Our Team

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Board of Directors

Adrienne Heim
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/FOUNDER

Adrienne is the founding executive director of Green Generations. In 2002 she started her educational career as a Teach for America corps member at PS1 in the South Bronx. For almost six years she was a bilingual (Spanish and English) first, second, and third grade teacher and organized and directed an after-school choral program for two years. In 2006, she participated in NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program and in the same year moved to Paris to join the Living School team — an innovative primary school dedicated to holistic, whole-child, and environmental teaching practices.

Adrienne became devoted to the dream of creating a place in the Bronx where children, parents, and teachers would learn to develop their potential in a joyful, loving, and respectful environment so they, in turn, can become community leaders, responsible eco-citizens, and make meaningful contributions to the world.

Green Generations is the realization of her vision and culmination of years of teaching experience, study with experts in the field, and extensive research that carried her across America and beyond to the most innovative and cutting-edge schools and green community center initiatives in existence today.

Adrienne is a certified elementary teacher and has a Master’s of Science in Bilingual Education and will soon acquire a certificate in fundraising from NYU George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising. She has frequently participated in Ethical Leadership trainings by an organization called Recherches & Evolution in Paris, France. She adores teaching and has a passion for inspiring others.

Liz Michelis
VICE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Liz is passionate about teaching to the whole child and creating dynamic and meaningful instruction practices. She has over ten years of experience in education with a focus on teaching children with learning disabilities in grades 5-12. While completing masters programs at Teachers College and 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. In September of 2011, she opened her own private tutoring practice where she continues to educate, guide, and support students as they navigate the challenges of middle and high 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 South Bronx.

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

Brook S. Jackson
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC PLANNING AND OUTREACH

Brook studied environmental science and policy, earning her MPA through Columbia University and the Earth Institute before joining the Partnership for New York City, an economic development nonprofit, where she serves as the Vice President of Policy. Her work includes analysis of economic policies and programs across diverse topic areas including education, workforce development, infrastructure, and sustainability. She most enjoys meeting and collaborating with a wide array of stakeholders across the community.

Brook was the managing director at a large, emergency veterinary hospital in Connecticut where she worked for over ten years utilizing her problem-solving skills and attention to detail to meet client, patient, staff and organizational needs. She managed both day-to-day operations including client care, training, budgets and overall operations as well as contributed to strategic planning with the administrator and board of directors to reinvent the hospital at a time of changing client needs.
She believes that cities should not only provide its residents with a quality environment in which to live, but should allow them to thrive. Urban science, food policy, health and wellness, resource conservation, and lifelong learning are some of the topics that she is most passionate about. She believes that positive change happens when a holistic, inclusive and capacity-building approach to community engagement and development is taken.

Brook is excited to bring her knowledge of urban issues and management experience to help Green Generations create systemic change in local communities by identifying and meeting all of our own greatest potentials.

James M. Vener
DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY

Jim has incorporated his love of science and technology into two other life passions: the environment and learning from different cultures. A professional environmental engineer for over ten years in and around his native New York, Jim supervised and performed clean-ups, site investigations, and construction management.

To broaden his horizons, Jim has spent the last six years with the United Nations through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Paris, France and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the U.S. Jim’s primary responsibility has been to lead and manage projects related to sustainability and economic development in the fields of climate change and clean energy/green business. Jim recently graduated from the master program with the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and holds two additional degrees in agricultural and environmental engineering.

Jim is eager to bring his knowledge and experiences to New York and to Green Generations where he can contribute more at a community level.

Tim

Tim Riker
VOLUNTEER TREASURER

Tim graduated from the University of Richmond in 2009 where he studied finance and accounting and received his Masters of Accounting at Northeastern University in 2010. He spends his day working in private equity at a global bank and is looking forward to working with the close-knit entrepreneurial team at Green Generations.

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 GG by their strong value system and passion for the community. He is excited to begin contributing and helping the team achieve it’s full potential.

Narcisa Ledesma
VOLUNTEER SECRETARY

Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Narcisa received her Master in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs and Citizenship in June 2015. During her time at Maxwell, she served as one of two Vernon Snow Fellows at the Central New York Community Foundation where she provided programmatic support for The Leadership Classroom program for grassroots leaders. Prior to returning to graduate school, Narcisa served as the Program Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator at a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that serves children of incarcerated parents. Although she had no experience in nonprofit, her passion for serving children in disadvantaged communities led her to become involved. Both of her roles allowed her to gain experience in program management, volunteer outreach and recruitment, and partnership cultivation.

