PBP Welcomes New Staff

PBP would like to give a warm welcome to our 3 new team members!

new staff melissaMelissa Appleton is our new East Coast Project Manager and has joined our team in New York City to facilitate and support PB processes throughout the region. Prior to joining PBP, Melissa was Program Manager at New York Peace Institute, the largest community mediation organization in the United States. She had been involved in conflict resolution work internationally in Timor-Leste, Kosovo, and Israel and has with a graduate degree in Peace Education from Columbia University. Melissa hails from the beautiful Canadian northwest coast and has called the US east coast home for 10 years. Her zeal for community outreach and experience in organizing mediation programs makes her a great addition to our team!

PBP: Why did you get involved with PBP?

Melissa: I learned a lot when I was introduced to PBP and quickly became intrigued with the concept of participatory budgeting. I’ve always been interested in group decision-making processes that allow people to connect through an innovative and democratic platform.

PBP: What are your responsibilities as the East Coast Project Manager?

Melissa: I work on supporting East Coast participatory budgeting processes. PB processes in NYC, Cambridge, Boston, Dieppe (New Brunswick), and Hartford have been progressing. And we’re excited about a new project potentially starting for New York City’s public housing.
PBP: What is your favorite part about work?

Melissa: I enjoy the people and environment that I work in. I am working around passionate, innovative and committed colleagues and I appreciate the direction we are heading in. The PB process is growing throughout North America and internationally as well!

PBP: What do you think is the biggest challenge in implementing PB?

Melissa: It’s difficult to navigate the balance between direct project administration and institutional capacity building, so that continuing projects are able to advance and we can continue supporting PB in new areas. I have learned that PB can be twice as impactful with the support from local government to provide the space and resources to implement the PB process successfully.

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new staff ericaErica Lindenberg joined us in August as our new Project Assistant for PB in Greensboro, North Carolina. She received her B.A. in Psychology with minors in Nonprofit Studies and Spanish from North Carolina State University. During her undergraduate career, she coordinated outreach initiatives with Habitat for Humanity and the Latino Economic Development Center in Washington, DC. Aside from her love for travelling, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures, Erica is also exploring her passion of galvanizing diverse populations for a common cause and agenda. She is excited to be a part of PB in her hometown!  

PBP: What previous work were you involved in?

Erica: I have experience in NGO work that was geared towards poverty alleviation, housing issues and helping low-income immigrant families.

PBP: Did you know about participatory budgeting before working with us?

Erica: No I didn’t, I started reading about PB and how it focused on giving a voice and opportunity to those who face a lot of barriers in civic participation. PB brings people from diverse backgrounds together to engage in helping their communities.

PBP: What is your favorite part about working with us?

Erica: Making a difference and collaborating with other organizations and local governmental institutions that empower people to improve their communities. I’ve enjoyed facilitating a recent workshop for the Steering Committee that worked towards discussing and informing individuals on the rules and process of PB. There is an excitement that comes with supporting people who are interested and new to the process.

PBP: Now that you are part of a movement that is advancing the PB process, how has it influenced your understanding of PB?

Erica: I have a better understanding of PB and its future. We get many inquiries from people and local NGO’s that are interested in advancing the PB movement. I am eager to see PB gain support from individuals who have not participated in the process before.

PBP: Is there a message you would like to send to potential PB participants out there?

Erica: A lot of evidence shows that the PB process strengthens real change in communities. People should come and participate!

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new staff ranataBetween running local PB outreach and awareness campaigns and running in her next half marathon, Ranata Reeder is keeping the PB process going in her hometown of Greensboro, NC as the community engagement coordinator. Ranata has been an advocate of PB and participatory democracy since she was introduced to the process in 2012. Completing her MA in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ranata contributed to the research and community processes that helped launch PB in Greensboro. Ranata served as a research assistant to a community/university partnership permitting food trucks in downtown Greensboro, and secured grant funding to establish a children’s community garden in the Greensboro food desert of Warnersville. Ranata’s work background of outreach, communications, and programming spanning the non-profit, government, and private sectors helps us build stronger community engagement.

PBP: How were you introduced to PB?

Ranata: During my graduate studies in 2012, I began to research the Greensboro PB process. Greensboro is the first city in the South to implement PB and I became a PB researcher after attending one of the early community presentations introducing PB, which became significant to its implementation in Greensboro.

PBP: What are your responsibilities?

Ranata: As the community engagement coordinator, I help facilitate PB by providing outreach for communities to organize their own process in their local district. I schedule and help set up neighborhood assemblies and actually just finished organizing a steering committee workshop. Now I am in the outreach phase of the PB process, but my role changes as the process progresses.

PBP: What is your favorite part about work?

Ranata: I enjoy pursuing outreach activities and working alongside community organizers! I love working with diverse groups of people and  reaching out to other organizations that share the same enthusiasm for building stronger communities.

PBP: What future successes do you hope to witness with your work?

Ranata: I am looking forward to seeing increased community engagement, especially among people that are not traditionally engaged in public discourse on how to spend public money. I am excited to see the various projects that will emerge out of our work!

PBP: Is there a message you would like to send to potential PB participants out there?

Ranata: Come and join the PB process. We would love to hear your ideas!