People

The success of URI depends on so many people.  It is a team effort that helps us fulfill our mission.  Our team consists of board members, staff, interns, Greenspace volunteers, tree requesters (residents who agree to water their newly planted URI trees), partners like Emerge, the Common Ground School, the Sound School, the City of New Haven and donors.  Find here our staff, board, interns, and featured alumni interns. 

Katherine Beechem

GreenSkills Manager
katherine.beechem@yale.edu
+1 (203) 432-6189

Katie received her B.A. in Biology from Goucher College and her M.F. in Forestry from the Yale School Forestry & Environmental Studies.  Prior to studying at Yale, Katie worked with the Baltimore County Forest Sustainability Program, where she led the effort to plant 1,000 shade trees around public facilities and contributed to the reforestation of hundreds of acres of abandoned agricultural land.  She has also worked as a graduate teaching fellow at Yale F&ES, a research assistant at the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, an environmental educator at the National Aquarium, and as an Ultimate Frisbee coach.

Colleen Murphy-Dunning

Director
colleen.murphy-dunning@yale.edu
(203) 432-6570

Colleen Murphy-Dunning is the Director of both the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology and the Urban Resources Initiative at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). Colleen partners with faculty to lead a field based module on urban ecology for all incoming Yale F&ES graduate students. Prior to coming to New Haven in 1995, she taught agroforestry at the Kenya Forestry College and reviewed natural resource operations in Papua New Guinea for the Rainforest Action Network. Colleen received her B.S. in Public and Environmental Affairs from Indiana University, and M.S. in Forestry from Humboldt State University. 

Paul Ozyck

Associate Director
christopher.ozyck@yale.edu
+1 (203) 432-6189

Chris Ozyck is the Associate Director for the Urban Resources Initiative. He graduated from the University of Connecticut 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Design. Chris has owned and operated a landscape design and construction business for over ten years in New Haven.

Chris has been involved in and led numerous Greenway initiatives including being lead organizer for the Vision trail, the Harbor Trail and the historic Quinnipiac River Loop trail. He was the founding President of the Board for the Elm City Parks Conservancy and the newly formed water pollution mitigation endowed fund. Chris lives in Fairhaven Heights with his wife Rosemary and two daughters.

Anna Ruth Pickett

Development & Outreach Manager
anna.pickett@yale.edu
(203) 432-6189

Anna graduated from Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in 2010 and went directly to work for URI’s Greenspace program. Before coming to Yale, she worked for 3 years at the Ford Foundation on its environmental justice grantmaking team. Previously, she worked for environmental non-profits, as a social worker in a battered women’s shelter, as a political campaign field staffer, and she lived for a while on a sailboat in the Pacific.

Anna earned a Master’s of Environmental Science from Yale and a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College. She lives in New Haven with her husband and two sons.

Matthew Viens

GreenSkills Program Manager
matthew.viens@yale.edu
(203) 432-0314

Matt received his Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School Forestry & Environmental Studies in 2016, where he focused his studies on urban and community forestry.  Prior to studying at Yale, Matt worked at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., where he worked with the Chief Innovation Officer to spearhead initiatives related to crowdsourcing and citizen science.  He has been with URI since 2015, transitioning from a summer Greenspace intern to GreenSkills Program Manager. In this current role Matt helps oversee all aspects of the GreenSkills program, including management of a seasonal crew of 6 Yale supervisors and 18 high school students who contribute to weekly tree planting activities. Matt has also held positions as an apprentice forester in the Yale Forests system, a community outreach intern with the the New Haven Land Trust, and a summer camp counselor. 

2017 Community Foresters

Dylan Cicero

Dylan is an incoming student to Yale F&ES. He is interested in traditional ecological knowledge, ethnobotany, and depth ecology. Before coming to Yale he worked on organic farms and "permaculture" sites in the US and abroad. He is excited to be in New Haven this summer, and looking forward to starting coursework in August!

Cara Donovan

Cara Donovan is a joint degree masters student at FES and the School of Public Health at Yale. She grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island and graduated from Connecticut College in 2008 with a major in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies. Her focus is on improving health and the environment through sustainable food systems. Prior to starting her program at Yale, she worked at CitySeed as a Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator and later as Mobile Market Manager. She looks forward to continuing to work in the New Haven community and learning from the many knowledgeable greenspace volunteers!

Rachel Gulbraa

Rachel is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy is a current student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES), focusing on environmental policy analysis and climate adaptation at the local and regional level. Before attending Yale FES, he worked in the U.S. Senate and at Bloomberg BNA, researching and analyzing environmental health and safety regulations at the state and federal level. Jeremy is excited to work within the Greater New Haven Community to transform and beautify community greenspaces this summer.

