Urban Roots welcomed Brian Stephens as our new executive director in December of 2023. Our farm-based youth leadership organization has been growing in Austin, Texas, for 15 years, and Stephens joins us at the beginning of a new season of growth, maturity, and opportunity.
“Brian’s experience as chief communications officer at Andy Roddick Foundation, coupled with his proven ability to build awareness through creative strategies and his inclusive leadership style, make him a perfect fit to champion Urban Roots’ mission alongside our dedicated staff,” said Michele Freeman, Urban Roots’ board of directors chair.
Urban Roots works with youth ages 14-23 through paid opportunities to strengthen leadership skills, learn about farming and food access in a hands-on setting, and engage in community building alongside staff and volunteers. Last year, Urban Roots worked with 75 young people from 25 schools and distributed more than 88,000 servings of farm-fresh produce in the community through food access programs and partners. The produce was grown on our two farms in East and South Austin using regenerative farming practices.
“Joining Urban Roots is a tremendous opportunity to contribute to a cause I am deeply passionate about – empowering youth, promoting food equity, and fostering community connections through sustainable agriculture,” Stephens said.
As the chief communications officer at Andy Roddick Foundation beginning in 2016, Stephens helped to raise nearly $18 million in funds for the organization which provides direct services, grants and advocacy to increase access to out-of-school learning and enrichment for children and families in vulnerable communities. In this role, he launched new initiatives such as a social and emotional learning curriculum, a family emergency fund, and the organization’s first advocacy and community engagement activities.
With Texas roots reaching back four generations, Stephens is a second-generation high school graduate and first-generation college graduate. Growing up in a lower-income family, he diligently worked his way through college. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from the University of North Texas, Denton and has three decades of service to local and national nonprofit organizations. Austin has been his home for 25 years and he resides here with his husband, Andy Miller, son, Clark, and bulldog, Lola.
“As we embark on this new season, I am excited about our growth campaign and the opportunities it will create for expansion, community building, and advancing our impactful programs in 2024 and beyond,” said Stephens.
Stay tuned for more exciting announcements, including a brand new look and home for this blog coming this spring! Our new executive director and the rest of the Urban Roots team look forward to seeing you at the farm and in the community.