Our Team


Adrienne Heim, M.S.Ed.

Adrienne is the founding executive director of Green Generations. In just five years, GG has grown under Adrienne’s vision and direction from a concept to thriving partnerships with eight schools throughout New York City and programs for hundreds of children.

An educator for 15 years, GG is Adrienne’s life project built on an educational foundation that began in the South Bronx in 2002 where she worked as a bilingual elementary Teach for America corps member. She then continued teaching at Living School, an award-winning Ashoka school in Paris, France, as the lead English teacher and administrative coordinator. Adrienne has always been passionate about transforming public education and putting into practice holistic, whole-child centered education. Green Generations marries these two passions to help children realize their potential and effect social change.

Adrienne has a Master’s of Science in Education with an extension in bilingual education. She is also a New York State certified elementary teacher (Pre-K – 6), holds a certificate from New York University’s George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, is a certified yoga teacher for children, and participated in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program.



Kathie Arneso, B.A.

Kathie has extensive experience working with diverse communities of at-risk children and youth, adults, and professionals in the social service field which includes the court, educational, mental health, and substance abuse systems. She blends her love for helping people with the arts. In recent years, she has been active in her community as an activist, and an advocate for meditation and self-enlightenment. She has used her work and personal life experiences as a platform to spread positive vibes and inspire others to become a greater version of being. Kathie currently teaches self-awareness and healing through various eastern spirituality practices such as meditation, yoga, and the manifestation of intention.

Kathie is excited to bring her skills and wisdom to Green Generations. She is very passionate about working with children and truly believes in Green Generations’s mission to nurture and empower children with emotional-health and life-skills education.


Joelle Charles, B.Ed.

Joelle has been an educator since 2006. Having grown in up a household that began its own educational nonprofit, Joelle has experienced both sides of the coin: life as a student and life as an educational leader. From this beginning, she has adopted a teaching philosophy which identifies children as the most valued participants in a classroom. She believes in the domino effect where one’s action has a ripple effect. Because of this, she purposefully makes her actions full of kindness, respect, patience, and integrity.

Joelle’s interests in emotional well-being, feminism, and communal healing make their way into her classroom by way of art projects, movies, games, and yoga instruction. She cares deeply about creating spaces for children to be able to learn, grow, and make mistakes without the fear of being judged or ranked.

With this being her first year at Green Generations, Joelle looks forward to carrying on the mission of giving to students the tools they need for emotional management. She is confident that her time with GG will be full of laughs, love, and raising awareness about the importance of student confidence and mental health.

muriel estevez

Muriel Estevez, M.A.

Muriel has always followed her passions: first for higher learning which led her to pursue a Master’s in Psychology in Education at Columbia University in 2015; then, for volunteering her efforts to help develop New York City’s environment and undeserved youth, specifically in Harlem; and finally for yoga, which eventually led her home to Laughing Lotus, where she discovered Lotus Flow and Ayurveda. Muriel completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Lotus in 2016. With a master’s degree in Spirituality, Mind and Body, Muriel loves to infuse her classes with themes that arise from her studies in psychology and her training in yoga therapy, which includes launching a “Kindness Club” for middle schoolers at a community garden in Harlem. She is continually inspired by how these practices bring people together and create community. She believes deeply that the practices of yoga, mindfulness and intention can teach us to live our lives with balance, and grace, if we are willing to do the work.

As a native New Yorker, Muriel is thrilled to bring her passions to Green Generations and give back to children in the public school system.

Board of Directors


Brook S. Jackson, M.P.A.

Brook serves as the Vice President of Policy at the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization with a mission to maintain the city’s position as a global center of commerce, culture, and innovation, where she has worked since 2008. Her work includes analyzing economic policies and building consensus around pragmatic solutions to urban issues that impact the health and resilience of New York City. Previously, Brook worked as the managing director of a large, 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in Connecticut where she oversaw day-to-day operations and helped in strategic planning for the future expansion of the practice.

Brook holds a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science & Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a Bachelor Degree of Science in Biology and Environmental Science from Fairfield University.

Brook believes that cities should not only provide its residents with a quality environment in which to live, but should also allow them to thrive. She most enjoys bringing her knowledge of urban issues and management experience to help Green Generations create systemic change in local communities by empowering youth.


Tim Riker, C.F.A.

Tim works in private equity at a global bank and graduated from the University of Richmond in 2009 where he studied finance and accounting. He also received his Masters of Accounting at Northeastern University in 2010.

After volunteering in the South Bronx the past 3 years, Tim set out seeking to use his love of accounting for good and was drawn to Green Generations by their strong value system and passion for the community. He is eager to continue to contribute his skills and help the team achieve its full potential.

James Vener, M.P.A., M.Eng., P.E.

Jim feels an extremely close connection with his native NYC roots (originally from Queens) and through Green Generations is glad to be able to give back and help children in communities under-served by the public school system. Jim has worked the past seven years in the United Nations system in New York and France, leading technical and political efforts to fight climate change, partner with governments, and help bring affordable and reliable services to all households. Jim has teamed up with GG to help do the same to make a more rich education experience for children in our communities.

