Growing Gardens' Board of Directors

2018 Board of directors
Melissa ArnoldChair
Claudia Bouvier Steen, Vice Chair
Daniel Williams, Secretary
Ryan Jones, Treasurer

Susan Boennighausen
Paolo Bonetti
Deanna Bratter
David Cooke
Brad MacHamer
Olimpia Mejia
Juan Montoya
Osman Parvez
Anna Sonneland
Stewart Ward

Get to know our Board...

Melissa Arnold

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Melissa will never forget the first time she rode her bike through the Hawthorn Community Gardens on a hot summer day. The unexpected feel and smell of the cool earthy air made a powerful impression that eventually led her to joining the Growing Gardens board.  After working in environmental education in the Adirondacks and Yosemite, and earning her masters in environmental law and policy at Vermont Law School, she moved to Boulder in 2005. Over the years, she has worked with Boulder County Parks and Open Space and Tax Credit Connection, Inc., helping to conserve the Colorado landscape and working ranches with conservation easements.  She recently returned to Boulder County as the Conservation Easement Program Manager. Melissa has always had a strong connection to the land, and is excited to watch her own two young daughters discover Growing Gardens through the Children’s Peace Garden.

Claudia Bouvier Steen

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Growing up in chaotic Sao Paulo, Brazil, Claudia’s most cherished memories are of spending weekends on her family’s farm, picking fruits from the orchard, drinking warm raw milk, eating tiny eggs with deep red yolks and enjoying long meals with her large Italian family. Real food and the sense of community (the true meaning of nurturing bodies and souls) have molded the heart of Claudia’s life philosophy. Her two daughters joined the Peace Garden program as soon as the family moved to Boulder in 2012. People’s connection to nature, an understanding and belief in how real food ought to be grown, and the nurturing of a healthy and symbiotic relationship between humans and all life on Earth are values her family deeply believes in. Claudia and her husband Ted led first-hand efforts for the inception and implementation of a new school garden program at their daughters’ school.  Witnessing the amazement of children cherishing the fruits and vegetables they helped grow and loving eating them are her most prized rewards.    

Claudia is a Civil Engineer and runs a design+construction management business in Boulder. She is thrilled to be part of the board at Growing Gardens and excited to contribute her technical skills and passion for food to support our community’s engagement with sustainable urban agriculture.

Dan Williams  

 Dan Williams board member hs

Dan is an attorney who regularly represents natural and organic food companies.  He has always had a passion for the natural and organic foods movement, having supported food coops when they were the primary outlet for natural foods, and now as a lawyer representing emerging and established brands.  At his prior law firm, Dan chaired the firm’s natural and organic industry practice.  Dan recently left that firm to found Williams & Daley LLC.  Growing Gardens affords Dan a powerful way to give back to the community through an organization that shares his values of promoting healthy and sustainable food and enriching the community in which we live.  That Growing Gardens can brighten the lives of blooming gardeners old and young through urban community gardens is something Dan loves to be a part of.

Ryan Jones

A native of North Boulder, Ryan lives next to Growing Gardens and has benefitted firsthand from the organization and its many programs for years.  Ryan is incredibly passionate about fresh, local food and loves cooking for his family and friends.  Being on the board is a very special honor, it’s an amazing way to give back to his hometown while feeding his passion for sustainable agriculture.  Ryan runs a consulting business specializing in affordable housing finance and development, and works with clients all over the US.  Service to his community runs deep in his family and he’s thrilled to be a part of an organization that fosters community through food and agriculture.   When not in the kitchen, he and his wife Meghan, can be found seeking solitude in nearby rivers fly fishing with their dog Jackie. 

Osman Parvez


Osman grew up in New York State in the Finger Lakes region and is a local real estate investor and broker. He holds a Bachelors in biology and an MBA in finance. His professional work has largely been in the finance and real estate industry. He has co-founded several start up companies and has served on boards for non-profit organizations. Osman's passions include adventure travel, skiing, running, cycling, hiking 14ers, camping, and motorcycling. He has a love affair with nature and the wilderness. Living a mindful lifestyle is important to him. His association with Growing Gardens began when he first moved to Boulder and rented a plot at the Hawthorn Farm.

Deanna Bratter

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Deanna has been an advocate for organic and sustainable food since becoming a passionate vegetarian and animal rights advocate at just 14 years old. Her passion drove her work ethic and career evolution as she joined WhiteWave Foods in 2005 and now leads the WhiteWave Foods Social and Environmental Sustainability program with the ultimate goal of helping big food companies make big positive impacts to people and the planet.

Focused on responsible sourcing, sustainable packaging and environmental impacts, Deanna brings a unique ability to understand business needs, consumer trends and a strong vision for sustainability to developing and executing meaningful strategy and program evolution. She loves sharing her strategy skills with Growing Gardens to bring to life this amazing non-profit’s mission of truly cultivating community through sustainable agriculture.

Deanna and her husband Adam fell in love with Colorado back in 2001 on a road trip exploring more than a dozen US National Parks. As a native Floridian she still gets giddy taking in the arrival of the golden leaves in autumn and the first blankets of snow in the winter. She is also a mom of three small humans and a scruffy pup who finds joy in growing and harvesting food, connecting her children with a fundamental love of the earth, and turning her garden goodies into amazing baked treats, gooseberry pies being a family favorite!

