Growing Hope Board of Directors

Michael Edison, President. Michael Edison is a business development associate with DTE Energy Resources, an Ann Arbor based subsidiary of DTE Energy. Michael received an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Michigan and then spent five years working as an environmental consultant in Chicago, IL and Columbus, OH. Michael returned to Ann Arbor in 2005 and entered the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, a dual master's degree program at the Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. While focusing his studies on sustainable energy systems and finance, the Erb Institute afforded Michael the opportunity to be exposed to the full breadth of challenges and opportunities we face in establishing a sustainable global society, locally grown food supplies not being the least among them. Michael was immediately drawn to the mission, purpose and energy of Growing Hope and is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it (and hopes to materially improve his personal gardening  

Phillisha Smith, Co-Vice PresidentPhillisha works as a Reporter at the Community Television Network of Ann Arbor and recently graduated with an Associate in Communications from Washtenaw Community college. Phillisha is currently working to finish her Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media and Political Science from Eastern Michigan University and will go on to Graduate school. Phillisha serves as a volunteer and board member of the Martin Charitable Foundation, a non-profit (based in the Martin Family reunion) to provide all underprivileged, African American youth with scholarship opportunities. Phillisha was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Ypsilanti where she currently lives. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, cooking, collecting music and art and most of all being involved in her community. 

Caitlin Klein, Co-Vice President.   Having spent eight years as an ICU nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital, Caitlin saw clearly the impact that poor nutrition and lack of access to healthy food had on her patients.  She earned bachelors degrees from the University of Michigan in Women's Studies and Nursing.  Currently, Caitlin cares for her three young children and particularly enjoys helping them cultivate healthy eating haits and an appreciation for food.  As an active member of Allen Creek Preschool's Parent Council and the Ann Arbor Social Captial Fund, Caitlin has been sharpening her fundraising skills and is looking forward to contribuing meaningfully to Growing Hope's mission.

Peter Schermerhorn, Secretary. Pete has been past Co-President of People’s Food Co-op Board of Directors in Ann Arbor, where he served as Director for 4 years. He has also served as Volunteer Coordinator for Legacy Land Conservancy, and has been involved in progressive politics for more than a decade. An avid gardener and home food-raiser, he wants to see more and more people taking food security into their own hands.  


Gary Fischer, Treasurer. Gary recently finished an MS in Sustainable Systems from The University of Michigan and did his masters project in the City of Ypsilanti working with the Corner Brewery to reduce their environmental impact. While working on his degree he was employed in the research department of United Solar Ovonic to improve the efficiencies of their product and increase throughput. Many years ago he grew up on a farm in Canton Township and recently has been making efforts to bring some life back into it while incorporating sustainable practices. One of his great joys is to watch his children wander through their garden to get a little snack while playing and see them connect the dots about where real food comes from.

Jan BenDor, Director. Jan joined the GH Board in December, 2011. She has been an environmental activist and local food/agricultural preservationist since 1978, when as a Township Trustee, she published the Superior Township Agricultural Lands Committee Preservation Plan. Currently a Michigan-accredited election administrator and election worker trainer, with experience as a Deputy Township Clerk, she volunteers as the State Coordinator of the Michigan Election Reform, which she co-founded in 2005 in response to the debacle of the Ohio Presidential election. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization advocates for voter protection, audits of the vote count, and election security. Jan has a Certificate in Digital Video Production from Washtenaw Community College and is producer at QED Video, where she makes documentaries, educational programs, web PSAs and fundraising appeals. Jan holds a Master’s Social Worker License, and was a practitioner and university administrator for many years. While an adjunct instructor in the EMU School of Social Work, she has taught courses in Public Policy, Group Dynamics, Community Organizing, and Issues in Social Services for Women. Jan was elected to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1991 for her achievements in preventing violence against women.  

Amanda Maria Edmonds, Executive Director. Ex-officio, Non-voting. See bio on Staff Bios page.





Calisa Reid, Director.  Calisa was born and raised on a farm in Washtenaw County; as a child her family farmed the land where they lived. When she went away to school to study at Cambridge Business School for Computerized Bookkeeping; what she liked most about her schooling was what she learned in her Public Relations class. At that point in her life she had lost her husband due to a diabetic coma and had to raise their three sons on her own. While things looked bad for her, she did not give up, and had to stop her schooling and started working to take care of her family. She started working for The American Red Cross of MI. Home on the farm where she lived was away in her heart, so she moved back home to the farm where she grow up. Calisa never forgot the importance of good healthy foods she learned as a young child. One of her great joys was watch her children learn what she had learned from her father about gardening and healthy foods. She would farm the land, but in 1991 a vary bad auto accident caused another setback for her and she was no longer able to work or farm the land. Calisa pulled herself back together with some hard work and began volunteering. She longed for good healthy foods because she was not able to find good, tasty, healthy, and affordable foods in the grocery stores. She would crawl on the ground to grow food because she wanted the good taste of healthy food that she could grow herself. As a volunteer Gateway Community Health Advocate (CHA), helping people gain access to healthy foods, health education, and health plan enrollments, she learned about Growing Hope's Raised Bed Gardening Program. That was a dream come true for her, and now she is able to grow her own good, tasty, and healthy foods once again. At that point, she knew that she wanted to be a part of the Growing Hope family, so she became a board member.

Kate Rosenberger, Director. Kate works for Success Measures at NeighborWorks America in Washington, DC.  Success Measures helps organizations in the community development field measure the impact of their work.  Before joining NeighborWorks America in 2011, Kate worked as the Colorado Communications Director for the AFL-CIO’s 2008 and 2010 national campaigns and as legal associate at the Conservation Law Center at Indiana University. Kate holds a B.S. in Public Affairs and a J.D., both from Indiana University, and is licensed to practice law in Colorado. Growing up on Main Street in New Albany, Indiana, Kate has always been an advocate of creating healthy communities, which makes Growing Hope and great fit for her.  In her free time, she loves running, canoeing, traveling, cooking, and playing ball with her dog, POTUS.


Michele A. Rea, Director. A health care professional with over two decades of experience, Ms. Rea has held a number of responsible positions at local health care organizations, ranging from staff nurse to facility manager, including the University of Michigan, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and Henry Ford Health System. In recent years, she has volunteered at several local non-profit organizations, including Hope Clinic.  A Registered Nurse, she holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science degree in Public Service from DePaul University in Chicago.

Judy Weinburger, Director. Judy has been working as a real estate agent for Howard Hanna in Ann Arbor since 2013.  Before, she worked as a special education teacher for emotionally impaired elementary students in Tecumseh Public Schools.  She was also a special education teacher for learning disabled students in high school for almost 30 years. Before that, she was the founder and CEO of a nonprofit group home corporation for mentally and emotionally impaired adults in 5 counties called A-Jay Services, Inc.  She also has a small rental company in Ypsilanti, called Judy's Properties, which she has operated for 30 years.  She enjoys restoring historic homes, is a gardener with 9 raised beds to grow her own salads in the summer, sails, and volunteers at UM Hospital and The Deonis Center.  She has 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. 

Cedric Whitney, Director.  Bio and photo coming soon!

Eric Kennedy, Director. Bio and photo coming soon!

GROWING HOPE  |  922 West Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI  48197 | P.O. Box 980129, Ypsilanti, MI 48198 | Phone: 734-786-8401 |