Leadership

Thousands of people have stepped up...

... to the challenge of positive change in the heart of Bayview.  There are all sorts of ways to "plug in" through Quesada Gardens Initiative, from spending a few hours pulling weeds or passing out flyers to service as a Project Leader or
Board of Directors Member

Quesada Gardens Initiative thrives on small acts of goodness, and grows because of highly-involved individuals like these:


Annette Young Smith is the Co-Founding Gardener & Board Chair Emeritus of the Quesada Gardens Initiative.  She has been widely recognized as a “Hidden Hero,” won a Jefferson Award and a NEN Lifetime Achievement Award for her QGI work, and has been the subject of many major media stories.  Along with Karl Paige (Co-Founder & Board Chair Emeritus who passed away in 2007), she was the first to begin planting a garden on the Quesada Avenue median strip.  She has lived in the Bayview over thirty years and traces her love and knowledge of plants to her upbringing in Alabama where hard work in the cotton and peanut fields was expected.  For all her accomplishments, she still says, "I'm just a farmer's daughter."

Craig Cannon, Board Co-Chair, moved to Quesada Gardens in 2011 and quickly became one of the neighborhood's most familiar and friendly faces.  He is a professional artist who worked in animation at Bay Area's PDI/Dreamworks Animation from 2007 to 2014. Craig's first feature film credit was on Southpark: Bigger Longer & Uncut in 1999. Craig put his creative chops to work by helping lead the restoration of the Bayview Is... Community Mural below the Bridgeview Teaching and Learning Garden.

Wei Ming Dariotis, Board Co-Chair, lives at the Quesada Gardens with her husband Hussain Abdulhaqq who can often be found working in the gardens. She is an educator, artist and writer who serves as an Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies, with an emphasis on Asian Americans of Mixed Heritage and Asian American Literature, Arts, and Culture, at San Francisco State University. She recently published a book with Laura Kina called War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art. You can find Wei Ming and her home by looking for the color purple.

Shane King, Co-Founder and Board Co-Chair, once went by the name "Mr. Retaining Wall" because he led the building of so many terraces in the Quesada Garden, and is now recognized as the man who lives in the "watermelon house." Shane is a talented videographer who, with Arne Johnson, created the feature-length documentary "Girls Rock" which was presented as part of the Quesada Gardens Outdoor Film Festival series just after its national release.  The company he and Arne created is now known as Mission Pictures. Among his many contributions, Shane led QGI's first fruit harvesting project, and created a summer project in his garage helping youth on the block fix and build bicycles from odd parts which they could keep in exchange for work in the Quesada Gardens.  The first Quesada Gardens gathering, at which the group's name was chosen, was held in his backyard in 2003.  That backyard now includes a tree house for Shane's daughter Tallulah who was born in 2009.

Jeffrey Betcher, Co-Founder and Board Treasurer, served at the first Executive Director of Quesada Gardens Initiative until 2015. He remains on the Quesada Gardens Initiative's Board of Directors and still lives and works where it all started.  He is a community organizer and writer who emerged from the national violence prevention arena to develop place- and people-based approaches to strength-based, sustainable change.  Jeffrey believes that strengthening the social environment, from the grassroots up, is the surest path toward a livable and socially-just world.  He writes and edits It's What Community Looks Like, Bayview's longest-running blog, and Bayview Footprints Local News, a digital information source that tells a positive story about a maligned neighborhood.  Jeffrey recently launched a new apparel business called YamStreet which designs garments manufactured in the Bayview neighborhood.

Linda Pettus, Co-Founder and Board Secretary, is a retired telecommunications professional.  She and her family were actively trying to improve the 1700 block of Quesada for years before the garden started, and remain among the most active residents in Bayview.  The Pettus family - including Linda's mother, Corine Pettus, and son, Ryan Watts - has lived on the block since the late 1960’s.   Ryan participated in a BAYCAT film project featuring his grandmother, Annette Smith and Karl Paige, and helped produce a video that aired on KQED shortly after QGI's first wave of major media attention.  Corine is a wise community elder and powerful advocate for good behavior on the block.  She is famous for her pies and cakes.

Marie Harrison, Board Member, is a highly-regarded environmental activist and advocate for the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. She grew up in the neighborhood where she and her husband Na'im Harrison raised their children. Marie has been a community organizer with Greenaction since 1999 and is an active member of the Bay Area Environmental Health Collaborative and the Environmental Justice air Quality Coalition. Her advocacy involves decades of civic and community engagement for social, economic and environmental justice. Marie's home at Quesada Gardens is an active hub of family and community.

