Leadership Team

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    Roseann Bongiovanni

    Executive Director

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    RoseannB@greenrootsej.org

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    Roseann Bongiovanni (she, her, hers)

    Roseann Bongiovanni has led on environmental justice for almost 30 years. She founded GreenRoots in 2016 as an independent organization after previously leading this work as an unincorporated grassroots committee. She helped lead a collective response to the COVID-19 crisis in Chelsea and East Boston. Her work and leadership have resulted in Chelsea’s recognition as a Culture of Health Prize Winner in 2017; and GreenRoots being recognized as a Social Innovator in 2018 and a US EPA Merit Award in 2021. Under Roseann's leadership, GreenRoots celebrated the grand opening of our "Teaching Kitchen," a space created by Chelsea residents to promote healthy eating and cultural exchange. She has raised and managed millions of dollars for various projects and has won several awards for her work. A Chelsea native, Roseann has served as a City Councilor, holds a Master of Public Health and is a proud mother of two strong-minded children.

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    Cecilia Del Cid-Liccardi

    Director of Food Justice and Youth Programs

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    CeciliaD@greenrootsej.org

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    Cecilia Del Cid-Liccardi (she, her, hers)

    Ceci grew up in Guatemala and has a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences & Latin American Studies from Smith College and a Master of Forestry from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

    Ceci has researched topics such as conservation genetics, forest and land governance, environmental justice, and gender equality issues related to the distribution and access to natural resources in Latin America and the United States. Additionally, she has led initiatives to increase capacity building and technology transfers tailored to local communities in human-impacted/modified landscapes.

    Over the years, she has sharpened her ability to apply a social and environmental justice lens to create sustainability and environmental programming, communication tools, and inclusive and equitable strategies. As a result, she’s more effective in envisioning a thriving world that does not exist, but that can be co-created with and for the wellbeing of the community.

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    Mónica Elias-Orellana

    Director of Health Equity and Mobility

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    MonicaEO@greenrootsej.org

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    Mónica Elias-Orellana (she, her, hers)

    Mónica, a lifelong resident of Chelsea, brings a community-focused approach to policy development, advocacy, and organizing. With a robust background in DEI awareness, social justice strategy, and non-profit administration, she is dedicated to leading transformative campaigns in health equity, transit justice, and anti-displacement.

    In her previous roles, she ensured equitable access to services for Multilingual Learners at Boston Public Schools. Transitioning to The Neighborhood Developers as the Chelsea Community Building Manager, she adeptly identified community needs, oversaw impactful programs to bolster housing and economic self-sufficiency, and played a role in fostering community leaders. She now works as the Director of Health Equity and Mobility of GreenRoots.

    Mónica's dedication extends to her volunteer work, including event planning for Concert of Hope and serving on boards such as the City of Chelsea Board of Library Trustees. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2016, with a minor in Asian American Studies.

    Mónica's leadership and commitment have earned her prestigious accolades, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Young Adult Dreamers and Achievers Award. With her expertise and passion, Mónica continues to drive positive change, making a tangible difference in her community and beyond. 

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    Yaritza Morales Gonzalez

    Director of Operations

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    YaritzaMG@greenrootsej.org

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    Yaritza Morales Gonzalez (she, her, hers)

    Yaritza is a lifelong Chelsea resident and former youth organizer, who began working with GreenRoots at the age of 14.  After completing four years with the ECO Youth Crew, she joined the team in carrying out special events and community organizing campaigns.

    Now, she oversees the operations and financial well-being of GreenRoots, along with payroll systems, and human resources.  Yaritza works closely with the Executive Director to prepare and monitor budgets, coordinate audits, accounting policies and procedures.

    Yaritza has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Bay State College, is bilingual in Spanish and English, and is the mother of two intelligent and free-spirited daughters and a sweet baby girl.

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    John Walkey

    Director of Climate Justice & Waterfront Initiatives

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    JohnW@greenrootsej.org

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    John Walkey (he, him, his)

    John is an East Boston resident who has been a committed advocate for environmental justice and immigrant rights in his neighborhood for the past twenty years. Starting in 2017, John has led GreenRoots’ work in East Boston and along the waterfront of the Chelsea Creek. John worked for a decade in hazard risk assessment and mitigation, and natural resource management in Central America and the Caribbean for NGOs, the US government, and the United Nations. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Archaeological Sciences from Boston University and a Master of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Staff

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    Ruth Alcantara

    Environmental Justice and Anti-Displacement Fellow

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    RuthA@greenrootsej.org

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    Ruth Alcantara (she, her, hers / they, them, theirs)

    Ruth joined the GreenRoots team in October 2022 as a RAY fellow. Ruth has been acting as an organizer for GreenRoots in various project areas such as Transit and Climate Justice when support is needed. She works part-time with the Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust to promote land sovereignty for the people of Chelsea. Ruth is passionate about Housing and Land rights and how important they are to the Environmental Justice Movement. 

    Ruth is originally from Los Angeles and graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied Environmental Studies. While in college, Ruth amassed over two years of experience working in policy-advocacy, communications, and grassroots organizing roles at the local level by assisting in the creation of a regional Green New Deal for the Central Coast. In her free time, Ruth enjoys spending one on one time with friends, eating, experimentally cooking, and exploring new places.

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    Camilo Auyero

    Transit Justice Organizer

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    CamiloA@greenrootsej.org

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    Camilo Auyero (he, him, his)

    Camilo is a first generation Ecuadorian-Argentinean raised in Austin, Texas. He moved to Boston in 2019 to complete his Bachelor's Degree in International Relations at Boston University.

    Camilo is passionate about mobilizing for environmental justice and has participated in community-based initiatives in diverse environments over the past several years. Camilo sees public transportation as a vital component for building resilient cities that support the everyday lives of people. As the Transit Justice Organizer, Camilo is looking forward to working with Chelsea residents to build campaigns that make public transportation more accessible, equitable, and reliable for the community.

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    Mitikei Chengerei

    Community Health Ambassador

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    MitikeiC@greenrootsej.org

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    Mitikei Chengerei (she, her, hers)

    Mitikei was born and raised in Ethiopia and came to the US in 2016. She majored in mathematics and minored in physics at Addis Ababa University. She has worked as a math tutor, clerk, accountant and translator. She loves to learn foreign languages and has taught English, French, German and Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia).

    Mitikei was a founding member, finance officer and volunteer at a local organization called Empower Youth Ethiopia, where she worked on youth HIV awareness. She is passionate about making an impact on young people’s futures, public health, housing equity and environmental justice. She now works to support her Chelsea neighbors as a GreenRoots community health worker and supports the transit justice team. 

    Mitikei enjoys writing poems in Amharic, listening to church hymns and reading. She likes to share her life experience to benefit others, especially young people, in order to motivate and inspire them. 

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    Joanna Emerson

    Teaching Kitchen Coordinator

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    JoannaE@greenrootsej.org

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    Joanna Emerson (she, her, hers)

    Jojo is a culinary educator with a background in professional baking, team building, and community health. She studied Community Health and Sociology at Tufts University, going on to earn her Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology. After years of conducting public health research at Tufts Medical Center, Jojo took a hard pivot to pursue her passion and became a professional baker. She most recently served as Head Baker at Somerville’s Forge Baking Company, where she taught community baking classes and developed her love of culinary education.
    Jojo most enjoys applying the training skills honed in professional kitchens to community programming. She believes in collective cooking as a means of community building and cultural exchange, and strives to make the teaching kitchen a rich community space that helps empower those who use it. In her free time, you can find Jojo traversing the trails of Massachusetts as she trains for her next marathon.

