Speaker Bios

Saturday, February 24th, 8:00am - 7:00pm | Pueblo Community College

Check out these speakers today!

Hamad Bakush
Owner H.B. Produce

Hamad is the owner of H.B. Produce in Pueblo, Colorado. Originally from Libya, he has been selling produce in Pueblo for about 34 years, in addition to farmers markets in Colorado Springs and Monument. Hamad believes that fresh, local produce has the best flavor and you know where it was grown and who picked it. He loves seeing people be happy about connecting with local food while earning a living for his family.

Ron Cook
Mobile Care and Share Food Bank

Ronald Cook manages the mobile market for Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, working across nine counties. Previously he worked at the steel mill in Pueblo for 20 years. Ron loves outdoor activities including fly fishing and camping, and has 2 adult children.

Matt Croghan
Poncha Creek Gardens

Matt Croghan is the founder of Poncha Creek Gardens, a year round microgreen farm located just outside of Salida, Colorado. When not tending to the microgreens, Matt relishes his role as a father to his three kids and enjoys outdoor activities like skiing, fishing, archery and camping.

Ron Cook
Mobile Care and Share Food Bank

Ronald Cook manages the mobile market for Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, working across nine counties. Previously he worked at the steel mill in Pueblo for 20 years. Ron loves outdoor activities including fly fishing and camping, and has 2 adult children.

Marci Cochran & William Eaton
Pueblo Farmers' Market 

Meet William and Marci - their journey began with the Southern Colorado Farmers Market and Craft Fair in 2020, when they facilitated the market's acceptance of SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks, marking a historic shift toward greater accessibility for locally grown and produced foods.
In the subsequent years, William and Marci assumed more significant management roles, fostering relationships with vendors and shoppers. Beyond the market, William wears multiple hats, handling logistics not only for the Pueblo Farmers Market but also for the Eastside Action Support Team, all while managing a full-time job. His commitment to community well-being (including food access) extends beyond the market's borders. gTheir story is one of shared values, tireless commitment, and a comprehensive approach to community revitalization.
Marci, a Regional Food Coordinator contracted with Hunger Free Colorado, plays a pivotal role in promoting and implementing Healthy School Meals for All. Her influence extends to various organizations, including the Colorado Food System Advisory Council, Nourish CO Advisory Board, and membership in the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. As the president of Eastside Action Support Team, Marci actively engages in human empowerment, community revitalization, and ensuring permanent food access for Pueblo's east side.
Together, they continue to foster positive change in Pueblo through initiatives that transcend market management and encompass the broader realms of food access, community empowerment, and local entrepreneurship support.

Cristalray Dominguez
Shooting Stars Cultural and Leadership Center

Cristalray Dominguez is a lifetime resident of Alamosa, CO. She is a mom of 4
girls and a grandma of 3.Her grandma instilled in her the meaning of giving back.
She taught her how important it is to feed others. In 2018 Cristalray took FLTI, Family Leadership Training Institute. Her community project was a cooking class called Cooking Away with Mama Ray. In her class she taught young people how to make meals out of what they had in their home. In 2019, Cristalray, alongside 3 other communities in the San Luis Valley created a Soul Players of the Valley. Were 4 communities coming together to be a healthy and equitable community.
Cristalray, has multiple certificates, FLTI, Leadership on the Ground and Creative Leadership Institute. In 2020 Cristalray received Latino Community Foundation of Colorado Philanthropy Award. In May of 2022, Cristalray and husband are the founders of Shooting Stars Cultural and Leadership Center a local non-profit geared to up lifting and enriching our community through leadership and cultural relevant programming.
Cristalray is Shooting Stars Co-Director and Program manager for the center. Her main goal is to empower Latina Women just like her to find their voice and role in bettering their family and community.

Jamie Dominguez
Shooting Stars Cultural and Leadership Center

Jamie grew up in San Luis Valley and has been there his whole life. While life was hard growing up Hispanic and being around substance abuse and systematic racism and oppression I was able to fight my way through school and a life of poverty in order to get where I am today. Once I figured out that I had the ability to fix myself and stop depending on society and blaming society is when I truly stepped into my role of leadership and it wasn’t until then that I had the ability to start to heal my culture and community from within. We all have the ability to succeed and heal one another but until we break down the walls that are hindering us we will be a part of the same story of poverty and oppression. start to heal my culture and community from within. We all have the ability to succeed and heal one another but until we break down the walls that are hindering us we will be a part of the same story of poverty and oppression.

