Triskeles offers summer and year-round programs for students in kindergarten through high school.

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 - Food For All Program Coordinator

Traci Childress - Philadelphia Program Director

Janine Spruill - Philadelphia Assistant Program Director

Sebastian Kretschmer - Agricultural Consultant

Michele Gerace - CPA, Bookkeeper

Hannah Davis - Administrative Assistant

Anne Aycock - Side By Side Program Coordinator

Laura Birdsall - Side By Side Assistant Program Coordinator

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 B.A. 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 a M.Ed. from Adelphi University and an M.A. in Russian Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University. He served as a Navy helicopter pilot during the Vietnam war.

Lisa Faranda, Ph.D., 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, conducting 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, Food For All Program Coordinator: Lauren Blood 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.  Lauren has over twenty years of culinary experience, with experience as a Personal Chef and as a small business owner at Fork Cuisine where she encouraged the use of local, seasonal and organic foods. Lauren joined Triskeles in 2011 as the 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 a cooking/nutrition instructor, developing curriculum for programs that teach and empower youth to make healthy food choices and provide culinary job-readiness training.

Traci Childress, Philadelphia Program Director: Traci Childress, Triskeles' new Philadelphia Programs Director, is an educator, organizer and visionary. She is co-founder of the Children's Community School in Philadelphia, where she still supports the integration of mindfulness into classroom curriculum and school culture. As founder of the Mindful Reflection Project, she has supported schools, mission-based organizations, families, teachers, and individuals to create space for authentic relationships, sustainable work, and more socially just community. She is co-editor of the Yoga Service Council's White Book, Transforming Education Through Yoga, and is committed to supporting youth to build sustainable futures that integrate their strengths and passions into meaningful work.

Janine Spruill, Philadelphia Assistant Program Director: A native of Philadelphia, Janine received her BA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. Upon graduation, Janine realized her passion for youth and community development. She founded a video production company called Lil Filmmakers where she trains young aspiring artists from disenfranchised communities to become professional film and media makers. Her work with Lil Filmmakers has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Tribune, as well as on local television and radio outlets. Janine continues her work in Philadelphia developing educational initiatives for social and environmental causes.

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 M.S. 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. 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.

Anne Aycock, Side By Side Program Coordinator: Ms. Aycock has eight 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.

Laura Birdsall, Side By Side Assistant Program Coordinator: Laura uses her 35 years of teaching experience to create magical seasonal workshops and summer sessions for our Side By Side youth.

Pro-bono Staff

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.

Mahesh Vayu, Programmer, Website Software Maintenance: Mahesh has over 10 years of experience in the IT industry working mostly for General Motors in Michigan, as a Programmer Analyst and Web Developer. He also has served as a part time instructor for computer sciences courses at Western Michigan University. He has expertise in all phases of the System Development Life Cycle including requirements analysis, design, development, coding, data base, deployment and maintenance. Mahesh designed and developed numerous web applications using ColdFusion, JSP, JSTL, ExtJs and AJAX. His tools expertise includes: Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Fusebox, SQL, SQL Server 7.0/2000/2008, HTML, JavaScript, ExtJs, JQuery, MooTools, HighSlide JS, CSS, AJAX, ActionScript, JRun, Sun Java System Application Server, LDAP, Java, JSP, JSTL, Servlets, JNDI, MS Visio, XML. He holds industry certifications in JSP and Coldfusion Web development technologies. Mahesh holds a Master's degree in Computer Science and a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering.

Employment Opportunities

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!

Click here for details on Summer Food For Thought Employment Opportunities