Board of Directors

Lenora Gooden

Lenora Gooden

President

Lenora is a native of St. Louis and she received her BS in Sociology & Minor in Criminology from The University of Missouri St. Louis. She is an alumni of FOCUS St. Louis (FOCUS Fellows Class 2020-2021) and served as a member of the Supply Chain and Analytics Advisory Board for the University of Missouri – Saint Louis. Her career in hunger relief began at The St. Louis Area Foodbank in 1996 and she spent 26 years gaining a wealth of experience within food banking and the issues surrounding hunger and food insecurity. In 2021, she decided to change environments and went on to join another food bank in the area, Operation Food Search, where she spent almost a year before joining her current employer, Umoja Supply Chain Solutions. Her passion for providing food to help communities thrive is the main objective of her current position in hunger relief as she serves on the Procurement team at Umoja, purchasing food items for food boxes that are designed for food banks. Full circle! Lenora feels this is a great time to serve on the Board of The Rustic Roots Sanctuary! “It is a great fit, I’m passionate about fresh produce and providing that option to communities and Rustic Roots Sanctuary is a great organization doing great work!” In her spare time, she loves to cook, travel, enjoy great music, enjoy family and relax with her husband of 8 eight years/best friend of 18 years, Reginald Gooden.

Janett Lewis

Janett Lewis

Founder/Executive Director

Holds an Early Childhood Education degree and has been a licensed holistic health provider for over twenty years. Lewis began her twenty plus year holistic health care career while obtaining an Associates Degree in Real Estate. Lewis has twelve years experience as a RE professional and investor and two years experience marketing for small businesses. Lewis has served her communities in many ways including two years as a board director of the Clairemont Town Council (CA), two years serving on the board of the Spanish Lake CDC, one year as the Board Chair of the Spanish Lake CDC, and is a St. Louis Neighborhood Leadership Fellow. Lewis is passionate about fighting for food equity, teaching people to grow food, the importance of nutrition, and how to live more sustainable lives. Having a background in Waldorf education, holistic health care, and business prepared Lewis to launch Rustic Roots Sanctuary Co.a culmination of her life's greatest works.

Connie Risby

Connie Risby

Treasurer

Has a background in marketing and sales and is a long time Spanish Lake resident. A seasoned business and marketing professional with forty years of experience, Connie Risby’s experience crosses several industries, including: Retail, Fast Food/Quick Casual/Full-Service Restaurants, Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Employment Recruitment Marketing, Government/Military and Financial Services/Banking. Connie has expertise in identifying problems area(s) and developing key objectives, strategies, and tactics at every level including, budgeting, branding/creative, consumer/trade media (online and offline), sales projections, product mix analysis, promotion evaluations, competitive analysis and measurement.

Monica Watson

Monica Watson

Secretary

I am a culinary and community food system professional who is committed to creating an equitable and just food system. I have a degree in Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts as well as a few farming apprenticeships. Food has always been central to my story. My childhood exposed me to a variety of food cultures and summers gave me the opportunity to see food grow while visiting grandparents. I first began working as a chef and manager in restaurants, hotels, and private clubs both in Ohio and Chicago before relocating to St. Louis more than 20 years ago. My food journey soon led me to farm to school programs locally, where teaching culinary arts and nutrition focused on gardening and our relationship to food and the earth. I have created curriculums for food education programs that embrace food as cultural and central to our human experience. In my current role as Manager of Community Food Systems for Operation Food Search I work to enhance the nutritional, economic and environmental health of those living in areas with low food access and poverty. I focus on building relationships and connecting our local disinvested BIPOC farmers to disinvested community. Empowering all communities with food access, knowledge, and healing possibilities provided by nature gives people the opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. Food is incredibly powerful. I believe it has the power to root, connect, and heal communities. Supporting Rustic Roots allows me to be part of the work that is the most meaningful to me and mirrors my values.

Donna Rae Jones

Donna Rae Jones

Board of Directors

Donna Rae is a Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher and Coach working with adults and children since 2015. Her passion for community, connection, and mindfulness is evident as the founder of Black Women Hike Sundays and co-founder of Mindfulness with People of Color.

Jeremiah Sampo

Jeremiah Sampo

Board of Directors

Jeremiah grew up in a small north woods town in the state of Wisconsin, spent almost 2 years in Minneapolis where he attended North Central University. He has worked with an organization that reached out to the homeless and runaway youth with the purpose of helping them turn their lives around. He was an assistant leader at the Joshua House that provided a stable environment for young men so they could transition out on their own. He moved to St. Louis, MO in 2003 and has fallen in love with the area and the wide variety of businesses and entertainment it offers. He has held many positions in the workforce from general laborer, and small business owner, to department manager. In 2015 he earned his B.S. in Business Administration from UMSL. In August 2020 he accepted a position as a Receiving Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Food Bank. It has been his desire to work with organizations that support the community. He brings a strong work ethic, organizational skills, and critical thinking. He looks forward to building relationships, and learning new skills. He sees challenges as building blocks to a strong mind and body.

Erin Simon

Erin Simon

Board of Directors

I'm an energetic fundraiser and marketer working to increase the capacity of non-profit organizations. My passion and expertise include development management, fundraising and marketing plans, interim management, data analytics and research, brand strategy, and marketing and communications. I enjoy finding creative and feasible solutions to the industry's broadly relevant issues. Specific fields of experience include arts and culture, museums, health care, and faith-based organizations.

