Staff

Meet the people working to make The Greenway and Boston a greener, better place!

Jesse Brackenbury, Executive Director

Jesse Brackenbury leads the Conservancy’s public-private partnership with a keen understanding of The Greenway’s position as an economic driver for the Commonwealth and its role as both a front-yard for neighbors and a destination for visitors. Jesse works with the Board of Directors on strategic planning and revenue generation, and he oversees organizational management and external relations.

Under Jesse’s leadership, the Conservancy has become a national leader in park management and placemaking. Jesse negotiated an $18M landmark multi-party agreement that increased and diversified foundational funding for the park and led to the establishment of the Greenway Business Improvement District (BID). The Conservancy has brought new experiences to the Greenway, including opening the landmark Greenway Carousel at The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove, the nationally recognized Greenway Mobile Eats Program, and Boston’s first park beer garden. The Conservancy has repeatedly won awards for its contemporary public art commissions, as well for its programming and organic horticulture practices.

Jesse was recognized by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce as one of the 2015 "Ten Outstanding Young Leaders" and by the Boston Business Journal as one of their 2014 “40 Under 40” honorees. Jesse has served on numerous mayoral and gubernatorial commissions.

Jesse joined the Greenway Conservancy as Chief Operating Officer in 2009 and has led the Conservancy since 2013.  Prior to joining the Conservancy, Jesse was with The Boston Consulting Group, where he worked on strategy, real estate, organizational development and other projects for Fortune 500 companies and government. Jesse’s experience also includes leadership roles at the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation and the United Nations World Food Programme in Italy. Jesse has an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley and a BA from Williams College.

Horticulture

Stuart Shillaber, Director of Horticulture

Stu joined the Conservancy in May of 2009 as a member of the Horticulture staff and in April of 2011 assumed his current role as Superintendent where he currently oversees a department of 7 staff that are charged with the care of the Greenway’s lawns, trees and plant collections. He also plays a leading role in the Horticultural education and the management of the Conservancy’s Volunteer Program. Stu’s previous experiences have led him to run his own successful Design/Build/Maintain Landscaping business and as a Supervisor with the Central Park Conservancy in New York City. He is a AOLCP with NOFA and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Urban Horticulture & Turfgrass Management.

Anthony Ruggiero, Horticulture Foreman

Anthony joined the Conservancy in June 2009 and is responsible for the direct oversight of the Horticulture crew and the day to day horticulture activities on the Greenway. He is also responsible for the management of the organic program and the irrigation system of the Greenway. Anthony’s previous experience includes working in all aspects of the Green industry throughout the years, but specializing in Sustainable/Organic Landcare. He holds an Associate’s degree in Turfgrass Management from Stockbridge University and a Bachelor's degree in Plant and Soil Science from UMass Amherst.

Darrah Cole, Senior Horticulturist and Designer

Darrah joined the Conservancy in April 2011 and is responsible for in-house horticulture design including perennials, bulb selections, and container design and maintenance; as well as managing the plant inventory and phenology records, contributing to our “What’s in Bloom” blog and leading volunteer events in the field. Darrah has previously worked with Heronswood Nursery and Dan Hinckley in the Pacific Northwest, owned a small organic farm,  and worked on estate gardens in Maine and the North Shore, including Oyster Point Gardens, Skylands, and The Chimneys. She studied at Rhode Island School of Design, and holds a BA from San Francisco State University, and NOFA certification in Organic Land Care Management.

Gary Thorp, Irrigation and Landscape Specialist
Tori Hiney, Plant Health Care Horticulturist

Tori joined the Conservancy in June 2014.  As part of our organic horticulture team, Tori helps in the maintenance of the Greenway's herbaceous and woody plants, containers, and turf.  She helps sustain plant health care, and soil biology as well as support volunteer experiences.  

