The Board of Directors of the Magnolia Tree Earth Center of Bedford Stuyvesant, Inc. (MTEC) — recognized as a pioneer for more than 40 years in creating green programs for residents of Brooklyn and beyond, has namedMs. Beverly Johnson, a former dean at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, as Magnolia Tree’s new Executive Director.
“The Board is very excited to have Ms. Johnson accept our invitation to take Magnolia Tree to the next level,” announced Board Chair David Mark Greaves. “She brings an impressive background, range of skills, knowledge, insights, energy and national and international contacts to this position. Much in keeping with the spirit ofMagnolia Tree’s founder, Ms. Johnson will tackle challenges as they come, turn them into triumphs for thecommunity, and position Magnolia Tree squarely in the forefront as a leader in Brooklyn’s green movements.”
Ms. Johnson stated, “The Center’s goal is to be urban America’s leader in creating community awareness of ecology, horticulture and environmental justice that fosters urban beautification, earth stewardship and community sustainability. With the template already established, I am ready to do the work that needs to be done.”
Magnolia Tree Earth Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The three brownstones that house the center at 677-679 Lafayette Ave., in Brooklyn, are officially landmarked, and the Magnolia Grandiflora, planted in the front yard of 679 in the 1880’s, is now designated New York City’s only living landmark.
Community activist Hattie Carthan, a Bedford Stuyvesant resident, established the Magnolia Tree Earth Center after she prevented the great tree from being destroyed by Model Cities wrecking crews some 50 years ago. As a result of Ms. Carthan’s efforts, the brown-stones also were preserved so that the tree, itself, could maintain stability; an ecology center for the community created; and the City’s first “Green Movement” established. Over the course of the years that followed, she aggressively enlisted community groups, schools, politicians, other activists, and neighbors in her green crusade, which has culminated in one of the most widely known community based organizations.
“Ms. Carthan challenged the powers that be, on the one hand; and enlisted their support on the other,” said Ms. Johnson. “In the process, she developed an umbrella organization that planted 1,500 new trees in Bedford-Stuyvesant; as well as transforming rubbish-filled vacant lots into lavish gardens, in desolate, debris laden areas of Brooklyn. I am proud to plant new seeds for Magnolia Tree.”
In addition to housing the MTEC headquarters, Magnolia Tree Center is home to several community organizations, includingBrooklyn/Queens Land Trust, Green Guerillas, and DBG Media/Our Time Press, to mention a few. In addition, MTEC is located a block from the Hattie Carthan Community Gardens two Farmers Markets; and across the street from the Herbert Von King Park — all comprising the largest green cultural oasis in Bedford Stuyvesant.
Nancy Wolf, long time board member stated, “ Our concepts for the Tree Corps, Landscape Training, Bio-Med Program, GreenEnterprise, Garden Restoration Programs, and the Africare Tree Planting Project, were all ahead of their time. Our programs always have stressed community service, values and skills development as they encourage and inspire, and they are replicated throughout New York City and other cities nationwide.”
“We’re ecstatic about the possibilities Ms. Johnson brings to Magnolia and the work, begun so many years ago, on which she will continue to build,” stated Ms. Marcia Goldman, former president, and previous board chair of the Center.
Ms. Johnson is an accomplished executive, who has delivered mission-critical results; has solid experience in managing all levels of multiple projects, including budgeting and administration. With nearly 30 years of experience in higher education, fund raising,marketing, event planning, recruitment and outreach, as well handling multiple projects in a fast-paced environment, she brings agreat deal of value to the table. She has a passion for maintaining interpersonal relationships, and an astute business sense, all positiveassets in the management of a non-profit agency that has set its goals on becoming the premiere eco-action community basedorganization in New York.
She has spent a considerable amount of time mentoring new students, helping them identify linkages in the real world with their own skills and abilities; and has reached across to provide even greater access internationally, via her travels to Japan, China, Thailand,Malaysia, and other areas meeting with and recruiting students from various cultures and belief systems.
On Thursday, February 9, 2012 (5:00pm-9:00pm), Ms. Johnson and the Board will roll out their overall vision for Magnolia’s future and immediate plans for Winter-Spring green programs leading up to annual awards gala and fundraising drive in June – when the tree itself is in full and Ms. Johnson’s appointment formally celebrated.
“In addition to the return of Magnolia’s Central Brooklyn Project Green initiative for the fifth year during 2012 April Earth Month,” says Mr. Greaves, “Ms. Johnson will announce the resurrection of Ms. Carthan’s ‘Tree Corps’ program and other innovative projects designed to advance knowledge of the ecological sciences, while encouraging youth from all over the city to become involved in green movements and the art of community service.”