Board of Directors
Margaret Burton has volunteered as a gleaner since 2015 and serves as leader and delivery driver of the Clairemont picking crew. She joined the board in 2020 and became board president in 2022. She represents Senior Gleaners at outreach events and coordinates the manufacturing of Senior Gleaner shirts, hats, and jackets as a fundraiser initiative. Margaret has recruited more sponsors than any other volunteer during the annual fund-raising PICK ME event and has requested donations to Senior Gleaners rather than birthday gifts. She said collecting fruit for people who need it “keeps her motivated.” She also sews memory bears for Vitas Hospice.
Daryush Bastani started gleaning in 2017, soon after retiring from Verizon Wireless as an area manager, and currently serves as vice-president. He grew up on a farm and has always been active in growing food both on the farm and now, in his home garden. Gleaning extends that involvement with fresh food. “All my life, I have wanted to make an impact on other people’s lives,” he said. Consequently, he also volunteers for San Diego County Canyon Land and many Jewish Family Services programs including providing rides to the elderly, delivering food to the home-bound, and providing translation services to refugees. “I find Senior Gleaners a worthy organization not only by providing much-needed service to the community but also preventing waste of perfectly good food,” he said.
Carlos Cortez is a business strategist with more than 15 years of general management and consulting experience and joined the board in 2023. Carlos’ work in the food sector is focused on strategic planning, go-to-market strategy, corporate venture capital, innovation strategy, retail digital transformation, and addressing health and wellness in the food system. He is also a member of the team behind the Nourish Movement, a multi-sector movement of business leaders and entrepreneurs looking to address human and planetary health through Food is Medicine solutions. Carlos obtained his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and has served in several non-profit boards in Mexico and the United States.
Cheri Gabler began gleaning in 2015, currently serving as the leader for the East County picking crew. She joined the board in 2018 and became board secretary in 2021. After retiring from a 30-year career in education, she sought volunteer opportunities that would make a positive difference in her local community. Senior Gleaners has done just that, she said. In addition, she volunteers weekly for the San Diego Food Bank.
Arlene Hasegawa joined Senior Gleaners in 2023 soon after retiring. Later in the year she said she agreed to join the board as “a way of giving back to the community where I’ve lived all my life.” Her parents and husband grew up on family farms and she welcomed the chance to work with produce other than in her own garden. “We live in one of the most productive farming regions in the county, but sadly have tons of food going to landfills annually while 25 per cent of the residents remain food insecure,” she added. After receiving a degree in physics from San Diego State University, Arlene filled program management positions that drove technology products and systems from concept to global markets with firms such as Dexcom, Qualcomm and Cymer. She is conversant in Japanese.
John Hewitt III, Ed.D.
John Hewitt III, Ed.D. began serving the board remotely in 2021. A resident of Jackson, MS, he said he was attracted to the mission of Senior Gleaners and wanted to expand his volunteer experiences to the board level. He has served as an officer in the U.S. Army since 2001. As a Department of the Army employee, John has worked as a senior civilian within organizations providing executive direction, advice and support in various locations. He has volunteered for many organizations focused on housing, youth, and food/clothing distribution. John and his wife currently reside in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Jayanti Menches joined the board in 2021 bringing extensive strategic communications, employee engagement and media relations experience to the board, through leadership positions at multinational corporations. She currently works as a senior consultant with an employer branding and communications agency. She also serves on the board of the San Diego Police Foundation and has filled numerous board leadership roles for the International Association of Business Communicators.
Pradip Mistry volunteers as a gleaner and has served on the board since 2022. As treasurer, he ensures board members receive good, precise data to help inform decisions and communicates financial data in a way the board can digest. He retired from a 30-year career in transportation and currently works as a board advisor and mentor to startups and small businesses.
Josef Strasser joined the Senior Gleaners in 2022 after retiring as a Senior Director in Regulatory Toxicology for the pharmaceutical industry. He and his wife, Shawna, returned to California in 2022 after 20 years in North Carolina. He enjoys working with young people. As a boy scout leader and council member in North Carolina he enjoyed many 50-mile treks on the Appalachian Trail, over 15 two-week canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Eagle scout mentor and instructor for CPR/First Aid and Wilderness First Aid. Earlier in life he was a high school/junior college teacher in Biology, Anatomy/Physiology and Religious Studies. He holds a master’s degree in biology and a bachelor’s degree in theology. In North Carolina he served 6 years on the Board of Education for the Charlotte Diocese. He also volunteers for the Senior Volunteer Patrol for the Fallbrook Sheriff and Docent for the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside.
Monte Turner joined Gleaners in 2014, has been a board member since 2015, and has served as board president for three years prior to returning to that role in 2021. He and his wife Barbara, who was board president in 2020, moved to Southern California to be near grandchildren after retiring in 2012 as an Oregon state agency communications manager. He also volunteers with Rescue House to foster cats. He said he is motivated to be a part of the caring community of gleaners to help counteract some of the negative aspects of today’s culture and society. A bequest in his will names Senior Gleaners.
Steve Wismar has volunteered with Senior Gleaners since 2021. He retired in 2019 as an attorney specializing in personal injury and disability law. A long-time member of Poway Temple’s Social Justice Committee, he chaired the group from 1999-2003. He also served on the Temple’s board where he was elected Vice President for two years before selection as board president from 2006 to 2009. The Social Justice Committee supported organizations such as Interfaith in Escondido and Saint Clare’s Homes for abused women. “I view the Senior Gleaners mission as bringing sustenance, support and hope to those in our community who are struggling in these challenging times to survive, heal and move forward,” he said.
Trixxie Land has filled the part-time position since May 2020. Prior to this position, she worked mostly in the medical field for 15 years as a unit clerk coordinating many aspects of all functions of a floor in a hospital. She also worked as a patient services representative in a clinic and a doctor’s office. Then she spent five years managing the Old Globe Theater’s costume and prop rentals. She said she enjoys working with the residents, volunteers, and agencies to best assist them with their needs.