Community Organizing Fellowship
Growing Partners' 12-month Community Organizing Fellowship connects and supports community leaders and the local food projects they’re involved in as they share skills, develop new leaders, and find solutions to the root causes of injustice and inequity.
The Fellowship also connects organizations, coalitions, and other stakeholders across the Southwest Colorado region, which builds community power as part of Growing Partners' mission to cultivate a healthy local food system for all.
The 2016-2017 Fellowship is in progress! As a fellowship, we will co-facilitate the Community Leadership Training March-July 2017. We will welcome another group of fellows in July 2018. Let us know if you are interested!
Meet the Fellows
Paula Pletnikoff, Durango: Fort Lewis College
Paula is a sophomore at Fort Lewis College majoring in Geology and Environmental Studies. Raised in Alaska, Paula has a first-hand understanding of the effects of local food insecurity. With her education, Paula hopes to achieve a well-founded knowledge of the dynamics of local food systems, and make local food security a reality for presently insecure areas. Paula also serves as a Local Food Fellow at FLC, managing the garden and orchard on campus and providing organically grown fruits and vegetables for students and guests at the dining hall. Paula loves to travel, hike, craft, rock hound, and volunteer/ help out groups and organizations fighting the good fight. New to Durango, Paula is excited to explore her new home and experience a completely new environment.
Deanna Frost, Ignacio
Deanna is Northern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and an enrolled member of the Southern Ute Tribe. She grew up in Ignacio, CO but left to pursue her education in Chicago, IL. She organizes and participates in many of the wellness events in the Ignacio Community. Currently as the director apprentice, she has initiated the Breastfeeding Support program and Healthy living initiative. She is the host of the bi-weekly radio show, geared toward health and wellness topics called “Feeding the Spirit” and serves on the board of directors for the Southern Ute Boys and Girls Club. Deanna has collaborated with numerous departments within the Southern Ute Tribe, SUCAP Head Start, Southern Ute Montessori Academy, KSUT, Southern Ute Health Center, Peaceful Spirits, and Cooking Matters. To clear her mind, Deanna will jump in her vehicle and go for a drive or sit in a room in complete silence. She now resides in Ignacio, CO with her two children.
Maram Ashe Alawi, Durango
Maram Ashe Alawi (Mar-rohm Auh-Shay Ah-lah-wii) is known around Durango as "Ash!". This Durango transplant has been in the community for 12 years, and nearly finished with her college experience at Fort Lewis College. Ashe is majoring in Political Science, with double minor in Peace&Conflict Resolution studies and Environmental Policy. Ashe acts as Growing Partners' representative at partner coalition meetings and events around town.
Gretchen Groenke, Montezuma County
Gretchen grew up in the middle of 80 acres of cherry trees in Washington State. Her youth instilled in her a deep connection to both agriculture and social justice. Throughout her adult life, she has explored the possibilities of creating positive social change in places like New York City, Nicaragua, and Honduras. She has a deep passion for building bridges that generate solidarity amongst people and that contribute to thriving communities. She has loved living in Southwest Colorado for the past nine years and is proud to call the beautiful Mancos Valley her home. Gretchen is the mother of a big hearted 5 year old boy and she loves grazing on wild berries, fermenting homegrown veggies, and sharing her poetry.
Leslie Wustrack, Archuleta County
Leslie's professional background includes business ownership of a sporting goods store and a marketing/public relations firm, radio station management, and airport marketing management. Her commitment to serve others was instilled by her family and she has belonged to several service organizations. Fortunate to travel worldwide, two of her most significant life influences were immunizing children in India and helping to build a preschool for the deaf in Nicaragua. She lives on a hay ranch with her beloved animals and serves as a community volunteer. A Colorado and Montana Master Gardener, Leslie became a Fellow of Growing Partners in hopes of helping to make a difference in the nutritional lives of Archuleta Co. community members.
Gina Schulz, Ignacio
Through the fellowship, we are weaving a network of people and organizations throughout the region that are deeply invest in our communities. We are grateful to work in partnership with the following groups!
The Community Organizing Fellowship is generously funded by The Colorado Health Foundation.