benjamin bentley
benjamin bentleyboatbuilding job skills program director

Ben came to the position with nine years of experience building and restoring wooden boats of all sizes, most recently with Wooden Boatworks, a boatyard specializing in classic wooden yachts on Long Island. Ben draws from his own experience as a teenager growing up in the inner city of Rochester, attending public schools where students were not exposed to many options for the future. His background includes managing large-scale building projects, running a crew and a shop, scheduling work, sourcing materials, and managing employees who were recent graduates of the International Yacht Restoration School, where he himself completed the Restoration Certificate Program after studying Industrial Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
jasmine benitez
jasmine benitezpublic programs manager

Jasmine was born and raised in the Bronx, and was first introduced to Rocking the Boat when her high school participated in an On-Water Classroom program in 2009. Jasmine participated in Rocking the Boat's On-Water Program until she graduated then went on to pursue her Bachelor's degree in Psychology (with a minor in Environmental Studies) at St. John's University. She returned to work at Rocking the Boat as a Program Assistant while attending college, during which she also served as an Assistant Instructor/Student Mentor with the National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), participating in workshops as distant as New Mexico. After earning her degree, Jasmine began working as the Volunteer Coordinator at the Bronx River Alliance, and Rocking the Boat is now thrilled to have her back!
joe bly
joe blydirector of institutional giving

Joe comes to Rocking the Boat with a novel perspective from a 15-year career in documentary film and television. Since completing a double major in Film Studies and History from the University of Pittsburgh and teaching English abroad, Joe has worked as a Researcher, Producer and Writer on programs for networks such as PBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel, A&E, and AMC, as well as developing new series and filming independent projects including his own award-winning documentary. Covering subjects ranging from American history, religion, criminal justice, and science, to music and neighborhood food, Joe first became interested in youth education while working on a Ford Foundation documentary exploring solutions to the academic performance gap plaguing black males in school. In 2016 he began volunteering for Rocking the Boat, interviewing alumni and developing biographical profiles. As Director of Institutional Giving, Joe brings his sense of narrative to grant writing and fundraising, telling the stories of theses remarkable young people to foundations and public funders.
joaquin cotten
joaquin cottencommunications director

Joaquin has been involved with Rocking the Boat since the early 2000s. In that time he has been a volunteer, boatbuilding student, On-Water Program Apprentice, and always a photographer. He became Rocking the Boat's first Photography Apprentice, and has now elevated to the first full time staff position ever held by a former student. Joaquin is responsible for all visual documentation and presentation of Rocking the Boat activities, including photography, graphic design, and web design.
mariana de los santos, MSW
mariana de los santos, MSWsocial worker

Mariana De Los Santos, Student Social Worker, came to the U.S at age five from the Dominican Republic. She holds a Bachelors in Social Work from Lehman College and earned her MSW from Hunter College’s Silberman School. Much of Mariana’s work experience has centered on supporting immigrant youth and families in the South Bronx, both at the Life is Precious suicide prevention program and at DreamYard Preparatory High School, where she worked closely with the support service team and school social worker to motivate, mentor, and teach life skills to students. In addition, Mariana has volunteered at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Jeanne Jugan Residence, and the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service.
carlos duran
carlos duransailing student program director

Rocking the Boat's newly minted Sailing Student Program Director was a Boatbuilding student from 2006 to 2008 and served as a Program Assistant on and off for the past six years before serving as a Fleet Manager for one year. He has proven to be as skilled at sailing boats as he is at building them, and is a natural-born teacher. In between stints as Bo'sun, 2nd Mate, and most recently Chief Mate on the Sloop Clearwater and an Apprentice boatbuilder at Brennan Boatbuilding in Ossining, NY, Carlos has, since 2013, been back at Rocking the Boat running sailboats in both the Youth Development and On-Water Classroom Programs. In his new role he will be responsible for managing and maintaining Rocking the Boat's sailing fleet as well as assisting in running the sailing program.
stevi feinberg, LMSW
stevi feinberg, LMSWsocial worker

Stevi graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a double major in Sociology and Communication. After gaining her first experience in the field as an intern at Attention Homes, where she helped refer at-risk adolescents living in a group home to social work services, Stevi interned at the Aspen Hope Center. As part of her graduate studies at New York University's Silver School of Social Work, Stevi spent nine months interning at Rocking the Boat, providing both individual counseling and group programming for 30 students. She continued working in the Bronx, at the Morris Heights Health Center, during her second year of graduate school, and for the past year, has held the position of Head Coach at Dynamo Girl, an organization dedicated to building self-esteem and self-confidence through physical activity and coaching. Having now earned her MSW, Stevi is thrilled to be back at Rocking the Boat working with high school juniors and seniors as they prepare to graduate from high school and start the next chapter of their lives.
debbie forester
debbie foresterdirector of programs and operations

Debbie holds a B.S. from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Master's degree from the University of Idaho. She is a seasoned program manager and the co-founder of Roots and Wisdom, a garden-based youth development program in Schenectady, NY that engages young people in growing and selling fresh produce in an urban area. Debbie has spent much of her 30 year career working overseas—starting as a Peace Corp volunteer in Guatemala, and most recently serving as a Program Advisor for the Grumeti Fund in Tanzania. She has extensive experience managing day-to-day program operations, as well as developing forward-thinking organizational goals. With her deep commitment to using her environmental science background to help youth build self-confidence and create positive change in their communities, Debbie is a highly effective leader, supporter, and motivator of Rocking the Boat's diverse Program Staff.
adam green
adam greenfounder and executive director

