Green City Force Staff
Lisbeth Shepherd credit Marina V. Photography Lisbeth Shepherd, Founder & Executive Director
Lisbeth Shepherd founded Green City Force (GCF) in 2009 to address the dual imperatives of youth unemployment and climate change. GCF leverages national service to create pathways to careers for young adults who are unemployed or in dead-end jobs, who reside in public housing. Named “NYC’s Most Innovative Nonprofit” in 2013, Green City Force has engaged over 270 young adults aged 18-24 with an 80% graduation and placement rate in employment or college. GCF teams have coated or cleaned over 1 million square feet of rooftop as part of the NYC Cool Roofs campaign, built the city’s first urban farm on public housing property in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority and Added Value, and educated thousands of public housing residents about changing behaviors in their homes that can lead to energy reduction, through the Love Where You Live campaign. GCF has been recognized as a national model by President Clinton and by the White House as one of five Youth Jobs+ Champions of Change in 2013. GCF Lisbeth previously founded Unis-Cité, the leading national youth service program in France which engages over 2000 annual corps members in 50 cities and inspired national legislation affecting 75K young adults. She is an Echoing Green alum, Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow, Audobon “Woman Greening the City,” White House Youth Jobs+ Champion of Change, Yale graduate and mother of two.
Christine Bang Christine J. Bang, Director of Operations & Compliance
Christine first joined Green City Force in 2014 after moving back to New York from Boston where she was most recently Interim General Counsel at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and an Associate at Choate Hall & Stewart LLP. Previously, she managed the service delivery of foster care, group care, home-based stabilization and independent living plans for young people and families involved with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Her work in social services led her to law school where her studies focused on issues related to criminal justice and diversity. After graduating, Christine coordinated a pilot team of juvenile public defenders with the Youth Advocacy Division while representing nearly 100 young people facing the equivalent of parole revocation. Christine holds a BA from Wellesley College and a JD from Boston College Law School. She is also a board member of the New York Wellesley Club and member of the New York Women’s Foundation’s Committee for the Future.
Wesley NY Times Wesley Booker, Senior Team Leader
Born and raised in Harlem, NY, Wesley joined Green City Force as a corps member in the summer of 2012.  As a corps member, Wesley was a role model to his peers and was awarded the “Force” award, the highest GCF decoration, and was selected by his peers as the graduation speaker for his cohort. Immediately after graduating from GCF, Wesley was hired as an educator at the Community Environmental Center’s “Eco-House”. After working at the Eco-House for almost a year, Wesley was hired by Green City Force as a Team Leader in August 2013.
Mara Cerezo, Senior Program Officer
Mara served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA Member inside RI’s juvenile detention facility, incorporating art into the classroom curriculum and coordinating a mentor program for youth transitioning from incarceration. She went on to help establish the FASST Program, an opportunity for youth with court-ordered community service to work toward their personal goals, at the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation located in Pawtucket, RI. Mara received a 2007 Rhode Island Attorney General’s Award in the area of Youth Crime Prevention. Most recently she served as Woodlawn CDC’s Executive Director, where in addition to operating a multi-service community center, she participated in a number of citywide efforts geared toward sustaining a healthy and safe community for all members. Mara is dedicated to working with young people to help guide them in realizing their own potential, and in partnering with community stakeholders to create positive social change.
Bahij Chancey 2016-website Bahij Chancey, Development and Communications Associate
Bahij joined GCF in July 2016, after completing an AmeriCorps service year with NYC Civic Corps at the NYC Parks Department. While on the Stewardship Team there, he worked to recruit, train, and manage volunteers to plant, protect, and preserve NYC’s natural resources. Before serving with NYC Service Bahij was a Draftsman at a private architecture firm, working on high-end residential projects. His professional background also includes green roof installation at Greensulate LLC, cultural non-profit work at Alwan for the Arts, and work in fine art at the Rubin Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and Artsy. Bahij is an active volunteer leader with Transportation Alternatives, and Open House New York. He is a committee member of his Community Board, and is involved in his neighborhood association. Bahij trained as a Master Composter at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and loves to volunteer at his local community garden, and Earth Matter on Governor’s Island. Bahij holds a B.F.A. in Architectural Design from Yale University.
Bahij Chancey 2016-website CheVon Cooper, Team Leader
CheVon is an alumni of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and currently a member of the nationally recognized society, Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Science’s (MANRRS). His undergraduate years were spent working towards a B.S in Agricultural Sciences where he successfully concluded research on sustainable agricultural practices as a student research assistant. In 2013 he was part of a study abroad trip to Ghana, West Africa to complete an assessment of post harvest management practices in their Agriculture sector. Upon graduating he returned to the NYC metropolitan area, as a highly motivated and inspired young adult dedicated to empowering the youth, educating inner city communities in sustainable development, and improving food access and health to all undeserved communities of New York City. Nowadays if Che is not in a garden or on a farm he spends his free time exploring the beautiful world.
