Executive Director Mac Levine, MPH, founded Concrete Safaris in 2008 with 16 East Harlem children, growing the organization to serve 1,200 young people annually in 2012. She has worked with City Surfers (ages 7 -12) to transform over an acre of exterior space within Washington and Jefferson Houses into beautiful, edible gardens, and helped them achieve their dreams of exercising outdoors 5-days per week in their backyards, as well as managed the organization's replication. She has presented workshops and lectures at the 2013 Just Food Conference, the American Community Gardening Association's 2011 National Conference, New York University’s Community Nutrition and Social Entrepreneurship courses, YouthBridge-NY, and NY Roadrunners. Mac was a member of NYC Strategic Alliance for Health and a Subcommittee member of Mount Sinai’s Communities IMPACT Diabetes Center, and is a member of Go Green East Harlem. She earned a masters in public health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the Built Environment Track, where she won the John and Kathleen Gorman Public Health Humanitarian Award. Her thesis "Applications of the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights at an East Harlem Public Housing Project," was nominated for a school-wide award. Mac also graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelors in music industry and a minor in sociology. She is a member of the Giraffe Path/ Trails Committee and the Hike the Heights Planning Committee at City Life is Moving Bodies (CLIMB) and an active Senior Fellow at the Environmental Leadership Program, a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, and a Master Composter. Her fitness articles, adventure essays, and photos have been published in magazines, such as Billboard and Bust. She has been featured in Assisted Housing Management Insider, Columbia Public Health Magazine, New York Daily News, The New York Times' Blog, Shape, New Yorkers for Parks' E-Newsletter, SELF Magazine, and USA Today. An avid inline skater, skier, swimmer, and hiker, Mac currently SUPs (stand-up paddleboard) 4-5 days per week year-round and is a member of the Inwood Canoe Club.
Bryan Vitale, Concrete Safaris’ Outdoor Education Director since April 2012, holds a bachelors degree in Outdoor Recreation Management from Springfield College. Bryan is responsible for creating garden, sports, and leadership curricula for City Surfers and Green Exercise Days, constructing and growing our gardens with the children, and managing our growing staff. Bryan was a camp director for three Internal Drive Technical Camps over two summers and has written outdoor curriculum to be used at over 60 of their locations. He also independently created and manages an online resource with over 200 games and activities for children. After moving to NYC in the Summer of 2008, he oversaw student activities at Harlem Day Charter School for two years and created and ran a summertime Adventure Education program for the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation. Bryan lectured at the 2010 American Camp Association National Conference. He holds a bachelors degree in Outdoor Recreation Management from Springfield College in Springfield, MA. As a White Water Rafting Guide after college, Bryan rafted over 2,500 miles of class III and IV rapids in Colorado, and is a seriously fun safety professional. During the winters, Bryan snowboarded over 200 days in two years, finishing off his second ski season on a three-week RV trip in Alaska where he competed in the North Face Masters Free Ride Championship. Bryan is an avid kickball player, mountain biker, hiker, runner and snowboarder.
Patrick Kelly, Concrete Safaris Outdoor Fitness and Field Science Specialist, holds a bachelors degree in science with majors in zoology, field biology and environmental studies from University of Melbourne, Australia. Patrick runs the fitness education and bike riding trips with Concrete safaris and Introduces the students to the ecology and biodiversity of sites visited throughout the year. He worked as a middle school and high school track and cross country coach during college and has been involved in after school programming for primary school students since 2006. When not leading our Concrete Safaris outdoor adventures, Patrick loves to volunteer with the parks around New York as well as travel and pursue his passion for exploring the world around us. His goal for the winter is to train for a half-marathon in the spring of 2014.
Tifani Peguero is Concrete Safaris’ Cooking and Community Organizing Specialist. She has a Bachelors degree in Human Services and is currently enrolled at The New School's Environmental Policy, Sustainability Management Masters program. Tifani infuses the children's harvest at Concrete Safaris' gardens into multi-cultural dishes, and will teach them how to organize their peers around environmental health issues. She previously advocated for court-involved youth, securing individual and family therapy for them instead of jail time. She has worked with youth in various capacities since 2005. Tifani’s love for volunteering has taken her to New Orleans after Katrina to rebuild, and to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to build homes.
Aya Yamamoto is Concrete Safaris' garden program specialist. She is a recent graduate of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, majoring in Environmental Biology. She was one of the primary organizers of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign. In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first treaty made between the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and the Dutch, the TRWRC coordinated a two-week long canoe/kayak trip down the Hudson River. Aya has worked as an educator at the Staten Island Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History and with the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment’s Native Earth Environmental Youth Camp. She has also volunteered at the Green Oasis Community Garden on the Lower East Side and participated in the Good Friends Garden while going to school in Syracuse.