Ab joined Metro Blooms in April 2021 after building their first rain garden while serving a term with the Conservation Corps. They have a background in retail greenhouse labor and an education in both Interpersonal Communication and Urban Forestry. They are deeply interested in native plant ecology and insects, and love working hands-on in the diverse landscapes they care for. Ab considers themself both an educator and a lifelong student, and appreciates the opportunity to fill a variety of roles at Metro Blooms. In their free time, Ab enjoys creating things and spending time with their loved ones.
Alayna graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences, Policy & Management and a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. After graduation, she worked as a Youth Education Intern for Growing North Minneapolis, where she mentored Northside teens on the importance of growing food in their communities. Alayna’s primary passions surround understanding, and sharing to others, the healing power of nature.
Aleli has a Bachelor of Arts in History of Ideas from Williams College. She has experience as a freelance writer, newspaper reporter and in publishing. Working for Metro Blooms has opened her eyes to the importance of the natural spaces in our urban environment. She has a great appreciation for the way Metro Blooms engages individuals to take action in their own backyards and motivates communities to work together to improve their landscapes.
Alexandra has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Religion from St. Olaf College. After graduating, Alexandra spent time working in healthcare before coming to environmental work. Her undergraduate research exploring the intersections of religion and the natural world inspired her desire to work directly with communities and how they relate to the environment surrounding them. In her free time, you can find her in her garden, spending time with her resident and foster dogs, or on the side of a trail trying to identify plants.
Becca has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Geography from Macalester College. After college, she worked as a community garden coordinator and farm crew member. She loves getting her hands dirty and celebrating Minnesota’s beautiful landscapes. In her free time you’ll find her biking, cooking, knitting, and foraging for mushrooms.
Chris graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master of Landscape Architecture, class of 2021. He also has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, Kenya. Before relocating to the United States, he ran a landscape design-build company in Kenya. Chris is interested in green infrastructure and how it can be a critical component in climate change adaptation and resilience.
Deborah has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has completed post-grad work with licenses in Special Education and Family Education. She joined the Metro Blooms team in 2008. She has 30+ years of experience as an educator in public and private settings and formerly worked full time for the St. Paul Public Schools as a Special Ed teacher. Her background serves her well in collaborating with team members and responding to staff and client needs. She was inspired by Metro Blooms to install a rain garden on her property. She enjoys outdoor activities, has interests in music and yoga, and sings in a community chorus.
Erin has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to working for Metro Blooms, Erin worked as an organizer, librarian and youth worker. They are passionate about activism, transformative justice, eating good food and photography.
Jack is an ecologically minded landscape designer, gardener, and stone worker living in Minneapolis. He supports Blue Thumb by assisting their resilient yard workshops and providing other consultation related to gardening with native plants. He attended Luther College for his undergraduate degree in environmental studies. Afterwards, he found his way into the professions of landscaping and ecological restoration, working in communities across Minnesota and Missouri. In 2022, he received a masters of science in ecological design from the Conway School in Northampton, Massachusetts. Since then, Jack has enjoyed reacquainting himself with the Twin Cities. He is fond of taking walks in his neighborhood, appreciating the myriad of creative expressions and natural beauty found in his neighbors’ yards.
Jacqueline supports Metro Bloom’s mission by managing educational programs and marketing strategy. Her work gives her the opportunity to connect with communities across Minnesota and share resources and information to help protect the environment and people. She enjoys learning about all of the diverse stories of people connecting with the environment. Jacqueline earned her B.S. degree in Marketing at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. As a student, she interned with Metro Blooms as a Digital Storyteller in the Healing Roots project. Since completing her internship, Jacqueline has worked with Metro Blooms as a Marketing Consultant and Marketing and Communications Specialist. She has a background in fine arts, digital media, social media management, and graphic design. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, painting, and traveling.
Jaiden, a North Minneapolis resident, studies environmental sciences at Alabama A&M University. She became an environmental and social justice advocate to make communities of color more aware and more educated on climate change. In her free time she loves planting trees and traveling the world. She can’t wait to continue to make a difference within her community.
James St. George Schreder
James is a student in the Masters of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Minnesota, where he also received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Design and Planning. James has a focus on sustainability and equity within design. Outside of design, topics that interest him include mycology and ornithology. In his free time he paints, plays the banjo and Dungeons and Dragons, and enjoys summer sports leagues.
Jennifer has a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Science + Sustainable Agriculture from Cornell University and a Masters of Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University. She has worked on merging ecological and aesthetic principles in site design for 16 years, including commercial and public projects at CLH Design in Raleigh, NC, as well as stormwater-focused residential and commercial design in North Carolina and Minnesota. Her work at Metro Blooms combines her passions for plants and planting design with engaging and educating people about creating resilient and beautiful landscapes. Jen leads the design team at Metro Blooms Design+Build, ensuring that equity principles are incorporated throughout company culture and projects. She has a strong passion for this work, leading design on numerous affordable housing projects, ensuring that design processes and implementation center resident voice, values and needs.
