Meet Our Team

Linda Appel Lipsius

Executive Director

Linda joined the DUG board in 2020 and stepped into the Executive Director role in 2021. She brings strong business and entrepreneurial experience to the role as well as a commitment to regenerative business and living.
She is the Co-Founder & former CEO of Teatulia Organic Teas, a universally-respected brand known for doing things better: From the 3,000-acre regenerative garden itself to Teatulia’s stunningly sustainable packaging, Linda's focus has always been to use business as a force for good. In 2012, Linda also started the mama 'hood (a resource for new & expecting moms & their families) and opened Teatulia Tea & Coffee Bar, next door to Teatulia’s Denver Headquarters.
A Denver Native, she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Columbia University in New York City and her MBA in finance and organizational management from NYU’s Stern School of Business before moving to Washington, DC, London, Los Angeles then back to Denver. She also completed her Permaculture Design Course with the Denver Permaculture Guild in 2019.
Linda currently lives in Downtown Denver with her filmmaker husband and her 14 & 12 year old children. In her spare time, Linda hangs with her kiddos, escapes to the mountains, devours movies & books and runs, practices yoga and gymnastics to keep her head & heart clear.

Email: linda@dug.org
Ext: 100

Lara Fahnestock

Senior Director of Operations

Lara first joined the DUG network in 2011 as a Master Community Gardener Program student and as a volunteer Garden Leader at a local elementary school garden, the Charles Hay Community Garden.

Lara joined the DUG staff as the Director of Garden Support in 2015 and brings her passion for giving back to the community to her role supporting DUG’s over 500 volunteer Garden Leaders.

Lara earned her BA at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs, she completed Naropa Institute’s Authentic Leadership Program in 2018 and the Sustainable Leadership Program with Alexander Association in 2019. When not gardening at Rosedale, her current community garden, Lara enjoys playing outside with her family, doing taekwondo, and drawing.

Email: lara@dug.org
Ext: 105

Rob Payo

Director of K-12 Education

Rob holds a BA in Biology from the University of Colorado-Boulder and an MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of Colorado-Denver. He brings over thirty years of experience in education in informal settings, ranging from leading outdoor expedition trips for high school students to serving as an outreach and education manager for a large, long-term initiative under the National Science Foundation.

Before joining DUG, Rob was the teacher programs coordinator for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), serving there for ten years in that role with an emphasis on bringing local and national partnerships to the museum and supporting teachers with trainings on the latest trends and approaches in effective science teaching. Prior to that, Rob also served as Outreach Programs Manager for DMNS, extending the museum’s reach out into the community.

Email: rob@dug.org
Ext: 101

Brittany Pimentel

Equity & Food Access Director

Brittany hails from the Great Lake state of Michigan. For the past 18 years, she's held a smorgasbord of non-profit and food-related roles; from restaurants and farm fields, to food policy and nutrition education realms. She holds a Masters Degree in International Development with a concentration in Food Security and Global Health from the University of Denver. Following her Peace Corps service in Mongolia, her relationship to food and culture took root and changed her life.

Brittany has worked extensively in shifting urban agriculture toward food justice and equitable food access for all, and seeks ways to deepen connection to community through growing good food. Brittany leads DUG’s metro-wide Grow a Garden program, water conservation efforts, community connections and public gardening classes. Mother to Willa and Indigo, Brittany enjoys trail running, yoga and supporting young families as a birth doula.

Email: brittany@dug.org
Ext: 108

Judy Elliott

Senior Education Specialist

Judy has been with DUG for over 20 years and has a background in social work and horticulture. Aka ‘Jungle Judy’, she is passionate about involving youth and adults in utilizing garden - based education as a way of becoming deeply rooted in their communities and learning fun ways to actually eat the produce they grow. She is about all things of the earth and spends any free time with her grandkids (who meet her with a garden trowel to dig worms), great pyrenees dog, Maine Coon cat and extensive veggie & perennial beds & indoor tropical sunroom.

Email: judy@dug.org
Ext: 906

Nessa Mogharreban

Director of Physical Infrastructure and Community Engagement

Nessa has been with DUG since 2014. She loves being outdoors, getting dirty in the gardens and working with all different communities. She holds a Graduate degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Environmental Health. In her free time, you can find Nessa strumming her guitar on a front porch, hanging with her dog Mugsy, or baking a delicious pie!

