People

WHRI Staff

Matt Hess, Executive DirectorMatt Hess

Matt grew up in Boulder, CO. He came to Waco to attend Baylor where he received a Bachelor of Science in Education in History.  Afterwards, he stayed in Waco and taught at a school for troubled youth.  As a teacher, he saw the difference that working with animals and gardens made on his students, and he began volunteering at WHRI partially with the intention of developing more skills in agriculture and community development.  Matt joined WHRI as the Education Director in 2006 years and 6 years later transitioned to his role as Executive Director.


Patrick Lillard, Farm Operations Director

Lillard FamilyPatrick Lillard grew up among the lakes of central Texas and attended Texas A&M University, earning his B.A. in English in 2000. He then volunteered on Heifer International’s educational farm in Massachusetts for a year, which led to his “ag conversion” and a passion for learning about different farming systems. He spent a couple years traveling and working on farms in Australia and New Zealand before returning to Texas A&M to pursue his M.S. in Horticulture and a Ph.D. in International Agricultural Development. Before coming to World Hunger Relief, Patrick was at Purdue University working on an international project studying organic weed management. He currently serves as the vice president of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and is a member of Southern SARE’s administrative council.

 Patrick and his wife Aime are very glad to be back in their native Texas, as are their three children: Aurora, Sophia, and Rowan.


Rebecca Mann
, Education Mann Family 2and Business Director

Rebecca is another long-time friend of the farm.  Her first exposure to WHRI was through a Baylor class about World Food Problems in 2003. She graduated from Baylor University with a B.A. in International Studies focusing on economics.

Rebecca came to the farm in 2012 as interim Office Manager and realized the farm was a great fit for her and her family.  At the end of summer 2014, she took the position as Education and Business Director merging her previous experience working with and teaching kids with her business interests.  She now oversees our Local Education program which includes on-farm education programming and school garden programs.

Rebecca and her husband are glad to have returned to Waco after three years in Houston. They had their first child, Bridge, in 2013.

 *A special thank you to Fleeting Moments Studio and Sarah Hess for the fun couch pictures of farm staff families!*

Board of Directors

President: Ivy Hamerly

Vice President: Frank Drew

Secretary: Kasey Ashenfelter

Treasurer: Bell Weeden

Dale Barron

Jo Anne Beaty

Dee Dee Carson

Alexis Christensen