Program Director & Founder
Justin Green is the Co-founder and Director of Build It Green!NYC. Justin has overseen BIG!NYC’s development from its’ beginning in 2004, having managed the first two deconstruction projects for the Durst Organization that generated the materials required to launch BIG!NYC. Justin also piloted and directed NYC Cool Roofs for its first two years.
Before BIG!NYC, Justin worked at Community Environmental Center (CEC), the Long Island City based non-profit addressing the housing and energy efficiency needs of low- and middle-income communities. While at CEC, Justin assisted their efforts to establish a statewide loan fund for the installation of energy efficiency measures. He has also managed construction crews in residential development, worked as a Loan Associate with Low Income Investment Fund monitoring loans to non-profit housing developers, and designed for an educational dotcom. Justin received his BA with a double major in Economics and Community Development from Oberlin College.
Max spearheads the Deconstruction program at Build It Green!NYC, and is our most fashionable staff member. The recurring scene of perfectly good building materials crushed at the bottom of a dumpster led him here, and he’s never looked back. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Max attended Bard College in the late 90’s where he received a Bachelor of Arts in film in 2000. Since then he has really cultivated his skills as a precision craftsman, having worked as a fabricator, cabinetmaker and carpenter, all in NYC. He’s also worked in neon sign design and construction, as a behavioral health technician in Tucson, and dabbled in draping at the Fashion Institute of Techology. Max and Mira house a nuclear family of 5 cats, Georgie, Edgar, Alabamo, Winkie, and Bad Boy. You don’t see that every day. He is also perhaps our most well read staff member, having read every book ever written. Unfortunately that hasn’t translated into success in writing on his own novel, which he’s been working on since shortly after his premature arrival on earth.
Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Mike is the second full time hire on our Deconstruction team. After receiving a degree in English Literature from Colby College in Maine in 2002, Mike taught English and traveled in South America for a year. Since his return, Mike has gained extensive experience in general carpentry and working with plaster, ultimately leading him here. Some of his work experiences include: property asset management with Stop Wasting Abandoned Properties (SWAP) in Providence which converts abandoned warehouses into affordable housing; constructing residential interiors in Providence, and then spent two years a product manager for Bettencourt’s Eco-Supply Center here in New York City. Most recently Mike spent two years as a BIG!NYC Deconstructionist, and has been promoted to Donations Manager. In his spare time, Mike drives Harvey crazy by cheering for his Boston Bruins hockey team, who recently beat Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals.
Jack joined Build It Green!NYC in June 2011 after working for our sister non-profit, Solar One. Over the past year she had been volunteering, interning and working for Solar One's Energy Connections program, and before that she was marketing big rockstars over at Columbia Records, part of SonyBMG. Nowadays you'll find Jack scanning the warehouse for new goodies to post on the website, tweet or share on Facebook, along with handling media relations, store events, advertising and so much more. With her awesome staff of eco-interns, you will be hearing a lot more from Jack. When she's not at the reuse center, she's either playing softball in the park, exploring the city, or searching for a nice body of water to cool off in during the summer heat.
Reuse Center Manager, Queens
Ellis is the Reuse Center Manager at Build It Green!NYC in Queens. He also held the position of Assistant Manager and Adaptable Resource Technician, and specializes in well, everything! Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ellis graduated from Bard College with a hybrid degree in Creative Writing and Literature. While in college Ellis also studied Architecture, spending six months in Paris and six months at Columbia University through Columbia's Department of Architecture. Ellis has extensive knowledge of and experience with reclaimed lumber, deconstruction, and manages BIG!NYC's work training programs. On his days away from Build It Green!NYC's warehouse, Ellis can be found at Tri-Lox, a "design + build practice that transforms reclaimed materials into handcrafted furniture, architectural elements, and fine art."
Sustainable Design Manager
atom is the Sustainable Design Manager for the Brooklyn location of Build It Green!NYC. She has been a patron of BIG!NYC since its opening and is thrilled to join the team. atom has been a leader in sustainable design for the last decade, and it comes from her love of garbage. Her fashion company Gaelyn and Cianfarani introduced sustainable fashion, as the first design team to walk an eco-fashion collection in Bryant Park in 2003; most of their garments were made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes. Working in the burgeoning green roof industry for the last 5 years, Cianfarani brings extensive knowledge of green roof systems and materials, as well as a breadth of experience managing work sites and crews. She has co-authored a do-it-yourself guide to green roofing and regularly lectures on the subject. Atom hails from Toronto, Canada.
Assistant Reuse Center Manager, Brooklyn + Vocational Counselor
Harvey is our Vocational Counselor, handling affairs in our ongoing partnership with the Consortium for Worker Education (CWE), among other things. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Harvey has an undergraduate degree in Biology, specializing in Ecology, and Master's in Sociology from the University of British Columbia. While he's worked in public service management for both the North Vancouver School District and in Eco-Restoration (reforestation) in Northern Canadian clear-cuts, it's his Master's thesis on Professional Wrestling which has proven most relevant. Harvey's claim to fame is that he played basketball against Steve Nash in high school on Vancouver Island, once, which provided him with street cred amongst his co-workers for about 5 minutes.