Tori’s previous experience includes residential organic land care with the Meandering Path out of Exeter, NH as well as with Talbots Creative Gardening out of Cambridge, MA.  She holds a BS in Environmental Horticulture and Landscape design from the University of Maine.  She is certified through NOFA as an Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (AOLCP). She is certified through MNLA as a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist (MCH) and holds a Pesticide Applicator License through MDAR.
Steph Almasi, Seasonal Horticulturist/ Volunteer Program Assistant

Steph joined the Conservancy in March 2018 as a Seasonal Horticulturist. In addition to her many horticultural responsibilities, Steph also serves as the Conservancy's Volunteer Program Assistant, providing extra support and leadership to the operations of Horticulture volunteer projects. Her previous experiences include landscape gardening in Maine with a focus in Japanese inspired gardens and most recently, Steph relocated to Boston from Charleston, SC where she worked for the City of Charleston Parks Department's Horticulture Division. Stephanie holds a degree in Horticulture from Southern Maine Community College.

Michael Bestoso, Seasonal Irrigation Technician

Michael joined the Conservancy in March 2017 as the Conservancy's Seasonal Irrigation Technician, responsible for assisting with the upkeep and proper operation of the Greenway irrigation system. His previous experiences includes working in a similar capacity at several well known regional golf courses. Michael holds a degree in History from the University of Rhode Island and has received his NOFA accreditation.

Nicole Semeraro, Seasonal Horticulturist

Nicole first joined the Conservancy in the summer of 2017 as a Horticulture Intern and now returns this year as a Seasonal Horticulturist. Among her many horticultural tasks caring for the Greenway's plants and landscapes, Nicole has the lead role in the day to day management of the Dewey Square Demonstration Garden. Some of her previous related experiences include working in plant sales at a garden center and completion of coursework for a Permaculture Design Certification. Nicole  lives in North Reading and recently graduated from Colby-Sawyer College with a degree in Environmental Studies.

Dylan Barrett-Smith, Seasonal Horticulturist
Audrey Burke, Horticulture Intern

Audrey joined the Conservancy in April 2018 as a Horticulture Intern. Some of her previous experiences include working as a Camp Hand and Greenhouse Assistant on a small island off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska as well as serving in several farm-to-table restaurants. Originally from Baltimore, MD, Audrey holds a degree in Cinema & Photography with a double minor in French and Writing from Ithaca College. She strongly supports youth and community supported agriculture and has a passion for cultivating both native and exotic fruit verdure and medicinal plants.

Maintenance and Capital

Robert Stigberg, Director of Maintenance and Capital

Bob joined the Conservancy in August 2009 and is responsible for the maintenance of all hardscape elements of the Greenway to include fountains, lighting, electrical, site furnishings, drainage and pavements. In addition he oversees the subcontractor, WORK Inc. who is responsible for litter and trash pickup, lawn mowing, snow removal and many other tasks. The recently introduced Park Rangers fall under Bob’s oversight as well.  Greenway Park Rangers serve as ambassadors on the Greenway and help maintain public safety.  Bob is a registered Landscape Architect and also has several years’ experience managing landscape construction projects prior to joining the Conservancy. He holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Environmental Horticulture from the University of Connecticut.

Tom Ball, Maintenance and Construction Supervisor

Tom joined the Conservancy in March 2012. He is responsible for establishing the Maintenance Department’s goals and priorities for the season and the year as well as implementing a long term Capital Repair Plan. He also assists in developing and managing an annual budget to provide for all goods, services, and staffing needed to meet these goals and objectives. In addition he oversees the subcontractor, WORK Inc. who is responsible for litter and trash pickup, lawn mowing, snow removal and many other tasks.

He performs a variety of maintenance tasks as well as direct other maintenance staff and contractors in the repair, reconstruction, maintenance and cleaning of all hard surfaces (paving, walls, site furnishings, artworks), systems (electrical, plumbing, irrigation, fountains, water features, high pressure fog technology, specialty lighting, computerized control systems, etc.) and structures to ensure that they are kept in first class condition. Tom has experience with and the ability to maintain sophisticated fountain systems that include water filtration and proper analysis and use of chemicals, compressors and computer controlled programming. Tom works closely with various departments as well as other organizations on special events projects, public art installations, as well as other park-wide issues and the Conservancy’s overall priorities.

