“Low-income people and their allies need a powerful organizational voice to defend and protect their interests on economic justice issues, and to guarantee their access to the government welfare services that ensure a strong foundation for people’s lives.”
Ken Regal | Executive Director
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Ken Regal was named executive director in July 2012 after having served as one of our co-directors since Just Harvest’s founding in 1987. An activist and organizer in Pittsburgh for more than thirty years, he organized the campaign in the 1980’s which persuaded the Pittsburgh Public Schools to join the National School Breakfast Program. Ken has consulted for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, served on the national grant making advisory committee of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and has written and spoken on hunger and poverty issues for a wide range of audiences. He represents Just Harvest on the Board of the Pittsburgh United, on the steering committee of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, and on the Allegheny County Health Department Advisory Coalition for its Plan for a Healthier Allegheny. Ken is a native of Brooklyn and a graduate of Brandeis University, and lives in the Highland Park section of Pittsburgh with his wife.
“Widespread hunger in the U.S. and Pennsylvania is the result of economic and social injustice. The War on Poverty has become an outright War on the Poor. This agenda doesn’t reflect the majority of Americans’ values and priorities. We can defeat it by working together to advance fair government and a fair economy.”
Emily Cleath | Communications Coordinator
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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Emily Cleath joined Just Harvest in 2013, after fifteen years at various public policy and social justice nonprofits here and in New York City. Prior employment highlights include communications work for Public Agenda and the RAND Corporation, and organizing work for SEIU and ACLU-PA. Emily has a Master’s of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Lawrenceville with her husband and son.
“I try to find meaningful ways to engage community members in the fight against hunger, which enables Just Harvest to have a greater impact. We couldn’t accomplish everything we do without the help of volunteers.”
Amanda Fry | Volunteer Coordinator
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Amanda Fry joined Just Harvest as a food stamp team intern in the summer of 2016, after which she was hired as a food stamp specialist, a position she held until August 2017. Amanda is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. She spent six years in the United States Navy, then moved to Pittsburgh in 2014 with her husband, later earning her Bachelor’s in Human Services with a focus on gerontology at the University of Phoenix. Amanda is excited to have the opportunity to help connect volunteers and interns with the work Just Harvest is doing to reduce hunger in Allegheny County!
“I work to engage low-income people in learning about the systems and policies that impact their lives. Together we mobilize their communities to push government to address their needs and concerns.”
Helen Gerhardt | Grassroots Organizer
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Helen Gerhardt first joined Just Harvest’s staff as a greeter at our South Side free tax assistance site for the 2014 tax season and then became one of our food stamp specialists before transitioning to her current position. Prior to this she worked as an organizer at Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Action United, and the American Friends Service Committee, and was communications coordinator for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Helen’s lengthy community service includes a deployment to Iraq in 2000 with the Missouri Army National Guard. She received a BA in English and a BFA in studio arts from the University of Missouri, and a MFA in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh. Helen’s writing has been in a number of publications, including the National Endowment of the Arts collection Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan and the Home Front in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families. She lives in Highland Park.
“The Fresh Access program increases access to farmers markets for low-income people by equipping the markets to accept SNAP benefits and by breaking down barriers that prevent low-income people from patronizing farmers markets. This program is one piece of a larger effort to eliminate food deserts and ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to food which is healthy, fresh, affordable, culturally appropriate, and delicious.”
Averyl Hall | Fresh Access Coordinator
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Averyl Hall initially joined Just Harvest in 2015 as an AmeriCorps VISTA working on the Fresh Access Program, which she began to oversee a year later. She has a degree in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College. While at Earlham she interned with the Tucson Community Food Bank where she fell in love with connecting people to local produce. Averyl is excited to continue working at the intersection of local agriculture and food access.
“I strive to help families connect to SNAP benefits by giving them support and an awareness of the rules and regulations for SNAP policies.”
Dontika Hall | Food Stamp Specialist
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Dontika Hall joined Just Harvest’s food stamp team in October 2017. She has an Associate’s in Business Management from Kaplan Institute. While at Kaplan she interned at the YMCA in Homewood, helping families who had encountered financial hardship. Working for the YMCA, Dontika discovered her passion for helping people in need of support and knowledge on financial well-being, and that has been her mission ever since.
“Fresh Corners aims to help strengthen existing community-based resources in neighborhoods in Allegheny County where fresh food is not easily accessible.”
Kristen Hochreiter | Fresh Corners Project Coordinator
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Kristen graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh, with certificates in global and African studies. Before starting as the Fresh Corners project coordinator in 2017, Kristen served at Just Harvest as a social work intern and as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Kristen is particularly interested in serving immigrant and refugee communities in Pittsburgh, and in the past has worked with organizations such as Acculturation for Justice, Access, and Peace Outreach (AJAPO), and Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education (ARYSE). Kristen hopes to connect more immigrant-owned businesses to the Fresh Corners program to increase those communities’ access to healthy, affordable food.
“We support the national VITA program, working locally with the Free Tax Preparation Coalition, to provide critical community advocacy support to low-income taxpayers. We do their taxes for free, providing quality IRS tax returns for a maximum refund in a friendly atmosphere. We also give taxpayers guidance to interpret and respond to IRS requests, audits, and correspondence.”
