Groundwork USA Names Stephen Burrington Executive Director

March 26th, 2014

Former Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Takes the Helm

YONKERS, NY March 26, 2014

Groundwork USA, a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving quality of life in underserved communities, has named Stephen Burrington to the role of Executive Director effective immediately. Burrington, a veteran of state government, brings to Groundwork USA more than two decades of leadership experience in sustainability, community development and environmental protection. Burrington assumes the role from Rick Magder, who has served as Executive Director of Groundwork USA since 2007.

“We are incredibly excited to have Steve at the helm as we enter the next phase of organizational growth and development,” said Maggie Super Church, Board Chair for Groundwork USA. “Steve brings a tremendous track record in the non-profit, government, and philanthropic sectors, along with a compelling vision for the organization and a deep commitment to our mission of changing places and changing lives.”

Groundwork USA is a national organization with local roots in 20 communities, engaging local businesses, residents and government officials to revitalize neighborhoods, improve quality of life in underserved communities, build cross-sector partnerships, and create sustainable community change. New Groundwork Trusts are invited to join the network through a rigorous selection process led by the National Park Service, one of Groundwork’s key federal partners. Core support for Groundwork USA also comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ford Foundation.

Since 2007, Burrington has been a consultant to state and local leaders and diverse private sector organizations across the nation, planning and helping implement strategies in sustainable land use, transportation, and energy. His clients have included the US EPA; governors’ offices, state cabinet officials and mayors; environmental, business, and community development organizations; national foundations; and developers of renewable energy and transit-oriented development projects.

“Groundwork USA combines the Trusts’ ability to effect change at the local level with the know-how and resources of a nationwide network,” said Burrington. “That’s exactly what the next era of environmental progress requires, and exactly what we need to reach the goal of ‘no community left behind.’”

“I have watched Groundwork Trusts in action for a decade,” he continued, “and am amazed by their ability to grapple with complexity, overcome difficult circumstances and accomplish great things.”

Burrington was formerly Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, where he led the formation of the nation’s sixth-largest and most diverse state parks, natural resources and infrastructure agency. He also served as undersecretary in the Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development, where he created nationally recognized programs for advancing sustainable development in cities and town centers. Before entering state government, Burrington was Vice President and General Counsel for the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s leading environmental advocacy organization. He began his career as an attorney with the civil legal services program for low-income people in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and University of Michigan Law School.

Groundwork Trusts are located in small and medium-sized cities, neighborhoods within larger cities, and rural communities that have suffered from the twin challenges of environmental degradation and economic decline. With input from local stakeholders, Groundwork Trusts train and employ local residents in green jobs; restore rivers that have been polluted and neglected; turn brownfields and vacant land into parks, trails and gardens; develop farmers’ markets and urban agriculture; and engage young people in community-based environmental leadership programs. Groundwork USA supports the local Trusts through capacity-building, fundraising, technical assistance, and documentation and sharing of best practices. Groundwork USA also works with partners and funders to inform national policy by holding up lessons learned on the ground in diverse communities across the country.

Public weighs in on GW Denver-led Plan to Clean Bear Creek

March 7th, 2014

The Denver Post writes about the plan that Groundwork Denver worked to develop, with local residents, to clean up the E.coli in lower Bear Creek.

Groundwork Denver is leading a comprehensive watershed planning effort for Lower Bear Creek. Bear Creek is a major tributary of the South Platte River that flows from its headwaters on Mount Evans about 42 miles until it meets the South Platte in Sheridan. Bear Creek offers a great recreational resource to neighborhoods throughout the Denver-metro area, with extensive parks, natural areas and a paved multi-use path. Unfortunately, Lower Bear Creek is considered “impaired” for recreational use due to E.coli contamination. It is also threatened by trash, oil and grease, and nutrient pollution.

GWUSA’s 2014 Assembly & Youth Summit April 3rd to 6th in Sheperdstown WV

February 11th, 2014 GWUSA’s 2014 Assembly & Youth Summit April 3rd to 6th in Sheperdstown WV

Between April 3rd and April 6th, 2014, Groundwork USA will host its annual National Assembly & Youth Summit (originally scheduled for October 2013 and postponed due to the federal shutdown) at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

If you are Groundwork personnel, please REGISTER HERE.

If you are a federal or non-profit partner, please REGISTER HERE.

A more detailed agenda is being finalized. For the moment, here’s a rough outline of events:

THURSDAY APRIL 3rd
6:00pm Welcome Reception & Dinner for the Groundwork Network

FRIDAY APRIL 4th
9:00am-3:00pm Groundwork Youth: Investing in the Next Generation of Conservation-Minded Sustainable Community Builders
This morning-through-early afternoon forum will engage Groundwork USA’s federal partners in a dynamic and interactive conversation with Groundwork Green Team youth ambassadors, youth program leaders, and practitioners from underserved Groundwork communities. Forums held during past Groundwork Youth Summits have inspired the robust youth corps and job training programs happening on federal lands with Trusts across the Groundwork USA Network. This event celebrates that work, and also the National Park Service’s Call to Action.

