Michael Martinez, Founder/executive director
Michael is a certified Master Gardener, a former elementary school teacher, and the Founder and Executive Director of L.A Compost. Michael has over 8 years of experience building gardens and compost systems throughout the County of Los Angeles as well as other parts of the country. Michael has grown LA Compost from a group of volunteers collecting organics with bikes to a decentralized network of community compost hubs that span across the most populated county in the country.
Julia Mande, development director
Julia has a decade of experience in sustainable food systems, from restaurant management to food production. Her professional career began in hospitality and has worked alongside chefs and farmers in NYC and LA. She gained hands on knowledge of food service and farming practices at Blue Hill and The Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. She was part of the opening management team of 3 ingredient driven restaurants and an indoor farming start up. Julia understands compost from a sensory and practical perspective, learning through doing. She is interested in the healing properties of engaging with the earth, and connecting to the wisdom of nature.
Mireya Arizmendi, educational programs manager
Mireya was born in Mexico and moved to South Los Angeles in 1990. It was not easy growing up in this community. She was in the middle of a food desert and surrounded by a concrete jungle. She is a descendent of multiple farming generations and her elders taught her to love and respect the land she walks on. Recently Mireya earned a Master of Public Health in Health Education, a Minor in Sustainability, and worked as a compost and food garden coordinator at California State University Northridge’s Institute for Sustainability. Volunteering as a certified Master Gardener and Slow Food Preserver allows her to help others in many ways. Mireya is determined to work with nature to protect and promote the health of the public and their environment through ecological principles and regenerative processes.
Lynn Fang, operations support
Lynn Fang, MS is committed to creating integrated compost farm systems in urban areas, restoring compost as part of an ecologically sustainable and socially just farm ecosystem. She actively teaches, speaks, and consults on soil and compost ecology, and has worked with several different organizations, schools, botanical gardens, and other institutions. She weaves together her master’s work in compost microbiology with her experiences in permaculture, urban ecological farming, and community development. There is nothing like sinking your hands into compost-rich soil and feeling vitalized and rejuvenated by the life in the ground!
Mark pranger, farmer’s market manager
Mark’s knowledge of gardening and the importance of good soil management was instilled at an early age by his mother. Growing up he always had large gardens with vegetables and fruit trees. His interest in plants and the environment eventually lead him to obtain a BS in Environmental Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Finance and a MS in Marine Sciences The more Mark studies nature and the cycles of minerals and animals, the more he realizes that the practices he learned from his grandparents improve the quality and quantity of the food we grow.
Elena Lopez, outreach manager
Elena was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and considers herself a Tejana at heart. She became interested in food justice and policy as an Urban Environmental Policy student at Occidental College. Around the same time Elena began eating a plant based diet and eventually became completely vegan. Elena’s professional pursuits have included administering EBT and Market Match at several LA Farmer’s Markets and coordinating volunteers and community programs at The L.A. Kitchen. She is passionate about creating community around sustainable living and food.
Erik Martig, Project consultant
Erik approaches composting from the perspective of its end use - to build healthy soil. He has over 6 years of professional experience in the compost industry from the grassroots level to large scale operations. Erik brings community composting knowledge from NYC where he started a compost operation that has grown into a publicly funded operation in the heart of Brooklyn. He has overseen GrowNYC's food scrap collection program and managed a 500 ton per year operation in Queens. He has directly overseen the diversion of over 1.5 million pounds of food scraps.
Elliott kuhn, san fernando valley
Elliott was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and today runs an urban farm from his home in Panorama City. His background is in education and sociology. Elliott has been working in the cross section of soil, food, and community since 2010. If he's not turning a compost pile or working with volunteer groups, he can most likely be found in the garden tending to the tasks at hand.