Reuse Center Associate, Brooklyn
Vinnie has by far the most warehousing experience of anyone at Build It Green!NYC. From the paint room to windows, nobody knows the warehouse like Vinnie. As our first successful hire from a work training program (Fatherhood Re-entry Program), Vinnie has extensive experience with truck driving, warehousing and construction. When he’s not busy shaping the hearts and minds of hissix children (that’s right, six children), Vinnie enjoys weight training, running and bicycling. If you ask me though, Vinnie’s real passion is inspirational public speaking, so much so that he’s been asked to guest lecture at the Fatherhood Program several times since his successful job placement here at BIG!NYC. Next time you stop by, say hi to Vinnie, you won’t regret it.
Reuse Center Associate, Brooklyn
Yona interned one summer at Build It Green!NYC, and we liked him so much we hired ‘em! Born in Israel, raised in Brooklyn, Yona recently completed a Political Science and Philosophy degree from McGill University in Montreal. Some of his previous work experiences include: trail building in New Mexico with the Southwest Conservation Corps; organic farming in the French Pyrenese, and general maintenance and leisure at a hiking lodge upstate. In his spare time, Yona likes to rock out in his band, How to be Topp. He’s currently really into Russian Literature. He also claims he can eat more than anyone on staff. Bold statement, Yona, bold statement.
Reuse Center Associate, Brooklyn
Matt "Bernie" Birnbaum graduated with an interdisciplinary degree in Environmental Studies, Geography and Art History from Vermont's Middlebury College in 2012. He's since worked in urban aquaponics in Milwaukee and in electronic waste research in China and Taiwan, which was the topic of his college thesis. He also worked at a Chinese takeout restaurant in high school. Matt seems to have something of an affinity for all things Asian. When he's not geeking out on maps or hiking in Vermont, Matt enjoys taking in obscure central Asian leisure sports. His current favorites are Buzkashi (Central Asian Polo), where horse mounted riders wrestle for control of a headless goat carcass, and "Afghan style" competitive kite flying, where shards of broken glass hang from kites so as to chop down other kites. Yeah.
Shift Manager, Queens Reuse Center
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Steve landed at Build It Green!NYC through Bard College’s BPI Program. While at Bard (like everyone else around here!), he received an Associate Liberal Arts degree, specializing in history. Some of his previous work experiences include landscaping, woodworking, and custodial work, although some of his best work lies ahead. Steve is currently working on a novel AND a clothing line if you can believe that! Steve LOVES snowmobiling, and basically all other motorized winter sports. What does this guy NOT do?!
Reuse Center Associate, Queens
Robert was born in the Bronx, New York and raised in Sunrise, Florida. He attended Full Sail University for Recording Arts to pursue his passion for Hiphop and art. After some time there he decided college wasn't for him. He then moved back to New York to be with family and to find work. Through the YAIP internship program in Bronx Community College he discovered BIGNYC and immediately was drawn to the mission.
Inventory & Sales Coordinator, Queens
If Daniel had to list his top three interests they'd be:
1. Diverting waste from landfills
2. Reclaimed wood products
3. Providing excellent customer service
No wonder he likes working at BIG!NYC. Daniel was born and raised in the Paris of the Midwest - Detroit, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University and studied Urban and Regional Planning. He has previous experience in reclaimed wood and architectural salvage, and his crowded apartment will attest to his lifelong habit of collecting old things and throwing nothing away. When he's not in Astoria, you'll find him reading books on the subway or jerry-rigging his precarious fleet of bicycles
Reuse Center Associate, Queens
Lisa (who's favorite color just happens to be green!) joined Build it Green!NYC as a Reuse Center Associate at our Queens location in May 2013. She is a graduate of the STRIVE Program, as well as the Solar One Green Construction program. She is a native New Yorker and a long time resident of Queens. She is interested in greening the planet and making the world a better place for her three-year-old daughter.
Cate is the driving force behind Build It Green!NYC. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, she holds a degree from the Massachusetts College for Art in Boston, specializing in Sculpture and Filmmaking. Cate’s very prolific. She's taught English in Korea, built rock trails in the Rockies of Colorado, made a film on the Siberian railways in Winter, constructed theater sets in NYC, and even played Rush Limbaugh tapes on a conservative talk show in the “car city” district of Pensacola. Who does that?! She’s also an extremely talented singer/songwriter, filmmaker and sculptor. Cate really likes Bison. So much so that she actually fabricated a herd of them and uses them in her artistic endeavors whenever physically possible.
