Our Team

Our Board & Staff

Board

  • Reverend Mariama White-Hammond

    President - Pastor, New Roots AME Church

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    Reverend Mariama White-Hammond

    Rev. Mariama White-Hammond is an advocate for ecological justice, youth engagement, and Spirit-filled organizing. Rev. Mariama is the founding pastor of New Roots AME Church in Dorchester. New Roots is a multi-racial, multi-class community that is re-imagining what church can be. Rev. Mariama is active in secular and interfaith justice efforts. In particular, she uses an intersectional lens in her ecological work, challening folks to see the connections between immigration and climate change or the relationship between energy policy and economic justice. She is a fellow with the Green Justice Coalition which brings together 8 social/environmental justice group from around Massachusetts. She speaks throughout the country and was the MC for both the 2017 Boston Women's March and Boston People's Climate Mobilization. As the former director of Project HIP-HOP, she used the arts as a tool to raise awareness for social issues. Rev. Mariama has received numerous awards including the Barr Fellowship, the Celtics Heroes Among Us, The Roxbury Founders Day Award and the Boston NAACP Image award. In 2019 she selected as one of the Grist 50 Fixers and Sojourners 11 Women Shaping the Church. 

  • Bilal Tajildeen

    Vice President - CT Council for Philanthropy

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    Bilal Tajildeen

    A lifelong Waterbury, CT resident, Bilal joined the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy team in 2020 as the manager of membership and culture. His primary responsibilities will include building community and connections with members from across the state, creating opportunities for education and exploration, supporting the Council’s affinity spaces, and continuously working toward more equitable and inclusive practices across Connecticut’s philanthropic sector.

    Prior to joining the Council, Bilal worked as a program officer at Connecticut Community Foundation where his major grantmaking portfolios included community organizing, eldercare, and youth development. He also assisted In the Foundation’s community leadership efforts including staffing the Pride Fund (grantmaking by and for the LGBTQ community), serving on both the Waterbury Bridge to Success community council and the equity think tank, and as a member of the Supporting Organizing Work CT (SOW CT) steering committee.

    Bilal earned a master’s degree in English from Central Connecticut State University, primarily focusing on queer theory and political theory as well as LGBTQ literature. He serves as the vice president of the board of the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, a director on the board of the New Haven Pride Center, and as a national PLACES fellow through the Funder’s Network.

    In his spare time, Bilal continues to pursue his academic interests as an occasional guest lecturer at Central, the University of Connecticut, and community centers around the state and is funneling his passion for architecture and prowling Zillow toward getting his real estate license.

  • Sarah Kelley

    Treasurer - Project Director/Consultant: SAFSF Special Project on Sustainable Fiber & Textiles

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    Sarah Kelley

    Sarah Kelley has over 15 years experience working at the intersection of philanthropy, sustainability, and equity. She is the Principal of Common Threads Consulting, working with philanthropic clients on strategy development for a range of topics. She currently serves as Project Director/Consultant for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) for a Special Project on Sustainable Fibers and Textiles. She is also the author of "Common Threads: U.S. Foundation Opportunities in Sustainable Fiber and Textiles," published by SAFSF. 

    Previously, Sarah served for 10 years as Senior Program Officer at Island Foundation, where she directed the Environment portfolio and managed $1.2 million in annual grants. Her work at the foundation spanned sustainable agriculture, food, and fiber systems; climate and clean energy; and land and water conservation. She also developed and implemented a program on equity, inclusion, and environmental justice for the foundation, including an innovative cohort-based model for equity training. Previously, she was the Executive Director of a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and expanding sustainable farming and access to local food. Sarah was also a 2018-19 RSF Integrated Capital Fellow, focusing on integrating investment and grantmaking strategies to drive change. She holds an M.S. in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Massachusetts and a B.A. in History from Yale.

    As a Grassroots Fund board member, Sarah has helped to build on the Island Foundation's long connection with the Grassroots Fund, going back to its founding. She has seen how the Grassroots Fund's participatory grantmaking model has radically shifted the organization and the work that is funded, and she works to bring these lessons into her consulting projects with other clients and partners. 

