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.
francisco cabrera
francisco cabreraprogram and operations assistant

Francisco Cabrera was following his brother Ismael’s footsteps when he joined the Boatbuilding Program in the fall of his freshman year at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School. He had already been coming regularly to the shop to see what was going on, and attending all the celebrations when a boat was completed and launched. As a little kid walking through this big shop, he was mesmerized that this was all happening only five blocks from where he lived. Having fallen in love with the smell of wood, the sound of tools at work, and the art and science of boatbuilding, Frankie stayed in the program from 2015 until he graduated, building a 14’ Whitehall and Herreshoff 12½ along the way. Frankie earned a certificate in wooden boatbuilding from The Landing School in Maine, before rejoining the Rocking the Boat family as Program and Operations Assistant, repairing boats and taking on various projects around the shop and yard. He lives with his large, close-knit family in Hunts Point.
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.
alix cotumaccio
alix cotumacciodirector of programs and operations

Alix followed her passions into the ecological sciences, environmental management and education—earning her JD with certificates in environmental law and international law from Pace Law School, MS Ed from CUNY Lehman College, MA in international environmental policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and BS in environmental science from the University of Massachusetts along the way—and ultimately finding her niche in the informal STEM education and youth development fields. She comes to Rocking the Boat with extensive experience leading educational programs or teaching at Wave Hill, the American Museum of Natural History, and the NYC Department of Education, and working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the International START Secretariat. Through all of these positions and while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador managing natural resource management and environmental education projects, Alix has seen the power of engaging youth in hands-on projects from which they learn skills, expand their interests and develop confidence. As a Bronx resident herself, she is excited to be a small part of helping local youth build connections to our waterways and the larger New York City watershed. An avid runner, cyclist and kayaker, Alix is always up for an outdoor adventure!
carlos duran
carlos duransailing student program director

Rocking the Boat's Sailing Student Program Director has a long history with the organization. Carlos was a Boatbuilding student from 2006 to 2008, a Program Assistant on and off for about six years, and Fleet Manager for one year, proving to be as skilled at sailing boats as he is at building them. His professional experience outside of the Bronx includes stints as Bo'sun, 2nd Mate, and Chief Mate on the Sloop Clearwater and as an Apprentice boatbuilder at Brennan Boatbuilding in Ossining, NY. Carlos is a Safe Powerboating Instructor, holds Level 1 and 2 US Sailing Small Boat Instructor certifications, and is currently working on his Level 3.
stevi feinberg, LCSW
stevi feinberg, LCSWalumni social 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.
mckinney glass II
mckinney glass IIsailing job skills program director

McKinney Glass, a Georgia native, moved to the Bronx at age 16. He participated in Rocking the Boat’s On-Water Program in his junior and senior years, and was tapped in 2016 to work as a Program Assistant in the newly launched Sailing Program. After stints working for a sailmaking loft on City Island and delivering sailboats to and from the Bahamas, he returned to support Rocking the Boat’s Youth Development Program full time in 2018. Kinney is a US Sailing-certified Small Boat Level 1 Instructor.
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.
briana hickson
briana hicksonoffice manager

Briana grew up in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, just three blocks away from Rocking the Boat’s shop. First hearing about the organization through a friend, Briana couldn’t believe that it was possible to get out on the water right in her own neighborhood and needed to see for herself. She joined the On-Water Program in 2011 when she was a high school sophomore, progressed to the Environmental Job Skills Program, and was hired as an Environmental Program Assistant while pursuing her Associate’s degree at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Briana is thrilled to be back as Rocking the Boat’s Office Manager and loves sharing with current students stories of her experience in the program and of the positive impact Rocking the Boat has had on her life.
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.
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.

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