SOUL (Sustaining Our Urban Landscape) is driving a resilient and environmentally equitable New Orleans by reforesting our urban landscape.

What makes SOUL unique?

  • We plant trees to serve as natural systems and infrastructure. We plant in clusters to better stave off flooding, reduce pollution, improve community health, and provide beauty and shade.
  • We plant trees together with community members who drive the reforestation of their own community or neighborhood. SOUL trains block captains to canvass their neighborhoods and collect permits from homeowners.
  • We oversee the planting of every tree and help ensure its successful growth. We provide tree guards for every tree to protect against weed-eater damage, the number one killer of trees.
  • We map every tree we plant so that we can keep track of its progress.
  • We also provide maintenance guidelines to every home/business that receives trees, and are always available to answer questions.

SOUL is a project of The Trust For Conservation Innovation.


Susannah Burley, Founder & Director

Susannah BurleySusannah Burley has a Master’s of Landscape Architecture degree from Louisiana State University. From 2012-2016, she served as Program Director at Parkway Partners, a New Orleans-based non-profit, where she oversaw the ReLeaf tree planting program, the urban farms/community gardens program, schoolyard garden program, incubated their green infrastructure program, and hosted eighty four hours of community environmental education. She is a member of the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative, serves on the board of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, and is passionate about working collaboratively with communities in driving resilient environmental change.

Susannah loves film, art, music, the outdoors, cooking, and traveling. She is married with a 4 year-old son, and a 23 year-old stepson.

You can reach Susannah by emailing her at sburley@soulnola.org.

Scott Mayer, Outreach & Development Coordinator

nepal 2017 scott baba

Scott Mayer has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Tulane University. Prior to SOUL, Scott worked worked at the US Army Corps of Engineers as a Data Analyst. He has also worked at a number of other small & large non-profit organizations in various roles, including Greater New Orleans, Inc., Shambhala Mountain Center, and Second Harvest Food Bank.  Scott has a deep passion for his hometown of New Orleans and a strong conviction that we must learn to live harmoniously with our environment.

His professional interests include urban planning and development, green infrastructure, public policy, and social justice. In his personal time, he enjoys making music, traveling, learning, playing soccer, and playing with his pups.

You can reach Scott by emailing him at outreach@soulnola.org or calling him at (985) 705-7730.


Andreas Merkl – Chair

andreasmerkl_headshot_high res

Andreas Merkl is the CEO of Ocean Conservancy, which educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Andreas leads the organization’s efforts to tackle the ocean’s biggest challenges with science-based solutions.

Prior to taking the helm at Ocean Conservancy, Andreas served as a principal at California Environmental Associates, a San Francisco-based think tank and consultancy that works on the management of the natural resource commons, ranging from fisheries to freshwater, forests, air and biodiversity.

Andreas’ particular interest has been the deeply connected challenges of ocean ecosystem decline and climate change. He has worked with the major U.S. foundations, multi-laterals and corporations on developing market-based incentive systems for responsible resource stewardship, ranging from catch-share systems for commercial fisheries to green growth development mechanisms for developing countries. Earlier in his career, Andreas was a founding member of McKinsey & Company’s Environmental Practice and served as Vice President and co-founder of the CH2M HILL Strategy Group, a leading provider of environmental management consulting services worldwide. Andreas has broad experience in environmental management consulting, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and business strategy.

Andreas holds an MBA with distinction from Harvard University, a master’s degree in Regional Planning and Natural Resource Analysis from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Jennifer Carter-Roberts 

033be18Jennifer Carter-Roberts is a leader in water quality planning with expertise in research, environmental monitoring and assessment, and community outreach and engagement with water resources.  Jennifer holds a BS in Ecology and a MS in Earth & Environmental Sciences, is a Water Environment Federation Leadership Fellow and serves on the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission.  Jennifer specializes in stormwater management, watershed planning, community engagement, vegetative restoration, nonpoint source pollution prevention and monitoring.  Jennifer’s currently employed as a Sr. City Planner at the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans.

Stosh Kozlowski

skozlowski_photoStosh Kozlowski is currently serving as the Principal Transportation Planner with Transdev in service to the Regional Transit Authority. Formally, he was a Senior City Planner with the City of New Orleans, City Planning Commission Transportation Division. He has years of experience working with diverse communities throughout the South, focused on the advancement of comfortable, safe and effective multi-modal transportation networks. His expertise includes the development of complete streets, pedestrian safety, transit-oriented development and transportation planning. Before pursuing his career in Urban Planning, Stosh worked in the New York City film industry as a Location Scout and Location Manager. He holds a Master of Public Policy from Georgia State University and resides in New Orleans with his wife, Meredith, and daughter, Pia.

Emily K. Leitzinger


Emily K. Leitzinger, originally from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, has lived in New Orleans for the last 8 years with her husband, Mike.  She is the Senior Director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and has dedicated her professional career to serving others and making a difference in the community.  As current President of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, Immediate Past President and chartering member of The Rotary Club of Mid-City, and recent graduate of the Bryan Bell Metropolitan Leadership Forum, Emily strives to bring people together from an array of networks.  Emily brings with her years of fundraising and events experience and loves getting her hands dirty!  In her spare time, Emily enjoys parading down the streets with The Muff-A-Lottas Dance Troupe, and watching LSU and the Saints!

Daniel McElmurray

Danny McElmurray, PLA, is a licensed landscape architect and urban planner whose professional work includes a wide range of planning and landscape architectural projects across the Gulf Coast as well as the southeastern and western United States. A graduate of two top-rated post-baccalaureate programs, Clemson University’s Department of City and Regional Planning and Louisiana State University’s School of Landscape Architecture, he spent the first six years of his career working at the regional and local levels in planning. Following graduation from LSU, he spent the next four years honing his landscape design and construction skills throughout New Orleans and coastal Mississippi; prior to Hurricane Katrina, Danny and his partner of 19 years moved to Las Vegas to enjoy seven years in the sparse beauty of the Mojave Desert. In 2011, they relocated back to New Orleans, where Danny first worked in the Capital Projects Administration before joining the Planning & Design team at the City of New Orleans Department of Parks & Parkways. Danny is an avid traveler, costume maker, and advocate for all things New Orleans.

Gordon McLeod

Gordon McLeod

Gordon McLeod is the Chief of Staff for the District A New Orleans City Council office, and is a partner with LM Development, a real estate development firm focused on historic renovation and adaptive reuse projects in New Orleans.  Gordon holds a Master’s Degree in historic preservation from the Tulane University School of Architecture and a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation and city planning from the College of Charleston.

Through his work with the District A City Council Office, he is a member of the Local Foods, Local Places, Steering Committee, the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative, and has participated in the Urban Water Series presented by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and City of New Orleans in partnership with the Surdna Foundation. As part of the Urban Water Series, he traveled to Philadelphia with private and public sector professionals in an effort to deepen technical knowledge of storm water management and to improve abilities to design, install, and maintain green infrastructure in New Orleans.

Gordon serves on the Preservation Resource Center Board of Directors where he co-chairs the Land Use Policy Committee. He is also a charter member of the Historic New Orleans Collection’s Caillot Circle.  Gordon enjoys architecture, history, and travel with his wife, Kathryn, and his son, Thomas.