Farmers Market Program Coordinator
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.
School Gardens Coordinator
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.
Community Gardens Coordinator
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.
Georgia graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Environmental Conservation & Sustainability in May of 2021. She joined the REC as an Administration Assistant in March. Georgia has experience working in conservation through trail restoration and also agriculture from working on organic vegetable farms. Working on farms ignited Georgia’s interest in food systems, and working at the REC intersects this passion along with her enthusiasm to be involved with environmental justice. When not at work, she enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, and making art and jewelry.
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, listening to music, and sewing.
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 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 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.
Work Study through Clark University
Having grown up in community gardens run by FRESH New London, Ellanora is excited to be involved with food justice in Worcester. She has been on the REC team through a Work Study program with Clark University since September 2020. For the past two years, Ellanora has helped coordinate the REC’s Annual Plant Sale. Ellanora is also a full-time student at Clark University majoring in History & Spanish and planning on completing a Masters of Teaching in History Education.
Lead Farmers Market Manager
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.
Director of Programs
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.
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 Communications Associate, 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.
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, 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 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.
Commonwealth Corps Members
Commonwealth Corps Member
School Gardens Volunteer Engagement Specialist
Alyssa is from Northborough, MA. Growing up, Alyssa had the experience of living on a small, family operated farm, growing various vegetables and flowers as well as housing sheep and chickens. Alyssa graduated from the University of Maine in 2017 with a degree in Zoology. This program allowed Alyssa to gain knowledge in an array of fields from entomology and ecology to sociology and leadership, and much more. Alyssa also has experience working with children and adolescents with complex social-emotional needs in an outdoor, nature based setting as a camp counselor and preschool teacher. Alyssa is looking forward learning how to play an active role in combating food injustice and insecurity.
Commonwealth Corps Member
Youth Volunteer Engagement Specialist
Nathan is from Holden, Massachusetts. Nathan did youth mentoring before joining the REC team. Nathan is passionate about food justice because it is an important factor for creating a sustainable city. Outside of work you can find Nathan skateboarding and reading but most likely will be at any large body of water.
YouthGROW Junior Staff
Bio coming soon!
Simone is in her fifth summer with the YouthGROW program after starting in 2018. Simone's favorite part of YouthGROW is seeing the growth from new people and the farm at REC. Simone graduated from University Park campus and will be taking a gap year. Outside of YouthGROW, Simone likes to hang out with friends, try new things, and go to the movies!
Owen is in his fourth summer with the YouthGROW program. He started as a Core Youth in 2019, was a Youth Leader in 2020, and has been a Junior Staff for the past two years. Owen’s favorite part of YouthGROW is teaching people about food justice and the importance of urban agriculture. A senior at South High, Owen is a member of the Environmental Club and an Eagle Scout from Troop 9.
Teddy is in his second summer with the YouthGROW program! Starting during the pandemic, Teddy has grown to love the people and the community that has been built at the REC. When asked what his favorite part of the YouthGROW program was, Teddy said; “I feel really welcomed and loved every single time I come in for work”. Teddy just graduated from Doherty Memorial Highschool and will be attending Clark University in the fall! Outside of YouthGROW, Teddy loves to draw, play video games and talk to friends!
Board of Directors
Rubin Williams, President
Julie Orozco-Ferreira, Vice President
Ted Hudson, Treasurer
Judi Kirk, Clerk
Alison Bryant Ludden
Pablo Hernandez Itriago, MD, MHCM, FAAFP