    In 2019, Sarah moved to Washington D.C. with her family. In her spare time, you can find her running the trails in Rock Creek Park near her home. 

  • Megan Shore

    Secretary - Elmina B. Sewall Foundation

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    Megan Shore

    Megan’s adult life is heavily influenced by her upbringing in the fishing community of Gloucester, MA where she developed a deep love for the ocean, commitment to community and respect for the role that natural resources play in the overall well-being of people.  After four years in the cornfields of Ohio, where she attended the College of Wooster, Megan returned to New England and has been in Maine ever since.

    Megan has worked in the nonprofit field for over 20 years, primarily focusing on fisheries, land conservation, and organizational capacity building.  Megan joined the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation in 2010 where she currently serves as the Senior Program Officer.  Working at the Foundation brings together her diverse interests, skills, and commitment to contributing to the well-being of people, environment and animals.

    Hiking, paddling, gardening, attempting to play fiddle and messing about with two kids and two dogs tends to keep Megan busy when she’s not in the office.  After intermittent attempts over the past thirty years, Megan now enjoys going for regular runs (or at least the feeling after the fact).

  • Leah Bamberger

    Director of Sustainability, City of Providence (RI)

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    Leah Bamberger

    Leah grew up in a suburban community in metrowest Boston. Her childhood experiences afforded her great access to nature and fueled a passion for the outdoors. Her family would also take frequent trips to nearby cities such as Boston, Worcester, Providence, and New York City. The energy and culture of these places was a stark contrast to her childhood neighborhood and she began making cities her home as soon as she was able to leave the nest. 

    As she pursued her academic career, first at the College of Charleston where she studied political sciene and environmental studies, and later at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, where she earned a Masters in Regional Planning, Leah explored the symbiotic relationship between nature, people, and cities. She has since dedicated her career to helping cultivate healthy, equitable and more sustainable cities. She believes such places are critical to protecting the planet's most fragile habitats and unique landscapes, while also ensuring all people have access to nature, culture, and the diversity that our society needs to thrive in the 21st century. 

    Leah's professional experiences include working for the City of Boston under both the Menino and Walsh administrations as manager of the Greenovate Boston program. She currently serves as the Director of Sustainability for the City of Providence, of which she was appointed in April 2015 by Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. Leah has brought a wealth of experience in municipal sustainability efforts to Providence and has been a catalyst for racial equity and climate justice work at the City. Prior to these positions, Leah served as a consultant to a variety of local and regional governments and nonprofits in the northeast, supporting their climate and sustainability planning work. 

    Leah currently lives in Providence (RI) and enjoys hiking, backpacking, climbing, gardening, playing soccer, traveling, biking, and spending time with her family, friends and equally adventurous dog, Lucy. 

  • Marian Evans

    Southern CT State University, Department of Health, School of Health & Human Services

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    Marian Evans

    Born and raised in Bridgeport, CT. Graduated from Lauralton Hall (academy of Our Lady of Mercy) in 1981, received a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College in 1985, and earned her Doctor of Medicine from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in 1991. She completed two residencies in Obstetrics/Gynecology and Anesthesiology. In 2015, she earned a Master's in Public Health (MPH) from Southern CT State University, and is currently an Assistant Professor. At Southern, she teaches undergraduate and graduate public health courses (Women's Health and Environmental Health), and serves as the graduate coordinator of the MPH program and chapter advisor to the Golden Key International Honour Society. 

    In 1999, she served as a Physician Scientist at the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center. In 2004, she was appointed the Director of Health and Social Services for the City of Bridgeport, where she served in that capacity until 2010. She is a class of 2007, Connecticut Health Foundation Health Leadership Fellow, and a 2016 Community Leadership Program fellow of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. 

    In 2007, she was one of People to People's 20 national delegates to travel to India as an ambassador for public health. In 2009, she traveled to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Soweto, South Africa on an international field study in public health. In 2017, she traveled to Cuba on a People to People Educational Exchange with the Academy of Women's Health exploring the maternal child public health infrastructure. In 2019, she completed her first faculty study abroad service, arts and culture trip to Bermuda with New Haven Promise, Summer Equal Opportunity Program, and University Access Program students. She is currently preparing to go to Puerto Rico in 2020 with students. 

