New Faces at Urban Roots

 Urban Roots would like to welcome four new members of our team! During this season, we’ve brought on folks new and known to Urban Roots to help us as we grow. We’re ecstatic to announce our Communications Intern, Renae Billiot, our Volunteer Manager, Shaina Smith, our new Farm Assistant Jenny Atmar, and our Programs Coordinator, Pili Gyasi to our team. Learn more about our new family members below.

About Renae: Renae, a Communication Intern, is an Urban Roots alumni who graduated with a Creative Writing degree from St. Edward’s University; perhaps predictably, they have a slight (large) obsession for all things story and their chunky cat. Their skill set includes writing and revising, facilitating writing workshops and queer groups, and being handy with a farm hoe. Since coming to Urban Roots, their experience sparked a learning journey about their local food ecosystem, grassroot efforts, and community building. Recently, Renae’s vices include D&D and rewatching 2000s TV serials.

About Pili: Originally from Chicago, Pili came down to Austin to finish their Public Health degree at UT Austin. After graduating during the pandemic, Pili got more involved with their community, thus the beginning of their Urban Roots story! After volunteering for some time, they took a break away from the farm to complete farm training program with Farmshare Austin. They’re excited to bring their love for education, relationship building and conversations about social justice to the team as the new Program Coordinator! When Pili isn’t busy cultivating food and relationships, they love to cook and share recipes with fellows, volunteers and friends– clearly Pili is a foodie! 

About Jenny: Our new Farm Assistant, Jenny, joined the team after completing the Farmer Starter course with Farmshare Austin. After obtaining a Biology degree and various food industry jobs, they found farming and reconnected with their first love, the outdoors. Their approach to farming is informed by their belief in a shared spirit with nature, their eagerness to disrupt exploitative food systems, and their value of community, and they came to Urban Roots because they share many of the same values. When they aren’t thinking about farming or food or flowers, you can find them watching drag & playing with gender, or finding any way to live as freely as they can.  

About Shaina: Following college, Shaina began a career in hospitality, which spanned 12 years taking her to Washington D.C.. Shaina came back Austin in 2018 following career growth, but got disillusioned with the corporate world. Taking a leap of faith, she left her corporate job and for opportunities to invest in herself and the community. After that, she found the Urban Roots  Community Crew and loved her experience, leading her to her current role as Volunteer Manager. Currently, Shaina has a frenchie named Ivan, 13 plant babies, and loves to camp!

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