Laura Jasinski, Executive Director

Laura (she/her) is an urban planner with ten years of experience in development and activation of urban open space and community engagement. Most recently she served as the Associate Director of the Boston Waterfront Initiative for The Trustees of Reservations, an effort to build world-class, resilient open space on the Boston Harbor. Previously, she served as the Director of Programs and Planning for the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy where she managed several capital improvements and installations. Ms. Jasinski holds a BA in Architectural Studies and an MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University. Her graduate work focused on universal design and best practices in creating inclusive public spaces. A former co-captain of the Tufts women’s basketball team and long-time athlete, Ms. Jasinski has trained for several half marathons and the 2016 Boston marathon along the Charles River. She looks forward to the day when she and her fellow swimmers from the Cambridge Masters program can practice at the Swim Park.

Email:     Phone: (617) 300-8175

Vanessa Nason, Associate Director

Vanessa (she/her) enjoys being part of an organization working to improve the Charles River, which she has spent countless hours walking, running, and relaxing beside. Since joining the Conservancy, she can include cycling in that list! After starting on the operations and development side, Vanessa has appreciated adding project management and applying her passion for swimming to the Charles. She didn’t need much convincing on the idea of urban river swimming, but her first jump in during City Splash 2016 made her a convert, and she looks forward to the time when swimming has a home in the Charles again. Vanessa has a graduate degree from Georgetown University. Her prior experience includes administration at an architecture firm and program coordination at an urban planning foundation.

Contact Vanessa with questions about the Swim Park Project or the Charles River Floating Wetland.

Email:     Phone: (617) 300-8162

Sasha Vallieres, Volunteer Program Manager

Sasha (she/her) currently manages 2,000 annual volunteers and the Conservancy’s horticultural and conservation activities. Sasha has over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector, where she has worked in resource management, taught environmental education and natural history, performed trail maintenance, and organized volunteer events for small groups to events with several hundred. Sasha has previously worked for YMCA of Greater Boston, National Parks Service, Trustees of Reservations, and interned with the Student Conservation Association. When not working in the Charles River parklands, Sasha enjoys gardening, reading, movies, and hiking.

Contact Sasha if you are interested in scheduling a corporate volunteer event or attending the next open volunteer day. Please note that group volunteer days are typically scheduled one month in advance.

Email:     Phone: (617) 300-8173

Taylor Leonard, Project Manager

Taylor (she/her) is interested in the intersection between art, the environment, and community advocacy. With a Bachelor of Fine Art from the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University, Taylor is constantly searching for exciting and creative solutions to engage open space along the Charles River. Prior to her time at the Charles River Conservancy, Taylor organized free community celebrations at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and planned art residency programming at the Harvard University ArtLab. Needless to say, she is partial to a celebratory event when the time comes to swim in the Charles River again! In her spare time Taylor enjoys spending time biking on the Charles with a watercolor kit packed in her bag to capture the beautiful views (including the CRC’s incredible Floating Wetland)!

Contact Taylor with questions about programming along the Charles River. 


Rachel Chu, Communications and Outreach Coordinator

Rachel (she/her) loves bringing her knowledge of environmental programs and intersectional and inclusive messaging to her communications and outreach role. She has a BA in Environment & Sustainability and Women’s & Gender Studies from Sewanee: The University of the South, where her environmental thesis focused on using GIS to map environmental justice concerns. Her experience includes coordinating outdoor education for high school students, assisting with state park festivals, and promoting gender studies programs. She most recently worked at the Southern Environmental Law Center where she helped keep power companies accountable for their impacts on water and air quality and their violations of environmental justice. In her free time, you’ll find Rachel camping in state and national parks, baking hours-long recipes, honing in her meditation practice, and reading in the parks.


Zoe Leff, Projects and Events Assistant

Zoe (she/her) grew up on the south shore of Long Island, New York, sandwiched in between the city and the beach. She is interested in bettering the overall mental health of communities through improved access to green spaces and in utilizing social media as a platform for climate education. Zoe is an Honors Student at Northeastern University and is currently pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Her favorite courses have included Conservation Biology and Geographic Information Systems, where she learned how to apply conservation principles to data and mapping. On campus, she is involved in Sunrise Movement, a youth movement for the climate revolution. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring Boston’s thrift shops and bookstores and playing the flute in Northeastern’s Concert Band.


Austin Miles, Land Stewardship / Community Engagement Coordinator

Austin (he/him) grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians, in Athens, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. in Biology and recently received his M.S. in Environmental Sciences from Ohio State University. Prior to his master’s program, he also worked with a nonprofit urban farm and did research on marine protected areas in Spain. He’s excited to support the Charles River Conservancy’s work stewarding the Charles River and maintaining it as a meaningful part of the social life of Bostonians. He’s a new arrival to Boston, and is looking forward to exploring the city, the Charles, and the mountains and coasts of New England.