Our Team

Britany Ziems
Executive Director

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
Program Director and Web Specialist

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.

Priya Pershadsingh
Program Assistant

Priya Pershadsingh is a Miami native with a proud Indian heritage. Priya is an MDC alumna who transferred to the University of Florida (UF) and attained a bachelor degree in Sustainability Studies. She continued with her education and received a master’s degree at UF in Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) with a minor in Nonprofit Organizational Leadership, a specialization in Gender and Development and a certificate in Tropical Conservation and Development. Priya continues her journey with Citizens for a Better South Florida, as her dedication and passion to giving back to her community continues to grow through her work to expand CITIZENs efforts to provide environmental education to communities in South Florida.

Heidi Lellelid
Garden Education Specialist

As the Garden Education Specialist for CITIZENS, Heidi Lellelid is training and educating MDCPS faculty and students, as well as volunteers and interns on the many aspects of growing and producing food in our 10B hardiness zone. Heidi is driven to help young kids understand that their food does not originate from the grocery store or McDonalds, but comes from the Earth. Heidi has worked over the last ten years with the Earth Ethics Institute managing and overseeing their MDC Campus gardens as well as multiple gardens at MDCPS schools throughout Dade county. While at EEI, she also managed the CROPS program which was a CSA type share of organic fruits and vegetables that students and faculty could purchase at a reduced rate. Heidi has also been working over the last three years with Little River Cooperative, a local farm and plant nursery, managing multiple gardens and assisting at the farm and nursery. She received her BA in Liberal Studies from Florida International University in 2013.

Ralph Ariza
Book Keeper

Ralph is a Miami native and first generation Cuban-American. He received his Bachelors of Science in Recreation and Masters of Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida. His areas of work have predominantly revolved around ecotourism, natural resource management and experiential education. Ralph has worked on environmental projects in the US, Central America and the Caribbean. Ralph also has over 15 years of experience working with youths in non-formal learning environments. In addition to his bookkeeping services for Citizens, Ralph assists with programs and events as needed.
He continues his work teaching children though now it is mostly yoga and mindfulness practices. Ralph facilitates private and group sessions that involve the restorative arts of Reiki, breathwork, cold exposure, and sound baths. When not working, you can find him exploring the outdoors, reading, listening to music, cooking or working in his garden.

Ben Machado
Program Support

Ben Machado is the Program Support 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 a freelance nature guide and animal handler.

Onely Mendez
Program Intern

Onely was born and raised in Venezuela. In Venezuela she has worked as a volunteer in the prevention of domestic violence in women’s communities, giving talks and workshops. Onely lived in Chile for 3 years and was certified in a Monitor program for the prevention of family violence and human trafficking. Her activities are educating migrant communities and doing urban interventions to raise awareness. She has been living in Miami for 3 years and is studying EAP English at Wolfson Campus, her goal is to be a paralegal to support migrant communities, so they understand their rights and responsibilities as inhabitants of this country, in addition to raising awareness of the care and protection of our home “the earth “.

Board of Directors


Arsenio Milian
President, Milian Swain & Associates


Richard Araluce
Store Manager, TD Bank


Deborah Swain
Vice President, Milian Swain & Associates


Alberto J. Herrera, Ph.D.


Gary Milano

Fernando Craveiro de Sa, Ph.D.
HBC Engineering Company
Erwin Bastian
Store Manager, TD Bank

Advisory Board

Brenda Westhorp, P.E.
George E. Puig, RLA
Ramon Ferrer
Gilbert C. Betz, Esquire
Gilbert C. Betz, P.A.
Deena R. Bell Llewellyn
President, Bell Landscape Architecture, Inc

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