Doron Comerchero is the Founder and Director of "Food, What?!"

Doron spent his 20’s in the South Bronx as a community organizer for GreenThumb, NYC’s community gardening program, supporting community efforts to protect local gardens that the Guiliani administration was seeking to destroy. Rich soil called, and he found himself having transitioned from city life to living in a tent on a beautiful piece of farmland in Santa Cruz as an apprentice at the UCSC Farm and Garden. Back East for one season farming full time at 50-acre Food Bank Farm, he returned to Cali in 2007 to launch FoodWhat. Doron is also in long-time service on the council that nourishes Rooted in Community, a national grassroots network of programs like FoodWhat that empowers young people from historically excluded communities to take leadership through food, justice, and local economic development. Ten years later, Doron is driven to create safe spaces for youth to grow and cultivate their power and resiliency while continuing to lead the organization with heart, laughter, and intention.

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FoodWhat Programs Manager Irene O'Connell is a mentor, educator, and advocate for youth and young people in Santa Cruz County. Originally from Los Angeles, Irene came to Santa Cruz to study Public Art and Latin American & Latino Studies at UCSC. Having previously served the community in mentorship roles in local high schools and in the Santa Cruz Juvenile Detention Center, Irene joined FoodWhat in 2016 with experience in community organizing around youth violence prevention. She is passionate about the intersections where youth expression and creativity can meet empowerment for lasting, impactful change for their lives and their communities. Irene is excited to work with young leaders and have her hands in the soil!


Development Director Anna Schlotz Koski joined FoodWhat in 2015 with a decade’s experience in nonprofits and politics -- from grassroots canvassing to fight global warming, directing field to flip a competitive Assembly District, grant writing for affordable women's health services, to community organizing to raise the minimum wage --  working to create and hold space for folks to step into their power. Born and raised in Fresno, CA, Anna earned a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at UC Berkeley. Anna is thrilled and honored to be part of supporting the powerful youth in FoodWhat in strengthening their voices.


Farm & Culinary Manager Mary Hillemeier is a farmer and lover of all things food. She has worked on community-based farm projects in New York City, Shelter Island, Austin, and the central California Coast. She first got the farming bug working with Urban Roots, a youth development farming project in Austin, Texas. From there she studied organic farming practices for two years at the UCSC Farm and Garden. Most recently she managed operations for Blue House Farm, a 50-acre organic farm in Pescadero. She is passionate about the transformative power of growing your own food and preparing it with joy. She feels honored to be sharing that experience with youth.



Spring/Summer Programs Coordinator - Bruno Nell,

Finance Manager - Puiyee Tse,


2017 Junior Staff

Ja'Chea Hooper

Emmanuel Avalos

Elijah Torres

Maria Perez