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Build It Green!NYC Staff
(in alphabetical order)
Inventory & Sales Coordinator, Brooklyn
Matt "Bernie" "Berner" "Bernard" "Bernice" "Bearnaise" Birnbaum hails from NYC, though he arrived at BIG! via Vermont, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Matt's education background is in political ecology, geography, and art history, having studied both at Middlebury College and within the CUNY system. He has previously worked on Urban Gardening programs in Milwaukee and on the transnational E-Scrap/ E-Waste trade effects in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Matt also worked at a Chinese takeout restaurant in high school and has something of an affinity for all things Asian. When he's not geeking out on maps or hiking in the Adirondacks, Matt also enjoys riding his bicycle, cooking over his wok, exploring liminal spaces, viewing art made beyond the pale of the museum, and taking in various obscure Central Asian leisure sports.
Warehouse Operations Supervisor, Brooklyn
Vinnie has by far the most warehousing experience of anyone at Build It Green!NYC. From the paint room to windows, nobody knows the warehouse like Vinnie. As our first successful hire from a work training program (Fatherhood Re-entry Program), Vinnie has extensive experience with truck driving, warehousing and construction. When he’s not busy shaping the hearts and minds of hissix children (that’s right, six children), Vinnie enjoys weight training, running and bicycling. If you ask me though, Vinnie’s real passion is inspirational public speaking, so much so that he’s been asked to guest lecture at the Fatherhood Program several times since his successful job placement here at BIG!NYC. Next time you stop by, say hi to Vinnie, you won’t regret it.
Sustainable Design Director
atom is the Sustainable Design Manager for the Brooklyn location of Build It Green!NYC. She has been a patron of BIG!NYC since its opening and is thrilled to join the team. atom has been a leader in sustainable design for the last decade, and it comes from her love of garbage. Her fashion company Gaelyn and Cianfarani introduced sustainable fashion, as the first design team to walk an eco-fashion collection in Bryant Park in 2003; most of their garments were made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes. Working in the burgeoning green roof industry for the last 5 years, Cianfarani brings extensive knowledge of green roof systems and materials, as well as a breadth of experience managing work sites and crews. She has co-authored a do-it-yourself guide to green roofing and regularly lectures on the subject. Atom hails from Toronto, Canada.
Veronica has been helping artists and dreamers run their businesses for ten years, ever since she was laid off from her job writing horoscopes for websites. In her spare time, she organizes site-specific installations and helps produce Seven Second Delay, a radio show on WFMU.
Chris Fox graduated from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union in 2008. Before becoming a Deconstructionist with BIG!NYC, he worked in architecture, rogue clandestine carpentry, and upholstery, to name a few trades. While on the surface he appears to be just a nice mid-western architect from St. Louis, in reality Chris Fox is a wild man from wild stock. Some of his ancestors were whalers in the Hamptons (before they were "The Hamptons"), while others were competitive ice skate barrel rollers. That's where you spin on a barrel wearing ice skates in a frozen lake, or so we think. In his spare time, Chris enjoys his dog, riding his bicycle in flip flops year round, and origami. He also really likes climbing pretty much anything and jumping over other things.
Program Director & Founder
Justin Green is the Co-founder and Director of Build It Green!NYC. Justin has overseen BIG!NYC’s development from its’ beginning in 2004, having managed the first two deconstruction projects for the Durst Organization that generated the materials required to launch BIG!NYC. Justin also piloted and directed NYC Cool Roofs for its first two years.
Before BIG!NYC, Justin worked at a non-profit addressing the housing and energy efficiency needs of low- and middle-income communities. While there, Justin assisted their efforts to establish a statewide loan fund for the installation of energy efficiency measures. He has also managed construction crews in residential development, worked as a Loan Associate with Low Income Investment Fund monitoring loans to non-profit housing developers, and designed for an educational dotcom. Justin received his BA with a double major in Economics and Community Development from Oberlin College.
Cate is the driving force behind Build It Green!NYC. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, she holds a degree from the Massachusetts College for Art in Boston, specializing in Sculpture and Filmmaking. Cate’s very prolific. She's taught English in Korea, built rock trails in the Rockies of Colorado, made a film on the Siberian railways in Winter, constructed theater sets in NYC, and even played Rush Limbaugh tapes on a conservative talk show in the “car city” district of Pensacola. Who does that?! She’s also an extremely talented singer/songwriter, filmmaker and sculptor. Cate really likes Bison. So much so that she actually fabricated a herd of them and uses them in her artistic endeavors whenever physically possible.
Director of Operations, Queens Reuse Center
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Steve landed at Build It Green!NYC through Bard College’s BPI Program. While at Bard (like everyone else around here!), he received an Associate Liberal Arts degree, specializing in history. Some of his previous work experiences include landscaping, woodworking, and custodial work, although some of his best work lies ahead. Steve is currently working on a novel AND a clothing line if you can believe that! Steve LOVES snowmobiling, and basically all other motorized winter sports. What does this guy NOT do?!
Bio coming soon!
Inventory & Sales Manager, Queens Reuse Center
If Daniel had to list his top three interests they'd be:
1. Diverting waste from landfills
2. Reclaimed wood products
3. Providing excellent customer service
No wonder he likes working at BIG!NYC. Daniel was born and raised in the Paris of the Midwest - Detroit, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University and studied Urban and Regional Planning. He has previous experience in reclaimed wood and architectural salvage, and his crowded apartment will attest to his lifelong habit of collecting old things and throwing nothing away. When he's not in Astoria, you'll find him reading books on the subway or jerry-rigging his precarious fleet of bicycles
Returned from New Orleans, this natural-born hoarder is eager to wring every last drop of "usable" from would-be discarded materials. He once biked 100 miles in 100 degrees with no brakes and one pedal, and has crossed state lines with a hamster, a toad and a box turtle.
