Meet the Founders
Abigail Dietz was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA.
In 2006, Abi joined AmeriCorps NCCC, where she worked on social projects around the US in areas including disaster relief, education, and community support.
After AmeriCorps, in 2008 Abi pursued local agricultural projects through the World Wide Organization of Organic Farms network, where she gained experience working on several farms across the U.S. It was during this time that she became dedicated to striving for a localized and sustainable food system, in the US and around the world.
In 2009, Abi was the co-chef at Buffalo Cove Education Center in Boone, NC. The education center provided disadvantaged foster children and youth the opportunity to understand food systems, by growing and cooking the food that they ate. It is here where she developed menus that focused on nutrition sustainability and the importance of incorporating a local-food emphasis, as well as designing and tending the gardens at the center.
In 2010, Abi was accepted into Berea College and pursued her studies in Appropriate Technology and Design with a focus on Sustainable Agriculture. Abi worked with Berea College's Farmers Market, at the Berea College Farm, and was asked to be the Non-Traditional Student Program Manager. The school recognized in Abi the potential to bring the non-traditional student community together. She was given a position of leadership in developing a place where non-traditional students could meet and plan activities. Abi excelled in this role, and created a flourishing community through her dedication and efforts.
In 2012, Berea College funded Abi in a study abroad program centered around micro-economics and sustainable agriculture in Uganda. It was during her seven month stay in Uganda that she was able to analyze the need for appropriate technology. While networking with the Ugandan farmers, she realized the impact that her own abilities could have to the farmers trying to develop new farming methods while recovering from civil war.
When Abi returned from Uganda, she was inspired to create a non-profit that would share and teach under-sourced farmers designs for specific agricultural issues with a home base in Central Kentucky.
Georgina Bard is Abi Dietz’s mother. She was born and raised in Florida but relocated to Philadelphia, PA as an adult. It was in Philadelphia that she raised her three kids. For ten years, Georgina was a stay-at-home mom and home schooled her kids and later found work in property management.
However, it was during her time homeschooling that she was able to be creative and pursue her passions in art and drama. Georgina recognizes her daughter, Abi, as a big inspiration by personally encouraging her to pursue her passion in theatre again—not just for entertainment, but in a unique type of theatre that challenges the audience to think about significant issues and gives them insight into historical events.
After returning to theatre, Georgina started her own non-profit theatre company, called Beacon Theatre Productions, and also returned to school to pursue a MA in Theatre at Villanova University near Philadelphia.
Georgina was committed to her care and advocacy and is now eager to work with PartneringWithAbi.org to make some of Abi's passions and dreams a reality. She looks forward to not only working with projects in Uganda, but expanding PWA's work in the field of brain injury support, with patient, family, and friend advocacy.
Hope Broecker was born and raised in a small town east of Cincinnati, Ohio. Growing up, Hope spent most of her summers working with her grandparents at the Kentucky Mountain Mission outside of Beattyville, KY. It was during this time that she not only fell in love with the hills of Appalachia, but also saw first-hand a group of people making a personal impact in people's lives and in a community.
In 2006, Hope joined the AmeriCorps NCCC program where she was exposed to issues around the US, most notably the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It was also within this program that Abi and Hope first met.
After serving in the AmeriCorps NCCC program, Hope returned to New Orleans to work full-time in the rebuilding efforts as a volunteer coordinator and to co-manage an urban permaculture garden, where she obtained her Permaculture Design Certificate. Through this experience Hope discovered her desire to develop her technical skills and agricultural skills in order to address social issues.
In 2009, Hope had the opportunity to work with the Alliance of Affordable Energy on a project developing a social enterprise that would empower people in New Orleans to address home-energy needs during the rebuilding process. Later in the year, Hope was admitted to Berea College in Kentucky and pursued her studies in Technology of Industrial Arts with a focus in Business and Sustainability.
During her time at Berea, Hope completed three internships with MACED's energy program, a non profit working with community and economic development in Eastern Kentucky and also grew her experience and love for farming while working two years at the Berea College Farm and Gardens. During the summer months Hope spent six weeks working with the Guatemalan organization, Maya Pedal, spent ten weeks set-net salmon fishing in Tuxedni Bay, Alaska, and ten weeks at the Kelly Mehler School of Woodworking.
While in her second year at Berea College, Abi was also admitted to the college and joined Hope as a fellow Tech. major. Abi not only shared her life with Hope during their time at college but she also shared her vision to start the non profit and invited her to become part of her staff once her vision took off.
Abi's friendship and inspiration in her life is what has fueled Hope's desire to see Abi's dreams become a reality while she is recovering.
Hope is now working for the manufacturing center of Alaska in Anchorage, Alaska.
Leandra Forman was born and raised in Lexington, KY.
After high school, she worked as a cook in fine dining restaurants in both Lexington and Seattle, exclusively working at restaurants that supported local food and cultivated direct relationships with farmers.
She lived in Seattle for 2 years and then was brought back to Kentucky to be the primary care taker of her father as he went through the process of getting a heart transplant.
During her time taking care of her father she decided to pursue higher education and applied to Berea College. Once accepted, Leandra worked for the college farm, which in turn inspired her to major in Agriculture and Natural Resources, with a special focus on sustainability and technology.
This is where she met Abi, and a deep friendship quickly grew. They traveled together across the US and, before the accident, were planning on investing in land where they could begin to prototype appropriate technology for agriculture.
The technology development program was focused on benefiting both the local food systems and farmers of Appalachia as well as shaping ideas for the work with Ugandan farmers that Abi had begun during her recent stay there.
This was a driving force for Leandra in her involvement with Partnering With Abi, and continues to be her inspiration for the future.
In the summer of 2013, Leandra completed an internship with Open Source Ecology one of the more progressive organizations in opensource, appropriate technology in the nation.
Leandra has been at FoodChain, an aquaponics facility in Lexington, KY, since May of 2015. She heads all of the fish and greens production on the farm, develops resources for schools and producers interested in aquaponics, and works directly with volunteers and interns who are interested in gaining experience in this field.