As Executive Director of Citizens for a Better South Florida, Ms. Ziems cultivates community partnerships to develop effective collaborative programming and implements the organization’s mission to provide environmental education to the underserved community of South Florida. Prior to this position, she worked for the Earth Ethics Institute at Miami Dade College as an AmeriCorps VISTA Program Coordinator. She recruited and trained students for civic engagement and experiential learning opportunities related to environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and economic impact. She received her Master of Business Administration from Florida International University and her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as three minors in Mass Communication, Sustainability Studies, and Ethics. While attending the University of Florida, she also conducted research concerning tropical cyclones and received a certificate in Climatology and Meteorology.
Marina Barrientos is the Program Director and Web Specialist for CITIZENS’. Marina facilitates Community Science Workshops, which are after school programs designed to promote science and environmental awareness through experimentation and hands-on learning for students in grades K-12. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability and the Environment from Florida International University and an Associate in Arts degree in Environmental Science from Miami Dade College. She also has a background in Network Progamming and uses her computer skills to help create, design, and maintain CITIZENS’ website. Marina is also a former intern with Miami-Dade County’s Office of Resilience. She conducted research and collected data on current trends and developments related to sustainability for the community. Marina is a passionate environmentalist and has been actively volunteering with beach cleanups and park restoration events like Baynanza and International Coastal Cleanup Day, for over 22 years.
Raquel Martinez is a recent graduate of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program at Florida International University who currently serves as Program Assistant at Citizens for a Better South Florida. Her desire for leading a sustainable lifestyle while advocating for the preservation of our environment and the diverse species that thrive within has been fueled by her experience working with organizations that promote environmental protection and activism, such as the DuMond Conservancy for Primates and Tropical Forests, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and The Earth Ethics Institute at Miami Dade College. Raquel looks forward to gaining further experience at CITIZENS’, embodying her beliefs and working towards bettering the future of our environment and those who live in it.
Ben Machado is the Program and Finance Coordinator at Citizens. He came from a corporate background in bookkeeping and office management, but joined Citizens in 2019 to pursue his passion for ecology education and environmental activism. Ben is a graduate of Catalyst Miami’s CLEAR program and volunteers as a field assistant with graduate students at the University of Miami. He is an occasional volunteer collaborator for programs at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Ben first got involved in ecology education and data collection while working at the University of Texas at Austin, where he assisted with the Waller Creek Working Group and became very interested in the online biological database tool, iNaturalist, which was very new at the time. Once in Miami, Ben teamed up with Mountain to Sea Education to spread awareness of this tool to researchers and citizen scientists in South Florida. When not at Citizens, Ben is also the Program Coordinator for Virginia Key Outdoor Center.
Bennie Spencer is currently interning at Summer Jobs Connect employed with Citizens For A Better South Florida. Bennie is currently an Alumni of Booker T. Washington Senior High School. He is the youngest of 3 older siblings, 18 years of age and first one to attend college. This motivates him to continue the right path and strive for greatness the right way so he can be an example for youth in his community. Through this summer internship experience he would like to showcase his workmanship skills and develop them to have a position that provides valuable experience with life skills, which may assist him in future educational work.
Ke’Darius Pinkston is currently working as an intern at Citizens for a Better South Florida through the Summer Jobs Connect Program. He is currently finishing his senior year at Booker T. Washington Senior High School. Ke’Darius is looking forward to the experiences and opportunities that Citizens for a Better South Florida will offer him to help develop his leadership and networking skills. His interests include culinary arts, various sports, water activities, and volunteering in his community. He hopes to broaden his culinary experiences to one day become a chef and open his own restaurant.
Juan Gualberto Fernandez is CITIZENS’ Go Native! Nursery Manager. He graduated from the Institute of Higher Education in Cuba with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Education. He is a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture and a native plant expert. Mr. Fernandez serves as a consultant to CITIZENS on Urban Greening and Community Forestry projects. He is the biologist who pioneered the ecological restoration of Virginia Key. Mr. Fernandez is currently the Senior Park Naturalist for the City of Miami.
Board of Directors
President, Milian Swain & Associates
AVP, Store Manager, TD Bank
Vice President, Milian Swain & Associates
Alberto J. Herrera, Ph.D.
HBC Engineering Company
Gilbert C. Betz, P.A.
President, Bell Landscape Architecture, Inc