Tonya Gayle-website Tonya Gayle, Chief Development Officer
Prior to joining Green City Force, Tonya worked at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) as Special Advisor to the Executive Vice-President for Community Programs & Development, and as Senior Manager for Strategic Projects in the Office of Public Private Partnerships. Tonya managed grants and partnerships with funders and stakeholders to support the preservation of public housing. Her work included participation in the design of NYCHA’s 501c3 entity and connecting residents to educational, health, and financial empowerment services. Before NYCHA, Tonya worked with programs for middle school, high school, and college students. She directed live and virtual recruitment, mentoring, and internship initiatives as Director of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Career Program where she cultivated relationships with SEO investment bank, law, corporate, foundation, and education partners. Tonya is a member of the New York Women’s Foundation Circle of Sisters for Social Change and Grants Advisory Committee. She was Associate Producer for The Perfect Life, a documentary film focused on urban youth growing up in Harlem. She has also worked at Futures and Options, School of Visual Arts, Regents College, The Children’s Storefront, and The Brooklyn Arts Council. Tonya is a native of Brooklyn and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University.
Lawrence Harris Marina V. Photography Lawrence Harris, Program Operations Manager
Before becoming one of Green City Force’s first Team Leaders, Lawrence attended N.Y. Technical College for electrical engineering, during which time he received “The most outstanding youth” award at St. Vincent Services’ annual dinner. His work experience has varied from technical and eco-friendly jobs, to the hospital sector and community development work. Lawrence has worked and trained with the Osborne Association and in conjunction with the Win-Win Campaign-Envirolution performing energy audits of commercial buildings, and providing outreach to small businesses for energy efficiency services. He is certified as an Energy Efficiency Technician through the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), a Building Analyst and Envelope Professional through BPI, a Green Professional in Operations and Maintenance through USGBC, and an instructor for the Roots of Success eco-literacy curriculum. Now Program Operations Manager, Lawrence acts as a mentor, teacher and field site manager while GCF Corps Members and alumni perform service activities including energy efficiency retrofits and education, coating roof tops white, and providing outreach to sign low-income New Yorkers up for free energy efficiency programs.
Gwen_GCF Gwen Hill, Development & Communications
Gwen joined GCF’s development & communications team in January 2014. In addition to her role with GCF, she currently works as the Communications Manager at Green Opportunities in Asheville, NC, where she was a 2015/16 Tzedek Social Justice Fellow. Previously, she worked with GCF Corps Members as the NYCHA Farm Coordinator for Added Value. In that role, she provided training in urban agriculture and farm-based learning to Corps Members and managed the farming operations, educational and community programming at the Red Hook NYCHA Farm. Prior to Added Value, Gwen served as communications and development assistant at JobsFirstNYC, and as the Director of Education at The Science Barge in Yonkers, NY. Gwen graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Music. She earned an M.A. in Geography from Hunter College of the City University of New York in 2012, and during her time at Hunter served as both the Sustainability Advisor and President of the Graduate Student Association.
Gwen_GCF Erin Johnson, Program Manager
Erin joined the Urban Farm Corps team in March 2017. She comes to Green City Force having spent the last 5 years at non-profits fighting hunger and poverty and working towards sustainability in our built environment and food system in New York City. Erin completed a master’s degree at NYU in 2016 focusing on urban agriculture and community development, including a summer in Madrid researching the emergence of community gardens in connection to the urban social movement. After grad school, she spent a season at Battery Urban Farm in Battery Park growing veggies and teaching NYC youth. Erin continues to get her hands dirty at her community garden and leading volunteers in green infrastructure and composting activities with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. She holds a BS from Cornell University in beautiful Ithaca, NY, where she studied Design and Environmental Analysis.
Stephanie Klocke, Career and Alumni Services Manager
Stephanie joined Green City Force in April 2017 and brings workforce development experience from her previous work at Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School. As Assistant Director, Stephanie managed the paid corporate internship program for more than 300 students at 90 different companies, oversaw a work training program each summer and maintained relationships with sponsors. Prior to Cristo Rey, Stephanie was the Volunteer Coordinator for Free Arts NYC, matching individuals as arts mentors to low income youth throughout the city. Stephanie started her career as an AmeriCorps member, resettling refugees in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. She is excited to bring that experience full circle by helping Green City Force’s Corps Members launch their own careers.
