Alexander R. Brash, Northeast Regional Director
Before joining NPCA in 2004, Alex served with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. During his time there, he was the Director of the Management Planning Division; Chief of the Urban Park Service (the Agency's Rangers); and finally the Chief of the Natural Resources Group. In his time with NYC Parks, Alex was responsible for supervising the 300 full-time and 250 seasonal officers patrolling the 1,580 parks covering nearly 28,000 acres, large-scale special events and concerts in the City's parks, and overseeing nearly $92 million of environmental restoration projects. He also conceptualized and supervised its first broad scale program to re-introduce extirpated plants and animals to New York City; species including a wide range from Swamp Azaleas to Bald Eagles. Additionally, Alex built a series of partnerships and led a major fund-raising campaign for the Agency's environmental efforts, creating relationships with Disney, Banana Republic, National Geographic, BP, and numerous other corporate and non-profit partners. He has also worked for the World Wildlife Fund, mapped biogeography for the Nature Conservancy, and conducted research for both the National Park Service at Fire Island National Seashore and for the U.S. Forest Service in Rio Piedras, P.R.
A frequent lecturer, Alex has taught at Columbia University's Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Yale's Urban Resource Institute, and at Hunter College. He is also a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, and has authored numerous articles on conservation and the natural history of New York City. Alex currently serves as Chair of the Habitat Committee in the EPA's Harbor Estuary Program, a Member of the Harbor Roundtable and Nature Network, and a Council member of the Linnaean Society of New York. For these and other efforts he has received the Wildlife Management Trust's prestigious Presidential Award, the Goodwin-Niering Centers Alumni Environmental Achievement Award, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner's Award, the Environmental Quality Award from Region 2 EPA, and the Lilian Stoner Award from the N.Y. Federation of Bird Clubs.
Born and raised in New York City, Alex received his B.A. with honors in Zoology from Connecticut College, earned an M.A. from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and worked on a Ph.D. in quantitative ecology at Rutgers University.
Reina Gonzales, Northeast Office Coordinator
A transplant from the San Francisco Bay Area, Reina became familiar with national parks at a young age. Class field trips to study wildlife around northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore and Muir Woods ignited an early fascination with the outdoors. Prior to joining NPCA in November, 2010, Reina worked in youth development and media production for ten years. As a producer for the non-profit Youth Radio in Oakland, she collaborated with young people to create programming for National Public Radio and San Francisco’s KQED-FM. In 2008, she was awarded by the Alliance for Women in Media for her radio coverage of the Iraq War. While earning her Bachelor’s degree in History and History of Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reina worked for Wisconsin Public Television and was a coordinator for the Wisconsin Film Festival. A lifelong devotee to national parks at home and around the world, Reina has climbed Half Dome at Yosemite, sailed the Plitvice Lakes in eastern Croatia, and wandered the ruins of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico. Reina currently lives in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan where she enjoys cooking and exploring local parks. She is thrilled to be working for NPCA and supporting a mission she believes in so passionately.
April Mims, Northeast Program Manager
April is excited about using her advocacy experience to help protect and preserve national parks in the Northeast United States. Prior to joining NPCA’s staff, April spent 18 months completing a fellowship with a nonprofit highway safety organization on Capitol Hill, where she conducted legislative research, developed educational materials, and built relationships in Washington, DC. April also participated in coalitions with several NPCA partners, which taught her how to foster diverse alliances in the public and private sector. April is passionate about public service and has volunteered with several organizations in the Washington, DC, and New York City areas. She also gained valuable advocacy experience working as a law clerk with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Washington Field Office and as a summer associate at a law firm. April has a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center. She enjoys ballroom dancing, writing, and exploring national parks in New York, New Jersey, and throughout America.
Oliver Spellman, Senior Northeast Program Manager
Oliver Spellman brings NPCA’s Northeast team decades of innovative urban park renewal experience, having worked in, revitalized, and directed parks departments in three major cities around the country. He directed the Urban Park Service for the City of New York Parks & Recreation Department, focusing his attention on the expansion of the Urban Park Rangers, the environmental education arm of that city's park department. Oliver later assumed the position of Borough Parks Commissioner for Queens and expanded his environmental education programmatic focus to include urban forestry, park protection, and community-based partnerships.
His parks career also includes stints as Parks Director in Cleveland and Houston, where he continued building public awareness about urban park issues, environmental conservation, and the value of open, green space in non-traditional community settings. Oliver was responsible for coordinating the completion of a $700 million parks master plan for the City of Houston. His involvement included traveling to London, Paris, and Amsterdam to study their "best practices" used to plan park systems in cities with unbridled growth. The Houston City Council adopted the comprehensive parks master plan for implementation in 2000.
Oliver brings a broad sense of American history and political processes to this team. He holds a Bachelors degree in American Studies from St. Michael's College and a Juris Doctorate from Howard University Law School. Prior to his urban park career, Oliver taught law for several years in the criminal justice department of Alabama State University, Montgomery.
Carole Southall, Regional Development Director
"I spend my days surrounded by philanthropists, volunteers, and staff who contribute their resources to make the world a better place,” says Carole Southall, the Director of Development for NPCA’s Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regional Offices. Carole has been a fundraiser for more than 20 years, affiliated with organizations such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Royal Nature Conservancy (complete profile on LinkedIn). She loves major gifts for its deeply personal connection to individuals. “Most of America’s greatest Parks and Historic sites came about because of philanthropists who give major gifts of land, or regular citizens who fought to conserve an important aspect of American heritage.” Carole fondly recalls that her parents’ idea of the best vacation in the world was to visit a national park, and together they crisscrossed the country visiting hundreds of national parks in 49 states (Alaska someday!). Today she lives in Wilton, Connecticut, home to Weir Farm National Park, where she spends many weekend hours as an amateur painter.