Catherine (Kate) Morrison joins City Fruit as its second executive director. Her ten-year career in public health has focused on creating social and physical environments that build healthy communities. She is passionate about ensuring access to nutritious food as part of the foundation of a healthy, productive community.
Kate has been involved in efforts to build community markets in low-access areas, to promote awareness of food deserts, to address senior hunger issues, and to create safe neighborhood parks. In other experience, she has traveled to nearly all 50 states working with local coalitions and organizations to create public health policy focused on health education, healthcare distribution, and Alzheimer’s disease. She is an experienced political organizer, having worked on ten campaigns through four states.
Kate has a master degree in public health policy from Saint Louis University School of Public Health and Social Justice where she graduated with Great Distinction. Along with her fiancé Andrew, she is enjoying Seattle’s neighborhoods and just planted a plum tree at her home in Greenwood.
FOUNDER & SENIOR ADVISOR
Gail grew up picking apples in the ‘Apple Capital of the World’ and, after a hiatus of 40 years, returned to coordinate fruit harvests throughout Seattle. She has organized neighborhood and community harvest groups and is the author of Gather It: How to Organize an Urban Fruit Harvest. Gail’s background includes serving as a communications specialist with King County environmental programs, working as a public health educator, and overseas stints in the Philippines and Ghana. She has masters degrees in anthropology and public health. Photo courtesy of urbanfarmhub.org
BOARD of DIRECTORS
Morgan Larsen, President
Morgan most recently hails from Chicago where she survived the winters by spending long hours crunching numbers first for Ernst & Young in their audit practice and then Citadel Investment Group working in Accounting Policy and Financial Reporting. She now has her own accounting consulting practice helping local nonprofits and small businesses develop and understand accounting systems. She also loves to explore Seattle’s urban parks with her two children, especially when they find fresh fruit to enjoy! Morgan holds a Masters in Accountancy from Arizona State University and is a CPA.
Matt Maria, Secretary
For five years Matt has been a lead at Bradner Gardens Park, caring for the fruit trees with the CF orchard stewards. An advocate for environmental education, he has developed urban agriculture policy for the City of Seattle, analyzed local “foodsheds” for the American Farmland Trust, and led both policy and restoration teams with People for Puget Sound. Matt worked in agriculture and community resource management in Peace Corps Tanzania and The Gambia. He earned an MS studying agroecology from the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and works in systems operations for the Dept. of Laboratory Medicine. He is driven, by the cultural resonance and fantastical wilderness of Cascadia, to improve the relationship between people and their environments.
Betsy Moyer, Vice President
Betsy has always wanted to make a positive difference in the world by using her expertise and talents for the greater good. Since opening her consulting firm, Betsy has used her experience to help her nonprofit and business clients grow and contribute to the world. Betsy holds an MBA from Bainbridge Graduate Institute. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania where the art of preserving fresh produce for the winter was common and spent countless hours as a child picking wild berries. A few years ago, she and her husband bought a house with an ancient apple tree needing lots of love and care, which began her involvement with City Fruit.
Kimberly Muska, Treasurer
Kimberly has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2004. Originally from Chicago, Kimberly has spent over 15 years in the investment profession and is currently Senior Vice President at Key Private Bank. She works with clients on their wealth planning and investment portfolios and is a Certified Financial Planer. In her free time, Kimberly can be found spending time with her husband and two young boys exploring Seattle neighborhoods.
Melissa has been gleaning fruit and foraging wild foods in the Seattle region for over 25 years. Melissa earned a PhD in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Washington. Currently, she serves as the joint social scientist for Washington Sea Grant (UW) and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center to improve understanding of the sociocultural dimensions of ecosystem management. Whether it’s facilitating a workshop on cultural food practices, speaking about access to nature as a social justice issue, or linking cultural values to ecosystem restoration, Melissa is passionate about strengthening ties between people and the environments in which they live. Melissa and her partner love to garden, forage, make medicinal salves, homebrew and botanical art.
Matt was introduced to City Fruit when he joined the Orchard Steward group at Martha Washington Park. He is committed to supporting good local food and is especially interested in getting it to those who need it most and in building knowledge and community around food. Most recently Matt has been applying his experience as a hobby hard cider maker to teaching people how to turn their bounty of apples into delicious cider. Matt works at Parallel Public Works as a technical project manager.
