Our Board of Directors
Kathy Beam, Director of Corporate Support, WMHT (Saratoga County)
As a member of the Capital Roots Communications Committee I have enjoyed helping the people of the Capital Region achieve a greater understanding of all that Capital Roots does for our community. It was a thrill to be a part of the team that helped transform “Capital District Community Gardens” to “Capital Roots.” Producing the 40th Anniversary video with our team at WMHT was a fulfilling way for me to learn all that Capital Roots has to offer, I hope that it has enlightened others as well. Now as a board member I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved with Capital Roots at a more impactful level to help ensure healthy food access for people in our region.
Sharon Bedford, Physician (Renssealer County)
All of my adult life I have cared most about the health of our planet and its inhabitants. As a family doctor, in Troy since 1989, I attend to the health of my patients. As a person I try hard to be a good steward of our environment. I often bicycle instead of drive, I garden, compost, recycle, use the sun and wind to dry my clothes, etc.
As a board member of Capital Roots I am able to promote both the health of individuals through growing and eating fruits and vegetables AND the health of our urban environment.
Deborah Bennett, Capital Roots Board Secretary, Community Volunteer (Albany County)
I have been a lifelong resident of the Capital Region with deep roots in the Albany area. My ancestors were among those who settled in the area during the Dutch colonial period of 1624-1664.
I became involved with Capital Roots while volunteering at one of the organization's signature events, Autumn Evening in the Garden. Impressed by the group's enthusiasm and teamwork, I knew I wanted to become more involved. Not only does Capital Roots provide healthy,affordable food for those living in urban neighborhoods, but it also offers programs that allow our youth to develop pride in themselves and their community.
I enjoy giving back to my community and volunteer at a number of local organizations including the Albany Institute of History and Art, Oakwood Cemetery, and the Niskayuna Reformed Church. I graduated from Russell Sage College in Troy with a degree in physical therapy. I live in Albany County with my husband, John. We are blessed to live near our daughters, Jennifer and Carolyn, who have started families of their own.
Assie L. Bishop, College Administrator (Albany County)
My passion lies in assisting others that are less fortunate than I am. In carrying out this passion, I am involved with a group of pregnant teens who I counsel on a regular basis. As a member of the Trauma Response Board, I assist with finding volunteers to go to the hospitals where victims are after a shooting, to see if there is anything that can be done to assist them, such as getting in touch with relatives.
I had heard of Capital Roots and felt that it was something that was needed in the urban areas. Since fresh vegetables are seldom found in the inner city and many of the grocery stores have left, many of the individuals in those areas do not have access to fresh vegetables…I feel that Capital Roots plays into my passion.
Mark Bryant, Certified Financial Planner (Albany County)
I have lived in the Capital District my entire life, growing up in the Town of Bethlehem and supporting it throughout my professional career. My brother, Jeff, and I own Bryant Asset Protection in Slingerlands, an insurance and financial services business started by our dad over 60 years ago. Personally and as business owners, we are committed to community support and have sponsored the Delmar Dash for the last 12 years, volunteer for various local programs, and have established the Charles & Carole Bryant Generations Grant program providing cash grants to local organizations working to improve our community.
My wife, Lisa Callahan, and I live in Delmar and have two adult sons, Jesse and Jack. My older son, Jesse, is an agro-ecology major at the University of Wisconsin and he frequently talks about the problems – both domestic and worldwide – that exist relative to food and nutrition education. Because I am concerned with the fact that many Capital District residents don’t have enough fresh healthy food due to poverty and lack of nutrition education, I am gratified to have an opportunity to improve that situation through Capital Roots.
I hope that, with my 30+ years as a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, I can work with Capital Roots to make a meaningful contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of the underprivileged communities within the Capital District.
Emily Cote, Deputy Director of Communications, CSEA (Rensselaer County)
Unfortunately, I can’t keep plants alive to save my soul, but I grew up picking fresh veggies out of my Mom’s garden as a kid. She didn’t pass on the “green thumb” but she did impart a love of cooking good food with real, garden-fresh ingredients. I also love to travel and spend as much time as I can outdoors hiking, running and paddling. Additionally, I serve on the Communications Advisory Committee for Margination, another local organization creating sustainable change for people in poverty.
I worked in human services previously and during that time I became very passionate about sustainable and healthy food systems for underserved populations. I believe access to fresh, nutritious food should not be a privilege only for those living in more affluent neighborhoods. The Capital Roots model works to bridge the gap and provide not only fresh fruits and veggies, but the dignity of choice in food sources. I love that Capital Roots also works closely with local farmers and invests in our Capital Region community.
