Kat Rutkin, Executive Director
Kat’s background is in urban planning, politics, and nonprofit management, with a focus on economic and environmental justice. Before moving to Somerville in 2011, Kat worked with the City of New York as an urban planner, a land use advisor to New York City politicians, and as the executive director of the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Kat holds a BA in Visual Art from Fordham University and a MA in Urban Planning from Hunter College. She is also a certified postpartum doula and lactation educator, working in and lobbying for reproductive justice and empowering new parents.
When not at Groundwork or working as an educator to expecting parents, Kat can be found chasing two (or more) children through various Somerville parks, on early morning runs, and/or walking her black lab/hound-of-indeterminate-origin mix puppy while drinking too much coffee.
Rae Axner, Youth Employment Program Manager
Rae came to Groundwork Somerville in spring 2017, excited to work alongside Somerville youth towards environmental, racial, economic, and food justice. She graduated from Somerville High in 2010 and from Tufts in 2014 with a BA in Community Health and American Studies. Rae brings experience in farming and food justice from The Food Project and Waltham Fields Community Farm; in workers’ rights organizing from the Tufts Labor Coalition and MassCOSH; and in housing advocacy from the Community Action Agency of Somerville. Rae is thrilled to be working in her own community and looks forward to growing food, building youth power, and pursuing environmental and health equity with the Green Team. Outside of work, Rae cooks garlic-heavy meals with her roommates, seeks out lakes and beaches, and laughs as much as possible.
Darya Mattes, Mystic River Urban Waters Federal Partnership Ambassador
Darya supports the Mystic River Watershed Steering Committee as the Ambassador for the Mystic River Urban Waters Federal Partnership. In that role, she will be supporting municipalities, nonprofits (including Groundwork Somerville), and state and federal agencies as they collaborate to improve water quality in and community access to the Mystic River. Prior to this role, Darya worked as an environmental planner and conservation agent for the City of Salem, MA, and she previously worked on climate change resiliency initiatives in the City of Medford’s Office of Energy and Environment. She has a master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University and a BA in Anthropology and History from Cornell University. Darya lives in Watertown (at the very edge of the Mystic River watershed), and spends her spare time gardening in her community garden plot, singing in a local women’s chorus, and serving on the boards of both of those organizations. She bikes as her primary form of transportation and appreciates your suggestions for good bike routes and new trails to try.
Patricha Paul, Bookkeeper
We are lucky to work with interns and committed volunteers who make our programming possible! Read on to learn about the amazing group we have working and learning with us this academic year:
Cat Kemmett, Social Media, Outreach, and Events Fellow
My name is Cat Kemmett and I will be the Social Media, Outreach, and Events Fellow at Groundwork Somerville this summer! I am currently enrolled in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning masters program at Tufts University. I’m interested in housing, transportation equity, and finding ways to make cities more sustainable and inclusive. I’m very excited to be a part of Groundwork Somerville’s environmental and social justice work and to engage with my community in a meaningful and impactful way.
Green Team and Green Team Leaders
The Green Team are Groundwork Somerville employees and the main workforce behind our food production at South Street Farm. The Green Team also carries out Groundwork’s mission by supporting environmental restoration projects in the City, and contributing a youth voice on issues of environmental justice, food access, and health equity to civic processes in the city. Green Team Members can go on to be Assistant Leaders once they have completed a season with the Green Team. Read more about the Green Team here.
Groundwork also brings on a phenomenal team of Green Team Leaders each summer in order to lead crews, work sites, projects, and more. Green Team Leaders are often college students or other folks who have been out of high school for a year or more and are interested in building their skills as youth leaders, urban farmers, and agents for social change. We especially love when we can hire Green Team Alumni as Green Team Leaders! Thank you to our team of Green Team Leaders in 2019!
(From left to right, Green Team Member unless otherwise noted)
As part of our World Crops Project, we are lucky to work with several Mentor Farmers, members of the Somerville community who bring agricultural expertise from their home countries outside of the U.S. Our Mentor Farmers advise the rest of the Groundwork staff as well as the Green Team in how to plant, care for, and harvest our World Crops. These crops are vegetables and fruits that have been requested by members of the immigrant communities here. This produce is common to food cultures of Somerville’s immigrant communities and may be harder to find in major grocery stores. Mentor Farmers are hired as consultants during the growing season, and pass on their expertise and stories to Green Team members through intergenerational exchange. In 2018 we were able to expand to have a team of five Mentor Farmers:
Originally from Brazil
Primary crop: jiló
Originally from Haiti
Primary crops: lalo, okra, hot peppers
Originally from Bangladesh
Primary crops: callaloo, long beans, lao gourd
Originally from El Salvador
Primary crops: culantro, hierba mora, epazote, beans
Originally from Vietnam
Primary crops: water spinach, bitter melon, herbs
If you are interested in being part of this team, check our Jobs & Internships page for openings, our Green Team page for information about applying. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, reach out directly to email@example.com for general inquiries or any of the team members in the “Staff” section above for questions about specific programs.