Our Board & Staff

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Laura Lutz

Laura comes to 21 Roots Farm with a variety of skills. Prior to joining the 21 Roots team, Laura coached Special Olympics basketball and worked with young adults with developmental disabilities in the Forest Lake School District for four years. Laura received her Bachelors in Animal Science from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls in 2018. Laura has demonstrated a passion for agriculture from a young age; she grew up with and was surrounded by farmers and has worked with livestock from a young age. Laura is especially gifted in teaching others about the beauty and necessity of farming, gardening and caring for animals. Laura describes her eagerness for working with people at a variety of skill levels on the farm as an opportunity to show that all life, whether it is plant, fungi, or animal; is purposeful and to explore the beauty and mystery of the animal kingdom.

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Brittany Wiitala

Brittany , Co-Founder and Program Manager, leads the programming at 21 Roots with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing people with disabilities. Brittany grew up in rural Wisconsin on a working farm. Brittany attended Northwestern College and graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. Brittany has over 10 years of experience serving people impacted by disabilities in a variety of settings. Brittany, with her long-time friend Amy, Co-Founder and Head of Farm Operations, decided to create even more opportunities for people with disabilities by opening 21 Roots Farm in the summer of 2019. Brittany is dedicated to creating experiences for all people using agriculture, nature and their natural talents. She believes that through connecting with other adults, animals and nature is an important way to build self-confidence and find purpose through work.

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Amy Peterson

Amy , Co-Founder and Head of Farm Operations, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience serving adults with disabilities. Amy is from Minnesota and has lived and worked in the busiest metro to the most rural counties. Amy graduated from Northwestern College in 2007 with a Bachelors in Kinesiology and Minor is Special Education. Prior to co-founding 21 Roots Farm Amy worked for six years at Adventurous Christian a wilderness camp in Grand Marais, Minnesota. There, Amy managed the camp kitchen, hosted groups and acted as a wilderness guide for adults and children of all ages. Amy also has experience working in a one-on-one capacity with children with disabilities and with adults in their home. Amy is excited by the therapeutic and calming effect of nature on all humans, and finds joy in exploring these adventures with people from varying skill sets and interests.

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Dr. Sheryl Grassie

A longtime advocate for disability issues with a history in policy making. She has a clinical background and has worked with mental health and disability populations throughout her career. Professionally, Dr. Grassie has been the executive director of several non-profits, a clinical psychologist, a special education teacher, and writers professionally on topics to do with health, community, spirituality, housing, and disability. Dr. Grassie is on the board of several organizations that support people with disabilities and is the policy chair for the Minnesota Senate’s Council on Autism. She has a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas, a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Macalester College. She resides in Minneapolis, MN where she is the mother of three children and an avocational potter.

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Trish Fleischhacker

Trish works at Medtronic as a Director of Ethics and Compliance. Trish earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Minnesota and holds a Healthcare Compliance Certification from Hamline Law School. Trish has always been passionate about Diversity & Inclusion. This passion was enhanced by the birth of her third child, Alice who was born with Down Syndrome. Thanks to Alice, Trish is even more energized about ensuring all people have the opportunity to live life to their fullest potential. At Medtronic, she is the Co-Chair of the ABLED (Awareness Benefiting Leadership & Employees about Disabilities) Employee Resource Group and she leads an Inclusion Workstream within the Legal & Compliance function. In addition, to serving as a board member for 21 Roots Farm, she is a board member for eQuality; Pathways to Potential. Trish lives in Roseville, MN where she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children and if it involves a campfire, all the better.

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Dan Thibault

Dan has been involved with 21 Roots Farm since its inception and has helped get us off the ground.  He is the father of 9 children (2 grandchildren) including 3 with Down syndrome were adopted – one at birth and two from the same orphanage in Ukraine.  As the idea of 21 Roots Farm was being developed, he and his wife saw there was a large need in the community to have a place where adults and children with disabilities could spend time in agricultural activities that can help them gain a sense of purpose, instead of spending time on electronic devices or working full time at a job that may be less fulfilling.  Ricky, Stas, and Susha love spending time at the farm and getting their hands dirty as well as connecting with others.  Dan received his bachelor degree at the University of St. Thomas and law degree at William Mitchell College of law.  He is currently a Partner at Ernst & Young (EY) where he is responsible for leading their tax managed services.