Our Staff

Lily Bartlett Youth Programs Manager

As an educator with a love for the natural world, Lily holds a commitment to increasing the wellness of her community and her environment through experiential learning. She has over eight years of experience working in environmental education and workforce development in New Orleans, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. While completing her Bachelor’s degree, she volunteered at F.R.E.S.H. New London mentoring teens on food security in a farm setting. This led Lily to fall in love with youth programming, and she went on to serve as an AmeriCorps/DOI VISTA with Groundwork New Orleans, where her focus was environmental stewardship and economic development. She organized service learning trips on public lands and led the Green Team on water quality monitoring, creating outdoor classrooms, and installing rain gardens for stormwater management. Lily continued to develop her program management skills at Science Club for Girls in Boston, specializing in program implementation, partnership development, recruitment and retainment, and material logistics. Prior to joining Groundwork Hudson Valley, she worked with youth of all ages across southern New Hampshire tutoring math and science, coaching executive functioning, and supporting youth in transitional services. Lily is an outdoor enthusiast, traveler, and artist. She is Colombian-American and strives to create community through music, food, and movement.

Lily is a graduate of Connecticut College, where she earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Astronomy, and a certificate in Public Policy and Community Action. During her studies, she traveled abroad in South Africa, Mexico, and Central America.

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Jerome Cunningham

Jerome Cunningham Development and Communications Associate

Since 2015, Jerome has worked as the Youth Engagement Operations Program Coordinator at The Nature Conservancy, where he oversaw a nationwide environmental school grant program, managing a database of grantees, organizing site visits, crafting bi-monthly newsletters, and leading garden build events for over 130,000 school children across the country.

Before joining Groundwork, Jerome honed his environmental skills through multiple internships with the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy, where he focused on both traditional conservation practices such as GIS mapping, kiosk modeling, and invasive species management along with donor communications, social media, marketing, and philanthropy. Throughout his career, he has worked to connect his passion for nature with his creativity as a spoken word artist, while simultaneously managing complex projects that serve to protect and build a more sustainable world. Jerome is currently serving as a Regional Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program, a highly selective program that supports visionary, action-oriented, and diverse leadership for a sustainable future by providing emerging leaders with the support and guidance they need to launch new endeavors and rise to new leadership positions.

Jerome is a graduate of CUNY’s City College of New York, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Advertising, and Public Relations. Jerome is a self-proclaimed ‘Harlemite’, born and raised in the Sugar Hill district.

Miriam Foley Business Manager

Miriam holds a B.A in Computer Science from Queens College and started her career as a computer programmer. While taking time off to raise her two sons, she became very involved in the Yonkers community and held many positions, including President of the Yonkers Council of PTA/PTSAs. By combining all of the knowledge and skills she acquired, Miriam returned to paid work in the nonprofit sector as a Grants and Finance Manager for local community organizations. As the Business Manager for Groundwork, Miriam provides office support for all of Groundwork’s community programming, which reflect her interests in the local community (especially the schools), the environment and the arts.

 

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Brigitte Griswold.

Brigitte Griswold Executive Director

As Executive Director of Groundwork, Brigitte oversees the organization's efforts to create sustainable environmental change in Yonkers through community-based partnerships that promote equity, youth leadership, and economic opportunity. Prior to joining Groundwork, Brigitte was the Director of Youth Engagement Programs for the Nature Conservancy, where she managed all education, volunteer, and employment programs for young people.  Brigitte is a 2009 Fellow of Green for All, a national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy, and a 2010 Fellow of the Center for Whole Communities, which promotes stronger connections between people, land, and community. Her work has been recognized by The Environmental Protection Agency, The National Park Service, Westchester County, and The City of Yonkers, and she has also received notable awards from The Conservation Fund, The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, The Edison Award Honoring Innovation and Innovators, The US2020 STEM Mentoring Award for Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships, and the Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Achievement Award for individuals who demonstrate creative strategies, courage in execution and leadership in achieving results. Brigitte is a Nonprofit Westchester Board Member and an Advisory Board Member for Westhab in Yonkers. Brigitte holds a B.A in Communications and English literature from the University of South Carolina.

Oded Holzinger Climate Resilience Manager

Oded is an urban planner with a strong passion for environmental justice, community planning and outdoor education. He worked as an outdoor educator and regional manager for a nonprofit working with youth from marginalized communities in Israel. After moving to the U.S., Oded worked as a site manager for a summer camp in the Catskills, where he also helped to develop a unique outdoor education program bringing high schoolers from underserved communities in the NYC Metro Area for wilderness training programs on the campgrounds. After starting his advanced academic studies, Oded interned with the NYC Department of Transportation Bicycle and Greenway Group where he helped to plan and design bike lanes and greenways all over NYC. Prior to joining Groundwork Hudson Valley, Oded worked as a community planning fellow with Brooklyn Community Board 14 on developing a neighborhood greening project. In addition, Oded is a licensed drone pilot who is interested in the intersection between technology and environmental conservation. As Groundwork’s Climate Resilience Program Manager, he works on greenway development, watershed restoration, and climate change mitigation, bringing together his passion for the natural environment, community engagement, environmental education and planning.

