Led by Ambrosino, They’re Hitting The Ground Running
Three women are now the highest-level leaders of the BCONE Executive Team ready to tackle 2023 with vision, execution, and results — all with an emphasis on networking and education.
By Steve Dwyer
To Melina Ambrosino, the newly elected President of BCONE, the collaborative success that she anticipates generating with newly-elected Vice Presidents, Almariet Roberts and Nancy Struzenski, is one marked by the supreme synergy that balances their professional experiences and capacities.
Ambrosino, who serves as another president — that of president for Cherrytree Group, Newton, Mass. — has established a significantly successful reputation for strategizing the dispersal of brownfield tax credits. Melina says it’s a huge benefit for a board of directors to have such a balance across this vast and eclectic industry.
That’s the beauty of how BCONE is structured as it consists of professionals from a wide universe of professional capacities — ones that align to foster opportunity and growth in advancing brownfield industry initiatives.
Almariet Roberts, skilled in lab and field research, is Project Geologist at HRP Associates Inc., Hamden, Connecticut. She has vast experience researching mineral interactions within microbial mats and examining the effects of cyanobacterial metabolisms and increased pH on the dissolution of diatoms. Almariet is an experienced office administrator with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit sector.
Nancy Struzenski Farrell, with more than 30 years of experience in the environmental laboratory business, is Vice President of Technical Sales at Alpha Analytical, and she’s based in Binghamton, New York. Nancy specializes in providing laboratory analytical testing services to a variety of clients, including consultants, environmental firms, government agencies, and developers.
Melina can’t wait to see the three board leaders collaborate in 2023 and become one epoxy-tight team that executes and delivers. Appointed as one of 15 BCONE board members in early 2021, Melina had submitted her application for nomination during the January 2020 meeting. She has been involved in the Massachusetts Expansion Committee and NSCW conference planning.
“I joined BCONE [in 2021] to meet other industry leaders and professionals. I’d not have met Almariet and Nancy if not for BCONE: It’s been one of the best working relationships I’ve ever had, and we’ve become friends as well. I know nothing about lab or testing, and that’s Nancy’s expertise — I can direct people to Nancy. I know nothing about fieldwork, and now I can direct them to Almariet. What we want in the end is to point more developers and clients to all these experts, and encourage them to attend educational seminars.”
Melina offered a huge tip of the cap to outgoing BCONE President Rick Shoyer, praising what he accomplished over three years. “Rick provided the three of us with an excellent foundation on which to build and grow — Rick was an amazing hands-on president. We want to follow in that legacy. We see increased education and more robust BCONE networking events as being keys to making that happen.”
Almariet says she’s “incredibly excited and honored to be working with Nancy and Melina. They are exemplary leaders in their industry, and their commitment to BCONE is inspiring. I think we have a dynamic team that brings a variety of skills to the table that will help effectively grow and strengthen the organization.”
Nancy concurs, adding: “I can tell you that the three of us have the same goals and mission for BCONE and have worked very well together in the past. Melina and I were responsible, as co-chairs, for the first Connecticut NSCW in over 10 years, with an attendance of more than 225 people. Almariet and I co-chaired two Barcelone Wine Bar events before and after COVID with record attendance for an evening networking event. I feel this team works so well together and look forward to a very successful 2023.”
As Melina looks ahead, she identifies several areas that sit on the BCONE front burner. “One thing I’m passionate about is the opportunity BCONE provides young professionals, who are emerging leaders. BCONE is very supportive of young professionals, and it’s all part of what and why I’m very passionate about in 2023 and beyond: when you see how excited [college] students get when we are connected to education — all to help them grow professionally, that’s the best gift.”
She is also eager to leverage BCONE’s vast resources to drive better networking with industry people — be it within a social setting, formal education (such as colleges and universities) or via BCONE’s many annual events — think NSCW and more. Regarding virtual meetings, “people are ‘Zoom-fatigued.’ They crave more in-person interaction. While we still must rely on virtual meetings, in-person events and hybrid formats are paramount. At the 2022 NSCW, we had record attendance,” says Melina.
Regarding her own experience at Cherrytree Group, which has pivoted in a big way toward advocating for and financing solar projects, Melina says the firm continues to hone its reputation for closing renewable energy deals that include solar and other renewable vertical applications, such as wind power situated on brownfields.
About solar, she adds: “At BCONE, solar development is huge right now. Landfills that are closed or closing are prime candidates for solar redevelopments.”
On how developers need to get better up to speed on what their financial opportunities consist of in order to fund projects: “We need to educate developers on what they can get in the context of brownfield tax credits. Many of them look at us and say, ‘what’s that?’ It sounds like witchcraft to them. Some very skilled and accomplished BCONE consultants can counsel developers about the dynamics behind applying for and obtaining these credits.”
A Champion for Environmental Justice
Almariet says that, as she peers at some of her front-burner goals in 2023 across several key areas that regularly impact the brownfields redevelopment process, “environmental justice considerations in brownfield redevelopment is an issue I hope we will continue to focus on and build more content around for our members.
“It is imperative that future redevelopment be inclusive and elevate the quality of life for the local community,” she says. “Underserved communities have been disproportionately impacted by brownfield sites and have historically been inequitably alienated from redeveloped sites. I believe that if a community has had to bear the burden of living with a blighted brownfield in their neighborhood, then they should reap the benefit from the redevelopment of that property.”
Almariet adds that “equitable redevelopment coupled with climate-forward initiatives will be the key to sustainable and resilient redevelopment in the future. It is important that stakeholders learn from past mistakes and make a commitment to improving these injustices in the future.”
Identifying challenges she’s most concerned about, Almariet points to post-pandemic where “it was challenging to navigate how to most impactfully engage our members. We adapted quickly to virtual events and were able to come up with creative new ways to connect with one another.”
Moving into 2023, Almariet believes that “one of our main goals is to create an ideal blend of in-person, virtual and hybrid events. Our focus is to create content with both regional and local significance that can facilitate the benefits of face-to-face networking opportunities while also maintaining the ability to communicate regionally relevant information virtually.”
Eager For NY Expansion
Nancy says that “in my time with BCONE, I have grown from a member to the NSCW co-chair and then to one of two vice presidents. With my current territory and growth that I’ve incorporated into expanding Connecticut, I would like to see the Upstate New York presence grow and reach out to the Upstate New York territory to learn more about BCONE and be active in the organization giving NY a full presence.”
Looking at what she’s most excited about in 2023, Nancy says that “the new executive team has a goal to grow in an area of expanded membership and sponsorships — both of which will put BCONE at another level.”
Posted January 1, 2023
Warren founded Cherrytree in 2011 and has spent the past eleven years building a highly specialized tax credit consultation, brokerage, and syndication firm. He has relied on three decades of experience and a law background to focus on the structural and development finance aspects of tax incentivized real estate-based transactions — particularly in the environmental remediation (Brownfields), renewable energy, and historic rehabilitation areas.