Our Team

Our Team

From naturalists to film makers, 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's degree in design from Yale University.

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.

Andriana LaMendola portrait

Andriana LaMendola

Youth Engagement Coordinator

Andriana LaMendola graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy from the University at Albany and is currently working toward her master's degree in the same field. Andriana began working with RISE in 2016 as a participant of Shore Corps and Environmentor and has since interned with several environmental organizations: New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and UAlbany's Energy Management Office. She is excited to be back with RISE and is looking forward to making positive community impacts.

Stephanie Castillo Samoy portrait

Stephanie Castillo Samoy

Operations Manager

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.

Nirmala Singh portrait

Nirmala Singh

Community Programs Manager

Nirmala’s passion for working to strengthen local communities and bridging the equity gap stems from her experiences at NYC Service, New York Immigration Coalition, and South Queens Women’s March, of which she is a founding board member. She genuinely believes in the mission of RISE and knows that together we can continue to inspire all generations of Rockaway residents to care for the environment and community. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Mount Saint Mary College, and even spent a month in Shanghai at East China Normal University.