Oded holds a BA in Urban and Environmental Geography with a certificate in GIS from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Master’s in Urban Planning with a focus on Environmental Planning from Hunter College.

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Rohullah Mostamand Business Associate

Rohullah Mostamand was born in 1985 and grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan. He graduated from Amani high school, the only school in Afghanistan which is administered and financed by Germany and teaches the German language. His background is in agriculture and he holds a bachelor degree in agriculture and natural resources from Kabul University. He worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation officer and later on as project facilitator for a World Bank funded project called the Horticulture and Livestock Project. In 2017 he started working as an interpreter and instructor for Parks Global Solution and Lomeli Industries LLC (Contractors to the US government). As a result he was granted a Special Immigrant Visa and arrived in the US on Nov 15 2021.

Genie Raven Climate Resilience Associate

Genie attributes her love for and deep appreciation of the natural areas within New York to her father. She grew up enjoying the parks and gardens of the Bronx, like Wave Hill, Van Cortlandt, and the NYBG, as a visitor and later began practicing environmental stewardship within them through internships and volunteer work. Genie holds a B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College and continues her studies through Hunter College’s M.A. in Geography program. After serving with AmeriCorps for a year as a teaching fellow, she transitioned into environmental education with City Growers, the non-profit arm of the Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop farms. Here, she led activities in urban farming and ecology. Genie works with her family to maintain the community fridges in the Northwest Bronx and is excited to apply her experience in food justice work to strengthen local, social and ecological well-being through Groundwork’s climate resilience programs.

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Jhanelle Rahim Youth Programs Associate

Jhanelle's love of the outdoors grew as a little girl in Jamaica. Her grandmother, a horticulturist, kept a small homestead of a few animals and fruit trees. Frolicking in pastures and climbing fruit trees is where her love of the outdoors came to be. Moving to the States, she attended B.O.C.E.S for Urban Forestry during high school. That summer, she worked for Friends of Lasdon Park and Arboretum, which features an array of shrubs and trees. Jhanelle continued her education at Paul Smith's College and earned degrees in both Arboriculture and Environmental Studies, where she gained an understanding of ecology, tree identification, permaculture, tiny living, outdoor education and much more. Her hobbies are hiking, camping, sustainability and watching anime.

Jhanelle has worked with youth as an instructor at Go No Sen Karate and most recently as a coach for Super Soccer Stars. She worked with Groundwork Hudson Valley in the summer of 2021 as a Youth Crew Leader. This year, in 2022, she's back to engage the Green Team in environmental conservation and youth leadership as the Youth Programs Associate.

Candida Rodriguez Director of Community Relations

Candida is responsible for implementing community engagement programs, event organization, and developing public relations strategies, promoting Groundwork’s mission. Candida has experience working alongside community members, local nonprofits, international organizations, and government entities. Her expertise expands through climate change policy, gender equality, migration, education, youth development, and poverty reduction. She began her journey as an international development professional designing and leading community development programs and projects with local nonprofits and later, with international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). While at UNDP, she led communications initiatives and strategies, organized events, and supported a whole-of-government approach to gathering national climate data, and drafting national climate reports and plans.

Throughout her career, she has worked and lived in Fiji, Spain, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. Candida is passionate about the inclusion of vulnerable and underrepresented populations in decision-making, especially on issues pertaining to environmental justice. She enjoys being outdoors, taking up a new hobby, and traveling. She holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology from SUNY Buffalo State College and a Master’s in Migration and Development Studies from the University of Almeria in Spain.

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Joel rodriquez

Joel Rodriguez Sustainability Education Program Manager

Joel is a skilled sustainability professional with over eighteen years of experience in program development and management, environmental education, and community engagement in the nonprofit sector. He has developed dynamic programming for schools and diverse community stakeholders rooted in the principles of sustainability. In his past role as Director of Environmental Education at the City Parks Foundation, he oversaw the creation, implementation and expansion of school day, afterschool, and summer enrichment programs across all 5 boroughs of New York City, with a particular focus on underserved communities. He continues to serve as the Sustainability Coordinator and member of the Zoning Board for his hometown of Elmsford, where he guides sustainability initiatives and represents the village on the Bronx River and Saw Mill Watershed Advisory Boards. He also consults as a subject matter expert on several projects in the Catskills that are focused on permaculture and climate change resiliency. In his free time, Joel enjoys studying invertebrates, both terrestrial and aquatic, fungi, fossils, and has a special interest in waste reduction, upcycling/repurposing and food security.

Joel holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University at Buffalo, a graduate certificate in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University, as well as a graduate certificate in Climate Change and Sustainability and a M.A. in Global Sustainability from the University of South Florida.

