volunteers.

Staff

Keri-Lynn Steinberg, Farm Coordinator

Keri-Lynn Steinberg

Farm Coordinator

Keri-Lynn has been volunteering for Alleycat Acres and The Common Acre for the last 8 years and feels passionate about community gardening as the most important step to healthy neighborhoods. She believes it’s a right to dream of having a space to garden and nurture your connection to the earth. Keri is learning all she can from Common acre’s Executive and Field directors to make the urban plot at the Cascade People’s center a welcoming place full of plant life opportunities.

Stephen Dorsch, Field Director

Stephen Dorsch

Field Director

Stephen has had his heart and his hands dug deep into the soil of the Pacific Northwest for over a decade. From mapping the surficial geology of Washington State’s three National Parks to pursuing a degree in Holistic Landscape Design from Bastyr University, Stephen has experience working at all scales from watershed to homestead. His passion for the environment, permaculture, native plants, and sustainable local food systems drives him to make the most of every day. Stephen discovered Alleycat Acres as he explored turning the parking strip at his home in Seattle into a community farm and has been hooked on Alleycat ever since.

Omaretta Sharpley, Farm Coordinator

Omaretta Sharpley

Farm Coordinator

Omaretta has worked formerly as the Community Educator/ Outreach Specialist with Tilth Alliance Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands and currently as the Community Liaison / Farm Coordinator with The Common Acre, with a focus in the Rainier Beach/South Seattle communities, to engage youth, adults, and families in hands-on classes, volunteer and other learning opportunities around growing food, environmental stewardship, and cooking and sharing food. Omaretta believes in food security and that growing your own food is like growing your own money. She is a life long South Seattle resident. Omaretta has worked with multiple communities providing domestic violence advocacy, HIV AIDS testing and counseling, housing, and health consultation. Omaretta is a certified Colon Hydrotherapist, Doula, and trained organic gardener. Omaretta is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Science Nutrition and Culinary Arts program at Bastyr University.

Allison Rinard, Executive Director

Allison Rinard

Executive Director

allison@commonacre.org

Allison has a long history of gardening and love of food dating back to her childhood, on through volunteerism and professional pursuits. She has been improving non-profit systems since managing Books to Prisoners Olympia while pursuing her BA at The Evergreen State College. After two years traveling with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program, she dedicated herself to creating more just, effective urban farms in Seattle. She became an Alleycat Acres Farm Manager in 2013, and their first Executive Director in 2015, leading to her new role as ED of The Common Acre in 2017.

Nat Mengist, Farm Coordinator

Nat Mengist

Farm Coordinator

A first-generation Ethiopian born in Moses Lake, WA, Nat graduated with a B.A. in the University of Washington’s eclectic Comparative History of Ideas program in 2015, and a Master’s in Education Policy in 2016. Then, as a children’s garden coordinator, he spearheaded the first racial equity team at Seattle Tilth while simultaneously running a monthly youth leadership program at the Ethiopian Community in Seattle. Nat dreams of farming and philosophizing with friends, and seeks future opportunities in both doctoral and consultative work that cultivate equitable, community-based, and land-conscious partnerships. He loves flowers, books, and dancing!

Board

Sheila Brown, Secretary

Sheila Brown

Secretary

Sheila Brown believes in personal and societal transformation, sustainability and simple living, and the arts as a way to celebrate, build and heal communities. In her work life (currently as Education Program Supervisor at Camp Long), Sheila’s passions include environmental restoration, cross-cultural and multi-cultural understanding, outdoor recreation and science. Sheila has also developed and managed programs and facilities, and promoted public-private partnerships. In her personal life, her interests include choral and acoustic music, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, exploring awareness through the body, history and new developments in science, and spending time with friends and her border terrier.  Sheila is tri-lingual and has lived and traveled throughout Latin America and Europe.

Patti Bakker, President

Patti Bakker

President

Patti has been working toward protection and restoration of habitats and species for more than 27 years. She has worked with local, state and federal agencies as well as large and small non-profit organizations, including seven years as a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service and seven years managing the Truckee River Restoration Program for The Nature Conservancy in Nevada. She currently works for Seattle Parks and Recreation as Manager for the Green Seattle Partnership, Wildlife and IPM Programs. She is preoccupied by the needs of improving soils and nutrient cycling, as well as nourishing people and communities – so is very excited to be part of this organization!

Kurt Sahl, Treasurer

Kurt Sahl

Treasurer

A 31-year resident of Seattle, Kurt Sahl still looks forward to the fall rains. He’s been a high school science teacher in Alaska, Austria, and the Seattle area as well as a teacher educator at UW Seattle, UW Bothell, and Antioch University. Currently, Kurt works as a program manager with the Professional and Continuing Education Program at the UW Continuum College. Formerly, Kurt was the Director of Operations at 21 Acres, a sustainable agriculture education center in Woodinville. After earning his degree in entomology from the University of Idaho, Kurt lived off-grid in Alaska where he drove a tour bus in the summer and taught in the winter. He earned his teaching credential and M.Ed. from the UW.

 

Bee Research Team

Will Peterman, Bee Research Assistant

Will Peterman

Bee Research Assistant

Will Peterman is a writer, photographer, and bee nerd. He studied pollination ecology and artificial intelligence in graduate school at UCSD, then spent fifteen years in software development before returning to entomology as the lead of the Western Bumblebee Project (beesearch.org). He is currently studying the quirks of bee vision and working on conservation strategies for native, ground-nesting bees.

Evan Sugden, PhD, Bee Research Lead

Evan Sugden, PhD

Bee Research Lead

Evan Sugden, PhD earned his MA in biology from the University of Utah and his PhD from the University of California-Davis. Evan has done post-doctoral work in Sydney, Australia; worked as an apicultural development agent in Dubai; and helped detect and study Africanized bees in Texas for the USDA. Since 1998 he has taught at the University of Washington, where he also manages the UW apiary. A consultant through his business Entomo-logic, Evan is also a certified SCUBA diver and has explored marine environments on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), around Bermuda, and in both the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf.