Board Member Bios


Eleuterio Navarro – Current Chair (2017-)

Eleuterio Navarro is the son of a Mexican farmer, was born and raised in a small farm in Jalisco Mexico till the age of 7, when his family migrated to West Los Angeles, where he attend the following local public schools: Venice High School, Santa Monica College and Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He strives to live up to the values instill by his parents of giving back to the communities that have shaped and influenced his life, by being involved in food security and homeless advocacy issues at Venice High School, Santa Monica College and the Venice community in general.

In 2014, he joined the UCCE Master Gardener Volunteer organization and spends his time at The Learning Garden teaching and promoting food security among his community.  As a Venice High School alumni he strongly believes in the mentorship of  of  volunteers his time at Venice by helping teach The Victory Garden classes in the Fall and Spring, as well providing access to free organic veggies to those in need every Wednesday via the garden’s “Veggie Wednesday” program.
He believes that access to good nutrition is a human right, especially those living on the streets and using those same organic vegetables from Wednesday, he coordinates a food service for the Homeless in Venice every Sunday for the last 4 years.
In 2017, he was elected the new chair for the Seed Library of Los Angeles. As chair, it is his mission to expand SLOLA’s  gardening and seed saving education programs  to all residents of Los Angeles County.  In  the spring of 2017 a Woodland Hills branched was started, followed by a second branch  in Altadena the Fall of 2017.  A South Los Angels Branch is schedule to come online in the Spring 2018, followed by a Long Beach Branch Summer 2018.

David King – Founding Chair (2010-2016) & Best Practices

David King is the founder and first Chair of the Seed Library of Los Angeles. From the beginning the mission of the Library centered upon the idea of clean, wholesome, non-GMO food for every one in the Los Angeles region, especially the under-served and compromised communities. With the ideas that food, uncontaminated with pesticides and questionable technologies, is a right of all people and seeds belong to humanity, he called for a meeting of like-minded people on December 4th, 2010 and from there, the Seed Library of Los Angeles was born.

A transplant from northeast Kansas, David started gardening as a five year old under his grandfather’s tutelage. He lives his life full-time as an author, writer, gardener and activist in Los Angeles, working to make home grown food a part of the Los Angeles’ culture. As a speaker and instructor, he shares his knowledge of growing food with quick witted humor and an infectious passion for the subject.

As the gardenmaster/director for The Learning Garden, a community and school garden located on the campus of Venice High School, King has been published in a number of different horticulture and gardening venues and has appeared on TV and radio. He teaches for UCLA Extension, writes for gardening and ecological magazines and blogs. He fervently hopes to publish his first book on gardening, Growing Food In Southern California, in the very near future.

Matt Van Diepen – Vice Chair

Matthew Van Diepen started his edible landscaping services, Home Grown Gardens, in Venice in 2011. Within that time span he has done much to support Local Community Farming.  He believes that the food and the people are pathways to understand the interconnectedness of life and teaches this in classes and workshops throughout Los Angeles. Volunteering with non profit organizations like the Seed Library of Los Angeles, Community Healing Gardens, Mark Twain Middle School and others all reinforce the Home Grown Garden’s mission to cultivate Urban Agriculture.  On his off time you can find Matt surfing, biking or playing paddle tennis around Venice.

Kieanna Jolaei – Secretary

Kieanna Rose Jolaei is a long term volunteer at SLOLA.  She started as a Seed Librarian in 2012 and now sits with the Board as Secretary.  Originally from Los Angeles, Kieanna is an advocate and believer in local change; however, she also believes the need for more well-versed lawyers protecting mother earth’s soils and waters.  Kieanna is a top paralegal at a Century City law firm by day and a student furthering her legal career by night.  She is known to obsessively read food labels, take really good photos of our events and spread the good word about sacred seed.  Her hobbies include yoga, gardening, spontaneous road-trips, cycling, ocean breezes, love and traveling.

Kim Curtis Mattheussens – Treasurer

Kim Mattheussens grew up on a farm in Indiana but is new to seed saving. She became a member of SLOLA in 2012. She practices container gardening on the balcony of her apartment in Westwood and on her window ledge at UCLA where she works as a student affairs officer in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She grows tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, broccoli, and hopi red dye amaranth with the help of her two young children. She believes that access to urban land for gardening and building sustainable communities are key components in the fight for racial and economic justice.