Dorlita Adams

Dorlita Adams

Advisory Board

Dorlita Adams is currently the principal of Barbara C. Jordan Elementary School. Dorlita Adams is a native of St. Louis, MO and grew up on the west side of the city. She is a graduate of Mulberry Grove High School, in Illinois, and has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Behavior Disorders from Harris-Stowe State University. Dorlita earned a Master's of Arts in Educational Administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and completed her Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership at Missouri Baptist University. Dorlita and her husband (a preschool teacher) are residents of Unincorporated St. Louis County. Dorlita Adams vast work experience includes: the Ritenour School District for seventeen years; Director of Alternative Education in the Ritenour School District; Principal of Kratz Elementary School for eleven years; Reading specialist and an Assistant Principal at Hoech Middle school; Principal at Kratz Elementary School; Assistant Principal at Adams Elementary School; Ferguson Florissant School District for seven years. Her extensive roles included one year as a Reading Specialist and six years as a Reading Recovery Teacher. Mrs. Adams started her illustrious career as a fourth-grade teacher in the St. Louis Public School District. She was a teacher leader there for four years. Throughout her career, Mrs. Adams has been active within the community and is a member of community service organizations that provide support to children and their families. She is also one of the founding Chief Executive Officers of “Passion 4 Pink Change,” a non-for profit organization established to help individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. Mrs. Adams’ multifaceted leadership abilities include strong interpersonal skills; extensive management experience; a phenomenal educational foundation; a solid work ethic; excellent communication skills; and enhanced decision-making skills.

Tamara Daugherty

Tamara Daugherty

Advisory Board

Tamara Daugherty is a Nature enthusiast. She has taken several classes on natural remedies and gravitates toward herbal remedies and healing through whole foods. She has completed 2 years of the Beekeeping Mentorship Program at Rustic Roots Sanctuary. She has been a supporter since day one. She has volunteered to work on the farm, helped out at events and the weekly farmers market and is happen to advise and guide the leadership at Rustic Roots Sanctuary.

Our Farm Family

Sharon "Cookie" Mitchell

Sharon "Cookie" Mitchell

Senior Programs/Outreach

Her neighbors and friends call her MS. Cookie. She's also been referred to as Ms. Spanish Lake. She has served on the Community Development Board (CDC) for 4 plus years. She volunteers as the Bingo caller at the Twillman House, Helping Hands Food Pantry and the Innovative Crime and Safety Summit in Bellefontaine Neighbors. You will see Cookie at the weekly farmers market @ Rustic Roots Sanctuary and at the check in booth for our public celebrations. She has been instrumental at building our Senior programs and makes weekly confirmation calls to all our participants. She has been a resident of Spanish Lake since 1998 and a member of God's First Church (GFC - Pastor Lucas) in Spanish Lake. Her background is in education and has work experience of 40 years in accounting and business. For her serving her community is a honor. She has a deep love for Spanish Lake and advocates passionately on behalf of the underserved in our community. She helps people get the information they need to live a better quality of life and for growth of Spanish Lake. Her desire is for each of us to live together as one for all and to be active and engaged in Spanish Lake. In 2022 she was the 1st resident of Spanish Lake to receive the Lieutenant Governors’ award for her community service.

Eric Scott

Eric Scott

Facilities Manager/Farm Operations

Eric started his working career in Operations/Facility Management with emphasis in Agricultural International Business. After over twenty five years in this line of work he decided to make a change and left the corporate world to continue his passion for the building trades. A1 General Contractors was started and grew into STL RE Investments LLC. which served Residential Veterans, and Seniors in the Saint Louis area. Scott has been instrumental in every step of property development, maintenance, and construction buildout of Rustic Roots Sanctuary. He envisions a space where the community is welcome to enjoy the bounty of fresh produce and find peace in the beautiful surroundings.

Eric Stevens

Eric Stevens

Farm Manager

Eric has been involved with growing local produce for over eighteen years. Eric and his wife, Crystal, co-founded FLOURISH along the bluffs of the Mississippi River which encompasses a farm, a plant nursery, and an apothecary. Additionally, Eric has extensive knowledge in edible and ecological landscapes. Eric has been the Farm Manager for various organic farms around St. Louis such as Confluence Farm, EarthDance Organic Farm School and La Vista CSA Farm. He has also been a consultant for other small farms in the area. In 2016, he was selected as a US Delegate by Slow Food St. Louis at Terra Madre, an international food conference in Turin, Italy. Eric is also a fine artist with an emphasis on printmaking and woodblock prints and hand painted house portraits. He is a carpenter, woodworker and land steward.

Karen Schone (Kari)

Karen Schone (Kari)

Farm Assistant

Since returning to Missouri 19 year ago, Kari has discovered her passion for sustainable agriculture and volunteered at an organic CSA, elementary school gardens, an urban farm, grown a backyard garden, and spearheaded a collectively-worked neighborhood garden. She continues to raise her three boys and work at a family-owned skating rink. She is thrilled at the opportunity to join the Rustic Roots Sanctuary team and is most excited about getting to know the people who are a part of the farm and community!

Yong Soo Kim

Yong Soo Kim

Farm Support

Yong Soo Kim manifested into existence on May 3rd, 1985, in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts. His passion for growing fruits and vegetables are shadowed ONLY by his love for eating them! "We all have a duty to ensure that future generations have something nutritious and delicious to eat." Favorite veggie - Zucchini Favorite fruit - Mangosteen

Josh Hagene

Josh Hagene

Farm Support

Josh is a 23-year-old tattoo artist from St. Louis. He enjoys making art, gardening, and traveling to new places around the world. He loves animals and has a deaf American Bulldog named Buddy.

Jasmine Pirtle

Jasmine Pirtle

Farm Support

I am a 22-year-old local resident and grower of Spanish Lake. I am deeply devoted to reconnecting my family and local community with food and their growth processes. Outside of work, you'll find me gardening of course, reading, capturing moments through photography, and crafting all sorts of things! I'm overjoyed to dive into the world of livestock and eager to learn every aspect of how creation aids us in sustainable living!