2023 Boston Urban Forest Friends Symposium

On Saturday, June 24th, the highly anticipated Boston Urban Forest Friends (BUFF) Symposium took place at the beautiful Arnold Arboretum Weld Hill Research Building. The BUFF Symposium is supported and sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The theme of the symposium was: Growing Together: The Urban Forest Plan and How Boston Becomes A Green City. The symposium brought together 60 people both in-person and online, offering a unique platform for residents and organizations to learn, connect, celebrate, and share their stories of contributing towards a greener Boston.


Community Outreach Manager, Jerel Ferguson, began the symposium with a land acknowledgement.

The symposium served as a dynamic and inspiring forum for discussing the vital role that urban forests play in creating a thriving city, providing a valuable opportunity for attendees to expand their knowledge about urban forestry and explore innovative ways to enhance the green spaces within the city. Each speaker, listed below, brought their expertise and unique perspectives, sharing insights and experiences gained from their involvement in various urban forestry initiatives.

The symposium included an impressive lineup of featured speakers, including:

  • Todd Mistor:

Todd Mistor has come to the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department to serve as the first Director of Urban Forestry. Todd is originally from Michigan where he has many years of urban forestry experience working for the City of Detroit and other smaller municipalities. He has studied forestry as well as philosophy and theology which help to bring a well-rounded perspective to the work laid out in Boston’s Urban Forest Plan. He is also a Certified Arborist with a Municipal Specialization through the International Society of Arboriculture. As trees become ever more important to cities in light of climate change, Todd looks to bolster the urban tree canopy while making equity and community engagement top priorities of the Urban Forestry Division.

  • Karen Mauney-Brodek:

Karen Mauney-Brodek is President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, working to restore and improve the Emerald Necklace’s 1,100 acres for all. Karen is a board member of the City Parks Alliance and Preservation Massachusetts, and is a member of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Special Commission, where she aids DCR in improving the management and operations of the resources it stewards.

  • Davo Jefferson:

Davo Jefferson is a social justice reform advocate who has a passion for working on issues that pertain to positive youth and young adult development. Mr. Jefferson serves as the Executive Director for PowerCorpsBoston, a paid workforce development program that uses environmental service as a way to teach urban young adults career and technical skills.

  • Salvatore Genovese:

Salvatore Genovese will present information about Boston University’s Environmental Equity & Urban Tree Canopy Cross-College Challenge course, and discuss opportunities for organizations to partner with one or more of our student teams on projects their organizations will be engaged in this fall or in the future.

  • Erica Holm:

Erica Holm is an urban specialist – focused on urban trees, environmental justice, urban nature conservation and education, and urban wildlife conservation. Since 2019, she has lived and worked in Boston, implementing tree plantings with youth, mapping and assessing land use and social variables, and restoring degraded sites. As Mass Audubon’s first urban ecologist, Erica works across a wide range of groups and spaces to increase the intersectionality of Mass Audubon’s conservation work in urban settings in Massachusetts.

  • Aalana Feaster:

Aalana Feaster holds a B.A. in International Business and an MBA from Northeastern University, showcasing her commitment to continuous learning and professional development. Her civic and community-minded nature has led her to devote her time and efforts to preserving the “Morton Street Tree Canopy” in Dorchester.

  • Leigh Meunier:

Leigh Munier, works as a project coordinator with both CREW and CRWA on a flood modeling and preparedness initiative. A large part of her work is engaging directly with communities about green infrastructure/nature-based solutions to reduce flooding impacts, including restoring greenspaces, increasing the tree canopy, and removing pavement.

  • Joshua Reed:

Joshua Reed, Speak for the Trees Education Coordinator, who will be joining us to share about our amazing summer youth employment program called the Teen Urban Tree Corps. He served in the Peace Corps in Comoros as a TEFL Volunteer where he also joined local Comorians in various sustainable environmental projects. In AmeriCorps he served as a Volunteer Manager for the nonprofit Opportunity Living.

  • David Meshoulam:

David (pronounced Dah-veed) Meshoulam co-founded Speak for the Trees in 2018. Trained as a science educator, his work has focused on ways to increase understanding of the connections between science, culture, and history and to empower people to be change agents. He holds a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a Senior Fellow at the Environmental Leadership Program, and is co-chair of the Urban Ecology Collaborative.

(l to r: Jerel Ferguson, Joshua Reed, Leigh Meunier, Todd Mistor, Karen Mauney-Brodek, Aalana Feaster, Erica Holm, Davo Jefferson, Salvatore Genovese, and Speak for the Trees, Executive Director, David Meshoulam)

The event concluded with attendees feeling inspired and motivated to further connect and contribute to Boston’s urban forestry initiatives. The symposium’s success showcased the power of collective action and the impact that can be achieved when communities come together to prioritize nature within an urban environment.








Events like the BUFF Symposium play a crucial role in promoting exchanges of knowledge, encouraging networking, and building a strong community dedicated to creating a sustainable and equitable urban landscape. Through shared experiences and growing together, Boston is poised to embrace its future as a thriving green city.

The next BUFF meeting will be on Friday, July 14th 11AM-12PM. Join us monthly via zoom to continue the Boston urban forestry discussion.

Speak for the Trees – (l to r: David Meshoulam, Jerel Ferguson, Claire Corcoran, Chad Fisher, Victoria Frothingham, Joshua Reed, Nora Kelly, Hannah Axtell, Mekhi Edge Wallace)