Community Engagement Director
Community, Systems and Climate Manager
Cape Verdean Program Coordinator
Green Team Member 2019-2022
Green Team Member Since 2021
Green Team Member since 2021
Green Team Member since 2022
Green Team Member since 2022
Maura has been with GWSC since March 2017. She is extremely passionate about furthering social, economic, racial, and environmental justice in our society through community focused leadership development. Prior to accepting the Executive Director position with GWSC, Maura worked at Mother’s Out Front as the Massachusetts Lead Organizer, a non-profit that works to mobilize mothers, grandmothers and caregivers to have their voices heard as they advocate for a healthy climate for their children. She was also the Director of the South Street Youth Center, a non-profit located on the premises of a Boston Housing Authority development where she developed all programming and outreach to expand the youth center from one small drop-in program to a multi-service space that engaged, residents, neighbors, non-profits, city programs and state based stakeholder to respond to create the changes the community wanted.
Jamie Berberena is the Community Engagement Director with Groundwork Southcoast (GWSC), in this role she integrates her community health background, native history and healing practices, while co-creating with youth and local community.
She is a passionate public health advocate and leader focused on advancing racial equity throughout Massachusetts. With over a decade of experience promoting the health and well-being of diverse communities across the southeast by providing direct support and guidance through community-based programs, multi-disciplinary clinical programs and health policy initiatives.
She is a lifelong resident of New Bedford, Massachusetts and is rooted in her indigenous Borinquen heritage as a descendant of the Taíno people of the Caribbean. She takes great pride in honoring her ancestors’ nature-based healing practices and passes this legacy down to her daughters, Eliyana, and Coralee, to sustain a healthy future generation.
She believes that environmental and racial justice are interrelated. Fostering collaboration among people of diverse ethnicities is vital to improving relationships with Nature and with each other. Her hope is to be an example of healing and unity. To lead with the power of Love and continue to serve as a change agent building a larger ecosystem that works collectively to sustain a just and resilient society.
Eric Andrade was born and raised in the Flint neighborhood of Fall River. Before coming on as Programs Manager for GWSC, he served as the Board President, as well as being involved in the Feasibility Study and launch process for the organization. From 2014-2018 he was a Health Promotion Coordinator for Mass in Motion Fall River and Stanley Street Treatment and Resources (SSTAR) on a Center for Disease Control Diabetes Prevention grant. Eric is also responsible for running the Walk Fall River and Cook Fall River brands, with the aim of improving both the built environment and food access so residents can live healthier lives. He graduated from Bristol Community College in 2012, and earned a Bachelors Degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2014.
Jade is a youth board member from New Bedford, Ma. They are a college student at Worcester State University majoring in Visual and Performing Arts with a minor in Philosophy. They are an interdisciplinary artist who loves to draw, paint, sing, and write poetry. In addition to the Arts they enjoy nature by gardening, going for walks, doing beautification work, and composting. Jade has lots of experience working with youth, from being a volunteer teachers assistant, helping run their mom’s daycare, babysitting, and helping raise their three younger siblings. When working in our Green Team program Jade has helped develop a curriculum and run one of our other youth programs called Green Explorers. Aside from knowing how to work with youth, Jade is very passionate about Environmental and Social justice. Educating and advocating the people in their life around these topics Jade believes small changes make a big difference. Jade brings a valuable voice and point of view to the Groundwork Southcoast’s board with their passion, experience and youth perspective.
Lex, joined GWSC Summer 2019 as a Green Teamer and later promoted to Green Leader in Summer of 2021. They take great pride as a crew leader supporting the Green Team to further develop their community leadership skills; caring for the urban farm and community gardens and seeing people in need benefit from locally sourced and healthy produce.
Meet JJ, yet another first time Green Team member. JJ loves spending time in the recording studio creating beats and working on his Rap music. His favorite parts about Green Team is shoveling dirt into raised beds, and doing group check ins with his teammates!
Ronice joined GWSC as the Stewardship Coordinator in May of 2021 and took off running, helping to recruit one of our most successful Green Team crews in years. She enjoys being social with others, and getting youth to come out of their shell!
Meet Annalisia! She is a first time Green Teamer! She likes doing makeup tutorials and trying new styles. Her favorite part of Green Team is spending time at sites like Sister Rose as well as cleaning up the Pocket Parks along Acushnet Avenue.
Julius is a first time Green Team member. Julius is a student at Bristol Aggie where he will graduate as a certified Arborist! What Julius likes most about being on Green Team is working at the Urban Farm and Community Garden and being around cool people.
Marcia Picard is a longtime educator as well as a member of a wide variety of youth-serving organizations. She was deeply involved in the creation of the original Groundwork Southcoast application several years ago. She currently serves as Executive Director of Greater Fall River Partners for a Healthier Community and treasurer of the GWSC board.
