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

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.

Board

Nat Mengist, President

Nat Mengist

President

nat@commonacre.org

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, pursuing a Master’s in Education Policy the next year. 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.

Since joining the board as Vice President in the Spring of 2017, Nat has been practicing with herbs and researching plant consciousness. Deeply inspired by the mission of The Common Acre, Nat brings together backgrounds in food systems education, social justice facilitation, and nonprofit leadership in his new role as Board President.

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!

Bob Redmond, Treasurer

Bob Redmond

Treasurer

Founder of The Common Acre, Bob has had careers in social service, media, arts, and agriculture. After working intensively with the homeless and mentally ill, Bob moved into the arts via Real Change street newspaper (as editor) and community radio station KBCS 91.3 FM (as Music Director). An early host of the Seattle Poetry Slam, Bob co-founded the Seattle Poetry Festival and its non-profit parent Eleventh Hour Productions, and did production management at Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project. Founding Program Director of the Capitol Hill Arts Center, Bob subsequently curated arts programs for the Bumbershoot Festival from 2004 – 2010, and served as Program Director of Town Hall Seattle in 2011-12. As an artist, Bob produced the theatre project “Fringe the Puyallup!”, was a writer-in-residence for the Richard Hugo House, and produced the guerilla haiku project SLUG. Besides work with The Common Acre, Bob runs the beekeeping adventure Urban Bee Company.

Kyle Schierbeck, Director

Kyle Schierbeck

Director

As a husband and father Kyle enjoys spending time surrounded by his family and friends. Cultural and community involvement is an important part of his social life, he is the Chair of the Native Family Advisory Committee at Highline School District. An enrolled member of Standing Rock, and growing up in the He Sapa of South Dakota he grew up surrounded by the Lakota culture. A strong understanding of the importance of Unci Maka and the role we play in the world has heavily influencing his life. We are but a part of the world we live in. Career wise he is in the construction industry as a principle at Holaday Parks a mechanical contracting company involved in the high rise residential, student housing, medical, office and manufacturing sectors.  He specializes in contract negotiations and client relations. Considered an expert in his field, he has mentored many successful Project Managers, foreman, and estimators, as well as being invited to speak at WSU. Having completed a 5-year apprenticeship in Local 66 Sheetmetal workers, and attended University of Washington contract Law and negotiations has provided a well-rounded insight into labor and management strategy.  There is much in the world to do, many beautiful people to meet, and it is a pleasure to wake up each day to smell the fresh air, see the sun, hear the birds, hear the waves, hear the sound of laughter, and see smiles on people’s faces.

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.

Renée Russak, Director

Renée Russak

Director

A partner with Social Venture Partners, Renée is also an independent consultant to non-profit organizations, coalitions and foundations focused on improving the capacity of non-profits to work efficiently, equitably and collaboratively on shared goals to measurably advance equal opportunity and strengthen communities. Prior to her community work Renée spent over 10 years in the corporate sector as a Manager and Director of diverse project teams building online media brands (Microsoft Network, Expedia) and developing the key internal and external business partnerships required for their success.

Jennifer Zeyl, Director

Jennifer Zeyl

Director

Jennifer is a Seattle-based Theatre-Maker. Since 2004, she has designed for Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Empty Space (Louis Slotin Sonata), Benaroya Hall (Brundibar), The Village Theatre (Little Shop of Horrors), Washington Ensemble Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and numerous others.

A founder and Co-Artistic Director (2004-2008) of Washington Ensemble Theatre (The Ensemble), Jennifer serves on the Board of Directors of the National Network of Ensemble Theatres (NET) and the Committee of the Whole at Smoke Farm, an interdisciplinary artist’s residency facility. The recipient of 2006 Stranger Genius Award in Theatre, Jennifer was named “Best Scenic Designer in Seattle” by Seattle Weekly in 2005 and received two 2006 Seattle Times Footlight Awards for her designs of Winter’s Tale at Seattle Shakespeare Company and Swimming in the Shallows for The Ensemble. Jennifer holds a MFA in scenery design from the University of Washington and a BFA in theatre design and directing from the University of Rhode Island.

Kate Fernandez de Leon, Director

Kate Fernandez de Leon

Director

Kate Fernandez de Leon is a visual artist and cultural entrepreneur who has been spreading the gospel of letterpress for nearly ten years. She teaches printing throughout the Northwest, consults for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI, and is the co-founder of the Abactor’s Hideout, a print shop at Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA. She holds a BA in Comparative History of Ideas and a Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Washington and studied typography and design at the School of Visual Concepts.

Christian Hogan, Director

Christian Hogan

Director

Christian believes that words are powerful, and often thrown about with little respect for their worth.  He looks through a lens that sees personal transformation as a key to building healthy communities. Christian has spent a majority of his career in retail, marketing, sales, and education. Most recently, he worked for Amazon where he assisted in launching their first offline retail Pop-Up shops. Christian is a certified yoga instructor, a Big Brother, and in his free time enjoys going to the park with Gabriel (pug), dancing, studying himself, and hypothesizing ways to create bridges between nature and industry. Christian believes that with the right combination of strategy, and grit, you can achieve anything you set out to do.

Bee Team

Dave Schiefelbein, Beekeeper

Dave Schiefelbein

Beekeeper

Growing up in rural Minnesota, Dave Schiefelbein was rarely indoors. His childhood back yard was cornfields and hay barns. As a young adult he graduated to climbing remote mountains for his outdoor fix. Documenting those climbs with a camera led to a career in photography where his specialty was creating images that were artistic interpretations of the natural world. Dave loves work that is attached to nature. Beekeeping suits him well. His photographs and articles related to beekeeping have been published in Bee Culture, American Bee Journal and the Wall Street Journal.

John Woodworth, Beekeeper

John Woodworth

Beekeeper

A beekeeper since 2007, and a current board member of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, John Woodworth became interested in bees after taking a introductory class with his daughter at a local beekeeping supply store. Soon one hive became two, then four, then eight, then sixteen. (He is committed to keeping the number under 24!) John calls his operation Back Alley Honey — a nod to the original first hive location and his mission to provide quality natural honey to the needy. In addition to his participation with Urban Bee Company, all of the honey produced at his apiary at the Goat Hill Giving Gardens is donated to the Pike Place Senior Center. Outside beekeeping, John is a principal at a small architectural practice located downtown, specializing in affordable housing and historic preservation.

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.