Paolo Mario Bonetti - Procurement Director, Made In Nature


Paolo has been gardening (and occasionally beekeeping) in his backyard year after year since 1989. He has been buying and supporting the organic food movement since 1990 starting at the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace and as co-founder of Cafe De La Paz. Living in Boulder since 1996, he joined the organic foods industry in 2004 as an organic wine importer. Paolo was procurement director for Madhava Natural Sweeteners from 2013 to 2016 and is now in the same position at Made In Nature. He believes “All people have the right to healthier and smarter food and nutrition. I am inherently passionate about helping people make conscious, healthy choices about the food they consume by supporting the growth and expansion of food-related companies who provide such choices for individuals.” Stepping into the nonprofit world with Growing Gardens is a good fit with his core values. Paolo and his wife and three kids enjoy backyard kale, chard, and mixed greens almost every day during the growing season. 

David Cooke 



Juan Montoya

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Juan has an expansive culinary background and passion for sustainable agriculture. Juan has spent time helping and working on gardens in private homes setting up everything from irrigation to building fences. Using his knowledge on how to grow and maintain a garden he took an interest in preparing healthy meals, visiting the farmers frequently he eventually met the chef who would take him under his wing and  fine tune his skills in the kitchen as well as learning how to run a staff. Juan got his start with the Growing Gardens at the age of 11 working in the Cultiva youth project. Being shy in nature he took in a lot of social skills from all the other participants his first couple years of work, eventually to become a confident youth leader. he continued to work for a total of 7 years in the Cultiva program as well as learning all the different programs that come with the Growing Gardens. Juan joined the Growing Gardens Board of Directors in order to help the organization that helped shape his life and to complete his circle of knowledge on how Growing Gardens works. 

Stewart Ward 

 Stewart Ward 

Stewart is a local real estate agent who found his way to Growing Gardens through a deep desire to support sustainable urban farming.  If more people have the direct experience of growing food where they live, they will be less likely to buy the same food that has been packaged and processed thousands of miles away and transported.  Stewart writes about Boulder County real estate and restaurants on his blog and was inspired as a child by his mom who cultivated banana, lychee, mango, avocado and grapefruit trees for recipes in her catering business.

Anna Sonneland

Anna has always been an advocate for access to sustainable and healthy foods no matter where you live or your household income level. She began volunteering with Growing Gardens back in 2015 and instantly knew this was an organization that the entire community was benefiting from and one she wanted to work even closer with. Anna joined the board in January of 2017 and enjoys being part of an exceptional group of people who are dedicated to the cause. She works full time at Boulder Brands, a natural food company located in downtown Boulder working as a Project Manager for the Innovation Team. Anna could not be more excited to get to share Growing Gardens’ mission with the rest of the community and celebrate all its hard work with those who know and love the organization.
Brad McHamer
Brad has lived near Growing Gardens for 10 years and whether it is a quick walk around the gardens with his dog Crosby in the winter, buying plants at the plant sale in the spring, having fun at the farm dinner in the summer or picking up veggies from the CSA in the fall Brad has always enjoying all that the gardens have to offer.  So, when the opportunity to join the board presented itself he jumped at the chance to give back to the community he has gotten so much out of.  Additionally, Brad is a mortgage broker with Premier Mortgage Group and has 2 kids that attend Columbine Elementary School which is just a few blocks away.
Susan Boennighausen
Susan is grateful to be a stay at home mom for her two young boys, Evan & Andrew.  It’s a big change from her seventeen years in the corporate world of advertising and marketing. Susan grew up in Litchfield Park, a small oasis in the desert, west of Phoenix.  Once comfortable around all things cacti, she soon spread her wings for a big advertising agency, Leo Burnett, in the cold and corn of Chicago Illinois.  At Leo Burnett Susan learned the art of building brands, evaluating creative and selling ideas – working with some of the biggest brands in consumer goods. After an expat opportunity in Hong Kong and Beijing, Susan returned stateside in the early 2000’s to the sunshine of Colorado working for two innovative Brands that have helped shape the modern restaurant industry. Chipotle’s vision of Food with Integrity helped Susan understand the impact that food has on people -the importance of sustainable agriculture, responsible animal husbandry and quality food made from simple ingredients.  Susan’s new passion around real food brought her to Noodles & Company.  There Susan used her years of marketing and advertising experience to help build a restaurant brand that has a tremendous impact bringing real food with real cooking to families across the nation.  A new dinner table has been set for Susan.  She is reminded every day of the responsibility we all have to feed children healthy foods that have minimal impact on the environment.  Growing Gardens holds a special place for Susan’s children in the summer and in Susan’s passion of growing and preparing good food.
Olimpia Mejia
Olimpia Mejia graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, Mexico.  She has had a very diverse background ranging from being the Head of Education, Training and Forestry Culture at Comision Nacional Forestal in her home state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, working as a Bilingual Instructor for the Cal-Wood Education Center, being a Bilingual Facilitator for the Latin American Center for Arts, Science and Education, and as an Assistant Producer, spending five months at sea to help produce various documentaries. She loves to play tennis, hike, camp, run, bike, go to the movies, scuba dive and travel, especially travel. But what she loves the most is to spend time with people who love life. Olimpia currently works at the "I Have a Dream" Foundation as the Program Director for the Rocky Mountain Dreamer Class in Longmont.