2017 Branching Out
Celena Illuzzi, Program Manager
Celena Illuzi has worked with the National Park Service (NPS) for sixteen years and currently manages youth, education, and professional development programs for Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation. She enjoys learning about the significant natural and cultural resources of the NPS, and finds great delight in connecting a variety of audiences with these amazing resources. She appreciates the opportunity to work for an agency that values both stewardship and education. In college, Celena studied art and biology, and upon graduation, accepted a position teaching art at a middle school. She returned to graduate school in 1999 and earned a Master’s Degree in Museum Education from Tufts University. It was during her time in graduate school that Celena learned about becoming an educator with the NPS. When she’s not at work, Celena enjoys reading, cooking, working in the yard, walking with her dog (Gemmie), and spending time with family. She has a daughter, Parker who is 13, and son, Sam who is 9. Together, they like biking, baking, playing games, and laughing!
Chris Adamec, New York City Field Team Leader
Chris is a life long New Yorker who graduated from CUNY York College. He just completed his first year of teaching at Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship High School. Outside of teaching, he enjoys exercising, practicing martial arts, and reading sci-fi. Chris is looking forward to the summer and working with the Branching Out program to provide a learning experience for teachers and students outside the classroom.
Esther Wohl, New York City Field Team Leader
Esther is from West Hempstead, Long Island but has lived in Manhattan for the past 6 years. In college, she studied History and Biology at Yeshiva University and Education at Hunter College. During the school year she is a teacher at Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship High School, located in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. This was her first year teaching at Mather, but has been working with NYC public schools for 4 years. Some of her hobbies and interests include cooking and baking. During my free time she also enjoys going hiking and kayaking. She is excited to be working with the Branching Out program for this first time this year and to learn more about the history behind the National Park sites in New York.
Ashley Backunas, Boston Field Team Leader
Ashley recently graduated from Lesley University in May of 2017 with an undergraduate degree in Art Therapy, with a Holistic Psychology specialization. Ashley is responsible for guiding and inspiring the professional development and stewardship of the Field Team Members this summer alongside her coworker, Innocent. Her past work experience includes an internship at Medicine Wheel, a studio based, community art center located in South Boston, that houses youth and adult programs that aim to strengthen personal and professional skills of participants, as well as build community bonds. Most recently she completed a year-long internship in the One Mission Resource Room at Boston Children’s Hospital on the Oncology/Hematology unit, working on developing a safe and enjoyable space for patients and families, assisting with resource accessibility, and providing therapeutic art activities for both groups and individuals on the floor. In her spare time, Ashley can be found spending time exploring the local outdoors with friends, listening to music/podcasts, or maybe even crocheting a few “granny squares” for that blanket she’s been working on for three years…
Innocent Wozufia, Boston Field Team Leader
Innocent Wozufia is one of the 2017 Branching Out Boston Field Team Leaders. He is in charge of assisting in the program planning, co-leading team building activities and co-supervising the youth participants. Innocent has participated and assisted in leading similar youth programs, first as a Green Team member and later as Crew leader Assistant at Groundwork Somerville. Most recently, working for the Branching Out School Year Program as an ambassador has reinforced his enthusiasm for the National Park Service and the Branching Out program. He is currently a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Boston and majoring in Economics. During his spare time, Innocent likes to listen to and play music as well as watch Political and socio-cultural documentaries or go for a walk.
Adrienne Sharigian, New York City Field Team Coordinator
Adrienne Sharigian is responsible for overseeing the Branching Out Field Team in Boston, as well as supporting education partnerships with Boston Public Schools. Adrienne has been working to empower young people in the outdoors since 2007, starting as a Crew Leader with Student Conservation Association and most recently coming from Thompson Island Outward Bound. Having worked with Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, Washington State Archives in regards to Olmsted, and dabbled in landscape design herself, Adrienne has developed a true appreciation for the art of landscape architecture. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from Wheaton College in Anthropology and in an independently created Environmental Studies. When not working, Adrienne loves to teach and practice yoga and meditation, read and explore new restaurants and cafes.
Uriah Williams, New York City Field Team and School Year Program Coordinator
Uriah Williams is responsible for overseeing the Branching Out Field Team in New York City and the Branching Out School Year Program in New York City. Uriah started working with the Branching Out Program in Boston since 2011 in many different capacities and move to New York City to expand the Branching Out Program in 2016 in partnership with Stephen T. Mather High School. Uriah has took real interest in working with urban youth after she completed NPS academy and started working with Boston youth in the field of landscape maintenance at the Tri-Sites (Fredrick Law Olmsted Historic Site, Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site). Uriah graduated from Quincy College and has a degree in Natural Science with a concentration in Biology. In her spare time she spends time with her sisters and exploring different cities.
Michelle Pizzillo, Internship Program and School Year Program Coordinator
Michelle Pizzillo is responsible for overseeing the Branching Out Internship Program, as well as the School Year Program in Boston. Michelle majored in Recreation Management at the University of New Hampshire and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education at Lesley University. She has worked in a variety of settings that interweave her interests in education, outdoor recreation, and experiential learning. Prior to joining the Branching Out program she worked at Mount Auburn Cemetery and taught English in Hangzhou, China. When not working, Michelle enjoys riding bicycles, swimming, and traveling.