Team

Staff

Brenden Jackson
Executive Director

Brenden likes to think of himself as an urban agriculture enthusiast, but really he is just a big kid that likes to play in the dirt. Brenden was born in Virginia where he camped, explored, studied literature and eventually earned a graduate degree in education. Through a series of fortunate events he married his best friend, and spent the next five years moving and traveling around the country. During these travels he met a diverse range of food growers who planted in him the seeds of food justice. In 2017 he joined forces with Amir and moved to Houston to inspire youth to embrace the joys of gardening and help create a more sustainable food culture. With roots firmly planted for the first time, Brenden is excited to explore how food systems can be used to connect people and cultures.

Board of Directors

Stef Bugasch Scopoline

Stef has been farming with Amir since 2013, as a Farmer, then Mentor, Program Director, and now Board Member. Stef is responsible for advising Amir staff on all summer programming, from interviewing and placing Farmers, to meeting with our Directors to help their their vision become reality.

Alex Goldfarb
Operations Coordinator

Alex has been with Amir since shortly after its founding, and has worn a variety of hats throughout its development. As Operations Coordinator, Alex provides support for the financial, administrative, and human resources needs of the organization.

Yan Digilov
Chairman

Yan is the Chief Local Advisor at Firestarter, a Houston-based firm that focuses on active management of charitable portfolios and strategic project development. He graduated from Rice University with B.A. degrees in Mathematics and Economics. After spending time working in money management and as a technology consultant, his present role combines his professional experiences with a passion for nonprofit work. Focusing on efficient allocation of capital and human resources, Firestarter deploys active management techniques to ensure clients’ charitable portfolios capture maximum amounts of social alpha. Yan founded Amir with David in 2010, and was instrumental in laying the institutional foundation for the organization.

Shannon Lijek

Shannon is a executive at McKinsey & Company in San Francisco, CA and joined the Amir board in summer 2016 as the organization was meeting distinct transition challenges. Shannon brings with her invaluable consultative skills and knowledge, and is crucial to ensuring Amir's growth over the coming years. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, two daughter, and dog (Truman).