Our Team


Melanie Winter

Founder & Director

Melanie has been involved in water and land use policy for nearly 25 years, bringing significant funding for and national attention to the Los Angeles River. She organized the Coalition for a State Park at Taylor Yard, led stakeholders through the development of the Tujunga/Pacoima Watershed Plan, and established the innovative urban acupuncture program, Water LA.

Email: winter@theriverproject.org


Johnathan Perisho

Design & Policy Director

Johnathan focuses on nature-based solutions that promote the regeneration of healthy environments and systems. His work concerns regional planning, research, strategy development, and landscape management practices. He has a Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture from Ball State University, and a Master’s of Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly Pomona.

Email: jp@theriverproject.org


Zoe Axelrod

Environmental Designer

Zoe is a designer, artist, planner, and Northeast LA native. She is passionate about working with communities to restore ecosystems and create vibrant public spaces. Zoe studied Environmental Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and holds a Masters of City Planning and a Landscape Studies certificate from the University of Pennsylvania.

Email: zoe@theriverproject.org


April Cerrato

Community Engagement Coordinator

April was born and raised in Los Angeles. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geography from California State University of Long Beach as well as a minor in Communication. She is determined to pursue a career where she can connect people to resources and advocate for environmental sustainability. She is excited to further advance her knowledge and passion for the environment with The River Project and inspire others to do the same.

Email: april@theriverproject.org


Martin White


Martin was born and raised in Philadelphia. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Economics and a MBA from Carnegie-Mellon. He began his career as an auditor with Price Waterhouse, and worked at several Fortune 500 businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Martin is excited to use his skills and abilities to perform services for the greater good of the environment.

Email: martin@theriverproject.org


Brisa Aviles

Community Engagement

Brisa is a fourth year UCLA student working towards her degree in International Development Studies with minors in Environmental Systems and Urban Planning. She is passionate about environmental justice and community empowerment. Post-college, after refining her understanding of global social and environmental issues, Brisa aspires to earn her masters in Urban and Regional planning to create hands-on change to help create sustainable and equitable cities.

Email: brisa@theriverproject.org