Greg Rosen STEM Educator

Greg grew up playing in the woods of Putnam County, N.Y. From 2007-2016, he volunteered at Gankoyama, an off-grid sustainable culture center in Japan. Upon returning to the U.S., he attended a wilderness skills residential program upstate, before becoming an instructor at Queens Botanical Garden. He studied sustainable food systems and climate change for a graduate certificate in Environmental Education at Hamline University, and the benefits of nature experience for an M.A. in Psychology at Queens College, where he now lectures. He is also a steering committee member and garden manager for the sustainability initiative Roots & Wings. Greg is passionate about food sovereignty, foraging, and edible landscapes.
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Ellen

Ellen Theg Director of Programs and Operations

Ellen began her environmental work studying ecology. After interning at the Council on Environmental Quality for a political perspective, she turned to research science at Duke University. Choosing to pursue a secondary interest in film sparked by exposure to classic Japanese and European art films, she settled into the distribution side of the film and television business, developing her skills in intellectual property rights licensing as VP of Business & Legal Affairs for a major European media company. From there, she earned her MBA with a special focus on environmentally sustainable business practices, and brought this perspective to her contribution to The Five Horsemen of the Modern World, Daniel Callahan’s book examining the ‘wicked’ problems of climate change, food and water shortages, chronic health issues and obesity. Ellen joined Groundwork Hudson Valley in 2014 to build its grant and business processes, and served as Principal Investigator for Groundwork’s climate resiliency education grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and project manager for the initial stages of the construction of the Yonkers Greenway. She now serves as Director of Programs and Operations, managing a team of talented professionals in the areas of Climate Resilience, Youth Employment and Sustainability Education.

Ellen holds a B.A in Biology from Wellesley College and an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Karen Tumelty Director of Development

Karen’s career has ranged from working as on-air DJ for a commercial radio station, to product manager for the Irish-American Hip Hop group House of Pain (of Jump Around fame), to building and executing fundraising and growth strategies for organizations including Human Rights First, Riverkeeper, and Greyston.

At Riverkeeper, highlights of her achievements included working with allies like Whole Foods to build awareness about the environmental and cultural importance of the Hudson River. The Earth Month campaign that she created for all of the NYC Whole Foods Markets increased web traffic to over 1,000,000 hits per month and significantly increased online donations. Her non-confrontational approach to story-telling has created new levels of understanding of people and communities that have been marginalized and excluded. For example, while at Greyston, she inspired one of the most iconic social enterprises,The Body Shop, to adopt Open Hiring practices at the distribution center and in their retail stores. This, in turn, resulted in increased donor confidence and gift size. She works from a core value of listening to people and helping them connect to the work that will help them be the change they want to see in the world.

Karen is an avid cook who enjoys exploring new cultures through flavor and is also an accomplished knitter. She was raised in Yonkers and has lived in our community for much of her life. She has served as Vice Chair of the Yonkers Human Rights Commission, was the founding Chair of the Yonkers Alliance for Latino and Immigrant Services, and was the Formation Chair for the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day Parade for many years.

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Annie Vargas Sustainability Education Associate

Annie Vargas is a highly motivated individual that has a love for teaching and learning. Annie has always been very involved in their community, academically and socially. Their experience in undergraduate and Americorp Member of City Year are indicators of their love of education and community development—the impact that it can have on the recipients and students. While attending Wells College, Annie's presence was known and felt on campus. You could find them in attendance at many community events, some of which were either a club member, eboard member and or volunteer. Annie was a mentor to first generation first year students that were having trouble adjusting to college and the workload, a student teacher at Peachtown Elementary School, and assistant chemistry technician at Columbia University and Wells College. Annie was the treasure and member of 'Umoja' Wells College's Black student union. President of the Wells College 'Let's Eat' committee in which they met with the college's food providers, and advocated for students' needs. Annie was also a member of the Colleges Latinx club, Model UN, and 2 LGBTQ+s clubs. Due to this experience, Annie was able to work as the Diversity and Inclusion with Wells College Student Activities Department, where they produce informative lectures on campus and off-campus, events, and community gatherings to develop a stronger community relationship with everyone. Annie aided in the amending and implementation of college policies for individuals of the trans/LGBTQ+ communities on campus, food policies for those with allergies/dietary restrictions and religious limitations, and creating opportunities for ASL and ESL students to have educational workshops at the Long Jefferson Library.

As an Americorp member with City Year, Annie had an opportunity to assist teach mathematics and social sciences at CIS 303 located in the South Bronx. There, Annie was able to serve as a National Equity Advisory Council member, where they voiced the concerns that students needed to succeed during the COVID-19 epidemic and was able to create a partnership with Verizon to deliver tech equipment to families. Presently, Annie is happy to be able to continue their studies at Lehman College aspiring to obtain their masters of arts in ethnobotany.

Annie is an important pillar of any community that they join in. Annie truly loves helping others, educating, and creating resources for everyone.