Staff

Our youth-created, youth-driven organization is powered by high school and college students from across the United States. Our mentors at Green Schools Alliance, a network for students and adults interested in building healthy, sustainable school solutions, assist our organization with our fiscal and monetary policies.
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Robert Walton

 CEO
Geosciences and Economics
Commonwealth Honors College
at UMass Amherst
Class of 2019
Robert@GreeningForward.org

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Ryan Szvetecz

Finance Director
Finance and Environmental Economics and Management
University of Georgia
Class of 2019
Ryan@GreeningForward.org
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Cary Lynne Thigpen

Youth Council Liaison
Political Science
University Of Georgia
Class of 2019
CaryLynne@GreeningForward.org »

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Argenis Herrera

Director of Digital Content
Political Science and Economics
Williams College
Class of 2022
Argenis@GreeningForward.org »
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Forbi Perise

Cameroon Coordinator
Agroforestry
ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit Studies
Class of 2020
Forbi@GreeningForward.org »

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Jacob Garland

Outreach Manager
St. John’s Preparatory School
North Andover, MA

While a Boy Scout in his hometown of Concord Massachusetts, Robert Walton was engaged by the beauty of the natural world through camping trips and hikes with his troop. As he grew older, he discovered how to lead others in his views through leadership on his wrestling team and in his fraternity. Currently attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst for a degree in Geosciences and Economics, Robert is involved in research with the US Fish and Wildlife services and his school program, ICONS, on the effects of environmental change on different societal issues. Robert plans to use his experiences to make sure everyone has the opportunity to an equal voice about problems that concern them. Over the next few years, he plans to expand Greening Forward’s influence amongst the young Changemaker community, and the country as a whole.

After a baseball-filled childhood in the suburbs of Atlanta, Ryan Szvetecz is currently attending the University of Georgia to pursue degrees in Finance and Environmental Economics and Management.  He is the oldest of 3 siblings, and has two beautiful dogs back at home.  In his free time, he enjoys dominating the competition in intramural sports, exploring the many incredible restaurants Athens, GA has to offer, and relaxing with friends.  In high school, Ryan knew that he wanted to work in the business world, but after taking an environmental science class, he became fascinated by the environmental problems facing the world today.  He is excited by the role businesses can play in becoming a more sustainable society, and in the future, wants to help companies embrace a triple-bottom line approach.

Deanna Upchurch grew up surrounded by natural beauty in a small town outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She loves traveling, reading, and spending time with her family. After graduating high school, she took a gap year to study Arabic in Rabat, Morocco. Deanna is currently studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cary Lynne Thigpen is currently a Political Science/Pre-Law major at the University of Georgia. She is passionate about environmental protection as a direct result of the numerous family trips to National Parks she has taken in the past 20 years. In addition to schoolwork, Cary Lynne’s days are filled with dogs, volunteering for various campaigns, spontaneous travel, and A Capella. Cary Lynne hopes to pursue a career in the lobbying field, and eventually wind up in politics.

Argenis Herrera has always been fascinated by the world around him, both small and large. An 18 year old college student, Argenis looks forward to using the skills at hand to help find solutions to the many issues that affect his community and the environment he lives in. Outside of social advocacy, he enjoys reading novels and classic literature, curating Spotify playlists and going for long runs around park trails. Argenis plans to use his education at Williams to influence public policy and pursue a career in government.

Forbi Perise is 21 years old and has spent his entire life in Buea, the capital of the southwest region of Cameroon. In high school he studied mainly science subjects and had interests in biology and geology. Currently, he is studying agro-forestry at the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-Profit studies at the undergraduate level. In his free time he likes reading, drawing, and environmental work, such as collecting plastic bottles for a local recycling company. His aim is to ensure that Cameroon’s streams are not polluted, and that agriculture done in his community is sustainable and doesn’t affect biodiversity.

Introduced to the world of conservation through a routine trip to New York, Jacob Garland has spent the past few years working to improve his school’s and his community’s outlook on conservation. Acting as president of his school’s environmental club, as well as a member of it’s animal welfare club and carbon footprint committee, Jacob hopes to continue the pattern of change on a larger scale. Currently, he also runs his own environmental blog (called WorkingtoSave) which aims to inform readers of ways individuals can help to solve some of the world’s largest environmental issues. In his free time, he enjoys reading, bird watching, playing the clarinet and violin, and playing video games. He hopes to have Greening Forward act as the next step in his environmental career, and a means of forwarding his understanding of the natural world.

Youth Council

Our youth council, composed of youth ages 13-20, advise and support our staff in fundraising, program management, and visibility for Greening Forward.
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Kayla Zhu

Youth Council President
North Farmington High School
Farmington Hills, MI
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Neha Middela

Youth Council Membership Coordinator
International Academy
Bloomfield Hills, MI
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Angelina Reyes

International Academy
Bloomfield Hills, MI
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Clare Sparling

Oakton High School
Oakton, Virginia
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Macy Stacher

Baruch College Campus High School
New York, New York

Kayla Zhu lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, where she attends high school. She first opened her eyes to the impact of environmental issues as a legislative intern for a local state representative. After being inspired by the constituents that voiced how environmental issues affected their daily lives, Kayla began to advocate for environmentally conscience policies through political work for pro-environment public servants at the local, state, and national levels. Kayla was also the Michigan Youth Delegate to the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues, and she interned at the United Nations this past summer. While at the UN, Kayla served as a representative from the UN Major Group for Children and Youth to the 2016 High-Level Political Forum on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Kayla hopes to study public policy in college and pursue a career in international affairs, while continuing to advocate for environmentally sustainable policies.  

Neha Middela is a high school student from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In recent years, she has become passionate about environmental action and protection, from both a scientific and public policy standpoint. She is a member of the Michigan Youth Conservation Council, and channels her environmental activism into writing for her school newspaper, literary magazine, and several online publications. In the future, she hopes to go into the fields of global health or food security and believes that sustainability and environmental consciousness are integral to ensuring equality around the world.

Angelina Reyes is a high school student and lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Although she has always been fascinated by the world of science, she first developed a passion for the environment in her middle school earth science class. Through her involvement in Science Olympiad, she continues to research topics from habitat loss to water pollution. She believes that educating people about environmental issues is crucial to inspiring action. Angelina hopes to share her passion for environmental advocacy by using her position on the Youth Council to spread awareness and encourage green programs in cities and schools all across the world.

Clare Sparling is a high school student from Oakton, Virginia. The environment has always been a large part of her life, and she has spent numerous family vacations exploring the national parks. As she continued through school, her passion for the environment was strengthened through the encouragement of her science teachers. Additionally, the scientific research Clare has conducted throughout her high school years has brought her into contact with many environmental specialists. This helped her identify and explore new ways to address the environmental issues facing her community. In the future, Clare hopes to use her interest in science to research and develop new solutions to environmental problems.

Macy Stacher is currently a 16 year old high school student that resides in New York City. He is the new president of the environmental club at his school and founded the Manhattan Borough Student Advisory Council’s Sustainability Committee. His commitment to sustainability stretches from park and beach cleanups to the establishment of a program to educate students and teachers about environmentalism throughout New York City Public Schools. Macy believes that it is necessary for a strong foundation of youth advocacy of sustainability in order to promote healthier behaviors towards Mother Earth.