Chiara D’Amore, Ph.D. is the founder of the Community Ecology Institute and of our Columbia Families in Nature and Roots & Wings Learning Community programs. She holds a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering and a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education and teaches graduate courses in environmental sustainability, civic ecology, and climate action. Her overarching work is focused on understanding the effects 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 Program Director
Lindsay Kreisher - Roots & Wings Learning Community Director - is an experienced educator with a BA in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution from Salisbury University. She is dedicated to serving the community through children’s programming that promotes independent learning, creativity and environmental civility. She utilizes her mediation and restorative justice trainings to support her in community work with young people, including programs for at risk youth populations, acting as a volunteer mediator and teaching Conflict Resolution at Howard Community College.
Meet our wonderful Roots & Wings Teachers!
Nourishing Gardens Program Director
Theresa Taylor has spent the last 15 years of her career in the human services field. Her primary passion has been advocating for and upholding human rights both domestically and internationally. She sees environmental sustainability and food security as a natural extension of that work, and as a resident of Columbia is looking forward to focusing her work in the local community. Her career has included the design and management of a variety of programs including community-based youth education programs. She oversaw training and technical assistance projects for state and federal programs supporting migrant and refugee families and families with limited incomes. Theresa has Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology.
a Community of Families in Nature (CFIN) Program Coordinator
Tameka Walker is a mother of two and an educator in Howard County who has participated in CFIN events with her family since 2017. For decades, she has planned and led educational activities for children--volunteering regularly at a daycare as a youth, leading interpretative activities as a seasonal Maryland park ranger, and teaching elementary and middle school students in Maryland public and private schools. Tameka holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University and is part of CEI’s first Nourishing Gardens training cohort where she has served the community while developing gardening skills. Tameka has a deep appreciation of nature and looks forward to continuing to share that love and wonderment with local families.
Maker Space Coordinator
Madelyn Bloom is the CEI Maker Space Coordinator. She graduated from University of Washington with a degree in Environmental Studies. Growing up in Seattle she formed a love for nature, camping, and hiking. Prior to being hired to work in the Maker Space she was a regular volunteer and also worked as a teaching assistant for our Roots & Wings program. She is excited to help build and expand the Maker Space program into a place where community members can come together, learn, and show their creativity!
Chesapeake Conservation Corps Member
Christy Ferguson has joined the CEI team through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. This past December she graduated from UMBC with her bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Geography and has since interned with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. This year she is especially excited to learn to care for and identify plants, meet and work with volunteers, support the Nourishing Gardens Initiative, and hold the many chickens of Freetown Farm.
AmeriCorp Member - Volunteer Coordinator
Sophie Silver-Isenstadt serves as CEI's full-time volunteer coordinator through the AmeriCorps program. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s of Science in environmental science with a focus in restoration ecology. She has worked on many restoration projects out in the Pacific Northwest, and is loves doing work to help protect the ecosystem in her hometown of Columbia and working with community members that volunteer at Freetown Farm!
Nourishing Gardens - Plant and Garden Specialist
Zaneta Trent became a part of our community as a part of our first Nourishing Gardens program trainee cohort in 2021. She has continued to lend her time and talent to the program’s growth and has joining our team to help with our efforts to create ecologically beneficial food growing gardens both at Freetown Farm and in our community. Zaneta is a hardworking healthcare professional with experience in managing training and assisting with different community-based programs.