Susan Finzel
Fountain Creek Watershed District

Susan Finzel is the Public Outreach and Education Specialist for the Pueblo area for the Fountain Creek Watershed District. She has a B.S. Degree in Recreation & Parks Admin., with a Natural Resource Conservation emphasis. She has 30+ years of environmental education, classroom teaching and program planning experience at nature centers, zoos, and parks. She also does consulting on curriculum development and promotes aquaponics education for The I Will Project's Indoor Farming Innovation Zone program.

Venice Gallegos
Licensed Therapist

Venice has lived in Pueblo since her teens. She completed her education here and has been a respected therapist in the community over the past 40 years. She has also raised her children, supported her community in a number of ways and began gardening 20+ years ago, longing for the development of a green thumb and a flourishing garden. She has been learning and experimenting ever since.

Karim Gharbi
CSU Extension Office, Denver County

Karim grew up in the suburbs of Maryland, exploring the local insect fauna shortly after learning to walk. His passion began by collecting insects and spiders in jars to be stashed under his bed (to his mothers dismay) and progressed to a masters in entomology from the University of Hawaii. He now works for Denver county extension, preaching the importance of insects and how we manage them to the next generation of stewards.

John Giordanengo
Entrepreneur and Author

John is an entrepreneur at heart, a passion that dovetails well with his life-long commitment to conservation and sustainable economics. This includes John’s founding of three small businesses, co-found three non-profit organizations, and serving on multiple non-profit boards dedicated to conservation, ecology, systems restoration, and sustainability. Giordanengo’s innate skills include not only the understanding and restoration of highly complex systems, but the facilitation of diverse stakeholder groups pursuing restoration across political, economic, and ecological boundaries.
Thirty years of experience have imbued John with an unexpected quality; the desire to refine humanity’s understanding of the structure of sustainable economies and ecosystems. This has brought John across North and South America, where he has provided a variety of design, planning, research, and implementation services for a range of private, non-profit, and government clients. John’s educational work includes over 150 articles, technical manuals, and restoration guidelines for state, local, and nonprofit entities. His recent book, Ecosystems as Models for Restoring Our Economies, was a finalist in the 2023 CO book awards. Yes, John loves writing a worthy story. Less obvious, he is as comfortable tromping through wetlands and sowing seeds as he is on stage, where he delivers keynote addresses and seminars across the U.S. His lecture circuit includes ecological, economic, sustainability, and restoration topics. As a life-long musician, warming stages for the English Beat, No Doubt, and others, John has developed an energetic speaking style that doesn’t simply engage audiences, but inspires action.

Amber Golshani
Dr. Amber’s Fire Cider

Amber Golshani, ND has been living in Pueblo since 2014. After her own cure through natural modalities as a young woman, she knew that her calling was to restore health to those whose hope had been lost. She is passionate about good food and good health, loves the outdoors, her kids, and Colorado. After almost 20 years of crafting Fire Cider for her naturopathic patients, Amber started making Fire Cider available for all! Fire Cider is a folk remedy of apple cider vinegar infused with warming spices, healing herbs and nutritious fruits and roots. It supports good digestion, strong immunity, healthy metabolism and flexible circulation. Made with Pueblo Chile and local honey, Amber stirs healing intentions and prayer into every batch for a unique and powerful daily tonic. Tangy, a little sweet and spicy, use Fire Cider as you would any vinegar or dilute with juice or water and take before meals. You can check her out at www.dr-amber.com and fb.me/firecider

Geonna King
Pueblo Fooducates (Pueblo Youth Food Council)

Geonna King is the Grant Coordinator for the Pueblo Fooducates! The primary goal of our work is to put our youth's talents and abilities to good use in the community. As young individuals we use our resources to raise awareness and disseminate it amongst our peers and the Pueblo County community, for improved comprehension of local problems.

Donielle Kitzman
Pueblo Greater Chamber of Commerce & Pueblo Chile Growers Association

As a long-time resident of Pueblo, Donielle has played an active role in many segments of the Pueblo community, and after spending much of her career in Sales & Marketing, took a position managing the Convention & Visitors Bureau under the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce in 2015. Now as Vice President, Donielle has been instrumental in providing leadership and advocacy to a diverse cross section of business and tourism organizations. She has also served as the Executive Director for the Pueblo Chile Growers Association since 2017, helping to grow the Pueblo Chile brand, along with consumer use and awareness. Whether it’s promoting Pueblo as a destination or Pueblo Chile as the best Chile in the world, it has never been a job for this proud Puebloan.

