Natural Allies Speaker Bios

Natural Allies: Working with Nature to Combat Climate Change
August 26, 2020


Eugenia (Genia) Naro-Maciel (she/her) is Clinical Associate Professor in Global Liberal Studies at New York University. She holds MA and PhD degrees in ecology, evolution and environmental biology from Columbia University. Her research focuses on conservation biology, aquatic biodiversity, and endangered species as well as urban ecology, and her work ranges geographically from the Pacific Ocean to the Bronx River Estuary. She is a Visiting Scientist at the American Museum of Natural History and chairs the SHE (Sustainability, Health and the Environment) concentration at NYU.




Alan Burchell  (he/him) is a licensed engineer, LEED-AP, and green roof professional. He is principal of Brooklyn-based Urbanstrong, a company focused on green building design and technology. Alan and his team work with developers, property managers and building owners to cut energy costs, improve health and wellness, and reduce buildings’ environmental footprint. “Greening” a city’s built environment through green roofs and living wall gardens brings financial rewards along with diverse environmental benefits: better storm water management, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and stronger urban agriculture. Alan has spoken at the United Nations and appeared on MSNBC, and he consults with corporations, non-profit groups and municipal governments.


Jalisa Gilmore (she/her) is the research analyst at the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA). She leads NYC-EJA’s Waterfront Justice Project, a citywide community-based resiliency campaign to address climate change impacts in NYC’s industrial waterfront while promoting local industrial jobs. Her other work includes research and advocacy on air quality, green infrastructure, and extreme heat to promote equitable environmental conditions in NYC communities.  She is active with NYC-EJA’s Grassroots Action for Green Infrastructure Equity (GAGE), a project promoting nature-based solutions as a key climate adaptation strategy that can increase community resilience to climate change in New York City. Jalisa has an MPH in Environmental Health Sciences from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health with a certificate in Climate Change and Human Health.



Ceci Pineda (they/them) finds hope in community practices that further land regeneration and that reciprocally heal our communities. Ceci is the executive director of BK ROT, which offers a youth-and-bike-powered food waste collection and composting service. Ceci has pursued community driven agroecology and land regeneration work in Puerto Rico and Mexico and co-facilitated a Climate Resilient Farming workshop at Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York.  Through apprenticing at SoulFire Farm and volunteering at Hattie Carthan Herban Farm in Bedford-Stuyvesant and home-growing, they deepened their relationships with plant friends. Ceci is a co-coordinator of Interlocking Roots, a network of (QT*BIPOC) farmers and land workers. They have also worked with leaders of these organizations on initiatives to make them more inclusive of queer and trans* folks.


Nikita Scott (she/her) left her native Scotland to chase waves around the world. Today she is chair of the NYC chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. She began volunteering with Surfrider during the victorious 2016 campaign to defeat a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Port Ambrose, off the coast of New York City. As chapter chair, Nikita has worked to grow Surfrider NYC by encouraging an inclusive community, developing strategic partnerships, and expanding the chapter’s environmental agenda. Surfrider NYC, along with 350Brooklyn, was one of five groups that led the coalition to defeat the proposed Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline, which would have run underwater from Raritan Bay in New Jersey to the Rockaways. Nikita represents the NYC chapter within the People’s Climate Movement NYC.