Michele Palmer

Michele is a recent graduate with a focus on urban environmental studies. Michele was working in urban forestry and environmental education in California before coming to New Haven. Michele loves planting, pruning, and climbing trees and is excited to be helping with GreenSpaces this summer!

Caroline Scanlan

Caroline (Caro) is a master's student at the Yale School of Forestry, studying urban forestry and environmental management. She was born and raised in and around San Francisco, CA, where she first fell in love with the natural world and developed a strong sense of place. Before coming to Yale, she taught at an elementary school in the Bay Area, ran a school garden program, worked on urban farms and gardens, and built big wooden structures with children at the San Francisco Tinkering School. She is passionate about trees, forests, gardens, and youth - and she loves working in the city!

During the 2016-17 school year, Caro was a part of URI's Greenskills team, planting dozens of trees in every neighborhood around New Haven. She's grateful to be working with passionate and welcoming Greenspace volunteers all over the city this summer.

2016 Community Foresters

Elias Estabrook

Elias graduated from Yale College in May 2016, with a B.A. in Political Science and an interdisciplinary concentration on Environmental Politics and Development. For his senior research, Elias traveled to the Cameroonian rainforest to learn about payment for environmental services (PES) and the challenges of rural development. Before beginning as a Greenspace intern, he was a planting crew co-leader for high school students in URI's Greenskills program, 2015-2016. He will be continuing his focus on community-based projects when he starts his next job at Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven.

Lauren Griffith

Lauren is a joint degree student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School. Before coming to Yale she worked with a non-profit organization, Capital Roots, that worked to increase access to fresh, affordable, and nutritious food in the New York capital region. After working with urban agriculture and food access, Lauren is enjoying working on cities' approaches to greenspace and forestry projects this summer with URI.

Alexander Sernyak

Alex is an undergraduate rising senior at Yale college. Hailing from Branford, he is Nutmegger through and through.

Maxwell Webster

Ohio native Max Webster is a Master of Environmental Management Candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where he focuses on community-based approaches to conservation and sustainable land management practices. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 2012, with a degree in English Literature, Max managed community garden programs in Ohio before leading conservation crews on the west coast and spending a summer farming in Vermont. During this past school year, Max was part of the URI Greenskills team and also served as a contributing editor for Sage Magazine.

Peter Wyrsch

I'm a graduate student at Yale Divinity School studying the History of Christianity with a focus on environmental history. Prior to my graduate studies, I guided outdoor and environmental education trips for Farm & Wilderness Camps in Vermont and taught high school history at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory.

As an educator, I am passionate about finding dynamic, interdisciplinary solutions to social and environmental problems. I look forward to learning from my colleagues at the Urban Resources Initiative and from the community members with whom we'll be working!

Laurence Nadel

President

Laurence Nadel practices law in New Haven where he focuses on the commercial, real estate, and property issues of individuals, non-profits and small businesses. He has been engaged with Yale Law School’s Jerome Frank Legal Clinic for more than seven years where he has been a Visiting Professor of Clinical Law and co-taught the Community and Economic Development Clinic. In his current role he supervises students in business and real estate transactions in the Small Business Clinic. Laurence recently worked in New Haven on the renovation and reopening of the Hannah Gray Home and the St. Luke’s Senior Center. He has served on the Board of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, and the Short Beach Civic Association, and previously lectured on Art and Copyright Law through conferences sponsored by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

Nan Bartow
Nan Bartow was delighted to join the Board of the Urban Resource Initiative in May of 2005. In her earlier years she developed a deep appreciation for water, land, and nature in the marshes of Cohasset, Massachusetts, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the highlands of Yosemite National Park, the Alps of Switzerland, and the Sahel of Chad, Africa, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer. A high school English educator, Nan spent most of her teaching years at the High School in the Community, one of New Haven’s public magnet schools. She is actively involved in Friends of Beaver Pond Park, a group that is working to preserve the wildlife and to improve the natural beauty of the ponds and the park through the URI Greenspace program. Now in retirement, she wishes to combine her love for teaching and for land conservation by serving on the Greenspace and the Education committees of the Board of URI.
 
