Staff

Julia Dundorf
Executive Director
[email protected]
Julia has been Executive Director of the Grassroots Fund since October 2014. She has nearly two 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 climate change and energy advocacy to her experiences of growing up on an off-grid farm in northern NH. She lives in Southeast New Hampshire with her husband and three children, ages 12-17.


Tess Beem
Events & Seed program manager
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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.  


Leigh Cameron
Program Manager
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Leigh has returned home to New England after spending two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. During her service, she organized community members around a variety of environmental and social issues including local food production, waste management, conservation, health, and women’s leadership. Some of her favorite projects include spearheading a local organic growers association, directing a Girls Leadership Camp, and designing and building her town’s first cob composting toilet.

Prior to serving in the Peace Corps, Leigh supported appropriately-sited renewable energy projects in Massachusetts with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. During her free time she assisted with a variety of environmental education programs throughout the Greater Boston Area.

Leigh is a systems-thinker who seeks holistic solutions to environmental and social challenges. She developed her passion for sustainable living while studying in an eco-village and volunteering with an off-the-grid reforestation project in southern India. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Environmental Studies from Boston College and a Permaculture Design Certificate through Food, Water, Shelter in Tanzania. When not at the Grassroots Fund, you can find her practicing yoga, gardening, or enjoying the beautiful New England outdoors.


Rashidah H. Farid 
EGA Fellow
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Rashidah Farid is a Fellow through the Environmental Grantmakers Association and has been placed with the Grassroots Fund to complete a 12 week fellowship. Rashidah is a PhD Candidate at University of Florida and is pursuing her degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a concentration in quantitative analyses.  Her dissertation focuses on population demography and dynamics of Gunnison’s prairie dogs.  Originally from Abbeville, Alabama, Rashidah completed her Bachelor Science at Tuskegee University and Masters of Science at Alabama A&M University, in Animal Science and Plant and Soil Science, respectively. Her master’s thesis focused on genetic connectivity of amphibian populations in a fragmented landscape. 

Since a young age, her passion for nature and conservation has been in the forefront of her life mission. As an ecologist, she has worked in state, federal and private sector where she gained a diverse knowledge of natural resource systems and management. She has also been a lifelong advocate for service and community based development. In her spare time, Rashidah is president of Natural Resources Diversity Initiative (NRDI) in Gainesville, Florida. NRDI strives to bring natural resources and science education to socioeconomically disenfranchised communities.  At the perfect marriage between community development and natural resource protection, Rashidah is thrilled to be working with the Grassroots Fund this summer! Her work with us will including being a part of the RI Stakeholder meeting team to identify holistic solutions to addressing local social and environmental justice issues; and identifying trends of barriers and making recommendations inform decision making in the Land and Water realm.  She is a passionate ecologist and looking forward to learning from the Grassroots Fund this summer!

In her spare time, Rashidah is an avid gardener, enjoys movies, is completely obsessed with Nina Simon and enjoys long nature walks.  


Chetana Parmar
Program Assistant
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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.’


Shannon Seigal
UNH Sustainability Institute Fellow
Shannon is a life-long New Englander who’s excited to spend the summer on the New Hampshire seacoast as a Democratic Grant Making and Grassroots Trend Reports Fellow at the Grassroots Fund through the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Fellowship program. Shannon is getting ready for her last year working toward a B.A. at Mount Holyoke College where she studies Environmental Development and Spanish; she focuses on the human impacts of environmental change within different local and global communities. She just returned from a semester studying Globalization, Environment, and Development in Monteverde, Costa Rica where she was able to combine her interests in Spanish and environmental studies through a number of community-based projects. 
 
While at school, Shannon works for her College’s Center for the Environment as a Campus Sustainability Fellow. In that role she works on the creation and implementation of the College’s first Sustainability Plan. She researches and proposes innovative sustainability ideas that could be implemented on campus to lessen our environmental impact. In previous summers she has also worked to mobilize Massachusetts environmental voters at the Environmental Voter Project and as an environmental educator for Cambridge, Massachusetts middle schoolers at CitySprouts. She’s especially excited to use and build on what she has learned about environmental trends and community engagement in these positions during her fellowship at the Grassroots Fund. 
 
In her spare time, Shannon is a student organizer with the Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition, focusing on fossil fuel divestment. In the rest of her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking with local ingredients and hiking around New England. 

Bart Westdijk
Program Director
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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, step-daughter Olivia and Emma the dog. 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 Program Director, 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.

Bart has served as president on the board of the VT Community Garden Network from 2007 to 2012. He is currently involved with a start-up collaborative brew pub and is engaging in conversations to launch permablitzes with a particular focus on class, privilege and equity around Chittenden County.


Janet Wilkinson
Development Manager
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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 work at the intersection of social and environmental justice and its focus on community activism.

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.