Board of Directors
Jeanie Gruber (Clerk) grew up in Louisiana…one of nine Jewish kids in her Sunday School class. Her teenage years at her rural youth group camp remain some of her most vivid soil- and soul-filled experiences. She received her MSW at Washington University in St Louis, then moved to Boston where she opened a private psychotherapy practice. Since then, Jeanie has created a unique catering and events company, Miss Jeanies, and loves helping others launch their own ideas. Most recently, she started Wish Dish, a project that recreates cooks individual members of the homeless community’s favorite food memory. She is passionate about combating food insecurity, food excess and reuse, and is an avid volunteer with the Boston Area Gleaners.
Rabbi Emily Mathis (President) has served communities across much of the Jewish spectrum, most recently in Cambridge and on Boston’s North Shore. Prior to her work in Jewish settings, Emily directed programming in the fields of environmental education, urban gardening and family literacy. In addition to her rabbinic work, she is a family herbalist, and can generally be found in the kitchen working on her next project and drinking coffee. She and her spouse, Hali Diecidue, live in West Newton with their three girls (22, 12, and 6) and their labradoodle.
Ryan O’Donnell is the Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator and Educator at the Connecticut River Conservancy. He and his partner have a small sustainable homestead in the foothills of the northern Berkshires where they grow vegetables, raise chickens, and host Jewish community events. Ryan has served on the board of directors for the Deerfield River Watershed Association and the executive committees of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus and Pioneer Valley Gay Men’s Chorus. He spends his spare time crocheting and making music.
Michael Sanders (Treasurer) has spent his career in environmental conservation. As a Development officer at the New England Aquarium and Sudbury Valley Trustees, Michael has raised millions of dollars helping to conserve our region’s most valuable resources, including multiple parcels of agricultural lands. He served on the Board of Directors for Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton and as Fundraising Chair, initiated a major fundraising campaign in recognition of the retiring 40-year Rabbi raising over half a million dollars. As an active volunteer for Jewish Family and Children’s Services Family Table, Michael and one of his Men’s Shul Softball League teammates organized a yearly softball tournament fundraiser for Family Table, raising several thousand dollars in partnership with local congregations.
Beantown Jewish Gardens was founded in 2011 with tremendous support from the Moishe Kavod House Farm to Shul team, Hebrew College, and Hazon. We continue to work with, and be inspired by, the many community members working for a more just and sustainable food system capable of feeding 9 billion people in 2050.
Leora Mallach has worked for a variety of other experiential learning programs along the eastern seaboard, directing the Adva Network, working with alumni of both the Teva Learning Center and Adamah: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship. She helped design the Green Apprenticeship program at Kibbutz Lotan in the southern Arava and is proud to see how it has grown since its inception.A former PresenTense Fellow and senior Environmental Leadership Program Fellow, Leora she was a mentor for the JOFEE Fellowship and participant in building the Jewish Community Farming field.
When not creating new paradigms in the Jewish community, she can be found hiking in the mountains, berry picking or doing crafty projects with her B.B. batiks fabrics. She is otherwise dreaming about homesteading projects on her property, especially her annual springtime maple sugaring.
Becca Weaver is the Farm and Sustainability Director at The Boulder JCC Milk and Honey Farm. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture, revitalizing Jewish practice, and building a more empowered, self-reliant and resilient society. She believes that hands-on, experiential activities on the farm that are rooted in Jewish tradition are an effective and fun way to build community around these principles. Becca started working on Jewish community farms, combining her technical skills with her love for food, nature, and tradition, and has both certification in ecological horticulture and a masters degree in agriculture, food, and the environment. In her spare time, she enjoys running her own small farm business, playing in the CO outdoors, baking, domestic chemistry experiments, and sharing her knowledge with her community!