Tom has a degree in Architectural Technology and over 30 years of construction experience. He is a Certified Welder, an Amusement Certified Maintenance Mechanic, he has his Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License and also currently holds over twenty licenses and certifications he uses to fulfill his responsibilities on The Greenway.

Bruce Carstairs, Maintenance Mason

Bruce joined the Conservancy in March 2014 and is responsible masonry maintenance on the Greenway. He has 30 years of masonry experience, including full restoration sealants, granite and marble and brick.

Robert Pittman, Maintenance Technician
Leonard Krushova, Maintenance Assistant

Leonard joined the Conservancy in June 2015 and is responsible for assisting Maintenance Department in all aspects of hardscape maintenance including fountains, lights, concrete, stone and brick paving, site furnishing, artworks and structures. His role is to assist the maintenance department staff in its daily operations in maintaining, repairing, cleaning, and installing all hardscape elements through The Greenway. Responsibilities include repair tasks related to masonry, electrical, plumbing, fountains and furnishing as well as the routine maintenance and care of the Greenway Parks. Leonard’s previous experience includes HVAC, electrical, and construction works. He holds an HRVAC degree from RETS Technical Institute of Kaplan and he is EPA certified.  

Jared Prince, Assistant Maintenance Technician

Jared joined the Conservancy in September 2015 and is responsible for assisting the Maintenance Department in all aspects of hardscape maintenance. His role is to assist the maintenance department staff in its daily operations in maintaining, repairing, cleaning, and installing all hardscape elements through The Greenway. Responsibilities include repair tasks related to masonry, electrical, plumbing, fountains and furnishing as well as the routine maintenance and care of the Greenway Parks. Previously a Greenway Park Ranger, Jared holds a BA in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University.

Trina Alexknovitch, Senior Park Ranger

Trina joined the Conservancy in July 2014 and is responsible for the Park Ranger Department.  Trina develops protocol for Park Rangers and works closely with all Conservancy staff and volunteers to address safety issues on the Greenway.  Trina is also an ambassador of the Conservancy and will provide interpretive services for visitors to the Greenway.  Trina’s previous experience includes law enforcement, defense investigations, and campus safety.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Rivier College and a BA in Sign Language Interpreting from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester.

Kiara Huntress, Park Ranger

Kiara Huntress joined the Conservancy in February 2017. As a Park Ranger, Kiara serves as an ambassador to the public and monitors the use of the Greenway parks to ensure public safety. Kiara's previous experience includes working as a seasonal Park Ranger for Brookline, MA and as a horticulturalist for Chestnut Hill Realty in Chestnut Hill, MA. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Sustainability from Merrimack College.

Rebecca McKevitz, Capital Projects Manager

Rebecca joined the Conservancy in May of 2018 and is responsible for the planning and management of capital improvement projects, such as fountain, masonry, furniture and lighting upgrades as well as larger parcel redesign efforts. She works closely with many other departments within the Conservancy to propose enhancements along The Greenway and oversees them throughout planning, design, permitting and construction. Rebecca is passionate about implementing innovative projects that keep the park contemporary and exciting!

Rebecca’s background is in landscape architecture and her previous professional experience includes contributing to large corporate campus projects, retail developments and streetscape improvements as well as the design and management of residential landscape projects. Rebecca currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. She holds a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture from Ball State University with a concentration in Sustainability.

Programs

Keelin Caldwell, Director of Programs and Community Engagement

Keelin joined the Conservancy in January 2014 and is responsible for co-leading the Conservancy’s Programs Department, which offers over 400 free events on The Greenway every year. She oversees the popular volunteer program, community and play-based education programs, planning, event organization, and development of partnerships. 

Keelin’s previous experience includes education positions at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY, Longwood Gardens, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She holds a BS in Plant Science from Cornell University and a MS in Public Horticulture from the Longwood Graduate Program at the University of Delaware. 

