Meet the Team


Benjamin Friton is a D.C.-based speech professional. His work has afforded him the rare opportunity to work with many influential organizations and leaders of the philanthropic, professional and political worlds. By working with incredible leaders such as Elie Wiesel and Desmond Tutu, Ben was inspired to pursue efforts that were both humanitarian and sustainable. In 2011, Ben co-founded Can YA Love, an urban gardening non-profit meant to serve the most neglected communities in the world and the children that call these places home. Driven by the desire to end poverty and world hunger, Ben hopes Can YA Love will become a successful enterprise to help low-income people improve their living situations through creativity, cooperation, and love. As a father himself, Ben is interested in the planet’s future and sees helping children in particular, as the most important responsibility we have.


Motivated to make the world a better place and improve our environment, Randy Coleman co-founded Can YA Love to advance sustainable ways of growing food. As Director of Operations, Randy is responsible for gardening projects and organizational operations including governance, finances, and legal requirements. Being a native New Yorker, Randy has always had an interest in the intersection between urban living and the natural environment. Randy studied political science at the University of Maryland and obtained a Master of Public Policy, with a concentration in environmental policy from American University. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife.


Justin Mabeya has spent the last 20 years giving back to his community in Nairobi, Kenya. He hopes to continue to do so as a director of the KenYA Love Project for Can YA Love. The KenYA Love Project is Can YA Love’s first international project that will benefit residents living in informal settelements in Nairobi like the Kibera slum. His vast experience in agriculture in Africa, intellectual property, and community development make Justin the perfect person to head the KenYA Love Project. Justin studied Horticulture at Egerton University, obtained a Master of Science in Crop Protection at the University of Nairobi, and received a diploma in intellectual property from the University of South Africa. Justin lives in Nairobi with his wife and 3 children.


Nick Hitchens currently teaches high school English in Rockville, Maryland. He is also pursuing his graduate degree at American University's Arts Management program. In his spare time he sings for a local funk band, The Superland Stage Band. As a gardener himself, he is excited to be a part of this wonderful and important project.


Emily Hoerner recently graduated from American University, where she studied international development and environmental politics. Emily studied abroad in Kenya and was first introduced to CYL's work while leading an Alternative Break to Nairobi. Emily was was most impressed with CYL's bottom-up, grassroots approach to development and their focus on local partnerships, which led her to continue working with CYL after graduation. Currently Emily is serving as a Development Consultant with CYL, contributing to everything from donor relations to social media and blog writing. She lives in Washington, DC and works for the National Wildlife Federation.


Inspired by the passion and motive of Can YA Love’s founders, Sean Conner joined the organization in the pursuit of improving the world and affecting the environment in a positive way. With a background in Patent Law and Business, Sean immediately saw the unique benefits of CYL’s vertical gardens, as well as the potential for their commercial use. He serves as the Interim Treasurer of CYL and focuses his contributions on Resource Development, among other areas. Sean obtained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. He currently lives and works in the Washington, DC area.


Amanda Rok received her Bachelors of Arts in history and political science from the George Washington University. She has worked as the communications and social media manager at the trade association in Washington, DC since graduation. Currently, serving as the marketing and communications volunteer for CYL, she is excited to be involved in this new and exciting project.