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LEAVE IT BETTER

ABOUT LEAVE IT BETTER FOUNDATION

Leave it Better Foundation was founded in 2009 with the conviction that youth are the key to healing our environment. Through hands-on activities, STEAM projects, gardening, and mindfulness exercises, we purpose to fill the void in our nation’s school system where environmental education is concerned. Our programs are designed to provide students with a space where they can master the art of being mindful towards themselves, each other, their communities and the world.

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OUR TEAM

BRIANA BLACK

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Executive Director & Lead Educator

 

Briana’s journey with LIBF is a unique one. When she was in middle school at age 11, she was a student participating in Leave It Better programs.  She also did hands-on work to restore a neighborhood park in her community. Growing up, the concept of growing and eating her own food was foreign. Restoring the park, left her with a deeper understanding of the process of growing her own food and a sense of pride about being involved in her community. 

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ASHLEY GONZALEZ

Lead Educator

Born and raised in New York, Ashley always had a passion for creating art  realistic to her and her community. She first joined Leave It Better team 2018 as a Video Editor working behind the scenes. She is now a Lead Educator at P94 and Dos Puentes. Through Leave It Better she has been able to bind her passion for film and healthier living in fast paced environments together.

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SARAH HAMED

Director of Strategy

 

Sarah graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies from Hunter College. Her connection with Leave it Better began in 2017 when she discovered promoting activity-based learning is one of her passions. She is motivated by experiences that challenge her to be better and has made it her goal to diversify learning not only in education but other fields as well.

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GRAHAM MERIWETHER

Partnerships

Humbled by the opportunity to be a part of Leave It Better. Inspired each day by the principles. Leave myself better by going on long walks in the woods. Leave other people better through deeply listening to the words and emotions being communicated. Leave our organization better by focusing on the most necessary tasks. Leave our community better through buying food from local farmers. Leave the world better by empowering youth to heal.

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SABA RIAZI

Lead Educator

Saba Riazi is an educator and maker of things, from closets to movies

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LETICIA SANTOS

Communications

 

Leticia Santos is a recent graduate from NYU majoring in Environmental Studies and Psychology. Having grown up in Newark, New Jersey, she has had experience with urban life but hopes to leave the city’s environment more sustainable and leave her community more healthy. As part of the Communication Corps at Leave it Better, she is in pursuit of integrating both her majors through environmental education.

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ALICE YEOM

ReGen Corps Member

My name is Hyeji Yeom, but I prefer to go by Alice. I was born and raised in Busan, South Korea, a beautiful coastal city known for its beaches and seafood. I moved to the U.S. for higher education when I was in high school, and I am currently a senior at NYU, majoring in Environmental Studies. I am passionate about recycling and environmental issues in general, and I hope to pursue a career in this field after graduation. In my spare time, I love watching National Geographic or Discovery videos to learn more about the natural world and its wonders.

OUR BOARD

JANNELY ALMONTE ORTIZ

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As a Bronx native who attended boarding school in New Jersey, and currently teaches Spanish at Riverdale Country School, Jannely brings a wide range of experiences as a student and educator. Jannely believes in helping young people see the world with a new set of eyes. With a B.A in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University and an M.A in Teaching of Foreign Languages from the School for International Training, she has grown to understand the transformative power of learning about other people’s stories to better tell our own.In her personal life, she enjoys gardening, running, and bringing mindfulness into all aspects of her life with her family.

CLAIRE KLEINMAN

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Claire is an artist and filmmaker who recently graduated from Cooper Union, she was born and raised in NYC. Despite growing up around concrete she has developed a deep appreciation for plants. She believes we have a lot to learn from children, and that children can learn a lot from nurturing their bond with the natural world. 

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MAKENA MUGAMBI

 Makena recently received a B.A. in Politics and Environmental Studies. She believes that people who can recognize and respond to their own needs are better positioned to address the needs of the world around them. By working with LIBF, she hopes to help youth take better care of themselves, each other, their communities, and the world. 

MONIQUE PAUL

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Monique works for Miami Waterkeeper where she combats water quality issues that face Miami-Dade County and ensure that the people that live there have access to swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water. She grew up in Rockland County, New York and graduated from New York University with a Bacherlor’s in Environmental Studies and a minor in Psychology. She just recently graduated from University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) with a Master’s in Marine Conservation. For her Master’s thesis, Monique developed a fertilizer ordinance focused on environmental conditions and threats to South Florida’s waterways. The ordinance regulates the use of fertilizer by any applicator. It specifies appropriate application rates, application practices, and prohibited application periods. She was recently the recipient of the RSMAS MPS Student Award for Excellence in Ocean Stewardship for her work with Miami Waterkeeper. Since high school, Monique has loved learning about marine ecology and hopes to continue working to protect water resources for people and ensure the health of marine ecosystems.

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KARL ROSAEN

Karl is the Co-Founder of Real Time Farms, LLC. Mr. Rosaen previously served as Vice President of Technology at Food52, Inc. where has served as both lead project manager and lead engineer.

MAKINI VELAZQUEZ

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Makini has taught English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) in New York City, to students with special needs, for eight years. In 2012, she has transitioned to working as an English Language Learner Coach, providing instructional support to ESL and bilingual education teachers serving students with disabilities in grades K-12.

Additional Board Members:
Briana Black, Ashley Gonzalez, Sarah Hamed, Graham Meriwether and Leticia Santos (see staff bio)

OUR ADVISORY BOARD

URSULA CHANSE

Ursula is the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture at The New York Botanical Garden. Since 2005, she has managed Bronx Green-Up, the community gardening outreach program of The New York Botanical Garden, which provides horticulture education, training, and technical assistance to Bronx residents, community gardeners, urban farmers, local schools, and community organizations.

DR. JAMES BOYER

James is a botanist and educator at The New York Botanical Garden. He currently holds the position of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Vice President of Education, responsible for overseeing all student, teen, teacher, and family programs at the Garden.

OUR PARTNERS

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Bronx Green-up

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NYC Farm to School

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OUR FUNDERS

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Bronx 

Green Up!

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Donors
(2022)

NY State Department

of Agriculture and Markets

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Donors
(2020)

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Garden to Café

Kickstarter Donors (2010)

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