Josephine Bush

Jody Bush graduated from Vassar College and went on to be the Assistant Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for six years. From 1985 until the present she has worked as a landscape designer. Jody also has been involved both as the President and an Honorary Board Member of the Inwood House in New York, the oldest and largest maternity shelter in the city. In addition, she is the Emeritus director for the Garden Conservancy, whose mission is to preserve exceptional American gardens and to educate the public about the value of gardening. Since college, Jody has also taken graduate level courses at a variety of institutions, including Ecole du Louvre, the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Heidi Coutu

As a working artist for twenty-five years, Heidi Coutu has been featured in one-woman shows, museum solo exhibitions, numerous art and design publications, and on PBS.  Currently represented by four significant galleries across the US, her work has found its way into collections both domestically and abroad.

As a teacher, an entrepreneur, and a force in developing an arts zone in a local revitalization in her former home state of Massachusetts, Heidi currently resides at Yale University as a resident fellow at Timothy Dwight College, where she maintains a studio.  She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

Gordon Geballe

Gordon has lived in the New Haven area for over 30 years, bringing to URI a wealth of knowledge regarding the community. He is the Associate Dean and Lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He has served on the Board since 1991, and was the Board Lecturer from 2000–2003.

Christine Kim

Christine Kim is the Program and Research Director at the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. She is also the Program Manager and co-author of the Environmental Performance Index and Associate Director for Yale’s Environmental Governance projects. Her research focuses on environmental performance measurement, as well as issues of equity, leadership, and political will in international environmental governance and United Nations reform. Christine is a dual citizen of the Republic of Korea and the United States. She attended Yale University.

Sara Ohly

Sara Ohly has lived in New Haven since 1968, and joined the URI Board in 2002.  After graduating from Vassar, she taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey, at the Cedarhurst School in the Yale Psychiatric Institute, and in New Haven Adult Education.  She completed her M.A. in International Relations (1986) and a Ph.D. in Anthropology (1994) at Yale University, then taught social cultural anthropology at Connecticut College and at Wesleyan.  Sara has been an active community member involved in neighborhood associations, helping with different networks and community support.  She has participated in Greenspace at Farnam Court Public Housing, in Wooster Square, and, from 2000 to the present, in Lenzi Park.  She shares many of the same passions of URI, including community building, environmental activism, and education, as well as urban anthropology.

Erik B. Pearson

Erik B. Pearson joined the URI Board in 2012. Erik is a Research Coordinator for Soundview Capital Management.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School with a J.D. and served as an attorney until 2008.  Prior to becoming an attorney, Erik was a psychiatric specialist for the U. S. Army for eight years.  Erik founded the Portland (Oregon) Chapter of the National Adult Baseball Association in 1993.  Erik has two children and lives with his family in North Haven.

Britton Rogers

Britton comes to URI through the Greenspace program working on Lenzi Park, off of Grand Avenue.  His work at Lenzi Park began as part of his community outreach as a concerned neighbor, as well as his Master Gardener certification process.  After studying architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, and some time spent abroad, Britton settled in New York City working for various architecture firms.  He arrived in New Haven in 2007, where he now works independently as an architect and garden designer, as well as doing some environmental design consulting work with Atelier Ten.  He has studied sustainable design/build strategies at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vermont.  He enjoys modern art, photography, and cycling.  He builds terrariums and succulent gardens as a winter hobby when he can’t be working on his local community garden plot.  He is very pleased to be a part of URI and its work with trees and green spaces, as a way of helping New Haven’s physical and social environment.

Joe Ryzewski

Joe Ryzewski is a lifelong resident of New Haven. He has a background in electric utility design, operation and workforce development. He is a registered Professional Electrical Engineer and a Certified Project Management Professional and currently works at the United Illuminating Company, an investor owned public utility. He is a member of the Connecticut Urban Forest Council, whose vision, like URI’s, includes creating and supporting a healthy urban forest in our neighborhoods. Joe is also interested in New Haven’s history, particularly in the lives and contributions of various statesmen, entrepreneurs and inventors.

Errol C. Saunders, II

Originally from Los Angeles, Errol Saunders came to New Haven in 2002 to attend Yale. After receiving his BA in Political Science, he joined the faculty of Hopkins School, where he currently teaches World History and New Haven History. In addition to his work as a teacher at Hopkins, Errol also serves as the assistant director of Breakthrough New Haven, a tuition-free academic enrichment program for middle school students who attend New Haven public and parochial schools. Since setting down his roots in New Haven, Errol has worked to promote and improve his adopted community. He has led step-on bus tours of the city’s historic neighborhoods and the lasting effects of urban redevelopment, given lectures on the city’s industrial heritage and adaptive reuse, and served on the board of the Ulysses S. Grant Program.

