Meet Our Team

The Cool Green Trees core team works with public health interns, an advisory council, technical forestry committee and other partners. Our program is being incubated under Cawaco RC&D Council as part of their mission to be “dedicated to the conservation, development and sustained use of natural and community resources serving Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker counties of Alabama.”

Francesca Gross, Program Manger (Keeping it all together)
Francesca’s passion for Alabama’s natural systems and people, creativity, communication skills, and dedication to education and developing young conservationists is clear in her life story. She is an environmental scientist with an eclectic background. She holds degrees in agriculture science specializing in natural resources and environmental engineering science specializing in systems ecology. She earned a certification in vocational agriculture and natural channel design.

Francesca has worked as a state regulator in environmental permitting and wetland delineation and as an environmental consultant in 12 states. She managed and taught in the Urban Environmental Studies Program at Birmingham-Southern College and led the Five Mile Creek Greenway Partnership, which resulted in the core project for the Red Rock Trail System.

She partnered with front-line communities in Ensley, Woodlawn, and North Titusville. Developing and nurturing partnerships across government, nonprofits, businesses, and neighborhoods has been the key to her success.

Allie Smith, Liason (Inform, Gather, Share Tree Joy)
Allie helps establish and maintain mutual understanding and cooperation with the communities we serve. She focuses on interfacing with governments and other stakeholders, volunteer coordination, and marketing and public relation efforts.

Allie comes out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with a degree in public health. She interned at the UAB Sustainability program at the Solar House and continued in an AmeriCorps position as the education, outreach, and communications coordinator. Her skills in organization, analysis, supervision, and volunteer management and rave reviews from managers and coworkers landed Allie a top position at Cool Green Trees.

Patrick McMahon, Urban Arborist (Tree Wizard)
Patrick works to approve our implementation plans and onsite planting practices. He is fully involved in our outreach to communities, hiring and managing subcontractors, and keeping up with all of the maintenance and tree care practices.

Patrick’s degree from Auburn University in natural resources management and his work in the Auburn Forest Fire and Ecology Lab set the stage for him to become our first arborist. His outdoor leadership skills through the Boy Scouts and his passion for working with local conservation nonprofits show his interest in learning. Patrick took a risk on the nonprofit job, coming from the world of environmental consulting. Feeling disconnected from making a real impact in the world, he came back to the forests and trees of Alabama. He came back to learn, stretch his skills to new levels, and dive deep into the world of social change and conservation.

How We Move

We are a team, with support from subcontracted administrators, financial experts, tree planters, web builders, engineers, landscape architects, neighbors, advisory board members, and a technical committee. We operate “on a shoestring” to produce as much as we can out of what we are given.

We start with listening. Our “Green Opportunity” communities need to be heard and listened to about what they think about changes in their neighborhoods. Urban conservation and environmental justice issues are deeply rooted not just in lack of amenities and services, but also in who has power and access to decision-making. The community needs to be at the table from the beginning.

Education about tree safety and healthy tree canopies happens best through personal conversations. Urban conservation work requires deep commitment and investment of time and resources to gain trust and create ongoing relationships with communities, businesses, and city officials. It’s how we roll.