Meet The Team

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Raul

Founder & Executive Director

Raul is the Founder and Executive Director of Valley Verde with more than 22 years of experience in nonprofit leadership.

Raul is a master gardener and is a senior fellow of American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley and has a commitment to social justice.   

He first brought his love for gardening together in a program he created for Sacred Heart Community Services in 2009.

La Mesa Verde would be the precursor to Valley Verde, which Raul founded as a separate nonprofit two years later.

For more than ten years, Raul served as executive director of a San Jose-based Chicano theater company Teatro Visión. With a strong commitment to multiculturalism in the arts, he was one of the founders of the Multiethnic Arts Leadership Initiative, a leadership development program for people of color in arts and culture.

He was also a founding member of 1st ACT Silicon Valley, a civic and arts initiative that spurred development of an arts district in San Jose.

Lovepreet

Operations Director

As an Operations Director, Lovepreet is responsible for managing the operational needs of Valley Verde, organizing events, and overseeing the administrative aspects of the Shared and Home Garden Programs. She has a degree in Health Science and she is passionate about helping others. While studying Health Science, she learned the importance of being culturally aware, and building resilience in the community to help the communities thrive. She has worked with various communities, and enjoys thinking of innovative ways to help communities thrive. Lovepreet has a garden at home, and enjoys being in nature. She enjoys learning about new vegetables and is constantly experimenting with recipes from different cultures. Lovepreet is excited about working with Valley Verde, and is looking forward to promoting food sustainability. 

Rachelle

Fund Development Manager

Rachelle is the Fund Development Manager. She started as the Home Garden Manager at Valley Verde. She comes to the organization with many years of teaching, program development, management, and gardening experience. She graduated from Northwest University with her Masters in International Community Development. Rachelle is passionate about social justice issues and seeks to work alongside communities to help them thrive and become resilient. Rachelle grew up gardening alongside her mom in their urban vegetable and flower garden. She is passing on her knowledge to her own children whose favorite veggies are sugar snap peas and butternut squash, or as her children call them, "squash babies." Rachelle knows the positive impact of gardening on family health, nutrition, and the environment and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and experience with the communities in Santa Clara County.  

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Rachelle

Fund Development Manager

Rachelle is the Home Garden Manager at Valley Verde. She comes to the organization with many years of teaching, program development, management, and gardening experience. She graduated from Northwest University with her Masters in International Community Development. Rachelle is passionate about social justice issues and seeks to work alongside communities to help them thrive and become resilient. Rachelle grew up gardening alongside her mom in their urban vegetable and flower garden. She is passing on her knowledge to her own children whose favorite veggies are sugar snap peas and butternut squash, or as her children call them, "squash babies." Rachelle knows the positive impact of gardening on family health, nutrition, and the environment and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and experience with the communities in Santa Clara County.  

Rita

Shared and Home Garden Program Manager

Rita was born and raised in East Side San Jose and attended Evergreen Valley College before transferring to San Jose State University. Rita is a recent graduate of SJSU, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a minor in Sustainable Water Resource and focus in Agriculture. While attending SJSU, Rita participated in the UC Master Gardener Program, a public service and outreach program under the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, she received her credentials as a Master Gardener by participating with the UC Cooperative Extension program. Rita grew up on her grandparent's farm. She believes that everybody should have access to healthy affordable fresh produce. As the new Home Garden Coordinator, Rita's goal is to help families develop a passion for sustainable urban gardening physically and mentally, and overall help families develop a personal healthy lifestyle. 

Marlene

Home Garden Program Coordinator

Marlene is a recent San Jose State University graduate, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Restoration. Growing up, Marlene enjoyed visiting her grandparent's farm in Mexico, where they would grow strawberries, corn, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans. She previously worked at a farm where she loved spending time with calves and adorable little chicks. Marlene enjoys working outdoors and feeling the soil in her hands. As a Home Garden Program Coordinator, she is excited to help families develop a healthy lifestyle and love for organic and sustainable gardening. 

Nathaleen

Home Garden Program Coordinator

Nathaleen is our newest Shared and Home Garden Coordinator. Her experience as a past Home Garden graduate and Second Studios Community Garden Intern has inspired her to continue in Valley Verde’s Mission to foster healthy and sustainable impact in our underserved communities. With a background in education, community outreach, public service and a bachelor’s in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz, she looks forward to connecting with families and helping them develop a deeper understanding of sustainable urban gardening and food sovereignty. Her passion for gardening stemmed from her grandfather’s love for growing organic produce in Mexico for family meals and her father’s indigenous ties to the Earth. 

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Anna

Greenhouse and Super Jardineros Manager

As Greenhouse and Super Jardineros Manager Anna has the wonderful (as she will describe to anyone who asks) responsibility of producing the organic seedlings for all of our programs and maintaining the demonstration garden on site, where she loves to observe and learn from nature at work. Born and raised in San Jose, Anna has fond memories of helping her mother tend a small plot in the Jesse Frey Community Garden, where she states her passion for Environmental Justice and Regenerative Agriculture first began. This passion, along with her excitement for learning, grew during her time at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with an Emphasis in Food and Agricultural Sciences in 2019. When she’s not working at Valley Verde, you can find Anna rock climbing, nurturing her garden at home, or soaking up new information from whatever books she can get her hands on. 

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Tina

Intern

Tina is a rising sophomore and B.S. candidate in Human Biology at Stanford University. Climate change and food access were issues Tina became interested in when looking at factors contributing to health disparities. Furthermore, her experience working with the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, as well as with Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, furthered her passion for environmental and food justice work. As an intern, she will be working to connect with the Vietnamese community and contribute to program development. Tina is excited to create lasting impacts in the food environment of underserved communities and advance towards addressing health disparities. When not working, Tina can be found pursuing her foodie dreams, but she works it off by hitting the tennis courts.

Saunders

Intern

Saunders is one of our summer interns in charge of research and special projects. She is a rising Senior at Santa Clara University earning her Bachelors of Science in Public Health with a minor in Biology. Studying Public Health has taught her the importance of food sovereignty and food justice to one's life, and how drastically it affects people's health. Saunders enjoys being outside in any way that she can including backpacking, paddle boarding, and skiing. She also works as an EMT for her school and one day hopes to practice medicine and help improve people's health. This summer she hopes to learn and help improve upon Valley Verde’s mission of providing access to healthy food. 

Board of Directors

Jo Lerma-Lopez

Board President - Treasurer

Amalia Carbajal

Secretary

Raul Lozano

Board member