Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx


We champion urban natural areas in New York City and across the nation through innovative research, partnerships, and advocacy. We increase the health and resilience of urban forests and wetlands, catalyze connections between people and nature, and strengthen the environmental workforce.


  • 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.

  • Elizabeth Jaeger

    Deputy Director, Public 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.

  • Shannon Jordy

    Deputy Director of Communications and External Affairs

    Bio & Contact

    Shannon is an urban planner and storyteller with an over 20-year career in strategic communications, government policy, learning and evaluation, and advocacy and a deep interest in public space, sustainability, transportation, and issues of equity.

    Before earning her master’s in urban planning from Hunter College, Shannon’s professional experience centered on content strategy and copywriting, with specialties in PR, digital marketing, and brand messaging, particularly around complex urban issues. Prior to joining NAC, she served as Communications & Marketing Director for the bike advocacy and education nonprofit, Bike New York. She has also worked in racial economic justice for Living Cities and overseen campaigns for Everytown for Gun Safety, Avaaz, and while at social impact agency, Purpose.

    Shannon is a native Texan living in Brooklyn with her partner and two dogs. She enjoys exploring the city’s parks, museums, and vegan restaurants; seeing live music; and playing pinball.

  • 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.

  • Kate Sease

    Deputy Director of Institutional Giving

    Bio & Contact

    Kate raises funds from institutional sources, working closely with the Natural Areas Conservancy team to secure foundation and government funding. Previously, she was the Assistant Director of Strategic Investments at Girls Inc., where she raised restricted revenue for the national organization. Prior to that, she worked at the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Kate received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Vermont. In her free time, she enjoys long distance running, discovering new bookstores, and spending time by the water.

  • Crystal Crown

    Senior Manager, Data & Analytics

    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 Manager

    Bio & Contact

    Gabriel Cummings's work at the Natural Areas Conservancy focuses on implementing projects that improve the accessibility of trails and the ecological health of natural areas citywide. 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 Manager, Conservation Science

    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.

  • Giselle Herrera

    Internship Coordinator

    Bio & Contact

    Giselle Herrera assists in planning, implementing, and evaluating the Natural Areas Conservancy’s field ecology internship program. She does this by coordinating research projects with a range of NAC and NYC Parks professionals as well as engaging in urban ecology mentorship with CUNY students within the program covering topics from data collection to career development. Giselle earned a bachelor’s in environmental science and biology from Florida State University and a master’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Fordham University. Giselle enjoys hiking, bird watching, and exploring new restaurants across the city.

  • Jessica Hoch

    Senior Manager, 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.

  • 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.

  • Grace Muset

    Community Forestry Associate

    Bio & Contact

    Grace works alongside the NAC’s Research and Conservation team to support forest management recommendations in line with the 2018 Forest Management Framework for New York City. She is responsible for engaging local community stakeholders with nearby parks to drive long term restoration, conservation and biodiversity goals in high-priority natural areas. Grace has previously worked in operations and education roles to engage high school students and educators with various geographic knowledge, practices, and technologies on a nationwide scale. She is a strong supporter of empowering change from the ground up and believes fundamental shifts toward a better future begin at the community level. Grace holds a B.A. in Geography and Sustainable Development from CUNY Macaulay Honors College and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Geoinformatics from CUNY Hunter College. In her free time, Grace enjoys being near bodies of water, traveling, taking on DIY projects, and doing anything that keeps her body moving!

  • Josh Otero

    Trails Community Engagement Manager

    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.

  • 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

    Senior Manager, Trails Program

    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.

  • Emily Walker

    Senior Manager, External Affairs

    Bio & Contact

    Emily works closely with the leadership team at the Natural Areas Conservancy to advance advocacy efforts that benefit the network of natural areas throughout NYC’s parks and green spaces. Prior to joining the NAC, Emily served as the Executive Director of the Broadway Mall Association, and was the longtime Director of Outreach and Programs for New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P). Emily holds an MS in Nonprofit Management and a post-Master’s Certificate in Sustainability Strategies from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment at the New School. She received her Certificate in Horticulture from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), and holds a BA in Legal Studies from Scripps College. Originally from Southern California, she now resides in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn with her husband, two sons, and two cats. She loves to look for signs of wildlife in nature, and to identify native plants.

Work With Us

Current Openings

Thank you for your interest in the Natural Areas Conservancy! To view current openings to join our team of staff and interns, please visit the Natural Areas Conservancy Career Center.


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
Treasurer: Jodi Scheurenbrand

Adrian Benepe, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Jon Paul Buchmeyer, M Booth
Marcia Bystryn
Katherine Fritts, Ernst & Young
Augie Furst, Marblegate Asset Management
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, New York Botanical Garden
Stacy Sonnenberg, Goldman Sachs
Ariel Speicher, Point72 Asset Management
Sue Donoghue, Commissioner of NYC Parks, ex officio
Omar Slowe, Harpia Asset Management
Jane Sokolow
Veronica White, Bloomberg
Ted Wolff, Faegre Drinker


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
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 Green Horizons Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation
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


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

FY21 Audited Financial Statements
2021 Form 990
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