Email: nessa@dug.org
Ext: 910

Niko Kirby

Director of Marketing and Communications

Niko is a lover of all things design--from logos, websites, and brochures to houses, gardens, and social systems. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Communications with a concentration in Marketing and has been with the DUG team since April 2020. Before coming to DUG, she worked as a freelance designer focusing on non-profit and startup web design and marketing.

In her free time you can find her out on the water in her inflatable kayak, singing angsty folk music with her band, chasing butterflies with her kitties, or making a big dinner for her six-person intentional community house.

Email: niko@dug.org
Ext: 103

Hannah Buchenau

Program Manager

As a Denver native, Hannah’s long-standing love for DUG began when she was young, watching her dad design and build new DUG community gardens. Being part of the DUG team has always been her dream, and her journey with DUG began in 2017 when she started as a Research Assistant for the Community Activation for Prevention Study (CAPS).

Between 2017 and 2019, Hannah worked as DUG’s Food Access Intern and Administrative Assistant. She joined the DUG staff full-time as Project Coordinator in 2020, and started in her current role as Project Manager in 2021.

Hannah earned her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Tulane University’s School of Science & Engineering in the culturally-rich city of New Orleans. She brings a strong background in research, customer-relations, neuroscience, and mental health.

Hannah has a love for all-things gardening and the microcosms of community and meaning it creates. Storytelling is her passion, and she loves exploring the importance of place-making, mental health and wellbeing, and other life-enhancing benefits of community gardening. Hannah enjoys spending time with her large, blended family and little brothers, traveling, skiing, cooking new gluten-free recipes, trying new restaurants, and reading to expand her knowledge. She loves animals, and is searching for a puppy to call her own.

Email: hannah@dug.org
Ext: 110

Laura Calderón

Volunteer Coordinator and Administrative Assistant

Laura has been in Colorado for over 2 years now, and joined the DUG team in early March 2020. Laura grew up and studied in Bogotá, Columbia, where she obtained her degree in Environmental Engineering. She lived in Sweden for 3 years where she completed her Master’s in Sustainability Science & Environmental Studies.
Laura is always finding ways to reduce waste and loves engaging the community in environmental projects. She loves traveling and adventures! 2020 was her first season gardening at a community garden and she and her family are loving it! Her 3-year-old daughter is a master weed-puller already!

Email: laura@dug.org
Ext: 110

Meet Our Board

Ramonna Robinson

Board President | President of Ground Floor Media

Ramonna’s focus is on culture and innovation in the workplace. Her ability to navigate the unexpected has earned her an unparalleled reputation in the industry among clients and competitors alike. Since joining Ground Floor Media in 2005, she’s been instrumental in expanding service lines and garnering awards that recognize the agency’s culture. Known for her presence under pressure, she has supported countless high-profile events and incidents, including hospitals dealing with drug diversions; the shootings at Columbine High; international sporting events like the Olympic Games and more.

Diana Denwood

Senior Water Conservation Specialist at Aurora Water

Diana is a Senior Water Conservation Specialist at Aurora Water specializing in commercial efficiency and water-wise landscaping, as well as the liaison between the City of Aurora and its 22 community gardens. She earned a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Illinois.

Diana serves on the Board of Directors for Colorado WaterWise, a local non-profit focused on water conservation. She loves identifying plants on hikes, cooking and eating, and tracking down water leaks. Diana lives in Aurora with her husband, Adam, and cat, Callie.

Brooke Gabbert

Founder, Penn Street Communications

Brooke Gabbert is an accomplished communication professional with more than two decades of experience in marketing and communications under her belt. She has held leadership positions across a spectrum of companies including HomeAdvisor, Six Flags and, most recently, Guild Education, to name a few.

Throughout her career, Brooke has mobilized internal and external teams to produce small networking events to large-scale summits and media productions, from national media productions to HomeAdvisor thought leadership forums to Guild Education's inaugural FUTURE19 Summit.Presently speaking:In 2018, Brooke founded PennStreet Communications, a strategic marketing communications firm, specializing in public relations strategy and event management. Tailoring her expertise to the specific needs of her clients, she brings unmatched drive, unrelenting passion and a wealth of experience to every table.

