Laura Dewell

Founder and Executive Director

Laura has been cooking and working in the culinary world for 25 years. She has owned and operated multiple restaurants, including Pirosmani in Seattle, taught cooking privately and through culinary schools and culinary programs around Seattle. She has been a private chef and placed chefs into private homes; consulted on many different levels; worked for a stone hearth oven company as educator and coordinator; created a cooking school within a cooking store; worked as cook, sous chef and executive chef for many restaurants; and has done a great deal of catering throughout her entire career. Laura has worked with elementary and middle school children and has taught child-focused cooking classes for the last 10 years. With a Bachelors degree in Child Psychology from the University of Oregon, Laura went on instead to become a chef. Today she enjoys working with youth and their families, digging in the dirt and stirring a pot of soup.


Jeff Konkle

Jeff Konkle

Garden Coordinator

Jeff Konkle has been cooking in restaurants for over 20 years.  He has been a sous chef, a chef, and a line cook in kitchens large and small.  His palate is exquisite, his knowledge of various traditional cuisines unsurpassed.  He appeared on Iron Chef America, where he battled Bobby Flay. His interest in cooking can be traced back to his parent’s first garden, where at the tender age of 7, he was introduced to sun-ripened sugars in the form of a freshly shelled English pea. This is one of the early memories that inspired in this boy the wonder of growing things; that fueled the desire in this young budding chef to coax the innate goodness out of farm fresh produce (as it cooks in a pan or boils in a pot) later in life as a career. Jeff has cooked this childlike sense of wonder into thousands of dishes for unwitting guests over the years, and on the meager salary of a cook, he learned a thing or two about gardening along the way.  Several gardens, compost piles, and worm bins later, he hopes to inspire in others the art of the table as well as the art of growing a tasty tomato or chili in the great Northwest.

Claudia Williams

Operations Coordinator

Claudia loves to take care of people, learn something new every day and instill her passion for learning in others. Originally from Germany, she has lived in Florida and Georgia and has moved to Seattle two years ago with her husband and three teenage children. With a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology Claudia is passionate about all aspects of food in our society – how we grow it, buy it, prepare it, and eat it. She loves to explore the beautiful diversity of the Pacific Northwest and looks to bring excitement to the mundane and everyday chores in our lives.



Maia Bernstein

Program Educator

Originally from New York, Maia graduated from Oberlin College in 2009 with a BA in East Asian Studies and Religion. She lived in China and Taiwan for two years, first playing music in an indie-folk band, and then on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English. Since returning to the States, Maia has taught environmental and garden education in Vermont at Shelburne Farms and Green Mountain Farm-to-School, where she cultivated her passion for inquiry-based, outdoor education. Maia has a Masters of Education, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington. She completed the first year of her program as a graduate student and instructor at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island, where she earned a certificate in Education for Environment and Community. When Maia’s not cooking, gardening, or tending to her kombucha scoby, you will find her bicycling and backpacking through the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Em Draayer

Education Assistant

Originally from Northern Utah, Em has always been happiest outside surrounded by people she cares for. Em began her degree in music education at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, but family led her to Seattle in 2013. She completed her Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Education and Communication with a minor in French language in 2017 at Seattle University, where her interest in food justice and community building grew. Em’s passion for exploring outdoors, cooking vegetables, and being around young people led her to Green Plate Special, where she completed a summer internship in 2017. When she isn’t harvesting carrots with middle-schoolers, you can find Em at local music shows, reading poetry, swimming in Lake Washington, eating copious amounts of kale, or galloping through parks with her friends and dog.

Amee Bhavsar

Development & Communications Coordinator

With roots in the great state of Iowa, Amee is a global traveler and bookworm, disciple of dance and lover of secret gardens. Prior to joining Green Plate Special, Amee held positions in government, non-profit, corporate, media and entertainment organizations, focusing on public relations, project management, and bridging partnerships. A dreamer and doer, she is affectionately known as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Curious George, with strong passion for gender equity and female empowerment, children’s education and food justice. Amee is also a freelance writer and photographer, specializing in food culture, recipes, the arts, literature and the social zeitgest. From pomegrante salads to scallop ceviche, she can’t stop won’t stop thinking about all things delicious and attempts to recreate them in her kitchen. Amee holds a B.A. in English Honors from the University of Iowa, an M.A. in Media Studies and M.S. in Media Management from The New School in New York City.

