Kaya Weidman, Executive Director
Kaya is a co-founder and Executive Director of Kite’s Nest, where she oversees day-to-day operations, including community engagement, organizational development and visioning, administration, fundraising, development and communications. As an educator at Kite’s Nest, Kaya has taught woodworking, the history of social movements, urban gardening, and journalism to children and teens. Kaya began living in Columbia County fifteen years ago as a land steward and farmer, when she started a collectively-run CSA called Germantown Community Farm on land where she continues to live. After traveling throughout Mexico and the US teaching about radio production and transmission as a tool for organizing and empowerment, she co-founded the local community radio station, WGXC 90.7-FM, Hands-On Radio in 2008. She served as the station's Director of Community Engagement, and chaired the governing council. Growing up, Kaya was supported to make choices about her own educational path, and she’s passionate about supporting young people in having the power to make choices about where and how they learn. A lifelong self-directed learner, Kaya’s favorite moments involve opportunities to share, learn and build with others.
Zebi Williams, Education Director
At the age of eighteen, Zebi founded the Lil Ragamuffin Summer Camp in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica where she grew up. The camp grew to be recognized as one of the top arts programs in the country. Zebi has also worked as a community organizer in a range of contexts, advocating for young people to be agents of change in the development of their communities. She is a founding member of the Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit, an annual event built to empower and connect young women of Pan-African descent in Brooklyn, Jamaica, and Ghana. And she has worked with public housing residents and small businesses in the Lower East Side to organize against gentrification. Zebi’s education methodology emphasizes teaching to different learning styles, creating platforms for both indigenous and western based knowledge systems, celebrating teachable moments, redesigning community approaches to conflict resolution, and promoting community rituals to help ground children in local stewardship at every age. A lifelong learner, Zebi’s skills and interests are truly wide-ranging. She has a degree in Applied Anthropology, holds a certificate in UX Design and Design Thinking Methodologies, and recently won her first hackathon. Coming from a family of artists,Zebi’s own art includes poetry, fashion/jewelry design, filmmaking, graphic design and interactive data art. Zebi is also the mother of a teenage daughter, Zia!
Sharece Johnson, After School Coordinator
Born in Queens, NY, Sharece moved to Hudson when she was eight years old. Sharece has a B.A. in Communications from the University at Albany, an Associate’s Degree in Arts from Columbia Greene Community College, and is a graduate of Hudson High School. Sharece runs Space 2.0 at Kite’s Nest and has been a Lead Educator for the Social Justice Leadership Academy since 2016. Prior to joining Kite’s Nest, Sharece has had significant experience working with children and teenagers. She has worked as a Child Mentor for Americorps with the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood in Hudson, a Youth Mentor with the Liberty Partnership Program in Albany, a Program Assistant at the Boy’s & Girls Club in Albany, a Counselor of the Catskill Kids Club in Catskill, and with the Hudson After School Program. In these programs she’s led classes in improvisation, facilitated girl circles, run glee clubs, led community games, and more. Sharece is a passionate educator, musician, singer, and community volunteer. With appreciation for the counselors and mentors in her own life, Sharece is dedicated to being a source of strength to the young people growing up in her community.
Michael Chameides, Operations Director
Michael is passionate about creating strategic, human-focused solutions to increase engagement and build community. As Marketing and Editorial Manager at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Michael increased enrollment through the creation and implementation of a data-informed marketing plan, which included an overhaul of the college’s digital communications. Similarly, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Michael increased university fundraising by creating content, redesigning websites, and convening stakeholders to better implement and coordinate marketing efforts. He built support for local land conservation, farming, and land-use planning by creating branded campaigns, implementing data-informed marketing strategy, and redesigning the website for the Columbia Land Conservancy. His social-justice themed video work has screened at venues across the US and Europe and he has been awarded artist grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, Puffin Foundation, and New York Foundation for the Arts. He’s also taught media literacy and production to young people. He directed Only 16, a collaborative video made with young people from Hudson about youth incarceration, which screened on PBS affiliates across NY State. Michael has an M.A. in Media Studies from New School University. Michael serves on the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, the county legislature.
Sara Kendall, Communications Director
Sara was on the founding team at Kite’s Nest, and worked as a Co-Director of the organization until 2017, while teaching classes about cardboard urban planning, radio journalism, and the geographies of stuff. Prior to working with Kite’s Nest Sara was the founding station manager of WGXC: Hands-on Radio, a community radio station and participatory media project serving Columbia and Greene Counties. In 2012, she helped to launch the Oral History Summer School 2012 in Hudson, designed to train an international group of writers, media-makers, social workers and teachers to make use of oral history. In 2011, Sara was recognized by the Open Space Institute as a "Young Leader of the Hudson Valley". Sara has an M.A. in geography, oral history and education from Concordia University in Montreal, and teaches geography at Dawson College.
Briggin Scharf, Greenhouse Program Manager
Briggin is thrilled to join Kite's Nest's powerful team to help launch the new Greenhouse Project and teen-centered green business! Happiest outside amongst flowering & fruiting plants, healthy soil and fresh water, Briggin has spent the past decade sharing her curiosities and gratitudes for the natural world with others. She perviously managed elementary school gardens in San Francisco and Poughkeepsie, organized intergenerational family farm visits and cooking classes, and has been a farm worker and student of environmentally conscious agriculture in the Hudson Valley since 2015. As a founding member of Rolling Grocer 19 - an initiative to increase access to affordable, healthy and locally-produced food in Columbia County - Briggin is passionate about collaboratively building and celebrating a just and resilient food system for everyone. She is very excited to support Hudson's youth leaders as they design a magical green space that strengthens the relationships between nature, art, food sovereignty, active mindfulness and the Hudson community.