Staff & Contact Information

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Heather McMann, Executive Director

Heather began working with GWL in 2005 and became Executive Director in 2009. She has spent over 20 years in the nonprofit sector building community and individual assets and she holds a breadth of experience in nonprofit management, with a focus on preparing organizations for growth. Prior to joining GWL, much of her experience was with youth organizations focused on creating our communities’ next generation of social justice leaders. Heather received her MBA from The Heller School of Social Policy & Management at Brandeis University and her BA from Smith College. Beyond GWL, she is a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Nonprofit Practice,and serves as a board member of the Lawrence Partnership, Groundwork USA and the MA Public Health Association, is an Essex National Heritage Area commissioner, a Haverhill Brownfields Steering Commission member, and volunteers with EforAll and the MSPCA at Nevins Farm. In 2013 Heather was honored to represent GWL as a social innovator with the Social Innovation Forum. In 2010 she was one of the YWCA of Greater Lawrence's Tribute to Women Awardees and was included in the Irish Echo's Top 40 Under 40. Contact Heather at hmcmann @ or ext. 7009.


Lesly Melendez, Deputy Director

Lesly returned to GWL as the Community Engagement Director in the fall of 2014. Lesly previously worked for GWL from 2004 – 2007 managing outreach, projects and events. Between working for GWL Lesly worked for Comcast and partnered with GWL to lead Earth Day/Comcast Cares Day for 5 years. As a lifelong resident of the City of Lawrence, she has always been passionate about serving the community. She has served on numerous volunteer boards and on the City’s Planning Board as a voting member and later as chair, and is currently board member of the Open Door Pantry in Lowell, MA. In 2016, Lesly completed a certificate program with the Institute for Non-Profit Practice through the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. Lesly brings her love of writing, community and civic engagement and her passion for trees to GWL. In addition, Lesly is proud to be a Green Team mom, making Groundwork Lawrence really feel like family. Contact Lesly at lmelendez @ or ext. 7020.


Brad Buschur, Project Director

Brad is responsible for managing the community input, design, and construction of landscape and infrastructure improvements, including the Spicket River Greenway, Merrimack Riverwalk Trail, Bradford Rail Trail, and community and schoolyard garden sites. He is overseeing GWL's expanding role in supporting low-impact development (LID) practices and economic development in the city and implementing Lawrence's Open Space and Recreation Plan. Brad most recently worked as a Project Coordinator for Cabot, Cabot & Forbes in Boston, MA where he coordinated the firm’s build to suit projects, leasing of existing properties and prepared feasibility studies for multifamily housing development. Previously he worked as a Landscape Designer on park projects in Boston as well as large commercial and institutional projects in Russia and Pakistan and as a Land Protection and Conservation Associate with The Nature Conservancy. Brad holds a BA in Urban Planning and Political Science from Miami University and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Contact Brad at bbuschur @ or ext. 7003.

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Rose Gonzalez, Community Engagement Director

Rose returns to GWL as the Community Engagement Director. A Spanish-speaking resident of Lawrence who has a passion for youth development, arboriculture, fresh locally-grown food, gardening, and community organizing, Rose connects GWL directly to youth, families, and institutions in our community. Five years ago she developed our “Eat Right / Move More” curriculum, piloted with local sixth graders, which is now the foundation of a city-wide schoolyard gardening program. In addition to overseeing GWL's events and outreach strategy, Rose also works more broadly to develop dynamic partnership opportunities for Lawrence residents to engage in the GWL mission. Prior to joining GWL, Rose worked at the Merrimack Valley YMCA, and the non-profit Lawrence Grassroots Initiative as an Environmental Justice Coordinator and as a Community Organizer of "Human Rights Week." Contact Rose at rgonzalez @ or ext. 7001. 

