Our Board and Team
Rick and Ellen Burnette
With three decades of international agricultural development experience, Rick and Ellen Burnette have established two successful non-profit agencies. Since moving to S.W. Florida in 2013, the Burnettes have been engaged in local church and non-profit efforts to mitigate food insecurity.
Community Garden and Outreach Assistant
Lupita Vazquez grew up in Immokalee, Florida, as the daughter of immigrant farmworkers who were active in the early days of immigrant farm labor movements in SW Florida. Lupita has served in the military and held positions in education, medical and community outreach fields. She has remained connected to social movements, especially worker-led organizations, throughout her life. After many years away, Lupita is back in the community where she was raised. Her upbringing in Immokalee was wrought with blatant injustices, from the fields in which her parents toiled to unjust systems that maintained the status quo, including inadequate access to healthcare, housing inequality, lowered standards in education, underrepresentation in government, and little to no access to healthy and affordable food systems.
While being able to share and learn about sustainable and accessible gardening along with the Immokalee community is important to Lupita, she finds equal value in building community space with a network of people empowering each other and claiming a voice in their collective growth and survival. Not just a transactional way of surviving, but that of collectively thriving, sharing, and changing the way we see ourselves as integral and worthy of dignity.
Technical and Outreach Intern
Helen grew up in Immokalee and being active outdoors was always important to her. Her family kept a garden and informal food forest where they grew cassava, corn, bananas, squash and many tree fruits. Her mother’s Paraguayan background and culture has influenced how she interacts with the natural world in that she views all life as interacting and interdependent. As her grandpa Federico said, all plants have a purpose and may be medicine, there are no weeds, just plants that we don’t know the use of yet. Helen attended Bowdoin College in Maine and taught 9th grade math in Massachusetts before returning home to Florida. Serving the community has always been important to her, whether it be through improving equity in college access and after school education, being an advocate for underserved groups or through improving access and use of the outdoors. Helen is currently finishing a Master of Environmental Studies degree at Florida Gulf Coast University and enjoys kayaking, hiking and camping.
Rev. Dr. Jeffrey DeYoe
Rev. DeYoe has served as a local pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) for 37 years in Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida. He is presently serving as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Florida. Dr. DeYoe is also serving the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the national level as the moderator of its Israel Palestine Mission Network. In addition to pastoral duties, Dr. DeYoe served a term on the Kittson County (MN) school board, was an adjunct philosophy instructor at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota for five years, and served for three years as the board president of a domestic violence shelter and outreach program in Flagler County, Florida.
Rev. Rubén N. Ortiz
Rev. Ortiz is a native of Santiago de Cuba. He holds degrees in music, communication and theology and is a certified Spiritual Director. Rev. Ortiz served as the Regional Communication Coordinator for MAP International in Ecuador, a nonprofit organization specializing in reaching and developing impoverished communities through holistic missions. After relocating to the United States, he served as the senior pastor of La Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Deltona, Florida, for 16 years. Rev. Oriz currently serves as Latino Field Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Rev. Rachel Gunter Shapard
Rev. Shapard has a B.A. in music from Florida State University and a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Christian Education from McAfee School of Theology. Rev. Shapard currently serves as Together for Hope Regional VP, Black Belt & Co-Founder of Pastors for Florida Children. Most recently Rachel was Associate Coordinator of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida. She has served on staff at First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, Florida, Central Baptist in Newnan, Georgia and First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia. Rev. Shapard worked as a hospice chaplain for three years in Lubbock, Texas and in social services as an Eldercare Advocate at Baptist Health in Jacksonville, Florida. She also served as Coordinator for Baptist Women in Ministry.
Dr. Patrick Anderson
Pat Anderson is a former college professor with extensive experience in non-profit organizational management, fund raising and donor networking. He serves as Executive Director of Christian Ethics Today and has been an associate director of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida. Dr. Anderson also served as interim Coordinator for the national Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, headquartered in Atlanta, GA.
Heath Davis is a 5th generation Floridian, born, raised, and domiciled in Cedar Key. He is a churchman, a clam and oyster farmer, a family man concerned about sustainability and caring for God's creation. He is regarded highly in local, regional, and statewide circles familiar with fair play and taking care of each other as needed. And, If you grow up in a small town and you can make it through a few tough years they will let you run the local Bank and be Mayor, which is what happened with Heath Davis.