Our Team

Vanessa Gotthainer

Executive Director

Vanessa joined the Square Foot Gardening Foundation in October 2020 as the organization's Executive Assistant and was named the nonprofit’s Executive Director in January 2022.

She brings several decades of experience directing executive leadership offices for multinational financial institutions and management consultancy firms, in addition to holding roles in marketing communications. In support of the C-Suite executives for whom she worked, Vanessa helped plan and execute her firm’s participation at the World Economic Forum annual meeting (Davos) and the International Monetary Fund annual meetings.

Identifying a niche for virtual management of online enterprises, Vanessa launched an online consultancy in 2018. Her clients have included a pharma start-up advisory, international social movements, and a nonprofit foundation.

Having traveled extensively around the world, for the last 10 years Vanessa has primarily lived in Costa Rica as an expat, working with at-risk migrant communities. She holds a master’s degree in global affairs with a concentration in economic sustainable development and a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.

Kelly Rhoads

Marketing & Communications Director

Kelly has been a member of the Foundation team since February 2021, initially producing our Zoom webinars. Since Fall 2021 she has led our social media, marketing and communications initiatives and works closely with our Certified Instructors.

A Fortune 500 communications executive with decades of experience in manufacturing, Kelly pivoted her focus to the horticultural industry after a lifetime as a gardener. She coaches garden thought leaders, clubs and institutions on digital technology, and helps them grow their brand, audience and impact through the effective deployment of social media.

She is a Six Sigma Green Belt and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Miami University of Ohio.

Kate Horbach

Senior Project Manager

Kate joined the Square Foot Gardening Foundation team in April 2021. As our Senior Project Manager, she supports our customer service and sales initiatives as well as the Certified Instructor, web development and grant programs at the Foundation.

Kate started her career as an assistant to the General Manager of an industrial supply e-commerce company, where she was promoted to Operations Manager. In her role with the Foundation, she is constantly improving our efficiency with her significant digital technology and data analysis skills.
Kate is a graduate of the Military Academy in Kharkov, Ukraine where she earned a master's degree in philology and translation.