Insight Garden Program

Core Team

BethWaitkus-200x200Beth Waitkus

Founding Director

As part of her deep commitment to community service, social and environmental justice, and equitable food systems, Beth founded the Insight Garden Program in 2002. Over the past several years, as Executive Director, Beth has overseen program expansion to seven additional California prisons, two prisons in Indiana (including a juvenile facility), and a collaborative reentry program in New York City.  IGP plans for continued national program replication.

Beth has won accolades for her prison work and is featured in the book, Eco Amazons: 20 Women Who are Transforming the World by Dorka Keehn. She is also a recipient of the Hotchkiss School’s Community Service Award and was featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. She is a member of the American Correctional Association’s Sustainability-Oriented and Environmentally Responsible Practices Committee and on the board of Bay Area Green Tours.

Prior to her full-time work with IGP, Beth was a strategic communications and organizational consultant, with years of experience developing, managing, and implementing communications campaigns in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, she spent more than a decade in Washington D.C., conducting social marketing campaigns for federal agencies, including the Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration — Office of Jobs Corps.

Beth holds a M.S. in Organization Development from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University. At home, she spends time playing in the waves, the woods and her garden to renew her spirit. She believes the natural world teaches us everything we need to know.

Amanda Berger

Program Director

Amanda is passionate about working with social justice organizations and has a special interest in criminal justice reform, including efforts to expand quality educational opportunities for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. As Program Director, she supports IGP’s Program Managers at six California prisons and continues to manage our flagship program at San Quentin Prison. She also is helping to develop IGP’s “reentry bridge” concept and doing outreach to Bay Area and Southern California employers and community organizations to provide ongoing support for IGP’s returning citizens.

Amanda is a certified professional coach and consultant who works with social change leaders and nonprofits in the Bay Area and beyond. She has an extensive background in progressive philanthropy and transformational leadership development through her work with the Funders Collaborative for Youth Organizing, the Women Donors’ Network, Rockwood Leadership Institute and Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER).

Amanda was a past facilitator in training with the Victim Offender Education Group at a women’s prison in Chowchilla, CA. She is an affiliated coach with RoadMap, Rockwood Leadership Institute, the Haas Flexible Leadership Award and on the faculty of Leadership that Works. Amanda is on the board of UnCommon Law who provide pro-bono representation to people going to the parole board in CA.

AnneValiant-200x200Ann Valliant

Operations & Finance Manager

Ann Valliant has been a finance and business operations consultant since the mid -’80s, helping a wide variety of visionaries strengthen the business foundations for their success. For Insight Garden Program, she managed IGP’s incorporation as a 501(c)(3) and set up and manages the financial and human resources systems. She is also a development team member, preparing grant application budgets, tracking budget compliance, supporting IGP’s revenue generating efforts and training IGP’s Administrative Coordinator in bookkeeping and human resources. She is the “show me the money” voice for IGP staff as the organization as it expands its vision and programs.

Other recent projects include setting up the accounting and human resources operations for a startup that offers business services to food and farming entrepreneurs and to investors in those enterprises and for a nonprofit that arranges tours that demonstrate the sustainable economy in action and inspire support of local green businesses. A gardener for over sixty years, she deeply understands the power and peace that arise from hands in soil nurturing living things and is delighted to help expand that experience to people in one of our most nature-alienated environments—prisons.

HaleyReimbold-200x200Haley Reimbold

Development Manager

Since joining  IGP in 2015, Haley has supported organizational and programmatic growth as our Development Manager, enabling IGP to expand to seven new prisons. She guides development and growth strategy, manages the implementation of our fundraising plan, and builds investment in our organization and programs in partnership with our dedicated supporters and volunteers.

Haley cultivated her expertise in non-profit sustainability, social entrepreneurship, and replication strategy while at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she incubated cross-sector demonstration projects in the Department of Planning and Government Innovation. She served as a governor-appointed member of the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group for seven years, setting state priorities and awarding grants to organizations and municipalities across the state. For three years, Haley was a primary member of the US Department of Justice’s Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and she served as a board member of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice for two years. Haley received her MPA degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and her BA in Women’s Studies from Hamilton College.

Karen HsuehKaren Hsueh

Administrative Coordinator

Karen Hsueh first joined IGP as a volunteer at CMF-Solano, and is now on our  administrative and development team. She supports IGP’s day-to-day administrative needs and coordinates communications, streamlines processes, does bookkeeping, and manages social media. Having insight to all moving parts of the organization is integral to her advocacy of transparency, teamwork, and  efficient communication. She also supports the development team to identify, track, and organize funding opportunities.

Karen’s interest in prison gardens was cultivated while conducting researching on horticultural therapy and food access. Having worked in the foodservice industry for nearly a decade, she is now focusing her passion for food and social justice through the lense of criminal justice reform. In addition to her work with IGP, Karen provides administrative support to other criminal justice reform groups in the Bay Area. Karen received a master’s certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Tufts University, and earned her BA in Political Science from Marist College.

