Our Staff

Fatima Lee Web Photo

Fatima Lee She/Her

Farm Customer Service Assistant

Gardening was not a passion for Fatima until she became a garden coach.
Then it became a passion for life. She believes that gardening is an excellent tool to teach about nature, food, and health. She also believes that if youth learn where their food comes from, understand the process of caring for plants, and take part in cooking what they grow, then they’ll enjoy eating healthy foods. Fatima is the mother of three wonderful children and grandmother of three fantastic grandchildren. Fatima enjoys reading, music, friends, harvesting from her garden, and cooking with her family. Fatima loves working at NCN because she shares the same beliefs.

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Joanna Walters She/Her

Farm Customer Service Manager

Joanna has spent the last 15 years working in non-profits and youth programming. She received her degree from Albion College where she studied Exercise Science, Psychology, and English. She loves adventuring in the outdoors, teaching humans of all ages about conservation ecology, and experimenting in her garden. Her greatest loves are her husband and two sons.

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Madison Hower She/Her

Farm Production Coordinator

Madison is entering her third season farming in Grand Rapids. She graduated from Grand Valley State with a BS in Environmental Science and Sustainability and discovered her love for vegetable growing at New City Neighbors. Madison loves to spend her free time outdoors, sharing coffee with her friends and family, and swimming in Lake Michigan. She loves farming because she gets to experience reciprocity everyday. She hopes to continue learning and growing while always keeping her hands dirty.

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Avrey Smith He/Him

Café & Community Leadership Training Coordinator

With a background in youth ministry and a graduate of Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders (GRIL), Avrey is a mission driven champion for community impact through youth mentorship. You can find him either working in the café or leading students through leadership training. He uses his experience to reach young leaders and play a key role in their professional development. Affectionately nicknamed, “the Pizza Prince,” Avrey uses the café as an avenue to empower and welcome the growth of every highschooler that steps foot in the kitchen.

Luke Web Photo

Luke De Haan He/Him

Café Coordinator

Luke’s earliest memories are of helping his mom with the family garden behind their house. Growing and preserving food has been an important part of his family’s seasonal rhythms as far back as he can remember. When he’s not gardening, Luke loves expressing creativity through food. Food has been a way for Luke to explore cross-culturally. Four years in West Africa introduced him to myriad flavors and foods he would never have encountered in his home context. For him exploring and honoring another’s customs and traditions best happens around a dinner table.

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Sierra West-Smith She/Her

Administration & Development Director 

Sierra has been involved with New City Neighbors for many years. She started working with the organization as a youth employee as a freshman in high school. Currently she is in college, earning a degree in Social Work. Sierra has passion for helping others and is excited to continue working toward empowering youth.

lance kraai

Lance Kraai He/Him

Operations Director

Lance loves connecting with others through good work and good food. He has been engaged in social enterprise work for 10+ years including urban farming, café management, and building renovations. He holds a B.A. from Calvin College in Religion and an M.Div from Regent College. He is married to his wife Daina, and has three children–Myakah, Aiven and Syder.

ricardo tavarez

Ricardo Tavárez He/Him

Executive Director

Ricardo is passionate about community development, justice work, and equipping the next generation of urban leaders. He earned a dual bachelor’s degree from Kuyper College in Bible, and International Business & Marketing. He later obtained his M.Div from Calvin Theological Seminary. Ricardo was named as one of the 40 under 40 business leaders by the Grand Rapids Business Journal for 2022. He also serves as a local church pastor at En Vivo Church. In his free time you can find him enjoying the arts and spending time outdoors.