top of page

Our team

jenn headshot.jpg

Founding Executive Director

Jennifer Karaca

Jennifer graduated with her Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Sustainable Science Management from the University of Hawaii. Her education and experience in agriculture has been formal, informal, and hands-on for the last 10 years, in the areas of permaculture design, farming, gardening, integrated pest management, systems thinking and regenerative agriculture studies. Jennifer also has a hospitality background which has provided her experience in management, scheduling, sales, marketing, event planning, and inventory. In addition to being a Veteran of the United States Army and having teaching experience both locally and abroad in Hawaii, Costa Rica, Turkey, and Peru, including curriculum design and implementation, Jennifer also worked as a Legislative Analyst for the County of Maui. This position has helped her develop incredible insight for the gaps in the local food system at the County and State level. That position allowed her to gain knowledge about local, state, and federal regulation in the agricultural sector and afforded her the opportunity to develop community building skills and develop an extensive network of relationships with community organizations on the island of Maui, as well as throughout the State. She is using these relationships, her past work experience, educational background, and her perspicacity from living abroad to identify patterns that negatively affect her community to engineer change. 

noe headshot.jpg

Program Assistant

Sarah "Noelani" Reyes

Noelani Reyes was born and raised on Maui. Growing up here gave her a deep appreciation of the land and those that nurture it. She has always been interested in the outdoors, and more specifically plants and the ability to grow food. Noelani graduated from Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2015, where she was a part of the Science and Natural Resources Academy. Her education allowed her the opportunity to take Agriculture Courses, Environmental Studies, and even take part in soil competitions with other schools around Maui.
After high school, Noelani attended Northern California at Notre Dame de Namur University, where she was a
full-time student athlete, playing soccer and studying communications. After returning to home to Maui, she attend the University of Hawaii, Maui Campus and studied agriculture, while also working in management positions in the hospitality industry. Noelani joined Common Ground Collective in April of 2021 and has been an incredible asset to the organization since her arrival.   

image0 (1).png

Administrative Assistant

Lauryn Rego

 A 23-year resident of Maui, Lauryn Rego has dedicated the last decade to strengthening Hawaiʻi's local food movement. After a successful career in Fine Arts, she shifted to apply her  creative skills and passion towards strengthening Maui's Food Future. In using her creative gifts to amplify impacted voices and solutions in our broken food system, she has found that sweet spot where work and purpose overlap. On a mission to break our dependence on imported food, as the founder of Project Locavore, she has organized 11 Eat Local Maui Challenges since Sept. 2013 and is the curator and administrator of the EAT LOCAL MAUI Facebook community of over 5,000 members. A founding steering committee member of the Maui Nui Food Alliance, she is working to find a collective way forward for Maui Nui’s food systems that are culturally grounded, ethically guided and connected to place. As a food movement non-profit consultant and strategist, she looks forward to applying her skills in copywriting, visual story-telling, social media content creation, movement building, and other talents to the Common Ground Collective team.


Harvest Assistant

Makana Yepis

Makana first came to be part of the CGC ohana as an intern, while pursuing her Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts at the University of Hawaii Maui College. Born and raised on Maui as part of the multi-generational, family owned Bailey Farms. Makana grew up helping her grandmother on the farm and later went to work for her as she attended college.  She also worked with her sister at Kula Roses making beautiful bouquets, and leis as well as teaching these techniques. Makana is an incredibly intelligent and talented young woman that has a great love for the outdoors and nature. She has been pursuing meaningful work within the agricultural community and has been a wonderful addition to the team.  

The CGC Board


Dr. Joie Taylor

A Maui Resident of 15 years, Dr. Joie Taylor has made significant contributions to the community. A true Renaissance Woman, she is a scientist, spiritual & meditation guide, and multi-talented artist..  With a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Clark Atlanta University, and a M.S. and Ph.D, in Environmental Engineering she was the initial program director of the Sustainable Sciences Management degree program at UHMC and the chair of the first faculty Sustainability Committee, as well as a notable member of the Advisory Board of the Islands of the World Sustainability Committee (ISISA).  Dr. Taylor is also a trained metal smith bench jeweler and since 2016 has successfully owned and operates YashaJewels while maintaining a career as a spiritual and meditation guide, professional musician, dancer, and aerialist and is currently the Artistic Director of Dance for African Americans on Maui.


