Meet Our Team
Dr. Chiara D'amore, Executive DirectOr
Chiara D’Amore, Ph.D. (she/her) is the founder of the Community Ecology Institute. She holds a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering and a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education. She has worked as an environmental consultant and educator for more than 20 years. Her overarching focus is on promoting the benefits of time spent in nature on personal, social, and ecological well-being She is dedicated to helping create a healthy, beautiful and abundant future where people and nature thrive together.
ROOTS & WINGS LEARNING COMMUNITY DIRECTOR
Lindsay (she/her) is an experienced educator with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution and a Master of Arts Degree in Education. She is dedicated to serving the community through youth programming that promotes independent learning, creativity and environmental stewardship. Lindsay utilizes her trainings in restorative practices when designing educational environments and has experience working with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and those in the criminal justice system.
GREEN SEEDS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM LEAD
Nicki (she/her) brings more than 20 years of nonprofit experience and expertise to the leadership of CEI's high school and college internship program. Nicki has managed program expansion, led curriculum development, and served as the main point of contact for service collaborations, partnerships, and programming requests and provided direct support to children and families. Nicki has a Bachelor's in Sociology and a Master's of Social Work with a specialization in Social Action and Community Development.
Theresa (she/her) has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice. Her primary passion has been advocating for and upholding human rights. She sees environmental sustainability and food security as a natural extension of that work. Her career has included the design and management of community-based youth education programs as well as training and technical assistance projects for state and federal programs supporting migrant and refugee families and families with limited incomes.
Justin (he/him) serves as CEI's farm & volunteer coordinator through the AmeriCorps program. He graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Government and subsequently worked on various global public health projects. After several amazing farming experiences, he's excited to join the Freetown Farm family to engage volunteers and organizations with the common goal to improve the health of our communities.
COMMUNITY OF FAMILIES IN NATURE (CFIN) LEAD
Sara (she/her) is a classically trained, eclectically minded educator. In 2008 after 10 years as a classroom teacher, she left the public school system to raise her kids and begin a homeschooling journey. She has worn many hats these past 15 years: Mom, licensed home child care provider, founder and leader of a family nature club: The Gifts of Trees, independent reading and language arts teacher, Language Arts teacher at Roots and Wings during the 2019-2020 school year, and CFIN event leader. She is now the leader of the full CFIN program!
NOURISHING GARDENS COORDINATOR
Loni (she/her) serves as CEI's Nourishing Gardens Program Coordinator. Loni has been a long-time CFIN program participant and completed the CEI Nourishing Gardens training program in 2022. She brings a passion for community development, specifically cultivating a safe, supportive, and healthy environment that promotes the wellbeing of all life. Loni has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Social Work.
OPERATIONAL SUPPORT INTERN
Diana (she/her) (pronounced Dee-on-aa), first came to CEI through the Nourishing Gardens Program. She is currently a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Maryland where she is focusing on the connections between the environment and social issues. Diana has an undergraduate degree in Social Work, which has helped her bring a person-centered and intersectional approach to her work. Having worked in a variety of contexts, Diana enjoys community engagement, relationship building, and creating compassionate and equitable systems. In her spare time, Diana enjoys gardening, going on adventures with her dog, and learning new things.
CHESAPEAKE CONSERVATION AND CLIMATE CORPS MEMBER
Adi (she/they) is a member of the Chesapeake Conservation and Climate Corps program and will be joining CEI as a volunteer coordinator during her service year. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and French and has previously worked at other non-profits focused on regenerative agriculture and refugee services.
Adi's favorite vegetables are green bell peppers and broccoli 🥦 . A fun fact about her is that she has lived in three different states and visited over half the states in the continental US.
COMMUNICATION COORDINATOR AND FARM STEWARD
Christy (she/her) joined the CEI team through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps in 2021 and is now a full-time staff member. Christy has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Geography. In addition to her work at Freetown Farm, which is focused on increasing the presence of beautiful native plant species, she will be helping to manage CEI's communications and outreach activities, including preparing for our wide array of community events and educational workshops.
CFIN EVENT LEADER
Cecilia is a native Spanish speaker and has over 20 years of experience teaching dance and sharing her passion for movement and music. She trained with the Royal Academy of Dance in Classical Dance with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance in Modern Dance and she holds an Associate Diploma as a Ballet teacher. In addition to dance, she has a passion for creativity, she is a professional graphic designer having gotten her degree from the school of Design of the National Institute of Fine Arts; she loves yoga (and is a Kidding Around Yoga teacher), nature, art and kids.
Simon (he/him) joined the CEI team through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps in 2022 and has now transitioned into a full time position. He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Franklin & Marshall College where he led research projects in geomorphology and urban ecology. During his year with us in the corps Simon was able to explore the connection between agriculture and ecology and how their relationship can promote healthier, more resilient communities.
Simon's fun fact is that the Freetown Farm chickens love him 🐔
CFIN EVENT LEADER AND NOURISHING GARDENS SPECIALIST
Zaneta (she/her) became a part of our community as a part of our first Nourishing Gardens program. She has joined our team to help with our efforts to create ecologically beneficial food growing gardens both at Freetown Farm and the community. She is also a part of our CFIN team, with a focus on nature-based art experiences. Zaneta has a degree in Health Education with an emphasis in Community Wellness and is a mother and educator with over 10 years of experience advocating for people with disabilities.