Our Team

Our Board & Staff


  • Bilal Tajildeen

    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 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 boards of the Leever Foundation, the New Haven Pride Center, the Waterbury Bridge to Success Community Partnership, and Equality CT, as well as a national PLACES fellow alum through the Funder’s Network.

    In his spare time, Bilal continues to do community and political organizing in Waterbury, is an adjunct professor of English at the University of Connecticut’s Hartford campus, and occasionally practices real estate, particularly when he can support people of color and working-class people in finding affordable, appropriate, and dignified housing.

  • Leah Bamberger

    Vice President/Secretary - Northeastern's Climate Justice and Sustainability Hub

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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. 

  • Kimberly Blakemore

    Treasurer - ESG senior manage, Analog Devices

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    Kimberly Blakemore

    As the Environmental Sustainability Director for Analog Devices, Inc., Kimberly leads the development and implementation of ADI’s Engineering Good Climate strategy. She previously served as program officer for Tufts Health Plan Foundation. She began her career in investment banking and corporate strategy, bringing a multi-sector lens to her work. Kimberly holds an MBA in Sustainability from Antioch University New England and a BA in Art History from Cornell University. She currently lives in MA with her husband and young son. In her spare time you will find her on the trails!

  • Lindsey Dupont

    Best Friends Animal Society - Estate and Planned Giving Administrator

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    Lindsey Dupont

    Lindsey Dupont, JD is a planned giving and management professional currently serving as the Estate and Planned Giving Administrator 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. In this dual function role, Lindsey oversees the administration of estates and the day-to-day operations of Best Friends’ planned giving program.

    Lindsey previously worked for the University of New Hampshire Foundation and prior to working in the non-profit sector was a practicing attorney in New Hampshire and Massachusetts focused on real estate and estate planning. Her work in these areas piqued her interest in planned giving and non-profit fundraising. Lindsey’s interest in sustainability, food systems, and environmental justice ultimately led her to the Grassroots Fund.

    A lifelong resident of New Hampshire, Lindsey received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire and her law degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Lindsey currently lives on the Seacoast with her husband and cat. In her spare time you will find her working in the garden or on the tennis court!

  • Christine James

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    Christine James

    Over the four decades of her working life, Christine James has taught ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) classes in Boston for adult students from all over the world, served as executive director for a small, organic educational farm in Maine, advised faith-based and secular institutions on how to move to renewable energy to address climate change, worked for a small greenhouse operation in New Hampshire and a small art book reseller in Boston, raised funds for Boston’s large community center network, led a coalition of non-profits, businesses, hospitals, universities, and community members working to improve neighborhood health, safety, and cohesiveness in Allston-Brighton, researched the socioeconomic impact of fisheries regulations on fishing ports in Maine and Massachusetts as staff at MIT Sea Grant, and taught urban ecology in Springfield College’s program for adult students working in human services.  For thirteen years (2008-2021), Christine drew on her varied background to help The John Merck Fund resource nonprofits in New England and across the country that are working to protect human health and the environment. JMF converted from a perpetual to a "spend out" foundation in 2011 and distributed its entire endowment over a ten year period ending in December 2021.

    Despite her recent move to Vermont, Zoom has helped Christine remain an active member of Church of the Covenant-Boston, where she serves on the progressive congregation’s Mission & Advocacy, Climate Jubilee and Generosity Generators committees. Since 2018, Christine has traveled to Honduras and Tijuana, Mexico, to stand in solidarity with peaceful protestors seeking political reforms, and with individuals and families seeking refuge in the US from violence, poverty and the ravages of climate change in their home countries. Over the past two years, she has sponsored asylum-seekers from Uganda and Haiti as they have pursued their cases in Boston.

    Christine has a B.A. in art history from Bowdoin College and an M.A. in urban and environmental policy from Tufts University. If not inside baking or knitting, Christine is outdoors—working in her garden, helping her husband with repair projects around their homestead, or exploring the beauty of rural Vermont on foot, by bike or in a kayak.

  • Sally Manikian

    The Conservation Fund

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    Sally Manikian

    Sally Manikian is a resident of Shelburne, NH, and has called Coos County home since 2007. A persistent creative thinker, her professional career spans a diversity of roles, tethered together out of a love of landscape, rural community, and social possibility. These professional roles include: adjunct professor, local community journalist, substitute teacher, community organizer, and backcountry recreation management. A defining personal role is as the caregiver and guardian for her two developmentally disabled siblings which drives her passion, experience and understanding of systemic marginalization as their advocate.

