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Meet Our Team (Temp)

Manuela Zamora, Executive Director

Ms. Zamora, Executive Director since 2012, has brought hydroponic farming technology into the NYC public school classroom to teach sustainability science and climate education through the lens of urban farming. Today, 250 public schools and over 100,000 students grow, year-round, hundreds of pounds of fresh food while learning about ecology, sustainable development, water and land conservation,  and  human impact on the environment, all integrated in the school’s curricula.

Megan Nordgrén, Director of Program Development

Megan Nordgrén has always worked as an environmental advocate, with organizations such as NRDC and Green Corps, and also at the international level on United Nations international waters projects.  Once her oldest child entered kindergarten, Megan saw the need to work with NYC public schools to improve their sustainability and science education and co-chaired the District 3 Green Schools Group.  Megan is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.  While on a Fulbright Fellowship in Estonia, she met her Swedish husband with whom she has 3 children.

Margarita Rosas, Director of Finance & Operations

M.P.A 2015 Cornell University, B.S Economics and Business Degree Andes University

Mrs. Rosas is a consultant on information technology and a public investment management expert for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with experience in Latin America and Africa. Born and raised in Colombia, Margarita was the deputy director for social investments for the national government of Colombia for eight years and the founder of the New Life for Everyone Foundation in 2001, an educational organization who supports enrichment activities for children living in the slum areas of Bogota city. Now, as a parent of two, Margarita lives in New York and continues her efforts to improve education as a PTA board member at Upper West Side school, P.S. 84.   All these experiences sparked the interest and passion of Mrs. Rosas for working in an educational grassroots organization such as NY Sun Works.

Dave Hazan, Director of CEA Operations

Dave is an urban farmer who specializes in aquaponics and hydroponics. He has helped to build and maintain farms throughout the tri-state area, including at the Doe Fund locations, Brooklyn Rescue Mission in Bedford Stuyvesant, The Point in the Bronx, Restoration Farm on Long Island and Lani’s farm in New Jersey. Before joining NY Sun Works he worked as a consultant advising schools, corporations and individuals on soil, aquaponic and hydroponic farming systems.

Dave has a degree in mechanical engineering and years of experience in sales, marketing and product development. He was born and raised in Venezuela and has lived all over the world- everywhere from Spain to China. He resides in New York City.

Sajeeda Frazier, Operations Manager

Sajeeda is a former STEM teacher in NYC public schools who has a passion for the intersection of sustainability and education. She has experience helping several small businesses and startups become more efficient and sustainable.  She was born and raised on Long Island and now resides in the Bronx with her husband, new baby boy and energetic Siberian Husky. Sajeeda loves traveling and any chance she gets is looking to experience another part of the world. When she’s not working or traveling you can find her hanging out with her huge family, trying new restaurants around the city or anywhere outside with nature- the beach, on a hiking trail, her parents backyard.

Sajeeda holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Howard University, a masters in Sustainability from CUNY City College and a Masters of Education from Relay Graduate School for Education. She is excited to be joining such a passionate and dynamic team and do her part in making the city more sustainable.

Nathaniel Coburn, SHRM-CP, Associate Director of Human Resources

Nathaniel is a SHRM-CP certified human resources professional and nonprofit polymath who is passionate about supporting the goals of the growing team at NY Sun Works. Joining NY Sun Works in 2014, Nathaniel has held positions in multiple departments and roles to meet the needs of the organization thoughout its growth.

A former line cook, baker, and chef, Nathaniel sought to merge his passions for food and social change at New York University’s Food Studies program, where his studies primarily focused on food justice and scalable local distribution systems. Upon completion of his graduate work at NYU, Nathaniel worked as a grant writer and contributing reporter for Heritage Radio Network, a nonprofit Brooklyn-based internet radio station dedicated to food issues.

Elana Mass, Senior Development Manager

Elana comes to NY Sun Works with a passion for sustainable communities and a background in urban and environmental policy. She taught in the Urban Studies department at Long Island University for many years and, as an urban planning consultant, worked with NY metro-area communities to develop their long-range vision for growth and assess the environmental impacts of proposed projects.  Most recently, she’s consulted on grant-writing and outreach around food waste reduction and other sustainability issues.

