Our Team

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Ryland Engelhart

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Ryland Engelhart is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Kiss the Ground, and is the producer of Kiss The Ground -- the film on Netflix. He has spent the past 15 years as an entrepreneur and love-activist, working in hospitality and building a "triple bottom line" business of organic plant-based restaurants called Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre in Southern CA. He is also a co-creator of the award-winning, inspirational documentary film called “May I Be Frank.” Ryland has an infectious passion for life and is a cultural catalyst creating transformation through his own organizations and in the world at large. He publicly speaks on the topics of sacred commerce, gratitude, veganism, building community, regeneration and the connection between soil health, human health, and planetary health. He is the host of Kiss the Ground's Podcast. Ryland is also a husband and father and lives on a 17-acre regenerative organic farm in Fillmore, CA where he learns to practice what he preaches.

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Finian Makepeace

Co-founder, Policy Director & Lead Educator

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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Richard Wegman

Chief Operating Officer

Richard has been leading environmental-based non-profits for over 30 years. In the past 10 years, he consulted on many environmental and social justice organizations in the Los Angeles area including El Rescate, Clinica Oscar A. Romero, Committee to Save Mono Lake, Coalition for Clean Air, Plaza Community Center in East Los Angeles, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Audubon Society. Richard is also Vice-Chairman/Treasurer of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, a fiscal sponsor organization with over 200 projects, and a Member of the BOD for Amazon Watch, an organization that works to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin.

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Mallory Cunningham

Media Program Lead

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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Jessica Handy

Partnership & Impact Manager

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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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.

Kate Oliva

Kate Oliva

VP of Content & Education Programs

Kate is equal parts storyteller and strategist, with a passion for the environment and the people (and animals) living in it. Over the last ten years, she has worked with companies ranging from small startups and indie production studios to publicity firms and billion-dollar companies, as well as run her own production company. She has developed, written, and produced thousands of videos in the form of short films, branded stories, corporate videos, education content, live events, and campaign spots. The through-line of her work is a focus on amplifying new and underserved voices, creating positive social impact, and (hopefully) making audiences laugh. She puts a premium on working with, learning from, and supporting other women and groups working to create and elevate these narratives. In addition to her work with Kiss the Ground, Kate is the cofounder of elePlate, a food recovery nonprofit, and volunteers her time with several initiatives working to create a more equitable world.


Jackie Peller

Booking Coordinator

Jackie is a yoga teacher, avid hiker, and animal lover living in Denver, Colorado. Her experience volunteering on a biodynamic farm, studying holistic nutrition as well as her history working in restaurants have shaped the way she views our food sources. She believes that every little choice we make has the opportunity to create a ripple effect for positive change and that each of us truly does have the ability to make an impact on our planet for the better. She consistently aims to use her career to support grassroots companies who are making a positive change in the world. Cooking plant based meals for her people is her love language. She fills her time with yoga, travel, educating herself on mental health as well pet sitting. She’s a pitbull advocate, a nature lover and an explorer. She’s so excited to use her skills to support Kiss the Ground on the mission of regeneration.

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Karen Rodriguez

Stewardship Program 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

Stewardship Program Advisor & 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 Consulting Lead

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.

Erica Wagner

Erica Wagner

Graphic Designer

Erica comes to Kiss the Ground from Moscow, ID. Her passion for photography and design have helped pave the way for telling some of the most important stories—those of farmers, artists, and food lovers. She’s excited to use both her traditional arts education and experience working with family-scale farms to tell the stories of healthy soil and the people who help create it.

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Kylie Wagner

Farmland Program Director

Kylie is a yogi, farmer, and community organizer connecting people through ritual and food. She believes in the power of change at the grassroots level; making conscious food choices that positively impact our health, our environment, and our local economy. Kylie lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she teaches yoga and volunteers on the White Buffalo Land Trust farm. Kylie earned her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from UCLA. Support your local farmers!