Justin Elicker – Executive Director

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Justin works to ensure that the Land Trust is advancing its mission of providing community gardening spaces, preserving open spaces and educating New Haven residents about the environment. Justin grew up in Connecticut and is an active member of the New Haven community, including running for mayor of New Haven in 2013. Justin is an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University and has worked as a sustainability consultant, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer and a high and elementary school teacher. Justin received joint masters’ degrees from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale School of Management in 2010 and a BA from Middlebury College in 1997. In addition to a passion for gardening Justin and his wife Natalie raise five chickens and a dog named Captain.


Alex Shaheen - Operations Manager

Alex is the operations manager for the New Haven Land Trust, helping to keep the office running smoothly. Alex has lived in New Haven for 12 years and enjoys being an active member of the New Haven arts community. After studying English at Albertus Magnus College, Alex worked as a substitute teacher prior to gaining her administrative and operations experience at an Engineering company. Alex prefers to spend her time outdoors and loves warm weather. In her spare time, Alex likes to garden, write poetry, camp, and create various forms of artwork. 





Bradley Fleming - Community Garden Manager

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Bradley oversees the Land Trust's 55 community gardens throughout New Haven. He is an Elm City native who has worked on farms both urban and rural, as well as numerous food access and community building projects. Most recently, Bradley managed the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm. He is passionate about healthy living and is excited to bring his knowledge and expertise back home to share with the New Haven community. 






Esther Rose-Wilen - Garden Education Coordinator

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Esther Rose-Wilen is a New Haven native with a degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University. She has been volunteering with agriculture projects and community gardens since the 8th grade in Connecticut, New Jersey, Argentina, and Spain. She is incredibly excited to help manage both the Growing Entrepreneurs program and the Incubator Gardens program at the Land Trust. In her free time, Esther might be reading in a hammock, playing with her cat Miel, or eating tacos at Long Wharf. 





Cori Merchant - Schooner Camp Director and Preserves Coordinator 

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Cori is Preserve Coordinator and Schooner Camp Director for the Land Trust. She comes from a background of over 15 years of working with youth in environmental, camp and recreational programming in eight different states. She grew up near Madison, WI spending much of her time outdoors and at her grandparent's dairy farm. She has a strong interest in helping others build a love of the outdoors and looks forward to spending her summers with the youth of Greater New Haven! When not working, she spends time with her dog, Chase, or playing competitive adult kickball in leagues around New Haven and Hartford and traveling to kickball tournaments throughout the US.



Stephen J. Grant - Development Officer
Stephen is the development officer for the New Haven Land Trust, responsible for coordinating fundraising efforts for the organization, building enduring relationships, securing business sponsorships and executing the continuous growth of annual events. Following his communications studies at Southern Connecticut State University, Stephen worked for local non-profits and start-ups. He is also a writer that has appeared in many well-known online publications including the Huffington Post and Paste Magazine. In 2014, Stephen moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he worked as a freelance writer/photographer, English coach and recording artist. In 2016, he self-published his first book and produced the documentary "AFRO BRASIL" for Seven Scribes. In his spare time, Stephen loves to create music and camp at national parks. 


Anna Thurston - Project Coordinator

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Anna is excited to be working with the New Haven Land Trust. While she calls many places "home," she credits Salt Lake City, Utah for her love of mountains, national parks, and deer who loved to eat the tulips in her garden. Currently, Anna is pursuing two master's degrees at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School's Institute of Sacred Music, where her research centers on spiritually-driven environmental ethics and artistic practices that engage with the natural world. In addition to her experience in the arts, interfaith dialogue, and environmental justice, she enjoys her own community garden where she is learning to love the New Haven squirrels who eat her tomatoes.

Nayeli Cruz - Growing Entrepreneur 

Nayeli Cruz is a Junior at Wilbur Cross. She is in the Honors Academy. She plays volleyball in the New Haven Volleyball Academy. This is her first job. She wants to study criminal justice at Yale University. One of her ideas for this job is to grow tomatoes as a small business and sell them. She is excited to learn from the job how to be a respectful, responsible, good employee. 
Nina Javier - Growing Entrepreneur 
Nina Javier is a Junior at Wilbur Cross. She hopes to one day open her own business or work with animals. She is working with the Land Trust to gain business and agricultural skills.
Camila Mendes - Growing Entrepreneur 
Camila Mendes is a 16-year-old Junior at High School in the Community. After graduating, she plans to go to art school or become a police officer. The Land Trust sparks inspiration and ideas on future artworks and has taught her responsibility and leadership skills. 
Sharric James - Growing Entrepreneur
Sharric James is a junior theater student at Co-op High School. He has been volunteering with New Haven Farms for years and brought his experience with and passion for gardening to the Land Trust this summer. Sharric wants to go to the coast gaurd when he gets older and for college he wants to go to NYU for theater.