We have planned an engaging agenda that involves:

• Groundwork youth making presentations about their work to improve their communities;
• Senior level NPS, EPA, and FWS staff as guest speakers; and
• A series of interactive discussions between all parties about fostering greater connections between public lands (as well as their agencies) and youth from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds.

For more information on our national youth development program called “Green Team”, take a look at 7 recently completed profiles of young people emerging from Groundwork Green Team programs across our national network. Here’s a more broad-brush update on our youth development endeavors network-wide.

3:30-5:00pm Network-Only Program
Groundwork USA AND EPA-facilitated discussion among EDs, youth, and youth leaders on Environmental Justice

SATURDAY APRIL 5th (all-day at NCTC)
Groundwork USA Assembly for Trust Executive Directors

SATURDAY APRIL 5th (all-day at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park)
Groundwork USA Youth Summit for Youth Leaders and Green Team Youth Ambassadors

The NCTC facility, a US Fish and Wildlife Service property, is a 1 – 1.5 hour drive from BWI (Baltimore) and downtown Washington, DC, respectively.

Please check back here for detailed agenda and more conference info.

GW Denver youth highlighted for work at RMNP

February 6th, 2014

Groundwork Denver’s Green Team youth, who volunteer at Rocky Mountain National Park regularly, were highlighted in a video by Rocky Mountain National Park – many of the youth, GW Denver’s Youth Program director Shane Wright, and RMNP Park Rangers are interviewed here. Check it out!

GW Elizabeth wins PSE&G Support for Expanding Elizabeth River Trail

January 30th, 2014

Groundwork Elizabeth received a grant of $20,000 from PSE&G to support the second phase of the Elizabeth River Trail – to expand it further. Please read more about the Elizabeth River Trail, plans for expanding it, Groundwork Elizabeth and the City’s role in its evolution, covered in the local news here.

GWUSA’s 2012 – ’13 Youth Program Report

January 28th, 2014

Read about the Groundwork network’s youth programs, and the exciting projects our young people are engaged in across the country. GWUSA Youth Report Final -Jan 2014

GWUSA Wins Dept of Interior Conservation Award!

January 16th, 2014 GWUSA Wins Dept of Interior Conservation Award!

Groundwork USA is greatly honored to have been chosen by the National Park Service for the Department of Interior’s 2013 Partners in Conservation award, which recognizes Groundwork USA’s outstanding contribution to conservation nationwide through community engagement and cooperation with local, state and federal partners.

“We are truly honored to have been selected by the National Park Service for the work we have done over the last decade to transform the lives of young people in their own communities and on public lands,” said Rick Magder, Executive Director of Groundwork USA, accepting the award from the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on behalf of the 19 Groundwork Trusts in the network. “We are incredibly proud of our staff at Groundwork Trusts across the country, the partners we have in the National Park Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the young people we reach and mentor to become the conservation leaders of tomorrow.”

Please see Groundwork USA’s full press release for more details: GWUSA DOI Conservation Award Press Release Jan 16 2014. And here is the DOI Press Release.

GW Portland Presents at Regional EPA Environmental Justice Conf

January 10th, 2014

Groundwork Portland has been invited to make a presentation on their Environmental Justice work in Oregon at an EPA-hosted event, along with a few other community organizations. The presentations will be followed by an open conversation with OEJ Director Matt Tejada and Senior EJ Adviser, Lisa Garcia. Groundwork Portland will be focusing on its work with the Portland Harbor Community Coalition. Congratulations to Groundwork Portland!

Arbor Day at Lucas Park in Richmond, California

January 8th, 2014

Groundwork Richmond and local partners participate in the greening of the City of Richmond last Fall – check out this cool video documenting Arbor Day at Lucas Park!

And please take a moment to check out the City of Richmond’s Urban Greening Program – a program that Groundwork Richmond (GWR) is playing an important part in. GWR is helping build the City’s tree canopy by involving and coordinating residents and youth in the planting of trees in their neighborhoods.

NPS & GWUSA Highlight Inspiring Groundwork Youth

December 4th, 2013 NPS & GWUSA Highlight Inspiring Groundwork Youth

Groundwork Trusts from across the U.S. nominated seven youth for in-depth profiles that explore their passion and their commitment to the community and the natural environment around them, and highlight their growth as inspiring leaders and aspiring environmental professionals. Read about these incredible Groundwork youth and their journeys in these one-page stories:

- Diego Contreras is from Dallas, TX; Diego Contreras 2013

- Rene Garcia is from Denver, CO; Rene Garcia 2013

- Wilkins Lugo is from Lawrence, MA; Wilkins Lugo 2013

- Sheena Conn is from Richmond, CA; Sheena Conn 2013

- Shay Ross is from San Diego, CA; Shay Ross 2013 and

- Tatiana and Briana Bogans are from Washington, DC.Bogans 2013

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