Margot Reisner

Administrative Assistant

As IGP’s Administrative Assistant, Margot coordinates office needs including organization systems, communication processes and development materials. She is involved in many aspects of IGP’s work and supports the day to day necessities of the organization so that the programs can run optimally.

Margot first became involved with IGP in 2010 as a high school student when she volunteered at San Quentin and helped work on  curriculum design for the program. She went on to get a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies at Skidmore College where she focused on sustainable food systems and eco justice. She is a certified permaculture designer and nutritional chef who has worked as an educator and activist for many years. Margot is passionate about ecological health, social justice, racial equity and empowering communities by fostering meaningful connections to nature.

Heather Bean

Americorps VISTAs
Publicity and Partnership Coordinator

The heart of Heather’s work is to recruit the outside community onto our team. She is committed to building bridges between others, a passion that she lives out by expanding our partnerships and publicity. Heather interfaces with current and potential partners, implements a proactive media strategy, and provides individualized support to our different program sites.

As a native of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Heather knows firsthand the powerful impact that comes from access to nature. After spending 2 years honing her volunteer coordinating skills in the housing issues sphere, she is now reframing her passion for social justice and the outdoors through the lense of criminal justice reform. Heather received her BA in Sociology from Seattle Pacific University. At home, she enjoys playing in the mountains and spending time with her neighbors.

Field Team

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

AmyBoyer-200x200Amy Boyer

Program Manager and Facilitator

Calfornia State Prison – Solano
California Medical Facility – Solano

As program manager and facilitator at three California prisons, Amy loves creating space where people and plants can grow. She first came on board at CSP-Solano, IGP’s first expansion site, and now manages IGP programs at two of CDCR’s medical facilities as well. At the heart of her work is facilitating IGP’s curriculum on the inside. She also recruits and manages volunteers, builds relationships with organizations whose interests align with IGP, and works with prison staff, volunteers, and participants to install and maintain prison gardens.

In 2016 Amy was selected for Culture of Health Leaders, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national leadership program that supports people—from all sectors that have an influence on health—to create collaborative solutions that address health inequities and move their communities and organizations toward a Culture of Health.

Working with IGP brings together Amy’s life-long love of gardening and nature, her training in Buddhist chaplaincy, and her administrative and collaborative skills.

Tracy ‘Tylee’ Sewell

Program Manager and Facilitator

Folsom Women’s Facility
California Health Care Facility

Tracy “Tylee’ Sewell is an innovative, Urban Farmer, Permaculturist, passionate Artist, Educator and Landscape Designer. She earned her BFA and MS from Pratt Institute in Graphic Design and Communications Design, MAT from Lander University in Art Education and AAS from Gwinnett Technical College in Environmental Horticulture, Landscape Design and Sustainable Urban Agriculture. Her mix of enthusiasm, desire and integrity for improving the environment has made her an ambassador for self-reliance, food security and sustainable food within communities.

Megan Benner

Co-facilitator

Folsom Women’s Facility

Participating in a permaculture internship in 2011 in Thailand inspired Megan to immerse herself in organic farming, gardening and landscaping via a number of volunteer and employment opportunities throughout Southeast Asia, in California and Washington.  Teaching gardening and landscaping skills to youth probationers in Sonoma County was a special opportunity that allowed Megan to both teach and learn from this population that yearned to reconnect with the natural world. Sharing what she had gleaned from her myriad experiences in the field proved to be powerful and rewarding work.  It served to reawaken her passions for holistic healing and social justice and led her to seek a volunteer opportunity with the Insight Garden Program.

Megan will begin a Master’s program in Counseling Psychology at Meridian University this fall.  Her undergraduate degree in studio art and women’s studies, in conjunction with her background in outdoor work and experience with IGP will provide the foundation for the practice she envisions cultivating as a therapist.

CENTRAL VALLEY CALIFORNIA

Calliope Correa

Program Manager and Facilitator

Avenal State Prison, Yard C

Calliope began volunteering with IGP at Avenal State Prison (ASP) in July 2017 and has been the program manager on ASP Yard C since July 2018. She got involved with IGP because she believes in the healing power of nature and sees the program as an amazing opportunity to bring gardens to a population that lacks access to the beauty of the natural world. She appreciates how the curriculum encourages participants to grow from within as well as teach vocational and life skills.

Calliope received her BS in Plant Science from Fresno State and an MS in Interdisciplinary Studies – Plant Science and Rehabilitation Counseling. She wrote her thesis on curriculum development for young adults with disabilities using horticulture as a means of improving life and social skills. In addition, she  obtained a certificate from the Horticultural Therapy Institute in 2015 and is a guest lecturer on the practical side of horticultural therapy. Currently, Calliope an Instructional Support Technician with California State University Fresno and manager of the Horticulture Nursery on the Fresno State farm. She is passionate about connecting people to the natural world and teaches classes to everyone from children to elders on the benefits of getting dirty and improving well-being through interaction with nature.

