Board of Trustees
Michelle Blume, president of GROW's board of trustees, resides in West Seattle and has been gardening at the Solstice P-Patch near Lincoln Park for the past 12 years. She gives credit to the P-Patch Program for further developing her enthusiasm for organic living and the “buy local/eat local” philosophy. Michelle became the site coordinator for her garden in 2007 and was instrumental in creating a leadership team to administer the site. She currently holds one of the leadership positions as finance/fundraiser coordinator for Solstice P-Patch. Michelle earned her bachelor’s degree in business management while raising two teenage daughters and working full-time as a purchasing agent for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In addition to gardening, she enjoys reading mystery novels and taking long walks in Lincoln Park with her husband, Tom, and their dog Abby.
Karen Abbey is a Los Angeles native who grew up gardening with her grandmother and enjoying a wide variety of fresh produce. She moved to Seattle in 2004 and became intrigued with the concept of communal organic gardening. Karen immediately put her name on the waiting list for a plot at the Queen Anne P-Patch, but had to wait five years before being assigned a space to garden. Working in the P-Patch, she says, is both peaceful and socially satisfying. Karen has spent her career in sales. Currently she is a real estate broker and REALTOR with Coldwell Banker Bain. Karen says she loves the real estate business because she enjoys listening to people and helping them attain their housing wants and needs. Previously, she was a principal at Framerz, LLC, a manufacturer of decorative computer monitor frames. When not gardening, Karen enjoys playing tennis and various sports, movies, music, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Alice Burgess is a communications consultant with 35 years of experience in creating and managing public/community relations programs for non-profit organizations and public agencies. Much of her work has been focused on “friend-raising” communication strategies that maximize fund-raising potential. She has served on several other non-profit boards of directors and helped create fund-raising campaigns for those organizations. An escaped journalist, Alice taught writing for public relations and fund-raising professionals at the University of Washington for many years. She finds Seattle P-Patches particularly compelling because of their power to draw together people from diverse cultures and socio-economic strata, uniting them around a healthy shared interest. Alice and her husband have gardened at the Interbay P-Patch since 1996. Perhaps because she began gardening as a pre-schooler, she particularly enjoys seeing children learning to grow things in the P-Patches and enjoying the produce they nurture.
Jon Jaffe has an extensive background in running technology and marketing programs at Microsoft and other Northwest companies. He is a longtime advocate and supporter of land trusts, food justice, native plant restoration and community gardening programs. Jon has worked with several non-profits on fund-raising and on developing concept plans. He and his wife, Elizabeth Cross, have a P-Patch at Bradner Gardens Park in the Mount Baker neighborhood. Jon joined the GROW Board of Trustees in June 2015.
Michael McNutt has extensive experience in managing screen and digital printing businesses. One of his passions is building strong communities and securing open space in the city where people can gather, talk, and garden. A native of Seattle, Michael has contacts throughout the public and private sectors and works to increase GROW's ability to raise money in order to more broadly fulfill its mission. Additionally, he makes use of his business experience in helping to increase GROW's effectiveness at executing its strategic planning goals and objectives. Michael has served on a variety of boards of directors, including the Epilepsy Association and Impact Washington (formerly Washington Manufacturing Services). A gardener at the Queen Anne P-Patch, Michael began serving on GROW's Land Stewardship Committee in 1998 and joined the board of directors in 2003. He currently serves as board treasurer.
Joyce Moty joined the Board of Trustees in 2006 and brings political savvy, experience in community-building, and practical knowledge of community gardening and site management to the organization. She has served on numerous non-profit and civic boards, helped establish the forerunner of GROW, and was a member of the Citizens Oversight Committee for the Seattle ProParks Levy that helped fund new P-Patches and the expansion of several existing ones. Joyce, through her community activism, regularly collaborates with members of Seattle Tilth, King County Master Gardeners, Washington Native Plant Society, EarthCorps, Seattle Green Partnership, and Parks and Open Space Advocates.
Eric Todderud is an attorney in the Seattle office of an international law firm. His practice focuses on electric power regulation and renewable energy project development. Eric served 10 years as a member of the board of directors of CASA for Children, Inc., a Portland-based non-profit that helps abused and neglected children, and he was board president in 1999-2000. While at CASA for Children, Inc., Eric developed skills and experience in overseeing non-profit program management and fund-raising. He has been an active gardener since the 1990s, and has gardened in the Eastlake P-Patch for the past few years. When he is not working or gardening, Eric enjoys sailing, bicycling, skiing, and spending time with his two daughters. Eric joined the Board of Trustees in 2012.
Sue Wilkes is a consultant and grant writer who helps nonprofit organizations best meet their mission through capacity-building support and training. Her areas of focus include capital campaign management, strategic planning, program design, evaluation, and leadership development. Gardening and growing food have been present in Sue’s life ever since she got her first taste of green beans straight from the garden as a child. She is currently a gardener at the Hillman City P-Patch and volunteers with the Giving Garden Team. As a member of the GROW Board since 2016, Sue hopes to learn more about the proud history of community gardening in Seattle and to support an expanding network of people dedicated to building an urban food system that is both equitable and sustainable.
Barrett J. Nehilla is a biotechnology professional with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Pharmacology from Boston University. After moving to Seattle from the East Coast, he was on a wait list for a P-Patch for several years before settling into the Cascade P-Patch. At Cascade, he co-led the Giving Garden program that resulted in hundreds of pounds of food donations to local food banks every year. Barrett brings several years of program management, data analysis, grant writing and educational outreach experience to the GROW board. He is passionate about increasing public engagement with community gardens, parks and open spaces, especially in urban landscapes. He also enjoys hiking, biking, cooking and reading. Barrett joined the board in 2016.