Announcing Tonya Gayle as the New Executive Director at Green City Force!

Artboard 1 Announcements Featured
icon-clock September 14, 2020

Dear GCF community,

We are delighted to share that following an intensive search, the board of directors of Green City Force has selected Tonya Gayle to lead the organization into our next phase. Please join us in welcoming Tonya to this role!

Since 2009, GCF has been working to model a citywide corps for equity and opportunity in the green economy in NYC. Over the past 10 years, we have worked to make the vision reality for young adults in NYCHA, the NYCHA communities we serve and employers with whom we partner. As part of pursuing our ambition for greater impact, our co-founders and founding Executive Director, Lisbeth Shepherd, and our board came together to engage a search for a new leader who can take the organization to the next level.  Lisbeth will continue to serve our mission through working with Tonya and the GCF board on special projects related to policy and national growth. 

Tonya created and has led GCF’s development team since 2014, expanding the scope and diversity of GCF’s stakeholders. Prior to joining GCF, Tonya served in public-private partnerships at NYCHA and at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), one of the nation’s premier summer internship programs for talented college students of color. While there, she cultivated relationships with investment banking, corporate, college and foundation partners. Tonya’s career includes a number of human services roles in nonprofits focused on youth development and career guidance. She is a long time member of the New York Women’s Foundation Circle of Sisters for Social Change. In addition to her nonprofit work, she was also an associate producer for the 2006 documentary The Perfect Life featuring young adults growing up in Harlem.

A Brooklyn native and graduate of Wesleyan University, Tonya is passionate about GCF’s mission and potential. In addition to her development responsibilities, Tonya has been part of GCF’s senior management team and taken on leadership roles in our sector, serving on the Corps Council and Board of Directors of The Corps Network nationally, and on the board of Environmental Advocates of NY.   


From Tonya: “It is an incredible honor to be chosen as the next Executive Director of Green City Force. Great thanks to Lisbeth for creating and building the vision of a future green city for the past ten years. These are times of great challenge and opportunity. We must act now more than ever before. I am committed to leading the critical work of lifting the voices and talents of young NYCHA leaders to drive sustainable community transformation. Together, in partnership with Corps Members, staff, graduates, our co-founders, the board, and all of our current and future stakeholders, we will collectively fight for racial, economic, and environmental justice. We are a movement. We are the Force.“ 

From Lisbeth:  “I am thrilled that the GCF board has chosen Tonya to lead Green City Force forward! I initiated this executive leadership transition as a key step towards GCF reaching our potential as an organization and a movement and am confident that Tonya’s passion for GCF’s mission and our Corps Members and alumni, commitment to the community and her ambitious vision for GCF will set the bar high for this new chapter. I am deeply committed to GCF and look forward to working with her and our partners and board to do all I can to ensure a smooth transition. I appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve our mission by working with Tonya and the board on growth strategy and projects. Please join me in congratulating Tonya and thank you to our GCF community, each of you, for the role you play in making our vision and aspirations a reality!” 

GCF’s model — a platform for frontline young adult leadership and opportunity, addressing climate, health and racial equity in communities at the epicenter of converging imperatives — has never been more important. Thank you for your part in this community and in joining with us to celebrate this milestone for the organization and our shared work. 


In service, 

Steven Berkenfeld, Board Chair