Board of Directors

Green Plate Special, a nonprofit organization that inspires and empowers youth through garden and kitchen education, is seeking committed and energetic candidates to join its Board of Directors. Board Members in the following fields are preferred: Finance, Technology, Social Media/Marketing, Education, Nonprofit Leadership, and Community Organizing. Green Plate Special has made diversity a key priority; however, all candidates will be considered. For more information, contact the Green Plate Special Board President at

Amy Theobald

Amy Theobald

Board President

Amy Theobald joined the Green Plate Special Board of Directors as Treasurer in April 2014. Amy has worked as an IT Project Manager since 1999. She founded her own consulting business, Theo’s Logic LLC, in 2010 and now focuses on software development and third-party software implementation projects for Seattle-based companies. Prior to joining the board, Amy volunteered with Green Plate Special for a year and a half in the garden and with a number of after-school programs. She was introduced to fresh garden vegetables in her family’s backyard in Oklahoma, and has tended her own garden in Seattle since 1995.


Joanne Herron

Board Treasurer

Joanne Herron has been in the restaurant and service industry since 1988. Her love and passion for food and wine began in her early 20s, after a year-long trip to Europe, which sparked an interest in all things related to the art of the table. While working for a dozen years at The Ruins and its predecessor, Market Place Caterers, in nearly every capacity under her mentor, Joe McDonnal, Joanne learned an enormous amount about food service and the joy of creating special moments through catered events. She is Co-owner with James Drohman to Le Pichet (2000-current) and Café Presse (2007-current) Joanne still serves as Service and Wine Director for both businesses. She continues to travel extensively in France, seeking out traditional wines from lesser known regions. While earning her degree in Communications from the University of Washington, Joanne worked as a horticulturist and florist. She continues to be an avid gardener, floral arranger and decent home cook.

Claire Mitchell

Claire Mitchell

Board Secretary

Claire Mitchell joined the Green Plate Special board in April 2015. Although Claire was born and raised in Queens, New York, she has been living and working in Seattle since 2011. Claire is a business transactional and regulatory attorney at Stoel Rives LLP where she focuses her practice on the food, beverage and agricultural industries. Prior to moving to Seattle, she spent several months attending a Master of Laws program at the University of Arkansas in Food and Agricultural Law where she studied the laws and regulations governing the food system from farm to fork. Despite growing up in an urban center, Claire fondly remembers the small backyard where her family grew tomatoes, corn and herbs during the summer. Her love of gardening and food has endured. In her spare time, Claire enjoys mountaineering, volunteering with Washington Trails Association and sharing a meal with friends.

AJ Aquino

AJ Aquino, CFP ® joined the Green Plate Special board in February 2018, and has been volunteering at Green Plate Special for 5 years. AJ has been a Portfolio Management Director and Financial Advisor for the Aquino Group at Morgan Stanley for 11 years. As a Financial advisor, AJ works with individuals, families, and nonprofits to lead healthy financial lives. Prior to joining the Green Plate Special board, AJ organized a series of fundraising events for Youthcare, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Gilda’s Club and the Wing Luke Asian Museum. AJ’s mother and grandparents grew up just blocks away from the Green Plate Special garden, and his passion for gardening started with his grandfather who would let him pick zucchini, Asian pear, and pumpkins, among other things, when he’d go over as a child. When AJ isn’t working, he can be found Instagramming his dinners, seeking out local food all around the world, hosting friends for Husky sporting events, or wishing he worked out more.

Erin Burchfield

Erin Burchfield joined the Green Plate Special Board of Directors in March 2018. A native Seattleite, Erin’s career journey has taken her from nonprofit to corporate to founding her own tech company, and finally to her self-professed ‘dream job’ within Microsoft Philanthropies working to help nonprofits scale impact through technology. She has a BA from Wesleyan University and an MBA from UW Foster School of Business, and is also the co-founder of CEO Wattage – CEO Women At The Top, Achieving Gender Equality, which is dedicated to changing the ratio of women leaders in the C-suite. Along the way, her passion for food, cooking and education has remained a primary focus of her out-of-office time. Erin was a food and healthy lifestyles writer for Actively Northwest, and has fed her passion for cooking by attending cooking schools in various parts of the world. When not experimenting in the kitchen, digging in her garden, or traveling the world, you can find her outside running, hiking or training for her first triathlon..


Sandra Cavanaugh

Sandy Cavanaugh joined the Green Plate Special Board in January 2018. Recently retired from Russell Investments as CEO of their Private Client Group, she is now focused on community engagement, volunteering and consulting. Sandy spent 6 years serving on the board of the United Way of King County where she led the task force developing their Reconnecting Youth strategic initiative and continues to serve on their advisory board. Despite a demanding career, Sandy has always had a passion for gardening, cooking and connecting people through food. Her interest in building awareness with young people of the importance of a healthy diet and the pure joy of growing vegetables and cooking led her to Green Plate Special where she is happy to put on an apron in the kitchen, dig in the garden and help foster a healthy perspective of food with the youth in our community. Sandy has two adult children, lives in Madison Park and when she’s not in the kitchen or garden, loves to be outdoors enjoying the beautiful Northwest.