A professional environmental engineer for 10 years in the New York area, Jim supervised and performed pollution clean-ups, did lab work to analyze levels of contamination, and oversaw construction. James holds an MPA in environmental policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and MEng in environmental engineering from the University of Florida. He is eager to bring his knowledge and experiences to NYC schools and contribute to Green Generations efforts to contribute at a community level.

Merrill Pond, J.D., M.P.A., M.A.

Merrill is Senior Vice President at the Partnership for New York City, an economic development nonprofit focused on bridging the gap between the public and private sectors. Merrill leads the research team which requires her to know about what makes the city run on a day-to-day basis, particularly in education and workforce development.

Merrill holds a MPA in Environmental Management & Science from Indiana University, and a Master’s degree in Philosophy and J.D. from the University of Connecticut. Her undergraduate degree is in liberal arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland.

Merrill has lived in New York City for over 17 years and is committed to giving back through volunteering and mentoring, especially to the city’s young people. Merrill is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Green Generations on the ground, making real change one child at a time.

Steve Estrada, J.D.

Steve is the Intellectual Property Counsel for a global start up and has a background working in management and operations for growth companies. Steve holds a J.D. from Boston University and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Boston College.

Steve is interested in the impact of socioeconomics on personal growth and opportunity and is excited to lend his legal experience to helping underserved communities. His expertise in intellectual property, corporate development, and operations will help guide Green Generations as we expand and grow.

Elandria Jackson Charles, M.P.A.

Elandria is the Vice President of Development and External Affairs at Blue Engine, an organization that brings together teams of teachers working in historically oppressed communities to reimagine the classroom experience for all students. She is responsible for raising private revenue to meet the organization’s operating needs and shaping its brand identity as it enters an expansion phase.

Prior to joining Blue Engine, Elandria was the Director of Development at Achievement First, a network of 34 public charter schools across NY, CT, and RI. In that role, she was responsible for a $3.5M portfolio of funders and oversaw two Boards of Directors. Elandria holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.P.A from NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Originally from Atlanta, GA, she now calls Brooklyn home.

Mentoring has been a constant in Elandria’s life since 2005, first as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC and most recently as the founder of SHINE (Sisters Helping Inspire New Excellence), a girls mentoring group. She is excited to contribute to Green Generations’ work because it aligns with her belief that students need to be seen and supported holistically to reach their full potential.

Jessica Miller, M.B.A.

Jessica works on the Regulatory team at AIG, managing relationships with regulators around the world, specifically handling topics relating to Finance, Treasury and Capital. Jessica graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science, studying accounting and finance and has an MBA from Fordham University.

Jessica spent over 10 years on the Junior Board of a non-profit in NYC, acting as the Chairperson for 4 of those years, and raised over $1 million for their programs serving high school students in NYCs most underserved neighborhoods. Jessica looks forward to taking what she learned on the board of a larger non-profit and applying it to Green Generations, as they continue to grow with their unique method of providing much needed resources to young children coping in trying environments.

Board Advisors and Volunteers

Elizabeth Litman, M.A.

Liz is passionate about teaching to the whole child and creating dynamic and meaningful instruction practices, and has over 15 years of experience in education. While completing master’s programs at Teachers College and studying at the Bank Street College of Education, she began her teaching career at the Churchill School and Center where she taught 7th and 8th grade for nine years. Beginning in 2011, Liz ran her own private tutoring practice for five years where she continued to educate, guide, and support students as they navigate the challenges of middle and high school. Currently, she is a Dean of Students for grades 6 -9 at Avenues: The World School.

Liz believes that with the most appropriate supports, personal strategies, and encouragement, all students can accomplish their goals and thrive both inside and outside of the classroom. She is also passionate about nutrition and fitness education and is excited to educate and motivate children and families to make healthy choices in all aspects of their lives. Liz understands the pivotal roles that family and community play in the education of a child and is thrilled to be working in the greater NYC area.

Liz is eager to bring her positivity, encouragement, and experience to empower the children and families of Green Generations.

Punji Leagnavar, M.A.

Punji has always had a passion for the environment. She currently serves as International Affairs Officer at World Bank Group with an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University. She has worked on the Mekong River with local communities in Thailand, taught environmental education to schools in Seattle, and worked on international environmental policy with the United Nations Environment Programme and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

Punji initially volunteered with Green Generations as a volunteer facilitator because children inspire her and remind her to be a curious learner, and to appreciate the wonder of nature. She now serves GG by advising the Board through strategic outreach and planning.

Christina Santiago, M.S.Ed.

Christina is the consummate educator. She has been teaching in NYC elementary public schools for over 25 years. She’s also served the NYC Department of Education as a math coach and a technology specialist. Christina is passionate about whole-child education, connecting children with nature, and teaching children about healthy nutritional habits. She is a first-generation Puerto Rican, born and raised in the South Bronx.

Christina is excited to reconnect with her community and share her valuable expertise with us at Green Generations.

Victor Chovil, B.A.

Victor graduated from the University of Washington in 2012 with a B.A. in Global Studies. He now works at an event tech company in Long Island City and is often referred to as “Victor-pedia” in our Green Generations cyber-office.

