Meet Our Team

Heather Benham joined Athens Land Trust in 2002 as a summer intern, and after graduating from UGA in 2003 with her joint Masters of Historic Preservation and Juris Doctorate, she was hired on as ALT’s first full-time employee. Since that time she has filled many roles: Project Coordinator, overseeing construction on ALT’s affordable housing program; Housing Director, building relationships with families while helping them achieve their dreams of homeownership; and Director of Operations, growing ALT’s community agriculture program while managing the organization’s operations. Now she serves as Executive Director, working closely with members of the community, other organizations, and local officials to further ALT’s mission. ALT’s impact has grown significantly during her tenure: the organization has grown from three employees to 31, and the annual operating budget has grown from $60,000 to over $1.2 million.

Austin “Tex” Bagley has over 10 years of non-profit experience and a background in business development, community outreach, marketing, and non-profit management. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with degrees in Communication and English. Tex spent two years living and working on a family farm in northwest Georgia, which instilled a passion for providing people access to local farm fresh produce. He brings this passion and experience to ALT as Community Agriculture  Director, working with small farmers and new and beginning farmers to grow and sustain their operations. 

Ethel Collins, known as “Ms. Ethel,” is a community mentor and entrepreneur. She has worked with ALT as a farm contractor at the West Broad Garden since 2012, where she helps plan which crops are grown. She also lends her experience to garden volunteers and Young Urban Farmers working there. Ms. Ethel has been growing and cooking food for most of her life; she was born and raised on a farm outside of Athens where she began cooking family meals at the age of 12. A retiree from UGA Food Services, she cooks large meals weekly for her church’s soup kitchen, the Athens Homeless Shelter, and other community groups. She is also an anchor vendor at the West Broad Farmers Market, where she is widely known for her unique soul food recipes and traditional southern dishes.

Stephanie DuQue  joined Athens Land Trust as Farmland Protection Specialist after graduating from UGA with a BA in Geography and a certificate in GIS (Geographic Information Science). She has experience in community and environmental organizing and is excited to utilize these skills to help increase protection of agricultural land in Georgia.

Julian Green is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and has an MPA in Public Administration. He joined Athens Land Trust in 2018 and works in the Community Agriculture Program as the Farmer Outreach Coordinator. His role is to is to assist new and beginning farmers, along with farmers of color and veterans, in growing their farm businesses. He is eager to apply his skills and experience in outreach to the mission of ALT.

Lawrence Jones is an Athens native and UGA graduate with an M.A. in Nonprofit Organization Management. He has five years of nonprofit experience and is a licensed residential contractor. He joined the Athens Land Trust team in 2018 as the Young Urban Builders Coordinator. His role is to manage the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing and conduct on-site construction training of Clarke County students in ALT’s youth development program. He is excited to help  students gain construction skills and impact the community he grew up in.

Hannah Johnson is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a BA in International Affairs. She joined the Athens Land Trust in 2018 as AmeriCorps VISTA PR Coordinator. She is passionate about issues such as food security, access to healthcare, and environmental inequalities. Through working with Athens Land Trust, she is excited to have the opportunity to serve and engage with her community this year.

Monica Magee, Assistant Director, joined Athens Land Trust in March 2018.  She has over 25 years of experience as a non-profit administrator, developer, and grant writer.  Monica is a graduate of Loyola University, New Orleans and she completed her Masters of Public Administration at Troy University. She is a collaborative builder, working from within the community to give voice to the undeserved. Her passion to link people with the appropriate resources to help them improve their lives has been her mission throughout  her career. She will use her body of knowledge to help build capacity and operational efficiency. “Athens Land Trust is doing incredible work. and I want to be a part of itI have chosen Athens to be my permanent home, and I will work to make it better every day.” 

Lauren Muller joined ALT after graduating from UGA with an M.S in Horticulture. Her previous work focused on the role of horticulture in plant conservation and she has a passion for Georgia’s diverse plant communities. Her role as Invasive Plant Management Coordinator allows her to preserve the integrity of Georgia Piedmont forests and grasslands by increasing removal of invasive plant species on public and private land. Additionally, Lauren promotes community engagement through outreach, education, and youth program development.

Seth Nivens, Farm Programs AssistantSeth Nivens has been working with small organic farms, school gardens and community agriculture projects for the past 12 years. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy, and a M.S. in Environmental Studies. His current position as Williams Farm Manageprovides him the opportunity to share his passion for sustainable agriculture with Athens-area youth.