Barbara Jakab | Tax Training Developer
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Barbara Jakab started at Just Harvest as a tax intern in 2011 after completing her degree in accounting at the University of Pittsburgh. She has held various accounting positions with companies in the Pittsburgh area and returned to Just Harvest as a site coordinator. She helped launch the new online tax training for the Money in Your Pocket Coalition and now is Just Harvest’s Tax Training Developer. Barbara has been active in the non-profit sector as a former director of church school education and a contributor to public school literary programs.
“I am to improve the policies that affect hunger and poverty in Allegheny County, whether it be working directly on those policies or by connecting people to SNAP, providing case advocacy, and continually improving how we provide our program.”
Ken Munz | Operations Coordinator
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Ken Munz has extensive experience working with homeless and housing organizations in the San Francisco area. He worked as a consultant and also directed a large clinical case management and housing program there. He arranged a partnership with the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to purchase housing for non-profit ownership and orchestrated neighborhood approval of two housing program sites. Ken’s advocacy experience includes input into legislation at all levels. For six years he was vice president and administrator for the Society for the Preservation of the Duquesne Incline in Mt. Washington. Ken also worked in the private sector for years as the owner of an information technology company in Pittsburgh’s Southside.
“Public policies and programs are the best way to support low-income members of our community, but they are currently inadequate and unfair. The process does not incorporate the voice, perspectives, and realities of low-income consumers. My goal is to bring those perspectives to decision makers to protect and improve programs that support basic human needs.”
Ann Sanders | Public Policy Advocate
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Having grown up receiving food stamps, Ann Sanders is very dedicated to ending hunger for all. She has been involved with Just Harvest since 2007, when she served as an intern from the School of Social Work. Since then, she served a term on our board of directors and has worked as a tax preparer, food stamp specialist, volunteer coordinator, and was named our Public Policy Advocate in the summer of 2017. Ann completed her Master’s in Social Work and Master’s in International Development from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and currently resides with her family in Observatory Hill.
“I work to create the most efficient and effective ways of running internal operations. I am passionate about helping Just Harvest grow relationships and strengthen our internal systems.”
Heather Seiders | Office Manager
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Heather Seiders manages Just Harvest’s daily office operations and has been with us since 2008. From supervising office assistants to developing strategic plans for the internal organization of Just Harvest’s fundraising and development, Heather’s work spans all programs at Just Harvest. Heather graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in creative nonfiction writing, and writes and edits content for Just Harvest’s annual report and fundraising materials. She enjoys reading, painting and spending time outdoors with her family.
“We partner with local corner stores to help them carry and promote fresh produce options that would otherwise not be available in that community.”
Dawn Marie Smith | Fresh Corners Project Coordinator
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Dawn Marie Smith began their tenure at Just Harvest as an intern with the food stamp team during the 2014-15 academic year and later served here as an AmeriCorps VISTA working on fundraising for two years. They are thrilled to be partnering with local businesses to bring access to affordable, fresh, healthy foods to local communities. Dawn Marie has a B.S. in sociology from Carlow University, serves as a volunteer firefighter, and resides in Squirrel Hill with their cat.
“I come from a low-income neighborhood. It is because of this experience that I am able to identify the barriers food stamp recipients face, including access to fresher foods and produce. Some don’t realize the various services Just Harvest offers, including the Fresh Access program at local farmers markets. I’m excited to have the opportunity to educate and encourage our clients on the step-by-step process to use these resources as necessary.”
Malaysia Smith | Food Stamps Specialist
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Malaysia graduated from Pittsburgh CAPA as a Pittsburgh Promise Scholar. After graduating Penn State University, she returned to Pittsburgh to be an advocate in her community. Malaysia accepted her position with Just Harvest in June 2018 to join the systematic political fight for low-income families.
“Low-income workers are often prey to unscrupulous businesses at tax time who are trying to get a piece of their tax refund. Workers need access to tax preparation services that they can trust to provide high quality service at no cost so they can use their Earned Income Tax Credit for its original intent: to pay bills that their paychecks aren’t big enough to cover. Our dedicated volunteers and staff also provide some targeted financial education when possible and learn something themselves about the often complex financial lives of the taxpayers we serve.”
Kristie Weiland Stagno | Tax Campaign Coordinator
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Kristie Weiland Stagno is from Butler, PA and completed her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Michigan before coming to Just Harvest in 2003. She currently lives in Bloomfield with her family and coordinates our “Give Paychecks a Boost” campaign as well as helping with a variety of other projects at Just Harvest.
“Food stamps have a bad stigma. Those in need of the SNAP program often are embarrassed they receive them. Others believe they aren’t entitled to them, or just have very little knowledge of the helpful service and what it involves. I believe that though those experiencing food oppression have different and diverse stories, they all share the same obstacles and experiences. Providing food for a household is hard, but it doesn’t have to scary or uncomfortable. I aim to make the application process for food stamps easier through education, advocacy, and outreach.”
Shontyia Utterback | Food Stamp Specialist
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Shontyia Utterback was a food stamp intern at Just Harvest for the 2015-16 academic year and was hired shortly after. She was a student at Carlow University’s School of Social Work, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work with a concentration in trauma in May 2016.