Christina Smith

Executive Director
 

The passion I have for Bridgeport, Connecticut stems from the happiness I had as a child growing up here. I was born in Bridgeport and lived here until I was twelve when my mom moved so that we could be in a better place. As the adult, she was concerned about the many issues the city was then facing in the late 80s, as a child, I only saw the happy things - I had many friends, I loved school, Christmases were fun, and overall things were great.

Now as an adult myself, I understand the concern my mom had for me growing up in Bridgeport. I see the issues she saw then so long ago and that still face the city today. I have had the fortune to live in many other places since my childhood, New York, San Francisco, and London to name a few, but Bridgeport is my home and I am happy to be working to make my hometown better. I am especially happy to be working with youth so that their memories and experiences in the city are as happy as those that I remember. With the academic experience I have gained from Princeton (B.A. in Economics) and my most recent studies in how to better cities (M.Sc. in Urban Regeneration from University College London) and how cities can reuse their old buildings for new purposes (M.A. in Historical and Sustainable Architecture from New York University), I am ready to apply that knowledge to my hometown. My goal is to be part of making Bridgeport a place that people love to be!

 
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Tanner Burgdorf

Program Coordinator
 

As the Program Coordinator for Groundwork Bridgeport I get the opportunity to work with youth who are invested in changing the perception of the city. While earning my B.S. degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Connecticut I helped manage UConn’s student run farm. This is where I first started to fall for being outdoors, growing, and managing a place.  

Despite offers to work as a residential landscape designer, I knew that I wanted to work in a setting where I felt that I could give back in a way that had more meaning to me. I thus apply what I learned in college to the work I do by using it to inspire the youth I get to teach here in Bridgeport. I model my approach after my parents who are both teachers. When it is time to stop playing in the dirt however I can often be found at your nearest second hand shop looking for some piece of furniture to refinish and wood-burn.  

Our Interns, Fellows, and Volunteers

 

Christopher Rodriguez

LAND STEWARD

I don’t think I’ve been happier than when I’m helping someone else or volunteering within the community. Volunteering at the Yale Summit for the Equity of Place, I met Tanner, who introduced me to Groundwork Bridgeport. 
The timing was great, I was at a point in my life where I started to question what route I wanted to take. Did I want to continue working for only personal gain and material things? Or did I want to use my time to help others as well as bettering our ecosystems throughout the city? After some thinking I choose to take a gap year after reading headline after headline, time after time about the environmental crisis we are facing and how little was being done. 

At the time I was a International Business student at the University of Bridgeport after receiving my A.A. in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship from Housatonic Community College. I learned a lot from my professors and classmates; taking that knowledge and applying it today. It was a hard decision to make, but I learned that school will always have a place for me when the time is right. But right now time is telling me to plant more trees and flowers, to helps others, and follow one’s heart in doing good. I believe volunteering at Groundwork Bridgeport will help fulfill those dreams.

Rachael Swift

Land Steward

As I'm not a superhero my origin story is relatively unimportant, but the facts to know are that I've always preferred to be outdoors, always loved playing in the dirt, and always had an appreciation for viewing and creating beauty. Over the past few years I've learned how to combine my loves into a form that is deemed "acceptable" by adult society. Gardening. That and I really wanted to be like Samwise Gamgee when I grew up.