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    Barbara Espinosa Barrera

    Environmental Justice & Health Equity Organizer

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    BarbaraE@greenrootsej.org

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    Barbara Espinosa Barrera (she, her, hers)

    Barbara recently graduated from Boston University School of Public Health where she earned a Master in Public Health in Environmental Health. She is passionate about making science and health information accessible to everyone! She is looking forward to working with Chelsea and East Boston residents to promote health equity. In her free time, you can find her reading, taking walks, and playing soccer! 

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    Oscar Figueroa

    Community Health Ambassador and Urban Farm Crew

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    OscarF@greenrootsej.org

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    Oscar Figueroa (he, him, his)

    Oscar is a GreenRoots local gardener, and art director. He has been taking care of GreenRoots’ gardens for a couple of years. His favorite activity outside of handing out free vegetables is creating free fun art classes for the public within the urban farm. At GreenRoots, Oscar also helps in areas such as the Community Health Ambassadors by facilitating public help related tasks and educational comics!

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    Andie Fisher

    Youth Programs Organizer

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    AndieF@greenrootsej.org

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    Andie Fisher (she, her, hers)

    Andie grew up in Tennessee and was previously a public school teacher and foster care advocate before joining the GreenRoots team as our Youth Programs Organizer. She is passionate about the intersections of climate justice and social justice and advocating for youth autonomy and leadership. 

    Andie is also a musician and urban walking enthusiast. 

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    Jamily Gonzalez

    Administrative Specialist

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    JamilyG@greenrootsej.org

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    Jamily Gonzalez (she, her, hers)

    Meet Jamily - a vibrant and adventurous soul with a passion for life. She was born and raised in Chelsea and still is a lifelong resident. She came from retailing and leasing apartments to now being GreenRoots’ Admin Specialist. 

    As a proud dog mom, Jamily finds joy in the playful antics and unconditional love of her furry baby. Jamily has discovered a new love for exploring the world and embracing new adventures, from breathtaking landscapes to culturally rich cuisine. When the sun is shining, you can catch her indulging in one of her favorite pastimes – sunbathing. Jamily's active lifestyle extends to her love for exercise, where she finds peace. She understands the importance of keeping both the body and mind in sync. 

    In Jamily, you'll find a woman who cherishes the simple joys of life, embraces adventure, and spreads warmth and love wherever she goes.

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    Sari Kayyali

    Microgrids Manager

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    SariK@greenrootsej.org

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    Sari Kayyali (he, him, his)

    Sari was born and raised in the Greater Boston Area before attending Case Western Reserve University to pursue a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He started his career working in New York City as part of the construction management team for the Q-Line Subway Expansion. After a national energy crisis left his family in Lebanon without reliable access to electricity for months, Sari returned to Boston to join the movement for energy justice in and around his home city.

    He is excited to be a part of the Microgrid initiative at GreenRoots and hopes its success can act as a proof of concept for communities around the world. In his free time, Sari enjoys reading, playing the trumpet, and losing at chess.

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    Jordan Llanas

    Donor Relations Specialist

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    JordanL@greenrootsej.org

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    Jordan Llanas (she, her, hers)

    Jordan was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI before attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison to pursue her bachelors degrees in Gender and Women’s studies and Vocal Performance, as well as a certificate in LGBT+ Studies. She began her career in community activism as a canvasser for Wisconsin Public Television and Radio, before moving to Boston in 2018 to continue her work fundraising for WGBH and New Hampshire Public Television (NHPBS).

    Jordan is passionate about building relationships and finding ways to get people involved in their local community. In her free time, she is a musician and visual artist.

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    Devin MacGoy

    Energy Democracy Organizer

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    DevinM@greenrootsej.org

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    Devin MacGoy (he, him, his)

    As the Energy Democracy Community Organizer, Devin works to build community knowledge of the energy system, reduce the heavy energy cost burden in Chelsea and East Boston, and promote community ownership of clean energy assets. His mission is to help residents use the clean energy transition as an opportunity to address long-standing environmental, health, and economic inequities.

    Devin is originally from Virginia and graduated from Georgetown University, where he studied International Relations. He has worked in politics in Virginia and healthcare access in North Carolina, and he taught English in Slovakia on a Fulbright grant. He serves on the Board of Directors of the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen, teaches English at Revival International Center in Chelsea, and is a member of Mayor Wu’s SPARK young adult advisory council. In his free time, Devin enjoys experimenting with new recipes, running, hiking, and playing the guitar. Devin speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

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    Bianca Navarro-Bowman

    Climate Justice Manager

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    BiancaB@greenrootsej.org

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    Bianca Navarro-Bowman (she, her, hers / they, them theirs)

    Bianca is passionate about building community knowledge, power, and leadership to combat the unequal effects of climate change. At GreenRoots, she leads and supports projects that focus on centering resident perspectives in advancing community climate resilience and adaptation. Bianca works with community members and coworkers to improve the ability of EJ populations to safely navigate increasing summer heat temperatures, flood impacts, and decarbonization efforts that threaten to leave low- and middle-income folks and people of color behind in the clean energy transition. She has been working with GreenRoots since 2021 and loves Chelsea, East Boston, and the incredible residents and organizations she gets to collaborate with.

    She is originally from the Washington, DC area and graduated from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She studied Environmental Science & Policy and English Literature, and also has a background in community-based citizen science research, environmental field work and forest fire management work. Bianca loves taking trips to the mountains, eating, reading, and attending music and arts events throughout the Boston area.

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    Vladimir Perez

    Food Justice Organizer

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    VladimirP@greenrootsej.org

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    Vladimir Perez (he, him, his)

    After 2 years of working as a volunteer with GreenRoots, Vladimir is joining the GreenRoots team. Vladimir is originally from San Salvador, El Salvador. He studied accounting at the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador and comes with 15 years of work experience with a specialization in taxes. Vladimir enjoys serving his community and giving back to what this great nation has given to him and his family. In his spare time, he likes to be with his family and enjoys experiencing the changes of each season. In addition, Vladimir likes to fish, play soccer, roller skate and bike. 

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    Priyanka Rangadass

    Development Coordinator

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    PriyankaR@greenrootsej.org

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    Priyanka Rangadass (she, her, hers)

    Originally from Dallas, TX, Priyanka moved to the Boston area to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Health: Science, Society and Policy from Brandeis University. Upon graduating, Priyanka committed to a year of service with FoodCorps at Healthy Chelsea. As a FoodCorps member, she taught gardening and nutrition lessons to elementary students and worked to combat food insecurity in Chelsea. Priyanka joined the GreenRoots team in October 2020 as the Health Equity Corps Research Organizer. She worked to connect residents impacted by COVID-19 to resources including the vaccine, helped distribute multilingual information and worked to build community and connection among residents. In November 2021, Priyanka transitioned to grant writing and fundraising for GreenRoots. Priyanka is passionate about food, nutrition, public health, and building community. In her free time, Priyanka loves to cook, host dinner parties and try new restaurants! 

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    Noemy Rodriguez

    Waterfront Initiative Organizer

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    NoemyR@greenrootsej.org

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    Noemy Rodriguez (she, her, hers)

    Noemy is Salvadoreña. She graduated high school in El Salvador and completed two years in the University Panamerican of El Salvador. In 2013, Noemy moved to East Boston for a better quality of life and easy access to the MBTA. When living in East Boston, Noemy faced eviction with three of her young sons which is when she got heavily involved with organizing around displacement with City Life / Vida Urbana as a community member. Since then, she’s organized East Boston residents facing similar struggles. Noemy is a dynamic leader who is widely recognized for her perseverance, ability to organize and her constant positivity. She has participated in various public forums, presentations and community events.

    In her free time. She enjoys inviting people to join the movement, la lucha, for a better life free of forced displacement, free from depression, and for environmental justice to ensure clean air for all families in her neighborhood of East Boston.