Nicolas Timpone

Nicolas Timpone grew up on Maui and is an avid lover of the outdoors. When he is not surfing or enjoying time away in the mountains, he spends his time working at his family's company, as their sustainability consultant. He is leading the way to promote eco-friendly designs in the surfboard industry and is always looking for new and innovative ways to minimize waste and help transform the relationship between the surfboard manufacturing industry and the environment. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Science Management from the University in Hawaii and is enthusiastic about continuing to learn of ways he can help make a positive difference in both his work and personal community.



Cherry Respicio-Urias

Cherry Respicio-Urias, a native Mauian, is an Accountant with over 20 years of experience in Real Estate, Hospitality, and Tourism. She studied at the University of LaVerne with a focus in Business Administration. She has developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector and has served on several cultural, educational, and community Boards – promoting their mission, growing public support, and organizing a number of successful fundraising campaigns. Today, Cherry’s purpose and passion lies in helping CGC community support flourish. Away from the office and volunteer work, she enjoys spending time with her family and helping entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running – from concept to creation. 



Leslie Viloria Garo

Born and raised on Maui, Leslie has always prioritized the community.  She is a proud Lahainaluna High School graduate, where she started her journey in gaining leadership and coordination skills and community involvement. She was the co-chair of the entire Youth Relay for Life at the young age of 17. After having her daughter at a young age, she realized that the needs and support for the women community meant a lot to her, so she founded Malama Yo Mama in 2021, an organization to bring the women community together, where she raised over $9,000 in less than a year for local non-profit organizations. Her full time job as a Community Health Worker strengthens her skills, knowledge and experience in how we can help all the people of Maui, especially when it comes to food insecurity. She is also currently serving on another board, Commission of Status of Women for Maui County. She is also obtaining her Bachelor's degree in Health Care Administration. Her drive and passion in making a difference in the community shows through her actions and the impact on those around her. Leslie loves to spend her free time with her family and friends, dancing and singing to her favorite songs with her daughter Aria and travelling. 


Board Member

Chris Robinson

Maui resident since 2018, Christopher has dedicated himself to the non-profit scene in Maui by working with a number of local organizations such as Maui Malama Nui, Maui Beach Cleanup, Kanu Hawaii, Surfrider Foundation, Love the Sea, Sustainable Coastlines, The Ocean Conservancy, and of course, Common Ground Collective.  Christopher was one of 9 "Volunteer Heroes" for  Maui County in 2019 for his work with Malama Maui Nui & his beach cleanup party series he produced through Maui Beach Cleanup. Christopher served as a Board Member for Surfrider Foundation - Maui Chapter in 2021 & 2022.
Professionally, Christopher designs and sells software for a number of companies including eSign Genie, Array, Photon Commerce, & More Pleaze.

Mary Bailey Headshot 2020.jpg

Board Member

Mary Bailey

Long  time  Maui  Resident  Mary  Bailey  is  a  multifaceted  social  justice  advocate.  Mary  is  the  Managing  Director  of  The  Last  Prisoner  Project,  a  national  nonprofit,  which  is  composed  of  justice-impacted  individuals,  policy  and  education  experts,  and  leaders in the worlds of criminal justice and drug policy reform to work  to  end  the  fundamental  injustice  that  is  America's  policy  of  cannabis  prohibition.  Before  launching  the  Last  Prisoner  Project,  Mary worked full-time as the CEO and Founder of Alpha Agency, a Maui  based  production  company,  specializing  in  creating  events  that  inspire  positive  social  change through education, music, and community engagement.


Board Member

Trinette Furtado

Born and raised on Maui, Trinette attended a combination of public and private schools before graduating in 1988 from Maui High School. She is a Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) descended from five generations of ‘ohana (family) on Maui alone. She is a single mother to a keiki (child) currently attending Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Samuel Enoka Kalama Intermediate School and believes that every one of us deserves to live in a community that is healthy, sustainable, prosperous, engaging, communicative and works together. She advocates tirelessly to ensure that our keiki and their keiki will be able to drink clean water, grow food in healthy soil and provide for themselves and their families long after the seeds we plant today, have sprouted. Trinette previously worked as a legislative analyst for Maui County Councilmember’s Alika Atay and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and has orchestrated and participated in various community initiatives to uplift her community. Trinette is currently a small business owner and artist, who spends her free time chasing Maui’s beautiful sunsets.

bottom of page