Jeanette HillCo-Founder and Board Member, lived on the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue with husband Dennis and their children when Quesada Gardens began.  She made sure the Canary Island Date Palm trees were added to the City’s Landmark Tree registry, contributed a drawing of the median strip for design purposes, and was among the first to tend plants in the garden.  As a member of Quesada Gardens Initiative’s Board of Directors, Jeanette continues her leadership and community service to the neighborhood.  She is now using her design skills as a partner in Hill/Stephens Design.

Kathy Looper, Board Member
, is a Bayview resident with a storied history in community-involved social entrepreneurship
.  In the 1980’s, she and husband LeRoy turned the Cadillac Hotel in the City’s hardscrabble Tenderloin District into an innovative response to unemployment, homelessness and other social issues.  Their efforts led to the inclusion of the Single Room Occupancy housing model in today’s public policy.  Kathy continues to promote the popular performance series that makes its home at the Cadillac.  She and LeRoy helped create the North of Market Planning Coalition which became the Tenderloin’s crucial organizing body during a turbulent era.  They opened a Sizzler Restaurant as a way to create jobs, and more recently transformed Chateau Agape, a national landmark located in the Mission District, into a board and care facility.

Joel and Mary McClure, Board Members and Project Leaders created and lead the showcase Bridgeview Teaching & Learning Garden project located at Newhall and Bridgeview just above the Quesada Garden. While under their leadership, the Bridgeview Garden won the 2011 Best Green Community Project award from the Neighborhood Empowerment Network. Joel and Mary are interested in the connections between personal health and the kind of community building work they do through Quesada Gardens Initiative.
 
Leah Pimentel, Board Member is a third generation resident of San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point community. She has worked extensively on policy regarding youth and the environment in her service on the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission and the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.  Through Grid Alternatives, Leah has brought sustainable power and jobs to Bayview and communities like it throughout the Bay Area.  She and her husband live not far from Leah’s father and the Bridgeview Garden, and are kept busy by their toddler son, LPT.

Project Leaders

Quesada Gardens Initiative projects have all been led by one or more resident who build a social circle around the effort.  Since 2013, QGI has refocused on the destination point projects on Quesada Avenue, Newhall Street and Bridgeview Drive in the heart of Bayview.  Other community building projects in the QGI network may be more loosely affiliated, and one has become its own fiscally-sponsored organization. 

Mike Aisenfeld and Sharon Bliss
Quesada Gardens Community Mural & Gathering Space

Jeffrey Betcher
"Bayview Is..." Mural (with Malik Seneferu and Heidi Hardin)
Bayview Footprints Local News (with many contributors)

Carla Eagleton
Carla's Garden on the median strip near 3rd

Marcus Harvey
Latona Community Garden

Joel and Mary McClure
Bridgeview Community Teaching & Learning Garden

Patrick Rhodes
Quesada Gardens "center section"

BayBloom Backyard Gardens

BayBloom Gardens were done in partnership with University of San Francisco's Architecture and Community Design program.  Some of the families have moved, but most of the gardens still thrive.

Aisenfeld family & friends
Antunovich-Brown family & friends
Apostol family & friends
Betcher family & friends
Bliss family & friends
Carter family & friends
Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church
de Vera family & friends
Dumlao family & friends
Eagleton family & friends
Galante-Tarket family & friends
Goebel family & friends
Harrison family & friends
Jordan family & friends
Pettus family & friends
Ross family & friends
Sumchai family & friends
Smith family & friends
Third Street Youth Center & Clinic community
Walls family & friends

Co-Founders

Annette Smith
Karl Paige
James Ross
Shane King
Mike Aisenfeld
Linda Pettus
Scott Ying
Darian Smith
Tom Galante
Tony Tarket
Apollos Ross
Corine Pettus
Craig Williams
David Antunovich
David Frasca
Denise King
Dennis Hill
Isaiah Ross
Jeanetta Smith
Jeanette Hill
Jeffrey Betcher
Joel McClure
Linda Brown
Lisa Ross
Mary McClure
Michael Lawrence
Michael Smith
Mike Kan
Nelson Acosta
Ryan Watt
Sharon Bliss
Steve Jordan
Woodrow Young
Yvonne Best