Our Team

Our Team

From naturalists to filmmakers, educators to designers, our staff connects experts in various professions to the local Rockaway community.

Jeanne DuPont portrait

Jeanne DuPont

Founder and Executive Director

As founder and executive director of RISE, Jeanne has worked closely with the Rockaway community and city agencies since 2005, developing strategies to redevelop large stretches of underutilized public land for the good of the community. Much of her work has involved organizing community members and youth in utilizing outdoor space for programming focused on social equity, health, and environmental justice. Jeanne has a Master of Fine Arts in Design from Yale University.

Alana Danieu portrait

Alana Danieu

Community Programs Coordinator

Alana Danieu arrived at RISE by way of the Battery Conservancy and the Ong lab at Dartmouth College, an agroecology lab. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics/Statistics from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. "I am passionate about ecology, education, and community-building. Beyond advocacy for environmental sustainability, I am specifically drawn to RISE because of its commitment to equity, community-led initiatives, and youth programming."

Russell Jacobs portrait

Russell Jacobs

Youth Development Program Manager

Russell Jacobs  has years of experience in nonprofit education and youth development, with a heavy focus on coastal environmental issues. He comes to RISE from Hudson River Community Sailing, a nonprofit that teaches New York City public school students about environmental science, stewardship, leadership, boatbuilding, and maritime skills. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Literary Studies from Middlebury College and Urban Naturalist Certification from New York Botanical Gardens.

Stephanie Castillo Samoy portrait

Stephanie Castillo Samoy

Director of Operations & Communications

The Rockaways has been part of Stephanie's life since the late 1990s, when her Tae Kwon Do instructor trained his students in his backyard and then took them surfing off of Beach 87th Street. She served as president of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association, worked for New York State Senator James Sanders Jr., and is happy to have landed at RISE! Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts in Media Studies from the New School.

Syeda Shume portrait

Syeda Shume

Youth Engagement Coordinator

Syeda Shume lives in the Rockaways and has worked in community and youth development at Urban Upbound and with CUNY students at Lehman College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Hunter College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is currently working on her Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology at CUNY School of Professional Studies.