Jennifer graduated with a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University and a Bachelor of Arts from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. She is excited to serve Metro Blooms’ mission, in partnership with donors and communities, to create resilient landscapes and foster clean watersheds as we strive to solve environmental challenges. Jennifer lives in St. Paul with her partner Ray and their two small dogs.
Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Minnesota twice over, with a Bachelors of Environmental Design and Planning and a Masters of Landscape Architecture. Joining the Metro Blooms team has happily provided a place for her passions in creative stormwater solutions and community health, education and all things green. Jennifer has been volunteering as a certified Master Gardener since 2011 and loves vegetable gardening and camping during summer months, or moonlighting as a freelance muralist during winter evenings.
John graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. with majors in International and Environmental Studies and Philosophy. He worked as an educator in the Mid-Atlantic region for a few years—savoring every opportunity to help students draw connections between themselves and a greater world—before joining Metro Blooms as a Minnesota GreenCorps member in 2015. John enjoys reading, cooking, fixing things, every sort of people-powered movement, and the way atmosphere and stellar bodies play together to paint the sky. He is a certified Minnesota Water Steward.
Kyle graduated in 2022 from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors of Environmental Design degree. He plans to continue in the Masters of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Minnesota. Kyle has prior experience in landscape installation and maintenance. You can usually find him drawing, hiking around the state parks, walking by the river, or sitting in a hammock on a nice day.
Laila has been doing environmental justice work since she was 14 when she joined the organization Youth N’ Power and learned community organizing. Contributing to and supporting the well-being of her community is one of her passions. Over the last six years, Laila has participated in many apprenticeship programs, learning about trees, soil, sustainable building, compost and environmental justice, and is proud of her work sharing what she learns with community. Laila graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School and so far completed one year at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. One of her life goals is to travel the whole world!
Laura became President + Executive Director in May 2022, after 10 years serving in other roles at Metro Blooms, most recently as Associate Director + Director of Fund Development. She first joined the organization in 2012 as a MN GreenCorps member. She has a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota, as well as a minor in Spanish Studies. Learning on the job, she combines a deep understanding of green infrastructure design, implementation, and care with a community-centric approach, fostering the expansion of supportive relationships to heal our earth. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time at the lake and camping with her family.
Makayla is an environmental justice and social justice activist and advocate. She grew up in North Minneapolis, a heavily environmentally-impacted community. The community has the highest asthma rates in the state, is a heat island, and has the highest concentration of low-income black and brown people. Makayla joined Youth N’Power 5 years ago, where she has learned how to do community organizing in her community through the essential lens of environmental justice. She cares about serving her community and making intentional relationships with others. She continues to learn and grow her personal and collective knowledge around environmental justice, community organizing, and communication. At Metro Blooms, she does community engagement and focuses on planting trees, rain gardens, and boulevard bioswales to help improve the air quality, water quality and soil quality in North and South Minneapolis.
Manny Vazquez Fragoso
Manny is a Southside Minneapolis native but has lived in North and Northeast in recent years. Manny will be a freshman at the University of St.Thomas in the fall of 2023. His jobs have always been focused on community and educating communities on social and environmental issues affecting them. He loves to connect with others. During his free time, he loves to explore Minneapolis on his bike and spend time with his dog.
A former first-grade teacher, Meg loves gardening and is studying landscaping and horticulture at Hennepin Technical College. Meg appreciates the intentionality behind connecting social and ecological justice at Metro Blooms, and likes Metro Blooms’ work with community. Currently she is experimenting with a cut flower garden at home and pursuing the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Megan graduated in 2022 from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts in Science Writing. She has completed a Minnesota GreenCorps service term with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s We Are Water MN program. Megan is passionate about strengthening relationships between humans, non-humans, and place through community-centered storytelling.
With prior experience in landscaping and nonprofits, Neely supports Metro Bloom’s Design+Build by managing the maintenance and installation crews and assisting the design team. Neely is passionate about supporting pollinators, ecological health, and environmental justice. She believes respecting and helping to improve the environment can be a thousand small choices you make every day. Outside of work, she enjoys local farmers’ markets, group bike rides, and time in the kitchen.
Nikolai Fjelstad De Santiago
Rich Harrison is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on sustainable design, place making, and community development. Rich has worked on water quality issues for more than two decades, including research at Mankato State University, working for the Met Council studying non-point source pollution, and research at University of MN focusing on transit-oriented development and organic Infrastructure. For Rich, on-site treatment of stormwater is the best way to prevent pollution and preserve our precious water resources, and he has focused his career on design. Rich believes that education and facilitating the understanding of how our actions impact our natural environment is critical to successful design.
Yirga graduated from Hopkins High School in June 2023 and currently studies engineering in college. He has completed a sustainable landcare training program with Blue Thumb, Metro Blooms’ education program. Yirga hopes to learn more about plants and environmental justice and equity while working with Metro Blooms. When he is not working, he enjoys cuddling with his dog, bingeing shows, playing lacrosse, and listening to podcasts.