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.
Patrick Kelly, Concrete Safaris Outdoor Fitness and Field Science Coordinator, 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.
Hailing from Inwood, Tifani Peguero is Concrete Safaris’ East Harlem Site Supervisor and manages Cooking and Community Organizing. 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' Community Outreach & Gardening Coordinator. She grew up in Harlem and majored in Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. 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.
Originally from Mexico City, Santiago Zindel, Concrete Safaris’ Adventure Specialist, is a graduate of Middlebury College with a joint major in Environmental Studies and Biology. Santiago takes children on exciting adventures each week, teaching them about the natural wonders both in New York City and the world. Santiago has worked with children and education in many capacities as a counselor in a summer camp, a ski instructor, and an educator in the Palm Beach Zoo. He worked in his university’s organic farm and has considerable experience working with animals and plants in the field. Santiago is also currently partaking in an internship with New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation.