Green Spaces for DC advocates for quality parks and green space through independent research, measurement and performance reporting.
Advancing park and green space improvements through facilitating implementation of the Capital Space Plan. Coordinating with Capital Space partners (e.g. DC Parks and Recreation, Office of Planning, Department of the Environment, Department of Transportation, National Capital Planning Commission, and National Park Service). Facilitating partnerships between public agencies and the community.
GSDC ON PARKS AND HEALTH
MEET OUR TEAM
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
John Henderson: President and Executive Director of Green Spaces for DC is a District of Columbia resident with over 23 years of experience in parks and recreation, including twelve years with the Chicago Park District and eleven with The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. John is certified as a parks and recreation executive, city planner, public participation practitioner, arbitrator and mediator. He is an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois and the District of Columbia. John holds a Juris Doctor degree from The John Marshall Law School, a Bachelors in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Public Performance Measurement from Rutgers University. He is a member of Leadership Washington Class of 2004, Lambda Alpha International, the national society for advanced land economics, and the Board of the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, the national park and recreation accrediting organization.
Heather Deutsch, Board Chair: Heather is an urban planner who has focused on urban and rural biking and walking trails for the last ten years. She believes that the best design occurs when there is trust and collaboration and when community residents design their projects with the support of subject experts able to bring their national experience and knowledge. Her projects have engaged residents through events, murals and gardens. Previous urban planning work focused on under-served communities in redeveloping historic neighborhoods. Prior to planning, Heather worked for an NGO where she worked in Latin America, Africa and Asia. She has a Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a BA in Philosophy and the History of Math and Science from St. John’s College.
Maria Barry, Board Member & Founder: Maria discovered a dedication to service and advocacy after working on a state-wide referendum in Maryland in 1992. From there, Maria served as a charter member of Volunteer Maryland which became an AmeriCorps program the following year. Since then, she has worked on issue campaigns including community service promotion (Hands on Baltimore/Greater DC Cares), community and youth development as Director of States and Communities at America’s Promise–The Alliance for Youth; launched a Coaches Against Youth Violence Prevention Campaign at the Alliance for Justice; an environmental paper reduction campaign at the Center for the New American Dream, and served as a Partnership Officer at the Foundation for the NIH. Maria is a past board chair of the National AmeriCorps Alumni Association. Maria serves on the Jumpstart Advisory Board. She currently serves as President and Co-Founder of the Friends of 16th Street Heights Parks group supporting Hamilton and Upshur Parks. She spends much of her free time at parks, playgrounds and schools in the city, trying to keep up with her son Ethan. Maria completed her Bachelor of Art’s in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Autumn Saxton-Ross, Board Member & Founder: Autumn Saxton-Ross, PhD, a resident of DC, is currently the Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Specialist for the DC Department of Health, promoting the natural connection between parks, recreation and health. Previously she has worked as the Assistant Director for Health in Parks for Washington Parks & People, was the Health and Wellness Coordinator for both Montgomery County and DC Recreation departments, taught Women’s Health for Howard University and was a Physical Education and Health teacher for DC Public Schools. With degrees in sociology, health education, and exercise science, her research, academic and professional interests focus on the social and physical environment and their influences on physical activity, specifically in Black and urban populations, and the health benefits of parks and green spaces. Her life’s work is improving the health of communities through engagement, activity, education, exposure and opportunity, truly believing that a healthy life is lived better outdoors.
Beth Zeidman: Beth has over 30 years of experience in applying leadership and management in local government park and recreation service. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, she has worked with persons with disabilities, seniors, and at-risk youth. She is recently retired from Arlington County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources where she held various supervisory and management positions as well as special assistant to the Directors Office on organizational performance management and agency accreditation. She was instrumental in developing training and support programs for park and recreation staff related to accommodations, structuring environments, developmental characteristics, ADA compliance, behavior management, customer service, and activity adaptations to promote positive and maximal participation, as well as developing program performance measures. Her professional interests span assessment, program development, strategic planning, organizational development and performance management in parks and recreation as well as local government, and she has served on the National Therapeutic Recreation Society Board as well as presented at numerous National, State and local conferences. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, a graduate degree from The George Washington University, and completed certificate programs in Organizational Development and Transformational Leadership at Georgetown University. Her love and passion is in promoting the benefit, beauty, and value of participation for persons of all ages and abilities in leisure and FUN.
Meredith Bridgers: Meredith works for the US Army Corps of Engineers as an Outdoor Recreation Planner at the Institute for Water Resources. In this position she serves as part of a support system for the management and operation of recreation and environmental stewardship in the system of lands and waters managed by the Corps of Engineers nationwide. Her primary roles involve conducting research on management and policy issues, strategic planning, data collection and analysis, and project management.
Meredith brings 20 years of experience working with parks, open space, and natural resource agencies and issues. In a prior position with the National Recreation and Park Association, she served as a senior information resources manager providing research, technical assistance, and producing publications to support citizens and professionals invested in growing their park and recreation systems. Meredith’s additional work experience extends into the local, state and federal levels working for agencies in a variety of positions with a common thread of roles involving education, research, communications and relationship building.
Meredith has a Masters Degree from Arizona State University’s Recreation Management and Tourism program from Arizona State University and is a graduate of the Leisure Studies program at East Carolina University with a concentration in Outdoor Recreation and minor in Biology.
Carol Truppi: Carol possesses design, planning and project management expertise with a national perspective and recognition on hundreds of projects in land development, urban planning and design services at the regional, neighborhood and individual site levels. With a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Design, Carol has a results-oriented focus on balancing the redevelopment of existing communities with the protection of the natural, historic and cultural landscapes. Carol is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and an Accredited Professional in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED AP), a certified planner with the American Planning Association, a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and National Charrette Institute Public Meeting Facilitator.
Brian Rodgers: Mr. Rodgers is an experienced project and program coordinator and manager with a proven record of initiative and creativity in program development and management. As native and Ward 7 resident, Washingtonian, he is familiar with and worked to improve both the environmental and workforce issues facing the District. After meetings with DOEE staff, Mr. Rodgers was asked to develop a new workforce development element for the RiverSmart Homes. and is the current program manager for the second Rain Barrel Installation grant funded by the Department of Energy and Environment.
Before working on this project, Mr. Rodgers was employed with one of the leading non-profit organizations in land restoration and reclamation projects in DC parks and the DC community, Washington Parks & People. While there, Mr. Rodgers became a part of the largest park restoration project in Washington, DC – Marvin Gaye Park. As Community Greening Manager and community liaison, his role included collaborating with government, public and private entities on green space policy, community greening initiatives and their implementation in not only Marvin Gaye, but also Oxen Run and Rock Creek Parks.
Mr. Rodgers managed the Department of the Environment’s Watts Branch Watershed Protection Grant for WPP where he was responsible for hiring, supervising, and training of over 30 youth and adults, over 200 volunteers and marketing that lead to 600 trees planted in the watershed in a two year period. In addition, he was a key figure in the planning, development and implementing the 2.5 million dollar ARRA Federal grant in which Washington Parks & People were selected to conduct a green job training program “Green Corps”. This program trained, educated and employed over 150 community residents over a two year period in watershed practices, programming and employability skills in collaboration with the District Department of Transportation Urban Tree Division. Some of the program highlights were the planting of over 1,500 trees, the construction and activation of the first community nursery in DC, Planters Grove (a park enhancement sponsored by Planters Peanuts) and lead to many of its graduates obtaining employment after graduation. Mr. Rodgers also managed the Community Harvest Mini Grant Awards, a program sponsored by the TKF Foundation that provided funding support to over 60 gardens and greening projects across the city.
Mr. Rodgers has also collaborated with Constituent Services Worldwide and the Fairfax Village Condominium Association on a Mayor’s Sustainability Award winning program that with the help of DOEE RiverSmart Community funding, removed the surface of an unused tennis court replaced by a community garden. It is now the site where SYEP, DYRS, GZEP, community and resident volunteers have worked to make this a meaningful green space and learn job skills.
Mr. Rodgers is a graduate of the Watershed Steward Academy (2015), Master Gardener (2002) and was awarded for his work with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services Outstanding Business Person of the Year Award (2015) He also participated in the Mayor’s Sustainability Committees, helping to shape the District’s policies and strategies for the future. Mr. Rodgers is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, with a BA in Political Science.
Ash Blankenship: Ash is a nonprofit professional, with a focus on fundraising and development. He developed an appreciation of great public spaces and parks after spending much time in New York City. Ash has an undergraduate degree from Empire State College and has received a Congressional award for outstanding public service and distinction.
Brenda Lee Richardson, a resident of Ward 8 in Washington, D.C., and an eco-feminist, has been working on welfare reform, environmental justice, economic development and health issues for the past 25 years. Brenda currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilmember Marion Barry. Previously, she served as the Managing Director of the Metropolitan Dialogue, a group of people of faith focusing on DC civic issues; the Director of Resident Services for the D.C. Housing Authority; and the Executive Director of the Anacostia/Congress Heights Partnership. She has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Ian Tyndall’s enthusiasm for Washington’s parks began at the time of the Nation’s Bicentennial, when he was an assistant to Dan Kiley, a Vermont landscape architect, with several commissions around the Mall. Dan, who was a seminal figure in American landscape design, liked to give young people all the responsibility they could handle. Tyndall had a key role on many projects in the office. In Chicago, a study for the rehabilitation of the splendid but distressed Inland Regional Parks, an early study for restoring Grant Park and the design of a popular oasis on Michigan Avenue, the South Garden of the Art Institute. In Paris, La Dalle de La Defense, a kilometer long pedestrian promenade that extends the historic axis of the Louvre into a business center across the Seine, to create a vibrant civic amenity. Kiley’s office later became Kiley, Tyndall, Walker. Tyndall started his own office in 1981, while he was an Associate Professor at Harvard‘s Graduate School of Design. After eight years in Cambridge he moved to Washington and became a principal in another firm, then in 1994 reopened his own office. His work has included the landscape design for Greenside Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, a development on a World Heritage site, with the eminent Scottish architect, Allan Murray; the programming, planning, architecture and planting design of the urban Botanical Garden of the Taiwan’s National Museum of Natural Science, this was completed with Lanshing Hwang; the master plan for Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD concentrated the sprawling agency into a physically connected community set in a sustainable landscape. From 2005 to 2009, Tyndall shared his time with Washington Parks & People. He now works from his home in Columbia Heights, close by Meridian Hill Park, where he and his wife Marcia Shia, a former DCPS teacher, have lived for over twenty years. Concurrent with his professional life, Tyndall has been a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Cornell and other design schools on the eastern seaboard, also in Scotland and in Dublin, Ireland. He has an MLA from the University of Pennsylvania (1963) and a DA in Architecture from the Dundee College of Art in his native Scotland.
Smith is Founding Partner of the landscape and urban design firm PUSH studio, LLC based in Washington, DC. He has built an urbanism career inspired by the intersection of landscape architecture and architecture. Focusing on the unique characteristics of sites and communities, Smith has built a thirty-five year career in private, public and academic practice. His work has included community and regional park design and planning, waterfront, zoo, theme park, housing, and community design projects.
In addition to his current PUSH studio practice he has also worked for national firms such as EDAW – San Francisco (now AECOM), Royston/Hanamoto/Alley/Abey, HOK, and Stull + Lee Architects. Smith began his career as a landscape architect with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Vicksburg, Mississippi District preparing 5-year recreational master plans. As an academic he has served as Chairman of two landscape architecture departments, Florida A& M University and Morgan State University. Other teaching assignments have included University of Michigan, City College of New York, Columbia University, and Rutgers University.
Smith has made community engagement, environmental justice, and sculptural landscapes key components of his practice and has served on urban design charrettes in Detroit, Michigan, New York, NY, Yonkers, NY, Newark, NJ, and other major U.S. cities. He has served on numerous competition juries around the country and has published articles on art in the landscape, urban design, and landscape design theory. In 1997 Smith completed a year in residence as a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He holds an undergraduate (BLA) degree from Mississippi State University and a graduate (MLA) degree from The University of Michigan, both in landscape architecture. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and Forum for Urban Design – New York City.
Hazel Edwards, Advisory Board Member