Who We Are

Chair – Andrew Simons

Principal, Emphas!s Design

Vice Chair – Amy E. Turner

Senior Fellow, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Secretary – Kate Collignon

Partner, HR&A Advisors

Treasurer – Ted Weissberg

Executive Chairman, Digital Marketing Institute

Board Members

Terri Carta, Executive Director, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy

Scott Demel AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CPHD, Marvel

David Dobkin, Managing Director, Head of Acquisitions, Parkway Corporation

Deborah Flynn, Design Consultant

Paul Gertner, CEO, Starborn Industries

Gordon Hill, Climate Index Quantitative Researcher, Gro Intelligence

Richard B. Miller, Vice President, Regulatory, Consolidated Edison Company of New York

Sumner Pingree, Environmental Consultant

Robert Pirani, Director, NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program Hudson River Foundation

Eric Pitt, Climate Finance Consultant, Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets

Kati Solomon, Vice President of Operations, Bryant Park Corporation / 34th Street Partnership

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Staff

Roland Lewis, Interim Executive Director

Roland Lewis has spent his professional career advising and leading civic organizations. In addition to serving BGI, Roland currently serving as an advisor to Building Together, an NGO dedicated to promoting economic development and coexistence between Palestinian and Israeli farmers. Most recently until 2020, he was the founding CEO of the Waterfront Alliance. For 13 years he led that organization to be a powerful and effective voice for a more resilient, accessible, and equitable New York Harbor. Earlier in his career, he was a partner in a law firm specializing in affordable housing and community development. From there he became Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity – NYC guiding it to become a national model of Habitat urban success. A graduate of Columbia University, he received a Masters of City and Regional Planning and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University. He served as co-chair of Housing First! and is currently on the board of Nonprofit New York.

Cait LaMorte, Partnerships Director

Cait LaMorte leads the team on strategic partnerships across various sectors by using her decade of experience in nonprofit fundraising and administration. Cait has previously worked at New York Restoration Project, Central Park Conservancy, and Gowanus Canal Conservancy. She holds a Masters of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU Wagner School of Public Service and a BA in Environmental and Urban studies from New York University. She has dedicated her career to improving NYC's open spaces and enjoys spending downtime in Brooklyn's greenest spots.

Avvah Rossi, Naval Cemetery Landscape & Horticulture Manager

Avvah works at the Naval Cemetery Landscape with the staff to help maintain the space and its plantings and support visitors' engagement with its biodiversity and ecology. She also works on BGI's stewardship and greening projects along the greenway. She is a horticulturist and ISA-certified arborist with experience from many botanical gardens, public parks and and historical gardens. She enjoys teaching people about plants as part of her work in public gardens: including horticulture, arboriculture, and agriculture practices. She is excited to work with BGI to foster thriving habitat for native plants and community involvement in everything from seed saving to street tree care.

Brian Hedden, Advocacy & Greenway Projects Coordinator

Brian coordinates advocacy & project development for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway and citywide greenway network, liaising with elected officials & greenway leads at government agencies, and coordinating the NYC Greenways Coalition meetings, member outreach, & campaigns. Before joining BGI, Brian was a co-founder of Bike South Brooklyn, where he organized actions that resulted in the largest expansion of bike lanes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. Brian was born in New York State, and biked from his native Western New York to his home in Brooklyn along the Empire State Trail the first spring after it opened.

Elizagrace Madrone, Development & Communications Manager

Elizagrace manages the fundraising operations and the overall communications for BGI working to tell the stories of the Brooklyn Greenway itself and of the communities the greenway connects. She has previously worked at a variety of New York non-profits (including Central Park Conservancy and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre) and continues to be an occasional instructor with Bike New York’s Gear Femmes program. In addition to being a bike commuter on all of New York’s greenways and a dedicated enjoyer of the city’s public spaces, Elizagrace is a theater artist and writer making small works across the country.

Leah Retherford, Naval Cemetery Landscape Gardener

Leah Retherford is a gardener at the Naval Cemetery Landscape and works closely with the NCL team to steward the space and welcome visitors. Prior to joining the BGI team, she worked as the Project Manager at the NYC Compost Project hosted by Big Reuse and before that as the Farm Manager at the Queens County Farm Museum. She began urban gardening in Detroit in 2002 where she cofounded Birdtown Community Garden with Bashir Ali Hakim, and realized putzing in the garden is what she's best at.

Laura Marie Ruocco, Naval Cemetery Landscape Gardener

Laura Marie Ruocco is a gardener at the Naval Cemetery Landscape where she works to steward the land and welcome visitors. Previously, she has worked growing ginseng in the Catskill Mountains, farming organic flowers and vegetables in the Hudson Valley, and maintaining residential native plant gardens. Laura Marie came to gardening through the study of herbal medicine, and works with clients as a clinical herbalist.

Sam Silver, Naval Cemetery Landscape Gardener

Sam Silver is a gardener at the Naval Cemetery Landscape where he works to steward the land and engage the public. He has worked across a variety of NYC environmental organizations (GrowNYC, NYC Parks Department, Gowanus Canal Conservancy) as an environmental educator connecting the community to ecological regeneration and waste reduction projects, and previously managed programs and partnerships at Sims Municipal Recycling. Sam is passionate about ecological connection, sound-based creative practices, and is in good company as an urban cycling enthusiast.

Geraldine Simonis, Naval Cemetery Landscape Gardener

Geraldine is a gardener at the Naval Cemetery Landscape and works closely with the NCL team to steward the space and welcome visitors. She has previously worked at a variety of green space organizations, including Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farms, and is passionate about pollinators and connecting city dwellers with nature. After years of gardening and beekeeping on NYC's rooftops, she is excited to be back on terra firma! When she's not chasing after native bees with a macro lens, she can be found in her garden or at your local bakery testing their pastry selection.

Field Research Team

Jack Darcey, Field Research Coordinator

Eric Thompson, Field Research Coordinator

Wisely Chang Wu, Field Research Assistant

Joaquim Stevenson-Rodriguez, Field Research Assistant

Matthew Shore, Field Research Assistant

Max Murgio, Field Research Assistant

Support

Jon Orcutt, Advocacy

Jitasa, Bookkeeping and Accounting

Tech4Results, Website and IT Support

NCL Advisory Committee

Anna Bakis

Sarah Kornbluth

Jeffrey Longhenry

Penn Marchael

Andrew Ullman