Lucienne Nicholson was always curious about the wonders in the natural world around her. Lucienne was born in Haiti where she spent most of her childhood summers on her grandmother’s farm, an idyllic setting which included an off-the-grid lifestyle absent of built roads, cars and noise pollution, dirty streets and crammed-up human beings in imposing architectural structures.
At sixteen, Lucienne immigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings. As she describes it, the loss of everything familiar was immediate and unbearable. Sadly and quite necessarily, many of these losses including childhood ties like extended family members, favorite school friends and familiar anchor places like her last physical dwelling place faded away overtime.
Through the years, the imprints of childhood summers spent in nature did not leave Lucienne. In fact, these memories grew larger over time becoming the bedrock of a resiliency she found nowhere else. “Nature,” writes Lucienne, “is the infinite teacher of everything I have ever needed to navigate my new country and from nature I learned to understand human beings including myself.”
At a young age, Lucienne made a silent promise to herself to one day create unimpeded and continuous access to nature for all of America’s children regardless of their socioeconomic standing, race, or physical differences.
But first, Lucienne focused on her education and raising a family. In the years since arriving to the United States, Lucienne earned an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Science with Distinction and a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Gender Studies, magna cum laude. Lucienne’s academic excellence is well documented; while doing graduate work at The College at Brockport -- SUNY, she was the first recipient of the Fannie Barrier William: Women of Courage Award and the 2015 New York State Adult Student Achievement Award. A McNair Scholar, Lucienne is also a Schumberg Fellow, a Byron Fellow and was honored as New York State Emerging Leader Award from the American Association of University Women, and the Women of Courage Award.
The call of nature grew stronger in recent years. Since moving to the Rochester area twenty years ago, Lucienne has been casually inviting close friends and family members to join her on joyful outdoor excursions. Part of the magic in these short, fun, easy hikes was that she was able to encourage a more diverse group of people to feel comfortable enjoying the spiritual, emotional and physical benefits of spending time in nature. In 2018, Nicholson joined together with a few friends to begin the process of starting a non-profit organization that could serve our community. Inclusive Woods and Us was formally created in early 2019.
Dionne was born and raised on the sunny and lush island of Jamaica. She emigrated to the United States in her late teens. She spent the better part of 25 years working for large corporations, but only when she began working in the nonprofit field serving at-risk youth in Rochester, NY, did she find an invaluable sense of purpose and fulfillment in her career. Currently, Dionne is an economic development professional focused on stimulatIng economic growth and job creation through her work with small businesses and grassroots nonprofit organizations in low-income communities in Western New York. Previously, Dionne worked with vulnerable adjudicated youth 14-24 in the City of Rochester to provide them with resources, support, advocacy, and help improve their educational outcomes and create career pathways. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from Lehman College and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from Regis University.
Rebecca is an Attorney with Legal Assistance of Western New york. She earned her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law in 2005. Russo grew up camping with her family for weeks at a time in the Adirondacks, and has a passion for the peacefulness and simplicity of the outdoors and nature. She also has a commitment to her local community and the well-being of children. Serving on the Board of Inclusive Woods & Us allows her to couple her interests and support access to the outdoors for all.
David grew up roaming the woods of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. As an adult, he came to love cities, too. He enjoys working to bridge both worlds and make them more equitable. David holds a master's degree in urban planning from the University at Buffalo. A former journalist, he works as a researcher and planner for local governments and nonprofits. He and his family live in Rochester, NY.
Dahlia is the Director of Finance at Brighton Central School District. She has a Masters in Education Administration from the University at Buffalo. Watts is an island girl who loves to share the goodness of nature for our health and happiness. She values nature and its ability to reset your mind body and soul when you spend time in it.
Holly is a grant writer and development professional. Now retired, she worked until 2020 at the Pace Women's Justice Center in White Plains, NY-- securing funds for victims of domestic violence. She has a Masters of Management from Northwestern University and a BS from Cornell University. Ms. Brookstein has always found sustenance in nature, and is committed to improving the lives and health of Rochester's poorest children. She believes access to nature is a way to begin that process, and to change the paradigm so that all Rochester residents regularly utilize the beautiful outdoor spaces of the Finger Lakes area.
Ann is a communications and strategy consultant for various clients. She earned a Masters in Public Health from George Washington University in 2019. Binstock grew up hiking in Colorado. She believes in the mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature, and is eager to share her passion for the outdoors with others.
Renee is the Family and Employer Services Director at Child Care Council, where she has been employed for over 20 years, and has a bachelor’s degree in social work from SUNY Brockport. Early in her career she worked directly with youth as a counselor and teacher aide.
She an outdoor enthusiast whose most cherished childhood memories are of family camping trips hiking and exploring the outdoors. These valuable experiences have instilled a deep connection to nature and sparked a passion for climate change and social justice causes.
Grequan is the Program Director/Leadership Development person for Woods & Us, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, a Life Coach, a Professional Nature Photographer, a published Author and Owner of 2 newly formed businesses: Hawk Renaissance and Gre’s Concoctions LLC.
He spends the majority of his leisure time in nature meditating, exploring, learning, playing and any “ing” that’s positive for the soul. His favorite nature place in Rochester is Durand Park!!!!
Michele is a resident physician at the University of Rochester. Born in Haiti, she has a strong connection with her home country. Michele loves being outdoors and takes every opportunity to explore her surroundings. For Michele, being out in nature has always been a peaceful and stress-free way to reset. The natural world has provided her with many of life’s core lessons, which have served as her core tenants - including patience, determination, and spiritual growth. When she is hiking through the woods, the peacefulness and quietude of her surroundings allows Michele to process her thoughts and prepare to continue to move forward. Michele is constantly awed by the daily miracles that the natural world provides, whether it is the pitter patter of raindrops hitting leaves or the explosion of warm colors offers by the sun setting beyond the horizon. As a member of the Executive Board for Woods and Us, Michele is very eager to share these experiences with the youth of Rochester.