    Served in the past as a member of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (COTHS), in Bridgeport, CT for 40 years, where she served as the Founder and Co-Director of the COTHS Health Ministry, being awarded numerous grants and other funding over those years.

    She has received numerous awards: 2018-Elm City National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women (NANBPW), and Outstanding Faculty Member of the SCSU Multicultural Center, 2015-Outstanding Master in Public Health Student, 2014-Eta, Sigma Gamma Honor Society, 2013-Golden Key International Honour Society, 2011-2018-J. Philip Outstanding Teaching Award nominations, 2010-"Behind the Scenes" by COTHS Board of Trustees, 2009-"Women You Should Know" Bridgeport Black Pride; 2008-Woman of Distinction Housatonic Girl Scouts, and Fairfield County Environmental Justice Award, 2007-power to End Stroke Award and Fred Harris Turning Point Award American Heart Association, and 2005-Sojourner Truth Award Greater Bridgeport NANBPW.

    Presently sits on the Board of Director's as the Vice-Chair for Community Health Network of CT Foundation, a board member of the Greater New Haven Green Fund, and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. She is passionate about ministry to people in untraditional, and unconventional forms. (Tenacious, educated, professional, physician, researcher, scientist, professor, woman of faith, award winner, sister, caregiver, community activist, leader, mentor, and wife).

  • Shane Lloyd

    Cook Ross, Consultant

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    Shane Lloyd

    Shane Lloyd is a diversity and inclusion practioner with extensive experience in higher education, public health, and non-profit organizations. As a highly sought-after facilitator and trainer Shane specializes in conducting workshops on various dimensions of social identity, with special expertise in the areas of race and socioeconomic class, while integrating research in behavioral economics, psychology, organizational behavior, sociology, and public health. Shane is know for facilitating dynamic and interactive workshops that equip participants with vocabulary, frameworks, and concrete action steps to advance inclusion. Over the course of his career, he has partnered with academic departments, HR units, and senior leadership teams to develop impactful short-term and long-term strategies aimed at ensuring that all members of an organizational environment can thrive and contribute in meaningful ways. 

    Prior to joining Cook Ross, Shane held positions at two of the nations' leading academic institutions - Brown University and Yale University - coordinating programs for students of color to have a positive impact on theor matriculation, transition to college, retention, and academic and co-curricular success. 

    Shane currently sits on the boards of Class Action, a national non-profit that promotes reflection and dialogue about social class, and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. Shane is a former board member of the Center for Mediation and Collaboration-Rhode Island. Shane earned a Master of Public Health degree from Brown University and a Bachelor's in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University. 

  • Susan Schroeter

    Best Friends Animal Society

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    Susan Schroeter

    In the role of Vice-President of the Board of Directors, Susan Schroeter brings 20 years of non-profit fundraising and management experience to the Grassroots Fund.  Currently the New England gift advisor for Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization focused on bringing about a time when animals are no longer killed in U.S. shelters, Susan became interested in the mission and vision of NEGEF as a way to personally contribute to grassroots advocacy. 

    Susan previously worked for NH-based Clean Air-Cool Planet, CASA, AmeriCares, and UNICEF.  She has also served on non-profit boards and local associations in the past including the International Board of PQMD (partnership for quality medical donations), and the Smith Farm Water Association.  Originally from Ireland, Susan moved to the U.S. in the 90’s, lived  & worked for 17 years in the NYC area and has lived in Stratham, NH since 2010 with her husband, pets, and two very eco-conscious children.

  • Jonathan Scott

    Clean Water Action

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    Jonathan Scott

    Jon began working with Clean Water in 1983, assuming responsibility for Corporate Relations and Legacy Giving in 2010. His experience with Clean Water includes canvassing door-to-door and on the phones, organizing, electoral and issue campaigning, and various development, communications and publications roles. He has visited Clean Water Action staff, members, partners, allies and supporters in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia,Maine, New York, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Jon represents Clean Water Fund on the national Board of Earth Share.

