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, 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 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.



DSC_0010_1.JPGLesly 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.


DSC_0010.JPGBrad 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.

Sharon MasonSharon Mason, Development Director 

Sharon Mason joined Groundwork Lawrence in February 2018 and directs the Development Team. Previously, she had served in the same capacity with the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts and with Habitat for Humanity’s Merrimack Valley affiliate. A fundraising professional with an extensive background in small business management, corporate and non-profit resource and grant development, communication, and RBS, Sharon is also active in the community, having served on the boards of a variety of community organizations. She brings her skills and dedication to meeting the mission and vision of GWL. Contact Sharon at smason @ or ext. 7007.






Abdiel Perez.jpgAbdiel Perez, Finance Director

Abdiel Perez joined Groundwork Lawrence in January 2019 as Finance Director. Born and raised in Lawrence, he graduated from Lawrence High School and went on to receive his bachelor's degree at Western New England College. Abdiel started his accounting career in 2007 working at Lawrence CommunityWorks as a Junior Accountant and made his way up to Senior Accountant over his eight-year tenure. Previous to working at Groundwork Lawrence, he worked as Staff Accountant and Tax Associate at Lopez, Chaff & Wiesman Associates assigned to a wide array of clients in various industries from profit to non-profit alike. In his spare time, Abdiel enjoys music production and playing his guitar.  Contact Abdiel at aperez @ or ext 7008.





LaurenWhite2.jpgLauren 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.


Eddie Rosa

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 @ or ext. 7019.


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Tennis Lilly, Project Manager

Tennis joins Groundwork as Project Manager for the Green Streets initiative. Tennis is responsible for overseeing the Greening the Gateway Cities program with the goal of planting over 2,000 trees in Lawrence. He has been a frequent volunteer with Groundwork over the past 15 years and led hikes and citizen science projects in Den Rock Park. Tennis has worked on many environmental causes since moving to Lawrence and as a member of the Lawrence Environmental Justice Council, was a recipient of the Greenleaf Community Activist Award. He has served on the Lawrence Conservation Commission since 2001. Tennis is a senior fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and was previously the Executive Director of Lawrence Grassroots Initiative. He earned a BA in Environmental Studies and a Master of Education, both from Lesley University. Tennis has been a resident of Lawrence since 1990 and lives in the Arlington neighborhood with his wife of 28 years, Michelle. Contact Tennis at tlilly @ or ext. 7016.

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Eric Lundquist, Project Manager

Eric joined Groundwork Lawrence in April 2016 as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and became a Project Manager for Green Streets in May 2018. 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.





Matt Morin, Education Program Manager

Matt Morin joined the GWL team in July of 2018 as the Education Program Manager and manages the Green Team. He’s been delivering experiential programs for over 15 years, is passionate about progressive education and the success of local businesses. He strives to be a networking resource for his community. Matt is an active member of the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) and serves on its advisory committee for the northeast region.  He has a long history in non-profit work and an education to match. While at the University of New Hampshire he earned a degree in Community Service and Leadership and worked towards a degree in Outdoor Education. Contact Matt at MMorin @ ext 7004.


Kaileigh Mallin, Development Manager

Kaileigh joined the GWL team in August of 2019 as the Development Manager. As a longtime Groundwork supporter, she is excited to be a part of the programs and projects aimed at creating a healthy, sustainable community in Lawrence.  Kaileigh received her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability from Merrimack College and has spent time working in events and outreach for the Harwich Conservation Trust in Harwich, MA, as well as at Emmaus, Inc. in Haverhill, MA, as the Development Associate and Grant Writer. After growing up in Bangor, ME, Kaileigh is proud to call the Merrimack Valley home. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, Shark Week, and spending as much time as possible close to the ocean. Contact Kaileigh at KMallin @



Brian Kibler, Executive Assistant

Brian joined Groundwork Lawrence in January 2016 as a SCI AmeriCorps member, and joined the staff in their current position in July 2016. A two-term AmeriCorps alumnus, Brian values national and community service. Brian's professional interests include online engagement, building community, and wordplay. As an Army brat, Brian has lived in a variety of environments, from sunny Oahu to frosty upstate New York; however, they enjoy the Merrimack Valley most of all. Brian received a BA from Salem State University in history, has a certificate in nonprofit management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice through the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University, and has a penchant for theatrics and Spanish literature. In Fall 2019, they will be returning to school to pursue a dual MBA and Master of Public Policy at the Heller School at Brandeis University. Contact Brian at bkibler @ or ext. 7199.






