Susie Ralston, Board Chair
Business Development Manager, Wolf Star Technologies
As President of the Board, I am deeply committed to the mission of Victory Garden Initiative and bring that passion plus a proven track record of success in leading organizations to reach their goals, growth and successful impact to the community we serve. My professional background is in urban real estate development, management recruiting and currently Business Development Manager of a global software company, Wolf Star Technologies. My non-profit experience ranges from President of the Board at Tamarack Waldorf School to serving as a volunteer at many others such as; Redline, The Alma Center, Great Lakes Waldorf Institute, Susan G. Komen, etc….After raising 3 kids in a holistic way I am fully committed to the value of growing our own food, creating a healthy community and the awareness needed for this in Milwaukee!
Elizabeth Barthlama, Treasurer
Senior Financial Analyst, Baird
I live in the Story Hill neighborhood in Milwaukee with husband, Scott, daughter, Lola and two cats, Zenya and Ross. I am a Senior FP&A Analyst at Baird and have been with the firm for 5 years. Outside of work I enjoy traveling, good food, pilates and designing jewelry. I am passionate about the opportunity to serve on the board of VGI because I believe in VGI’s mission to get good food in the hands of our community. I believe everyone should have access to healthy food as it is the foundation of a healthy life…and I just really love kale!
Denise Domian, Secretary
Chief Human Resources Officer, Johnson Financial Group
While I wouldn’t consider myself a gardener, I love food. My husband and I are lucky that we get to buy good, fresh produce from local farms and grocery stores. But, I realize there are many who are not so lucky. I’ve volunteered at food pantries in my past, and while sometimes there is fresh produce, the majority of the basket provided is made up of canned or packaged foods. This is why Victory Garden Initiatives was an organization that I wanted to support and be a part of. Fresh food provides health and nutrition, but it also provides community. Gathering around a meal that is made with fresh food, well, there’s nothing better.
Most recently, I was the Chief Human Resources Officer for SHOPKO, but my husband is a baker in a farm-to-table restaurant and a local bakery. Food is a big part of our lives. We’re pleased to be a part of the VGI family. We believe in growing local and growing community. That’s what VGI is about.
Angeline Koch, Board Member
Sustainability Project Specialist, Milwaukee Public School District.
I am a litigation attorney by training but recently graduated from the University of WI-Milwaukee School of Science with a Masters in Freshwater Science and Technology. While a big part of my life centered around the law and sciences, I found that my greatest joys (aside from being with my husband and our two children) are gardening and stewardship of the environment.
I am the garden chair at my children’s Milwaukee Public School and have spent the better part of the last nine years working to remove as much asphalt as possible and replacing it with rain gardens, an orchard, raised beds and a butterfly garden. I also thoroughly enjoy helping others with their gardening efforts and supporting other schools in their pursuit of installing green spaces for the benefit and enrichment of children and the environment. I grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, and nurture native perennials and have a house full of plants. I also enjoy canning, biking, reading, knitting, and weeding (yes, weeding!).
I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Victory Garden Initiative, whose Mission and Vision are a perfect match for my passions and interests.
Kathryn E Kamm, Board Member
American Institute of Architects
I am a licensed architect who primarily works with single-family residential remodels but I’ve had an ongoing interest in how cities change over time ever since studying Detroit in graduate school. I enjoy using my skill set to help non-profits fully optimize their limited resources. My husband and I have three daughters and in my spare time I like to run, bike, swim and hike. I’m not much of a gardener, I’d rather cook but really prefer to eat!
Hannah Harris, Board Member
I am honored to serve as a VGI board member and chair the Fund Development Committee. Professionally, I am the grant program manager at Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and have over 10 years of fund development experience. I live in Wauwatosa and am the mother of two teenage boys, ages 14 and 16. My husband, boys and I like to travel, camp, hike, bike and watch movies together. Our international destinations have been Italy and Honduras. I can’t remember how I first heard about VGI, but I did order and receive a Victory Garden during their first Blitz. I first met Gretchen when I worked for Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the VGI staff moved into the same suite in a building on Farwell Avenue. I am enjoying VGI vegetables through their new CSA!
Bianca Shaw, Board Member
Urban Director, Department of Children and Families
Bianca Shaw is currently serving as the Urban Director for the Department of Children and Families. An energized and enthusiastic community advocate, Bianca has a passion for people. Bianca has previously worked at the Hunger Taskforce in Foodshare and as a Program Director at the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion. She also has a deep appreciation for policy, organizing, and bringing about awareness on various topics. Bianca is a proud graduate of the Wisconsin Women’s Network Policy Institute and Emerge Wisconsin. She has served as a legislative aide in the State of Wisconsin Legislature. Her belief in the collective power of women has led to the creation of several community-support groups that focus on amplifying the voices of women of color and creating spaces for dialogue to occur. In addition to the Victory Garden Initiative, she also serves on the board of the Wisconson Aliance on Women’s Health and WI Women’s Network. Bianca is the proud mother of a beautiful daughter, Olivia.
Amy Clark, Board Member
Community Engagement Communications Consultant
I live for fresh sustainable food. As a child I HATED vegetables and lived for dessert. As an adult I LOVE vegetables [and still live for dessert!] It’s all about the balance in life.
Most recently as Community Engagement Manager to a global manufacturing organization I launched a corporate giving and wellness initiative that partnered with Victory Garden Initiative. It was my honor to be asked to sit on the board of directors of VGI as the mission aligns with my own vision of a better world.
I live outside Milwaukee with a little meandering stream in my backyard. Along with my teenage son and two older daughters we love to spend time together sourcing sustainable food for long family meals, traveling, hiking and supporting meaningful organizations like Victory Garden Initiative.
Sandra Jones, Board Member
Dr. Sandra E. Jones retired from the faculty of the Department of African and African diasporic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2015. She specialized in African American and women’s literature, literary criticism and theory. Jones also taught courses in African American life and history. Born in Milwaukee, Jones has been active in the community in a variety of areas. She served as a commissioner on the Milwaukee Social Development Commission’s Board of Commissioners and on the Advisory Board of Public Allies Milwaukee. She looks forward to joining the Victory Garden Initiative board to fulfill its mission: “to create a community-based, socially just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.”
Gretchen Mead, Director Emeritus
In 2008, Gretchen Mead was among a group of people pushing through opposition in Shorewood over planting crops in front yards and parkways. After winning this struggle, she went on to found Victory Garden Initiative and launched the first Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz, installing 35 raised garden beds in a single weekend. Today, Victory Garden Initiative is a thriving community gathering place thanks to her vision and leadership. We’ve installed thousands of garden beds across the city, run a 1.5 acre urban farm that feeds the Harambee community and serves as an outdoor learning lab for growing your own food, trained 67 community Food Leaders, and has launched a comprehensive Youth Education Program that reaches over 700 local youth each year! Gretchen stepped down as Executive Director in 2019, passing the trowel on to new leadership.