Pikes Peak Permaculture Institute

Pikes Peak Permaculture, Inc. is a non-profit, educational organization, founded in 2002 by Gary Deetz, Bonnie Willow and Becky Elder which aims to provide education and instruction to the general public on the nature, ways and benefits of the discipline of Permaculture. Their mission also includes education on the ethics, principles and applied technologies of the discipline of Permaculture, information resources to the public on similar and related organizations, and to act as a local, regional, national and international hub for the general education, advancement, and evolution of the discipline of Permaculture. pikespeakpermaculture.org/

Al Rea
Colorado Yard Bird & Pueblo Food Project Community Garden Sustainability Program

Allison Rea is the owner of Colorado Yardbirds, an urban farm focused on regenerative agriculture, beyond organic vegetable and tree growing, and high-welfare bird husbandry. They serve as the Community Garden Sustainability Coordinator, working on strengthening Pueblo’s gardening infrastructure and growing fresh produce in food deserts. Allison enjoys board games, road biking, and collecting rare plants.

Joslyn Rafferty
WIC & American Poultry Association

Joslyn’s grandparents were backyard poultry farmers who raised birds for eggs and meat, and passed down their knowledge and love for raising chickens to her. She was part of 4-H as a youth and also showed poultry with clubs around Colorado, including Rocky Mountain Feather Fanciers, and is a lifetime member of the American Poultry Association. She raises turkeys and chickens for eggs and meat, and is currently working on conserving heritage breeds of Bourbon turkeys, Dominiques, and Buff Orpingtons chickens to match breed standard. Her goal is to become a youth poultry judge and help with meat judging. Joslyn also raises milk goats.

Angel Sunie
Pueblo Farmers Market

Angelika became an active participant in the food system in 2022 by getting involved with the Pueblo Food Project, Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council, Nourish Colorado’s Advisory Board, Eastside Action Support Team, One Colorado Food Equity Coalition, workgroups for Hunger Free Colorado’sTime to Eat Initiative, and the Pueblo Farmers Market team. She has been a part of the Sun Soil Water Ag Summit Host Committee for the past two years. Between the acronyms, the statistics, the meetings, summits, committees, etc, Angelika learned so much about community empowerment and local food procurement and still has so much more to learn. Local food is important to her because as a society, we have stopped teaching our kids where their food comes from and how to eat good, nourishing food. When Angelika is not dipping her toes into food systems work, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, reading novels, and baking, and is excited to start a garden this year!

Sol Tafoya
Emerge Colorado

A first-generation daughter of immigrants from Colima and Michoacán, Mexico, Sol Sandoval Tafoya is a fully bilingual Latina from a union family and a seasoned community leader who has been fighting for working people for over 20 years. Sol is a Chicana, community organizer, and former candidate for U.S. Congress in the Third Congressional District of Colorado.
Upon graduating from Colorado State University-Pueblo, Sol spent a decade with the Pueblo County Department of Social Services to give back to the community because she knew from a young age that too many working families never get their fair shot and that the American Dream doesn’t come easy. Sol is passionate about education because she knows first-hand that education is a pathway out of poverty and can be an equalizer for children living in neglected neighborhoods. She envisions a community where people who have not been given a seat at the table have allies and comunidad who will ensure that they are no longer left out of the decision-making. Sol enjoys dancing, running and volunteers translating for monolingual Spanish speakers. Sol lives in Pueblo with her two children and her dog, Esteban—a Chihuahua rescued from Las Vegas, NM.

Tim Trujillo
Fire Fit Kids

Tim Trujillo is a father of 2 amazing children, Jacelynn and Tyson. He is a 22 year veteran of the fire service and currently works for the Pueblo Fire department as a firefighter and public information officer. Tim created the Fire Fit Kids program 8 years ago and continues to lead that program. Tim has sat on several boards and commissions to include The child advocacy center, communities that cares, Pueblo mentoring collaborative, El Centro Del Quinto Sol, suicide prevention coalition, commision for housing and houselessness and many more. Tim is an advocate for youth and families in Pueblo and is always available to support local events.

