Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Mission

The Natural Areas Conservancy is a champion of NYC’s 20,000 acres of forests and wetlands for the benefit and enjoyment of all. Our team of scientists and experts promote nature’s diversity and resilience across the five boroughs, working in close partnership with the City of New York.

Our work makes the city a healthier and more vibrant place to live and thrive.

Staff

  • Sarah Charlop-Powers

    Executive Director and Co-founder

    Bio & Contact

    Sarah Charlop-Powers draws on her background in land use planning, economics, and environmental management in her work. While working as a planner at Jonathan Rose Companies, she was the lead project manager for the creation of a new management entity for the South Bronx Greenway, where she focused on the creation of local revenue streams.

    Sarah worked for seven years as the parks manager for Scenic Hudson, managing 15 parks, and has also worked as a consultant for NYSERDA, the NYC DOT, and the Mohonk Preserve.

    Sarah’s favorite thing to do in nature is listen, and she loves seeing trillium and trout lily in the spring.


  • Hunter Armstrong

    Deputy Director of Development and Communications

    Bio & Contact

    Hunter Armstrong oversees fundraising and partnership development. Previously, he was the executive director of CIVITAS, a community-based planning advocacy organization in Manhattan. He has an M.S. in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia. His favorite New York City natural areas are found in the deep forests and along the rocky coasts of Hunter Island (of course!) in Pelham Bay Park.

  • Elizabeth Jaeger

    Deputy Director of Programs & Operations

    Bio & Contact

    Elizabeth provides a strategic framework to achieve project management goals and strengthen partnerships for the Natural Areas Conservancy. Elizabeth Jaeger is a former photojournalist, native New Yorker, and lifelong naturalist. Before transitioning to a career in communications and non-profit operations management, she volunteered abroad in the Australian outback on a self-sustaining farm, furthering her passion for eco-conscious living. After returning to the States, she pursued a Master's degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation from Hunter College. Most recently, she completed a six-year stint at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, with a focus on innovating government processes through financial technology. Elizabeth loves spending time along the rivers and bays of NYC, and her favorite thing to do in nature is to sit silently to identify the sounds and scents of the animals and plants around her.

  • Clara Pregitzer

    Deputy Director of Conservation Science

    Bio & Contact

    Clara Pregitzer led the Forest Assessment component of the Natural Areas Conservancy Ecological Assessment for NYC parkland and the development of the Forest Management Framework. She previously worked with NYC Parks’s Natural Resources Group (NRG) conducting ecological assessments in over 1,500 acres of New York City parks. She holds a B.S. in Forestry from Northern Arizona University, a M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee and is pursuing a PhD at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is currently working on understanding conservation goals and management strategies for urban forested natural areas in NYC and across the US.

  • Crystal Crown

    GIS Analyst & Data Manager

    Bio & Contact

    Crystal Crown has a background in ecology, conservation biology, data analysis, and project management, and is responsible for data management and analysis at NAC. Before joining the NAC, Crystal worked with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation on two citywide tree-inventory projects, and the Town of Hempstead Department of Conservation & Waterways, where her main focus was the relationship between water birds and nutrient concentrations in the waters around Long Island. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Brooklyn College, and a Master’s degree in Applied Ecology from Stonybrook University.

  • Gabriel Cummings

    Trails Technical Lead

    Bio & Contact

    Gabriel Cummings's work at the Natural Areas Conservancy focuses on implementing trail projects that encourage community use in NYC through volunteer engagement and partnership development. Previously, Gabriel managed students in Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects at Gateway National Recreation Area. He earned a B.S. double major in Environmental Policy & Economics at Rutgers University. He spends his weekends biking on the Hudson River Greenway.

  • Helen Forgione

    Senior Ecologist

    Bio & Contact

    Helen Forgione guides the creation and establishment of the citywide assessment of NYC’s natural areas. Helen has over 25 years of experience working in ecology in the NYC metropolitan region, and holds a MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Connecticut. Helen “loses it” when she sees Pyrola Americana, the American Wintergreen, an herbaceous plant that was once a rare sight, but is now abundant in our forests.