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    Inbaa Sivasankar

    Grant Writing Fellow

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    InbaaS@greenrootsej.org

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    Inbaa Sivasankar (she, her, hers)

    Originally from India, Inbaa made her way to Boston city, United States in 2021. She holds a Masters in English Literature from University of Madras, Chennai, India.

    Inbaa is a proud Chelsea resident, where she spent a year volunteering with GreenRoots before officially joining the team as a Grant Writer in 2023.

    Beyond her role, Inbaa delights in the simple pleasures of life. Music is her passion, books are her go-to escape, writing is her creative outlet and nature is where she finds solace and inspiration. 

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    Jacqueline Segovia

    Climate Justice Fellow

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    JacqS@greenrootsej.org

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    Jacqueline Segovia (she, her, hers / they, them. theirs)

    Jacq grew up in rural El Salvador, which fostered her environmental passion from a very young age. She lived in Chelsea for three years, where she developed a strong connection with the city. She is an Advertising student at Boston University and she would like to pursue a career in Environmental Communications. Jacq enjoys having conversations about the importance of our relationship to the environment; she plans to use her degree to emphasize and facilitate the connection between media and environmental knowledge. Her interests include ecological restoration, food waste, sustainability and climate justice.

    In her free time she enjoys reading, making crafts, learning about insects and identifying them on her nature walks.

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    Vela Velazquez

    Climate Justice Fellow

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    VelaV@greenrootsej.org

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    Vela Velazquez (they, them, theirs)

    Vela hails from Miami, Florida, but moved to Boston in 2021 to become an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They are majoring in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science with a concentration in Environmental Systems, and minoring in Urban Studies and Planning. At GreenRoots, Vela serves as a Climate Justice Fellow, contributing to projects that aim to empower communities in navigating the challenges posed by climate change and environmental injustices. Their work focuses on amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and fostering resilience in the face of environmental disparities. Beyond their work in climate justice, Vela is a fervent advocate for transgender and queer rights, reflecting a holistic commitment to justice and equality. They believe that diversity and inclusivity will continue to play pivotal roles in combating climate change.

Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust

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    Caroline Ellenbird

    Director, Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust

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    CarolineE@greenrootsej.org

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    Caroline Ellenbird (she, her, hers)

    Caroline is an artist, educator and community activist who has worked to strengthen the connections between people and place for over 20 years. In San Francisco she ran experiential education programs for K-12 students, and led efforts to protect a community-owned open space. In Chelsea she has organized with neighbors to create a community land trust in Chelsea, taught at La Colaborativa and Bunker Hill Community College, served on the Community Preservation Committee, and worked as Anti-Displacement Organizer at GreenRoots, where she guided the transition of Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust into an independent nonprofit. She now works as director of Comunidades Enraizadas. 

    Caroline has a Masters in City Planning degree from MIT and a California teaching credential in art. She lives in Chelsea with her partner and two daughters. She loves spending time with friends and neighbors, making art and music, biking with her family, and spending time outdoors.

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    Ana Vanegas-Rivera

    Program Coordinator, Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust

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    AnaVR@greenrootsej.org

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    Ana Vanegas-Rivera (she, her, hers)

    Ana is a dedicated and passionate community organizer in Chelsea, where she lives with her husband and son. She immigrated from Guatemala in 1997. Ana sees Comunidades Enraizadas as a powerful tool to give low-income people dignity and control over their own housing and a voice in the city. Ana also works at the First Congregational Church in Chelsea, serves as a Trustee for the public library, volunteers with the GreenRoots Urban Farm and was active in the Chelsea Pandemic Response Team. Ana was active in the working group that helped incorporate Comunidades Enraizadas as a CLT and now has joined the staff of the CLT as a Program Coordinator.

ECO Youth Crew

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    Arianna

    ECO Crew Member

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    Arianna (she, her, hers)

    I joined ECO because I wanted to continue in my parents footsteps and become an active member in the Chelsea community to help lift up the voices and try to find solutions for a city that has been environmentally burdened by climate change.