Joshua Wagner
NOLA Naturals

Joshua Wagner hails from the sun-kissed lands of Myakka, Florida, and for the past 17 years has embraced the rugged beauty of Colorado as his home. Joshua’s journey into the world of agriculture began in 2010 when he joined WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), delving into the art of swine husbandry. He became a nomadic forager, crisscrossing the United States, until settling in the charming town of Salida, Colorado. There, Joshua honed his skills mending fences for cattle ranches and beautifying landscapes, all while nurturing a flock of backyard chickens and cultivating a verdant home garden. In 2016, he deepened his connection with the earth by earning a Permaculture Design Certificate from the esteemed Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI). His legacy at CRMPI endures, as they continue to nurture rabbits from his lineage for both educational and culinary delights. As time unfurled, Joshua met a kindred spirit who became his best friend, and together they embarked on a mission of land stewardship at Nola Naturals Farms. This lush 45-acre haven boasts 400 cherry trees and a bustling multi-species pastured meat business, offering chicken, pork, lamb, and dairy delights. They cater to the community with nourishing vegetables through both a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and wholesale distribution to local food hubs. Additionally, Joshua proudly serves as the Southeastern aggregate for Valley Roots, the most enduring food hub in Colorado. Looking ahead to the fall, Joshua is thrilled to introduce Lava Landscaping, a permaculture-focused venture poised to revolutionize urban gardens and elevate community spaces with sustainable beauty. Stay tuned as we turn over a new leaf and grow together!

Steven Williams
Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado

Steven Williams was born and raised in Iowa where he attended the University of Iowa and majored in Environmental Policy and Planning and Political Science. With a passion for food systems, Steven has dedicated his career to enhancing access and equity over the last 10 years in the food system through research, advocacy, and nonprofit work. Currently, he is the Programs Director at Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, where he is focused on fostering collaboration, improving agency support, and championing diversity initiatives.

HOST COMMITTEE

Kristi Bartolo
CSU Extension, Pueblo County

Kristi Bartolo is the Agronomy Specialist with CSU Extension in Pueblo County, helping farmers with crop related issues from pests and disease to labor and markets and has conducted in-field trials. Kristi earned an MS/BS in biology from Colorado State University Pueblo in 2017. She was born and raised in Pueblo, CO and continues farming on the family property there. Aside from farming she enjoys many outdoor activities and spending time with family and her faith community.

Beth De Lair
CSU Extension, Pueblo County

Beth Hayes is the current Agricultural and Natural Resource Specialist for Pueblo County Colorado State University Extension office. She has been with the Pueblo County Extension office for the past four years and is a Pueblo native. She has four undergraduate degrees from Colorado State University in fields such as equine sciences, soil & crops, agriculture literacy and agriculture education. She then also received a Master of Agriculture with a focus in Integrated Resource Management along with a teaching in Extension Education certificate from Colorado State University. To pair with her educational background, Beth also has many years of professional experience working in the agriculture industry for farms, ranches, feedlots and veterinary clinics. Beth loves to share her passion for agriculture with her hometown community through her job and loves the new adventures each day brings being an Extension specialist.

Megan Moore
Pueblo Food Project 

Megan, a native of Pueblo, Colorado has been working with the Pueblo Food Project for 4 years, and is one of two Program Managers. She found great passion and connection to the world of food systems through the Pueblo Food Project. Megan is a graduate of Colorado State University Pueblo, is a certified Colorado Master Garden, and a certified Local Food Leader.

Serena Sakkal
Pueblo Food Project 

Serena transplanted from her home state of Florida to Pueblo, Colorado in July 2022. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Ag & Natural Resource Management and Soil & Water Science. Though a lifelong lover of delicious and colorful food, Serena realized her passion for food systems work in her previous job as Sustainability Manager at the University of Florida's dining program. She is now a Program Manager at the Pueblo Food Project, and finds so much joy in serving the Pueblo community. Her favorite part of working with PFP is witnessing people, particularly kiddos, foster a deeper connection with their food. Serena is also an herbalist, yogi, lifelong traveler, mother of a cat and many plants, and lover of anything that bridges the connection between food, medicine, and planetary wellness.

Lindy Webb
Pueblo Food Project 

Since 2018, Lindy has been the Pueblo County coordinator for Cooking Matters, a nationwide program of Share our Strength in local partnership with Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. In 2022, she was selected by community members to be the Pueblo Food Project Community Meal Prep initiative's lead community instructor and curriculum developer. She also served as PFP Food Access working group co-chair from 2020-2022, and has certificates in Local Food Leadership from Iowa State University and Systems Approaches to Healthy Communities from University of Minnesota. Lindy finds joy in working with community partners and volunteers to help Puebloans access and enjoy delicious and nutritious food, especially fruits, veggies and grains from local farms and gardens.
info@pueblofoodproject.org
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