Kenny Derieg, west la
Kenny has a background in Urban Sustainability within Los Angeles and has helped with the transition of LA’s First Waste Hauler Franchise agreement. He support and maintains community compost hubs within the West Side of LA, and visits schools across the county teaching innovative recycling and composting practices.
gina vollono, san gabriel valley
Gina is a native Angeleno, inspired and dedicated to healing our urban environments with meaningful earth work. She has worked with local landscape companies, urban farms, and various non profits to add beauty and purpose to urban spaces. Gina loves to compost and watch it's transformation from beginning to end, as it reflects our own potential for change and renewal.
laila tambourini, southeast la
As a kid, getting dirty outside was heaven to me. My brother once dared me to stick my face into a mud pit, and of course, he didn’t need to cajole me. I plunged my face deep into that slop as if bobbing for apples. My mother bat no lashes when I came home caked in dirt. And she smiled kindly as I handed her pockets full of rollie pollies I had collected during lunch. I think of this from time to time. The things that mesmerized me as a child is what I live for as an adult. I will never not be humbled by the incredible work of decomposers, I marvel at them the same way I did when I was 5 years old watching those rollie pollies bulldoze their way through the soil. I will not tire of the transformation of food scraps into beautiful humus; the lessons it teaches me: to have faith in the process, to be patient, and observant. Sharing the joy of composting with others never ceases to delight. The awareness it brings to our broken food system, and the hope it generates is life-giving. So here I am, a servant to the soil and for that, I am eternally grateful.
jonathan galindez, South la
Jonathan was born and raised in South LA. His garden career began with an interest in cooking classes as a green ambassador in his high school program. He grew the composting program at Root Down LA- picking up food waste on skateboards and bikes, and turning piles with his mentors in the growing spaces. Jonathan is dedicated to teaching about healthy alternatives to a broken food system.
Mario Sanchez, Northeast LA
Mario was first introduced to LA Compost programs through his volunteer work at the Audubon Center at Debs Park. As a Junior Naturalist for the Center’s Green Team he engaged with the wildlife and native plants becoming familiar with the ecosystem. Mario’s educational background is in physics, and he brings critical thinking skills and a researcher’s perspective to his work as a compost manager. Mario is a youth leader in his community, and can often be found meandering with the birds at Debs Park.
Board of Directors
Anastasia Butler is an attorney at Sustainable Law Group P.C. Anastasia's practice harmonizes business with impact by working with a wide range of cross-sectoral clients on developing forward thinking nonprofit and social enterprise strategies. In her free time, Anastasia enjoys all things bug related, her garden, and reading fiction.
A specialist in adaptive reuse and historical rehabilitation, Rick Cortez has worked extensively throughout Los Angeles on design projects that center on community enhancement. With a design studio nestled along the L.A. river, the California natural landscape is a backdrop and inspiration for projects that blend both environmental and social considerations with complex but aesthetically effortless design solutions. His warm and modern design style is underscored by up-cycled and handcrafted materials that bring a uniquely human element to his work. Rick contributes to L.A. Compost as both a board member and innovator, offering guidance on business and leadership topics as well as hands-on solutions and practical knowledge for the organization's organic processing methods.
Clare Fox has served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) since 2015. In this role, she supports and collaborates with a large network of public, private, non-profit and community leaders to catalyze policy and systems change for a sustainable and fair food system. Clare joined the staff of the LA Food Policy Council in 2011, eventually serving as the Director of Policy and Innovation. Since then, she has led numerous programs and legislative wins leading to improved access to healthy food for low-income residents, improved conditions for food workers, and improved coordination among food agencies and stakeholders.
Calla Rose Ostrander is an independent consultant and activist committed to balancing the Earth’s carbon cycle. She works with leaders in California and the Western United States to return carbon to the soil through the way we grow, make and dispose of our food, fuel, fiber and flora. Prior to her work on the California Carbon Campaign she was the Climate Change Projects Manager for the City & County of San Francisco where she created and managed the San Francisco Carbon Fund, internal agency sustainability reporting, and lead the update to the community wide Climate Action Strategy under mayors Gavin Newsom and Edwin Lee. Calla Rose was born in Tucson Arizona and lived in Oaxaca and Australia before her family settled in Colorado’s front range where she attended the Shining Mountain Waldorf School K-12. Before moving to California she co-authored of the City of Aspen’s first Climate Action and Adaptation Plans and was a Communications Fellow for Rocky Mountain Institute. She holds a BA in International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound and studied ecological economics with David Batker of Earth Economics.
Jose Ramirez has been active in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the St. Francis Center (SFC), a local nonprofit that focuses on food recovery to provide meals, groceries and case management services for homeless and near homeless Angelinos. He has spent nine years with SFC helping the organization build strategic partnerships, diversify revenue streams, and increase food rescue capacity. He comes from a family of migrant workers and has always had an appreciation and connection to food and food justice issues. He also enjoys going to live concerts, collecting rare vinyl and DJing in his spare time.