Our Board of Directors
Johari Cole Kweli
Johari Cole-Kweli is a passionate driver of 21st Century STEM, environmental education, and stewardship. For over 25 years, she has co-operated her family owned farm, Iyabo Farms, founded in 1994 and located in Pembroke Township. She has dedicated her life to organic farming and local food access issues, specifically in low-income communities and communities of color. Iyabo Farms host on-farm research, internships, Ag and Eco-Tourism, and environmental engineering camps for next-gen scientists, environmentalists, and farmers.
Johari has a BS in Microbiology/Genetics from Michigan State University and an MBA in Sustainability Management from Keller University. She serves as the Chair for the Rehoboth Blueberry Farm Advisory Board, she is the Vice President of the University of Illinois Extension Council, and a Member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. She is also a doctoral candidate in STEM Education.
Culture & Agricultural Preservation Specialist
Pamela Basu has been a resident of Pembroke since 1959. She and her husband operate the Basu Museum and Culture Center and Basu Natural Farms in Pembroke Township, The Basu Museum shares a wealth of cultural, antique, and traditional artifacts. The culture center hosts annual festivals such as the Marcus Garvey Festival and the Basu Natural Farms Herb Fest. Pamela is a master homesteader; she educates volunteers on a range of skills relating to country living, organic agricultural, herbalism, and plant based healthcare.
Pamela is also actively involved in Pembroke Township's and Hopkins Park's civic affairs. She served as the Village of Hopkins Park's treasurer for 5 years and Pembroke Township's Clerk for 4 years.
Local Landowner Conservation
Diane McDonald is the co-owner of B.S.R.R. Youth Center and Academy/Farm, located in Pembroke Township and established in 1977. She provides youth training in sustainable agriculture, arts and crafts, cooking, canning and entrepreneurship. She has been a member of Pembroke Farming Family since 2013 and has participated in over 100 farmer market venues within the surrounding area including Chicago.
In 2015, she established a Youth Center Kids Garden, in which the children created, landscaped, planted, maintained and marketed. She was nominated for the 2016 & 2017 Beginning Farmer of The Year Award at The Good Food Festival sponsored by The Route2Farm.Org., Angelic Organics Learning Center for her presentation of that endeavor.
Christine Foster is a middle school teacher at Lorenzo R. Smith School in Pembroke Township IL. 2020 is her 7th year teaching at Lorenzo R. Smith, and her 4th year teaching in the middle school as the math teacher. She attended Eastern Illinois University, where she received a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education, with a Middle School Endorsement with a concentration in math and science in 2013. In March of 2018 she received the Alumni Rising Star Award from the EIU College of Education.