Our Team

Kiss the Ground Team Template

Finian Makepeace

Co-Founder & Soil Advocate Training Teacher

Finian Makepeace is the co-founder of Kiss the Ground and a renowned presenter, media creator, and thought leader in the field of regenerative agriculture and soil health. His dedication to Kiss the Ground’s mission of “inspiring participation in global regeneration, starting with soil”, has motivated him to develop training programs, workshops, and talks designed to empower people around the world to become confident advocates for this growing movement.

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Ryland Engelhart

Co-Founder

Ryland Engelhart is the Mission Fulfillment Officer and co-owner of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre. He is a co-founder of Kiss The Ground, a non-profit that educates and advocates about the connection between soil, human, and planetary health. He is also a co-creator of the award-winning, transformational documentary film, “May I Be Frank.” He is an entrepreneur and activist, using his restaurants as a platform to inspire more "gratitude" into our culture. He speaks on sacred commerce, tools for building community, and regeneration.

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Lauren Frances Tucker

Co-Founder and Executive Director

Lauren is a community organizer with extensive experience in the nonprofit sector. She holds a B.A. in international studies and psychology from American University, is a Master Gardener, and studies permaculture design and regenerative agriculture. Her passion for community building has led her to projects in Washington D.C., New Orleans, West Africa and California.

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Mallory Cunningham

Media Program

Mallory has always been drawn to all aspects of creating films and storytelling. She grew up in Kentucky and picked up a camera at a young age. After college, she relocated to California to work at Apricot Lane Farms, a Biodynamic farm in Moorpark. Wearing many hats at ALF during their first five years, including livestock, marketing and sales, events, and film. In the film program, she won three Emmys while working alongside filmmaker John Chester to create short films for the Oprah Winfrey Network. Currently, Mallory is overseeing the creation of media for Kiss the Ground in hopes to reach a mass audience by bringing stories to life that have a deeper purpose.

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Oliver Gardiner

Media Program

Oliver Gardiner is the founder and creative director of Trails of Regeneration, an international video series produced by Kiss the Ground and Regeneration International. Oliver is a one man film crew who travels to remote regions around the world in search for strong human stories that showcase how complex issues can be addressed through integration in food, farming and land use. His personal commitment to the environment and his experience working with regenerative development projects in Europe and Asia, have led him to become an advisor on entrepreneurial dynamics for solutions to climate change. He also supply's strategic communications and media management to NGOs, government agencies and the private sector. His experience has enabled him to create uniquely dynamic links between these sectors.

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Jessica Handy

Partnerships & Middle School Education

Jessica Handy is a registered dietitian who serves as the Partnership Development Lead for Kiss the Ground where she has the joy of cultivating impactful opportunities to build regenerative and meaningful partnerships that create shared value. Her passion for helping to create a healthier thriving planet stemmed from her exposure to the outdoors as a child and her career in nutrition. For over ten years, Jessica worked for mission-driven organizations helping to develop and implement systems to support healthy food access for communities in need. She began her career working for Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE), bringing nutrition education and fresh, nutritious foods to underserved communities around Los Angeles County. Jessica then moved on to work for the Institute for Local Government (ILG) to serve as a consultant for dozens of cities that received grant funding to increase youth access to nutrient-dense foods. Following her work with ILG she served as a Program lead with the City of Pasadena to champion procurement policies, grant-funded nutrition education, and farmers market initiatives.

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Taylor Herren

Development Director

Nature, activism and the building of community have always been at the core of Taylor’s existence. She has been deeply involved in the regenerative agriculture movement as a researcher, educator, policy analyst, event planner and consultant. A passion for people, a commitment to justice, and a belief in the transformative power of food and farming systems have cemented her lifelong commitment to restoring the planet through regeneration.

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Rishi Kumar

Urban Regeneration Course Teacher

Farmer Rishi Kumar is an small-scale farmer, sustainability educator and consultant. Since 2010, he has been working in Los Angeles to grow food, restore soil, and connect people through the power of gardens. He operates Sarvodaya Farms in Pomona, CA and now works with Kiss the Ground to help more people connect with the hopeful message of regenerative gardening and agriculture. Rishi has a degree in Computer Science from UC San Diego (2010).

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Guido Lois

Video Production

Guido Lois is an Argentinean artist, currently based in Los Angeles. With a degree in Communication, his work focuses on the semantic level of imagery, and follows one main premise by Meister Eckhart: “When the Soul wants to experience something, she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.”

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Michelle Margolin

Leadership Program Co-Director

Michelle is a conservation activist who is passionate about local farming as a solution to transforming our food systems and climate change. She has experience working throughout Oregon as an environmental outdoor teacher and coordinating farm programs. Her work in conservation extended to field management in Australia and continued on to biogas digester research and course work at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel. With her B.S. in Environmental studies and Peace studies from the University of Oregon she aims to positively impact communities through regenerative farming, education and green infrastructure development.

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Gina Quattrochi

Operations Manager

Gina is a food, health, and agriculture enthusiast. She has been fortunate to work in these fields in many capacities, from managing farmers markets to coffee wholesale to local food policy. She has worked for the Santa Monica Farmers Markets, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, Kismet restaurant, Cookbook market, and Stumptown Coffee, among others. She's happy and grateful to work in this community.

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Karen Rodriguez

Leadership Program Co-Director

Karen Rodriguez is a Guatemalan woman raised in Venice Beach. She is a food lover who got her food education in kitchens of great restaurants in Southern California and a few in NYC, where she served with opening teams, serving and managing and occasionally cooking. Her love of the culinary arts led her on the journey to learn an incredible amount from chefs, farmers and all of the people connected to our food. She loves to connect with nature through, healing herbs, and gardens and is always excited to share a meal and feed loved ones. Following the thread of where our food comes from has made her passionate about teaching children and the adults who teach children about tending to our soil and our earth because that is where all food begins. She is excited about regeneration and supporting healthy humanity, through food education, regenerating soils, restoring systems and kissing the ground.

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Don Smith

Soil Advocate Training Teacher

Don is a speaker, teacher, and student of regenerative agriculture and regenerative lifestyles. His talks are engaging, inspiring, and filled with viable solutions to the world’s largest problems. In addition to speaking, Don helps Kiss the Ground with editing, technical details, and infographics promoting soil as a solution to climate change.

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Jesse Smith

Farmer Consultant

Jesse is a farmer, designer and consultant focused on the intersection of regenerative supply and enterprise. His passion for agriculture and food systems is rooted in his love of California's diverse ecosystems, and influenced by his work and travels through Africa, Europe and the western United States. His family, friends and community are what inspire him to develop a network of farmers, restaurants and consumers to benefit our soil, water and air.

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Kylie Wagner

Farmland Program Director

Kylie enjoys the simple things in life: good food, happy people and healthy soil. As a practicing permaculturist, yoga teacher and human, Kylie has experienced the importance of community. Through the food we share, conversations we have and the work we do on a daily basis, she believes in the power of change from a grassroots level. Kylie studied Environmental Science at UCLA where she served on the Sustainable Food Systems Action Research Team. She currently lives in Santa Barbara, CA where she works as the Environmental Director for Impact Hub and as a Land Steward for White Buffalo Land Trust. Kylie helps coordinate Kiss The Ground’s effort to support farmers who are seeking to build their soil health through regenerative agriculture practices.

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Traci Wallace

Communications

Traci is a writer, mother and communications strategist who is passionate about giving voice to the world's changemakers through conscious digital marketing practices that inspire community activation towards positive change.