Board of Directors
Mary Giannetti, Chair
Fitchburg Resident, Philanthropy Generalist, Heywood Hospital, Gardner, GP Partner
Mary’s professional and volunteer service chronicles a dedicated professional with 25+ years of serving low-income communities through developing innovative programs, leadership and advocacy, and passion for the mission of alleviating poverty and creating healthy communities.
As Philanthropy Generalist at Heywood Hospital and Consultant to nonprofit and public sectors her work focuses on resource development, strategic planning, grant writing, project management and contract compliance. In addition to serving on Growing Places, other current community leadership roles include: MA Nutrition Board, Governor’s Appointee, 2013-current; Community Health Connections, Inc., Past Chair, 2010-current; Fitchburg Housing Authority, Commissioner Governor’s Appointee, Vice Chair 2013-current.
Giannetti is a Registered Dietitian with a BS from Simmons College and MS in nutrition from Mass General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions. If you’re looking for Mary on any Sunday, you’ll find her serving the regulars and guests of Moran Square Diner, a 1940 Worcester Lunch Car that she’s owned with her husband Chris, the main cook, for over 20 years. “I like to be there. You really get the pulse of what’s happening in the community.” Her part-time role at the diner speaks volumes about her life. Mary embraces a challenge, loves food and cooking, and serves her community.
Kelly Johnson, Vice Chair
Fitchburg resident, GP Teaching Garden Graduate, Community Gardener; Member Services Rep. DCU Credit Union;
Born, raised and educated in Fitchburg, Kelly is raising her 12 year old son to help their community through volunteerism. Together they actively build gardens, feed those in need of hot meals, and package snack sized foods for children to take home each weekend. Kelly also is on the Fitchburg Commission on Energy and the Environment, is an active Mentor through LUK, Inc, is the Treasurer for the Fitchburg Holiday Decorating Committee, helps provide meals each Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with Help for Our Community, and regularly packages tens of thousands of meals with End Hunger NE and the United Way.
Kelly received her Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies in 2009 and continued her education at Fitchburg State University within Political Science, Sociology, and Business Administration. Through her education, the realization that the ability to help yourself and your neighbors isn’t afforded to everyone. To be able bodied and have the time to dedicate is something many people wish they had but simply don’t. Kelly’s days are spent helping her community thrive in a sustainable environment, where people can learn to grow food for themselves, where children will appreciate that although they were unable to help themselves as a youth, their neighbors showed them how to act selflessly and take care of those surrounding them who may need a helping hand.
Kelly and her son love to travel, visiting places like the mountains of Utah, Seattle, San Diego, Niagara Falls, Pearl Harbor, Disney World, Fenway Park, New Brunswick Canada, among others. Culture is a wonderful thing to explore, gardening is something we can take anywhere in the world to empower a people to help themselves. It’s a beautiful thing to see your child get excited about a community garden plot growing in different regions around the globe, knowing that we have a hand in it right in our own community.
William Barletta, Treasurer
Executive Director, Capital Planning and Maintenance
Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, MA, GP Partner
Andrea Freeman, Clerk
Leominster Resident, Longtime GP Volunteer; Field Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association, Boston
Andrea is the Field Director for the Massachusetts Public Health Association, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that promotes health equity through advocacy, education, and coalition building. Her job takes her all over the state to help community-based organizations advocate for accessible and affordable foods, walkable/bikeable streets, public transportation, and other public health investments. Previously, Andrea directed training programs for national and statewide land conservation organizations in Washington DC and Massachusetts. She has a BA in environmental studies and economics from St. Lawrence University and an MS in natural resource policy & planning from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Andrea learned some of the many benefits of gardening in the central sands of Wisconsin. “I never would have made it through grad school if it weren’t for the stress reduction I found from working in my housemate’s massive garden….the vegetables were pretty good too.” Andrea and her husband, Tim Silva, live with two cats, six raised beds, and as many pollinators as they can attract.
