A Farewell from Executive Director Frances Deviney

A collage of photos of a woman with blonde hair and blue eyes smiling, standing with others, and various fruits and vegetables with the text "frances deviney" and "urban roots"

The Urban Roots team is so grateful for the time we’ve had with our executive director since 2020, Frances Deviney. Frances’ final day will be July 28, 2023. Matt Glazer has joined us as interim executive director while the search for the permanent director is led by the board of directors, which you can read more about here.

Michele Freeman, chair of the board of directors, said, “On behalf of the board, I can say it has been a true pleasure to work alongside Frances. She has shown up with a great deal of care for our community, and it is with much appreciation and high regard that we wish her all the best as she steps down to spend more time with her family.” You can read the full letter from the board regarding the transition here.

Frances would like to share this message in her final week, in her own words:

On my first day on the Urban Roots East Austin farm, I ate some okra straight off the stem. To understand the impact of this experience, you should know that I grew up in Tennessee, where okra was fried, mushy, and nothing that I was remotely interested in. But I knew that Urban Roots is all about letting go of what you think you know and awakening to the possibilities of what can be. And, wow, was that fresh okra amazing!

Now, after three wonderful years, I’ve made the bittersweet decision to move on from the role of executive director at Urban Roots. My time here has been tremendously rewarding – full of learning and growth for both myself and the organization. Together, we’ve created a new strategic plan, purchased the East Austin farm, begun growing on our South Austin farm, fully brought back programming and community engagement after pandemic shutdowns and setbacks, restarted our capital campaign, increased the amount of produce we distribute for food access from 40% to over 90%, doubled staff capacity, and many other exciting achievements. While there is still a lot of work to do, the organization is primed and ready for its next phase of evolution and leadership.

As I prepare to move on, I want to leave with a thank you note to all of the people who make Urban Roots the transformative organization that it is. 

To Urban Roots’ . . .

Staff members: I have been so honored to learn from and work with you these past three years. Each and every one of you have such passion for the mission, an unstoppable drive to support the youth on their personal journey, and a conviction to put good fresh food into the hands of people who need it most. I challenge myself every day to do better for you all and learn from the amazing work you do. Thank you for knowing in your gut that we can drive change.

Youth participants: You are the heart and soul of Urban Roots. Through good days and bad, rain or shine, weeding or cooking, you all bring an infectious optimism that we can and must do better in this world. I have no fears knowing you’ll be leading Texas (and beyond) in the not-too-distant future — and I can’t wait to see the future you create! Thank you for being a part of the Urban Roots family.

Board of directors: In my 20+ years of nonprofit experience, I can say that I’ve never worked with such a supportive board. As volunteers sharing your time, knowledge, and resources, you are a tremendous asset to your community and this organization. Thank you for believing in us and what we can do together.

Volunteers: From our longer-term volunteer ambassadors to our first-time volunteers, I wish I could have met each and every one of you to say thank you personally. Thank you for devoting your time, digging in the soil with us, and helping us share over 80,000 pounds of fresh food with the Central Texas community over the last three years.

Food access and community partners: Urban Roots envisions a food system cultivated by youth and community that is sustainable, equitable, and just. That’s a really big vision! And we know we are only a small part of the courageous and unstoppable network of farms, food advocates, food distribution partners, city staff, and community leaders who are working to make that better food system. Thank you for being our partners, advisors, and friends.  

Funding partners: Nonprofit work is hard and can feel unseen at times. But you see and believe in the change we can make together for our community. Your tremendous support, both financially and through your friendship, has been essential to helping us meet our mission of working with youth leaders to grow fresh food and build a community dedicated to food equity. We literally couldn’t do it without you!

So while this is farewell for now, this is not goodbye. I’m so excited to be part of the Urban Roots extended family. I can’t wait to cheer on and support this singular organization for decades to come.


Frances Deviney
Urban Roots Executive Director

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