landscape Architect

Providence, RI

Blog post by Jonathan Ford, P.E., Sr. Engineer
Nathan Kelly, AICP, Principal

“Landscape architecture is not just one thing in particular, it’s a little bit of everything. You need to be thinking about people, nature, art, creativity, and design.”

Ellen’s been working with our team for about a year now and we’ve been sharing office space in  Providence since day 1—now we are working from home in adjacent Providence neighborhoods.  We’ve collaborated on a  range of design projects, and we are struck by her remarkable versatility, the inquisitive nature of her approach to her work, and her creative talents as a designer.

Her contributions have included conceptual design at various scales of community building and landscape architecture, illustrations for regulatory documents, detailed site grading, and drainage design, and more. Over the course of the year, Ellen has been able to transition effortlessly between projects focused on landscape design, civil engineering, and regulatory reform. We appreciate her ability to effectively (and cheerfully!) communicate with colleagues and clients.

With all this versatility, Ellen’s training and passion lie in the field of landscape architecture. Her passion for the work doesn’t stem from just one aspect, but the mix of elements that go into designing special places. As she explains, “Landscape architecture is not just one thing, in particular, it’s a little bit of everything. You need to be thinking about people, nature, art, creativity, and design.” This eyes-wide-open inquisitive approach to landscape design has proven valuable and equips Ellen with the background and information needed to produce effective and unique design results.

One of Ellen’s talents that made us particularly excited to bring her on board is her talent in visual arts. Ellen is an accomplished illustrator and artist, with drawings that range from traditional landscapes to fantastic creatures to complex statements about our relationship with nature. Her creativity and ability to communicate through drawing quickly and confidently, layered with the more analytical component of landscape architecture, gives her work its own signature.

Another important source of inspiration for Ellen is her connection with nature and wild places. Having hiked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail, Ellen is no stranger to the outdoors and feels these sorts of experiences are incredibly important to our lives. Her work reflects a respect for natural processes and the idea that, in the work of landscape architecture, no space is truly designed outside of nature.

Like many of us at HW, Ellen likes the diversity of work we take on and is attracted to “interesting challenges.” In Chattanooga, where we partnered with Dover Kohl to create a master plan for a 112-acre brownfield site on the banks of the Tennessee River, Ellen helped design parks and open spaces for the new neighborhoods. She also assisted with adding stormwater management best practices and helped to create a system of urban eco-canals. The project is advancing towards construction and will be a showpiece for innovative infrastructure design within a new vibrant, artistic neighborhood. Closer to home, Ellen’s been helping to design urban trails, pocket parks, and kayak launch for the Woonasquatucket Greenway in Providence. True to form, her work blends an analytical and creative approach to provide a practical yet engaging design. Moving forward, Ellen brings so much to the evolution of our landscape architecture practice here at HW. As we continue to explore ecological opportunities in our design work, we look forward to her creative contributions!


Read Ellen’s RIASLA blog post – “More Meadows” Post RIASLA

 

 

Staff scientist

Sandwich, MA

Sarah started her career after graduation from Saint Anselm College working for the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services conducting inspections, collecting samples, and database management. Earlier this year, she helped to facilitate a few emergency preparedness events across the country.  Sarah loves her work, Cape Cod beaches, and her bulldog, Gator.

 

“My mentor at HW, Gemma Kite, made me feel like a part of the team, day 1”

   Sarah is working for one of our largest clients, the U.S. EPA. The EPA works with private consultants like us to train water utilities on many subjects, most notably emergency preparedness training. This is perhaps one of the most complicated services to talk about here at Horsley Witten Group (acronyms abound!). Everyone understands we provide engineering, design, planning, and science services, but environmental consulting or training is a bit difficult to explain. We are hoping this conversation with Sarah helps clarify this important sector of our business.

 

“… after looking through the website and social media, [HW] sounded like a place I would love to work. It didn’t hurt that the main office was located on Cape Cod, which was a place I had always wanted to live…”

HW:  Sarah, you must like to travel as earlier this year you made a trip out west to California and Utah before that. Tell us what you did.

