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Staff and Employment Opportunities
Clemens Pietzner - Executive Director
Mark Birdsall - Director of Youth Programs
Lisa Faranda, PhD - Grants Manager
Robert Steininger - Assistant Director of Youth Programs
Lauren Blood - Program Coordinator
Holly Slater - NYC Coordinator
Sebastian Kretschmer - Agricultural Consultant
Bethany Asplundh - Program Coordinator
Michele Gerace - CPA, Bookkeeper
Hannah Davis - Administrative Assistant
Ann Aycock - Side by Side Director
Laura Birdsall - Side by Side Assistant Director
Lekha Rao - Analyst: Grants Research, Grants Pursuit Data Base and Websites
Mahesh Vayu- Programmer: Websites Software Maintenance
Clemens Pietzner, Executive Director: In 2002, Clemens Pietzner, with a group of colleagues and board members, created the Triskeles Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization which is dedicated to youth, philanthropic services and community building.Mr. Pietzner has more than 27 years experience serving in a executive role within organizations that serve and support local communities. Since starting Triskeles in 2002, as president, Mr. Pietzner is responsible for Triskeles' growth, fundraising, strategic, organizational and program development as well as Triskeles' socially responsible and sustainable investments, grant making and financial stewardship. Under his leadership, Triskeles has served over 3000 youth and has made grants in excess of $3 million.
Prior to establishing the Triskeles Foundation, Clemens was the executive director of the Camphill Foundation (from 1984 to 2002) ~ a public foundation focused on serving communities caring for and supporting children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Clemens served in the state governments of New York and Ohio. Clemens has a BA in Political Science and Public Administration from Earlham College and other training in not-for-profit management, finance and development.
Mark Birdsall, Director of Youth Programs: Mr. Birdsall has 25 years of teaching experience in public, inner city to rural, and independent elementary and middle schools in addition to his experience as an administrator of a K-12 school. He has also been an organic gardener for 30 years, and Director of Triskeles' Youth Programs for 7 years. Mark trained numerous teachers, established a university certified training program, rewrote and adapted curricula for the minority children, and created a series of programs for parent volunteer activities. From 1992 to 1993, Mark was centrally involved in the East/West Education Initiative, a cross-cultural teacher training program with Russia after the communist regime ended there. Mark has anMEd. from Adelphi University and an MA in Russian Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University. He served as a Navy helicopter pilot during the Vietnam war.
Lisa Faranda, PhD, Grants Manager: Dr. Faranda has 30 years teaching, curriculum development, special education assessment, and educational administration experience. She has taught Literature, Writing and Reading at University of Iowa and Hunter College, and after 20 years at Penn State University, Berks Lehigh Valley College as Associate Professor of English, she served as the School Administrator, High School Administrator and Director of Educational Support Services at an independent private school. She is a board certified educational advocate and continues to help parents with educational planning for their children. Her writing life focused on publishing literary criticism and poetry, and in each of her professional roles, she was responsible for writing and managing grants to support her own research as well as projects sponsored by her institutions.
Robert Steininger, Assistant Director of Youth Programs: Robert is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Forestry and Wildlife, and he is a certified Elementary Education teacher. He has many years’ experience teaching environmental education to children and teens. He has worked closely with Great Valley Nature Center, teaching, leading volunteer groups, giving public programs and helping with the daily functions of the center. Since 2010, he has been working with the Student Conservation Association and is a Philadelphia Community Crew Leader working with teens at Valley Forge National Historical Park in their Natural Resources and Maintenance Divisions.
Lauren Blood, Program Coordinator: Lauren was raised on a farm in rural Lehigh County. She spent her childhood through young adult life in nature, working in the garden, harvesting, preserving and enjoying the benefits of farm life. Additionally, she studied History and English at Temple University, trained as an elementary Waldorf teacher and studied Shiatsu massage and Chinese medicine. Currently, she is enrolled at the Nonprofit Center at La Salle University studying Nonprofit Management and Nonprofit Fundraising. Her love of cooking and twenty years of culinary experience brought her to a career as a Personal Chef and her own business, Fork Cuisine, where she encouraged the use of local, seasonal and organic foods. Lauren joined Triskeles in 2011 as Program Coordinator for Food For All, a food access program that builds community and provides fresh, garden produce for local food pantries. Through her efforts, Triskeles partners with businesses, corporations, nonprofits, faith communities, schools, and civic organizations to install raised garden beds and foster relationships between program partners and local food banks. She also serves as cooking/nutrition instructor, developing curriculum for programs that teach skills, empower youth to make healthy food choices and that provide culinary job-readiness training.
