Jennifer Jovanovic spent seven years as the Director of Science Beyond the Boundaries, a network in which science centers and museums share best practices in hands-on education with their colleagues around the world. Jennifer was the original and only network director, growing it from 12 museums when it was founded to 249 museums reaching over 81 million visitors. Most recently she created and directed the Early Learners Collaborative, funded by a federal grant to help museums develop programs that support preschoolers’ readiness for school. The Saint Louis Science Center was just one of Jennifer’s many clients. She has extensive background in hands-on science programming for underserved audiences. She specializes in assisting nonprofits in creating education programs, including related written materials, grant proposals and publications. She is the former Executive Director of the Children’s Museum at La Habra, where, under her leadership, they won the national Association of Children’s Museums’ Promising Practice Award. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University.
Director of Education
Jill Coons comes to GrowingGreat with a background in sustainable gardens, youth nutrition, and volunteer and business coordination. A graduate of The University of Arizona in Agriculture with an emphasis in Landscape Architecture, Jill has pursued many aspects of her educational background. Since 2003, she has been the GrowingGreat garden coordinator for Pacific Elementary, developing and implementing hands on curriculum.
Jill expanded her passion for garden education to include teaching GrowingGreat nutrition lessons. During her time as Program Director for GrowingGreat, Jill has developed a strong understanding of coordinating long-term relationships with administrators, teachers, and volunteers. Outside of GrowingGreat, Jill currently serves on the Board of Trustees for The Warren Neely Foundation, a philanthropic organization that grants money to deserving youth, clubs, and communities throughout California. Jill lives in Manhattan Beach where she loves spending her free time with her husband, David, and her three sons.
Nutrition & Garden Education Specialist
Grace Sanchez comes to GrowingGreat with 14 years of experience as an Educator in San Diego providing Early Intervention services to children with developmental delays. She has an extensive backgound working with parents and caregivers to develop strategies, that center around a family’s daily routines and activities, to promote their child’s growth and development. As an Educator she has held a variety of roles where she had the opportunity to work with children of various age groups, families of diverse demographics, multifaceted teams of therapists, and various partner organizations providing tailored early intervention services that ensure children have a solid foundation for the future. She has a M.A. degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University, Orange CA.
Grace also has been active as a volunteer supporting events throughout San Diego that were geared towards promoting STEM in low income communities. She is a passionate advocate of instilling good nutritional habits in children at a young age and encourages the pursuit of STEM fields. Grace lives in Manhattan Beach with her husband, Rich, and her Siberian Husky, Jarvis. She enjoys reading, running, cooking, hiking, and traveling.
Sharon Cohen has been passionate about gardening since she was a young child in South Africa. After completing college, she moved to Israel and lived on a kibbutz where she managed the grounds. After relocating to the States, she built a successful career in writing and marketing. As marketing director of The Maya Group, Sharon launched and managed several toy brands. In addition to various career roles in writing, editing and marketing, she dedicated time to humanitarian and environmental causes. Living in Israel from 2014 to 2016 she led a volunteer group focused on the wellbeing of children of African asylum seekers. She also directed volunteer efforts for GrowingGreat at Robinson School from 2003 to 2007 where she led nutrition classes and the Cafeteria Healthy Snack program. She returns to GrowingGreat as a Garden Educator with strong beliefs that we can save our planet and improve our health by growing our own fruits and vegetables. She has a Masters in Journalism from Temple University, Philadelphia PA. Sharon is passionate about gardening, traveling, learning Spanish, documentary films, environmental issues, and political activism.
Meghan Nealon recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theater Arts from Southern Oregon University. In addition to performing and working in technical theater, Meghan also spent four years as a primary grade teaching assistant at Siskiyou Waldorf School in Ashland, Oregon. She spent three wonderful years working in a French bakery where she experienced first-hand the joy of eating homegrown and locally sourced foods. From a young age, Meghan was drawn to botanical encyclopedias and nature as she explored local parks with a mushroom field guide in hand. Her life-long passion for creative youth education and background in Waldorf teaching and theater arts have cultivated her interest in both environmental and art integrative education techniques. While working internationally in Cossonay, Switzerland, Taroudant, Morocco and Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador each summer during her undergraduate studies, Meghan further explored these pedagogies and their impact on curriculum development. She recently relocated to Los Angeles and has joined GrowingGreat with great excitement to expand access to gardening and nutrition education to children living in her new hometown.
Sally Alder has a B.S. degree in Operations Management from Cal Poly, Pomona. She worked in commercial banking for Union Bank and Comerica. While raising her two children she was active as a volunteer with several organizations in our community including the Girl Scouts, her children’s schools, MBEF, Odyssey of the Mind, and is still active with NCL, Inc. Manhattan-Hermosa.
Sally lives in Manhattan Beach with her husband Jeff, their two children Bradley and Rachel. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, skiing and taking long walks with her dog Sasha.
As Teaching Assistant, Maxwell Watson supports a variety of GrowingGreat school programs throughout Los Angeles. It was Maxwell’s love of cooking and enthusiasm about supporting nonprofits that brought him to GrowingGreat in 2019. He spent most of 2018 volunteering at Providence TrinityCare Hospice in Torrance while also working on video editing as a hobby and creative outlet. Assisting Grace Sanchez in teaching the GrowingGreat Chefs cooking and nutrition education program for teens, Maxwell found a home at GrowingGreat where he can help accomplish the mission of spreading good nutritional values to our future generations. Maxwell was locally grown in Manhattan Beach, CA and graduated from Mira Costa High School where he loved playing on the varsity basketball team.