    Since 2016, Sally has served as The Conservation Fund’s NH and VT Representative. The Fund is a national land and water organization, working in all 50 states under a dual chartered mission of land conservation and economic development. Currently managing a portfolio of projects and work in both states that include traditional land conservation projects that expand National Forests or State Wildlife Management Areas or local land trust preserves or Community Forests, Sally continues to push for creative thinking about how to do land conservation better to advance equity in all forms: economic, social, and cultural. In addition to land conservation, Sally facilitates an economic development initiative in Coos County, supported by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, rooted in the Value Chain and WealthWorks approach to economic development.

    Outside the Fund, Sally serves on the board of statewide leadership program Leadership NH, and is a professional racing sled dog musher. Sally and the Shady Pines Sled Dogs race in 100 mile to 250 mile races in the Northeast and Midwest, and Sally is the first female musher to win the Can Am 100, the most competitive 100-mile race in New England. She is a published essayist and writer, including the upcoming (Spring 2021) third edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Guide to Outdoor Leadership, written specifically through the lens of JEDI. From 2014-2016 Sally served on the DEI committee of her previous organization and has participated in multiple JEDI and anti-racist learning communities and programs in New England, and is currently on The Conservation Fund’s internal DEI committee and a member of NH’s Race and Equity Economic Development working group.

    Sally’s regional leadership and community roots were most recently featured in Northern Woodlands magazine (‘The Space Between’) as well as NH Public Radio (‘Run, Rest, Run, Rest, Run: Sally Manikian is the ‘talk of the town’’ and ‘Mill Complex’). Sally holds a Master’s of Science and Economics in Postcolonial Politics from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.


  • Tess Beem

    Program Manager

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    Tess Beem

    [email protected]

    Tess joined the Grassroots Fund in 2018. She manages the fund’s Seed Grant Program. With a background in science and science education, Tess gets excited about participatory processes, facilitation and co-creating solutions. 

    During her spare time, Tess can be found ambling in the White Mountains, running around the soccer field and putting on unsolicited (though enthusiastic!) ecology lessons. She lives in Maine with her husband Jimmy, Rusty the dog and Sally the cat.

  • Julia Dundorf

    Development Strategist

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    Julia Dundorf

    [email protected]

    After serving as the Grassroots Fund’s Executive Director since October 2014, Julia stepped to the side in December 2021, for a new, Co-Director leadership model at the Grassroots Fund and to focus on the organization’s development work. Julia has long held a vision for exploring alternative leadership and support roles within organizations, particularly around models for shared leadership.

    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, 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 is the proud mother of three adult children.

  • Dr. Sarah Huang


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    Dr. Sarah Huang

    [email protected]

    Sarah joined the Grassroots Fund in 2020 as Grow Grant Program Manager, in 2021 as Director of Learning, and in 2022 as Co-Director. She brings her experience working alongside communities in northern Alaska and southern Vietnam on community-based participatory research projects emphasizing community healing, climate resilience, and food securities. 

    Prior to joining Grassroots Fund, Sarah completed her PhD in anthropology where she deepened a critical and growing lens into equitable research practices and community-driven design and outcomes. She uses her background in community-centered design and research into her current role of building evaluation frameworks, strategic program development, and fostering a learning environment. 

  • 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.’

  • Jazz Toyama

    Program Manager

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    Jazz Toyama

    [email protected]

    Jazz (they/them) joined the Grassroots Fund as Grants Program Manager in September 2022. After earning their B.A. in International Studies (Environment & Development) and Environmental Studies from the University of San Francisco, they joined the Grassroots Fund as a RAY Clean Energy Fellow with the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Diversity Fellowship program. 

    Jazz’s lived experiences as a queer Latinx person have catalyzed their passion for Environmental and Social Justice grassroots organizing and research. Their stays in Germany, Jordan, Sweden, and other travels throughout Europe and the Middle East have deeply influenced how they perceive social and environmental issues and how they choose to work towards a more equitable future – one with greater cultural understanding, intersectionality, recognition of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and widespread systems reform.

    Prior to joining the Grassroots Fund, Jazz was heavily involved in mutual aid, food justice, community garden, and QTBIPOC community building work in the San Francisco/Bay Area. They continue this work from the Los Angeles + Orange counties of California, where they currently reside.

  • Bart Westdijk


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    Bart Westdijk

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    Bart joined the Grassroots Fund as an intern in 2005. In January 2022, he moved from director of operations to co-director. In this role, the focus on building shared capacity to learn and reflect on practices that center equity and justice is what drives him. Bart has a M.Sc. in Business Administration, focused specifically on corporate social responsibility and has more recently participated in a range of leadership trainings through Rockwood, Interaction Institute for Social Change and Justice Funders/Harmony Initiative.

    Bart grew up in the Netherlands and has called Burlington (VT) home since 2015. He lives on the shores of Lake Champlain with his wife Sabrina, son Liam, stepdaughter Olivia and Willem the mini Aussie. During time off, Bart enjoys building furniture, running, swimming and playing soccer. Bart serves on the board of Open Collective Foundation.