Holly Slater, NYC Coordinator: Holly Slater's most recent employment was at the British International School of New York. As the head of the music department, Holly was responsible for writing the music curriculum for this IB school, and she successfully built the department from the school's inception through to the school's fourth year. Prior to that, Holly was the director of public relations and marketing at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. She has taught music at a number of community music schools, foster child programs, and private and public schools in the five NYC boroughs. Holly is a saxophone player who won the prestigious "Young Jazz Musician of the Year" award in England. She has performed at jazz venues worldwide and continues to perform and record. In 2009, she launched her own community music school in Maplewood, New Jersey called "Big House Music." Holly has a degree in Performing Arts from Middlesex University in England and has achieved various teaching levels of certification from American and international teaching conferences and workshops.
Sebastian Kretschmer, Agricultural Consultant: Sebastian is an organic agriculturalist and social entrepreneur with 15 years of international experience in biodynamic farming, agricultural engineering, program development and social enterprises. He has designed farm based renewable energy systems utilizing oil crops for Pure Plant Oil (PPO) powered diesel engines. He provides his expertise as project designer and engineer to international development organizations in Honduras, India and Brazil. He also spearheaded the first structured, multi-year apprenticeship program and mentor network for biodynamic agriculture in North America, an accredited program now offered on over 30 farms across the U.S. and Canada. Sebastian’s education progressed from a classic European apprenticeship in biodynamic agriculture to a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy followed by an MS in International Ecological Agriculture.
Michele Gerace, CPA, Bookkeeper: Michele's experience in the manufacturing, financial and non-profit industries includes: general bookkeeping, preparation of financial statements, internal audit(s) and business lead for departmental system projects. While raising her children, she keeps her CPA license active and continues to work as an independent contractor providing accounting services (bookkeeping, financial statements, annual 990 tax returns, etc.) to a limited client base consisting of a few local not-for-profits and directing boards. Michele holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics Education from Shippensburg University with an added major in Accounting from Ursinus College.
Hannah Davis, Administrative Assistant: Hannah Davis has joined Triskeles to support the Executive Director and the board of directors administratively. She helps organize and facilitate special events and fundraisers and is responsible for managing and recording gifts for Triskeles. Hannah has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Nonprofit Management at Eastern University with a slated graduation date of October 2015. Her passion for service to individuals and the community mirrors the mantra of her alma mater— "faith, reason, and justice". Hannah’s service with various nonprofit organizations in Pottstown, PA, located in Montgomery County, reflects her dedication to youth development in the arts, community gardening, civic engagement, and educational enrichment, as well as her commitment to empowering the individual through a connectivity with the broader community.
Ann Aycock, Side by Side, Director: Ms. Aycock has had 8 years of substitute teaching and therapeutic support experience with the Chester County Intermediate Unit. Anne was a volunteer with Side by Side for 7 years, prior to taking over for her exceptionally talented mentor, Laura Birdsall. A graduate of The New School for Social Research and New York Law School, Anne served as a criminal defense attorney with The Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, New York.
Lekha Rao, Analyst, Grants Research, Grants Pursuit Data Base and Websites: Lekha has 30 years experience in the information technology arena with State of Michigan, General Motors and Electronic Data Systems / HP. Roles have included leadership, architecture, systems development and integration in the service of clients in multiple industry segments. As an enterprise architect, identified market needs to develop customer facing services and software solutions focused on the integration of the client's business processes, legacy systems, web applications and technology infrastructure, so that clients could take action aligned with their corporate objectives. Worked with various technology product partners (example: IBM, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, CISCO) to develop solutions in response to customer RFPs. Served as member on GartnerGroup user advisory panels and product development boards for technology suppliers. Lekha holds a Master's Degree in Applied Mathematics and a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Physics.
We usually hire several temporary staff for our summer programs: college graduates or mature undergraduates with 1-5 years of experience and a strong interest in organic gardening, cooking—and an ability to work with youth from diverse backgrounds. Send us your resume and a cover letter if you'd like; we'll read it. Click request information at the top right of any page!