Create. Cultivate. Thrive.
Board of Directors
Steve Fortenberry - Founder and Board President
Steve serves as the pastor of Common Ground Church Community. From the beginning, Steve wanted the newly formed congregation to be as mission-oriented as possible. He was glad when members saw how gardens and greenhouses could be used to serve in a world with hunger and need. They also provide an opportunity for people to literally "get their hands dirty" in the name of Christ.
Steve is the husband of Nancy Crum Fortenberry and father of two children, Sarah and James. He went to high school in Fort Wayne, Indiana and graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. Steve received his seminary training from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Amanda Banner JD
As a member of Common Ground Church and local lawyer, Amanda is a leader and local food advocate in the community. A native of Columbiana County, Amanda attended the College of Wooster before receiving her law degree from John Marshall Law School. She became a member of the Illinois Bar Association in 2000 and now operates her own firm. A fabulous organizer and collaborator, Amanda helped lead the first Harvest of Hope benefit dinner for Goodness Grows.
Clifford "Cliff" Wallace
Cliff is a vocational agriculture teacher at Mohawk High School in Lawrence County, PA. Raised on a working beef farm, he has been involved with farming his whole life. He is an FFA advisor who has worked with many students who have individual education plans. He is a member of: Westfield Presbyterian Church, Lawrence Co. Fair Junior Livestock Committee, and is on the advisory board of Lawrence Co. Penn State Extension Service. Cliff was the president of the PA FFA Association and is currently the President Elect of the PA Ag Teachers Association. He is glad to be involved with Goodness Grows’ grassroots effort to teach people where food comes from and how to produce it.
Gordon Wepfer Ph.D.
Gordon Wepfer is retired from Hiram College as a physics professor after earlier service with the U.S. Air Force (1957-77) in its Research and Development Laboratories and the Air Force Institute of Technology. He earned a BSE in Chemical Engineering and an MSE and PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan. Gordon has been active in the Boy Scouts of America for 35 years at many levels, and has been a Presbyterian Elder since 1967.
He was chair of the Eastminster Presbytery Mission Team that encouraged a new church development that became Common Ground. Goodness Grows was created as the primary outreach effort of the church utilizing church property and Gordon is very supportive of that effort.
Jean Dougherty works for Wick Neighbors, a neighborhood revitalization project in Youngstown. Moving to Ohio in 2003 allowed Jean to find her "inner farmer" and carve out a little paradise in North Lima, Ohio. She and her husband, Peter, have a 7 acre farm with chickens, dogs, cats, a horse and garden. Their daughter Lana Gail fills their home with joy.
Kathryn "Kitty" Kromer
Kitty Kromer is a teacher of multi-handicapped students for Columbiana County Educational Service Center at Leetonia High School. She has brought her classes to Goodness Grows since 2010. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University and a Masters Degree in Special Education with a focus on Transition from Kent State University. Kitty started her gardening adventures as a child with her father, and continues today with her students, utilizing Goodness Grows for job training, employment skills, and fun!
Lashale Pugh Ph.D.
As a professor of geography at Youngstown State University, Lashale’s perspective provides a unique point of view toward urban agriculture. She is a long-time resident of the Youngstown area. As a mother and grandmother, Lashale is passionate about changing health disparities in the Mahoning Valley. Her academic insights and desire to create a better community for everyone assists and compliments Goodness Grows’ approach to urban agriculture.
Rachel is a Columbiana native and graduate of Crestview High School. She grew up on a dairy farm and still lives in the country. In 2004 she earned an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. That same year she married Jeremy Vignon.
Rachel enjoys raising vegetables in her home garden. Each year she cans tomato sauce, green peppers, broccoli, hot peppers, green and wax beans, and sweet corn. She and her husband have two beautiful children, Maci and Nicolette. Rachel especially likes Goodness Grows’ work of teaching people how to grow food for themselves and others.
Goodness Grows is privileged to have leaders in the field from across the nation advising and consulting with us. All of our advisory board members have visited our facility and gardens.
Dr. Job Ebenezer
Dr. Ebenezer received his Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. Upon receiving his degree, he pursued the common good by teaching at several colleges and universities. In those positions, he often focused on using technology to further energy conservation and environmental stewardship.
Wanting to see technology make a difference "on the ground," Job spent a year in India developing technology that people in developing countries could use. His work was featured in the New York Times and in Hindu papers. In the mid-80's, he designed and introduced non-formal education programs for inmates. His efforts received national recognition and he was elected as the employee of the year of the Corrections Department of the State of New Mexico.
Dr. Ebenezer also served 14 years as the director of Environmental Stewardship and Hunger Education for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. While there, he created the environmental stewardship program and produced hunger education materials for congregations, outdoor ministry, colleges, and seminaries.
Since 2006, Job has been president of the non-profit organization, Technology for the Poor .
Dr. Martin Price
Dr. Martin Price recently retired from the position of Senior Agricultural Resources Director at ECHO, a non-profit, Christian organization that operates a Global Farm in Florida and provides technical support for international development workers. Since 1981 he has worked to established ECHO as a tropical agriculture education facility with interns and multi-day programs. With a B.S. in chemistry, Ph.D. in biochemistry and Post-doctoral research in agricultural chemistry, Martin is interested and experienced in gardening plants for humid tropics, fruit trees, edible landscaping and rooftop gardening.
Martin has seen a need for an Echo-like organization that serves North American urban agricultural efforts and is pleased to be a part of it's creation and design.
Maurice inherited his profound respect for the earth from his parents. This love for natural process and growth nurtures his desire to build community- while teaching and cultivating a national vision for sustainable agriculture and healthy lifestyles.
Maurice is a certified Permaculture Designer and Master Composter, having created over 300 gardens and hundreds of compost systems during the past two decades. Recently he established gardens for Cleveland Clinic Health Systems and Hispanic Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program [HUMADOP]. He works with under served communities and promotes collaboration between growers in urban and rural settings.
Mr. Small co-founded and formerly coordinated the City Fresh program, an 800-member community supported agriculture enterprise located in Northern Ohio. Produce is grown within 75 miles of downtown Cleveland and is delivered to various distribution centers using vehicles that operate using vegetable oil. These distribution centers in Cuyahoga and Lorain County serve 10 low income neighborhoods. The City Fresh model is currently under development in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio, and Louisville and Lexigton, Kentucky; and Baltimore, Maryland. Maurice also worked as the Learning Garden Manager for the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
Maurice co-directed a six week Market Gardener Training Program that Goodness Grows offered in February and March of 2010.