Elana holds a B.A. in political science from Tufts University and Masters of Urban Planning from NYU.  A long-time New Yorker, she and her family reversed hemispheres and seasons by moving to Auckland, NZ in 2015, where they lived for over two years.  They now live north of the city, where Elana gardens optimistically and is active in her community’s sustainability initiatives.

Madeline Turner, Program Development Manager

Madeline joined the NY Sun Works team in 2021 and primarily works with new school partners to assist with logistics, funding, and room design for their new hydroponic farm classrooms. Originally from Ann Arbor, Madeline attended the University of Michigan, where she studied history and Arabic. After graduating, she joined a fellowship that introduced her to urban gardening in Detroit, giving her the opportunity to learn how to grow food on a working farm and about expanding access to fresh, nutritious and culturally specific food in the city through family and community gardens. After completing the fellowship, she worked as a case worker with the Arab Community Center in Dearborn assisting renters and homeowners with missed housing and utility payments during the pandemic. Now living in Brooklyn, she spends much of her spare time at farmers markets, her neighborhood community garden, and listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album. She is excited to be working with NY Sun Works to help ensure students have the tools, education and skills we need to tackle local and global climate issues.

Jake Bronstein, Communications and Social Media Coordinator

Jake is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, having moved to New York to pursue a degree in Digital Technology and Emerging Media at Fordham University. With a background of work based in non-profits and B Corps, he is one of the many members of NY Sun Works passionate about social good, especially in the realms of health and science. He specializes in digital media, helping to spread the word about hydroponics, sustainability, and urban farming online. Reading Viking sagas, writing poetry, gaming, and spending time with his cat are what take up most of his free time. He is honored to hold a position at NY Sun Works and looks forward to helping make NYC greener one school at a time.

Ivan Jordon, Finance Associate

MariaJose Aparicio, Finance Associate

MariaJose holds a BS degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico. Prior to joining NYSW MariaJose worked at General Electric focusing in Marketing and Business Development for GE Healthcare and GE Global Growth and Operations.

She is thrilled to be part of NY Sun Works as she is passionate about supporting initiatives that improve our environment and will guarantee a better future for next generations.

Ariel Duran, Area Manager

Ariel is passionate about food and has worked in different areas of the food system. He has experience working in kitchens, gardens, classrooms, and on farms working with food at different stages. Originally from Valley Stream, NY, Ariel has also worked around NYC as well as in the Hudson Valley, Cape Cod, and the Allegheny mountains of Virginia. He studied entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability at Baruch College in Manhattan. Ariel is excited to be a part of the positive push towards a sustainable future at NY Sun Works.

Carlos Quintana, Area Manager

Carlos is a citizen of the globe born and raised in NYC.  He’s an educator who has worked for over 20 years in K-12 and higher education settings. His work focuses on imagining and building a world that values people, animals, plants, and the planet above profit.  As a city kid, he didn’t have many opportunities to grow things, but is now an emerging hydroponics farmer.  Carlos has a degree in education and sociology.  In his free time he loves spending time with his two kids playing soccer, listening to music, and having fun in the kitchen.

Kristen Rodriguez-Salas, Area Manager

Kristen grew up in Sacramento, CA. She graduated from San Fransisco State University with a degree in Cinema.  After living in San Fransisco for a decade, she moved to NYC. In 2013 she spent the summer working on a farm in Vermont which inspired her to look for urban agricultural opportunities when she returned to NY.  She then worked as an apprentice at Brooklyn Grange. She is currently taking classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in their Horticulture Certificate program. She is excited to join the NYSW team where she can combine her love of education and urban farming!

Spencer King, Area Manager

Spencer began his agricultural career as an apprentice on a popsicle farm in rural Georgia, sparking a deeper interest in sustainable agriculture, food access, and food sovereignty. He went on to work a wide variety of jobs throughout the food system, eventually moving to Colorado to complete a master’s degree in Sustainable Food Systems. He approaches agricultural education through both an academic and hands-on lens, and is passionate about creating a more just, equitable, and accessible food system through education and community engagement.