Semi Semi-Dikoko

Semi Semi-Dikoko came to New Haven in 1991, to consult for Southern New England Telephone Company as Systems Architect. He is a Principal at SSD International, (a Technology Architecture & Strategy practice).  Education and career afforded him opportunities to live in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, working in technology positions with Amdahl (Fujitsu), AT&T Bell Laboratories, Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company, Computer Associates, ERNO-VFW Fokker, IBM and Société de Traction et d’Électricité (Groupe Suez).  He attended Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Université Lovanium, Athénée Royal and Koninklijk Atheneum te Kalina. He is IBM Certified Large Systems Architect & Managing Consultant and holds a FAA Pilot License. He serves on the Boards of URI, New Haven Sister Cities, and advocates for environmental and human development causes in appreciation for a great community. 

Harry Wexler

Harry Wexler is a senior partner at Cross Sector Consulting, a national consulting firm headquartered in New Haven. He joined the URI Board of Directors, recognizing its value for New Haven after evaluating Philadelphia Green, one of the country’s largest neighborhood greening programs, for the Pew Charitable Trusts in the mid-90s. He consults to various national foundations and financial intermediaries that support community development activities. Besides consulting, he has taught courses on housing and community development policy and in urban studies at Yale University and Columbia University.

Don Williams
Board member since 2016
Don Williams

Don Williams is an experienced GreenSkills crew member.

2010 Andrew Breck (2011 MF )

Andrew came to F&ES and URI with a background in environmental education, and he is now a recent graduate of the master of forestry program at Yale F&ES.  He is currently working in the forest crew in the Yale School Forests and plans to find forestry work in or around the Boston area beginning in the fall. 

2009 Abigail Adams (2010 MEM )

Abigail was an intern in 2009-2010, helping URI to further measure the impact of the program on youth interns. She now works for the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), a land trust in Palo Alto, CA, where she is a Conservation Project Manager managing both the conservation easement and land volunteer programs.

2007 Yi-Wen Lin (2008 MEM )

Yi-Wen worked as an intern at URI from summer 2007 to November 2008, and started her interests in Urban Forestry and Community Development.  In December 2008, she became a Forester for NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and manages street tree planting contracts as part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative.  In the beginning of 2011, a new position opened up in her office for a special community-involved project in Western Queens, and she was hired as the Western Queens Greening Coordinator in April 2011.  She is very excited about this 3-year sustainable project that encompasses community-led planning, extensive tree planting, and tree stewardship training.and volunteer program.

2005 Mohamad A. Chakaki (2006 MEM )

Mohamad grew up playing and learning in the sand and surf on both sides of the Arabian Peninsula, and then on the edges of eastern forests and city streets in and around Washington, D.C. His interests lie where the lines blur between East/West, city/nature, art/science, theory/practice, and so on…

As a PhD student at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, Mohamad’s research explores the connections and disconnections across campus planning and curriculum design in the new campuses being developed as partnerships between American universities and host countries in the Arab Middle East. Mohamad holds a Masters of Environmental Management with a focus on Urban Ecology and Environmental Design from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and undergraduate degrees in Religion and Biological Sciences from The George Washington University.

Mohamad’s passion for nature and for people led him to several years of professional training (and personal development) in parks and gardens across the US, with the Peace Corps in Central Africa, and with the United Nations in Syria. Before starting at MIT, Mohamad spent three years consulting on environment and community development projects in both the US and the Arab Middle East. Mohamad was a co-founder of DC Green Muslims and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.

2005 Wendy Francesconi (2006 MESc )

Wendy is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida, U.S.A., and holds a Masters degree in Environmental Science from Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  Her doctoral research was focused on evaluating different agricultural practices for their potential to increase functional connectivity, and her professional interests include the application of sustainable agriculture and the design of rural landscapes for biodiversity conservation purposes.

2003 Erica Schroeder (2004 MEM )

Erica is an attorney at Keyes & Fox, LLP in Oakland, CA (view her profile). Her legal practice is focused on the intersection between energy and environmental law with a particular focus on policy implementation, compliance and permitting. She represents the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) in proceedings before state public utilities commissions seeking to develop sustainable markets for renewable energy. In addition, she is involved in IREC’s broader efforts to facilitate community renewables programs and projects around the United States. For example, she has advocated for community solar policies in Colorado and Delaware.

Erica graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Law in 2010. She also holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she focused on environmental economics and policy, as well as a B.A. from Yale in Ethics, Politics & Economics. While at the Forestry School, Erica was the Newsletter Editor for URI. 

In her free time, Erica enjoys yoga and running. She most recently ran a half marathon in Santa Cruz, CA. She also enjoys cooking and baking, and is the co-author of a baking blog. 

