As ALT’s Farmer Outreach Specialist, Christina Hylton assists underserved and beginner farmers access NRCS and USDA resources and expand their farm businesses. She is committed to principles of sustainable development, education and community development. Christina also runs her own family farm.
Angel McCoy began working with Athens Land Trust in 2015 as a Housing Counselor. In addition to her position at ALT, Angel also provides financial literacy education at the Athens Area Homeless Shelter as the financial literacy coordinator. She holds an NCHEC Certification in financial capability from NeighborWorks America, certification in housing counseling from Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a BA in social work from Coker College, and a Masters Degree in Postsecondary Education with an specialization in adult education from Capella university. She has over six years of experience in the nonprofit sector.
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.
Kamilah Roberts joined the Athens Land Trust as an AmeriCorps VISTA Housing Assistant in August 2016. She graduated from the University of Georgia where she majored in advertising, and received her Bachelors in journalism. She is excited to apply her skills in mass communications towards building capacity for ALT through marketing and outreach efforts.
Deborah Sheppard joined ALT as Farmland Protection Specialist in November 2015. She holds a BS in Horticulture from UGA and a MS in Public and Urban Affairs from Georgia State University. As a Georgia native whose career includes founding and directing non-profit organizations dedicated to water quality protection, clean energy policy and implementation, and environmental education, she brings over 30 years of statewide conservation advocacy experience and contacts to ALT’s land conservation program. She also creates and maintains coastal gardens featuring native plants and organic vegetables grown from seed in her home-based nursery. Residing on the Georgia coast, she will focus on expanding ALT’s farmland protection program in South Georgia.Renee Smith joined Athens Land Trust as a FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member. 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.
Krisztian 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 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.
Julia Connell joined Athens Land Trust as an AmeriCorps VISTA Development Assistant in May 2017 shortly after earning her Bachelors in Geography from University of Georgia. As an undergraduate, Julia worked as a research assistant with two community-oriented research collectives housed in UGA’s Geography Department. Julia also has a certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS) and comes to ALT with three years of experience as a GIS Technician. She is excited to use her background in qualitative research and geographic data analysis to help ALT build capacity through grant-writing and fundraising.
Chris D’Alessandro joined Athens Land Trust as the West Broad Garden Manager. After graduating from UGA with a degree in International Affairs, Chris spent a year working with the Boys and Girls Club in Greensboro, Georgia, helping students with music production and physical fitness. He then started an organic farming enterprise on his family land in Putnam county. Using various sustainable ecological farming techniques, he planted hundreds of fruit trees and berry bushes in addition to growing a variety of annual vegetables for market without the use of irrigation, fertilizers, or sprays of any kind. His farm is a sprawling food forest of plums, pears, hazelnuts, wild cherries, blueberries, muscadine grapes, blackberries, persimmons and much, much more. Chris specializes in natural beekeeping, regenerative agriculture, and permaculture design, and is excited to implement these strategies at West Broad to build resilience in our production models and in the community as a whole.
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 Neighborhood Revitalization Specialist, supporting the operations of West Broad neighborhood revitalization initiatives, the Affordable Housing program, in addition to special projects as needed. Her passion for public service started with the Georgia College Advising Corps, an AmeriCorps-funded outreach program within UGA Institute of Higher Education. A native of Athens, she is proud to be a part of building community and economic development opportunities for Athens community.
David Ogunsanya, has more than five years of experience in affordable housing for low- to moderate-income communities. As Housing Director, Mr. Ogunsanya identifies and develops affordable housing projects and oversees their contracts, procurement and construction. Additionally, he works with local lenders to help secure mortgages for low- to moderate-income homebuyers and works to educate the community about affordable housing opportunities. He continues to lead the effort for more affordable housing in Athens, GA and educate about how inclusionary zoning can help those 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.
Community Agriculture Program Director Stephanie Simmons has more than fourteen years of experience in youth development, including advocacy for marginalized youth and families in need, as well as experience in community-based outreach and education. She most recently served as a fellow with FoodCorps, part of the Americorps service network, mentoring fourteen FoodCorps service members across the state over two years, including two service members placed with ALT. In her current role, she supervises ALT’s community agriculture programs, which aim to contribute to the development of more just and equitable local food systems through increased healthy food access and food-based learning and economic opportunities.
Kelsey Thompson joined ALT in January 2014 as an intern in the Affordable Housing Program. Previously serving as the Housing Coordinator, Kelsey is now serving as Education Coordinator. Kelsey oversees ALT’s youth and education programs, and manages the Housing Counseling Program. 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 has a certification in housing counseling from Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and has been very active in the Athens nonprofit sector for several years.
Originally from Lithonia, Georgia, Adam Wilson recently joined Athens Land Trust as an AmeriCorps VISTA Market Assistant. He assists with market logistics and works to develop relationships that support the West Broad Farmers Market. 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 writing and project management to support West Broad and the broader Athens community in their dreams of economic development and community health.
Kai Wilmsen joined Athens Land Trust in 2017 as a the VISTA Volunteer Coordinator. Kai is looking forward to using his past experience coordinating volunteers to help build a strong and lasting volunteer base for all of ALT’s programs.