Education Team

Becky Higgins, Professional Learning Manager

Becky is passionate about creating equitable access to environmental education for youth and citizens.
As a former urban science educator and science content specialist for Johns Hopkins University, Becky has developed a deep passion for expanding access to scientific knowledge and advocacy opportunities for all. Becky has conducted research on white shark migration while working in Mossel Bay, South Africa and on pilot whale communication at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Becky was also a Teach for America corps member, and she and her students were awarded an Official Citation by the Secretary of the State of Connecticut for their work to ban fracking waste from the state of Connecticut. Becky also joined Cyan Planet, an organization that creates virtual reality experiences to increase ethos for our oceans and the environment, and has worked with the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University with their Eco Ambassadors program to build partnerships between students and the private sector. Throughout her research, teaching, and nonprofit experiences, Becky has remained fully committed to providing equitable access to climate change and sustainability education, conservation, and leadership opportunities for youth and citizens. Becky continues to center her work on expanding environmental knowledge and advocacy to all; amplifying opportunities for youth through strategic partnerships and innovative solutions. Becky received her Bachelor of Science from Cornell University where she studied biology, marine science, and education and holds a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University.

Julia Levine, Curriculum Specialist/Teacher Trainer

Born in New York City and raised in Westfield, New Jersey, Julia has a passion for making learning fun and interesting for students, supporting teachers and helping the world adapt to a more sustainable future. She graduated from Penn State University, with a major in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a minor in English as a Second Language (K-12). At Penn State, she student-taught a third grade class as part of the Penn State College of Education’s Professional Development School and co-taught English as a second language at La Universidad Técnica Particular in Loja, Ecuador. For the past three years, she has taught at Westridge Elementary School in Woodbridge, Virginia – two years of third grade and one year of second grade. Julia is very excited to be a part of the NY Sun Works team to help make learning about sustainability interesting for students.

Hannah Luna, Curriculum Specialist/Teacher Trainer, CEA Program Manager

Hannah Luna believes that science is a story best told in the classroom. Hannah comes to NY Sun Works with ten years of teaching experience in a variety of courses including integrated middle school sciences, AP Biology, Living Environments, Chemistry, and much more. Hannah prioritizes lessons that allow for real-world application that is designed to be hands-on and inquiry-based. Hannah received her Bachelor’s in biology at Barry University during which she often scuba dived and worked to help restore sea grass beds. Hannah then received her masters in secondary education and education specialist in curriculum design at the University of Georgia. Hannah was able to conduct action-based research in the classroom and collect field data on lion migration in Botswana. Hannah is excited to join the NY Sun Works team and develop curriculum that can continue to develop into a rich story in the classroom.

Joliette Mandel, Curriculum Specialist/Teacher Trainer

Originally from Ridgefield, CT, Joliette is thrilled to combine her passions for education and sustainability. Joliette taught for four years at Samara Community School, a dual language school in the Bronx, where she developed her passion for project-based learning and language equity in education. Before teaching in New York City, she student taught at the International Grammar School in Sydney, Australia, and several schools throughout the Boston area. She received her B.S. in Elementary Education and ESL from Boston University and her M.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Urban Education. Joliette is excited to be part of the NY Sun Works team and push for hands-on science experiences in classrooms throughout the tri-state area.

Sarah Young, Curriculum Specialist/Teacher Trainer

arah approaches her work at NY Sun Works with a passion for sustainability, environmental education, and experiential learning as well as a strong background in the humanities and social sciences. She earned her BA from The University of Chicago, having majored in Comparative Human Development and minored in Spanish. She then earned her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University in Philosophy and Education and wrote her thesis on, “Education for Addressing the Ecological and Climate Crises: Developing a Care For the Earth through Aesthetic Experiences.” Throughout her studies, she explored the intersection of topics such as Indigenous education, equity, experiential education, climate change education (particularly in an urban context), and the meaning of education itself. She has extensive experience working with students of all ages and is accustomed to the nature of work at a growing nonprofit. Throughout her education, she volunteered in classrooms with young students, and in her most recent position, served as a SAT/College Readiness teacher for 11th graders. She has experience serving as a mentor, teacher, tutor, writing instructor, and program developer and is so excited to bring this experience to an organization whose mission she is passionate about. Sarah is thrilled to be a part of the NY Sun Works team and looks forward to working with students and teachers to further their development as scientists and changemakers as we move towards a more sustainable future.

