Meet the Learning Teams
Suzanne Burnes serves as lead facilitator for the Partnership for Southern Equity's Just Growth Circle, an Atlanta learning community of practice that includes the full Water Equity Learning Team, founded upon the belief that the future of our communities depends upon our ability to realize equitable growth for all. Outside of her work with PSE, Suzanne's firm Collective Wisdom Group serves NGO, local government, higher education, and philanthropic clients in building relationships among diverse voices for community and ecosystem benefit. From her founding of an Atlanta community development corporation 20 years ago, to her leadership in state government creating public-private sustainability partnerships, to serving as executive director of local NGO Sustainable Atlanta, Suzanne’s passions are focused on the pursuit of an equitable, green, and resilient world.
Kirsten Cook currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she works for the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE). Her scope of work centers on PSE's Just Growth Portfolio, which encompasses projects related to racial equity in planning, development, and infrastructure sectors. In the past, she has worked in local government as a County Planner and in non-profit planning organizations in both Atlanta and Chicago. Kirsten has a master's degree in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech and a bachelor's degree in Sociology from Wheaton College. Having spent the first 18 years of her life in Cambodia and Malaysia, Kirsten thrives in diverse settings and approaches all of her work with a global perspective.
Stacy joined The Conservation Fund in 2012 and works out of the Georgia office. He provides legal counsel for real estate transactions and also works on land conservation efforts in Georgia and Alabama. Stacy provides transactional and legal expertise on complex real estate transactions and works with local, state, and federal agencies on their conservation priorities in Georgia and Alabama. He also serves on the City of Atlanta Green Infrastructure Task Force. Prior to joining The Conservation Fund, Stacy worked as in house securities counsel for Mirant Corporation and as a corporate and securities attorney for Troutman Sanders, LLP. Stacy has a B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Georgia and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Elesia Glover is a public policy manager with the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. She manages state and federal policy as it relates to infrastructure, funding, and all issues related to water. She actively works towards the vision of the department to distinguish the Department of Watershed Management as leaders in innovation, service and value. Elesia recently transitioned from working in public policy in Washington, DC for the federal government as a liaison to Congress, but now calls the Department of Watershed home. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, a master’s degree in agriculture education, and will finish her doctorate in public policy and administration this year.
Darryl completed Jacksonville University with a BA in Geography and recently graduated from Georgia State University with a Master’s degree in Geoscience and Applied GIS. Darryl has over 20 years of professional experience as an environmental scientist working for the consulting firm, Dames and Moore, as a principal investigator with USGS on a subsurface mapping project and as Environmental Specialist for the State of Georgia, Environmental Protection Division. Both Environmental Leadership Program and Toyota Together Green/National Audubon Society recognized him as a fellow and emerging leader in the environment and conservation movements. He is also certified as a Project WET Trainer, an Interpretive Guide by the National Association for Interpretation, and is completing an Environmental Education certification program with Advanced Training for Environmental Education in Georgia (ATEEG); a nationally accredited, professional certification program for formal and non-formal educators. Darryl coordinates educational programs, community outreach, and citizen science research activities and participates in WAWA’s day to day operations.
Todd Hill is a deputy commissioner at the City of Atlanta, Department of Watershed Management. Todd is responsible for managing the Office of Watershed Protection, which provides environmental compliance, Industrial pre-treatment inspections and permitting, Fats Oils and Grease (FOG) inspections and permits, flow monitoring, erosion and sediment control inspections and enforcement, site development plan review and permitting, natural resources services, greenway planning, green infrastructure planning, design and implementation, water and sanitary laboratory testing, and all necessary reporting to in accordance to regulatory requirement and permits.
Jenny Hoffner serves as Vice President for Conservation Strategies leading American Rivers’ conservation practice work to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers, and conserve clean water for people and nature. She oversees national practice areas including dam removal, floodplain restoration, urban water management, riverside land protection, and science and economics. As part of American Rivers’ efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) both inside the organization and in its conservation work, Jenny chairs the recently chartered American Rivers’ DEI Committee, leads American Rivers’ urban water justice work, and works with historically marginalized communities in Atlanta, GA to address climate and water management challenges by advancing resilient, equitable, integrated infrastructure. Jenny has a B.A. from Emory University and a M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia.
Shannon Lee has been with The Conservation Fund since June 2010 and is the Urban Conservation Manager. She leads our Parks With Purpose initiative in Atlanta, which focuses on development of new parks and greenspace projects that deliver equitable outcomes for some of the citiy's most underserved communities. By emphasizing the needs of local residents and grassroots organizations, this program supports environmental, economic, and social justice outcomes for those that live, work, and play near these new park spaces. Currently, she is managing two new park projects – Boone Park West, a green infrastructure park on Atlanta’s Westside, and the Atlanta Urban Food Forest, the first of its kind for the city. She holds a B.A. in Geography, with a focus on Geographical Information Science and Environmental Conservation from Georgia State University.