Barbara Featherstonhaugh, Community Volunteer (Schenectady County)
As a long time gardener and farmer (my husband & I have a small hobby farm in Duanesburg), I have a keen interest in horticulture. From improving soil & water quality, to preserving farmland, to maintaining natural spaces through land trusts, to providing education to young people so they learn the importance of land to our health and food security, I believe these are key to a strong local community and to our society at large. I have also been concerned with children’s physical & mental health through my past involvement with Parsons Child & Family Center (now Northern Rivers).
Capital Roots programs exemplify all these aspects of my personal interests in a very hands on way, by taking larger food issues and applying them directly to the participants lives. The multiplier effect of these programs is very exciting to see. I am delighted to become a part of this dynamic organization that is providing critically needed assistance to so many citizens of our Capital Region community.
Ellen Flink, Capital Roots Board Executive Vice-President, Director of Policy, NYS Department of Health (Retired) (Albany County)
As a public health/health education major in college, I have always been an advocate of healthy eating, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. My husband Ed and I have been avid gardeners; in our first garden in Castle Creek, we grew everything from corn to asparagus. More recently, we have had more modest gardens as we travel between Albany and Lake Placid on a regular basis. I love cooking, especially with locally grown fresh produce, hiking in the Adirondacks, traveling and enjoying time with my 3 children and grandson.
I was first introduced to Capital Roots at the annual Autumn Evening event which my husband and I have attended for the last several years. I am a strong believer in the mission and vision of the organization and am very honored to serve on its Board of Directors. I wanted to become more involved and support the programs and services offered by Capital Roots to assure that the communities it serves has healthy food choices for its residents and families. It is wonderful to be part of an organization that aligns so well with my personal values.
Jean Gerbini, Capital Roots Board President, Attorney (Albany County)
I traveled as a child and young adult, and wherever I went, a garden served as my anchor and local home. In Duxbury, I recall the sweet crunch of peas from my grandmother’s yard; small feet running in Schenectady’s Jackson’s Gardens; a cool koi pond in Kyoto; a squash draped over our gravel yard in Hyderabad like an emerald serpent; purple beans in Brooklyn; watermelons in Taipei; winter cabbage piled high on the curb in Beijing. Now, in the Capital District, I tenderly cultivate compost and search for new recipes for too many eggplants.
Americans’ connections with the soil, with the sources of our food, and, frankly, with our immediate neighbors, are so attenuated these days, especially in our cities. That is unhealthy at all levels—individually, socially and environmentally. This organization has the mission and capacity to retie the knot in the Capital District. I would like to play whatever small part I can to ensure its success.
Kimberly Hickok, Capital Roots Immediate Past President, Marketing Consultant, Web Development Company (Saratoga County)
I am passionate about gardening, food, cooking and travel. It’s rare that you can be actively involved with an organization and see first-hand the effect it has on the community. I initially got involved with Capital Roots because a friend of mine chaired the committee for “An Autumn Evening in the Garden” Capital Roots’ gala event and asked me to be on the committee. After that I was hooked.
David Krupski, Regional President, NBT Bank (Albany County)
I joined NBT Bank in 2004 and presently, lead NBT Bank’s regional network of branches and its team of commercial, wealth management and retail banking professionals in the greater Capital District. I have 25+ years of financial services experience with both bank and non-bank institutions. A resident of Clifton Park, I hold a bachelor’s degree in economics from Williams College. I am involved in many community organizations and maintain board positions with the Clifton Park IDA, United Way of the Greater Capital Region and the Center for Economic Growth (CEG).
Eileen J. McCarthy, Esq., Non-Profit Managment (Albany County)
I have been blessed with many gifts in my life, not the least of which was having been instilled, at a very young age, with an appreciation for the value of good health, fitness and education. I am passionate about sharing those values with others. Capital Roots, through education and access, not only cultivates beautiful gardens but also provides stepping stones to greater physical and mental health, in turn, leading to a lifetime of opportunity for personal growth for those who might not otherwise be so empowered. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the mission.
Tom McGuire, Capital Roots Executive Committee Member, At-Large, Commercial Real Estate, KeyBank (Albany County)
The entire area surrounding the confluence of the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers is my home and favorite setting, i.e. the Capital Region as a whole. We have enjoyed centering our lives here for some decades, going to school, working, raising a family, and going for long runs with friends throughout the cities, towns and villages, and the surrounding countryside. My wife, Barbara Bradley, and I live in suburban Guilderland now, where our teenage son Brad is growing up. I have spent many years in Troy’s historic downtown neighborhoods, working with many others to understand, appreciate, to preserve and interpret the area’s heritage as a cradle of the Industrial Revolution, while working to develop its future path as a thriving and livable place.
Family and friends have made living in this area delightful. I have had the chance to explore its history and marvelous quality of its architecture and built environment, along with great natural beauty which surrounds us. I enjoy working together with others to share many of the good things that life in our times offers, including: music (classical, chamber, jazz, folk, etc.) and dance, performing and visual arts, ways of achieving and enjoying good health (especially running and sports), and working to help our neighbors who are currently in need (e.g. people who are homeless and at risk). The not-for-profit community engagement sector is an important avenue for making things better.