Cindy Lee, Graphic Design

Cindy Lee is a proud native New Yorker. She left a career as an Executive Assistant to go back to school, where she earned her Associates in Liberal Arts/Social Sciences in 2018 and her BFA in Design from the School of Visual Arts in 2021. As a Graphic Designer who is passionate about creating clean, thoughtful visual elements that will engage viewers, she has proudly collaborated with some great companies and organizations that champion important social issues. She is proud to continue this journey with New York Sun Works and strongly believes in their mission of education and sustainability.

Melissa Arias, Purchasing Officer

Melissa Arias studied religion, Latinx studies and comparative literature at Williams College. After graduating, she worked as a paralegal representing children suffering from health issues related to toxic exposure. As part of this work she witnessed some of the dire consequences of unsustainable and unethical food and energy models and became interested in sustainable alternatives. As a graduate student at Union Theological Seminary, she focused on eco-feminism and complemented this academic research with some practical experience as a New York Sun Works intern. Today she works as part of the greenhouse team, helping teachers and students all over the city with their hydroponic labs.

Greenhouse Support Team

Alex Lola, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

For as long as he can remember, Alex has been incredibly interested in connecting to nature through gardening and planting. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Alex believes that an urban environment can still hold lots of space for vibrant and sustainable ecosystems with plenty of flora and fauna for residents to appreciate and utilize. Alex holds a Bachelor’s in environmental studies, is a certified Citizen Pruner, and has experience working for nonprofits in the urban ecology and environmental advocacy fields. As a product of NYC public schools, Alex is very excited to help students learn about hydroponics and aquaculture, and connect to the natural world right in their own classrooms.

Alvaro Gonzalez, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Alvaro Gonzalez originally studied Agroecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He moved to NYC in 2021 to pursue a career in urban agriculture and sustainable education. In his spare time, he enjoys adventuring around the city in search of new restaurants and playing in a handful of soccer leagues.

Eamon Callahan, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Eamon grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He has a lifelong passion for food and sustainability. Outside of that, he loves playing the drums and all things musical!

Melissa Laudenbach, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Melissa is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz where she studied French and Spanish. A plant enthusiast from a young age, she has been a gardening and hydroponics hobbyist for many years. Having decided to make her passion for plants part of her professional life, she began work on an associates degree in Environmental Studies with plans to finish in 2022. Melissa is excited to be a member of the Sun Works Team where she can explore her love of plants, fresh food and education.

Jasmin Wilson, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Jasmin Wilson was born and raised in the Bronx. She graduated from Hostos Community college with a degree in food science in December of  2020, where she also discovered hydroponics. A professor’s assignment led her to eventually find and start career with the NYSW. She is currently pursuing a degree in nutrition and dietetics at Lehman College. She has a strong passion for cooking, and has been doing so since she was 6 years old. At her previous job, she was an after school counselor, ran her own cook shop club, and helped students ages 5-11 prepare snacks using healthy ingredients. While she isn’t working, she loves music, and especially enjoys attending concerts and festivals. In the near future, she would love to use her unique combination of knowledge and experience to help inspire children to make better lifestyle choices.

Nefratia Coleman, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Nefratia is a Brooklyn native, Urban farmer, and activist with a passion for urban farming, food sovereignty, and youth development. Her journey started in 2015 while serving a 11- month Americorps term with Green City Force. There, she assisted with the management and operations of the NYCHA Red Hook Farm-the first farm ever constructed on NYC public housing land. She has managed two urban farms for six years, and has additional experience teaching about food justice, assisting in the development of  youth led programs, and working as a farm educator. Dedicated to and passionate about urban agriculture, she enjoys contributing to the continued education and health of communities lacking in food access. She believes urban farming is essential to urban ecosystems and hopes to make social impacts through the growing and distribution of fresh foods.

Sasha Karleusa, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Sasha was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a first-generation American of her Balkan family. She studied Architectural Design, Environmental Science, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and graduated in 2019. She moved to New York in early 2020 to pursue her passions. Her love of plants, cultivation, and environmental care is carried down to her through her family. One of her favorite places to spend time and get her hands dirty is at her Dida’s (grandpa’s) small fruit orchard in Croatia. In her free time, she loves to paint, draw, and imagine! She is also a lifelong soccer fan and player.