Sarah: I had the unique opportunity to travel with Tom Noble, Associate Principal to both Santa Rosa and Vacaville, California which is about an hour north of San Francisco to help facilitate an EPA-sponsored, 2-day workshop for the water sector on public safety power shutoffs, (PSPS) events.

 

HW: That sounds like a great destination. What was the training like?

Sarah:  It was a wonderful trip. Yes, I was able to go across the Golden Gate Bridge and drive through some amazing areas like “wine country.” The workshops were important as California suffers from wildfires that can sometimes be inadvertently caused by sparking power lines. Therefore, when the conditions are right in California for a wildfire to start (e.g., dry, high winds), electric utilities will proactively shut down sections of their power grid. This inevitably affects the water and wastewater utilities who need to continue operating by switching over to alternate power, like generators. For this process to go smoothly, water utilities need to have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for preparing and responding to PSPS events as soon as they are notified by the electric utility that one is coming. It was our job to assist EPA in helping water utilities share lessons learned and best practices from past training events so that SOPs can be developed to help all water utilities, especially those who have not been affected by a PSPS yet.

 

HW:  This sounds especially important Sarah. What do the utility staff members take away from the training exercises?

Sarah: The participants learned about the importance of coordinating and communicating with electric utilities and building relationships. The workshop also allowed them time to listen to presentations from other water utilities and electric companies about their experiences with PSPS events. They also got the opportunity to brainstorm what should be included in an SOP for PSPS events. Specifically, from these workshops, we are compiling the best practices gathered from the exercise participants and will be turning them into SOP templates that we will send back to the water utilities for their review and use. Another important component of these events was the opportunity for participants to network with one another and exchange contact information.

 

HW:  What was your role in the training?

Sarah: I acted as a scribe during presentations and supported the small group breakout sessions by serving as a facilitator and by taking notes and recording participant comments. When I got back to the office in Massachusetts, I summarized the presentations. I also took all the notes from the participants and compiled them into one document. We are currently in the process of organizing this document and turning it into a template PSPS SOP that utilities can then customize for their unique circumstances. As more and more PSPS events occur, the utilities will have an opportunity to learn and reflect and of course take more training, share their experiences, and update their plans and SOPs accordingly.

 

HW: Did you receive feedback and if so, anything you can share with us?

“The format of the meeting was excellent. The speakers had relevant and informative presentations. The facilitators were great. Participation was really greatly appreciated.”  

 

HW:  What did you take away from this experience and what do you look forward to doing in the future?

Sarah: I enjoyed working with Tom very much. He is a confident and knowledgeable presenter. I also learned a lot from the presentations and was proud to be part of the training team. I hope to refine my skills and learn more as the years go by so I can lead training and see more of the country as I love to travel! I never thought I would have this unique opportunity and I am so glad I found HW and can work to advance my career in this ever-changing and exciting area of emergency preparedness training!

 

HW:  Thanks for sharing your experience, Sarah. By the way, how did you hear of HW? Happy one-year work anniversary!

Sarah: I went to a Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference in Portsmouth, NH in April of 2019 (a year ago, wow!) and saw a presentation given by Geoff Glover and Brian Laverriere on the living shoreline project HW completed in Kingston, MA. I was really interested in the project, so I decided to research more about what HW does and some of the other projects they had completed. After looking through the website and social media, it sounded like a place I would love to work. It didn’t hurt that the main office was located on Cape Cod, which was a place I had always wanted to live. So, I reached out to Geoff and Brian about the potential of working for HW someday, and shortly after a “staff scientist” position was posted. And here I am!

We are glad you are here Sarah! Thanks for the interview!

Learn more about our emergency preparedness training services.

 

Staff Planner

Interviewed by Krista Moravec, AICP, Senior Planner

As I write this, HW staff has started week 6 working remotely due to COVID-19.  We are a close group, and not being able to see our friends every day is challenging. However, HW’ers always rally, and we are still being social while social distancing. We are strongly encouraged to connect with each other outside of work-related emails. Inspired by this, and missing my colleagues, I thought I would reach out to a fellow HW planner and allow you to get to know her better. Last year we hired Fabiola Alikpokou as a Staff Planner. She works on most, if not all, of my projects. So, over the past year, we’ve gotten to know each other well.

When Fabiola took the position, she moved her family from Omaha to Providence. After a year, I was curious about what the Alikopkou’s thought of New England, and in particular, Little Rhody. She and I got together (virtually) over a cup of tea to discuss.

 

“We love Narragansett Beach and the Blue Hills Reservation for hiking. It’s amazing. But we try to visit random beaches. We really love the water, obviously. We didn’t have that in Nebraska, so any chance that we can get to go, we go.”

Krista: Thank you so much for letting me interview you! First question, we are all wondering why you even considered applying for a job in Rhode Island? Granted, we love our tiny state, but still…

Fabiola: Anthony [Fabiola’s husband] and I were ready to leave Nebraska. We talked about leaving for a long time and this was our opportunity. Rhode Island was not on our radar at all. When I applied at Horsley Witten, I didn’t really think anything of it. I met the qualifications, and I applied.

 

Krista: What made you decide, yes, I want to live in Rhode Island and work for HW?

Fabiola: I went through the first interview on the phone with Nate Kelly (Principal Planner). It was pretty straight forward. It wasn’t until the second interview with you and Nate on Webex that I thought, I want this job! You guys seemed down to earth, but the biggest thing was the work/home life balance. It was important to me to work at a firm or agency that was flexible and realized how important family time is. I remember Nate talking about his morning routine and he said sometimes he gets in after 9 am because he has to take his kids to school. That’s me! Having that kind of flexibility really impressed me. Especially moving to a whole new area. I researched Rhode Island. I listened to the Crime Town podcast. I went on Google Maps and took a virtual tour. We were, like, ok we can do this! And then I got the offer. I called my mom and said, “Guess what! We’re going to Rhode Island!” She said, “What’s that?” [Laughing]

 

Krista: Explain puppy chow and when you realized that Rhode Islanders had no idea what it was.

Fabiola: Puppy chow is a Chex mix with melted milk chocolate and peanut butter, covered with powdered sugar. It is the best thing ever! I was craving it one day. I went to the bakery section at Stop and Shop and asked the lady if they had any puppy chow. At first, she was confused. I said you know that treat with Chex mix? She said no, but maybe you can find it in the dog aisle. I laughed, but she didn’t laugh with me! She was serious. That’s when I texted you and asked if people here knew what puppy chow was.

 

Krista: [Laughing] I had no clue what you were talking about. I think I texted the same response the lady in the bakery gave you, go to the dog aisle. Do they sell it in the supermarket in Nebraska?

Fabiola: They sell it at gas stations and grocery stores. It is a treat that you can grab anywhere in Nebraska. I was really confused! [Laughing]

 

Krista: Like puppy chow, what was something you heard here that you had no idea what it was?

Fabiola: I still don’t know what milk coffee is.

 

Krista: Coffee milk! It’s coffee-flavored milk. Like chocolate milk, but instead of adding chocolate syrup to milk, it’s coffee syrup. It’s really good*, like an iced coffee.

Fabiola: [Pause] Ok I’ll try it. *[I’m not sure she’s convinced…]

 

Krista: What places have you visited? Which is/are your favorite(s)?

Fabiola: We love Narragansett Beach and the Blue Hills Reservation for hiking. It’s amazing! But we try to visit random beaches. We really love the water, obviously. We didn’t have that in Nebraska, so any chance that we can get, we go.

 

Krista: What is on your bucket list to visit this summer?

Fabiola: Hiking in the White Mountains and Acadia National Park in Maine. Anthony and Olivia [Fabiola’s daughter] missed summer in Rhode Island, so we’re basically going to be at the beach every day.