Joanna Dos Santos
Fitchburg resident; Executive Director, United Neighborrs of Fitchburg, GP Partner
A native of Uruguay, a small Spanish speaking country in South America, Joana Dos Santos has lived in the United States for 13 years. She attended Fitchburg High School, and later obtained an Associates Degree in Business Administration at Mount Wachusett Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Fitchburg State University. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Applied Communication at Fitchburg State. Growing up, she became involved in many school organizations and clubs, ranging from volunteer groups to honor organizations. In 2009 she became fully involved in the fight for immigration reform, organizing immigrants and supporters in the Fitchburg/Leominster area, working in national campaigns as well as taking part in direct action and civil disobedience for the cause. Presently, Joana is the director of a local community center, the United Neighbors of Fitchburg (aka Cleghorn Neighborhood Center), working with youth and families affected by societal injustices, developing leaders, and, in partnership with community members and stakeholders, opening the doors of opportunities for disenfranchised communities. In addition, she serves on several volunteer boards including Mount Wachusett Community College board of trustees, the North Central MA Community Reinvestment Act Coalition, and the North Central MA Community Health Network Area 9. Joana is also interested in issues of equitable access to food and the social determinants of health associated with food security, through her involvement with the boards of Growing Places and Community Harvest Project. At a regional level, she serves as a funding panel member for Haymarket People’s Fund, a grassroots foundation which advances social and racial justice. In her spare time she likes to spend time with family and friends, cook, and travel.
Joana first learned about Growing Places through her work at UNF. She also helped with her father’s GP garden, translated materials for the organization, and promoted various GP events. This year, she planted her first vegetable garden with great success! In Joana’s own words: “The work and mission of Growing Places is inspiring and align with my social justice beliefs and values around food access. I believe that Growing Places has been a pioneer in the fight for food sustainability and access.”
Fitchburg Resident, Environmental Program Manager, Montachusett Opportunity Council, Inc, Fitchburg, GP Partner
Jenna currently works at Montachusett Opportunity Council (MOC) as the Environmental Program Manager. She is also finishing up a Master of Public Policy at UMASS-Dartmouth with a concentration in Environmental Policy. She was an Americorps VISTA at Twin Cities CDC from 2013-2014. In her role at TCCDC, Jenna worked with residents, businesses, government officials, and several community-based organizations to support positive social change in Fitchburg. Jenna was introduced to the GP staff and gardeners by TCCDC and her involvement with the Prichard Street Community Garden. She has continued to cultivate this relationship through volunteerism and now as a member of the Board. She lives with her family and two cats in Fitchburg.
Rosa De Sousa
Fitchburg Resident, Comunity Gardener
Fitchburg Resident, Teaching Garden Graduate, Community Gardener
Stephanie DiRocco, Member
Fitchburg Resident, Clinical Nutrition Manager, Health Alliance Hospital, Leominster, GP Partner
Stephanie DiRocco MS, RD, LDN has over 15 years of experience in nutrition and dietetics. She is currently the Clinical Nutrition Manager for HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, MA. Stephanie has worked at various Boston area hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital~Needham, Winchester Hospital and Emerson Hospital. She has a passion for teaching others about nutrition, diabetes and wellness. In addition to her clinical role, Stephanie has taught nutrition courses at Emmanuel College and nutrition and fitness programs for the EK Shriver Center of UMass Medical School. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Massachusetts Dietetic Association. Stephanie graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, followed by a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She also obtained a Certificate in Sports Nutrition from Simmons College.
Within the HealthAlliance Hospital community, Stephanie has been on the patient identification task force to educate and promote patient safety throughout the hospital. To enhance HealthAlliance Hospital Wellness offerings, she has rolled out four sessions of Create Your Weight for the employees and continues to provide monthly maintenance presentations. Through her accomplishments, it is clear that nutrition and diabetes awareness, health promotion, wellness and education are a top priority for Stephanie and her team.
Stephanie is also passionate about the outdoors. She has been an avid soccer player, has run several marathons, and enjoys hiking and biking. Stephanie has been a life long gardener and enjoys passing on the knowledge to her husband and children. Stephanie and her family reside in Fitchburg.
Fitchburg Resident; Human Resources Supervisor, Resource Management, Inc
Born and raised in Fitchburg, Ma. Rocco graduated from Fitchburg High School. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with the concentration of Marketing at Fitchburg State University. Rocco continued onto getting his MBA in Human Resource Management at Fitchburg State University. While at Fitchburg State University, Rocco was involved in the college radio station, WXPL. Hosting radio shows and assisting with marketing and public relations while at the radio station.
In addition to serving on the board of Growing Places, Rocco currently volunteers on the following committees: Fitchburg Civic Days, Fitchburg Holiday Decorating Committee, and Team Coach for the Jimmy Fund’s Rally against Cancer Campaign since 2011.
In Rocco’s spare time, he enjoys helping out in the local community, enjoying the great outdoors by gardening and going for hikes, photography, rooting on all Boston sport teams, a great cup of coffee, and spinning the hits at local events and weddings as a Mobile DJ for KMJ Entertainment.