Brian Olszak is a research assistant at Temple University's Center for Sustainable Communities, and has worked on several projects involving Philadelphia's food system, a multimodal transportation study, and watershed and stormwater management planning. He's also worked with the Women's Community Revitalization Project, supporting their affordable housing development. Having lived in the Philadelphia region all his life, he began volunteering with POP in 2010, and joined the Board in September 2011. Brian earned his B.A. in English and Philosophy from Loyola College in Maryland, and his M.S. in Community and Regional Planning from Temple University. He is also a Penn State Extension Master Gardener in Philadelphia.
In 1981, Bruce Schimmel founded and edited Philadelphia’s leading alternative newsweekly, the Philadelphia City Paper. Since 1996, as the newspaper’s editor emeritus, he wrote “Loose Canon,” a popular and award-winning weekly column on civic issues. For public radio, Schimmel has produced extensive news, features and series. He currently produces public service media -– print, audio and video –for Philadelphia-based community and non-profit groups, and teaches writing, media production, and media/artist ethics.
Kim grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, enjoying fruit grown in her childhood backyard: oranges, mandarins, apricots, apples and almonds! Kim moved to Philadelphia to enroll in a PhD program in Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in spring of 2010. Kim has been volunteering with the Philadelphia Orchard Project since its inception and attributes the organization with deepening her civic engagement in the city of Philadelphia, as well as a rather dramatic career change.
In her work, Aviva engages high school youth in managing their urban farm as a sustainable, socially responsible business. She has also invited dozens of fruit lovers to taste their first fresh fig from POP’s Teens4Good orchard. Previously, in the role of Program Director at Groundwork Somerville, Aviva managed 9 school gardens and developed and taught hands- on science curriculum to grades k thru 8. Aviva is committed to supporting communities in growing gardens and gaining food sovereignty. Her passion for this work led her to the Miraflor Farming Cooperative in Nicaragua where she aided a local agronomist in implementing a kitchen gardens and nutrition program for 200 families. Aviva studied International Relations at Boston University and holds a BA in Environmental Science, with a focus in Agroecology, from Green Mountain College in Vermont.
Anne Taylor currently serves on the Board of Philadelphia Orchard Project as the organization's legal adviser and a member of the Orchard Committee. She has been involved with POP for four and a half of her five and a half years in Philadelphia, and is thankful for the breadth of the City to which POP has introduced her. Anne earned her B.A. in history and economics from Yale University, and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Her interests include reading, cooking, and the intersection between food and environmental issues.
Annie Rojas’s lifelong love affair with food has been driven by the role food plays in strengthening families, creating cultural ties, and building community. She began her career as a Public Health Nutritionist for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in San Francisco and later directed the Cape May County Healthy Community Coalition. Annie has a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Nutritional Sciences and a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from the University of California, Berkley, School of Public Health. She is a registered dietitian and a certified prevention specialist.
Nicole Yarbrough administers programs that support youth and families. She has seven years of nonprofit experience in education, community development and public policy. Her recent experience as a Fellow with the Center for Progressive Leadership renewed her commitment to food security and access for Philadelphia communities. She was also nominated to serve on the Senior Hunger Task Force with the Mayor’s Commission on Aging. She discovered her passion through research to increase opportunities for an under-served farming community that led toward the opening of a regional produce distribution center at the Minnesota Food Association. Nicole holds a Bachelors Degree in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota and practices Mandarin Chinese.
Heather Zimmerman is currently the Director of Education at Awbury Arboretum where she coordinates and teaches environmental, horticultural and homesteading classes for people of all ages.She has worked in urban education for the last 20 years and for the last 7 worked as a horticulture and farmer educator for Penn State Extension and various sites in the neighborhood of historic Germantown where she lives. A graduate of the Barnes Foundation Horticulture Program, Heather is passionate about growing both ornamentals and edibles. She has worked with POP for the last 4 years as a volunteer and orchard liaison.
A city dweller her whole life, Prithi moved back to her native Philadelphia after graduating from New York University where she studied history and Spanish language and literature. Through her work at Fairmount Ventures, she helps nonprofits seeking strategic planning, program development, and grant writing support. She has had the pleasure of working with urban agriculture and advocacy organizations to support their growth, sparking her avid interest in food access issues and improving nutrition education in urban areas through grassroots programming. As Fundraising Committee Chair for POP, Prithi leverages this background to support POP’s wonderful and engaging work in the region.
Martha was instrumental in establishing POP’s flagship orchard in Fairmount Park at Woodford in 2008. She has seen first hand the many positive effects of an orchard in the park for the community nearby and believes in the power of connecting people with nature and fresh produce (and historic sites). She was raised in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania next to a commercial apple orchard. Her love of gardening began at an early age and continues to this day. Martha earned a B.A. in Political Science from Dickinson College and an M.S. in Historic Preservation from Columbia University.
Chloe Cerwinka is a Landscape Planner at the University of Pennsylvania, where she's spearheading efforts to make Penn more sustainable through improved landscape management methods, bicycle infrastructure and increased diverse and productive plantings. She is devoted to her hometown of Philadelphia, returning in 2010 to farm for her childhood food co-op at Weaver's Way Farm, and later co-founded Heritage Farm, a 1.5 acre urban community farm. Chloe is also a member of the Horticulture Committee at Bartram's Gardens. She received her B.A. in Design of the Environment from Penn, and worked as an architectural designer for ten years before seeing the light.
A Philadelphia native, Deanna began volunteering with POP in 2012, when she returned to Philly after completing graduate school in Washington D.C. Deanna earned her B.A. in History from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA in 2007 and her M.S. in Health Systems Administration from Georgetown University in 2012. Deanna is currently a business analyst at Independence Blue Cross in their Government Markets division, focusing on Risk Analytics. In addition to POP, Deanna is an active member of The Junior League of Philadelphia, where she was introduced to POP at a general membership meeting. Deanna joined the Board in 2014, and currently serves on the fundraising committee.
Daniel Sossaman II has a passion for Social Entrepreneurship and believes in the power of the market to improve our lives and our communities. He has focused his career on finding new ways to encourage the growth of local businesses by connecting those businesses with the community around them. Dan believes that the Philadelphia Orchard project represents an opportunity to both excite and renew communities around the city of Philadelphia.
Motivated by a desire to serve her adopted community, Bertina Whytehead moved to the Philadelphia area in 1995 and joined The Junior League of Philadelphia in 2003. Bertina has served as a Committee Chair for various JLP committees, served on the Community and Membership Council, Membership Ad Hoc and Project Advisory Committee Member at Large, and is currently serving on the Junior League Sustainer Board. Bertina also worked with Girls Inc., Philadelphia & Southeastern New Jersey where she served as Co-Chair for the Annual Founders Day Breakfast, Logistic committee Chair for the annual breakfast and worked with the Fund Develop Committee. She joined POP through their community partnership with the Junior League in 2013 by attending their League Wide Service day, and hearing about the organization at their general membership meeting. Bertina joined the POP board in June 2014 and is currently serving on the Fundraising Committee. Bertina began her career in the health field working for Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami as a Community Outreach Worker after graduating from college. She currently serves as Assistance Director of Recreation Therapy at University of Pennsylvania LIFE Center. A native of Miami, Bertina is an alumna of St. Thomas University with a degree in Liberal Studies. She lives in Drexel Hill, and spends her time not only doing community service but also as a member of The Savoy Opera Company.