Rick Magder is the Executive Director of Groundwork USA and the founding Executive Director of Groundwork Hudson Valley, both based in Yonkers, NY. At Groundwork USA, Rick oversees all programs and initiatives, including the National Youth Green Team Program, the Urban Rivers Initiative, and Network Expansion. At Groundwork Hudson Valley, Rick directs an array of programs related to community gardens, playground restoration, the Saw Mill River Coalition, and the Science Barge, among others.
Rick has worked on public policy issues throughout his career as a community organizer, urban planner, environmental writer, and non-profit manager. Prior to starting Groundwork Hudson Valley nearly a decade ago, he worked for nonprofits and city government in New York City and Washington D.C., where he focused on issues ranging from national environmental issues, housing and community health concerns. Rick has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature, Science and the Arts (BA) from the University of Michigan.
Kate O’Brien, as Director of Outreach and Network Development for Groundwork USA, is responsible for establishing and maintaining strategic organizational partnerships, growing national office capacity for providing support and technical assistance to trusts in the GWUSA network, and coordinating the organization’s multi-faceted PR, communications and outreach strategies, as well as its social media presence.
Kate has been part of the Groundwork family for nearly a decade, having begun as Environmental Outreach Coordinator for Groundwork Lawrence in Massachusetts before transitioning to Deputy Director there in 2004, and then Executive Director in 2007.
Kate works remotely for Groundwork USA from Portland, Maine, where she lives with her husband and young sons, and enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, including running, hiking, gardening, biking, and snowboarding.
Anjali Thavendran Chen is GWUSA’s Trust Services Director, and is responsible for coordinating and strengthening GWUSA’s network of 19 Trusts nationwide by providing capacity-building assistance and trouble-shooting services, supporting best practices and the sharing of technical expertise within the network, assisting with fundraising, expanding communication within the network, and managing the financial and administrative aspects of coordinating Trust needs and services.
Anjali has a broad range of experience in environmental and energy policy, non-profit fund-raising, and organizational development. Most recently, she worked with community groups in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area doing fund-raising and providing capacity-building assistance. Prior to that she worked on federal regulatory and energy policy issues as Senior Economist & Energy Research Analyst with consulting firms in Washington, D.C. In her post-college and grad-school years, Anjali worked with non-profits on various aspects of advocating for sustainable development policies – in Sri Lanka, in Geneva, and in New York and Washington, D.C.. Anjali has a B.A. in Economics & Sociology from Brandeis University (MA), and a Masters in International Affairs (concentration in Environmental Policy) from Columbia University (NY).
Anjali lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, with her husband and three daughters. After trying, for some years, to get the work-life balance right, she thinks she has found a good formula working here at GWUSA.
In her new role at GWUSA, Ann-Marie Mitroff will be supporting Groundwork Trusts with their River Programs. She will provide guidance to local Trusts on community stewardship of rivers, how to work with municipal officials, and ways for communities to pull together resources for river restoration.
Ann-Marie is also Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Director of River Programs and Saw Mill River Coalition Coordinator, and is responsible for outreach to community groups, organizing training sessions, and supervising work on a day-to-day basis. Over the past 4 years, she has implemented river restoration efforts with volunteers and landscapers, promoted best-management-practices, supervised fish studies, conducted land use and wetlands studies with college and high school interns, created partnerships, and worked with municipalities on river protection. She led a series of charrettes around the Saw Mill River day lighting site design and manages the habitat restoration grant that will provide the ecological design elements for this project.
Ann-Marie has an MPA from Seattle University and a BA from the University of Washington.
Curt Collier oversees Groundwork USA’s National Youth Program, and has designed and implemented Groundwork USA’s Youth Summit in New Orleans in 2009, in Washington, DC, in 2010, in Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park in 2011, and in Yonkers and the New York metro area in 2012. Curt is also Youth Programs Director at Groundwork Hudson Valley, and oversees all their youth and senior programs. This includes the extensive and award-winning Youth Green Team and the innovative Environmental Food Team. For the Food Team he carries out food advocacy and presents a lecture series on the History of Food. Prior to working at Groundwork, Curt was the Leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Riverdale, NY, and is now one of three leaders of the Ethical Culture Society of New York City.
Curt has an M.S. in Communication Disorders, Post Graduate Center for Mental Health. Prior to leading the above activities he taught at Texas Tech University, Texas A&M Kingsville, and most recently at Hofstra University.
Rhea E. Pliakas is Director of Grants at Groundwork Hudson Valley. In this capacity, she researches grant opportunities for GWHV, contacts potential funders, and writes proposals to and support letters for corporate and private foundations and state and federal agencies. More recently, Rhea has begun to conduct research around grant opportunities for the Groundwork USA network as well, and she will also assist, on a limited basis, individual trusts to identify local and regional funders, provide grant writing guidance, and review proposals.
Rhea has worked as a grant writer at GWHV since 2007. Prior to that, she did fundraising for Barnard College, her alma mater, for three years. In a previous life (1991-1999), she was Director of the Columbia University Archives, and it was there that she wrote her first grants.
Rhea has her BA from Barnard College (1985) and her MA in history from New York University (1991).
Rhea lives in the Bronx with her husband, two children, and Portuguese Water Dog. Her life is consumed by her family. Together they enjoy travelling each summer to Greece where they have relatives, biking and hiking, playing around, reading, and family gatherings around Netflix.