Jordi rotates rocking with his band and rolling in the BIG!NYC pick-up truck. Jordi’s name is Jordi because he is a half Spaniard. He enjoys learning to play new instruments. Back in the old days before the BIG juggernaut got rolling, Jordi used to pick up donations in his van.
Returned from New Orleans, this natural-born hoarder is eager to wring every last drop of "usable" from would-be discarded materials. He once biked 100 miles in 100 degrees with no brakes and one pedal, and has crossed state lines with a hamster, a toad and a box turtle.
Chris Fox graduated from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union in 2008. Before becoming a Deconstructionist with BIG!NYC, he worked in architecture, rogue clandestine carpentry, and upholstery, to name a few trades. While on the surface he appears to be just a nice mid-western architect from St. Louis, in reality Chris Fox is a wild man from wild stock. Some of his ancestors were whalers in the Hamptons (before they were "The Hamptons"), while others were competitive ice skate barrel rollers. That's where you spin on a barrel wearing ice skates in a frozen lake, or so we think. In his spare time, Chris enjoys his dog, riding his bicycle in flip flops year round, and origami. He also really likes climbing pretty much anything and jumping over other things.
Nate Meng has joined the BIG!NYC decon team as a fulltime Deconstructionist. Nate has spent the last 5 years jumping from one green venture to the next, mostly by accident. He got his start in the industry managing a green building supply warehouse, a job he got by answering an ad on Myspace (really), then worked installing solar panels before landing at Build it Green. Prior to that (and concurrently) he has worked in various trades renovating apartments and restaurants throughout the city. Born and raised in the woods of Wisconsin, he enjoys writing country songs, exploring the city, and drinking beer. Sometimes all at once.
Fiscal Services & Education Coordinator
Meg joined our staff in a desperate attempt to help us get organized. Growing up in Dekalb, Illinois, she discovered her love of repurposing materials from her dad, who restores homes. She went to Illinois State University for Literary Publishing, a degree she promptly ignored in favor of running her own custom piñata company (Llaves Designs). She has a background in arts, administration, and finance, and her dirty little secret is that she worked in corporate financial marketing in Chicago.
Program Manager, NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program
Susan joined the BIG!Compost team in 2013. Susan came to us from the NYC Parks Department, where she worked on the MillionTreesNYC intiative coordinating tree planting and stewardship events throughout the five boroughs. Susan has been obsessed with reducing landfill waste since reading John Cassidy's book "Earthsearch" when she was a child. Born and raised on a chicken farm in the town of Elma, New York, Susan studied English and Visual Art at SUNY Fredonia where she worked with the administration to instate campus-wide recycling. When she's not at BIG, Susan can be found climbing a tree in one of our many glorious public parks, making pottery, or sculpting with paper and light.
Project Coordinator NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program
Chris was born on the West coast of the United States, but has managed to spend most of his life living in the South East. After studying Painting and Sculpture, Chris made his way up North to New York City where he currently resides in Queens.
Field Assistant, NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program
Cuyler is originally from Ithaca, NY. He completed a Master Composter program in 2012. He continues to enjoy learning about composting and sharing that knowledge with friends, family and the greater NYC community.
Field Assistant, NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program
Born in Altus, Oklahoma, Charles moved to New York City with his mother and sister in 1990 and has hailed from the Bronx ever since. A graduate of Cardinal Spellman High School, Charles now studies Nutrition at Bronx Community College. Before working for BIG!Compost, Charles interned at The Horticultural Society of New York. He enjoys composting because he feels that everything has a purpose and can be re-purposed. He is proud to do work that helps him both understand and teach about the process of turning unwanted food and scraps into compost, something so vital and useful for the planet. When he's not making compost at BIG, Charles is often working out at the gym or studying for his Nutrition classes.
Program Coordinator, Development and Public Engagement, BIG!Compost
Gina is our program coordinator for BIG!Compost, heading up development and public engagement. This Master Composter and Citizen Pruner originally hails from Idaho, where the looming mountains and endlessly rolling hills gave her an enduring appreciation of nature. Gina earned her degree in Political Science and French from the University of Idaho. Her previous work experiences includes: Queens Botanical Garden, managed compost outreach and education with the NYC Compost Project in Queens, MillionTreesNYC Stewardship Coordinator. When she's not composting you can find her baking, printmaking, or knitting.
Program Coordinator for Compost Operations Development, BIG!Compost
Erik Martig joins Build it Green!Compost as Program Coordinator for Compost Operations Development. He holds a bachelor's of science in Landscape Architecture from The Ohio State University and has worked for several leading landscape design firms in New York City. Following his agricultural roots Erik left landscape design to launch a compost project at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. Erik managed GrowNYC’s food-scrap diversion program where he oversaw the diversion over 1.1 million pounds of food-scraps from landfill -all while assisting the development of a local network of community supported composting sites. Compost is frequently the only topic of discussion with Erik, though he also enjoys cycling, skiing and snowboarding, gardening and photography.