Vallary Ross, Program Coordinator

Vallary began her AmeriCorps service term with Groundwork Lawrence in August 2018 as a FoodCorps member, and joined staff in the summer of 2019. During her service term, Vallary facilitated hands-on learning activities in classrooms and school gardens throughout Lawrence, as well as promoted healthy behaviors in the cafeteria. Before joining GWL’s education team she completed a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at The Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, Nebraska where she gained experience in hunger relief programming. Vallary received her B.S in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of New Hampshire in 2017. After spending time in Midwest, Vallary is excited to be back in New England surrounded by mountains, lakes, and the coast. Contact Vallary at vross @






Chas Ryan, Farmer

Chas joined Groundwork in May 2018. He manages Costello Urban Farm. He oversees all things farming, from seeding, weeding, and composting, to harvesting, selling, and maintaining all farm equipment. His favorite aspect of Groundwork is working with the Green Team. Prior to joining Groundwork, Chas worked on a 13 acre CSA vegetable farm growing produce for over three hundred families and managing the weekly farmers market. Prior to that, he taught gardening to children in low-income communities in Philadelphia and St. Louis and worked as a Carpenter. As an AmeriCorps member, he built homes for Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana, fought fires in Northern California, and worked at a charter school for high-school dropouts in North Philadelphia, organizing service projects for the entire school. Chas holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Juris Doctor and Master's in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, biking, and traveling to new places. Contact Chas at CRyan @


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Rachel Torres, DOI/VISTA Team Member

Rachel Torres joined Groundwork Lawrence as a DOI/VISTA AmeriCorps member in September 2018. Originally from Winter Park, Florida, Rachel has spent the past five years immersing herself in the Lawrence community, which she has come to love. She is very passionate about the conservation of the environment and is currently working on her degree in environmental engineering. Rachel is a former Green Team leader and currently teaches local youth about the importance of environmental stewardship. In her spare time, you can find her hiking, reading, or playing a musical instrument. She is eager to see positive change in the world around her one community at a time. Contact Rachel at rtorres @



BO.pngBrittany Ortiz, DOI/VISTA Team Member

Brittany Ortiz joined Groundwork Lawrence in 2019 as an AmeriCorps DOI / VISTA. She serves on the Education Team. She was raised in and around the Lawrence area, and graduated from Lawrence High School in 2015, making both friends and memories within the city that would eventually encourage her continued involvement in her community. Brittany recently graduated from Lesley University with a major in Photography, and minor in Design; skills that she will be using during her year of as she documents all the great improvements both Groundwork Lawrence and Lawrence residents are making on a daily basis. In her spare time, Brittany enjoys spending time with her dog Reggie going on hikes, photographing, an occasional surf and trying new foods with friends. Contact Brittany at bortiz @




2018_0806_FOODCORPS_HEADSHOTS_ANNA_BABBIN_IMG_2105.jpgAnna Babbin, FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member

Anna joined the Groundwork Lawrence team for her 2nd FoodCorps AmeriCorps service term in August 2019. Previously, she served as a FoodCorps Service Member in East Boston through Boston Public Schools, where she taught hands-on gardening and cooking lessons as well as supported healthy behaviors in the school cafeterias. She is excited to continue connecting kids to fresh fruits and veggies within the Lawrence community. Anna graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018 with a degree in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, which formed her passion for social justice advocacy. In her free time, Anna enjoys hiking, singing, and tending to her house plants. Contact Anna at ababbin @






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The Green Team

The Groundwork Lawrence Green Team is a year-round program that offers part-time, paid employment for 40 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.