xiomara ayala, LCSW
xiomara ayala, LCSWdirector of social work

Xiomara was raised in the Bronx and graduated with her BA in sociology from SUNY Stony Brook in 2002 and MSW from NYU Silver School of Social Work in 2005. Since then, she has focused on therapeutic work with adolescents and young adults in a variety of settings. They include home-based substance use treatment for juvenile justice-involved youth, and mental health and crisis services at a community health clinic. She most recently worked with adolescents and young adults diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and with LGBTQ+ youth exploring their identities at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center’s PROJECT Impact, providing them with an array of crisis intervention, case management, and short and long term counseling.
jasmine benitez
jasmine benitezenvironmental student program director

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.
j. felix etcetera
j. felix etceteraboatbuilding job skills program director

J. has moved across the country (and world) figuring out how to make a living by following a passion for education, which has culminated in a return to New York City after a decade out west. J. earned a BFA from the University of Dayton and studied Traditional Wooden Boatbuilding at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula. Following a stint as a boatwright for Emerald Marine in Anacortes, Washington, J. is extremely honored to bring their skills to Rocking the Boat. In previous lives, J. taught English to junior high school students in Japan and worked on websites for many top online brands as a software engineer. J. looks forward to sharing their love of learning and boundless curiosity with Rocking the Boat’s Boatbuilding Apprentices.
basilous falconer
basilous falconerfacilities and boat maintenance assistant

Basilous, a student of Art History at Hunter College, has probably built or restored the most Rocking the Boat boats of any other member of the staff. Basilous’ progress from student to apprentice to Program Assistant and now full time staffer began in 2009, when he was a freshman at Bronx Guild High School. A versatile member of the team, he is equally comfortable working independently to repair a leaky Whitehall or teaching a class of first-semester students about shop safety, how to use power tools and the process of creating the backbone structure of the boat. Basilous has enjoyed meeting fellow craftsmen through Rocking the Boat trips to the WoodenBoat Show in Mystic, CT and the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. If a tool isn’t in his hand, Basilous can be found biking or skateboarding in the Bronx.
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, a Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneurship Award, and in 2014 was named one of 25 international CNN Heroes.
svea holmvig, LMSW
svea holmvig, LMSWsocial worker

Svea comes to Rocking the Boat with an extensive background in working with youth, from alternative-to-incarceration programs, various school settings, childcare, and summer camps. Before receiving her MSW from Hunter's Silberman School of Social Work, Svea was a full spectrum doula with NYC's Doula Project and a sexuality educator and trainer with Planned Parenthood of NYC. Svea grew up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and is very excited to be working near the water.
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.
bria malcolm
bria malcolmjob skills social worker

A lifetime Bronxite, Bria Malcolm joined Rocking the Boat’s social work team with a passionate commitment to helping youth. She was first exposed to social work as a high school student. Admiring her school counselors for the support they provided to her and her family, she dreamed of one day serving a similar role. After graduating from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bria remained at BMCC as a part-time Student Liaison while attending Lehman College full time to obtain her BSW. Bria’s professional experiences include a field placement at The Arthur Project, a middle school mentoring project in the Bronx, and positions as a College Counselor and Career Coach/Case Manager at Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. With her MSW from Fordham University, and varied background in college admissions, individual therapy, group work, case management, and support services, Bria is well prepared is to help Rocking the Boat Job Skills apprentices achieve their goals.
kris mielenhausen
kris mielenhausenenvironmental job skills program director

Kris is committed to marine restoration, environmental stewardship and education. He specializes in aquaculture from both a commercial and a restorative perspective. The bulk of his research has been on eutrophication (nutrient pollution) in coastal waters and bioextraction using oysters and seaweed. He has worked as a biological field scientist for NOAA/National Marine Fishery Service and in marine sediment environmental compliance for the Army Corps of Engineers. Kris is also a dedicated environmental and social justice organizer and has worked as a mentor and writing instructor for LGBTQ+ at risk youth. He holds a Master’s of Science in Sustainable Environmental Systems from the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment at the Pratt Institute and a B.A. in Cultural Studies from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Social Research.
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.
safiya sabir
safiya sabirdirector of public programs

Safiya is an educator, environmental activist, and aspiring naturalist. As a native New Yorker she hopes to inspire families to get outside and observe nature around them, especially in cities. Safiya previously taught science education programs for various audiences at the American Museum of Natural History, Poconos Environmental Education Center, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Safiya received her BA in Environmental Studies from Wells College and she is currently a graduate student at Miami University of Ohio. Through her graduate studies, Safiya has travelled to the Galápagos Islands and Baja California. In her free time Safiya likes to cycle around New York City, go birding, and hiking.
lorenzo vicente
lorenzo vicenteassistant director of programs and operations

Lorenzo received a BS in International Studies and Spanish from the College of the Holy Cross and spent a semester abroad in Argentina. Before joining Rocking the Boat, he held the position of Operations Associate at Sacred Heart School, part of a network of nine parochial schools serving over 2,300 students the South Bronx, Harlem, and Cleveland. Lorenzo’s experience supporting students extends to stints during college as a Resident Assistant and counselor to first-generation students, and as an intern with Worcester Common Ground CDC.

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