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From naturalists to film makers, educators to designers, our team is comprised of experts from many different fields under a common purpose; connecting people to the natural environment.


Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director

As Founder of the RWA, Jeanne has worked closely with the Rockaway community and city agencies in developing strategies to redevelop large stretches of neglected waterfront in the Rockaways. Much of her work has involved utilizing the waterfront itself through programming and advocacy with youth to protect public waterfront access. Jeanne has a Masters Degree in Design from Yale University.


John Cruz, Program Director

Born and raised in New York City, John is a Rockaway resident with a passion for community development and empowerment.  With much experience in the public sector, John has spent the majority of his professional career as a community organizer and has over 10 years experience in youth development.  John is no stranger to service work as he has given back to his global community by tackling social issues in over 15 countries around the world.  John has a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Pace University. 


Renae Reynolds, Planning & Development Intern

RWA is excited to have Renae join the team as planning intern to assist with RWA planning projects this Spring. As a Rockaway resident, Renae is very involved in civic engagement and her past experience working at Fresh Youth Initiatives and Public Allies will be helpful in integrating RWA youth in the planning and advocacy for a more sustainable community in the Rockaways. Renae is presently completing her graduate studies in Urban Theories at Parsons/New School. 


Mark Hoffacker, Transportation Safety Coordinator

Mark Hoffacker has worked with RWA for the past two years, leading biking and kayaking tours for the public. Mark's background working with children and people with disabilities has helped to introduce those with special needs to the waterfront through community paddles on Jamaica bay and bike tours along the beachfront. Besides working with RWA, Mark is also involved with the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety leading child passenger safety and bike safety efforts in Queens and Nassau counties. Mark has a B.A. in Urban Studies and completed graduate work in Social Policy at Empire State College.  


Zakhia Grant, Environmental Science Program Educator

Zakhia is a local Rockaway resident who has worked as an RWA educator for the past 4 years. Zakhia helped to establish the RWA Aqua 101 Curriculum for middle school youth. The program uses the RWA oyster garden, and native shoreline as a place for students to explore the natural environment. Her experience both as a geologist and NYC DOE school teacher have given her the ability to share her professional experience with youth considering fields in science, math and engineering. Zakhia has a Master's Degree in Geology from Bowling Green State University and is also a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and National Science Teachers Association.


Success Stories:

Meet Gale

Gale is the parent of two elementary school children who have taken part in the RWA Aqua 101 Summer Program for three consecutive years. Gale has seen a real impact on her children's lives through RWA programs. Hear more about Gale's story.