Karen Good

Project Manager at City & County of Denver

Karen Good received a Master’s in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts in 2000. She has been with the City of Denver for over 14 years and is currently in the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. Karen
has worked on a variety of transportation projects including Corridor visioning and planning for Brighton Boulevard, Federal Boulevard and Washington Street, City coordination for CDOT’s I-70 East EIS, Federal Boulevard’s NEPA, 14th
Street Project as well as the Strategic Transportation Plan.

Karen serves on the 14 th St and Brighton GID District Advisory Boards in her role with the City and is a Garden Leader at the Shoshone Garden and Secretary for the Denver Urban Gardens board, as well as serving as Vice Chair of the WTS
International Foundation.

Chloe Mickel

Attorney and LEED Green Associate at Brownstein Hyatt Faber Schreck

Chloe is an attorney at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Denver. She focuses her practice on construction disputes, litigating legal issues such as reach of contract, design and construction defects, mechanic’s liens, bid protests and award disputes, delays, and property damage.

Chloe moved to Colorado from the east coast about 4 years ago. She loves living near the mountains with her husband, Clint, 3-year old son, Parker, and two French bulldogs, Professor Bonsai and Quinn.

Melissa Rosas

President at Apex Design

Melissa Rosas was born and raised in west Chicago to immigrant Mexican parents. She attended Marquette University and received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree. She moved to Denver in 2003 after her company sent her out here towork on the T-REX transportation project in which she fell in love with Denver. After receiving great experience at two companies, she was asked by Apex Design to join as a partner and in 2008, she did so.

In 2013, she became the President of this growing transportation consulting business and they are thriving at over 50 employees. She is married and a mother to two children, ages 15 and 12. She enjoys traveling with your family, reading and is a houseplant hobbyist. In terms of community and civic engagement, she believes strongly in community involvement and her passion lies in education as shown in her volunteer work for various organizations.

Melinda Warner

Garden Leader at Golden Community Garden

Melinda Warner is a seasoned gardener and has been a leader at the Golden Community Garden for nearly 10 years.

She volunteers her time and effort as lead of a donation based garden. This multiple bed garden space in Golden grows fresh produce
and donates all the harvest to the local food bank. Each year presents both challenges and successes. This garden space has provided hundreds of pounds of food each year.

Melinda Was born and raised in rural Iowa spending her formative years enjoying the lessons learned from living the midwest lifestyle of hard work and love of community. Melinda graduated from the University of Iowa with a BBA in Finance and Economics. She worked as an accountant and leasing agent for many years. She then found herself enjoying the restaurant industry learning the tricks and tips of customer service. Melinda met her husband, Chris, while living in Annapolis, MD. Melinda and Chris moved to the west Denver area 10 years ago. They have a daughter, Wendy. Melinda loves to garden, spend time outdoors hiking, walking, and jogging, doing yoga and other fitness, reading books listening to podcasts, and simply sharing time in community with others. Melinda believes the community garden is a space that can bring peace, calm and friendship.

Zane Way

Relationship Manager, Well's Fargo Middle Market Banking Office, Colorado

Zane Way, a 21-year Wells Fargo veteran, is a relationship manager for Wells Fargo’s Middle Market Banking Office in Colorado. Active in the community, Way serves as board treasurer for Denver Urban Gardens. He is also a board member for The Challenge Foundation where he assists in helping smart, ambitious students break the cycle of poverty through education opportunities in theDenver area.

He has participated in various programs within the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, including Leadership Denver, the Public Affairs Council, Impact Denver and the Chamber 100 Program. In 2009, Way was named one of the Denver Business Journal’s annual Forty under 40 winners. This award recognizes dynamic business leaders whose efforts in the office and in community are shaping the future of the Denver area.

Way served as an officer in the United States Army Reserves for 13years. He was deployed to Afghanistan from 2005-06 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.Way has a degree in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Colorado State University. He is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society for graduating in the top 20 percent of his MBA class.

Interested in joining the DUG board?

 

We accept applications year round.

Email us to learn more.