2002 Dr. Soni Pradhanang (2003 MESc )

Dr. Pradhanang is a Watershed Hydrologist and Modeler. She joined CUNY-Institute for Sustainable Cities/Dept. of Geography, Hunter College in 2009 as a Research Associate. She earned her Ph.D. in watershed hydrology and modeling from SUNY-ESF and a Master of Environmental Science with a focus in forest ecology and management from Yale University. She worked as an Urban Community Forest Intern at Urban Resources Initiative, soon after she graduated from Yale F&ES (2003 M.E.Sc.).

Her current research project is to evaluate climate change impacts on New York City Water Supply. Her research goals are to understand how hydrologic processes influence water quantity and movement of sediments and nutrients through watersheds through combined effort of monitoring and modeling, aiding in the development of policies and management practices to protect water and soil.  Dr. Pradhanang works primarily with the Prof. Allan Frei at CUNY, Hunter College, and with scientists in New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and Dept. of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University. She is applying and developing models to evaluate the effects of watershed management practices and climate change on the New York City water supply. The generation, transformation and transport of sediments and nutrients within the watershed are the major focus of her research. As part of this effort, she is currently using different water quality models, one of which is a recent development from Cornell University called Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT-WB) (water balance) which captures the complexity intrinsic to saturation excess runoff. Her research also focuses on trend and uncertainty analysis of measured data and modeled results. Future research in this area will build and expand on identifying and quantifying processes controlling biogeochemical processes in the landscape, especially those most relevant to anticipated environmental changes associated with climate change. Besides her research in the northeastern U.S., she also is involved in geo-statistical analysis of meteorological variables and hydro-climatological studies for her home country, Nepal, in collaboration with Cornell University.

2001 Greg McLaughlin (2002 MEM )

Greg lives in Ellensburg Washington, where he is the Eastern Washington Project Manager for Washington Water Trust.  He enjoys the short commute to some out of the way playgrounds in the Cascades, the wealth of good local breweries, his three boys, and the small town atmosphere.  His job is to work primarily in North Central Washington with tribes, irrigation districts, agencies, local governments, and landowners to develop market-based incentives for flow restoration in salmon-dependent tributaries.  The approach is to work collaboratively with local communities, establish rapport with landowners, and develop incentive-based projects that restore salmon flows while improving the economic standing of local agricultural producers.  The focus on local partners driving project development is very related to the approaches used at URI, and the focus on such “win-win” outcomes is quickly becoming the most popular in long-term conservation efforts.

2000 Georgia Silvera Seamans (2001 MEM )

Georgia graduated from F&ES in 2001.  After graduation, Georgia worked as a community forester with Urban Resources Initiative in the Newhallville neighborhood followed by a three-year tenure as the Boston Park Department’s urban forester.  Georgia moved to Berkeley in 2004 to pursue a doctoral degree in environmental planning; she received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2010.  While living in Berkeley, Georgia was a board member of the Berkeley Partners for Parks and volunteered with the California Habitats Indigenous Activists to plant native vegetation along a section of the rails-to-trails Ohlone Greenway.  Georgia moved again in 2009, this time to New York City where she is a stay at home mother to a curious and delightful toddler and edits localecology.org when her son naps.

 
1997 Jennifer Kefer (1998 MEM )

Jennifer is an environmental consultant with a decade experience providing legal and political expertise, strategic analysis, and advice to non-profits, corporations and cities on a range of projects related to climate, energy and other environmental issues.  Jennifer is Project Manager at David Gardiner & Associates, where she manages a diverse coalition of labor, contractor associations, businesses and environmental groups to advance manufacturing competitiveness through the use of combined heat and power and recycled energy.  To that end, she coordinates education, advocacy and field events; cultivates stakeholder relationships; staffs Hill visits and weekly strategy calls; and drafts materials for legislative, regulatory and media outreach.  Jennifer also works with a wide array of environmental and efficiency groups to identify opportunities for energy efficiency to serve as a compliance mechanism under the Clean Air Act.  Other recent clients include the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where Jennifer served as a Senior Climate Advisor.  In that capacity, she worked with a network of organizations on coalition building, education, outreach, and policy analysis to reduce the effects of climate legislation on low-income households. 

Jennifer previously served as the Climate and Energy Program Coordinator for the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, where she helped educate and mobilize the Jewish community around climate change, building diverse coalitions both within the Jewish community and across faiths.  Prior to her work for the Jewish community, Jennifer worked as an environmental attorney, representing national environmental organizations in lawsuits to defend the broad scope of federal environmental laws.  She also clerked for Chief Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in the Northern District of California.

Jennifer earned a B.A. in environmental studies at Brandeis University, a Masters of Environmental Studies at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a J.D. at the Yale Law School.