Trevor Moynagh-Cronin, Senior Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Trevor grew up in Manhattan, and has been fond of plants since working in a garden outside his apartment building during his childhood. He studied urban planning at Temple University and is very happy to be a part of the NY Sun Works team. During his free time, he loves to go on bike rides, cook, listen to music, travel, and is always interested in trying something new.

Arneal Satram, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Arneal was born in New York and is currently pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has a passion for anything mechanical and loves working with his hands. During his 8 years of robotics competing around the tri-state area, he’s met a lot of passionate teachers and students, and is excited to collaborate with an entirely new & passionate crowd of them. While he doesn’t have much experience with growing plants yet, he is looking forward to getting his hands wet with NY Sun Works!

Carter Hahn, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Carter is from Williamsburg, Virginia. Raised by a teacher, he grew to develop an early understanding of the need for exciting classrooms and hands-on education. He moved to New York City in 2021 and quickly found a passion for urban agriculture and sustainability. When he is not working, he can be found tinkering with electronics or playing the guitar!

Dahlia Wiley, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Dahlia is a New York native. She is pursuing a degree at LaGuardia Community College in Environmental Science with a concentration in Urban Agriculture. She has experience working in food distribution and has volunteered for many urban farms. In her free time she likes to read and tend to her garden. Dahlia is excited to work with NYSW and continue gaining knowledge on hydroponics and food systems.

Evan Alexieff, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Evan was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from CUNY Brooklyn College with a degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2022. He gardens in his backyard at home as a hobby. He is enthusiastic in getting involved with plants of all kinds and enjoys hands-on work. He’s delighted to be starting his career with NYSW and hopes to use this opportunity to learn and contribute to the NYC community!

Isabel Ksenak, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Jonathan Betancourt, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Leslie Hiciano, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Mario Fong, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Mikaela Charalambous, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Mikaela is from the island of Cyprus and was born and raised in Queens. She graduated from CUNY Queens College with a BS in Environmental Science and will be pursuing her Master’s at CUNY Brooklyn College in the fall of 2023 with a focus on urban soil remediation. She is passionate about soil conservation and local food/agriculture, and is excited to build toward the local food movement through hydroponic growing at NY Sun Works.

On the weekends, Mikaela works for GrowNYC’s Zero Waste Program collecting food scraps for compost. When she’s not working, you can find her reading, cooking, gardening, weightlifting, and playing Scrabble.

Miguel Araujo, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Miguel is a New York native, and as such, values being open to learning new things. He’s no stranger to working with plants, gardening, and water systems, bringing both personal experience working with his mother, as well as professional experience to the table. He’s very excited to gain new experiences in the green workforce, and be a part of the growing NY Sun Works team.

Sage Cormier, Hydroponic Classroom Operations Specialist

Sage is a graduate of Northern Michigan University’s indoor agriculture program, where she spent hours tending to her crops on even the snowiest of days. She has worked with various types of hydroponic systems, Kratky setups, and aquaponics. She spent a summer soil farming on a permaculture farm in Northern Minnesota where she also tended to a flock of chickens, goats, and two pigs. Sage moved to NYC in the beginning of 2023 with her fiancée, her cat, and a desire to spread the knowledge about food justice and the future of farming to her new community.

Board of Directors

Ben Powell

Founder and longtime CEO of Agora Partnership, an international non-profit organization dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs. Agora’s remarkable work has focused on Nicaragua for most of the last 16 years, where they identify small businesses with the potential to strengthen their communities economically and socially, and then provide international mentorship, expert consulting, and links to capital. Ben has become a seasoned expert in business consulting and social venture investing. He recently took a step back from day to day management of Agora. Ben holds an MBA from Columbia University and has been named a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur, a BMW Foundation Young Leader, and an Ashoka Fellow.

Chris Collins

A graduate of Holy Cross College and Albany Law School, Chris worked for 20 years as a litigator in both New York and California. He specialized in complex commercial litigation, environmental litigation, civil rights, securities, elder abuse and many other areas of the law. After leaving the law in 1999, Chris worked as a Director at Oracle Corp. and as a Director of Risk Management at Sapient. Born and raised in the NYC area, Chris moved to San Francisco in 1988 and returned to New York in 2004 to take the position of Executive Director at Solar One. Chris has had a long history of working with non-profit organizations. He was a founder of New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Services Center and the Callan-Lourde Health Clinic. He served as Co-chair of the LGBT Center between 1985 and 1989. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force between 1991 and 1996 and served as Board Co-chair between 1994 and 1996. After 17 years of leading Solar One, Chris has retired as of December 31st, 2021.

