Stephen Ritz is the Founder of Green Bronx Machine and self-proclaimed CEO – Chief Eternal Optimist – of Bronx County. With 20+ years of experience as an educator and administrator, Stephen believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Stephen has spent most of his professional life helping move generations of students into spheres of personal and academic successes they have never imagined. While reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx, Stephen’s extended student and community family have grown more than 60,000 pounds of vegetables while generating extraordinary academic performance and living wage jobs. Believing that we are limited only by our own imaginations and that we are ALL Amer-I-Cans, Stephen is excited to lead Green Bronx Machine to achieve even more at the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS 55. Stephen loves people, purpose and possibilities. He wakes up everyday excited to go to school, teach students, and build programs that will impact the lives of those he cares about for years to come. He wears a big hat, spiffy bow-tie and perpetually says, “Si se puede!”
His favorite vegetables are Bok Choy and Arugula.
LIZETTE RITZ VOLUNTEER
Lizette is the Executive Director of Green Bronx Machine. She is a people person and outcome driven; her expertise lies in seeing the potential in people and projects aligned to policy and procedure. Her corporate background lends well to the mission and vision of Green Bronx Machine and she provides organizational expertise and behind the scenes guidance, as well as on the ground and in the field support at all levels. Beyond spearheading educational initiatives and inspiring healthy living, Lizette is personally focussed upon poverty alleviation, workforce development, job creation and feeding hungry people. She takes it upon herself to see that food is grown and that people are fed. Keeping the machine running and well oiled, Lizette is known as “La Flor de Nuestra Jardin” and she is the driving force behind the weekly deliveries of locally grown food to people in need as well as the backbone of the extended Ritz Family and entire GBM Team.
Her favorite vegetables are Radicchio and Beets.
MICHAELA RITZ VOLUNTEER
Michaela has been involved with GBM from its inception and has grown to develop a passion for helping communities through the melding of environmental justice and stewardship. Michaela has had the honor of growing up with many of the students that have come through the program and has seen their development and personal successes firsthand. She refers to these students as her “extended family” and she feels proud to know that they consider themselves to be part of the GBM family as well. Michaela’s role within the organization has varied from planting and harvesting produce, to maintaining growing technologies, to photo documentation of GBM’s work. In 2014, Michaela was the recipient of The Root’s 2014 Young Futurist Award. She is presently studying Geoscience and Environmental Studies in addition to being a member of the Crew Team – having learned to row on the Bronx River. Michaela’s interests include reading, drawing, finding new music, and being outdoors. She looks forward to developing a career that helps local communities in harmony with improving the environment.
Her favorite vegetable is Kale.
DARRELL FRANCIS VOLUNTEER
Since 2009, Darrell has embraced “plant based education” and green job skills with a passion. Beyond his green wall and green roof training, Darrell also has several OSHA Certifications and loves working with plants, construction and doing environmental remediation. A proud graduate of DHS, Darrell has helped install and build programs across NYC and other states; spreading the word and enthusiasm to others. A tireless worker, Darrell constantly gives back and pays it forward, he volunteers to help support and maintain several local school gardens, the Food for Others Area and perpetually propagates plants for use in schools all year long. In fact, Darrell is affectionately known as the “Plant Whisperer.” Darrell’s interests include all types of music, art, politics and healthy food. He loves traveling and teaching.
His favorite vegetable is Broccoli.