Our Team

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Finian Makepeace

Co-Founder & Advocacy Director

Finian is a recording artist, activist and self-taught soil advocate whose passion for changing the world brought him to study political science at UCLA. He strives to make the world a more peaceful and harmonious place for humans and all of nature. Finian resides in Venice, loves to make music, build gardens and bring people together for common causes.

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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

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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Jessica Handy

Education Program

Jessica is a Mother and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) who's interest in health began at a young age when she witnessed the ill effects poor eating habits had on those she loved most. She has spent much of her career in public health, helping to increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities and empowering families to take an active role in their health. After starting a home garden she began to learn first hand the profound connection that nutrition has to agriculture; an experience that completely transformed her mission as a nutrition educator. She now is an advocate for soil health because simply put healthy soil grows health food, and healthy food makes for healthy people.

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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

Advocacy Program

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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Annie Martin

Communications

Annie is an activist, writer, marketing manager, and entrepreneur dedicated to environmental issues related to food, water, and agriculture. Her passions have led her around the world researching child malnutrition, the consequences of industrial farming, and successful soil remediation techniques. Today, Annie is working with consumers, suppliers, and purchasers to drive demand for regenerative products, transition farms to regenerative agriculture, and inspire brands to invest in regenerative supply lines.

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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

Education Program

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

Advocacy / Soil Educator

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

Farmland Program

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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Michelle Uyeda

Graphic Design

Nature and art have always been a meaningful part of Michelle’s life. Since she was a child, she wanted to make the world a more beautiful place by creating beautiful artwork. With Kiss the Ground, she gets to take that dream to a whole new level through her imagery and design.

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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.