  • Jessica Hoch

    Associate Director, Environmental Partnerships

    Bio & Contact

    Jessica Hoch plans and implements ecological data collection in NYC's natural areas and manages the Natural Areas Conservancy's field ecology internship program. She holds a bachelor's degree in geography from McGill University and a master's in ecology from Columbia University. In her free time, Jessica takes her friends on plant identification walks and loves exploring NYC by bike.

  • Isaac Kirk-Davidoff

    Trails Associate

    Bio & Contact

    Isaac works with the Natural Areas Conservancy's Trails team to mitigate erosion and implement trail improvements in natural areas in NYC Parks. With experience working in trails from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Appalachia to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Isaac is excited to bring techniques honed in the backcountry to NYC's forests. Isaac received a B.A. in Anthropology from Yale University.

    When he’s not on the trails, Isaac enjoys cooking breakfast foods and watching B-movies with his friends.

  • Jesse Krauss

    Operations Coordinator

    Bio & Contact

    Jesse Krauss assists the Natural Areas Conservancy with administration, development, and communications. He began his career in conservation as an intern at the NYC Urban Field Station, where he worked on the Science of the Living City seminar series. Previously, he worked as a high school biology teacher and science tutor. He has a B.S. in zoology from the University of New Hampshire. Jesse has lived in many places, but feels most at home in the lush forests of his native New York.

  • Tessa O'Connell

    Communications and Public Outreach Manager

    Bio & Contact

    Tessa Rose joined the Natural Areas Conservancy to develop and achieve the communications priorities for the organization. She holds a B.A. in Communications with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from Northeastern University. Previously, Tessa worked at the Emerald Necklace Conservancy in Boston, MA, where she advanced their marketing initiatives and planned park events. Most recently, she was part of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Fundraising Events team, developing communications for Cycle for Survival, Kids Walk, and Fred’s Team. On weekends, you can find Tessa browsing local antique shops or enjoying long walks with her dog Olivia.

  • Josh Otero

    Trails Community Engagement Coordinator

    Bio & Contact

    Josh Otero works in close partnership with NYC Parks and other regional partners to foster community based improvements and maintenance of New York City's nature trails. These efforts include training and providing ongoing support to advanced volunteers, also known as Super Stewards, through the NYC Parks Trail Maintainer Program.

    Josh has worked as a caseworker, teacher, and environmental steward with a variety of nonprofit, community, and governmental organizations. Prior to joining the Citywide Trails Team, Josh led a number of youth crews in New York City on trail work and conservation projects, as well as environmental education.

    Josh received a bachelors in English from SUNY New Paltz. One of his favorite activities is creating and performing music and poetry.

  • Roger Pierce

    Finance & HR Manager

    Bio & Contact

    Roger is NAC's first Finance & HR Manager. Roger helps manage all of our accounting, grant tracking, and human resource functions. He comes to us with decades of experience as a private sector Controller and CFO

  • Sophie Plitt

    National Partnerships Manager

    Bio & Contact

    Sophie Plitt works to engage national partners in a workshop to improve the management of urban forested natural areas. Sophie has worked with the NYC Parks Department, New York Restoration Project, TreeKIT and the New York Tree Trust planning and implementing green infrastructure projects with the goal of deepening human-nature connections in cities. She holds a B.A. in environmental studies and urban ecosystems from The New School and is pursuing an M.S. in Social-Ecological Resilience Research at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

  • Julia Raskin

    Trails Program Manager

    Bio & Contact

    Julia is building a strategic framework for trail improvement, maintenance, stewardship, community outreach, and programming efforts across the citywide trail system.

    She is originally from Westchester County, graduated from Oberlin College in 2009, and received her dual masters degree in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan. In 2013 she served in the inaugural Conservation Corps Fellowship with NYC Parks and most recently worked at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation in trail and park advocacy and development in Camden County, NJ.

    Julia has a strong passion for environmental justice, and cares deeply about improving access to open spaces for historically underserved communities. Julia enjoys bike touring, camping and singing, and most of all she loves spending time with her terrier mix, Scooter.

