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Board of Directors

The board oversees the mission, vision, financial and legal matters of our organization. If you have questions about the board please email and we'd be happy to help you!

Kara Jo Levery, Board President

After graduating from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology and minors in Spanish and Italian Studies, I joined Truman’s Office of Admission. I continued from my undergraduate involvement with Alpha Phi Omega (a co-ed national service fraternity) by becoming an advisor for the organization.  I am so happy to begin serving with the Take Root Board as well!I began by donating and volunteering to help set up the café. After multiple interactions with Jessica, Tracy and Barbara related to presentations I gave on digital marketing, Barbara invited me to see if joining the Board would be a good fit. I gladly accepted, and am very proud to be associated with such amazing people and an incredible resource for our community. Take Root’s mission statement speaks deeply to my heart and the core values I have in life. I feel that supporting those suffering from food insecurity is a nuanced issue. Solely providing food is a way to help, but doing so in a way that is nourishing to the body -- and respectful to our planet, the livelihoods of those that partner with us, and to the people we’re aiming to help – is, to me, a more promising avenue in helping alleviate food insecurity in our area. 

John Smelcer, Vice President

john smelcer dynamite.jpg

I have served on the board of directors of various nonprofits as well as having served as executive director for others. A professor and writer by profession, I am the Inaugural writer-in-residence for The Charter for Compassion, the world's largest and most comprehensive compassion movement with over 8.5 million members in 45 countries.

Amanda Montgomery, Secretary

I am the founder of GypsySeeds, a non-profit organization that envisions a healthy and happy lifestyle for people and their communities. GypsySeeds hopes to inspire people to reconnect with the gifts of nature by sharing philosophies of yoga, permaculture and essential oils. I teach yoga in the community and educate people about holistic methods, like essential oils, for better health and wellness. I am also the manager of the Gaber Solar Garden at Truman State University, where I mentor students and the community about the importance of pollinators and native Missouri plants. 

​I recently moved to Kirksville from Fenton, Michigan. Plans for the future include buying land in Kirksville and starting a wellness retreat center.


B.S. Truman State University 2012

C.Y.T. Good Karma Yoga Studio 2013

T.T.C. Vyayam Traditional School, Rishikesh 2016

Stacey Payne, Treasurer

My husband and I moved to Kirksville several years ago so that I could attend Truman. We like the Kirksville community and think it is a great place to raise our children, so we made Kirksville our home. I am a CPA/Partner at Kollar, Abernethy & Company. I am excited to be part of Take Root because of the sense of community it promotes on multiple levels - providing healthy meals, supporting local vendors, and providing community events.

Tracy Parks

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and have a private practice in Kirksville out of Complete Family Medicine. I have been in practice here for 2 yrs and also had a private practice in KC before moving here. I am also devoted to making this world a better place and learning more about ancient wisdom and permaculture. My wife(Jessica Parks) and I both had this vision that became more and more specific over the last 3 or so years. We have been working on it from vision form to it's current form for the last 18 mos or so. I am intimately connected with all of the concepts and see them as synergistic.

My favorite activity here involves enjoying the natural world and also gathering with the many wonderful people in this area. My favorite food is probably Pizza. I prefer it to be all organic with the meat being locally and humanely raised. However, chicken tika masala is also quite amazing. Oh, and I love enchiladas and burritos. Okay, I'm a foodie.I have driven across the country diagonally in an old beat-up minivan pulling a pop-up camper over the course of about 6 months. Mountains are quite interesting to climb with that setup by the way.

Sarah Mohler


I am an assistant professor of English at Truman. My academic interests include Russian literature, film studies, South Asian culture, and children’s literature. My husband and I moved to Kirksville in 1999. We have one daughter. I like to read, take walks, do yoga, cross-stitch, and play board games with my family. I have been an enthusiastic patron of Take Root since it opened, and I welcome the opportunity to serve on the board. I hope to help support its mission in any way that I can.

Dereck Daschke


Bio Coming Soon!

Lori Haxton

Bio Coming Soon!

Melissa Thompson


Bio Coming Soon!

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