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    Darien

    ECO Crew Member

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    Darien (he, him, his)

    I originally joined ECO because my family is full of activists and I was raised to be strong at that. While I still continue to go down this journey of advocacy, my choice for being in ECO has changed. I see and learn more and more everyday and grow closer to everyone in this community and I start to want to help change Chelsea for the people rather than for advocacy. I enjoy being in ECO because of all the experiences it has given me to push me into a path of any direction. I enjoy the people I work with and we’ve grown close like a family as we strive towards the same goal.

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    Emely

    ECO Crew Member

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    Emely (she, her, hers)

    I was interested in working for ECO because of the amazing opportunities that would not only be offered to me but that I would be able to offer other youth. It gave me a chance to work with fellow youth in a familiar space and help my community at the same time. I enjoy giving youth a voice in bigger and more powerful spaces and allowing them to have a place to be outdoors and active. I like being in ECO because it allows me to work with peers of mine and be in a community I’ve grown up in.

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    Greandoll

    ECO Crew Member

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    Greandoll (he, him, his)

    I joined ECO because I wanted to make a change in my life and a change in my community. I am interested in lower housing prices and in getting the youth in the community more involved in physical activity, going out more and being in touch with their community. I like the community in ECO. I enjoy creating events for the youth here in Chelsea and getting to do opportunities.

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    Johanna

    ECO Crew Member

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    Johanna (she, her, hers)

    I joined ECO to further my education and at the same time help my community. Some topics that are important to me are unity in the world, having enough youth spaces, and how the future will look. In ECO I get to enjoy working with people I built a great connection with, be given amazing opportunities for my future, and meet different organizations around the area.

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    Servelio

    ECO Crew Member

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    Servelio (he, him, his)

    I joined GreenRoots as a part of a youth group called ECO to be more involved with the community of Chelsea and to help out. Some things that are important to me that play a big role are the care for green spaces, music and family. I enjoy being a part of ECO because it’s a great opportunity to connect and socialize with the community and with other members of GreenRoots.

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    Troy

    ECO Crew Member

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    Troy (he, him, his)

Board of Directors

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    Sandra Perdomo, Chair

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    Sandra Perdomo (she, her, hers)

    Sandra became involved in environmental justice work through a leadership training GreenRoots offered. After the training, she became an active member, attending monthly meetings and regular community events. Inspired by the community effort to improve our neighborhoods, Sandra and her family got more and more involved. Sandra and her daughter traveled with a delegation from Chelsea to Washington D.C. to highlight the importance of climate change. Then a few months later, Sandra joined another Chelsea and Boston delegation to travel to Toronto to learn successful lessons of community revitalization of the waterfront. Sandra uses lessons learned in Toronto to help Chelsea imagine an improved waterfront. Sandra is a Chelsea resident, mother and wife.

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    Gloribel Rivas, Vice-Chair

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    Gloribel Rivas (she, her, hers)

    Gloribel Rivas is Chief of Staff to State Representative Adrian C. Madaro, who represents East Boston in the Massachusetts Legislature. As an immigrant from El Salvador and a long-time East Boston resident, she has always been distinctly aware of the ways in which she and her loved ones are forced to fight for their basic health and wellness and locked out of opportunity simply because of who they are. This has driven her passion for social justice and solidified her solidarity with oppressed people, leading her to a career in public service.

    Gloribel is enthusiastic about building genuine relationships within communities like hers that have traditionally been marginalized and excluded from the political process in order to achieve a more representative and responsive democracy. Through Representative Madaro’s office, she enjoys fostering those relationships to support Representative Madaro's work with residents from East Boston, Chelsea, and other communities across the Commonwealth in reclaiming open space and advancing environmental justice.

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    Elaine Mendes, Clerk

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    Elaine Mendes (she, her, hers)

    Elaine was born and raised in Governador Valadares, a city near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is the third of nine children. To Elaine, being in a large family started her in her ‘organizing path’, a path that continued from the age of fourteen when she got involved in community events.

