Our Board of Directors

Capital Roots Executive Committee

Capital Roots Board President 
Public Health Representative, Health Research Inc, MSW(Albany County)

Rachel Hye Youn Rupright

I became involved with Capital Roots several years ago as a community gardener in Albany.  I used to walk to and from our garden plot in Center Square with a bag of gardening tools and armfuls of harvested kale.

Over the years, I have learned more about the programs and impact that Capital Roots has in our community.  As Board President, I’m proud to be an ambassador and cheerleader for the organization, serving alongside a dynamic group of board members and supporting an incredible staff.  

I live in Albany with my spouse, Alexander Monticello and our young son.  

Capital Roots Vice-President
Attorney (Albany County)

Anoush Koroghlian Scott

Good nutrition and healthy living have always been a major part of my life. As a graduate student I worked to assure access to nutritious foods and education through accurate food labeling. As a law student I advocated for regulation of health claims on food packaging. And as parents, my husband and I have shared with our three daughters our love of gardening, cooking with fresh ingredients, and overall healthy living. At home, we compost all of our organic waste and in addition to our modest vegetable garden, we keep bees (who make great honey!), grow raspberries and blackberries, our own Christmas trees, and are now taking on some on fruit trees. When I was introduced to Capital Roots I was immediately drawn to its mission and vision. Having served on the Volunteer and Program committees, I grew to truly appreciate the tremendous positive impact it has and continues to have on such a broad spectrum of the community. I am so proud and honored to be part of Capital Roots!

Capital Roots Treasurer
Certified Financial Planner (Albany County)

Mark Bryant 

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.

Capital Roots Secretary
Director of Strategic Communications (Albany County)

Nick Crounse

As a volunteer on the Capital Roots communications committee for more than a decade, I have seen firsthand not only how much the organization has grown over time, but also the amazing impact it has every day on so many communities throughout the Capital Region. The Capital Roots mission to ensure that everyone has access to fresh food and green space is especially meaningful for me, and I look forward to using my background in strategic communications, public relations and community engagement to support such a worthwhile cause.

Capital Roots Executive Committee Member, At-Large
Community Volunteer (Albany County)

Deborah Bennett

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.

Capital Roots Executive Committee Member, At-Large
Marketing Consultant, Web Development Company (Saratoga County)

Kimberly Hickok

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.

Capital Roots Immediate Past Board President.
Director of Policy, NYS Department of Health (Retired) (Albany County)

Ellen Flink

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.

Capital Roots Executive Committee Member, At-Large
Commercial Real Estate, KeyBank (Retired) (Albany County)

Tom McGuire

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.

Director of Corporate Support, WMHT (Saratoga County)

Kathy Beam

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.

Senior Vice President- Business Banking Team Leader at KeyBank

Ryan Case

I am a firm believer that everyone should have access to healthy and affordable food and I am proud to serve on the Board of Directors for an organization that lives these values every day. I have spent the majority of my career helping business owners throughout the Capital District start, grow, and eventually sell their companies. As a Business Banking Team Leader I have the privilege leading a team of talented Relationship Managers whom live, play, and serve in the communities we work. I live in Saratoga with my wife and our 2 young “farmers to be”.

Investment Banker (Albany County)

Jeffrey S. Cohen

I have been familiar with Capital Roots for many years and have been a frequent contributor to Squash Hunger. I love to vegetable garden and
to share the bounty that comes from nature with those that are in need. After my introduction to Capital Roots, I learned more about the wealth
of programs and how the organization supports the community, local producers and the environment. It is a pleasure to be associated with Capital Roots, and an honor to be on its Board of Directors.

Executive Deputy at the New York State Department of Public Service (Albany County)

Tom Congdon

I’ve spent my entire professional life in not-for-profits and government, and I am passionate about public service. I have long admired the work of Capital Roots – revitalizing communities, educating kids, addressing hunger and nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. 