 

Krista: That is a great plan! Ok, a few professional questions… what planning issues in New England are different from Nebraska?

Fabiola: Climate change is discussed in Nebraska, but not in the forefront as it is here. And transportation. Planners in Nebraska are just starting to think about transit-oriented development. Nebraska is a huge state and it doesn’t have a cohesive public transportation system that can connect you to different parts of the state. The current planning leaders are sticking to the status quo, but the younger, emerging planners are the ones who are talking about public transportation more frequently. Nebraska is a very car-oriented state, so it’s hard to have that conversation. When I was an intern at MAPA [Metropolitan Area Planning Agency in Omaha], they were at the forefront and worked to show the need for a better public transportation system in the area. MAPA organized summits to talk about why we need a robust public transportation system in our state. They were making a lot of progress when I left for Rhode Island. Nebraska is starting the rapid bus transit system and a lot of folks are excited about it!

 

Krista: Of the projects we’ve been working on, which has been your favorite? Why?

Fabiola: I like open space and recreation plans (OSRP). When I started my planning career, I was not into environmental or recreational issues. I wanted to talk about social justice, housing, disparities in access to resources. But I didn’t know much about environmental justice. Working on OSRP plans shows me how everything is connected and important, including having access to recreation, open space, and natural resources and the benefits received from them.

 

“…As an APA ambassador, I will spread the word about the field, helping to educate young folks about the planning profession and also communities of color…”

Krista: The HW planners are incredibly involved in the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association, and we brought you along with us. You are working on establishing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. Can you explain the purpose of the EDI Committee and what you hope to achieve in its first year?

Fabiola: The EDI Committee will share resources and come up with ideas and activities for the chapter around equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession. Our first event was going to be a roundtable event to discuss the book Color of Law. With the current circumstances, we’ve put that on hold, but I still hope to do it as soon as we can. Looking ahead, the committee will focus on ways we can help improve the planning field by diversifying it and sharing resources. EDI is a working committee and we have a lot to figure out, I’m simply happy we got the ball rolling because it is a ball that should have been rolling quite a bit ago.

 

Krista: I’m really excited about this, too. You are also an APA Ambassador for the RI Chapter.

Fabiola: I am! As an ambassador, I spread the word about the field, helping to educate young folks about the planning profession and communities of color. This will not only increase diversity in the field but will encourage people, particularly communities of color, to come to public meetings and get involved in the planning process where they live. 

 

Krista: More exciting work to do! Thank you so much for bringing your perspective to HW and to our work. And thank you for letting me interview you. It was fun!

 

 

 

Ben Wollman

Environmental Scientist

Ben Wollman has joined our Sandwich office as an Environmental Scientist focused on wetlands and ecology. Ben earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural and Environmental Systems from Cornell University and is a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner. He comes to HW with 12+ years of professional experience working in professional consulting, design, and research and ecological restoration oversight. He has worked in PA, NY, and most recently MA. Ben will be working with our ecologists and other technical staff to support our wetlands-wildlife assessments and permitting projects.

Ben loves to spend time outside, enjoying activities like hiking, kayaking, birding, swimming, camping, snowboarding, hunting, and fishing. A naturalist by nature, and inspired by environmental icons like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and E.O. Wilson, Ben is passionate about maintaining and facilitating healthy individual and societal connections to the ecosystems that sustain us all. Ben and his wife have been living on the Cape since 2015 with their incredibly cute and smart pup (Rowan – he’s 14 years old and going strong)! Welcome, Ben!

 

steve stanish, p.e., CFM, ENV SP

Project Engineer

Steve Stanish has joined our Boston office as a project engineer with a background in both the public and private sectors. Steve received his Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois -Chicago and his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He joins HW with 11+ years of experience specializing in stormwater management design and is a certified engineer in several states, a certified flood plain manager, and an Envision Sustainability Professional in MA. He also has experience in transportation engineering and design.