Samantha McGinnis, Director of Programs and Earned Income

Samantha joined the Conservancy in February 2014 and is responsible for co-leading the Conservancy’s Programs Department, which offers over 400 free events on The Greenway every year. She oversees major events, event series, markets, promotional activities, planning and development of partnerships. 

Samantha’s previous work experience includes working with the Beacon Hill Civic Association. She holds a BS in Community and International Development from the University of Vermont.

Eileen Ong, Programs and Business Development Manager

Eileen joined the Conservancy in November 2016 and is responsible for managing current initiatives and developing new programs to continue growing the Conservancy's earned income. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Eileen worked at Exxon Mobil Corporation. She holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Rice University.

Kait Ziskin Levesque, Programs Manager

Kait joined the Conservancy in March 2016 to develop and launch the Greenway Play program. Kait's work at the Conservancy includes managing a wide array of free and public park programming and deepening relationships with community organizations to ensure programming reflects all our visitors!

Kait's previous work experience includes education, community engagement, and programming positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Historic New England, Peabody Essex Museum, Addison Gallery of American Art and the Museum of Art, RISD. She holds a BFA in Theater Studies from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts and an MA in Art + Design Education from Rhode Island School of Design.
Karla Noboa, Volunteer and Programs Coordinator

Karla joined the Conservancy in April 2017 and works on volunteer recruitment, management and retention, as well as assisting with programs and events. Karla previously worked for The Nature Conservancy both in Vermont and Wisconsin, where she assisted with land management, coordinated events and outreach, and managed volunteer programs for both state chapters. She hold a BS in Natural Resources from The University of Vermont.

Soniya Tejwani, Programs Coordinator

Soniya joined the Conservancy in March, 2018 and is responsible for coordinating the fitness program series in addition to providing logistical support for the many events hosted on The Greenway. Her career in non-profits first started at the Peabody Essex Museum, assisting with the implementation and development of public programs on their education team. She then gained experience in the hospitality and event management sector, overseeing weddings and corporate functions. Soniya attended Massachusetts College of Art & Design, where she studied ceramics and received her BFA in 3D Fine Arts. 

PhuongDuy Tran, Programs Coordinator

PhuongDuy joined the Conservancy in July, 2018. She works on the coordination, planning, and execution of various events on The Greenway, focusing on the Carousel operations and the Dewey Square Farmers Market. Her experience working in a non-profit began with her previous position as a Studio/Program Coordinator at the New Art Center to ensure a welcoming and creative environment, and to implement diverse programs for people to feel the freedom to express through the visual arts. She holds a BA in Studio Arts from the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 

Public Art

Lucas Cowan, Public Art Curator

Cowan became The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy’s first Public Art Curator in 2014. Previously, he directed the Public Art Program for the Maryland State Arts Council, where he spearheaded the passage of legislation requiring all state-funded capital project to include public art in their construction, and was the Senior Curator of Exhibits for Millennium Park and the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture in Chicago, IL. He has curated and managed dozens of public art commissions and exhibitions of work by artists such as: Mark di Suvero, Jun Kaneko, Thomas Sayre, Shinique Smith, Sui Jianguo and Mehdi Ghadyanloo. Cowan has served on juries and panels across the United States, and has consulted on cultural park planning for cities such as San Francisco and Chicago. In 2016, Cowan was elected to the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council and previously served on the board of trustees for the International Sculpture Center. Cowan is a founding member of the Advisory Council for Cold Hollow Sculpture Park in Vermont. Cowan attended the Maryland Institute College of Art where he studied Fiber and Material Studies and received a MA in Art Administration at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sheila Novak, Public Art Project Manager

Sheila Novak joined the Conservancy in February 2018 and manages the Conservancy’s efforts to bring world-class temporary exhibitions of contemporary public art. Previously, Novak served as a Public Art Manager for programs such as the John Biggers Seed Project and Art Shanty Projects in Minneapolis. Novak also served as well as the Design Studio Manager at the Walker Art Center. Novak attended St. Olaf College where she received a BA in Studio Art and Environmental Studies.