Nearly 20 years ago, I was part of the State’s litigation team that sued the City of New York for converting community gardens for other uses without conducting proper environmental reviews or engaging with affected communities. The lawsuit resulted in the permanent preservation of hundreds of community gardens in the City and a new review process for land use decisions that values the benefits of community gardens. It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my career.

Attorney (Albany County)

Jean Gerbini

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.

Senior Relationship Manager, Bank Of America Merrill Lynch (Albany County)

Megan Leitzinger

I was introduced to Capital Roots by a running friend (and now fellow board member!) because of my life long focus on exercise, nutrition and
eating well, and leading an overall healthy lifestyle.  I have been a member of the Fund Development Committee since 2019 and my appreciation for Capital Roots and all of the programs and services it offers to our
local communities has grown substantially.  I am proud to be associated with Capital Roots and to support its mission to ensure that all members
of our communities have the same access to green space and healthy, affordable food choices.

Clinical Assistant Professor, University at Albany, State University of New York

Jennifer Weil Malatras, Ph.D.

As a clinical psychologist with specialty training in pediatric psychology, I know the important role nutrition plays in child development and human health and adjustment. I’m also a parent and am grateful our family has been able to set a foundation for healthy eating habits and overall well-being for our children by providing healthy food options and opportunities to learn about food and where it comes from, whether by helping pick tomatoes or herbs from our small family garden, assisting with grocery shopping, strolling through our local farmers’ markets, or helping to prepare family meals. But, for so many families throughout our Capital Region, access to fresh and healthy food, green space and information about nutrition and horticulture is not readily available. I believe these resources should be a right not a privilege, and I have long admired the work and impact Capital Roots is making to nourish our community through its urban grow center and healthy stores, community gardens, produce project, veggie mobile, and its other numerous and important programs. I am honored to be on its Board of Directors.

Law Firm Office Manager (Albany County)

Wendy Meola

My husband and I live and work together, and we share two young adult children and three very spoiled pugs. My previous career was in marketing, which is when my journey with Capital Roots began, 17 years ago. I am proud to volunteer for an organization that plays a vital role in our community. Capital Roots accomplishes its mission through unique programs that offer many benefits in addition to making it more convenient and less expensive to obtain nutritious food. Capital Roots is a food hub, educator, youth job trainer, farmers advocate, neighborhood beautifier, and builder of community bonds. Over the years, Capital Roots has established itself as a leader in the field and has become a resource for other like-minded organizations nationally. As a board member, I am looking forward to helping Capital Roots grow this footprint.

Law Firm Administrator (Rensselaer County)

Kimberly Sanger Jones

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.

Head of Risk Data Analytics & Automation, M&T Bank (Schenectady County)

Christopher Tocin

Growing up it was extremely apparent to me that giving back to the community is something that everyone should do. My grandmother had a sign in her kitchen that said “Those who give have all things…” that sign now hangs in my kitchen. My Grandmother was a volunteer at Meals on Wheels until she was 90 years old! Seeing the joy of what a good meal does to someone’s demeanor and outlook on life is what drove me to want to be a part of Capital Roots. My wife and I also strive to ensure proper nutrition and healthy food habits for ourselves and our two kids. We both grew up as athletes and know firsthand how food helps drive the mind and body to do amazing things. I look forward to bringing my experience with data analytics to contribute to the continued success of the important mission of Capital Roots!

Attorney (Albany County)

Michael Whiteman

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.

The Tap Roots

Honorary Board of Directors

Dean Leith, Founder (in memory of)

Sharon Bedford
Michael Bergen*
Douglas Burns*
John Carl
G. S “Chico” Christopher (in memory of)
John Corey
Stephen Cowan*
Margaret Diggs*
Barbara Fama
Jennifer Freeman
Barbara Nelson
William (Bill) Karchner
Hannelore Passonno
John Pattison*
Wendy Pattison*
Mary Jane Smith (in memory of)
Raymond Smith

* Past Board President