top of page

Our Board

Meet the individuals who work hard every day to carry out Soulful Seeds' mission. Our board is a 100% giving, volunteer, working board.


Earstin Whitten, Co-founder

Earstin Whitten is the Co-Founder of Soulful Seeds. He is retired insurance executive and an Army veteran. Since retiring and moving to Reno 15 years ago, Earstin has served on several boards locally and currently serve with the boards of the Great Basin Community Cooperative and the Nevada Women's Fund. Earstin has always been active in growing healthy food. He is co-found of Soulful Seeds along with his wife, Dolores Schafer-Whitten.

John Photo (1).jpg

John Lipinski, Board Chair

John Lipinski is dedicated to supporting causes that benefit our community.  John is a retired industry professional and Air Force veteran.  He volunteers his time with various organizations and previously served on the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.  He enjoys skiing, working on his classic car, an occasional round of golf, and making new memories with his family and friends.


Marc Chapelle

Marc Chapelle is a landscape architect with L.A. Studio Nevada where he is responsible for land and design planning of all scales and development types. He also holds professional education in agronomy, enology, soils, and plant pathology. Marc comes from a family of passionate gardeners and is an avid gardener himself.


Dee Schafer-Whitten, Co-founder & Secretary

Dee Schafer-Whitten is the Co-Founder of Soulful Seeds. She is a retired Healthcare and Non-Profit Executive. Dee was President and Founder of Corporate Solutions, Inc., a strategic planning firm for non-profits, government, and law enforcement agencies. Dee retired and took a year off to establish Soulful Seeds with her husband, Earstin Whitten, to provide fresh, healthy food to the most vulnerable in our community and move individuals' from poverty to sustainability. Dee currently holds the position as Director for Client Experience at American Wealth Management in Reno.


Janice Bailey, Treasurer

Janice Bailey is the firm administrator for her husband’s Reno CPA firm and a passionate cook and master gardener. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Geography/Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  She is one of the founding board members of Soulful Seeds and serves as its’ treasurer. She enjoys volunteering in the Washoe County elementary school garden program with 10 and 11 year olds and looks forward to assisting with the Soulful Seeds education program at the Our Place Campus.


Josh Wallin

Josh is the Director of Recreation and Chair of the Green Team at the Grand Sierra Resort (GSR). Josh brings with him a diverse set of business skills and a passion for building a stronger local food system. Prior to joining the board, Josh leveraged his role with the GSR to implement a green waste program across the resort's kitchens. Through this program, all of the resort's green food waste is provided to Soulful Seeds for composting. Josh understands that our food system is reaching a critical point in sustainability and believes Soulful Seeds presents a proactive solution to improving access to fresh, healthy food to underserved neighborhoods while advancing a sustainable local food system and could serve as a model for communities across the country.

Our Team


Sage Tomita, Garden Manager

Sage is Soulful Seeds' Garden Manager overseeing the crop plan and farm operations at all garden sites. He has over 12 years of experience in farming, farm education, and community outreach. He has formal education training in Agricultural Business and is completing his arborist certification. Sage has extensive experience with regenerative agriculture and transforming the soil of vacant, urban lots into vibrant, productive community farms.  He is passionate about the power of food and its ability preserve culture, advance justice, and empower neighbors.


Cindy Gallimore, Garden Assistant

Cindy is a Garden Assistant through the AmeriCorps program. She is working alongside Earstin in the garden. Cindy brings with her a lot of knowledge about food safety. She is passionate about building a better community and is eagerly expanding her knowledge about regenerative agriculture and evidence-based approaches for supporting people to establish a more self-sufficiency.

KimberlyEsseSPhotographyCo2023-30-small (1).jpg

Kimberly Esse, 2024 MSW Intern

Kimberly is a Master of Social Work (MSW) student at University of Nevada, Reno, and is delighted to be completing her two-semester concentration internship with Soulful Seeds. Prior to pursuing social work, Kimberly spent twelve years in corporate finance before pivoting to personal finance in 2022, helping individuals and groups build financial resilience as an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®). Her professional interests include identifying and working toward eradicating barriers to economic justice while helping individuals design pathways to their own financial wellness. She understands that financial stability is integral to mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys creating meals from scratch, any kind of dancing, hot yoga, and exploring new places. 


Cara Montoya, Program Coordinator

Cara joined the Soulful Seeds team as the Program Coordinator in 2023. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is passionate about advancing holistic wellbeing and mental health access. She believes that mental health is health and that all communities should have equal access to resources that support healthy lives so they can thrive. Born and raised in Nevada, Cara is passionate about cultivating strong community and looks forward to bringing people together in the garden. Cara considers herself to be a life-long student and values the opportunity for continuous learning that being in the garden offers. She is also a certified yoga instructor and Master Gardener Intern. In her free time, Cara enjoys knitting, backpacking, reading, and spending as much time outside as she can.


Taylor Colton, Summer Garden Assistant

Taylor is a Summer Garden Assistant. She holds bachelors degrees in International Studies and Communications. Taylor moved to Reno from Las Vegas specifically to join the Soulful Seeds team for summer. She brings with her hands-on experience managing farm resources, running farm to market programs, and community supported agriculture programs. Taylor is also a Certified Wilderness First Responder.


Brooke O'Byrne, Interim Director

Brooke is passionate about building stronger and healthier communities. She has consulted with Soulful Seeds since 2021 and supports the team as interim Executive Director. She is a national program consultant with 15 years of program administration and grant management experience and works with multidisciplinary, cross-sector teams in the public and non-profit sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Master’s in Business Administration, and a professional certificate in public policy reform from Georgetown University. She is an appointed member of Nevada's Rural Behavioral Health Policy Board, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, and a Master Gardener. 

bottom of page