Speaker Information

June 2--Healthy Homes and Energy Efficiency--Four Perspectives

Join this lively conversation featuring health, contractor, homeowner, and landlord perspectives. 

Dana Gray

Dana Gray is passionate about active living and creating community.  As community outreach coordinator at Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corp., Dana works with an amazing team, working to stabilize and revitalize St. Louis City. Dana manages a Landlord & Rehabber training series, collaborates with stakeholders to advance energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing, and advocates for improved streetscapes to support biking, walking, and economic development.

Lauren Pyatt

Lauren is the Health Education Coordinator for the Healthy Homes Program at the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. She is a licensed Lead Inspector/Risk Assessor and has almost a decade’s worth of experience working with lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes. Before coming to DPH, she worked for the City of Burlington, VT in their Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) helping to coordinate their Lead Hazard Control program.  Lauren lives in Tower Grove South with her partner, Chris, and their three cats – Nico, Naomi, and Bohannon Lumpy Gravy.

Tina Hardin

Tina Hardin
Habitat for Humanity Home Recipient

George Robnett

George Robnett
Director of Housing & Support Services
Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, Inc.

June 3--Tree Love: How We Can Value, Maintain and Benefit from Trees!

Speaking for the trees, this panel will share neighborhood stories of tree relations, tree care and selection guidance, and expert resources to encourage municipal planning that values trees.

Rebecca Hankins

After spending 16 years in the outdoor industry, Rebecca shifted her focus from outdoor recreation to environmental stewardship. Last fall she earned a Certificate of Proficiency in Horticulture at St. Louis Community College – Meramec. She has spent the last 3 years gaining experience in the green industry with various organizations including Missouri Botanical Garden, Urban Harvest and DTLS Studio where she not only practiced horticulture but learned about equity topics including environmental justice and food apartheid. Her awareness inspired her to partner with local organizations to create a Social Justice in Horticulture Conference last March. In January, she joined the team at Forest ReLeaf as their new Partnership Coordinator. Her role focuses on growing community partnerships throughout the region. Rebecca is passionate about plants and what they teach us about resiliency, diversity, partnership, and community. Rebecca continually uses her skills to advocate for social and environmental justice.

Jean Ponzi

Jean Ponzi serves as Green Resources Manager at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. A 25-year veteran of the Garden’s EarthWays Center team, “Green Jean” currently applies her sustainability expertise as manager of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, operator of the Garden’s Green Resources Info Service, and on the leadership team for the regional initiative BiodiverseCity St. Louis. Her enviro-interview show Earthworms has logged nearly 32 years of conversations through KDHX St. Louis Independent Media, as Jean’s volunteer community service. She is in demand as a speaker, writer and media spokesperson, offering local to national audiences both practical options and ecological inspiration.

Daniel Moncheski

A native of Florissant, MO, Danny has spent his life outdoors in both the urban environment as well as out in the woods across Missouri. He grew up in a neighborhood while spending weekends at a relative’s property in Warren County, MO. This fueled a passion for trees he didn’t realize he had until deciding on a career, forestry. This career choice has led to diverse experiences in different regions of Missouri, with all different walks of life. One common thread has shown that unites each experience…trees. The joy and benefit trees provide are universally good for the human soul.

Doug Seely

Doug Seely is an ISA Certified Arborist with TRAQ certification and a Community Forester with Beyond Housing.  He was the Grounds Supervisor for St Charles Community College, Parks Foreman and City Arborist for the City of Creve Coeur and is currently the Community Forester for 24 communities that make up the Normandy School District in St Louis County.  Doug has over 25 years’ experience in landscaping and Community Forestry.  Doug has also served as President for the Community Tree Council and the Missouri Community Forestry Council.  

June 4--Outdoor Spaces for All: Discussing Accessibility to Nature

The well-being associated with immersion in nature is scientifically proven yet some may feel those spaces are not accessible to them. Hear from regional advocates working to create the resources, community engagement, and invitation to all to enjoy every experience the outdoors has to offer.

Angelica Gutierrez

Angelica Gutierrez is an Industrial Engineer and Senior Project Manager for Great Rivers Greenway. She is responsible for advancing the St. Louis region’s park and trails district’s vision by developing greenways that connect people to their rivers, parks and communities. As project manager, she oversees all aspects of greenway development, from community engagement to design and construction. She also coordinates the organization’s involvement in the Gateway
Bike Plan, which aims to identify the regional system of on-street bikeways and develop strategies for education, encouragement, and enforcement to make bicycling safe for people ofall ages and abilities. Recent projects she has worked on include: River Des Peres Greenway, Deer Creek Greenway, Centennial Greenway and Gravois Greenway.

Gutierrez’ background includes more than 17 years experience in public works and production management. Most recently she served as Senior Public Works Manager for the City of University City. During her time there, she oversaw the city’s locally and federally funded transportation projects. These efforts included streetscapes, bridge replacement, street and sidewalk repair and maintenance, bicycle facilities and traffic signal installation projects.

Gutierrez has been a member of the American Public Works Association for 13 years, a member of the Association of Bicycle and Pedestrians Professionals for 4 years. She also serves as a voting member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Transportation Planning
Committee at East West Gateway Council of Governments.

A native of Bogota, Colombia, she has been a volunteer with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where she led the “Engineering and Science Connections in Culture” program which aims to provide technological education to Hispanic middle school students. She also volunteered as mentor for the SHPE robotics program and FIRST Lego League.

Theo Smith

Theodore Smith is a lifelong St. Louisian with a passion for the outdoors. He has served as a Nature Reserve Technician for Forest Park Forever for 8 years. In his role as Nature Reserve Technician his time is spent restoring woodlands and grasses by removing invasive plant species and replacing them with Missouri natives, building and maintaining trails and conducting water quality monitoring. In addition to his work his other outdoor passions include cycling, kayaking and hiking. Theodore has involvement with various St. Louis area environmental organizations including The River des Peres Watershed Coalition, The Green Center, and Outdoor Afro-St. Louis. https://thestl.com/culture/urban-oasis/

Jennifer Smith-Simms

Jennifer Smith-Simms is the Manager of Public Programs in the Education Division at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Her team of seven consists of Adult Education, Youth & Family, and Therapeutic Horticulture. Her background is in Horticulture, Landscape Design Therapeutic Design, and Inclusion. She has been a Registered Horticultural Therapist with the American Horticultural Therapy Association since 2006. Jennifer has been with the Garden for close to 19 years and started her career at the Garden as an instructor sharing the love of plants and nature with senior citizens living in facilities in the community and at the Garden. She has a strong passion for accessibility and inclusion for all especially when it comes to access to our cultural institutions.