Kamilah Roberts first joined the Athens Land Trust in 2016 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Kamilah graduated from the University of Georgia where she majored in advertising and received her Bachelors in journalism. As of 2018, Kamilah has been working as the Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Credit and Financial Growth. She is excited to apply her skills in mass communications towards building capacity for ALT through marketing and outreach efforts.

Linda Stephens joined ALT in 2016 as a Market Ambassador, working with staff to promote the West Broad Garden and Farmers Market. Linda brings 29 years of experience as a professional in the nursing and healthcare fields to her outreach work, providing nutrition education, conducting cooking demonstrations, and promoting community wellness.

Cameron Teeter has joined the ALT team as the West Broad Farmers Market Garden Manager after happily returning to Athens after a more than a decade absence. After graduating from UGA with a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture she had the opportunity to live and work in Central and South America  designing and building both ornamental and food gardens.
During that time she worked to design and build organic farms, as well as permaculture and aquaponics projects.  She is passionate about sustainable farming and involving the community in the growing and education of the Market Gardens. She is grateful to serve the local community by growing healthy certified naturally grown food at the Market Garden and to work with the youth of the Young Urban Farmers.

Travis Williams is a graduate of both the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and the University of Georgia where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Juris Doctorate respectively. Travis joined Athens Land Trust in 2018 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Education Assistant. Travis is eager to serve the Athens Community by promoting healthy communities, encouraging respect for the environment, and cultivating communal engagement.

adam_wilson_vistaPreviously serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for ALT, Adam Wilson is now serving as Salesforce Specialist. He will assist with expanding ALT’s Salesforce platform to track program data and performance. In the past, Adam has worked as a freelance graphic designer, copywriter, and web developer for community non-profits. He is excited to use his previous experience in web/software programming and project management to support ALT’s plans for visionary land use. He holds a B.A. from Georgetown University.

John Anderson is a graduate of the Young Urban Farmers program, where he fostered a passion for sustainable agriculture and food justice. He now uses that passion as the Assistant Farm Manager at Williams Farm and the West Broad Garden, where he assists the farm managers in farm maintenance and works on special projects to promote the growth of both locations. John is a senior at Clarke Central High School and is also dual enrolled, studying business management at Athens Technical College. He hopes to use his experience with Athens Land Trust to impact change in the food industry in the future.

Katie Arney is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a BA in Human Geography and a certificate in Urban and Metropolitan Studies. She joined Athens Land Trust in 2018 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer CoordinatorKatie is excited to apply her passions for service and sustainable community centered development while serving the Athens community.

Lorinda Crane is a UGA graduate with a BBA in Accounting. She has worked in the accounting field for 25 years, holding positions that range from staff auditor in a public accounting firm to CFO for a local, privately held company. She has called Athens her home for over 20 years and became ALT’s Director of Operations in 2015. She is excited to put her years of accounting and finance experience to further the financial health and stewardship of ALT  in our local community and across Georgia.

Briane Davis first joined ALT in 2010 as an Affordable Housing intern before graduating from UGA with her B.S in Financial Planning. She recently completed her Masters in Public Administration from UGA and has returned to ALT now serving as a Program Operations Specialist, supporting the program administration and operations of projects in the Affordable Housing Program and the Community Agriculture Program. Her passion for public service and non-profit administration started by serving with the Georgia College Advising Corps, an AmeriCorps-funded outreach program. As a native of Athens, she is proud to be a part of building community and economic development opportunities for the Athens community.

 Stephanie (Steph), like most folks, wears many different and stylish hats! They reflect on themselves as being a recent university graduate, a FoodCorps community member; a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), an activist, a poet, a devout family person, a Chicagoan, a proud Latinx non-binary identifying individual, and an Athenian. Steph firmly believes that all folks are deserving of a dignified life, and they are excited to work at Gaines Elementary as a FoodCorps Service Member teaching kids that access to nutritious food is a human right and not a privilege.

Marissa Joyner first joined Athens Land Trust in 2016 as a Market Ambassador,  conducting community outreach and education for the West Broad Farmers Market. She is a strong advocate for healthy eating and has provided numerous cooking demonstrations at the Market and in the wider community. She has also brought her passion and experience in community outreach to her role as an AmeriCorps VISTA Outreach assistant before resuming her role as a Market Ambassador in 2018. She has over 10 years of experience working with underserved communities in Athens and other non-profit organizations. she is looking forward to establishing more partnerships and building the capacity of Athens Land Trust so that we may be able to reach every person within the community.

