Staff & Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Julie_Ward_Bio_Pic.png  Julie Ward

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 or c: (310) 880-0165. Healthy is the new Tasty! 


Catherine_Rivkin_Bio_Pic.png 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.

 Cassie Rivkin's LinkedIn Profile


Allison_Reynolds_Bio_Pic.png Allie Reynolds

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.

Allie Reynolds LinkedIn Profile



 Chris Chandler

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. 

Chris' LinkedIn Profile

Advisory Council

meg_redo.JPG Meghan Shearer

  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.

   Meghan's LinkedIn Profile


Fielding_Arnold_Bio_Pic.png Fielding Arnold

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.

  Fielding's LinkedIn Profile



Founders & Staff

 73606_1680737175612_6040541_n.jpgSonja Williams

 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.

Sonja's LinkedIn Profile


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






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