Friends of the Playscape at Ripley Steering Committee Members
Jennifer Brookeis a transplant from Marin County, California, to Concord, where she lives with her family. She is the former design principal at Landscape Office Ltd. and an assistant professor at UC Berkeley in the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department, with an MLA from Harvard University. Jennifer currently juggles her work as a design consultant and mom. Her interest in the Playscape at Ripley is rooted in her professional experience with designing natural playgrounds for children and her personal passion for universal accessibility.
Cherrie Corey is a long-time naturalist, educator, photographer, and non-profit professional with deep experience in the goals and landscape involved in the Playscape project. She and her husband have lived in Concord's East Quarter for 35 years and raised two children there. Over the past five years, Cherrie has served as a resource and spokesperson for the preservation of Gowing's Swamp and its surrounding landscape and authored a recent report documenting its botanical, scientific, literary, and historical values of the area. She has also served as Executive Director of Harvard University's Museum of Cultural and Natural History, the New England Wild Flower Society's first education director, exhibit planner at Boston's Museum of Science, and board member for the Massachusetts Environmental Education Society. Cherrie's ongoing Sense of Place - Concord field programs and website encourage the public to form a richer, more attentive connection to place and their personal unfolding in the wild landscapes around them.
Joan Ferguson is a landscape architect whose professional work includes water resource planning and commercial and residential landscape design. A Concord resident for 34 years, she has served on the Town’s Planning Board and Natural Resources Commission and helped develop two of its Open Space and Recreation Plans. Currently, Joan is a board member of the Concord Land Conservation Trust, a nonprofit organization that conserves and maintains natural areas in town and that recently acquired ownership over seven acres around Gowing’s Swamp for permanent protection.
Christine Gerzon is a founding mother of the Concord Children's Center and the first site director of Ripley/CCC. Christine earned a Master's Degree in Education from Lesley University and has taught children of all ages from preschool to college in both private and public school settings. She is currently a life coach for women interested in living more conscious and creative lives. Christine and her husband, Robert, a Concord author, have lived near White Pond for over 30 years where they raised their five children. Her lifelong commitment to nature comes from a childhood spent exploring outdoors in every season.
Edith Hetling has lived in Concord for 14 years with her husband and two young children. She formerly served on the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library board and ran the Annual June Book Sale for over 10 years. Edi is an IT data warehousing professional, with an MBA from Boston University, and currently manages the Finance Analytic Support Team for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Her interest in the project stems from her desire to help children and the community connect with nature through all the senses.
Angus Jennings, AICP is the Director of Land Use Management for the Town of Westford. His responsibilities include oversight of the Zoning, Planning, Permitting, Conservation and Building Departments, and project management for a range of public policy, infrastructure and community and economic development initiatives. Angus holds a Master’s Degree in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University, where he received the AICP student award for promise of success as a professional planner. He is participating in the Steering Committee to help accomplish a project that matches both his environmental interests and values and his commitment to his home town of Concord.
Jennifer Johnson is the Development and Outreach Director at The Nature Connection, a Concord-based organization which transforms lives through nature-based therapy. She has over 15 years of experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, including as Marketing Director for the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic, Connecticut. Jennifer and her family moved to Concord in June 2012. Her interest in the Playscape stems from a deep belief that time spent with nature and in the outdoors is critical to one's physical and mental health.
Pat Nelson, M.Ed., is Executive Director of Concord Children's Center, the visionary and fiscal sponsor for the Playscape at Ripley. Pat has been a Concord resident since 1989. She is a member of the Concord Town Finance Committee, Treasurer of the Northwest Suburban Health Alliance, Co-Chair of the Regional Early Childhood Advisory Council, and participates on the advisory board of the Concord Area Pre-School Association. "Building the Playscape on town land offers a wonderful opportunity to bring to the whole town what we know is best for children," explains Pat. "As a member of the early childhood community, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the steering committee to ensure the fulfillment of this dream."
Patricia Ochoa served as the Development Director at Minute Man Arc in Concord for 12 years before retiring at the end of 2011. She was responsible for all agency fundraising, PR and marketing, and worked as part of the administrative team to ensure organizational sustainability and growth through ongoing strategic planning. Prior to her development work, Patty was an educator and a residential services director. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Northwest Suburban Health Alliance. Patty advocates for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, for the wellbeing of our children and for environmental preservation. In Patty's own words, "the Playscape's four pillars are the pillars of my heart."
Jennifer Saxe is Alumni Relations & Development Coordinator for Concord Children's Center. She has worked in the development field for over 10 years in both the U.S. and Europe and is thrilled to be putting her skills to work on a project as ground-breaking on so many levels as the Playscape.
Kris Scopinich is Education Manager at Mass Audubon Society, where she oversees and manages on and off-site educational programs for schools, teachers, youth, families, and adults at the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. Ms. Scopinich is a member of Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, North American Association of Environmental Education, and current President of the New England Environmental Education Alliance.
Penni Hensley Wagner has been a teacher and program director with Concord Children's Center since 1984. Countless hours on the Ripley playground and the garden and many walks in the surrounding woods have given her a fond appreciation for all this landscape has to offer. This project offers a greater connection for the community to a place where we often experience the magic of the sunset and moonrise at the same time.