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Greenhouse Project Co-Founder Sidsel Robards Shifts from Director of Development to Strategic Planning Role on Board of Directors

August 2, 2020

Press Release

New Leadership Structure at New York Sun Works

Sidsel Robards departs after a decade as co-director, to take on a strategic role; Manuela Zamora remains as Executive Director. Growth continues to accelerate at the leading K-12 specialty science education provider. 

New York City, August 2nd, 2020. New York Sun Works (NYSW) today announced that Sidsel Robards, one of the founders of the company’s core Greenhouse Project program, has moved out of daily operations and into a strategic role.

Since 2008, Robards has been at the heart of New York Sun Works’ campaign to build greenhouse science classrooms in New York City public schools. Merging science, sustainability, and hydroponic food production, over 130 of the laboratories have been built to date across all five boroughs of the city, and the pace continues to accelerate as demand for NYSW’s equipment, teacher training, and comprehensive K-12 curriculum remains strong. As a co-founder of the Greenhouse Project, Robards worked with education authorities, teachers, and administrators over many years to secure the multitude of individual school partnerships that have proven critical to the organization’s mission.

From 2010 to 2019, Robards served as Director of Development & Events, and for most of that time she chaired the organization’s Board of Directors. During that period, Robards and Manuela Zamora worked as Co-Directors successfully launching the Greenhouse Project and growing it into a proven model for hands-on science and sustainability education in New York City.

As a development officer, Robards established successful partnerships with DOE’s School Construction Authority and many local elected officials, resulting in lasting collaborations and millions of dollars in capital allocations to build greenhouse classrooms and implement the NYSW science and sustainability curriculum. Other highlights of her tenure include a multi-year collaboration with Bregal Investment to build classrooms in underserved communities, and a partnership with New York Power Authority to support over twenty classrooms where they are needed most.

She also organized the annual gala for New York Sun Works for eleven consecutive years, adeptly managing every aspect of event planning and execution. Through the gala platform, she personally introduced the organization, as well as its mission of science and sustainability education, to countless supporters in the philanthropic, business, and public sectors. She also implemented the organization’s press strategy and oversaw public affairs, press releases, branding, marketing, website development and social media accounts.

Mrs. Robards played a key role in building community relationships around the Greenhouse Project. Examples include the organization’s ’s CONNECT program, which enables students to use their scientific knowledge outside the classroom to help their local communities. Typical activities include forming green teams, partnering with local chefs to teach nutrition, and creating school-based farm stands. These programs and others have become especially powerful in food desert communities.

Robards has chosen to step aside from her operational role at NYSW to focus on new projects, while taking a leading role in the board of director’s strategic initiatives. “I am very proud of the community of principals, teachers, friends and funders I have built around NYSW over the years.  Our many successes prove that we are at the forefront of the science and sustainability movement, and I am excited to continue advancing NYSW impact in the world of education.” 

As co-founders, Zamora and Robards closely collaborated these past 12 years cultivating NYSW growth and success and Zamora will continue to serve as the Executive Director, a post she has held since 2012, following her two years as Director of Education Programs. “It seems like it was yesterday when, in 2008, I asked Sidsel to join me in replicating the Science Barge initiative at P.S.333, our first partner school. It was clear to us that science and sustainability education were fundamental to understanding the environmental challenges of our times and therefore should be part of the next generation’s core education. The combination of hydroponic urban farming technology and a progressive approach to education became the base of what then grew into a successful program and an innovative way of learning science. But what was central to our success was the wonderful partnership that Sidsel and I built from day one; the program outcomes were multiplied by the team effort that characterized the12 years we worked together. We look forward to expanding upon the valuable contributions that Sidsel has made to the organization as NYSW continues to grow in the future.”

Dr. Ted Caplow, founder of NYSW  and current Chair of the Board, added “I am humbled by Sidsel’s enormous contributions to the development of NYSW and to the schools we serve, taking this project from the Science Barge classroom in 2008 to over 130 science lab classrooms by 2020. New York Sun Works’ active presence today in NYC public and private schools is a testament to the hard work, durable focus, and spirit of intense cooperation that Sidsel and Manuela have created together.” 


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