Development

Howard Breslau, Chief Development Officer

Howard Breslau joined The Greenway in January 2017 and is responsible for all organizational Development and fundraising activity and also supports the management of the Board of Trustees.  

Over the past 20 years, Howard has served in senior leadership roles with The Rashi School, the Huntington Theatre Company and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  As a leader in fundraising campaigns totaling more than $250 million, he secured numerous gifts of between 5 to 8 figures resulting in more than $80 million in support of annual, capital, endowment, sponsorship, debt, financial accessibility and program funding.

Prior to his career in fundraising and Development, Howard served as a consultant for International Management Group on both the US Pro Tennis Championships at Longwood Cricket Club and the Ping/Welch’s LPGA Golf Championship for which he was responsible for sponsorship sales and development.

Involved in numerous community and non-profit organizations, Howard has served on the Board of Directors of the UMASS Amherst Alumni Association, the UMASS Hillel Foundation and Temple Emanuel in Newton, MA. He presently sits on the Board of Directors of Camp Yavneh, an overnight camp in Northwood, NH, and serves on the Finance and Investment Committee of the UMASS Amherst Alumni Association.

Howard is a proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst from which he holds a BA in Political Science.

Erin Webb, Manager of Membership and Annual Funds

Erin joined the Conservancy in September 2018 and manages the Membership and Annual Fund programs. Erin's previous experience includes managing the membership programs at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and the Harvard Art Museums. Most recently, she was an Associate Director in the Wellesley Fund at Wellesley College, working with class volunteers to maximize unrestricted support and five-year reunion gifts.  She holds a bachelor's degree in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a master's degree in Art History from the University of Connecticut, and a master's degree in Management from the Harvard Extension School.

Grace Hagemann, Development Associate

Grace joined the Conservancy in May of 2018 as the Development Associate. Grace has served as an Administrative Associate at Boston Children's Hospital's Simulator Program and prior to that as Communications Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA with Boston Cares. Grace has worked on numerous fundraisers, created development-related appeals and materials, and helped to manage both large and small-scale events. Grace most recently worked with Rider Levett Bucknall where her duties included administrative, marketing, and database support responsibilities. She holds a degree in Public Relations and American Studies from The University of Alabama, and has studied Graphic Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.

Finance and Administration

Tracey Cooke, Director of Finance and Administration

Tracey joined the Conservancy in October 2017 and is responsible for oversight of financial accounting and reporting, human resources, and office administration. Tracey’s former roles include Director of Finance and Business Operations for the South Shore Natural Science Center, a non-profit natural science education organization, Senior Finance Manager-Corporate Lending for Bank of Boston, and various financial positions at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. She holds an MBA from Lehigh University and a BS in Accounting from Bloomsburg University.

Srivi Radhakrishnan, Accounting Supervisor

Srivi joined the Conservancy in 2015.  As part of the Finance team, she processes Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, payroll, and other tasks.  Srivi has a MS in Finance from Bentley University and a BS in Mathematics from Madras University.

Talia Aronson, Office and HR Coordinator

Talia joined the Conservancy in September 2017 and supports the Finance and Administration department with day-to-day operations. Talia's previous experience includes two years of sustainable agriculture research experience with the University of Massachusetts Amherst Plant Biology Graduate Department. She holds a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Communications and Outreach

Rachel Lake, Marketing and Community Affairs Manager

Rachel joined the Conservancy in April 2018 as the Marketing and Community Affairs Manager, working to tell the story of the Greenway through strategic communications and marketing. Rachel's previous experience includes managing operations and constituent services for State Senator Julian Cyr, representing her home district of Cape Cod, after working in finance and operations on his first-time campaign. While studying Anthropology and Political Science at Northeastern University, she served as an aide to the Boston City Council, where she worked with both the City of Boston and the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.

Alan Auger, Creative Manager

Alan joined the Conservancy in October 2015 and is responsible for creative communications, including graphic design, general marketing, and public outreach. Before joining the Greenway, Alan worked with Boston-based graphic and environmental design firms. He holds a BA in Communications from Suffolk University, and in Graphic Design from the New England School of Art and Design.

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