Rev. John Finley

Founder and leader of Epiphany School in Boston, as well as an ordained Episcopal Priest. He created Epiphany over 20 years ago as a tuition-free independent middle school to serve economically disadvantaged and abused or neglected children, and the successful, intensive, community-focused educational model has been directly emulated by almost 20 epiphany-model schools nationwide and growing. Despite beginning middle school 2 or 3 years behind grade level, Epiphany’s middle school graduates go on to a 92% high school graduation rate, which is 22 points higher than Boston public schools.

Sarah Horowitz

Sarah is currently working as a producer of the upcoming film, Acts of Reparation, directed by Macky Alston and Selina Lewis Davidson. During filming, Sarah was introduced to The Greene County African American Museum in Greensboro, Georgia and works with the museum as a pro bono consultant in project management and fundraising. Prior to spending her days focused on family and volunteering, Sarah worked at Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate company, working on the adaptive reuse of historic buildings including the redevelopment of Times Square and the renovation of Grand Central Terminal. At Grand Central, she became the Director of Programming and Events at the historic station and created a diverse series of arts programming at Vanderbilt Hall. Prior to her work in real estate development, Sarah was a talent agent in New York City at Triad Artists representing actors in film, television and theater. She attended Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation Real Estate Development Program and has a BA from Williams College.

Sidsel Robards

Sidsel strongly believes that humanity needs a profound change in behavior to address the climate issues off today, and has worked passionately at the intersection between science, sustainability, and equity in education to find solutions on both personal and community levels. As the co-founder of the Greenhouse Project at NY Sun Works, she brings over a decade of experience in non-profit leadership and development, and has raised millions of dollars for educational programs by building strong collaborations with both the public and private sector.  As a dual Danish American citizen, she currently splits time between the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Copenhagen Denmark, and is uniquely positioned to understand and address the need for global climate action in both the rural and urban settings.

From 2010 to 2019 Robards served as co-director of New York Sun Works. During that time she oversaw New School Partnerships, Government Relations, Strategic Partnerships, Fundraising Events, as well as Special Events focused on community building. She also spearheaded the organization’s PR, branding and marketing efforts.

Susan Tenner

Susan is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS), where she oversees the educational, operational, and financial aspects of the school. BUGS, a middle school, was created by a group of committed community members and currently provides a unique and rigorous learning community that embodies the sustainability mission of NY Sun Works. She brought the NY Sun Works program to BUGS where it is thriving, and she knows the program in action. Susan holds a Master’s degree in Education from Harvard and has worked in the education field for nearly 3 decades. She is a skilled grant writer and fundraiser, has extensive board experience and is an education expert.

Ted Caplow, Founder and Chair

Dr. Caplow is an engineer and social entrepreneur with a background in renewable energy, sustainable food production, and water contaminant dynamics. A pioneer in the field of building-integrated agriculture, he designed and developed the Science Barge urban farm prototype and patented the Vertically Integrated Greenhouse. He is the founder the NY Sun Works, the urban farming enterprise BrightFarms, and the documentary film group Fish Navy Films. Dr. Caplow serves on the board of NY Sun Works as well as the Miami Science Museum. His interests include using digital networks to efficiently spur innovation and achieve progress. Dr. Caplow holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Columbia University, a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Princeton University, and a B.A. from Harvard University.

Associate Board

Alex Mendelson, Attorney and Federal Law Clerk, Associate Board Secretary

Alex Mendelson is a lawyer with experience in nonprofit management. In 2022, he began a position as a federal judicial clerk after working as a litigation associate at a large law firm in New York.  During law school, he worked with several local nonprofit organizations on formation and governance issues and in the Brooklyn Public Library’s in-house legal department.  Prior to law school, he worked in the Development and Advancement departments of the Police Athletic League of New York City, a non-profit focused on K-12 educational and recreational after-school programming.  He received his B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Law and an M.P.A. with a concentration in Not-for-Profit Management at Binghamton University and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Alice Liang, Digital Product Manager

Alice is a Brooklyn native with experience in building web apps and mobile apps for food-tech and ag-tech companies. When she is not behind the keyboard, she can be found hiking, gardening, beekeeping or exploring a new community garden or rooftop farm. Having lived abroad in Singapore and in other metropolitan cities like San Francisco, she is excited to return to her roots and contribute to a cause that she wished she had while attending NYC public schools.