Fred Earnshaw, Finance and Operations Director

Fred’s introduction to Groundwork Lawrence began as a volunteer assignment through Jericho Road Lawrence. In the course of that project he was impressed with the breadth of the undertakings of Groundwork and especially impressed with the caliber and dedication of the people involved. A life-long resident of the Lawrence area, he is a graduate of Merrimack College with a degree in Accounting and an MBA in finance from Boston College. Fred has served as Controller and Director of Finance in both large and small organizations, both profit and non-profit. He has also served on the boards of several regional and national non-profits as Treasurer. He is delighted to rejoin Groundwork and become a part of the exciting journey that is Groundwork. We can all be proud of the visual impact that Groundwork has made and continues to make in the city. Fred is passionate in his belief that not only does Groundwork “Change Places” but it also “Changes Lives” and that is where the greatest impact of Groundwork will be felt in the years to come. Time will takes its toll on the places we build, but time allows the people we help develop to grow and realize their potential as leaders and thus continue the growth that we are nurturing. Contact Fred at fearnshaw @ or ext. 7012.

Stephanie Cross, Education Program Director

Stephanie Cross, Education Program Director, is responsible for developing and overseeing the organization’s youth educational efforts. Stephanie brings rich career experience as an educator, having worked as a teacher in the Andover and Lawrence Public school systems since 2001 and was most recently as the Head of Science (K through Grade 8) for the Lawrence Family Development Charter School. Stephanie’s first job was working at a Public Health Laboratory in England, then as a research scientist in London where she worked with a team of microbiologists to identify and name a new species of bacteria. Stephanie says “I really enjoy working with students in Lawrence. They are very curious, smart and ask a lot of great questions. My vision is to enable students to see their city from ecology, environment and nutrition perspectives. I also will educate and encourage them to be engineers of their own city – solving problems as future leaders of Lawrence.” Stephanie holds a Master of Elementary Education (1-6) from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, a Master of Philosophy from the University of London, UK and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Leeds University, Leeds, UK. Contact Stephanie at scross @ or ext. 7011.


Susan Wojtas, Development Director

Susan was drawn to the Groundwork Lawrence team because of its success in empowering people and enhancing the quality of their lives by improving their physical environment. Her professional career has spanned the government relations and higher education arenas. Most recently Director of Institutional Advancement at Anna Maria College, for many years she was Merrimack College’s Alumni Director and later Director of Major Gifts. Susan’s roles within the Massachusetts Legislature included serving as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Legislative Education Office, and early in her career as a legislative aide. She also served stints as legislative liaison in the Boston Mayor’s office and as a legislative agent.

A native of Methuen, Susan earned her B.A. cum laude from Merrimack College and her M.B.A. from Bentley University. Contact Susan at swojtas @ or ext. 7007.


Lauren White, Associate Development Director 

Lauren joined the GWL team in March of 2016 as an Associate Development Director. Lauren is passionate about Groundwork Lawrence due to the transformative projects that Groundwork undertakes to make the city a healthier, more sustainable place. She has a particular soft spot for the Groundwork programs such as Green Team which target youth development. Lauren has worked in a variety of development roles since graduating with her BA in Linguistics from the University of New Hampshire. Most recently in Houston, TX Lauren served as the Annual Fund Coordinator for Rice University and the Volunteer Coordinator/Development Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Harris County. She has also consulted privately with various nonprofits to help them apply for grant funding. Lauren is excited to be back home in the Northeast contributing to the growing Groundwork development department to help to continue to improve Lawrence. In her spare time, Lauren knits and crochets and enjoys going hiking, fishing and kayaking in the NH lakes region. Contact Lauren at lwhite @ or ext. 7005.


Maria Natera, Healthy Living Programs Manager

Maria joined the team of GWL as a LISC AmeriCorps member in September 2010 and became the Healthy Living Programs Manager in 2012. She manages the development and implementation of a series of healthy living workshops, is working to strengthen the growing community gardener network, and expanding the city's tree canopy through GreenStreets and other tree plantings. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Maria moved to New York in 1993 and six years later to Lawrence, where she received her Associate’s degree in Psychology and Social Work from Northern Essex Community College and then completed a B.S. in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Maria is a passionate and committed member of the Lawrence community and says she loves to work with children “because they are the future.” When she is not at the Groundwork office, she is a volunteer at Lawrence CommunityWorks and serves on the Board. Contact Maria at mnatera @ or ext. 7006.


