Renée grew up in rural Vermont, worked at a wildlife preserve in Texas, graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Environmental Planning, and briefly lived in Iowa before moving to Somerville. Once there, she worked for a Latin American-based environmental non-profit and started a portrait photography studio, which was one of the first businesses in the revitalized Ames Envelope Complex. It was deciding to make Somerville her permanent home as a young adult that made her realize that her childhood experience of climbing trees, running in fields, and breathing clean air was not something to take for granted. Having children drove home the dire lack of green space in Somerville, and so in 2014, she co-founded Green & Open Somerville. She earned her Master of Public Policy degree from Tufts in 2022. She has served on the composting task force, the open space acquisition task force, and Somerville Climate Forward’s consumption and waste group, and was a LOCUS strategy leader and member of the East Somerville Community School PTA’s environmental committee.
Tori Antonino is a co-founder of Green & Open Somerville. She is a local activist, ecological landscaper, and guerrilla gardener. She serves on the Urban Forestry Committee and the Union Square Neighborhood Council. She is committed to regenerating the indigenous ecosystem to make Somerville a forest city where all residents can be connected to nature. Her proudest accomplishment to date is co-authoring Green & Open Somerville’s Native Planting Ordinance sponsored by Katjana Ballantyne.
Chris was born in Virginia, attended the University of Michigan, and spent time in both Minnesota and Rhode Island before finally settling down in Massachusetts. He is a computer person by training, and works as an independent consultant. He helps biotech companies to align their computing and data strategies with their scientific and business goals. Chris is passionate about transparency and accountability in government. He serves as the co-chair of Somerville's Urban Forestry Committee, and also contributes to the traffic safety focused Vision Zero working group. Chris tweets frequently at @somershade1 and blogs occasionally at https://dwan.org.
Leigh grew up near Atlantic City, NJ, spending many childhood days covered in beach sand. This both gave her a deep appreciation for nature and opened her eyes early on to the inevitable environmental injustices and harm that occur when people prioritize (even reward) extractive and exploitative practices over community and the natural environment. Leigh moved to Boston in 2004 and, noticing similar practices here, has been working ever since to help transform how we relate to ourselves, each other, and the urban ecosystem. She's done this through public and environmental education, music, community organizing, and supporting the local efforts of many amazing individuals and community groups addressing issues like environmental conservation and climate and immigration justice. Green spaces are essential in this transformation, encouraging us to slow down, to find stillness and (re)connection in a culture that promotes being plugged in, isolated, and on-the-go. Leigh is especially devoted to raising awareness about these green space benefits in her work with Green & Open Somerville, and she's super grateful to be able to support this group and its mission.
Claire was born in France and spent a few years in Canada in the 90s before moving to the US where she has been living since then. She is a wildlife conservationist and field naturalist, a scientist trained in mathematical statistics, probabilities, and artificial intelligence. Claire made a first career leading research and development in a domain of artificial intelligence dealing with information processing and search in large nonlinear dynamic systems (now critical in conservation science). In 2017, Claire founded Earthwise Aware (EwA), a Nature Conservation nonprofit determined to anchor biodiversity knowledge and science, ecological ethics, and environmental leadership to the heart of our communities, organizations, and society. EwA is known locally for its democratization of ecological science through its community science program focused on place-based urban wildlife and natural history, and the conservation of species interactions. The program runs continuous biodiversity and phenology studies in 8 cities including Somerville. The program fosters a deeper understanding of ecological systems and provides tools to make evidence-based environmental decisions. Claire also serves as a board member of the Friends of the Fells (FOF) and as the chair of the FOF Science Advisory Board. Additionally, Claire is the co-chair of the CitizenScience.org's Ethics Working Group. Claire's mantra is "Nature Conservation as A Way of Life". She dedicates herself to follow it every day–everywhere. [Claire's LinkedIn profile]
GREEN ROOF ADVISOR
Brendan is a certified Green Roof Professional with two decades of project management and design-build experience in the construction industry. As co-founder at Recover Green Roofs, he has overseen more than 100 green roof and rooftop amenity spaces through design, construction, and long-term maintenance. In 2020, Brendan launched Green Infrastructure Now, which advocates for smarter stormwater management and more urban green space.
NATIVE PLANT ADVISOR
David grew up in Brooklyn, went to college at Skidmore and then graduate school at the New School in NY for philosophy, but switched to study ecology. He started with the Audubon Society in Vermont and then moved to Boston for an internship at Arnold Arboretum. He had his own gardening business for a few years and now works at the Native Plant Trust (formerly New England Wildflower Society) as a horticulturist. He works on ecological stewardship and sustainability in garden practices in both urban and suburban environments. In Somerville, he designed and installed both the Morse Kelley pollinator habitat garden and native meadow and plantings at the Growing Center.
GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE ADVISOR
Stephen is a social-activist architect who has carved a 20-year career in the field of architecture and urban design applying design principles rooted in ecologically responsible and sustainable methodology. He is passionate about designing the built environment to enhance our relationship and balance with the natural world. His experience, in concert with design, has included being a member of the (Somerville) Mayor’s Commission on Energy Use and Climate Change, which has supported the crafting of climate action policy, planning and zoning. This includes the City's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, Climate Vulnerability Assessment, and Climate Action Plan (Somerville Climate Forward). He also served as a chapter captain for Somerville’s SomerVision 2040 (city plan). Stephen has been a teacher at the Boston Architectural College and has provided informationals to institutions on Carbon Goal Setting and Embodied Energy in the built environment.