Narcisa enjoys traveling, zip lining, and spending time with her friends and family. She is excited to devote her energy and passion towards Green Generations and looks forward to using her skills to give back to her community.

Staff

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Julie Alexander
 FACILITATOR

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 BA 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. She is thrilled to be a part of the Green Generations team, and excited to incorporate creative and expressive art into her teaching at Green Generations.

Volunteers

Jessie

Jessie Norment
VOLUNTEER TREASURER

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 mompreneur, operating her family business from home while raising her children.  During this time, she consulted with other entrepreneurs to help develop business plans, streamline procedures and create systems of accountability within their organizations. She brings several years of business and financial management experience to help support and fulfill Green Generations’ mission.

Jessie holds a BS 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!

Punji Leagnavar
VOLUNTEER FACILITATOR

Punji has always had a passion for the environment.  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 Program and the World Bank.

She loves being a GG volunteer because the kids inspire her, and remind her each time to be a curious learner, and to appreciate the wonder of nature!

Advisors

Ally T

Ally Tufenkjian
AFTER-SCHOOL FACILITATOR

Ally is so thrilled to be one of the newest additions to the Green Generations team!  She 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, 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.

She found that education offered the most promising pathway for change.  She first entered the urban education scene in 2011 as a founding member of Healthclass2.0, 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 is also a Trainer at Global Kids, Inc. where she builds curriculum and leads workshops on youth leadership, human rights, and environmental awareness.

Ally feels incredibly fortunate to be able to explore the hopeful side of the education system through incredible organizations and incredible kids, and looks forward to contributing her empathy and passion to the students of Green Generations.

Victor Chovil
ADVISOR OF DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT

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 GG cyber-office.

He is a computer nerd with a desire to harness this power for good, as evidenced by his commitment to helping Green Generations with any technical issue that may arise. Victor is passionate about learning new things and is excited to be a part of GG’s dynamic and growing team.

Christina Santiago
CURRICULUM PROGRAM ADVISOR

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.

Erica Allis
FOUNDATION AND GRANTS ADVISOR

Erica has over ten years of professional experience in the sustainable development field. She currently works as a Staff Associate at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University where she designs and implements climate risk management projects in developing countries to assist vulnerable communities in adapting to the changing climate. Prior to joining the IRI, Erica worked at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Paris, France where she coordinated program global programs to mainstream best practices and resource efficient technologies into the fisheries, agricultural, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors.

Before joining UNEP, she worked at SNV Netherlands Development Organization in Nepal where she developed and led capacity building sessions for private sector companies to enhance environmental management. She also worked six years at URS Corporation, a private sector engineering firm, where she fostered environmental compliance within various industry sectors and specialized in groundwater investigation and remediation.

Erica is enthusiastic about bridging her knowledge of environmental policy with education. She is inspired to work on a local level here in New York City to contribute to a grassroots effort that improves environmental, educational, and social awareness.

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Sara Rotter
FUNDING AND PROGRAMS ADVISOR

Sara believes that every child should be equipped with the essential life skills to make healthy life choices, build self-efficacy, and develop resilience. She’s committed to providing them with the tools and education they need to thrive in school and in life. She is thrilled for the opportunity to contribute to Green Generations’ mission by offering her advisement on fundraising and evaluation processes,

Sara recently became a LMSW in New York State, and received her masters of science in Social Work at the Columbia University School of Social Work. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Brandeis University, where she found her passion for child development. Sara spent the past year working to provide creative art workshops to homeless youth in shelters throughout New York City. She has experience working in nonprofit organizations in fundraising, community outreach, facilitation, team building, programming and evaluation. She is excited to bring this knowledge to Green Generations.

 Facilitators

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Kathie Arneso
FACILITATOR

Kathie has intensive 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 system. She blends her love for helping people with the arts. In recent years, she has been active in her community as an activist, 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.
She is very excited to bring her skills and wisdom to Green Generations. She is very passionate about working with children and truly believes in Green Generations mission to nurture and empower children with emotional-health and life-skills education.

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Laura Epperson
FACILITATOR

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.

The dedication, love, and joy of the Green Generations community, from students to staff, are abundant and contagious. Laura is beyond excited to add her own passion and experience to the mix as she grows and learns with the Green Generations family.