The members of Just Harvest’s Board of Directors serve three-year terms. Elections are held annually in May. To vote in the next election become a Just Harvest member.
Steve Irlbacher, Esq., President
Steve is a staff attorney in FedEx Ground’s Legal Department. He is a longtime resident of Allegheny County and committed to Just Harvest’s core values and mission to eliminate hunger in our community. Steve has also been active in the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and Allegheny County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division.
Dannai Wilson, Vice President
Dannai is the program manager at the Allegheny County Health Department, Division of Maternal and Child Health. She has more than twenty years of experience in nonprofit administration, social services, public health, and business administration. Her focus is on improving the quality of life of fragile populations and minorities in general, but specifically women and their children, through community outreach, programming, organizing, marketing, and raising public awareness of health disparities. Dannai has been an advocate for all populations, particularly those underrepresented, through scholarship, national and local conference presentations, training initiatives, strategic planning, and community field work. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in communications and a Master’s degree in organizational leadership from Carlow University. She is a Pittsburgh resident and looks forward to the day when all its residents are able to realize all this great city has to offer.
Colleen Young, Secretary
Colleen is the director of Community Programs at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development. Formerly, she supervised the Family Support Policy Board for 5 years, partnering with Just Harvest to promote advocacy around issues impacting families. She has volunteered on multiple advisory committees for Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Health Department, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Women for a Healthy Environment. In her career, Colleen has partnered with multiple organizations including eleven Family Support lead agencies: Children’s Hospital, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Urban League, Kingsley Association, Family Resources, Primary Health Care Service, Providence Connections, South Hills Interfaith Movement, Focus on Renewal, and COTRAIC. She has joined Just Harvest’s board “to support the work to uproot the multiple forms of systemic injustice that keep families in poverty.”
Carl Lewis, Treasurer
Carl is the owner of Carl’s Cafe, a local convenience store and American style bistro, as well as The Red Door Store, a mobile convenience store. Carl’s business is a Fresh Corners store as well as a participant in the Food Bucks Program. Carl has been a volunteer with Just Harvest initiatives, including the fight for fair and equitable transit. Prior to opening his business in 2011, Carl earned a degree from the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts before returning to Kent State University and obtaining a teaching certificate from the state of Ohio. Later, Carl was twice elected to Borough Council in Wilkinsburg, where he also held a seat on the Board of Directors of the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority for 11 years. Carl also served as a board member for W.I.N. (Wilkinsburg Inter-Community Network) and E.D.G.E (Economic Development Group East). Community service and community organizing are very important to Carl and he has served in many official and volunteer capacities, including Block Club Coordinator, community liaison, and others.
Tera is a program director at Community Catalyst, a national health care advocacy organization. The program aims to improve population outcomes by expanding access to oral health care through consumer informed policies, programs and practices. Tera oversees the program’s political strategy, state field operations and national partnerships. She began her career as a direct service social worker. Prior to joining Community Catalyst, Tera worked as the advocacy coordinator with the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, the Campaign Manager for the Seattle Housing Levy and a policy analyst for Children’s Home Society of WA. Tera moved to Pittsburgh in 2015 with her partner to be closer to family. She is inspired by the quote “Service is the rent we pay for being,” attributed to Rep. Shirley Chisholm and Marian Wright Edelman.
Ryan Capra has nearly 20 years of experience in the Pittsburgh non-profit industry. He has worked in various capacities for Travelers Aid of Pittsburgh since 2002, and is currently the Senior Program Manager. Through his time in social service, Mr. Capra has been involved in contracts and projects with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Allegheny Health Network, UPMC and various other foundations, social service agencies and medical providers in the Pittsburgh region. He is a lifelong Pittsburgher and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Scott Township.
Claire is the vice president of IT Infrastructure Risk at PNC Bank. She also particpated in Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 2019 EDGE program for women’s leadership development. During her time in Rochester, NY, she participated in several Foodlink programs, including Operation Food Basket. She is excited about Just Harvest’s scope of activities and impact, and is passionate about our mission.
Michelle Knoll works as a developmental therapist with Achieva. In 2019, she founded Progress Through Pages. This nonprofit aims to increase book ownership for children in underserved communities. Michelle also belongs to the Montour Trail Council, Airport Area Friends, DKG (an educational organization promoting education and those entering the field of education), PA League of Women Voters Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, and Ohio Township Democratic Committee. She has served as a board member for North Boros YMCA, and earned a Master Gardener degree through Phipps Conservatory. Michelle was a candidate for PA State House in District 44 in 2018. “As I prepare to run again, I want to make sure that those residents of Pennsylvania who are hungry, displaced, under-served, and underpaid have an advocate in the State Capital. Serving on the board will inform my decisions in Harrisburg about programs that serve those that need them the most.”
Sandra, a native of the Upper Hill District who now lives in Garfield, is a mother of three: a Navy vet, an aspiring baker, and a very active participant in Special Olympics. Despite her dyslexia, she earned her bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Wilmington University and a Master of Business Administration from Phoenix University. She has worked in many capacities of social and public service in Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware. Sandra currently works in the affordable housing industry and outpatient addiction services. She is very passionate about social and humanitarian issues that impact communities. “My passion for people encourages me to volunteer and engage in active solutions for communal improvements.”
Paul lives in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, with his wife and two children. Paul has observed that in Bloomfield fresh, quality food can be hard to affordably access – especially outside of farmer’s market season. Paul also has personal experience with fresh and quality food scarcity, having lived on state assistance for part of his childhood, and growing up in Portland Oregon, where stark divides persist between the quality and freshness of foods available across ethnic and socio-economic divides. Paul worked 10+ years as a development officer in Portland. At that time Paul also served on two boards. Paul is glad to be serving alongside the Just Harvest board members, staff, and volunteers to “feed” Pittsburgh’s vibrant and diverse future.
Vrenda Bowser Weems
Vrenda is a Branch Manager for the Wexford location of AAA East Central. She is a 2019 Dwight D. Eisenhower USDOT Fellow and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She has deep expertise in shaping organizational excellence with Nonprofits, drawing experiences such as Director of Development & Marketing with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois and Director of Marketing & Audience Services with Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago, IL. Vrenda is an alumni of the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative & Performing Arts. She has joined Just Harvest’s board to help Just Harvest “engage in advocacy to help educate and empower our community to eliminate hunger and poverty”.
Michelle is a resident physician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She cares for patients at the main location in Lawrenceville as well as at Children’s Primary Care Center in Turtle Creek. “I have seen the dramatic effects of food insecurity on my pediatric patients and their families for their physical and mental health. I joined the Just Harvest board to join other people who are passionate about changing the systemic problems which keep people in our community hungry and in poverty.”