Interim Executive Director
Jon Firger comes to Groundwork Somerville to prepare the organization for our next Executive Director. Jon will be working with the staff and Board to build a resilient and sustainable organization that is able to take on the challenges of the next decade.
Jon’s training and experience in social work and business administration have created a powerful and unique perspective and skill set. His work with nonprofit organizations has enabled him to identify and launch business models built upon the passion of mission, core expertise and solid financial planning. Jon has been a recognized chief executive for the past 25 years, first at Jewish Family Services of the North Shore in Salem and then at Family Access in Newton, Massachusetts, before accepting his interim ED role at the Disability Rights Funds for the past year. At each organization, he led the Board and management to identify and launch core, revenue-producing social enterprises that support and sustain their mission and finances.
Jon says that his first growing experience was at age six, when a family friend taught him how to use potato eyes to plant a new crop. “I’ve been passionate about our family gardens since that time! First, working my parents gardens through my college years and then with my own kids and grandkids, who have each carried on the tradition. I never dreamed that it would be possible to integrate this passion with my professional life…it’s a very exciting time for me!”
Food and Farms Director
Emily has a background in community engagement, youth education, and sustainable agriculture. Originally from North Carolina, she graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. In her current position at Groundwork, she manages South St. Farm along with our youth education programs and community engagement that takes place on the farm. She is passionate connecting people to one another, their community, and to the land in order to resist a food system built on the exploitation of people and land by creating one built on real relationships. Emily loves the ways that growing food deepens her faith and connection to others. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking & camping, swimming in lakes, and good conversations.
School Gardens Manager
Juliana joins Groundwork with a diverse background in community-centered design, education, and sustainable farming. She discovered her love for growing as a child helping care for community plots while living in California. Juliana recently graduated from RISD with a Master’s degree in Industrial Design. Her thesis work focused on the intersection of reintegration and agriculture, where she worked with the nonprofit Garden Time to expand reentry gardening programming. In addition, she is passionate about racial justice, grassroots initiatives, and working with youth. While living in Providence, Juliana worked with the Groundwork RI Green Team as a part of the Maharam Fellowship, facilitating youth-led environmental design projects. She is excited to continue similar work in Somerville to grow a more equitable food system. In her free time, Juliana enjoys hiking with her dog, cooking new recipes, and anything arts-related.
Green Team Members are Groundwork Somerville employees and the main workforce behind our food production at South Street Farm. They also help care for our school gardens, lead projects to better our community, and generally work to make Somerville a cleaner, greener, healthier, and more equitable city. Read more about the Green Team here.