In his spare time, he is currently renovating his home which he has described as HGTV outtakes! Steve also is an avid ultimate frisbee player, homebrewer, and woodworker. When not traveling for frisbee tournaments on the weekends, he is typically in Boston working on brewing new beers or building furniture for his home.

 

janelle veary

Designer

Janelle Veary has joined our Sandwich team as a Designer focused on site design and stormwater management. Janelle earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Technology from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University.  She comes to us with two years of professional experience as an Integrated Water Engineer in Australia. Janelle will be supporting our project managers with CAD operations and a range of civil engineering and environmental assessments including site design and drainage. Janelle enjoys spending time camping, hiking, and cooking. Welcome to HW Janelle!

 

Saipan, CNMI

Meet: Josephine Ibanez

Brian A. Laverriere, Project Designer

Josephine is an environmental scientist specializing in water resource management, water quality monitoring, and site remediation.  Jo’s passions include exploring new areas (both geographically and scientifically), helping communities understand their local water quality challenges, and developing water resource management strategies.

Last month, Jo and I had the opportunity to travel to Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Our team mapped drainage infrastructure, assessed sources of pollution, and identified key opportunities for restoration within the Achugao, Garapan, and Lao Lao Bay Watersheds. 

The trip was awesome for so many reasons.  Jo reminded me every day that what we do is significant – but who we work with is equally as important– and most important of all is the health, safety, and welfare of people. This was my first time working closely with Jo; hearing her perspective reminded me of how critical our development decisions are in 2020 and that our purpose in Saipan is larger than ourselves.

We inventoried age-old infrastructure from WWII, observed active construction today, and saw evidence of our future demand on the land.  Jo made me think: what will happen to these natural waterways we’re mapping?  Will they vanish inside of a pipe?  Or can we integrate these natural resources and sustain the natural identity of Saipan?  While abroad, we talked with residents who told stories from decade ago, collaborated with consultants who shared our same concerns, and met with federal agencies to ensure our decision-making process fit the priorities of the people and the place.

Project Summary:

All three watersheds are impaired, exceeding one or more CNMI water quality standards.  Five HW’ers traveled to Saipan to assess each watershed and to identify solutions for land-based sources of pollution.  Our project team consists of environmental scientists, civil engineers, planners, and landscape architects.  Sponsored by NOAA and the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, we worked closely with Koa Consulting LLC, Sea Change Consulting, and The Nature Conservancy to engage local agencies and organizations. We collected field data and mapped drainage infrastructure linking flow-patterns with key opportunities to improve water quality.  Our field teams and workshop facilitators gathered hundreds of data points; produced dozens of restoration concepts; and identified watershed management priorities, challenges, and visions.

Over the coming months, we will draft watershed management plans to integrate different stakeholder’s priorities (e.g., on-going capital improvements, restoration efforts, road upgrades) to balance economic growth with environmental integrity.  Based upon our field assessment, the community engagement process, and stakeholder listening sessions, we will prioritize potential solutions to mitigate future development, restore degraded landscapes, and manage contributing drainage areas.  As a result of this work, we hope federal and local agencies can implement these watershed solutions to one-day meet the CNMI water quality standards.

HW Project Team:

Brian A. Laverriere, Project Designer
Josephine Ibanez, Environmental Scientist
Eliza Hoffman, Staff Engineer
Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA, Principal Landscape Architect
Anne Kitchell, Senior Watershed Planner

Project Partners:

The Nature Conservancy-Micronesia
-Berna Gorong 
Sea Change Consulting
-Meghan Gombos
KOA Consulting LLC
-Becky Skeele & Rob Jordan
Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality
-James Benavente

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
-Robbie Greene


Read about this project in the Saipan Tribune

 

gemma kite, p.e.

Senior Environmental Engineer

Gemma Kite’s experience includes state guidance development, hydrogeologic investigations and modeling, onsite wastewater treatment system management and regulatory framework, watershed planning and assessment, and emergency preparedness training. 