Heather Conley, Equity Initiatives Manager

Heather Conley joined Groundwork Lawrence in July of 2015 to lead Green Team. In October 2015, she became the Community Food Manager, and in March 2017 she became the Equity Initiatives Manager. A resident of Lawrence, Heather brings over fifteen years of experience fighting for social justice through community organizing and youth empowerment. Her passion for food justice began during her undergraduate studies while researching food access in low-income communities. She discovered small-scale local farming and marketing to be the answer to many of our society’s environmental and social problems. Heather began and maintains a small fruit orchard on her family’s property in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is an avid gardener, and enthusiastically advocates food policy at both the local and national levels. She holds a BS in Social Justice from Granite State College, and certificates in Holistic Farming and Agriculture Resource Management from the University of New Hampshire. When not working, Heather spends time with her beloved daughter. Contact Heather at hconley @ or ext. 7004.

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Kevin Blanchette, Project Manager

Kevin began his work with GWL in March of 2014 as a volunteer, then completed a year of service through AmeriCorps VISTA, and in the fall of 2015 joined the staff. A life long resident of Lawrence, Kevin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst with a BA in Environmental Design. He is adept at computer aided design and mapping, and brings a knowledge of environmental processes and sustainability. He has experience in working with non-profits as the former president of the Italian Club at the University of Massachusetts. In his spare time, Kevin actively enjoys the outdoors in a variety of ways including biking, hiking, and skydiving. He believes that protecting the environment is an integral step in protecting a community. Contact Kevin at kblanchette @

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Eddie Rosa, Community Engagement Manager

Eddie Rosa joined Groundwork Lawrence in September 2016. Previously, Eddie worked at the City Of Lawrence Council On Aging. Eddie has spent the majority of the last ten years working with the developmentally disabled population. As a life-long Lawrencian, Eddie has always had a desire to work to do his part to improve the community he grew up in. Over the years Eddie has volunteered in various community events that involves clean up and/or community building. Eddie recently completed Jericho Roads Cultural Inclusion Program for Non Profit Board Governance. He currently is attending Cambridge College. Additionally, Eddie enjoys writing, playing music and community activities. Contact Eddie at erosa @


Laura Olivier, Education Program Coordinator

Laura joined GWL in January 2014 as an Education Program Coordinator. Originally from Lexington, MA, she graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Studies. Laura is passionate about travelling and studying languages. After studying Spanish for years, she took on Hindi and Urdu in college and currently teaches Hindi. While researching solid waste management in India, she developed a passion for creating better incentives and systems to support recycling and reducing food waste. Aside from these endeavors, Laura loves to dance Bhangra (a traditional Indian dance from Punjab), sing and listen to music, admire photography, dig at archaeological sites, and be active outdoors. Contact Laura at lolivier @ or ext. 7008.


Brian Kibler, Finance and Operations Coordinator

Brian joined Groundwork Lawrence in January 2016 as an SCI AmeriCorps member, and is excited to transition from service to employment at Groundwork Lawrence. Previous adventures include serving as a two-term SCI AmeriCorps member in Lawrence and Woburn, and teaching improv and theater at Acting Out! Theater Company in Lawrence. Brian is interested in identity politics, building community, and exploring how groups can join together to face common issues. As an Army brat, Brian has lived in a variety of environments, from sunny Oahu to frosty upstate New York; however, he enjoys the Merrimack Valley most of all. Brian received a BA from Salem State University in history, and has a penchant for theatrics and Spanish literature. Contact Brian at bkibler @ or ext. 7199.