    Fun Fact: Jon is the only Clean Water staff person to have climbed Denali (North America's highest peak) and is also one of the only people in the world to have tossed - and retrieved - a Frisbee from its summit.

Staff

  • Tess Beem

    Program Manager - Seed grants

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    Tess Beem

    [email protected]

    In the summer of 2018, Tess joined the New England Grassroots Environment Fund as the Events and Seed Grants Program Manager. In her role with the Grassroots Fund team, Tess manages the logistics and delivery of the Grassroots Fund’s events, including the annual RootSkills Training Series, and the ‘Seed’ Grant program. Tess is especially excited about the opportunity to work with emerging community leaders at the leading edge of change and innovation. 

    Before her work with the Fund, Tess worked on the coast of Maine, helping to sustain Maine's year-round, un-bridged island communities. Through this work with the Island Institute, Tess coordinated a collaborative teaching and learning community for Maine's remaining one-room, island schools. This education work was founded in equity-based practices, namely in line with the School Reform Initiative, offering Tess the opportunity to hone her facilitative skills. She also worked to implement broadband internet and other community-driven economic and workforce development initiatives. Prior to her community development experience, Tess spent over three years as an environmental educator, from Maine to California and places in between. She graduated from Bowdoin College with a dual major in Biology and Environmental Studies. 

    During her spare time, Tess can be found ambling up the White Mountains, running around the soccer field and putting on unsolicited (though enthusiastic!) ecology lessons. She has served as a coach for Girls on the Run, and is a founding member of the Resistance Football Club (an all women's team in a men's soccer league), hoping to alter the framework and discussion for female athletes.

  • Julia Dundorf

    Executive director

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    Julia Dundorf

    [email protected]

    Julia has been Executive Director of the Grassroots Fund since October 2014. She has nearly three decades of experience forming and working with nonprofits and community engagement programs. Complementing her experience in energy and climate change solutions, she has a background in nonprofit development, management and board participation in the broader fields of environmental sustainability, low-income housing solutions, domestic violence and business environmental sustainability.

    In 2012 she joined the New England Grassroots Environment Fund as their Energy & Climate Action Program Director to enhance the work of local level climate and energy action in New England and coordinate two New England based networks. The first is the New England Local Energy Network, a bourgeoning collaboration of over thirty organizations and groups across New England working with energy committees or similar grassroots groups to further cross-sector, measurable climate and energy action impacts. The second is the New Hampshire Local Energy Work Group, an ad hoc, active committee representing over twenty nonprofits, federal and state agencies, local governments, energy companies, planning commissions and active local energy committee volunteers that seeks to catalyze, support and reduce the barriers to local level action on energy and climate change issues in New Hampshire. In that position she coordinated the Local Energy Solutions Conference (now in its seventh year), New Hampshire’s premier energy solutions conference supporting community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. Dundorf is known throughout the region as a connector for local energy and climate action and for identifying opportunities to support grassroots and network innovation.

    Prior to joining the Grassroots Fund team, Julia served for over three years as Manager of Community Relations at Clean Air-Cool Planet, developing trainings and resources for local energy committees and communities to address greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. She also co-directed the New England Carbon Challenge, a joint initiative with the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Julia co-founded the NH Carbon Challenge in 2006 as a UNH initiative committed to helping NH households reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Julia is the recipient of a 2010 Environmental Merit Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Region I for her work (with Denise Blaha) on the New England Carbon Challenge. She received a 2013 Commendation from New Hampshire's Governor, Maggie Hassan, for her dedication and service to the State of New Hampshire in furthering energy and climate change action.

    Julia attributes her passion for environmental justice and climate change action to her experiences of growing up on an off-grid farm in northern NH. She lives in Southeast New Hampshire with her husband and two of her three children, ages 17-22.

  • Diana Fontaine

    Program manager - Grow grants

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    Diana Fontaine

    [email protected]

    Lifted up by her community in Hartford, CT, Diana brings her background of community organizing and action research with her to the Newmarket office as Program Manager for the Grow Grant program. She is a passionate and outspoken advocate for homeless and runaway youth and young adults, and uses her own experiences living in poverty in one of the wealthiest states in the nation to inform her work and challenge the framework of our social service programs. In the summer of 2015, she helped to establish a crisis hotline for youth and young adults through Hartford organization Advocacy Unlimited, and carried this concern for her community over into her research at the Institute for Community Research for the next 4 years. At ICR, she was able to conduct research to inform the restructure of the systems which she saw herself and so many of her friends slip through the cracks, and began to build a community awareness of equity in homelessness and housing instability resources. 