Capital Roots has been a long standing, cultivated interest of mine. It has a tradition over several decades of greening and growing with outstanding values, and spectacular people working together as an organization. Many friends have been involved in helping others to learn about growing good food and beautiful flowers, sharing with those who have less than they need, and empowering people to learn to eat in a healthy way and to live well.
Wendy Meola, Law Firm Office Manager (Albany County)
My first experience with Capital Roots was to participate in the Garden Bowl in 2004 when I worked as a Marketing Director for a local financial institution. The Executive Director, Amy Klein, asked me to serve on the Communications Committee shortly thereafter. I became co-chair in 2009. In the early years, the Communications Committee was hands-on, helping to write press releases and design advertising. As the organization has evolved, the Committee plays a more strategic role. For example, the Committee is responsible for the name change to Capital Roots in 2014.
Over the years, I have cleaned up a community garden, planted garlic, rode the veggie mobile, served food at the Spring Brunch and attended the Autumn Evening. I involve myself with Capital Roots because it is superbly well-run, and continually looking for ways to meet the needs of our community through expanding programs or improving existing ones. This is a credit to the Executive Director and Board, as well as to the employees whose passion for their work is a driving force.
I believe that I can help Capital Roots because of my marketing and strategic management background.
Cynthia M. Nixon, Capital Roots Board Treasurer, Accountant (Columbia County)
There are many passions in my life, but in the past year I have focused on my health. I started focusing on what I was eating and really looking into the processed foods that we are consuming. I started shopping outside of the supermarket. The cost of vegetables was overwhelming and the quality was substandard. I decided to participate in a CSA. This year I have decided to grow my own. My focus is on healthy eating and learning to preserve foods through canning. I think a lot of the illness and obesity in this country is from the quick and cheap food that we eat. I would like to be able to learn how to garden, eat healthy and share that information with others.
I feel that fresh produce should be available and affordable to everyone. I like the aspect of the Produce Project and the Veggie Mobile. I was looking for an organization to get involved with and Capital Roots felt like the right fit.
Hannelore Passonno, Associate Real Estate Broker (Rensselaer County)
I am passionate about organic gardening - starting most vegetables and flowers from seed, cooking/baking, classical music, reading, travel, family and, of course, my 2 Bichons. I have advised local fundraising committees and assisted in many community fundraiser auctions.
Capital Roots was recommended to me about 10 years ago when I searched for a home for some 20+ extra Heirloom Tomato plants I had grown from seed. Capital Roots’ commitment to cultivate a healthy lifestyle by offering garden plots to people who otherwise could not grow their own produce and by bringing fresh produce to inner city neighborhoods through their various programs is something I strongly support.
Rachel Hye Youn Rupright, Capital Roots Board Vice-President (Albany County)
As a social worker, I believe that everyone should have access to affordable and nutritious food. Every day, Capital Roots makes that happen in our community. I'm also Chair of the organization's Fund Development Committee, working with fellow board members, staff, and dedicated volunteers to garner resources in support of Capital Roots.
My spouse and I live in Albany. I enjoy growing grape tomatoes, kale, and zinnias in our backyard. I also work in downtown Albany, where during nice weather, you can often find me in Academy Park eating lunch and fending off the squirrels.
Kimberly Sanger Jones, Law Firm Administrator (Rensselaer County)
My passions include family, work, travel and community service.
I have a long association with Capital Roots because I believe in their mission, programs and people.
I feel honored to be in a position where our firm and family are able to give back to the community through broad board service and financial support of such great non-profit organizations like Capital Roots, Double H Ranch, Unity House, University at Albany Foundation, Albany Institute of History & Art, Hope Club, American Cancer Society, FINA, Capital Repertory Theatre, Proctors, The Albany Symphony Orchestra and other not for profits supporting education, arts, health, cancer, medical, cultural, legal and social service related organizations.
Michael Whiteman, Capital Roots Executive Committee Member, At-Large, Attorney (Albany County)
After my wife Margery and our children and grand children and the law, I care about music, the food I eat and the community in which I live. Thus I have spent the major part of my time devoted to family and work participating in community organizations, such as Albany Pro Musica, WMHT, the Citizens Police Review Board of the City of Albany and, most recently, Capital Roots.
Margery’s and my youngest child, who is devoting her life to food policy and urban planning, first introduced me to Capital Roots by asking me to be her co-gardener on the plot I now have on my own in Lincoln Park. That first year, she did most of the work and I got to harvest and eat. Then she left town to return to college and I learned again (my father had a World War II victory garden) that getting down in the dirt is fun and then you get to eat what you have grown. I soon learned that Capital Roots provides an opportunity to work for the common weal, as well. A remarkable combination in which one can do both well and good.