Andrew Lewis, Team Leader
Andrew Lewis, an alumni and now Team Leader here at Green City Force, was born and raised in New York City. Prior to joining GCF as a Corps Member, Andrew worked in retail but found no true opportunities for growth and development. Attending an info session is how he found out about the organization and got a small glimpse of what the green industry was and it immediately sparked an interest. During his six month term as a Corps Member he received hands-on training in the fields of construction and building science, and also professional and personal development. Upon graduation he committed to a second AmeriCorps term as one of GCF’s first Service Associates, working closely with a team leader where he learned team building and management skills that he put into use while working with Corps Members in the field. “Green City Force has helped me develop myself not only professionally but also on a personal level with transferable skills that I can use in my everyday life. The staff here is amazing and they really strive to help young adults living in public housing excel in life and find a sustainable career path. I am happy to be a part of the team that’s helping young people reach success in life while also serving their communities”.
John Malfetano Bio Pic John Malfetano, Finance Manager
John attended Fordham University where he focused his studies on mathematics, sustainable business, and labor markets. He graduated in 2013 with a degree in economics with both Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors. John has worked at Lehman Brothers Holding’s where he handled financial projections, managed budgets and performed portfolio analysis. John also actively volunteers to increase urban farming initiatives and healthy food access in Far Rockaway, Queens.
Sindri Manzanares Sindri Manzanares, Managing Director
Sindri joined GCF in March 2016. Sindri is responsible for strengthening internal organization, supporting implementation of initiatives tied to organizational growth and development, internal and external communications, and cultivating and maintaining relationships with strategic stakeholders. Previously she served as the Chief of Staff to Councilmember Ritchie Torres, Deputy Leader of the Council and Chair of the Committee on Public Housing. As Chief of Staff, Sindri directed all aspects of the Councilman’s legislative, communications, and administrative operations; and managed a $5.75 million dollar budget for local programming and capital improvements. She also brings four years of experience working as a policy analyst and strategic partnerships coordinator for SEIU Local 32BJ, where she advanced policies to improve labor standards in major cities across the east coast, and spearheaded their campaign to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Sindri holds a BA from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an MPA from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Sindri is a recipient of the 2006 Congressional Hunger Center’s Emerson National Hunger Fellowship
aram-marcelle-1-cropped Aram Marcelle, Team Leader
Aram was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. In 2011 he received his A.S. in Liberal Arts from Kingsborough Community College, graduating as a member of Phi-Theta Kappa’s honors society and a Dean’s List scholarship recipient. He went on to complete his B.A. in Corporate Communications, with a minor in Black Studies, from Baruch College where he graduated Cum Laude in 2014. Aram has found success on both sides of the workforce development spectrum. In 2011 he completed STRIVE’s Green Building Construction Program and Envirolution1’s Energy Efficiency Technical Training Internship. He was subsequently brought on by Envirolution1 as a Program Coordinator in 2011, and was promoted to Program Manager in 2013. While at Envirolution1, he taught “Intro to Energy Economics” and “Intro to Auditing Lighting Systems” workshops for multiple workforce agencies such as Non-Traditional Employment for Women (NEW), Green City Force and STRIVE. In 2015, he was hired by Green City Force as a Team Leader. Aram is a BPI certified Building Analyst (BA), Multifamily Building Operator (MFBO) and a USGBC certified Green Professional in Operations and Maintenance (GPRO O&M).
Brian Myers 2016-website Brian Myers, Development Assistant
Brian Myers, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, is currently a student at Medgar Evers College, studying Business Administration. He came to Green City Force as an intern through CUNY Service Corps. During his placement he served as a Development Assistant alongside the Chief Development Officer. Upon completion of his service hours, he was hired part-time, extending his position as Development Assistant. Brian is very passionate about the future of young urban adults and how they relate to the communities in which they reside, as well as their potential to help change the world by providing meaningful service to those communities. Brian is also an alumni of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and was also inducted into the Pi Eta Kappa Honor Society in 2016.
Joshua Owens Joshua Owens, Team Leader
Joshua, born in Brooklyn, New York, joined Green City Force in late 2014 as a Clean Energy Corps Member. Helping a team of young adults, Joshua took part in community outreach and working on energy efficiency projects throughout multiple NYCHA developments. Joshua obtained the “Leadership” award for demonstrating good communication, and being someone his peers could turn to. Joshua continued to work with Green City Force on several projects such as the Coney Island Ventilation project and as an EMS Stryker Chair helper. Joshua was hired by Green City Force in January 2016 as a Team Leader.
Melinda Ruiz Melinda Ruiz, Office Manager
In the winter of 2012, Melinda joined Green City Force as an AmeriCorps member. As an AmeriCorps member, she was involved in different energy efficiency service projects in NYC. Melinda was hired by Green City Force as Recruitment Assistant, promoted to Operations and Finance Assistant and now serves as Office Manager. She is continuously learning and proud to be part of an organization that has not only profoundly impacted her, but has and continues to do the so for many young adults in NYC and the environment.