Azita Banu – Membership Chair

A graduate of ‘Seed School’, Azita Banu started as a volunteer seed librarian with her sister Kieanna Jolaei to learn more about growing and seed saving. What started as an extracurricular activity for sister time turned into a life changing experience. Azita shares this passion by teaching intergenerational respect through grass roots Seed Swaps and facilitating Seed Libraries. Today she she is working to spread Seed Education across Los Angeles. You can find her at the Farmers Markets across town, Santa Monica, Baldwin Hills, Inglewood, or at the Home Grown Gardens Nursery down the street from the Seed Library.

Linda Preuss – Database Chair Emeritus

A graduate of ‘Seed School LA’ Linda has been saving seeds for over 20 years. Since 1999 she has been volunteering at a Domestic Violence shelter, co-directing its gardening and cooking program. The women and children at the shelter learn about a healthy cycle of life—from planting a seed, to caring for the seedling to harvesting the food and then saving the seed.
She has presented at the American Horticultural Therapy Association Conference, as well as the American Horticultural Society’s Symposium on Gardening with Youth.  In 2010 Linda traveled to Denmark to share her work at the University of Copenhagen and at Dannerhuset, Denmark’s largest shelter for battered women.
Working with the Westside Permaculture group and many other local garden-related projects has helped balance out her work as a database designer and computer consultant. She views seed saving as the key to diversity in our food system and loves sharing her knowledge with the community.

Shoba Casaba – Seed Librarian

Mai Pham Thanh  – Seed Librarian

Joy Sun – Outreach

Joy was born in Taiwan and raised in Los Angeles. Only a few years ago she spent 6 months backpacking through South East Asia and the Middle East. While living with a Bedouin Family in Petra, Jordan she developed a new found appreciation for horticulture through their use of hydroponics. Joy was impressed by the practicality of growing fresh food for the animals in the desert area where water was so precious.  She is currently in the process of completing her certificates for both Horticulture and Sustainability through the UCLA extension. Joy has become a true believer leading her to her current position as an apprentice in urban gardening and food diversity.

 San Fernando Valley Steering Committee BIOS:

Paula Kleihauer – Chair

Currently serving as the Chair of the San Fernando Branch of SLOLA, and previously serving as its Seed Librarian, she was an early member of SLOLA.  Paula is both a UCCE/LA County Master Gardener  (2006), and Master Food Preserver (2014) teaching people how to both grow their own food and preserve the bountiful harvest.  As a Master Gardener, a major, ongoing volunteer project is the Public Orchard/Serenity Garden on the campus of Grant H.S.  She is also in her sixth year as a volunteer with Food Forward (Los Angeles’s’ premier gleaning organization) as a Property Scout, and Pick Leader on a regular basis, and in various other capacities on an as needed basis.   Her volunteer activities in these organizations are an outgrowth of her interest in and commitment to social justice, particularly the area of food insecurity Paula Kleihauer is a native Los Angelino who has lived in the San Fernando Valley since she was four years old.  She has fond memories of early years when her parents tried raising tomatoes, Swiss chard, watermelons, and chickens on the back of their 2/3rds of an acre property.  She is retired from LAUSD.  A member of the North Hollywood Community Garden she grows both food to nourish the body (veggies) and food to nourish the soul (roses and irises).

 Open- Vice Chair

 Open – Secretary

 Open- Treasurer

Benita Robinson- Membership Chair

Benita has been a part of SLOLA’s San Fernando Valley Branch from its beginning in May of 2013. She is an avid home gardener but still considers herself a novice when it comes to seed saving. She joined SLOLA to not only learn more about gardening and seed saving, but to also help spread SLOLA’s philosophy that the preservation of seed is a sacred trust. She believes we can all eat healthy, organic, homegrown food with a little knowledge and a little patience.

Open- Best Practices Chair

Open- Volunteer Chair

Bettina Gatti- Library Chair

Bettina is a Master Gardener volunteer with an interest in teaching edible gardening to school groups.

Robin Gilbert- Outreach Chair


Leah Minium – Photography

Zach Mann – Web Design