Adam started the volunteer project that would become Rocking the Boat in 1995 during a semester off from Vassar College. Influenced by his experience teaching kids about the Hudson River aboard the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, he developed a program that used the process of building and using wooden boats as a way to educate and empower young people from underserved communities. He has received numerous awards and accolades for Rocking the Boat, including an Echoing Green Fellowship, a Union Square Award for grassroots organizing, and a Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneurship Award. Most recently, he was named one of 25 international 2014 CNN Heroes.
victor isayev
victor isayevdirector of finance and administration

Victor is a natural fit for Rocking the Boat, given his background and history. Victor grew up in the Bronx under very similar circumstances as Rocking the Boat's students. He took music classes at a local community center in his neighborhood which opened up a world of possibilities just like Rocking the Boat does for its participants. Music took him to LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts and then to SUNY Purchase where he earned a degree in Music Performance. After working as an accounting consultant for Robert Half, Victor worked at the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit law firm, before coming to Rocking the Boat in 2009. In 2011 he enrolled in the MBA program at Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business, and in 2012 he co-founded his own non-profit organization with a mission to deliver meaningful music education experiences for parents and children through a curriculum designed to bring families closer together while enhancing language, speech and cognitive development.
talene kelly
talene kellydirector of special events

A graduate of The New School, Talene has spent the last five years overseeing various fundraising events as a volunteer. A New York City public school downtown is the beneficiary of the Taste of Battery Park City, a community food tasting event she co-founded, and an annual auction and gala she co-chaired. She has also served as a volunteer tennis coach for the USTA and softball coach in Downtown Little League. In her spare time, Talene enjoys writing and acting.
elizabeth lindgren, LCSW
elizabeth lindgren, LCSWdirector of social work

Liz Lindgren earned her Master of Social Work from New York University's clinical program in 2006 and holds a BSW from Providence College. Since graduating, Liz has worked with New York City youth in different capacities and was most recently a Program Manager for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Workplace Mentoring Program where she supported mentoring relationships between students and employees at different companies in the city and helped students prepare for life after high school. Prior to this, Liz spent a year working for Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast through AmeriCorps where she led groups of volunteers on construction sites and gained an appreciation for the building process.
sarah miles
sarah milesdirector of public programs

Sarah most recently worked as the Coordinator of the Explainer Program at the New York Botanical Gardens, and before that as Director of the Nature Based Career Training Program at Green Chimneys. Both roles provided a depth of experience creating and implementing youth development programs for high school students. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is presently working on a BS in Environmental Science at Southern New Hampshire University.
belita nguluwe
belita nguluweenvironmental job skills program director

Belita previously worked for three years at buildOn NY, managing two Bronx-based high school programs, and a year with AmeriCorps. Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science and a Master’s in Fisheries Science, both from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Belita has both a deep science background and youth development experience that will serve her well at Rocking the Boat.
jaye pockriss
jaye pockrissdevelopment director

A graduate of Vassar College, Jaye has worked in development for more than 20 years including for a historic preservation organization, a music festival, and a residential social service agency. She also raised funds in her free time as President of the Brooklyn Heights Music Society. Jaye learned about Rocking the Boat during the summer that 20 students came to build a boat at Philipsburg Manor, a living history museum operated by Historic Hudson Valley, where her husband Peter (a Rocking the Boat Advisory Board member) is Director of Development and Strategic Initiatives.
edmanuel roman
edmanuel romanboatbuilding student program director

Manny grew up living three floors above Rocking the Boat's shop back when it was located on 174th Street and Walton Avenue. As soon as he was eligible, 14-year-old Manny signed onto the Boatbuilding Program and worked to build Aurora—the first of 14 vessels he would help to construct. Over the years, Manny has held various roles at Rocking the Boat including Boatbuilding Assistant, Interim Boatbuilding Job Skills Program Director, and Restoration Manager.
jamie smith
jamie smithenvironmental student program director

Jamie is thrilled to join the Rocking the Boat team, where her love of rivers, education, and callouses can come together. She has served as an environmental educator at Grand Canyon National Park, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, and Alewife Reservation in Massachusetts, teaching in public programs as well as school classrooms, as an informal interpreter, and as a leader of programs in youth development through ecological conservation and restoration. Along with ecosystems, Jamie maintains an abiding interest in diverse human socio-cultural systems (and believes the two are inherently intertwined); she has shared knowledge and appreciation of American Indian cultures and histories as an educator at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian as well as at the Grand Canyon. She believes that, just as human cultures are part of a larger social-ecosystem, working for environmental and social justice and sustainability go together. She also believes you learn something new every day, especially at RTB, and is grateful to the whole community here for that.
matthew wierzbachsailing job skills program director

Matt grew up both sailing and powerboating on Lake Michigan. He learned to sail at the Sheboygan Youth Sailing Center, and went on to become an instructor there for six years. His arrival at Rocking the Boat follows more than four years as Program Director at Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS), where he developed new programming with local schools and chaired the 2018 Para World Sailing Championship. Matt’s undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is in History.

kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474
phone: 718.466.5799
fax: 718.466.2892