    She graduated from university with a degree in education and a diploma in child psychology. She taught for ten years. At that point she took a course in philanthropy and thus began a travel adventure that took her through the countries in the southern cone of South America. Elaine worked with indigenous communities and youth throughout while learning Spanish and appreciating other cultures.

    Upon returning to Brazil, she continued her studies with a master’s degree in theology. For the past thirteen years Elaine has been in Chelsea as pastor of a community church and center that has as a basic tenet “we may not be able to change the world, but we can change lives.”  

    The Revival Center offers classes in English, Martial Arts, twice-a-week food pantries, support groups all with an emphasis on health and social justice.

  • Marcos Luna

    Marcos Luna, PhD., Treasurer

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    Marcos Luna, PhD. (he, him, his)

    Marcos is a Professor of Geography & Sustainability and the Coordinator of the Geo-Information Sciences Graduate Program at Salem State University. He uses GIS technology to work with community partners to identify and address environmental justice issues locally and in the region, from transit (in)justice to climate change. He lives in East Boston with his wife and cats.

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    Abdi Ali, Board Member

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    Abdi Ali

    Abdi Ali is a community organizer and racial justice advocate who is a lifelong resident of East Boston. His most recent work focuses on systemic racism, housing, and immigration issues. To that end, Abdi has been the lead organizer of the Eastie Antiracism Community Coalition – a grassroots community led group advancing equity and racial justice in East Boston. In addition, Abdi has been involved in supporting numerous causes including housing justice efforts through City Life/Vida Urbana, the immigration and Human Rights Clinic at St. Mary’s University of Law, and various political campaigns to elect women of color in Massachusetts. 

    Abdi currently works in the financial services sector and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Denison University.

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    Kesia Ascencio, Board Member

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    Kesia Ascencio

    Kesia Ascencio is a lifelong resident of Chelsea, Massachusetts. She graduated from Chelsea High School and has an Associate Degree in Business Administration. With 13 years of experience in the banking industry, Kesia has worked in various roles including Lead Recruiter for Randstad, Customer Service, Executive Assistant to the President of the Bank, and Banking Center Manager. She managed a banking center, volunteered in community events, and built business and customer relationships to meet their banking needs. Currently, Kesia is working in the Chelsea Public Schools system. She is also an active member of the Chelsea Restoration Corporation board and is a MA Notary Public and Tax Preparer. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Kesia is currently learning Portuguese. She loves plants and participating in community events. Kesia is the proud mother of two children: a beautiful and strong-willed daughter and a handsome and smart son.

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    Grace Muwina

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    Grace Muwina (she, her, hers)

    Grace Muwina is a dedicated and passionate community leader and activist. She plays a prominent role in many organizations and has been involved in the Chelsea Public Schools as an engaged parent. Grace has been a GreenRoots member for many years and has spoken at numerous conferences and events, participated in marches and protests and works persistently to bring about social and environmental justice. Grace is a former Chelsea resident, wife, mother, and fierce advocate for the health and well-being of all Chelsea residents.

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    Yahya Noor, Board Member

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    Yahya Noor (he, him, his)

    Yahya is vastly knowledgeable in community-wide activities as he manages the website ourchelseama.org; and he works with several refugee populations and residents in need of medical attention. Yahya is a Chelsea homeowner, father, humble community leader and the owner of Tawakal Halal Cafe in East Boston. 

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    John Valinch, Board Member

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    John Valinch (he, him, his)

    John’s journey in the environmental justice movement began at the age of 15, when he joined GreenRoots to stop a diesel power plant from being built in his hometown of Chelsea, Massachusetts. He is energized to promote land sovereignty for the people of Chelsea through Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust and was active in the working group that led to the incorporation of Comunidades Enraizadas. John spent the majority of his career with UNITE HERE, an international hotel and restaurant union and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and a Master of Business Administration from Brandeis University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Policy from UMass Boston. John is Manager of Equity and Resilience Programs for Groundwork USA and a lifelong resident of Chelsea.