Katerina Friesen

Program Manager and Facilitator

Avenal State Prison
Central California Women’s Facility

Katerina came on board with IGP in 2017 as the program manager at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, where an incarcerated woman had been advocating for a gardening program for over a decade, and also serves as the program manager at Avenal State Prison. As an avid gardener, Katerina knows intuitively that tending soil and plants is healing work, both for the earth and for our own inner being. She is passionate about creating verdant spaces for healing and reconciliation within stark and often oppressive environments.

Katerina comes to IGP with experience starting and coordinating various farms and urban gardens, where she has cultivated food and community with groups from Mixteco farmworkers to youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Apart from her work with IGP, Katerina is a writer and educator focusing on themes of Indigenous justice, climate change, and ecology. She sees her overarching vocation as helping to build the “Beloved Community” of justice and love that prophetic voices have envisioned since ancient times. Katerina received her M.Div. in Theology and Peace Studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

Arnold Trevino

Co-facilitator

Avenal State Prison

As one of the latest co-facilitators to join the Insight Garden Program (IGP) team Arnold is strongly motivated to witness the possibilities of change. He has a strong desire to show those who are inside, and outside, that transformation is possible. This strong ethic has led him to work within the California Prisons and work side-by-side with the prison population.

Arnold earned his BA in Social Work at Fresno State University and is currently working on obtaining his Master’s Degree in the same field. Aside from co-facilitating with the Insight Garden Program, at Avenal State Prison, Arnold assists with a student support service called Project Rebound. This program works with those who have been criminally justice involved and are now interested in higher education. He is also interning at Fresno’s Juvenile Justice Campus in the Focus Forward program mentoring youths towards seeing the world through an academic lens.

IGP provides an opportunity to watch humans grow from seedling to full bloom. The transformation is an incredible experience and Arnold has had an amazing growth experience.  Because of living an anti-social life, Arnold spent the better half of his life in prison. This lived experience enabled him to break out of his shell and become a proactive and productive member of society. IGP has allowed Arnold to continue this path of fruition as he shares his personal life story and the endless possibilities of change with those he works with in the inside of prisons.

Zulema Valdez

Co-facilitator

Central California Women’s Facility

Through her work as a Co-facilitator at Chowchilla Women’s Facility, Zulema applies her deep knowledge of social inequality in entrepreneurship and health, along the lines of race, class, and gender. She is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of California, Merced. She has been a postdoctoral fellow at the National Poverty Center (University of Michigan) and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (UC San Diego). She has been the recipient of awards from the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Her work has been published in many academic journals and edited volumes. She is the author of two books, The New Entrepreneurs: How Race, Class and Gender Shape American Enterprise (Stanford, 2011) and Entrepreneurs and the Search for the American Dream (Routledge, 2016). Professor Valdez is currently at work on two new projects: The first examines the relationship between community gardens in disadvantaged areas, like the Central Valley, and food access and health. The second investigates strategies for success among undocumented students in higher education. Professor Valdez earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Jennifer Leahy

Co-facilitator

Avenal State Prison

Jennifer is currently a co-facilitator for Insight Garden Program at Avenal State Prison. She is also the Program Director for Project Rebound, a student support services program for formerly incarcerated students at California State University Fresno. Jennifer also works as an adjunct lecturer in the Criminology department at CSU, Fresno. She teaches: Theory; Juvenile Delinquency; Drugs, Alcohol and Crime; Administration and Management; Victimology and works as a research assistant to Dr. Barbara Owen. Owen Research and Evaluation has conducted research in the Criminal Justice field primarily on female offenders, and Jennifer has assisted in work for Fresno County, the Thailand Institute of Justice and CDCR along with many other agencies. She promotes education within the correctional system at a variety of prisons as a means to reduce recidivism and improve the quality of our communities at every opportunity through Project Rebound. In addition, she participates as a volunteer for Bill Glass Behind the Wall Ministry which conducts Christian outreach inside institutions across the United States. She obtained her Masters in Criminology after her release from Central California Women’s Facility in 2006. Her combination of education and practical experience of incarceration puts her in a unique position to assist those interested in effective programming to reduce recidivism.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Armando Lawrence

Co-facilitator

California State Prison – Los Angeles County

Armando has worked as a sub-contracted member of IGP through the Catalyst Foundation in Lancaster, California since May 2016. He has acted as an assistant group facilitator with two groups of inmates at Lancaster State Prison on two different yards, B yard Level 4 – main line, and A yard Level 3 – programmable yard.

He has been active in the community for over 40 years as a community advocate for cultural integrity (Chicano/Indigenous/Opata Tribe), human and civil rights. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Via Health Care Clinic in East Los Angeles, LIAPA (Los Angeles Indigenous Peoples Alliance), Opateria (Opata Tribe of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico) and the Northern Southern Winds foundation. He holds council for the East Los Angeles “Men Circle”/ National Compadres Network. Armando’s experience in the community and specialized training in cultural sensitivity and healing has provided him with a strong sense of the interconnectedness of all human beings as well as all-living-things. The various curriculum trainings he has received have prepared him for working with youth, parents, and incarcerated individuals in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facilities. He believes the concept of the “Circle of Life” can guide us in knowing “who we are, where we come from” and charting a positive and healthy path for not only our futures but for our children, families and community as well.