Dan Crookston

Dan Crookston joined the Green Plate Special Board of Directors in February of 2017. Dan grew up working soil and tending plants alongside his grandparents as they managed nearly 400 acres of farm and grazing land in southeastern Ohio. His work with at-risk youth began as a regular youth counselor at the Akron Urban League under the influential civil rights leader Vernon Odom. During college, Dan worked with former Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his mother, Sue, at her celebrated after school program on the southside of Chicago where a real disconnect between soil, seed and the food we eat became evident. In the time since, Dan has worked in IT and with restaurants, enjoying roles at Microsoft, Hornall Anderson Design and most recently restaurants. Dan completed an organic farming apprenticeship with M.O.F.G.A in 2005 and received his permaculture one certificate in 2012 from Seven-Ravens Permaculture Academy. Dan lives in Seattle with his wife Renee Erickson and their dog, Mr. Arlo.



Sara Dickerman

Sara Dickerman joined the Green Plate Special Board of Directors in June 2017 and is the Author of Bon Appétit: The Food Lover’s Cleanse and Dried and True: The Magic of Your Dehydrator in 80 Delicious recipes. Sara cooked in restaurants for many years as she developed as a food writer. She has contributed food and travel writing to Bon Appétit, Saveur, The New York Times, Food and Wine, Seattle Magazine, Sunset, and Slate for which she won a James Beard Award. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two young children, and when she can get outdoors, she dives in to open-water swim competitions, Nordic skiing, hiking, running, and kayaking.



Gloria Fortune

Gloria Fortune joined the Green Plate Special Board in January 2018. She is a Seattle native and is the mother of two Green Plate Special program participants. Gloria has a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry and brings 10 years experience of advocacy for children’s education with a primary focus on legislation at State and Federal levels. She was elected and served 2 terms as board president for the Sound to Harbor ESD Policy Council. Her other experience includes The United Negro College Fund, Girl Scouts of Western Washington, Washington State Association as a Parent Ambassador, and Gryphon Engineering and Technology as the Technical Marketing Lead and Research and Development. She loves spending time with her children and traveling.


Maggie Hooks

Maggie Hooks joined the Green Plate Special board in March of 2016. She is a retired physician and community volunteer, with a long history of interest in cooking, food, food justice, health impacts of diet, and the environmental impact of food production. She previously served on the boards of On the Boards and Sightline Institute, and has been a member of the Washington Women’s Foundation for many years. Maggie lives in Madrona with her two children and cooks, plays music, and gets outside as much as she can.

Brian Lawrence


Brian Lawrence

Brian Lawrence joined the Green Plate Special board in January 2015. He brings fifteen years of non-profit experience and currently serves as the Director of Development and Administration at The Mockingbird Society. Previously he was Director of Donor Stewardship at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as Sponsorship & Promotions Manager at Pacific Science Center. Prior to his nonprofit career, Brian spent five years in professional auto racing, overseeing marketing operations for PacWest Racing Group and television broadcasting for Championship Auto Racing Teams. Brian has a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University and a B.A. in business management. In his free time, Brian enjoys outdoor activities near Mt. Baker and cooking/entertaining.



Shelley McIntyre

Shelley McIntyre joined the board of Green Plate Special in spring of 2014, and is an active volunteer in youth programming. A Seattle native, Shelley has an M.S. in nutrition education from the University of Washington, and worked as a nutritionist in community health clinics for 20 years. Her personal commitment is to teach young people how to eat for their health, and to build community awareness of our need to eat real, whole food for optimal health. Since 1997, she has owned and managed commercial real estate. Shelley is married with two adult children. She loves to ride bikes with friends, practice yoga, cross country ski, and work in her garden.

Board Fellows

Joanna Diallo

Joanna Diallo serves on the Green Plate Special Board of Directors as a Board Fellow, a program offered through the Foster School of Business. Joanna is a Senior Program Manager with the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), a center in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. She leads health systems strengthening and direct service delivery projects in Haiti. Previously, Joanna has managed projects that focus on healthcare quality improvement, maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition, reproductive health and disease-specific programs to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Health Education Volunteer in Mali guiding activities to encourage behavior change for improved health and nutrition. She is pursuing her MBA to advance her career in international development and to learn how to apply a business perspective to design sustainable programs that benefit those living in low-resource settings. Joanna enjoys cooking and baking often with her four-year old.

Renate Kroll

Renate Kroll joined the Green Plate Special Board for one year through the Board Fellows Program at the UW Foster School of Business. She is pursuing her MBA at the Foster School, and previously worked in advertising and editing at the UW and Seattle Symphony. She has served on the boards of several small nonprofits and is very interested in the future of food, food justice and sustainability. Renate grew up down the street from where she currently lives in West Seattle, and remembers the joy of harvesting dinner from her parents’ garden. She now has her own garden, where she grew 74 different types of fruits and vegetables one year. Besides gardening, she enjoys baking, biking, and spending time with friends and family


Stephanie Beack
Mark Torrance
Renee Willette