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  • About Rock Creek Conservancy

Staff

Matthew Fleischer, Executive Director

Email: mfleischer@rockcreekconservancy.org

Matthew Fleischer was appointed as Executive Director/CEO of Rock Creek Conservancy in early 2014. He is dedicated to revitalizing the national treasures of Rock Creek Park - one of the largest Metropolitan parks in the world - and restoring its watershed so that present and future generations can enjoy this natural haven.

Matt brings a new energy to the Conservancy. He understands the value of partnerships, and his vision is that the Conservancy, along with other non-profits, government agencies, businesses, and the surrounding community, will together preserve the lands and waters of Rock Creek. Under Matt's leadership, the Conservancy continues to thrive, expanding its donor base and increasing its impact.

Matt holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Mary Washington and an MBA from the University of Maryland, Smith School of Business. Before his time with the Conservancy, he served as President/CEO of Hook & Ladder Brewing Company, a mission-based business he launched and grew to $7 million in revenue. Hook & Ladder donated a portion of every sale to a local firefighter burn foundation and hospital burn centers across the country. Matt also sat on the board of the Hook & Ladder Firefighter Burn Foundation, and was named one of the top 35 entrepreneurs under 35 in the Washington, DC area by BisNow.

An avid outdoorsman and nature lover, Matt can be found walking the trails of beautiful Rock Creek Park on any given weekend. He also enjoys hiking and backpacking in the wilderness, and the two months he spent backpacking through British Columbia and Alaska is one of his fondest memories. 

Matt lives with his wife, Sarah, their two young sons, and a beloved family dog in Kensington, MD, just outside the Park.

Alena Kaufman, Director of Development & Communications

Alena Web

Email: akaufman@rockcreekconservancy.org

Alena's professional history ranges from board packets to bulb plantings; for over 10 years, she has entwined nonprofit management experiences and feet-on-the-ground, hands-in-the-dirt action. Most recently, Alena built a public and special events department for Glynwood, a nonprofit in the Hudson Valley focused on sustainable agriculture. There, she increased community engagement, fundraising efforts and donor cultivation. She also oversaw revenue streams that generated substantial earned income to support programs and an annual gala. In addition, she has worked to activate local constituencies for the Small Planet Institute and at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, an established nonprofit creating partnerships with government and local agencies.

Prior to organizing 250-foot dining tables in a field and many, many dinners with high-profile chefs, Alena grew food and partnered to launch an organic cut flower program in Connecticut, now a blueprint model in the state. She has been certified in organic land care practices, designed gardens that incorporate edibles into landscaping and generally likes getting her hands dirty - whatever the task.

Alena shares a new home in DC with her partner, Andrew, and is focused on a shade garden behind her new home, as well as a front yard, where this past winter someone ate most of the crocus bulbs.

Michelle Kokolis, Director of Programs & Operations

Email: mkokolis@rockcreekconservancy.org

Michelle joined Rock Creek Conservancy in early 2017. Previously, she was the Anacostia Executive Watershed Manager at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), where she provide technical support to the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership including identifying opportunities for collaboration, coordination, and more efficient implementation of restoration projects, Green Infrastructure practices. Michelle also led the Anacostia Trash Reduction Workgroup, which focuses on standardizing the methodologies used by the Anacostia jurisdictions to calculate and report their trash reduction efforts.

Prior to coming to the DC area, Michelle spent 7 years as the Watershed Restoration Project Manager for the James River Association in Richmond, VA, where she was responsible for establishing and maintaining diverse partnerships to implement innovative on-the-ground projects that address stormwater management, sedimentation, habitat restoration, land conservation and other issues facing the James River. She has also worked as an adjunct biology instructor at John Tyler Community College and a life science teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools. 

Michelle received a Masters of Science in Biology with a concentration in Wetland Sciences from Old Dominion University and a BS in Biology from Susquehanna University.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Michelle grew up on the Allegheny River and has a life-long love of everything related to water. She enjoys spending her free time cooking and baking. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her wandering around with her dog and taking pictures to support her fallback career as a nature photographer.

Kate Arion, Development Manager for Special Events

Kate For Web

Kate Arion joined Rock Creek Conservancy in 2017. Kate has an extensive background organizing public events for the Maryland chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where she coordinated volunteer engagement, partnered with peer nonprofits, and launched a young professionals group. She also worked at Riverkeeper in upstate New York and at the National Audubon Society. Kate is a graduate of Dartmouth College and brings enthusiasm and event planning skill to the team. 

Anne Baker, Communications Manager

Email: abaker@rockcreekconservancy.orgAnne Web

Anne joined Rock Creek Conservancy in April 2016. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, she holds undergraduate degrees in journalism and technical photography from Appalachian State University and a graduate degree in English from Western Carolina University. Previously, she worked as a public relations and social media specialist for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Anne loves the outdoors, and is an avid hiker and backpacker. She currently lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia, with her English Shepherd, Bella. 

Erica Carlsson, Program Manager (Youth, Education, Health)

Email: ecarlsson@rockcreekconservancy.org

Erica began working at Rock Creek Conservancy in October of 2015. In this position, she is able to connect people with the natural world in meaningful ways that empower self-improvement and environmental conservation. She joined us from The Exotic Plant Management Team for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service. Previously held positions include Interpretive Ranger at Mount Saint Helen's National Monument (Forest Service), Mount Hood Community College (Youth Conservation Corps) Leader, and Graduate Research Scientist with the University of Florida-Geography Department. She is an experienced outdoor educator, who loves hiking, canoeing, and tackling challenge course elements in her free time.

Frankie Hockenbrocht, Program Manager (Downspout Disconnection)

RCC Staff FrankieEmail: fhockenbrocht@rockcreekconservancy.org

Starting in February 2017, Frankie joined Rock Creek Conservancy as the Program Manager for the D.C. Water Downspout Disconnection Program. Born in the Philippines, and raised in Pennsylvania, Frankie earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Juniata College in 2010 and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from American University in 2016. He has worked previously at the Policy Studies Organization, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (Country), and the University of Wyoming. 

Frankie's hobbies include painting, mushroom foraging, playing harmonica, backpacking, and farming. 

Sherri Hammerman, Administrative Assistant

Email: shammerman@rockcreekconservancy.org

Sherri Hammerman joined Rock Creek Conservancy as Administrative Assistant in April 2014. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and previously worked as a graphic artist at Fahlgren Advertising, USA TODAY and American University, and also taught early childhood music in Bethesda. Sherri enjoys running on the trails near Meadowbrook Park.