Laurell Sims

Organization: Urban Growers Collective (UGC)

Laurell Sims (she/her) is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Finance & Food Access for Urban Growers Collective (UGC). She received her BA in Government and Asian Studies, with an emphasis on Chinese language study, from the University of Redlands and 北京水利水电学院 (Beijing School of Water Conservancy and Hydroelectric Power Training School). Laurell worked at Growing Power Chicago for 11-years as the Production and Marketing Manager, after working as the organization’s Education Coordinator. Formerly, Laurell was the Director for Victory Program’s ReVision House Urban Farm, a farm-training program for mothers experiencing housing instability in Dorchester, MA.

Laurell is a 2023-2024 Castanea Fellow, and formally completed fellowships with the James Beard Women in Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business. Ms. Sims served as a Bold Food Fellow, a State Department exchange with farmers from Uganda and Kenya to strengthen urban farming programs. Since that experience, Laurell has coordinated projects at urban farms in Port-au-Prince’s Cité Soleil District in Haiti, as well as nationally.

In addition to her work at Urban Growers Collective, Laurell serves on the Board of Directors for The Evolved Network, as well as at Mentorship Pathway, and works with the Chicago Food Policy Action Council on livestock issues. She formally served on the Boards of Slow Food and Green City Market. In her spare time, she has performs as a volunteer magician for Open Heart Magic, a non-profit, which provides beside magic for hospitalized children.

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