Yona interned one summer at Build It Green!NYC, and we liked him so much we hired ‘em! Born in Israel, raised in Brooklyn, Yona recently completed a Political Science and Philosophy degree from McGill University in Montreal. Some of his previous work experiences include: trail building in New Mexico with the Southwest Conservation Corps; organic farming in the French Pyrenese, and general maintenance and leisure at a hiking lodge upstate. In his spare time, Yona likes to rock out in his band, How to be Topp. He’s currently really into Russian Literature. He also claims he can eat more than anyone on staff. Bold statement, Yona, bold statement.
Max spearheads the Deconstruction program at Build It Green!NYC, and is our most fashionable staff member. The recurring scene of perfectly good building materials crushed at the bottom of a dumpster led him here, and he’s never looked back. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Max attended Bard College in the late 90’s where he received a Bachelor of Arts in film in 2000. Since then he has really cultivated his skills as a precision craftsman, having worked as a fabricator, cabinetmaker and carpenter, all in NYC. He’s also worked in neon sign design and construction, as a behavioral health technician in Tucson, and dabbled in draping at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Max and Mira house a nuclear family of 5 cats, Georgie, Edgar, Alabamo, Winkie, and Bad Boy. You don’t see that every day. He is also perhaps our most well read staff member, having read every book ever written. Unfortunately that hasn’t translated into success in writing on his own novel, which he’s been working on since shortly after his premature arrival on earth.
Reuse Center Associate, Queens
Though his official title may be reuse associate, Joseph has had many roles at Build It Green!NYC’s Queens reuse center. Jo-Jo, as he’s often known as around the warehouse, began at BIG!NYC as a YAIP intern, moved onto the carpentry training program at Brooklyn Woods, and returned to BIG!NYC as a trained carpenter specializing in restoring bowling alley lanes. He’s also a forklift specialist and a basketball fan (the Knicks and Carmelo). Joseph’s goal for the future is simple: make the earth better.
NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Project Manager, NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Peter Tzannes is the Project Manager for the NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC. Peter started helping out with BIG!NYC’s compost operation as a volunteer in early 2012 and has been aiding its success ever since. Before joining BIG!NYC full time, Peter managed a prominent food scrap drop-off program where he oversaw a major expansion in the number of citywide food scrap drop-off locations and a dramatic increase in the tonnage of food scraps collected and composted locally. Peter earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he studied the great books of the Western world, and he is also a graduate of the City University of New York where he completed a self-designed degree in urban ecology and sustainable development. Originally from Manhattan’s East Village, Peter now lives with his wife and daughter in Glendale, Queens, where he tends a small container garden powered by his homemade vermicompost.
Project Coordinator for Operations, NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Born in Altus, Oklahoma, Charles moved to New York City with his mother and sister in 1990 and has hailed from the Bronx ever since. A graduate of Cardinal Spellman High School, Charles now studies Nutrition at Bronx Community College. Before working for BIG!Compost, Charles interned at The Horticultural Society of New York. He enjoys composting because he feels that everything has a purpose and can be re-purposed. He is proud to do work that helps him both understand and teach about the process of turning unwanted food and scraps into compost, something so vital and useful for the planet. When he's not making compost at BIG, Charles is often working out at the gym or studying for his nutrition classes.
Erycka de Jesus
Outreach Coordinator, NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Erycka is a native New Yorker, growing up in Western Queens. As a young person, Erycka's first encounter with composting was during her visit to the sleep away trail blazers camp. This sustainable approach to life left an impact on her young developing mind, and helped to catapult her connection to her coined term "inner sustainabilist". As a Master Composter, Erycka has volunteered her time to teaching and demonstrating the invaluable act of composting locally, processing locally, and distributing locally all in the pursuit of assisting our communities in becoming aware of their impact on our natural urban world and in turn acting responsibly. Working and living in a neighborhood where resources are scarce, and poverty prevalent, has taught Erycka that the pursuit of happiness comes from serving the community at large, networking with like minded groups/organizations and becoming the change you want to see!
Project Coordinator, NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Hailing from the great state of Wisconsin, Ryan moved to New York City in the spring of 2011 after studying Music and Drama, Environmental Ethics, and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Since moving to New York, Ryan has worked with our friends at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy where he helped propagate and manage their diversive native plant nursery, and lead volunteers in composting and community greening projects. Ryan is certified in Permaculture Design and partnered with Living Restoration on the Living Roof SI project. As part of Build It Green's compost team, Ryan is excited to be educating New Yorkers on behalf of the environment and turning your food scraps into beautiful, nutritious compost!
Field Assistant, NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Ozzie was born and raised in the city of New York. Surrounded by an urban jungle that had few healthy options for many people in under-served communities, Ozzie made it his passion to study social issues facing our city today and seek out ways on how he could make a difference. Food justice and sustainable living became the focus to which Ozzie uses to share and teach others about compost, urban farming and leading the next generation to a better place!
Field Assistant, NYC Compost Project hosted by Build It Green!NYC
Erik grew up along the face of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. As an undergrad at the University of Wyoming, he fell in love with philosophy, and that love brought him east to pursue a PhD at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The pursuit is still ongoing. Academically, Erik's primary interests lie in understanding the structure of human cognition and how we manage to successfully communicate to others what's going on in our heads. While his chosen career path keeps his nose firmly ensconced in books, Erik also loves sharing what he has learned with others. One of his favorite experiences is seeing an undergrad's eyes light up upon first encountering a philosophical puzzle. He is equally excited to see new composters' eyes light up upon realizing what their food scraps can become.