Our Team

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

Individual board members are expected to:

  • know the organization’s mission, policies, programs, and needs
  • follow the organization’s bylaws, policies, and board resolutions
  • prepare for, attend, and conscientiously participate in monthly board meetings
  • faithfully read and understand the organization’s financial statements
  • serve as active advocates and ambassadors for the organization
  • give a meaningful personal donation (money or time)
  • maintain confidentiality about all internal matters of the organization

As the highest leadership body of the organization and to satisfy its fiduciary duties, the board is responsible for:

  • determining the mission and purposes of the organization
  • strategic and organizational planning
  • ensuring strong fiduciary oversight and financial management
  • fundraising and resource development
  • approving and monitoring the organization’s programs and services
  • enhancing the organization’s public image
  • assessing its own performance as the governing body of the organization
  • selecting and evaluating the performance of the chief executive (if applicable)
  • participate fully in one or more programs or committees

Stephanie Benway

Board 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.


Amber Powers

Board 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.


Lauren Caruso

Board Chair

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.


Jocelyn Kopfman

Board Member

Jocie is the civic engagement coordinator at The Harley School. She earned her bachelor’s in Africana Studies at the College of Wooster and she recently received her MS in Human Development at the University of Rochester. There she focused on teaching qualitative research skills to youth to encourage critical civic engagement now and in their future.


Lisa Zeller

Board Secretary

Lisa is a Rochester City School District middle school 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.


Christina Cretelle

Board Treasurer

Chris, a champion of nonprofit business development, leverages fiscal policy to maximize impact. She has a process approach to her work that leaves a lasting impact on organizations she gets involved with. Her passion is to compel the next generation to make meaningful changes in their community through responsible, effective fiscal . She has an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition to Taproot, she serves on the Board of Directors at the Flower City Arts Center.


Leslie Knox

Board 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.