Board of Directors
Julie Ward is passionate about food and making healthy food delicious. Her mission is to help people become healthier and feel better through the foods they eat. She has been researching foods, herbal remedies, and making changes to her diet for the last 25 years. She had to change her diet due to a history of digestive issues, brief battle with depression, and to have more focus in her life. Her diet continues to evolve according to what her needs are in life. She created Fresh Food Alchemy as a culmination of her life. It was born as a crusade to help people enjoy healthy, tasty plant-based food. She helps people change their perceptions of eating healthy. Julie can help you bring back the joy and excitement of good food by getting you back in the kitchen excited to try new recipes and vegetables. By eating the right foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle everyone can be healthy, prevent major illnesses, and enjoy tasty easy meals. The mission through Talk, Teach, and Taste is to show people that Healthy is the New Tasty! She holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition, an ACE Health Coach certification, a Master’s in Public Policy, and a B.S. in Mathematics. To have her assist you in creating a new food lifestyle contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or c: (310) 880-0165. Healthy is the new Tasty!
Catherine (Cassie) Rivkin
Catherine is a lifelong supporter of those in need. Whether she’s serving as a mentor for the Dreamcatcher Foundation, advocating for women’s economic empowerment, or joining Habitat for Humanity builds, her unwavering attention to under-resourced groups is visible wherever she goes. Moreover, between a history of communications management, financial planning, and fundraising experience, Catherine’s career reflects her savvy for maximizing a non-profit’s community impact. She currently remains partnered with the UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholarship as a career-skills coach for UCLA students that were formerly in foster care.
REI Sales Lead, Outdoor School Coordinator
Allie is an outdoor instructor utilizing her training in therapy and psychology along with her teaching and curriculum development skills to share and foster a passion for the responsible and healing use of the outdoors with the next generation. Allie is a surf instructor for a company that offers private lessons summer camps and competitive coaching to elementary, middle and high school aged youth. She has a master in Social Work from UCLA. At REI Allison currently works as a Sales Lead and Coordinator for in-store Outdoor School events and classes.
Co-Founder, Instructor & Board Chair
Chris’ desire to found and serve in WYLD stems from his passion for youth, the backcountry wilderness, and his roots in Los Angeles spanning back six generations. Chris fell in love with wilderness education through a freshmen pre-orientation backcountry trip in Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina. Chris has worked as a wilderness instructor for various agencies over the last 15 years and is philanthropically engaged throughout Los Angeles and California, especially with regard to education reform and sustainable living. He has served on various boards and funding committees, including Synergy Academy Charter Schools and the Downtown LA Music Center's 50th 'Next 50,' initiative. Chris holds a BA in Public Policy from Duke University and an MA in Public Policy with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from UCLA.
Also a Co-Founder
Meghan started her environmental education career teaching Tibetan refugee children in India while pursuing her BS in Environmental Studies from UNC Asheville. This experience inspired her to further her education with a MA degree in Environmental Education from CSU San Bernardino. Since then, Meghan has worked at a senior management level for nonprofits dedicated to wilderness and conservation education. She grew up in North Carolina where nature was always a refuge for her; but it was a 23-day wilderness course in the Canyonlands of Utah that opened her heart to the world of experiential education. She is a certified Arborist and trained mindfulness educator. She recently moved home to North Carolina to raise her two daughters near family, but remains dedicated to providing guidance and support to achieve WYLD’s mission.
Fielding is a mother, a consultant and a coach. Fielding gained much of her professional outdoor experience by working for several years at Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center in Massachusetts. During that time her role evolved from instructor and captain leading expeditions to becoming the Marine Operations Manager. At Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer Fielding was the director of an off-site program. In the spring of 2002 She completed a NOLS 75-day backcountry expedition in the remote Patagonia region focused on technical and outdoor skills, leadership development, risk, management and decision making and environmental ethics. She also served as the Co-Director to Project WILD, the student outdoor club at Duke University where she meet and befriended WYLD Co-Founder Chris Chandler.
Founders & Staff
Co-Founder, Instructor & Executive Director
Sonja has been educating LAUSD students in math, science and art for the past seventeen years, fourteen of which were spent working at Carver Middle School, a Title 1 school that is now partnered with WYLD. During her time at Carver, Sonja began working with the Sierra Club and OBA to get her own classes on outdoor excursions regularly over the years. Upon co-founding WYLD, she created and directs the Farm-to-Forest garden program on the Carver campus, as well as orchestrating the monthly day hikes and curriculum. Sonja also handles community outreach opportunities, connections and partnerships. Sonja holds a BA in History from UC Santa Barbara and an MA in Urban School Administration from CSU Dominguez Hills.
Jonathan Galindez - Farm to Forest Instructor and Garden Program Coordinator
Jonathan started teaching and inspiring youth in the Carver Garden in the Fall of 2017. His passion and love for the garden and the community has helped turn the garden into a thriving, unique, teaching farm. He also loves to make connections in the community and has brought many opportunities to WYLD and the youth through his charisma and desire to get as many people growing and eating their vegetables.
“A Carver Middle School Graduate, and having been raised in a "concrete jungle" in South LA I was always attracted to green spaces and the diversity found in the ecosystems no matter how big or small. Sharing my passion has me educating, teaching, mentoring, and learning through the many projects I participate in, in my community and city. My passion for nature has lead me into gardening. Root Down LA, a non profit organization that was based out of Thomas Jefferson HS, taught me the technique and gave me knowledge through mentoring. Thanks to all the great mentors I had I learned that gardening is one of my life-long passions and I have to share it with the next generations.
I love sharing my passion for nature with the world. To see the spark in someone's eyes when they enjoy and experience the magic that is nature inspires me to keep doing this type of work. The abundance that is provided from our ecosystems has me wanting to sharing nature's secrets with my community. “
Andres Chopin - Farm to Forest Instructor and lead Garden Chef
As a professional chef and Carver Alum, Andres brings a unique perspective to the garden classroom and shows up every week with a new trove of compost treasures! Andres has been planting new ideas and passions in young gardening students since fall of 2017, and brings a love of cooking to the gardening classes. Andres is also passionate about reaching out to the community and helping the neighborhood grow their veggies, cook up some delicious healthy meals, and compost, compost, compost.
Jeremy Rogers- Mentor/Guide
David VanBeek - Mentor/Guide
Chris Chandler - Guide/Mentor
Ainee Guevara - Tech Wizard