Victor is gifted when it comes to all-things computer-related and has the desire to harness this power for good, as evidenced by his commitment to helping Green Generations with all technical issues that arise. Victor is passionate about learning new things and is excited to be a part of GG’s dynamic and growing team.


Jessie Norment, M.B.A.

Jessie began her professional career as a tax accountant with Watson Rice serving the non-profit sector. She moved on to Rothstein Kass where she expanded her skill set to include knowledge of the sports, entertainment, and hedge fund industries. In 2007, Jessie took a break from corporate life to become a mom-preneur, operating her family business from home while raising her children. During this time, she was a consultant for other entrepreneurs to help develop business plans, streamline procedures, and create systems of accountability within their organizations. She brings business and financial management experience to help support and fulfill Green Generations’s mission.

Jessie holds a B.S. from Howard University and an MBA from the Simon Business School, University of Rochester. She is married with three wonderful children and resides in the Bronx.

Jessie has a burning curiosity about all things financial and holistic, which some would say are seemingly on opposite ends of the spectrum. Imagine her delight when she found this opportunity at Green Generations – to marry two of her favorite interests while helping members of the community where she was born and raised. Awesome!


Sara Rotter, L.M.S.W.

Sara believes that every child should be equipped with the essential life skills to make healthy life choices. She’s committed to providing children with the tools and education they need to thrive in school and in life.

Sara is a human resources professional with a focus on recruitment. She is also Licensed Social Worker, and received her masters at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Sara has experience working in several nonprofit organizations in the areas of fundraising, community outreach, facilitation, team building, programming and evaluation.
Sara is thrilled for the opportunity to contribute to Green Generations’s mission by providing advisement on fundraising and evaluation processes.

Ally T

Ally Tufenkjian, B.A.

Ally originally came to New York to pursue an acting career, but began to feel that her work should serve a higher purpose. While studying Theater and Psychology at Eugene Lang College in the New School for Liberal Arts, she tackled weighty topics such as privilege, systemic oppression, and cultural insensitivity. Inevitably, she saw these issues infiltrate her work as a theater practitioner, educator, and activist.

Ally found that education offered the most promising pathway for change. She first entered the urban education scene in 2011 as a founding member of Healthclass 2.0, a fitness and nutrition program dedicated to serving low-income public schools. Remaining passionate about the arts, she began working as a Teaching Artist in 2013, working with organizations such as the CUNY Creative Arts Team, the Young Players Theater, and the Community-Word Project. She was also a Trainer at Global Kids, Inc. where she built curriculum and led workshops on youth leadership, human rights, and environmental awareness.

In 2015, Ally became a Green Generations facilitator and moved to Texas to pursue her M.F.A. in Drama and Theater for Youth and Communities at The University of Texas. She continues to offer her expertise in curriculum development to GG.


Julie Alexander, B.A.

Empowering youth, promoting healthy self-esteems, and enhancing children’s social and emotional growth inspire Julie’s passion to teach children. She greatly enjoys and values being a support system for children as a mentor and teacher. Julie has been an educator in various environments for the past four years, including as a teacher’s aide in Cuzco, Peru and as an after-school teacher in Boquete, Panama where she worked with Casa Esperanza, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Ngöbe Buglé children’s health and education and ending child labor.

After earning a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Columbia University, and completing her research as a Graduate Fellow at the Consortium on Gender, Security, and Human Rights in Boston, Julie returned to New York City with aspirations to combine her analytical and academic background with her love of teaching children. She did so most recently as a Trainer at Global Kids, Inc. where she worked with middle school youth in Washington Heights, creating and facilitating interactive workshops that broke down complex environmental and social justice issues.

As a visual artist, Julie believes that aesthetics have tremendous power to promote peace and wellness. For nearly 2 years Julie was a Green Generations facilitator and is thrilled to continue contributing as she pursues her M.Ed. at Temple University.


Laura Epperson, B.S.

As an artist and educator, Laura is passionate about empowering young people to find, cultivate, and use their innate creative voices as they collaborate to build engaged, active, and compassionate communities. While studying Theatre Performance at the University of Evansville, Laura ran an after-school theatre program at a local elementary school and began to explore her interest in alternative education at organizations including Living History Farms and the Santa Fe Opera.

Since moving to New York, Laura has been on a constant quest of finding ways in which she can simultaneously use her artist, educator, and activist selves. As a result, she has gotten to work with incredible young people all around the city. From in-school, drama-based literacy residencies with the Creative Arts Team, to after-school, arts enrichment classes with Wingspan Arts and SOOP Theatre Company, Laura’s work aims to exercise participants’ empathy as much as their confidence. In addition to facilitating classes and workshops, Laura recently created an original emotional health curriculum for NaliniKIDS. This 10-unit, grade-specific curriculum aligns with the Common Core to teach Elementary students emotional agency, mindfulness, self-love, and gratitude.

Laura was a Green Generations facilitator for a year and continues to offer her expertise in curriculum development. In 2017, she joined GG colleague Ally Tufenkjian to also pursue her M.F.A. in Drama and Theater for Youth and Communities at The University of Texas.