Melissa Ruiz Melissa Ruiz, Operations Associate
Melissa joined Green City Force as an AmeriCorps member in winter 2012. After graduating GCF she was hired to help maintain Planter’s Grove, a garden that GCF helped build and maintains year round. She then went on to serve a second term as an AmeriCorps member as a Service Associate. As a Service Associate, Melissa worked alongside a Team Leader, both during Green City Academy and out in the field during different service projects. Melissa was then hired as a full time employee of GCF as an Operations Associate and is now managing one of our service projects, the EmPower NY Program. EmPower, a program of NYSERDA, offers qualifying NYC residents no-cost energy efficiency services such as energy efficient light bulbs, shower heads, health and safety checks of the home and energy star refrigerator replacements. This job consists of both office and field work and definitely keeps Melissa busy, which she loves. Melissa couldn’t be more happy working with a team of people that are giving NYC youth amazing opportunities to reach high goals and prosper in life all while making our city a greener place.
Jared Sessum, Director, Love Where You Live
Jared joined Green City Force in September 2016 as Love Where You Live Director. He is responsible for managing all aspects of the LWYL program in support of four Team Leaders and fifty Corps Members to deliver community outreach services related to environmental stewardship initiatives. Previously, Jared worked for GrowNYC’s Zero Waste Programs funded by NYC Department of Sanitation and in partnership with New York City Housing Authority to implement a city-wide recycling program for all 328 NYC public housing developments. He holds a Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering from Villanova University with a focus in infrastructure and the built environment. Also, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana State University and is a LEED Green Associate. Jared’s lifetime commitment to service began at Villanova where he participated in the Engineering Service Learning program in connection with Engineers Without Borders to provide clean drinking water in developing countries such as Nicaragua and Ghana. A sustainability specialist with expertise and professional experience in ENERGY STAR and LEED certification, Corporate Responsibility implementation, and resource efficiency, as well as climate policy and sustainable international development, Jared has helped to provide long-term value to organizations in various industries and communities worldwide. When he takes a break from working on solutions to complex social and environmental issues, he enjoys spending time with family in his hometown of Utica, NY, hiking in the Adirondacks, and exploring NYC by riding around on a Citibike.
Ann Short Ann Short, Director of Finance
Ann joined GCF in April 2014. In her role as Finance Director, Ann is responsible for overseeing Finance and Operations, including budgeting, contracts, human resources, insurance, risk management, and facilities. From 2008 to 2014, Ann was COO of Unitus Capital, an Indian based investment bank specializing in raising equity and debt capital for microfinance institutions and other social impact businesses. In 2012, Ann also became an Encore Fellow with Grameen America Inc., a New York based microfinance institution. Previously, Ann was COO of investment banking at Bank of America Securities, an EVP at FINRA, and an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, where she worked for 18 years. Ann has an M.S. in Management from the MIT Sloan School and a B.A. from Wellesley College.
Jennifer Tirado Jennifer Tirado, Director of Urban Agriculture Initiatives and Land Improvement
Jennifer Tirado, born and raised in the Bronx, joined Green City Force in August 2013. She served as a Team Leader, Farm Manager at the NYCHA Farm at Red Hook Houses, and Program Manager before being promoted to Director of the Urban Agriculture Initiative. Previously, Jennifer worked as a GreenMarket Manager at GrowNYC managing the daily operations of the Farmer’s Markets in the Bronx. After gaining valuable insight on the food system in NYC while at GrowNYC and learning directly from the farmers at her markets, she was inspired to move to Iowa to study agriculture, permaculture design, and the built environment at Maharishi University, where she received a Bachelors of Science in Sustainable Living. While at MUM, her focus rooted in Urban Agriculture: utilizing small spaces to create efficient, closed-loop systems for functional green infrastructure and sustainable food production. The last year of her degree program she was awarded the opportunity to travel to New York City to work with New York Sun Works, as her customized internship to research innovations in Urban Agriculture. While at New York Sun Works Jennifer learned and worked on hydroponic/aquaponic systems in public schools. After graduating, Jennifer moved back to NYC and participated in Envirolution’s Energy Efficiency Analyst fellowship, where she completed an intensive energy auditing training course.
Ashley White Ashley White, Program Coordinator
Ashley started her Green City Force journey as a member of the pilot Urban Farm Corps team, completing her 11-month term in December of 2014 when she had the honor of being the speaker of her cohort. After graduating, she went on to complete an apprenticeship at the Department of Environmental Protection while serving as the Farm Outreach Coordinator part time with GCF. She was later hired by GCF to be Program Coordinator full-time, working closely with the Urban Farm Corps and being a liaison to the communities they serve. This job is split between being in the field and the office, and she enjoys the variety.
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