Staff and Board

Susannah Burley, Founder & Executive Director

Susannah 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. In 2016 she founded SOUL in order to strategically reforest New Orleans at a meaningful scale and as a system.

Susannah loves gardening, the outdoors, cooking, traveling, music and art. She is married with a 10-year-old son, and a German Shepherd named Bernie.

Melody Arcia, Communications Coordinator

Melody has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Global Social Work and Social Justice. After graduating from the Tulane School of Social Work, she headed to Houston where she worked with immigrants, refugees and asylees who had recently resettled in the U.S. There she worked to address the mental health and basic needs of these individuals. Upon returning to New Orleans, she worked for the Office of Public Health HIV/STD program to ensure access to HIV medication for those who needed it and provided support to various HIV community organizations across the state.  

Melody strongly believes in the pursuit of social justice, that equality is a lifelong endeavor and cultural awareness and sensitivity are the cornerstones of social justice work. She enjoys staying up too late reading, writing stories and traveling. She is married with 2 fur babies. 

Jazmin Castillo, Data and Outreach Coordinator

Jazmin received her Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University. After graduating, she served an AmeriCorps term with the Friends of Lafitte Greenway. She worked on a wide range of initiatives including: the Greenway’s trail completion project, leading volunteers in bioswale maintenance and working with community leaders and members on trail events and programming. Jazmin has additionally worked at a local Landscape Architecture studio, contributing to the planning and design work of regional trail systems, parks, and public spaces that spearhead nature-based solutions in the Gulf South and Northeast.

Jazmin enjoys the conviviality and camaraderie of SOUL’s tree plantings. Her favorite pastimes are reading, drawing, yoga, meditating, and cooking food from her Honduran hometown. Her favorite tree is Louisiana’s beautiful and iconic state tree – the Bald Cypress. 

Emily Stieber, Operations Manager

Emily Stieber has a Bachelor’s degree in Art from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a minor in Non-Profit Management from Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Her two terms serving in the AmeriCorps program fostered a long held desire to help those in need and build strong communities. She spent nine years working in long-term disaster recovery post Hurricane Katrina, first with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans from 2010 -2012, then with until 2018. Emily worked as the Associate Director of Volunteers at Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans from 2018 – 2021. 

Emily is married and enjoys traveling, hiking, painting, dancing, running, reading and being outside. She names every tree she plants and loves stopping on walks to admire especially majestic trees.  

Board of Directors

Andreas Merkl – Chair

Hayley A Tilton – Treasurer

Jerome Jackson

Scott Howard

Betsy Davidson

Susannah Burley – Executive Director


Councilmember Eugene Green, District D