  • Aaron Sanders

    Associate Director of Advocacy and Policy

    Bio & Contact

    Aaron Sanders supports Natural Areas Conservancy's advocacy and policy efforts. The primary goals of Aaron’s work is to increase financial and policy support for natural areas through advocacy and strategic partnership, and to conduct research about innovative funding sources to support natural areas management. Previously, Aaron supported LGBTQ advocacy at The LGBT Center and helped pass progressive legislation. He also spent a portion of his career supporting reentry advocacy in New York City. Aaron earned a B.A. in Government and Political Affairs at Millersville University and M.A. in Political Science from Villanova University. When Aaron is not supporting the NAC’s advocacy efforts, he enjoys jogging in Fort Greene Park and volunteering.

  • Brittany Wienke

    Forests in Cities Senior Fellow

    Bio & Contact

    Brittany Wienke is the Forests in Cities Senior Fellow, helping to connect urban natural areas managers across the United States. Prior to joining the Natural Areas Conservancy, Brittany worked as a forester and researcher in rural and urban areas. She also managed media relations for the Rainforest Alliance, focused on tropical forest conservation issues. She holds a Masters of Forestry degree from the Yale School of the Environment, and Bachelors degrees in English and journalism. In her spare time, Brittany can be found foraging for wild foods, baking bread, or biking through NYC's streets and natural areas.

Work With Us

Current Openings

Deputy Director of Institutional Giving

Internship Coordinator

Volunteering

If you are interested in volunteering or attending one of our events, sign up for our mailing list, or Get Involved.

Board of Directors

Chair: Andrew Wallach, Spring Owl Asset Management
Vice Chair: Sarah R. Moros
Secretary: Karen Brown, New York Times
Treasurer: Jodi Scheurenbrand

Adrian Benepe, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Jon Paul Buchmeyer, M Booth
Marcia Bystryn
Katherine Fritts, Ernst & Young
Augie Furst, RBC Capital Markets
Bram Gunther
Ross Haberman, RLH Investments
Justin Hall, Blackstone
David Langer, Latham and Watkins
Emory Lee, Ramboll
Caroline McGeough, Energy Impact Partners
Clark Mitchell, BAND Foundation
Clare Peeters, Jewish Theological Seminary
Julia Robbins, New York City Department of Records and Information Services
KC Sahl, VHB
Eric Sanderson, Wildlife Conservation Society
Stacy Sonnenberg, Goldman Sachs
Ariel Speicher, Point72 Asset Management
Gabrielle Fialkoff, Commissioner of NYC Parks, ex officio
Omar Slowe, Harpia Asset Management
Jane Sokolow
Veronica White, Bloomberg
Ted Wolff, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips

Funders

We are grateful to our funders.
Association for a Better New York Foundation
Altman Foundation
BAND Foundation
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Booth Ferris Foundation
Con Edison
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Environmental Protection Agency
Fund for the City of New York
Goldman Sachs
Greenacre Foundation
Hudson River Foundation
Ittleson Foundation
J&AR Foundation
J.M. Kaplan Fund
Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy
Jerome Levy Foundation
John Strang Trust
Joseph and Joan Cullman Conservation Foundation
Leon Levy Foundation
Lily Auchincloss Foundation
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
New York Community Trust
New York Community Trust - Lise Strickler and Mark Gallogly Charitable Fund
NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Patagonia
REI
Robert Wilson Charitable Trust
Secunda Family Foundation
Seed Fund
Sidney J Weinberg Jr. Foundation
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
The Achelis and Bodman Foundation
The Eppley Foundation for Research
The John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation
The JPB Foundation
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City
The Nature Conservancy
The Pinkerton Foundation
Three Cairns Group
Tiffany & Co. Foundation
USDA Forest Service

Financials

The Natural Areas Conservancy became independent from its fiscal sponsor on August 1, 2018, and completed its first audited financial statements for FY18-Short (August 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018). The most recent audited financial statements and 990s will be added as soon as they are available.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact info@naturalareasnyc.org.

Documents:
FY20 Audited Financial Statements
2020 Form 990
FY19 Audited Financial Statements
2019 Form 990
FY18-Short [August 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018] Audited Financial Statements
2018 Form 990