Maria Fortes was born on Brava, Cape Verde Islands. She and her family moved to New Bedford 1977. With a trilingual capacity, she worked for NorthStar Learning Centers for 18 years as a preschool teacher and program coordinator. From 2014-2020, she worked as an organizer for the Coalition for Social Justice and received several awards for her organizing efforts, including a national Family Values @ Work GameChanger award. She has a BA in Human Services. A longtime artist, Maria is a blossoming business owner who is focused on giving back to her community.
Kerry Mello brings decades of experience in community outreach and community health improvement. As Community Benefits Manager at Southcoast Health, a large, regional health system, she helped organize and lead coalitions and initiatives to address pressing health and social issues on the South Coast, including healthy youth development, food injustice and housing and homelessness. She has expertise in grant writing and management, including management of a number of federal and state grants. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the regional health and human services coalition, Partners for a Healthier Community and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers. A Wareham resident, she has also been active in civic engagement and for the past 15 years has helped lead fundraising efforts for the Wareham Library Foundation in support of the public library system in the town of Wareham.
After 21 years being out of the area, living in and out of the country, Portia is currently community organizing in her hometown in Southcoast, MA. Her diverse professional background includes roles as Copywriter, Blogger and Journalist, Yacht Cook and Corporate Flight Attendant. Portia is a big wellness advocate, lover of dance, pilates, movement and her green smoothies in the a.m. Independent of occupation and lifestyle, one thing has always remained constant: her passion for social justice.
A fourth generation American with roots in Cape Verde, Portugal, and Norway, Portia’s world view was largely shaped by her experience growing up as “other” in a predominantly white bedroom community. Restless and itchy to spread her wings, she headed off for college in New York City when she was 17. It was there, while studying English, Cultural and Women’s Studies that she began to explore her own lived experience regarding race, gender, class, and identity. Recently back home, she has had the unique opportunity to confront racism in the school district. She and a small cohort have formed a grassroots organization, to address systemic and institutional racism within the school system. Portia hopes to bring real cultural change and progress regarding notions of race, while bringing equity and cultural awareness to the area, and beyond!
Since 1980, Bob has worked at New Bedford-based NorthStar Learning Centers, a people of color-founded and -led nonprofit, where he has combined service and advocacy for public policies that value and support children and families. He has lived in New Bedford for the past forty years. Parenting his son, Conor, now 37 years old, and being married to a first-grade teacher has educated him a lot and reinforced his commitment to creating opportunities for all children to learn, heal, and thrive. (Working on behalf of children forces him to be hopeful in this profoundly troubled world.) He finds peace in nature; for several years, He has spent much of his free time rebuilding the old stonewalls at Allens Pond Audubon wildlife sanctuary, which has served as a sanctuary and refuge for him.
Destiney is a youth board member, resident of Fall River and a recent B.M.C. Durfee High School Graduate.
Sarah began with GWSC Board in January 2020. She works as a coordinator for Mass in Motion -Fall River, which is a local branch of a statewide initiative that seeks to increase opportunities for healthy eating and active living for all residents, but especially for those who live, work, learn and play in historically marginalized communities. Some areas where Sarah focuses her Mass in Motion work are pedestrian and cyclist safety, food security, park and open space advocacy, farmers’ market support, and creative place making. The expansion and deepening of equity throughout all of these areas is integral to her work. Connecting with and serving people in the community is her joy. For fun, Sarah enjoys walks in nature, camping, and biking long distances – one personal goal is to have completed all segments of the 3000 mile East Coast Greenway on her bike by December 2025.
Amanda DeGrace is an urban planner and has served over 15 years in the non-profit and public sector. With a deep faith in community investment, she loves to make the case for long-term funding and sustainable partnerships. She has successfully fundraised for a range of campaigns in her native New Bedford, MA including arts programs, social services and the restoration of historic landmarks that were rescued to become housing and community venues. By night, she earned her M.S. in Urban Planning & Community Development from UMASS Boston. Amanda joined Groundwork SouthCoast because of their commitment to youth engagement and stewardship of community gardens.
Shay’s academic and personal pursuits have impassioned her to join such a progressive team that consists of such flexible thinkers. She is a 2020 graduate from Bristol Community College, in Fall River Massachusetts where she was in the Mass Transfer Program majoring in Liberal Arts – Behavioral and Social Sciences. Now making a swift shift to Bridgewater State University, majoring in Social Work. Outside of her academic path, she especially indulges in poetry and reading.She keeps herself busy in anything involving the community and hopes to start a Community Garden in the near future. She’s also in the Fall River Food Injustice Work Group at the YWCA in New Bedford Ma. Being able to write or read yourself into another world is a true gift and she hopes to pass that down to her four younger siblings to guide them to use their brains to imagine a world they crave. Her own intersectionality has inspired her to hold on to that craving herself.