Meet the Board

Taproot is a collection of teachers, community leaders, volunteers, and social advocates, all of whom find themselves united in the common goal of employing the vast resources here in Rochester to implement accessible, sustainable and regenerative food systems.

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Stephanie BenwayBoard Member

Stephanie is an ecological landscape designer, and educator. She earned a bachelor's degree in Anthropology from SUNY Geneseo in 2008 and developed her passion for the environment while doing archaeology fieldwork from 2007-2014. After completing a Permaculture Design Certification in 2014 she returned to Rochester, NY where she began farming and teaching in urban settings. She now works as the Environmental Program Coordinator for the City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services.

Lauren CarusoBoard Member

Lauren is an educator, community activist, and urban homesteader in the 19th Ward neighborhood. She facilitates community-engaged teaching and learning with faculty, students, and partners at the University of Rochester. She holds degrees in sociology, organizational management, and public policy. Lauren enjoys making things and giving thanks with friends, neighbors, and family.

Leslie KnoxBoard Member

Leslie strives to be the change she wants to see in the world. She has 15 years of experience in community outreach and social service, and mental health and guardianship for the elderly. She has a Master in Business Administration from the Simon Business School with a concentration in medical management. She now focuses her time on urban farming and community outreach. She also serves on several other community boards, including Friends of the Public Market.

Nick MooreBoard Member

Nick is a passionate community activist and a certified trainer/mediator within the field of Restorative Practices. He works to build trust within communities and to provide tools to transform conflict into creative opportunities for connection. Nick is the dedicated events coordinator at Small World Books; a used bookstore that also provides a platform for arts, culture, and social justice in the Market View Heights Neighborhood. He holds a degree in Social Science and is actively learning what it means to disrupt systems that perpetuate injustice.

Amber PowersBoard Member

Amber is a passionate supporter of the environmental justice movement in Rochester, NY. She holds degrees in Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo and Teaching English as a New Language (ENL) from Nazareth and received a Fulbright Scholarship to work in Nepal from 2011-2012. She works as an ENL teacher and registrar for the Rochester City School District. At home, she is an avid gardener and composter.

Lisa ZellerBoard Member

Lisa is a Rochester City School District science teacher who co-facilitates a student-run community school garden in the Marketview Heights neighborhood. An advocate for young people, she works on our team as an educational consultant in multiple settings. She is also currently working towards her doctoral degree in education at the University of Rochester and hopes to conduct research and program evaluation work for various urban agriculture projects in the Rochester community in the future.