Sophie Oppenheimer

Executive Director

Sophie has a background in food systems and applied nutrition from Tufts University. She has worked as a professional researcher and evaluation consultant for the past 10 years. As Executive Director of the Valley Foundation, Sophie build partnerships, manages projects and grants, and conducts monitoring and evaluation activities. Additionally, Sophie co-facilitates and co-teachers with EJ Oppenheimer during Permaculture training seminars. Sophie received her official Permaculture design certificate in February 2020. 

EJ Oppenheimer

Director of Field Operations

EJ has a background in environmental science and anthropology. He has worked as an agroecologist and permaculture trainer for the past 8 years. As Director of Operations of the Valley Foundation, he oversees activities at the Valley Park Agroecology Center, and leads the design, implementation, and training for all Valley Foundation permaculture projects. EJ is the lead facilitator and trainer for most Permaculture training seminars put on by the Valley Foundation. He also co-facilitates and co- teaches alongside Mark Shepard when Mark takes the lead on Valley Foundation sponsored Permaculture design courses. EJ received his official permaculture design certificate in February 2020. 

Shannon Ramsey

Valley Park Agroecology Center Ranch Manager

Shannon is the Valley Park Agroecology Center Ranch Manager.  Shannon has a background in the restaurant industry and in gunshot detection systems. He was in the United States Marine Corps from 1987 – 1991. Shannon is responsible for implementing and managing agricultural activities at the Center, as well as helping to support Permaculture training activities and implement Permaculture installations. Shannon received his official Permaculture design certificate in February 2020. 

Tom Benevento

Field Staff / Community Organizer

Tom enjoys collaborating with others who seek social justice and ecological healing in their communities. He is founder and co-director of New Community Project’s Sustainable Living Center and the Jubilee Climate Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. One of his enduring interests is designing, and developing permaculture and agroforestry systems with subsistence farmers. Tom is on staff with the Valley Foundation in partnership with the New Community Project. He supports the Earth Allies Restoration Network, coordinates a research and training center in the USA,  and is currently collaborating with nonprofits in Latin America to support their efforts in creating permaculture and agroforestry training centers. 

Tom’s work has been inspired by living with Guatemalan indigenous farmers for over ten years. He has extensive experience learning, teaching, and working with village farmers in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Jamaica, and most recently Malawi in permaculture, agroforestry, and community development. 

He holds an MS in Sustainable Systems.  Outside of work, Tom enjoys hiking, playing music and spending time with his family.  In good years, he aspires to keep the groundhogs out of his home garden.

Mark Shepard

Permaculture Consultant

Mark is the Founder/Lead Designer for Restoration Agriculture Development, LLC.
He has over 20 years experience living and teaching permaculture. He has traveled around the world teaching courses, speaking at conferences, and designing permaculture projects. He is also the author of a bestselling book called Restoration Agriculture. Mark is a consultant and lead trainer/designer for the Valley Foundation. His contributions include taking the lead in teaching Valley Foundation sponsored permaculture design courses and working with partners to design permaculture projects.

Jeremiah Kidd

Permaculture Consultant

Jeremiah’s passion and education in Permaculture, natural building and alternative technologies began in the late 1980’s. He completed his first Permaculture Design Course in 1992 and many advanced classes leading to a Diploma from the Permaculture Institute. He was a partner with Living Structures, one of the first Permaculture and green building firms in the USA, for five years. In 2000 he established San Isidro Permaculture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a design and installation company focused on water catchment, permaculture education, grey water systems, native and edible plant landscapes, erosion control & land restoration. He has also consulted and conducted trainings in the Caribbean, Central America, Africa, and Asia on several projects. Jeremiah is a consultant for the Valley Foundation. His contributions include working with partners to design and install permaculture projects.

Ean Garvin

Environmental Consultant

For over 10 years, Dr. Ean Garvin has worked as an environmental consultant for private, tribal, and federal entities. In 2005, she received her B.S. from the University of Tulsa in Biological Sciences with minors in anthropology, geology, and history. In 2010, she received her M.S. from the University of Tulsa in Geosciences. Her master’s thesis focused on creating a more reliable and cost-effective method of assessing brine contamination in the subsurface using aboveground plant biomass and species diversity as a proxy. In 2016, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Tulsa in Geosciences. Her dissertation, “Heavy metal contamination downstream of the Tri-State Mining District: implications of metals contamination within terrestrial and aquatic biota and impacts to tribal human health” focused on metals contamination within culturally important resources of eight tribes whose jurisdictional lands are impacted by historic lead and zinc mines in northeastern Oklahoma. Her publications, as a result of her dissertation work, were used as primary guidance documents for the development of the EPA Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) for the Tar Creek Superfund Site Operable Unit 5. 

In her professional career, Dr. Garvin has served as a natural resource’s expert on a wide variety of projects that include: native plant identification and tribal uses; biological and habitat assessment of wetland, prairie, and riparian habitats; wetland restoration and mitigation banking; freshwater ecology; threatened and endangered species; soils; hydrological processes; and contaminant fate and transport. Additionally, Dr. Garvin works with land trust companies responsible for putting tens of thousands of acres of land all over the U.S. into conservation easements where they will remain protected in perpetuity. She also serves as a liaison between landowners and State and/or Federal entities to design, coordinate, and implement various environmental projects that restore, enhance, and protect habitat for species of special concern and threatened/endangered species as well as conducting educational workshops for public learning and involvement. A member of the Cherokee Nation herself, Dr. Garvin has worked with many tribal nations in the U.S. on various watershed and water quality projects that include working with tribal elders and educating youth on protecting their culturally important resources. In her personal life, Dr. Garvin is an avid scuba diver and enjoys perennial gardening, traveling the world, running, kayaking, hiking, and beekeeping.