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Eric Lundquist, DOI/AmeriCorps VISTA Team Member

Eric joined Groundwork Lawrence in April 2016 as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Before moving to Lawrence, Eric lived in San Marcos, TX, where he graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor's degree in Anthropology. While living in Texas, Eric worked for the Hays County Food Bank, helping to end food insecurity. He also worked for the San Marcos Housing Authority, helping to provide after school care and a daily hot meal to children living in government-assisted housing programs. Eric is passionate about science education, the promotion of creative arts, the protection of our environment and natural resources, and helping to build ladders out of poverty. When he isn’t working, Eric loves to write and draw science fiction. Contact Eric at elundquist or ext. 7017.

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Carissa Unger, FoodCorps Service Member

Carissa Unger joined Groundwork Lawrence as a FoodCorps Service Member for the 2016-2017 service term. Her focus is on connecting kids to healthy food in school through hands-on learning, healthy school meals, and fostering a schoolwide culture of health. In particular, she enjoys working in school gardens. Carissa is originally from Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with a degree in horticulture. She has gained practical experience through work at public gardens, greenhouses, and farmers' markets. Her interest in nutrition and food security was sparked by a summer spent in Guatemala as a volunteer at FUDI Utz Samaj, the agricultural sector of a community development organization in Chimaltenango. She is excited to continue this work with the younger half of the population here in Massachusetts. When she isn’t pursuing these endeavors, Carissa enjoys being active outdoors, practicing Spanish, and foraging for wild mushrooms. Contact Carissa at cunger or ext. 7013.


Nicole Huang, MassLIFT AmeriCorps Community Engagement Coordinator

Nicole Huang will be spending the year as Community Engagement Coordinator with Groundwork Lawrence as part of the 2016-2017 MassLIFT AmeriCorps team. She graduated from Bates College in 2014 with a degree in cultural anthropology.  For her senior thesis project, she interviewed a group of Somali refugees who were in the process of establishing a successful community-led farming project. She spent one year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member working to address poverty in Maine. She has just returned from a Fulbright scholarship in India where she interviewed farmers and organizations that promote organic farming and sustainable development. Nicole is excited to be back in Massachusetts starting her second year as an AmeriCorps member with the MassLIFT team. She will work with Groundwork Lawrence to increase access to healthy, local food by expanding their community gardening program. Contact Nicole at nhuang @ or ext. 7014.


Kelly Nelson, MassLIFT AmeriCorps Youth Education Coordinator

In September 2016, Kelly joined Groundwork Lawrence as a MassLIFT AmeriCorps Youth Education Coordinator. Previously, Kelly worked with several nonprofits focused on micro-finance, international development, and public health. In 2012, she traveled to Tanzania where she worked with local nonprofits, including an albino peacemaker group to improve sustainability. Kelly continued her travels to Peru where she spent 18 months serving communities and individuals as a missionary. Upon her return, she finished her studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT and received a BS in public health and a minor in non-profit management. She is passionate about healthy communities and seeks to empower others to take responsibility for their health through science education and outdoor experiential learning. While her creative side keeps her indoors sewing and crafting, she constantly craves running, biking, swimming, and this year especially, skiing in the fresh mountain air of Utah. Contact Kelly at knelson @


The Green Team

The Groundwork Lawrence Green Team is a year-round program that offers part-time, paid employment for 50 Lawrence high school students each year. Members learn about and lead local environmental and healthy community initiatives, conduct research, grow food, raise awareness, challenge their peers to do community service and participate in hands-on improvement projects throughout the city. The program is intended to promote the protection and restoration of Lawrence’s critical ecological systems, natural resources and public health by engaging teens in advocacy and service-learning focused on the community’s parks, streets, gardens, waterways and vacant open spaces. The Green Team program has dual goals: to prepare Lawrence’s youth for a lifetime of environmental and healthy community leadership, and to invest in Lawrence’s future capacity to improve its physical environment.