Michelle Dobbs, Executive Director
I am the owner of Sugarfoot, a consulting house specializing in Creativity, Community, and Culture. My professional experience spans working as an educator, nonprofit executive, author, and playwright and I have a degree in Communications and French from Howard University.
In pursuit of unearthing my family narrative, I began living the foodways and pathways of my people. I traveled to Senegal, the Gulf of Mexico, The Shawnee National Forest and The Badlands of South Dakota to explore and live my culture that it may be known and preserved. This search gave birth to my first novel, The Rock Island Line: Conversations over Chicken and Dumplings. As well as a play based on the novel, JUST A CONVERSATION OVER CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS, which was produced in the spring of 2019.
In addition to writing and consulting, I am an ardent foodie who raises vegetables, fruit, nuts and herbs at home with my husband, daughters, cats, dog and four chickens. I blog about all of it at thanksamen.wordpress.com/.
Christine Noelle (Kuhn), Director of Operations & Development
A naturalist by training, a gardener by happy accident, and a home cook by tremendous trial and error, Christine joined VGI in early 2018 and has worn many hats: youth educator, farm programs manager, and even Interim Executive Director. She’s happy to have found a home in operations & development, where she puts her natural organization and writing skills to use to support VGI through fundraising and streamlining systems.
Having grown up in central Wisconsin potato country, she was surrounded by food production from a young age. But like many kids, she wanted nothing to do with that small-town life so pursued adventure in college, trekking across the world to study global environmental issues in New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, and South Africa. Throughout that time, she kept finding food to be a central issue. Food not being available, too much of the wrong kinds of foods, and mismanagement of food production were all central issues that affected the health of the environment. She stumbled into garden and farm education as a way to connect people with the environment through fostering a love of delicious, healthy food.
When not in the garden you can usually find her leaking hikes on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, browsing the stacks at the library, or in a dance studio!
Aaron Wynn, Farm Manager
Aaron comes to VGI with 18+ years experience as a farm manager in both vegetable and hemp production. Originally from Milwaukee, Aaron spent many years out in Colorado and California managing hemp farms before returning to Milwaukee to begin his own farm business. He joined VGI in 2020 as the new Farm Manager and is looking forward to giving food away for free to the community and helping build an equitable food system in Harambee.
Jay Johnson, Youth Programs Coordinator
Jay Johnson is a Black, trans-masculine educator in Milwaukee. He joins Victory Garden Initiative as the Youth Programs Coordinator. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Jay relocated to Milwaukee for a year of service with City Year. He received his BS in geology from Wheaton College, but loves all things earth and environmental science.During his time at Wheaton, Jay held an internship geared towards empowering scientists of color and spent time working with a native tribe on preserving wild rice, a sacred crop. This is where he developed his passion to increase the number of people of color and queer people in the earth sciences.
Jay is a big fan of old school r&b and has curated an extensive record collection. In addition, he loves percussion instruments and enjoys spending an afternoon in a hammock.
Joya Wade, Community Outreach Coordinator
Joya Wade is a Community Outreach Coordinator at Victory Garden Initiative. She plans and produces events and classes at our Community Kitchen, Urban Farm, and throughout Milwaukee County. As a professional chef with more than 8 years experience, Joya has created recipes ranging from rich comfort foods, to nourishing plant based meals, to artisanal chocolate, and desserts! Her biggest passion in cooking is to “pair you with food that loves you back” since she is a firm believer in the healing nature of food cultivated and cooked with love.
When she’s not in the garden or behind a cutting board you can catch her cutting up the nearest dance floor, enjoying some yoga, or sewing in her design studio.
Alex Hunter, Compost Assistant
Alex Hunter is the compost assistant at our Victory Garden Urban Farm. Growing up in Waukegan, he learned how to work in the garden, yard and nursery alongside his parents who run a small landscaping business. Working the compost pile was always a fascination of his. He loved seeing firsthand the process of decomposition and the alchemical magic it worked when applied to the nursery stock and garden. Alex purchased a home with his partner in the spring of 2019 near VGI’s urban farm. He has been honing his composting skills in their new yard and is excited to now be working the pile for a sustainable local food network.
Ni’Sea Thurman-Wamubu, Public Ally, Volunteer Coordinator
Ni’Sea Thurman-Wamubu is the volunteer coordinator at Victory Gardens Initiative. Ni’Sea was
placed at Victory Gardens Initiative through Public Allies Milwaukee due to her passion for
organizing opportunities for healing within communal spaces. Ni’Sea is pursuing a degree at
Arizona State University, in the Justice Studies program. Over the past 5 years, Ni’Sea has
worked with organizations and individuals in the community on social justice programs and
campaigns involving: school-age children, teens, adults, and seniors in both Wisconsin and
Arizona. She looks forward to establishing relationships with all of the partners and neighbors of
the VGI family. Ni’Sea also brings her love for herbalism and gardening to the team.