Yomi Noibi is the Executive Director of Environmental Community Action Inc. (ECO-Action) in Atlanta, GA, a statewide nonprofit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to promote a safe and healthy environment by helping Georgia communities organize to address environmental health hazards and to strengthen and facilitate community engagement to prevent harm and resolve such hazards. In this role, he advances ECO-Action’s mission through programs that serve the environmental concerns of the communities its serves. His work to provide Green Infrastructure Advocacy Training and to co-create and run the Atlanta Watershed Learning Network (AWLN) in collaboration with partner organizations are examples of his efforts. These programs serve the environmental concerns of Proctor Creek, Intrenchment Creek, and Flint River watershed residents by providing a learning environment that not only increases their knowledge and skills, but also empowers them to develop sustainable and equitable solutions to stormwater flooding issues in their neighborhoods. Dr. Noibi earned his B.S. from the University of Nebraska, and his M.S. Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
Julie serves as Watershed Manager in the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management. She has over 15 years’ experience in the planning and watershed protection fields. Julie currently manages watershed improvement planning and projects with a focus on stormwater management. Julie earned a BS in Environmental Health Science at the University of Georgia and a Master’s in City Planning at Georgia Tech.
Dwayne Patterson is a respected southern-based strategist with strong field-tested organizer experience. He is a gifted speaker, activist, and social entrepreneur born in New York with deep ancestral ties to the South. After leading an intense and successful campaign as an undergraduate to secure a mandatory Black Studies program as a scholar-activist at North Carolina A&T State University, Dwayne continued to utilize organizing as his primary tool for supporting collective change at both the organizational and community level. Dwayne’s years of community service includes serving on the boards of the Fund for Southern Communities and the Latin American and Caribbean Community Center. Dwayne holds a B.S. from North Carolina A&T State University. With his many years of solid authentic community service and activism, Dwayne is considered by his multi-generational peers to be the “living legacy” of the struggle for justice and equity passed down to him by the many of the transformational leaders of the 60’s and 70’s.
With expertise in sustainable water infrastructure management, Kishia has leveraged 18 years of experience in both the public and private sectors to successfully serve municipalities across the United States and London, England. As Commissioner of Atlanta’s DWM, she is leading efforts to ramp up a five-year capital program estimated at over $1 billion including the $300 million Water Supply Program, which will expand the City of Atlanta’s water reserves from less than a week to 30 days or more. She previously served as Director of Public Works for the City of Jackson, Missouri, where she led the effort to develop a comprehensive capital improvement program and get a 20-year infrastructure improvement program. Ms. Powell is a licensed Professional Engineer in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and she holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Morgan State University’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering.
Susan Rutherford manages watershed protection planning, projects, and policy for the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. She previously managed the city’s programs for greenspace and park land acquisition. Susan leads the city’s Green Infrastructure Task Force, and serves on the board of Million Mile Greenway. She is a graduate of New College of Florida and received her master's in City Planning from Georgia Tech.
Nathaniel Smith serves as Founder and Chief Equity Officer (CEqO) and Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity. Nathaniel is also the co-author of PSE’s report, “Moving to Opportunity: The Case for Transportation Equity in Metropolitan Atlanta" and PSE’s 2016 report, “Growing the Future: The Case for Economic Inclusion in Metropolitan Atlanta." In 2014 Partnership for Southern Equity led a coalition of diverse stakeholders and organizations to support the initiation and passage of a $13 million transit referendum that expands Atlanta’s metropolitan transit system (MARTA) into a new County (Clayton) for the first time in 45 years. Before taking on the founding role of PSE’s Chief Equity Officer/CEO, Nathaniel served as Director of Partnerships and Research for Equitable Development at Emory University’s Center for Community Partnerships (CFCP). In this capacity, Nathaniel facilitated engaged scholarship opportunities with external and community organizations to achieve balanced, sustainable, and inclusive growth throughout the metropolitan Atlanta region. Nathaniel also served as Public Policy Manager at the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP). His advocacy, research, and coalition building activities supported the creation of many innovative policies that encouraged the equitable distribution of mixed income communities throughout the metropolitan Atlanta region. A native of Atlanta Georgia, he holds a B.A. degree in Urban Studies from Morehouse College. Nathaniel received his M.S. degree from the Robert J. Milano School for Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Social Research. While attending Morehouse, Nathaniel received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for Public Policy and International Affairs.