Insight Garden Program

Our 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.

 

AmandaBerger-200x200Amanda 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.

 

AmyBoyer-200x200Amy Boyer

Program Manager and Facilitator

Calfornia State Prison – Solano
California Medical Facility – Solano
California Health Care Facility – Stockton

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.

 

Sky BuenaVista

Community Outreach Coordinator for IGP’s Environmental Stewardship Program

B.Thomas “Sky” BuenaVista is an Insight Garden Program (IGP) graduate, currently leading our Bay Area Environmental Stewardship Program (a program funded by the California Environmental Protection Agency). As a green collar worker and environmental activist, he encourages people in reentry to grow and blossom through this innovative program that connects them with a wide spectrum of environmental organizations. He facilitates the program’s monthly meetings and helps to lead environmental service projects in the local community. In addition to his collaboration with IGP, Sky works with Planting Justice as a board member and community servant in PJ’s education, canvass, and nursery department. He gives talks at universities and public forums for social justice topics.

Sky has been a long time activist. At Solano State Prison, he founded an awareness campaign for Violence Against Women. At San Quentin, he joined IGP in 2013, and became a class leader and mentor — combining his environmental and social justice gifts with other IGP participants. At San Quentin’s H-Unit, he also organized the first ever Fists to Butterflies Mandala Healing Rite where both officers and prisoners locked their hands within prayer mandalas (healing art) as offerings of encouragement, support and upliftment of women for the remaining balance of their lives.

In the private sector Sky was the president and founder of Adjuster Support Center (A.S.C.), a successful physician referral service based in San Diego, CA. A former combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Sky plays an integral role on the IGP team, bringing a wealth of experience, wisdom and passion to all of his work.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.