Alice holds an information technology degree from Syracuse University and is completing a Sustainable Food and Farming degree from UMass Stockbridge.

Amanda Batten Foster, Associate Board Social Media and Outreach

Amanda Batten Foster is an Environmental Program Manager at TD Bank. In her role, she works with local NGO and government partners to manages environmental and community partnerships in New York City and Miami. She also manages TD’s Environmental Customer Engagement program.

Amanda was previously employed in marketing and communications at the Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit based in NYC that is committed to creating a world where people and nature thrive in harmony. Amanda has a Master’s of Arts in Environmental Conservation Education from NYU. She has a passion for trees, underwater creatures, travel and local agriculture.

Arpi Lal, Partner, EY, Associate Board Co-Chair

Arpi Lal is a Senior Manager with more than 13 years of experience assisting clients with regulatory compliance matters and investigations. She focuses on clients in the financial services industry serving a diverse set of domestic and global clients including banks, broker-dealers, and private equity firms. She has extensive Financial Crime experience in the areas of Fraud, AML, and Sanctions. Her skillset includes program review, investigations, quality suspicious activity reporting, customer diligence, and training. Arpi has developed and led program reviews and remediated gaps including conducting historical look backs and investigations. She has led numerous teams through the process of investigating transactions for potential implications of fraud, money laundering or sanctions evasion and worked with her clients to report on potentially suspicious activity. Arpi is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist. Arpi has a BS in Finance and Accounting from New York University.

Catherine Quiroz, NA Operations Manager, The Climate Group; Associate Board Co-Chair

Catherine attended Johns Hopkins University where she double majored in Applied Mathematics and Statistics & Global Environmental Change and Sustainability. While at school she focused her studies on food and water availability in developing and urban environments. Catherine worked with nonprofits in Baltimore that provided healthy fresh food to food deserts and educated students about the food system. Through this work she developed a passion for the cause. She was so excited to learn about NYSW and get involved when she moved to New York. Currently she works for The Climate Group, an international NGO that works with businesses and governments to accelerate climate action.

Dan Lee, Associate, Morgan Stanley Global Power and Utilities Group

Dan is an associate at Morgan within the Global Power and Utilities Investment Banking Group where he has experience working on renewable energy and clean tech projects. Prior to Morgan Stanley, he earned his BBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Julian Silverman, Associate Board Treasurer and Fashion Institute of Technology

Dr. Julian R. Silverman of the Fashion Institute of Technology is the Associate Board Treasurer. He is a Faculty Fellow at the Beyond Benign Toxicology for Chemists Program and a Module Developer for the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute. He has worked as an after-school mentor for the New York Academy of the Sciences, and as a teacher and trainer for CCNY’s G.L.O.B.E. Program focused on bringing digital earth science labs to students in NYC.

Dr. Silverman received his Bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry with Honors from McGill University in Montréal, and an M. Phil. and Ph. D. at the C.U.N.Y. Graduate Center conducting his research at the City College of New York.

Katerina Smith, Management Consultant

Katerina (Katya) Smith is a New York-based Management Consultant at Accenture bringing people, process, and technology transformation to Financial Services clients. She is currently supporting Accenture’s sustainability services to help clients evolve their Climate Risk Management capability. Katya holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins in International Studies and Sociology. She looks forward to learning from and supporting New York Sun Works as a member of the Associate Board, channeling her passion for responsible business to help build private sector relationships.

Rikhil Shah, Investment Executive, CVC Capital Partners

Rikhil is an investment executive at CVC Capital Partners, specializing in healthcare finance. He has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a strong interest in sustainability.

Sharene Williams, Deloitte

Sharene has over 12 years of experience working with and advising energy companies in areas including operating and service delivery models; corporate strategy; performance management; and technology strategy. She currently serves on the leadership team of Deloitte’s Research Center for Energy & Industrials


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