Leaders from Google, GreenBiz, and NewYork-Presbyterian will Help Award-Winning NGO Scale Up Education Programs Across the Country and Around the World
Newswise — BRONX, NY – June 21, 2021 – Linda Femling, Director of Food Programs at Google in the Americas, Ana Cristina Garcia, Director of Government and Community Affairs at NewYork-Presbyterian, and Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor of GreenBiz Group Inc., have been named the newest board members of Green Bronx Machine (GBM), the innovative national education nonprofit that effectively uses urban agriculture to transform teaching, learning and workforce development to boost student academic, health and career outcomes in underserved communities.
These three leaders in health and food/nutrition, public policy, clean tech and sustainability will support Green Bronx Machine to continue realizing its mission of building healthy, equitable and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems and 21st century workforcedevelopment. They also will bring their expertise to bear on helping it substantially scale up and expand its programmatic, administrative and operational work across the U.S. and around the world.
“Everyone at Green Bronx Machine – the staff, leadership and our current board members – along with our partners and school districts across America – are so pleased to welcome Ana, Linda and Joel to our team. Nationally and globally, folks appreciate who they are and what they bring to our organization. Their combined expertise represents decades of best-in-class accomplishments and impact,” said GBM founder and acclaimed educator Stephen Ritz. “In just 10 short years, Green Bronx Machine has grown from a Bronx-based program to serving more than 500 schools around the world and become a workforce development leader and a multi-media education producer. Our low-cost, replicable model is now an educational and outcome-oriented exemplar. These three experts-in-their-fields will help us chart our strategic course as we navigate our expansion in these and other areas over the next decade and beyond — from the Bronx to the world!”
Green Bronx Machine is headquartered at the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at Community School 55 in the South Bronx, both led by Ritz who founded the first edible classroom in the world. Today, GBM’s exemplary, proprietary whole-school curriculum designed around urban agriculture is aligned to key school performance indicators that grow healthy students and schools. It engages more than 50,000 students daily in over 20 states, across Canada among six First Nation Tribes, and throughout MENA including The United Arab Emirates and Qatar. GBM’s curriculum and materials are recognized globally and now available in multiple languages.
Dedicated to whole school pedagogy and professional development aligned to data-driven, school performance and social determinants of health, GBM was named a Top 10 Health and Wellness Program in America by the Harkin Institute, a Top 100 Educational Innovation in the World by HundrED for three consecutive years, a 2020 Gamechanger by NYC Food Policy Center and a 2020 Top 100 Global Showcase School and Program by World Education Week for response to COVID. Most recently, Ritz was awarded the 2021 CEA (Controlled Environmental Agriculture) Disruptor Award by Artemis. Beyond whole-school and community programming, GBM also debuted the first wheelchair accessible commercial farm/training kitchen for special needs children and the first commercial greenhouse farm run by foster care children in America.
About Linda Femling
Linda is the Director of Food Programs at Google, responsible for services in the Americas. As a leader in the food business and with over 13 years at Google, Linda’s expertise in strategic initiatives and operations has helped advance food programming and educational efforts. Sustainability is at the core of these efforts with plant forward as well as waste and plastic reduction all passions of hers. In addition, Linda is a community volunteer and also a certified business coach committed to helping young women enter and grow their careers in the business world. A proud Mom of three grown daughters, Linda spends most of her free time biking, skiing and exploring the mountains with her dogs Mogul and Moose.
“I am thrilled to help lean into the work created by this amazing organization. Green Bronx Machine has created an innovative, inclusive program and support system that will positively change lives for generations to come,” said Femling.
About Ana Cristina Garcia
Ana Cristina Garcia is Director of Government and Community Affairs at New York-Presbyterian. An expert in community health improvement, her work has included policy research and advocacy on health reform and health disparities; coalition development to address obesity prevention, emergency preparedness, healthy aging, and AI/AN child health; and performance improvement and management for clinicians and public health practitioners. She has worked for public and private sector organizations, including the New York Academy of Medicine, the Vermont Department of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Access Community Health Network, and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees. Ana is a proud Cuban-American, New Yorker, and mom.
“I met Stephen years ago when at the New York Academy of Medicine, we made a call for innovative obesity and healthy living interventions. Stephen blew us away with his proposal describing using hydroponic gardening in his classroom in the Bronx,” said Garcia. “I recently started a new project supporting community development in the Bronx and reached out to Stephen because I knew the effort would benefit from his input. I’m so glad he took this recent exchange to invite me to join the board. The Bronx needs people like Stephen and groups like Green Bronx Machine to thrive. Nationally, more than ever, our schools need to be leveraged as centers of health-promotion and life-changing learning. I’d like to be part of helping Green Bronx Machine show the nation how the classroom environment can empower children to lead healthier lives.”
About Joel Makower
Joel is Chairman and Executive Editor of GreenBiz Group Inc., creator of GreenBiz.com as well as research reports and events on the corporate sustainability strategy and trends. He hoststhe annual GreenBiz, GreenFin, Circularity and VERGE conferences, and is principal author of the annual State of Green Business report. For 30 years, Joel has been a well-respected voice on business, sustainability, and innovation. As an award-winning writer, speaker, and strategist on corporate sustainability practices and clean technology, he has helped both large and small companies align sustainability and clean technology with business success. A former nationally syndicated columnist, Joel is author of more than a dozen books. Along with Mark Mykleby and Patrick Doherty, Joel is co-author of The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and Sustainability in the 21st Century (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), about a business and investment strategy for America, born at the Pentagon, that embeds sustainability as a national strategic imperative.
“Green Bronx Machine represents the best of the sustainability movement: courage, commitment, collaboration and creativity in addressing some of America’s and the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges,” said Makower. “I’ve watched the organization’s influence and impact grow over the past decade and am pleased to join the board to help accelerate that progress.”