    As an Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps Alum, she found a passion for building, repairing, and maintaining communities that uphold equitable, liberatory practices, and was inspired to be a part of the Grassroots Fund's mission after volunteering with the Grow Grant program, eventually bringing her to her Program Manager role in Spring of 2020. 

    Diana aspires to use her training and experience to make a difference in her LGBTQ+ community by advocating for equity in housing and employment resources, as well as for accessible and affordable healthcare. 

    In her free time, you can find her building these same communities in virtual reality and spending time with her partner Autumn, and two cats Gracie and Scumbag.

  • Chetana Parmar

    Program Assistant

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    Chetana Parmar

    [email protected]

    Chetana brings with her a life-long passion for environmental and sustainable issues and working with businesses to lessen their environmental footprint. With a splintered career from working for one of the most forward-thinking business of its time, The Body Shop Inc and its founder Anita Roddick to setting-up her own business, Chetana believes you can run a successful business which is profitable and at the same time take total responsibility and act on its environmental impact and be sustainable in the true sense of the word.

    Aside from running her business, babyhut ltd, an UK distributor of 100% organic and Fair Trade baby products, Chetana was also a freelance Environmental & Sustainability Consultant and her clients were from wide-ranging blue-chip companies, service-orientated and event planning businesses implementing and/or assessing environmental and sustainability management programmes to International Standards.

    Moving to New Hampshire nearly 5 years ago with her husband and four children, Chetana hopes to continue to make a positive impact and share her experiences. Chetana believes, as Anita Roddick said,’ If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.’

  • Bart Westdijk

    Director of Operations

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    Bart Westdijk

    [email protected]

    Bart comes to the Grassroots Fund from the Netherlands. His interest in local solutions and grassroots initiatives comes from his world travels and thesis study focus on multinational corporations' potential to help alleviate poverty (yes, possible, especially if there is a real focus on local engagement and transfer of knowledge). The first 20 years of his life Bart spent in Zwijndrecht, a town just south of multi-cultural Rotterdam. His international travels began when he was 7. During summer holidays he and his family traveled to many different countries seeding his interest in different cultures and customs. Before coming to Vermont, Bart spent a semester in New Zealand and lived a year in China (2004-2005) working as an English and Business teacher. Seeing the conditions in which large parts of the population lived further fueled his interest in development and true local problem-solving.

    Bart lives on the shore of Lake Champlain in Burlington with his wife Sabrina, son Liam, and step-daughter Olivia. He works from the Grassroots Fund's satellite location in Burlington (VT) and shares office space with the Center for Whole Communities right on Lake Champlain. As Director of Operations, Bart focuses on a variety of tasks ranging from strategic program development to fundraising, and from Grow grant program review to Local Food-related research and network participation. His main focus has been on the participatory process, ensuring protocols and practices throughout the organization center equity. 

  • Janet Wilkinson

    Development Manager

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    Janet Wilkinson

    [email protected]

    Janet brings over 15 years of experience in nonprofit organizational development to her role as Grassroots Fund’s Development Manager. She has served in both staff and consulting roles at dozens of nonprofit organizations around the country, providing support for strategic planning processes, designing and leading workshops, and working in all areas of development and fundraising, from event management to donor cultivation programs to grant management. She also has marketing and communications experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Janet is especially drawn to the Grassroots Fund’s commitment to support place-based work at the intersection of social and environmental justice.

    Based in Madison, New Hampshire, Janet currently serves as Chair of the Board of Kismet Rock Foundation and has helped found several community initiatives including a collaborative of local food producers and eaters, a farmers market, a giving garden, and a food waste composting service. During free time you'll find her out climbing and adventuring in the White Mountains or puttering in the gardens, fields and forest surrounding home with her husband, daughter and dog.