Harvesting Growth: Cultivating Community through the Hybrid Urban Factory
An accomplished architect by training, and principal of GYDE Architects in Jackson Hole, WY, Nona put that expertise to use building North America’s first vertical hydroponic greenhouse and founding Vertical Harvest Farms. She pioneered the company to focus on inclusive, customized employment for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities alongside her co-founder Caroline Croft-Estay. She conceived the company based on her experiences growing up with a brother with developmental disabilities, love of fresh and local food, obsession with great design and long-standing community involvement. Her organic connection to all aspects of the enterprise continues to fuel Nona’s insight into the business and her dynamic leadership style has led to recognition as a CNN Champion of Change and Vertical Harvest twice being named a finalist for Fast Company’s Best Places to Work for Innovators - Diverse Innovators and Social Impact Awards. She is also a Tony Hsieh Award Fellow, working to reimagine the role of Human Capital in business and a WEF “Global Future Council on Cities” Member. Her career journey has been a perfect arc between architecture and entrepreneurship – landing squarely in the camp of “city builder” and becoming a strong voice for designing a better future through an expanded view of essential civic infrastructure.
Nona graduated from the University of Michigan and then earned a Masters degree in architecture from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Previous to GYDE, Nona was privileged to work with Reiser+Umemoto in New York and 13 years with Jefferson Ellinger, her partner in E/Ye which eventually moved from New York to Jackson, Wyoming.