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


Victoria gutierrez

Nature-Based Solutions Manager

Victoria grew up in the tiny, yet densely populated, city of Bell in Southeast LA. She holds a BA in History & Ethnic Studies from Humboldt State University; a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz; and a permaculture design certificate from the Traditional Native American Farmer's Association in Nuevo Mexico. She has worked at the intersection of landwork and community engagement in diverse neighborhoods all over LA county (and beyond) for almost 10 years. She is excited to be working with The River Project to co-create intergenerational learning spaces focused on dignified, regenerative, communal land practices that are mindful and respectful of our relationship to water, plants, pollinators, and all other non-human friends that we share this planet with.

Email: victoria@theriverproject.org


Levy Hernandez

Environmental Designer

Levy is a native Angeleno who earned their Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from UC Davis. There, they worked closely with the University's Arboretum & Public Garden to hone their understanding of horticulture and CA native landscapes. They are deeply passionate about regenerative design, creating climate-change resiliency, and healthy ecologies. They are eager to apply and expand their knowledge with The River Project to help develop livable, sustainable communities. 

Email: levy@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


ARIELLE Lopez-Ibarra 

Community Engagement

Arielle was born in Guatemala City and moved to LA when she was seven. A graduate of Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Ecological Restoration, she is passionate about urban restoration in LA. With her father, she has started a permaculture demonstration farm in Guatemala as an educational platform for sustainable agriculture and practices. Arielle aspires to protect the environment through bi-lingual education that helps people minimize their carbon footprint and practice sustainability in their everyday lives.

Email: arielle@theriverproject.org



Watershed Steward

Ivan was inspired by his father to earn his Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. He aspires to advance environmental and social justice issues by designing and implementing strategies that realize regenerative, native landscapes. Empowering communities to engage directly in planning and design has always been a central priority, and he’s excited to work with The River Project to apply his passions to his practice.

Email: ivan@theriverproject.org

Saul P.JPG

Saul Perez

Watershed Steward

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Saul has been studying indigenous, regenerative, ecological practices and installing California native and edible community gardens for 10 years.  Previous experience includes wildland firefighting and building backcountry trails with the US Forest Service, and work with sustainable landscaping companies. He seeks to create healthy, accessible spaces to benefit communities that have largely been underserved.

Email: saul@theriverproject.org


Daniel Guzman

Watershed Steward

A native Angeleno, Daniel grew up right across the street from the LA River. He received his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Ecological Restoration from Humboldt State University where he worked on projects to restore breeding habitat for salmonids, reclaim space for native plant species, and enhance interactions between humans and their environment. Daniel is very passionate about the role of soil and plants in building resilient ecosystems and maintaining healthy watersheds. He looks forward to working with The River Project and contributing to the rehabilitation of the watershed he holds most dear.

Email: daniel@theriverproject.org


Brisa Aviles

Community Engagement

Brisa is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where she majored in International Development Studies and minored in both Urban Planning and Environmental Systems. She is passionate about community development and environmental justice. As an aspiring urban planner, Brisa aims to prioritize community voice and agency to build equitable and sustainable cities.

Email: brisa@theriverproject.org


Kacey Eis

Operations Manager

Kacey grew up in Kansas City and moved to Los Angeles in 2017. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education from the University of Kansas, which included a summer studying community development in Cape Town, South Africa. She plans to one day be a Chief Sustainability Officer helping organizations reduce their carbon footprint while empowering the communities they impact. She knows a thriving community starts with a healthy planet, and is excited to help the team work towards a more sustainable Los Angeles.

Email: kacey@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



Chief Happiness Officer

Maisie found The River Project in 2013 after spending a few scary months on the streets alone. Her mission is to spark happiness, build bridges, and foster collaboration among her human friends. She takes pride in her therapy dog status, and wants you to know that apples are her most favorite food.