 

Most of us turn on the tap without ever acknowledging what goes into having safe and clean water in our homes whenever we want it.  Let’s all take a moment today to Imagine a Day Without Water and how that would affect our daily lives. We have so many options and conveniences. #ValueWater

Prior to working at Horsley Witten Group, I served in the Peace Corps from 2008-2010 in Konza, Mali, which is a rural community with no running water. When I arrived in the community, only two of the five water pumps were working. Every morning I would strap my two 5-gallon jerry cans to the back of my bicycle, bike to the nearest community water pump, and wait in line for my turn to collect water. Most days, time spent waiting in line was eased by listening to and joining in with the other women swapping jokes and gossip with each other. I was fortunate that I had a bicycle to assist me in carrying the full jerry cans back to my house. Most of the people had to balance their buckets, bowls, and jerry cans on top of their heads being careful not to spill any water on their way home. I conserved water and reduced my use organically since water access was not exactly what I had been used to in the States.

 

What would your day look if you had to walk to access water? According to UNICEF, 207 million people spent over 30 minutes per round trip to collect water from an improved source.

I watched as children would rush each other impatiently to get their water quickly so they wouldn’t be late to school. Women would spend a disproportionate amount of time returning to the pump multiple times throughout the day to provide enough water for their families. The time spent collecting water could be better used to study and do homework, partake in income generating activities, or manage other chores. Without the pump water, residents would turn to other sources of water – like unprotected hand-dug wells or surface water sources also used by livestock.

As I became concerned about the strain on the two functioning pumps, I asked about the three broken pumps and discovered that no one in the community knew how to repair the pumps or where to obtain spare parts. No preventative maintenance was done on the pumps, and no money was collected to  pay for maintenance or repairs. When a pump broke, people walked a little further to collect water from the remaining pumps that did work. I asked what would happen if all the pumps broke, and the elders responded that they would collect a mandatory tax from all households to fix it.

This situation was not sustainable and would eventually result in all the pumps breaking and residents turning to unsafe sources of water. I worked with the community to set-up pump maintenance training for a few community members and purchased a few pump repair tool kits. They would use this new training to serve as pump mechanics for other communities to earn income. I helped to ensure a supply chain of pump spare parts in the nearby city.

Most importantly, I conducted community outreach to educate residents on the importance of a preventative maintenance and the management of a fund to be able to pay for preventative maintenance and repair work.  Malians love to use proverbs to teach lessons, so in order to get the preventative maintenance message across to community members, I likened the water pump to a bicycle: if you do not clean and oil the chain regularly, eventually the bicycle will stop working. After the Peace Corps, I went on to work for an NGO in Sierra Leone and worked with the government to establish a district-wide pump maintenance program, applying my knowledge learned in Konza to a much larger region.

 

JONAS PROCTON

Staff Engineer

Jonas Procton has joined our engineering team as a Staff Engineer. Jonas earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tufts University, where he focused his studies on River Restoration and Stormwater Management. A former AmeriCorps volunteer, Jonas has spent time constructing trail infrastructure and removing invasive species based out of Asheville, NC. He has supported wilderness orientation groups as a staff leader for the Tufts Wilderness Orientation Group, and is an avid hiker, biker, and rock climber. – We are thrilled to welcome him to  HW!

Jonas works out of our Exeter, NH office.

 

ASHLEY PASAKARNIS, PE

Senior Scientist/Engineer

Ashley Pasakarnis, PE, has joined our team as a Senior Scientist/Engineer. Ashley earned her Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, from the University of Iowa.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. She has over 14 years professional experience in environmental and geotechnical consulting. Her areas of specialty include project management and oversight of environmental remediation and transportation projects; design and permitting for site investigation and remedial action activities; and oversight of equipment installation, start-up, operation and maintenance at hydrocarbon and chlorinated impacted sites.  In her free time Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and two children either tackling a home project or working in the garden.

Ashley works out of our Sandwich, MA office.