Groundwork Elizabeth Staff

Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director

Jonathan has been the Executive Director of Groundwork Elizabeth since its inception. He has introduced successful youth development programming in the form of a the Groundwork Elizabeth Green Team, led the successful development of the Elizabeth River Trail (Phase 1), facilitated urban waters support and programming focused on the Elizabeth River, created a Brownfield Task Force and has secured millions of dollars in funding to support environmentally focused activities in Elizabeth and the surrounding Union County communities.

John Evangelista, Director of Operations

John joined the Groundwork Elizabeth Team as part of the ‘More P.E.A.S.’ initiative funded in part by the NJDEP. In his role as Director of Operations, John currently manages all aspects of the ‘Come Grow With Us!’ Urban Agriculture Initiative. He also takes part in all the design/build projects for Groundwork Elizabeth from garden designs and garden builds to structures including agricultural learning laboratories throughout the city. As part of Groundwork Elizabeth, John built the first hydroponic greenhouse in the city of Elizabeth at the Portuguese Instructive Social Club. John has an extensive background in farming and urban agriculture. As a hydroponic specialist and educator, he has installed hydroponic systems in schools throughout New Jersey and written the accompanying curriculum. Outside of his work with Groundwork Elizabeth, John is also an author.

Jackie Park Albaum, Director of Urban Agriculture

In her role, Jackie oversees the day-to-day operations of the ‘Come Grow With Us!’ Urban Agriculture Initiative including the Elizabeth MicroFarm, Elizabeth’s two community plot gardens, the community Partner Gardens, eight AgLabs, the Farm & Garden Adventures education programs, the Union County Board of County Commissioners ‘Union County Means Green’ and ‘Kids Dig In!’ Community and School Gardening grant programs and the ‘More P.E.A.S.’ initiative. Jackie has an extensive background in communications, design, resource development, non-profit management, urban agriculture and sustainability.

Adrienne Miller-Kubicz, Manager of Agricultural Experiences

Adrienne  joined the Groundwork Team as the Community Garden Coordinator in 2016 and assumed the role of Manager of Agricultural Experiences in 2017. Coming from a for-profit background Adrienne now oversees all activities with Groundwork Elizabeth’s 80 partner gardens, manages the ‘Grow Together!’ senior gardening program, and provides critical support to the Union County Means Green and Kids Dig In! community and school gardening grant programs presented by the Union County Board of County Commissioners. In 2017, Adrienne is lead the development of two 50-bed plot gardens in Elizabeth (located at Mravlag Manor and Elmora Public Library.)

Lucy Crespo, Youth Leader

Lucy joined Groundwork Elizabeth in Summer of 2014 and is currently the Green Team Youth Leader. In her role, Lucy researches different species of plants throughout Elizabeth to create maps and data. Ms. Crespo has served as a four time volunteer and Youth Leader at Yellowstone National Park, and has a number of Conservation Certificates.  She also works on children’s projects and educational bookmarks for the public as well as creating lesson plans and holding classes to teach children about nature. Lucy has also worked in the private sector in retail operations.

Raymond Graham, Farm Manager

Raymond Graham is a lifelong resident of Elizabeth and has been employed by Groundwork Elizabeth for over a decade. Ray has expanded his knowledge of farming and food production over the past several years and serves as Groundwork Elizabeth’s Farm Manager. He understands the community and its need for healthy food and healthy eating. Located at the Micro Farm behind the Elmora Branch Public Library, Ray starts our the year by seeding our crops in early February and cares for them till they are ready to plant. Ray also oversees the planting and harvesting of all GWE crops as well as volunteer activities and several youth programms at the Micro Farm. 

Groundwork Elizabeth Board of Directors

Gregory J Waga

Board President

R.A., A.I.A, Waga Enterprises-Architects, LLC

John Gallina

Board Vice-President

Private Developer

Ken Richuso

Board Treasurer

Rotary Club of Elizabeth

Doug Harris

Board Secretary

Trinitas Regional Medical Center

Marty Borruso

Innovative Energy Strategies

Maria Carvalho

Portuguese Instructive Social Club

Marcy Metz

President of BJ&M Auto

Phyllis Reich

Representing City of Elizabeth

David Strochak

Elizabeth Ave. Partnership