Hazel’s work experience relates back to and is reinforced by her training in Economic Geography and Urban Planning: understanding how systems (e.g., transportation, social services, manufacturing, health, small and large businesses, communities, government, etc) function in a region; what are the constraints and obstacles to successes and efficiency; and how to increase participation by all citizens in these processes so that they have a stake in positive outcomes. Photo courtesy of urbanfarmhub.org
Barb Burrill, Director of Orchard Stewardship
Barb grew up on an apple, pear, and cherry orchard outside Selah, Yakima county where she learned how to pick fruit, can fruit, and make pies. Years later in Seattle she was compelled to rescue neighborhood fruit trees choked by blackberries and ivy. Barb has been lead steward for the Burke-Gilman Trail Urban Orchard since 2010. She also volunteers in her son’s public schools where she has established “Green Teams” and has led Washington Green Schools certifications. She has an MBA from NYU and a large collection of piano ensemble sheet music just waiting to be played. Contact Barb at [email protected].
Luke Jesperson, Harvest & Community Outreach Manager
Luke was born and raised in the golden wheat fields of North Dakota. A desire to experience elevation change brought him to pursue his studies in Tacoma at the University of Puget Sound where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. After returning to the states from teaching middle school math in Juticalpa, Honduras, Luke moved to Whidbey Island to help his sister on her 6 acre, organic produce farm named Deep Harvest. Since the end of the summer harvest season, Luke moved to Seattle and interned at the Domestic Fair Trade Association– an organization committed to working towards a more equitable, diverse, and sustainable food system. Besides playing in the dirt, Luke enjoys cooking, reading, frisbee, and getting lost in nature. Contact Luke at [email protected].
Natalie is a fruit enthusiast graduated from Bastyr and James Madison U. With her combined education and work in public health and holistic design, she is passionate about healthy environments and happy people. Natalie has a diverse range of experiences from working with volunteers at CrossOver Ministry, an urban public health clinic, to a Seattle coffee shop gardener. In her free time she likes to practice bikram yoga in the U-district and likes to try new dance styles at the Massive Monkees Studio: The Beacon. Her desire to help people improve their quality of life brought her out the Pacific Northwest and she hasn’t looked back. Natalie loves meeting and working with amazing City Fruit volunteers and is also excited because she hasn’t yet met a new fruit she didn’t like! Contact Natalie at [email protected].
Elan grew up in Wallingford, where she has many fond memories of napping under her backyard cherry tree. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in History, Elan spent seven months volunteering on farms in Eastern Europe, where she gained a great appreciation for fresh figs. Upon returning to the U.S., she moved to the beautiful Methow Valley for two years, where she served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at TwispWorks, building the organizational foundations of a teen center. Elan is passionate about community building and sustainable policy, and has worked on a variety of projects ranging from campaign work to establish a public transit system in Okanogan County to teaching nutrition in King County. In her free time, Elan can be found playing music, backpacking, dancing, and, of course, eating fresh fruit (sometimes all at the same time)! Contact Elan at é[email protected].
Yvonne Socolar, Harvester
Yvonne has been picking apples, berries, pears, and all things edible since she was a bare-footed, curious child in North Carolina. Before moving to Seattle in 2013, she studied Biology at Swarthmore College between working on an urban farm in Quito, Ecuador and canning applesauce for her roommates. She fell in love with local food banks and food justice while working as a food and healthcare outreach specialist in King County and is thrilled to now spend her days plugging holes in our food system with and-picked apples. When not tootling around town in her fruitmobile and a sunhat, Yvonne spends her time hiking, looking after her sourdough starter, juggling, baking all manner of goods, writing, painting, playing music and convincing people to swim with her in Green Lake.
Dusty Towler, Harvester
Dusty is a native Seattleite who grew up amongst rainy sports fields, damp forests, and surprisingly wet oceans. It wasn’t until after a long stint in the banking industry that he spent the summer of 2009 working in Alaska, where he rekindled his love of the outdoors. He then completed the Environmental Horticulture Program at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and joined City Fruit shortly thereafter. Going into his fourth summer, he’s taken great effort in harvesting as much fruit where possible. When not on a ladder or up in a tree, he can be found enjoying music production, scuba diving, local sports, and time spent with friends and family. He has also spent the past 3 years leading projects for Stone Soup Gardens, specializing in sustainable landscaping and edible rain garden installations.
While there are too many to name, we couldn’t do what we do without them. Thank you Volunteers!