DeJoiré Hall joined Athens Land Trust in 2017 as the Project Coordinator for the West Broad Community Cookbook. DeJoiré has a BS in Biology of Global Health from Georgetown University. She has worked as a writer and sustainable farmer, advocating for food and health security in vulnerable communities around the world. DeJoiré is excited to help preserve the history of a notable Athens community, to showcase ALT’s urban agriculture and food security project, and to highlight the significant contributions of the West Broad community to the food traditions of Athens, Georgia.

Dyan Holt began working with Athens Land Trust in 2008, after many years as a lawyer in the public service. She holds an LL.M from Georgetown University Law Center, and now is Conservation Coordinator, involved in all aspects of the Conservation Program.

Gregg LaClaire is an Athenian with over 25 years experience in the service industry, including cultivating successful restaurants in the Athens area. With a passion for sustainable living and a love of the culture and diversity of Athens, he joined ALT as the West Broad Farmers Market Manager. Gregg is looking forward to contributing to The West Broad Farmers Market by using his experience and knowledge to help local small farmers and vendors thrive in our local community.

Yyokkia Lawson has more than 10 years of experience in the financial industry and is passionate about fostering housing and economic development opportunities throughout the Southeast. Her overriding goal is to create homeowners and business owners, and this is precisely her duty as Athens Land Trust’s Director of Credit & Financial Growth (CFG). Under her guidance, CFG provides home buyer and financial literacy education, one-on-one credit and housing counseling, and microloans for small businesses. Additionally, she coordinates First Time Home Buyer classes, Post-Purchase & Credit workshops, helps connect homebuyers to various purchasing programs, and is constantly seeking cost-effective ways to solve the housing crisis within our communities. Yyokkia holds a B.S. in Management from Georgi Tech and an A.S. in Architectural Technology. She is also a HUD-Certified Housing Counselor and a Certified USDA Loan Packager.

Erin O’Brien moved from Colorado to Georgia in 2000, and is proud to now call Athens home. Beginning in 2014, she served at ALT as an Americorps VISTA for a year and a half before leaving to start a family. Erin returned in July 2016 as the Outreach and Development Coordinator, and is eager to find new ways to share ALT’s mission with the community and to grow the organization and its impact.

Audrey Smith is an Athens native and recent graduate from the University of Georgia, holding a B.S. in Health Promotion and Behavior. She joined Athens Land Trust as an AmeriCorps VISTA Development Assistant in 2018. Audrey is excited to continue serving her hometown of Athens while practicing her passions of community engagement and public health. 

Renee Smith joined Athens Land Trust in 2017 as a FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member. Now as the Young Urban Farmers Coordinator She works with middle and high school students teaching garden and nutrition education. Renee brings experience from different areas of the food system from local food policy, advocacy, and community engagement. She holds a master’s degree in Food and Agricultural Law and Policy program at Vermont Law School and a B.S. from Savannah State University.

Kelsey Thompson joined ALT in January 2014 as an intern in the Affordable Housing Program. Previously serving as the Housing Coordinator and Education Director, Kelsey is now serving as the Housing Director Kelsey holds a B.A in Urban Policy and Planning from Virginia Tech and her MSW from the University of Georgia, concentrating on Community Empowerment and Program Development. She is a HUD Certified Housing Counselor, and enjoys working with clients from day one to homeownership. 

20160916_113439-2Krisztian Varsa joined Athens Land Trust in 2016 as the Conservation Director. Krisztian has an MRP in urban planning from Cornell University and a BA in Geography from the University of Delaware. His background is in outreach, education, program development, and implementing conservation practices at the local level. Krisztian’s passions for conservation and outreach led him to Athens Land Trust where he will develop partnerships and increase conservation opportunities to protect and improve lands for agricultural production, wildlife habitat, and natural resource management.

George Wright, Project OversightGeorge Wright has lived in Athens and operated his own residential construction and remodeling business since 1975. He was a member of ALT’s board from 1999 through 2005, and has continued to be involved in our affordable housing program ever since, In August of 2014, he was hired as Project Oversight to supervise construction for us and is pleased to be able to put more effort into permanently affordable housing in our community.

As an Athens native, Deijhon Yearby’s growing experience began in high school, with landscaping as well as gardening at Clark Central High School. He participated in the Young Urban Farmers program during his senior year and is now the Assistant Farm Manager for Athens Land Trust. Deijhon is studying Horticulture at Athens Technical College and hopes to apply what he learns there to our farms.