About Us

Meet The Team

Green Urban Initiative (GUI) is a grass-roots nonprofit organization, established in 2008, dedicated to fostering sustainable gardening for gardeners, local residents and neighbors living in Harrisburg – our home.

Board of Directors


Mike Lacey, President (Also known as Yop) 

Yop moved here in January 2007 from Syracuse, NY to start a new job.

For 20 years prior to moving, he was a consulting engineer designing products for firms across the Northeast.

Yop’s interest in growing stems from his childhood, where his family operated a subsistence farm of 60 acres. His father loved animals and they had a menagerie. They grew everything they needed, storing it, and going to the grocery for paper products, etc.

Yop’s goal is to promote urban gardening, to encourage residents to participate, to get dirty. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch something grow…”  

Brad Bechtel, Vice President

Brad has been a resident of the Harrisburg area since 1980, first living in Carlisle, Harrisburg and Middletown before settling in Susquehanna Township in 1997.

He and his wife own and operate a small mushroom, herb and flower farm in Susquehanna Township. One of the focuses of their farm forest stewardship, primarily through restoration of native Appalachian plants and management of undesirable non-native species such as mile a minute weed. They are committed to local food productions, as well as empowering people to take control of their own food chain and nutrition. 

Brad has worked with zoning and land use issues and is familiar with many of the gardens in Green Urban Initiative’s portfolio. He is currently employed by the Game Commission where he works on legal issues surrounding wildlife and management of the Game Commission’s State Game Land system. He brings to Green Urban Initiative his strong interest in seeing people be empowered to be responsible for their own food and nutrition, both for health reasons, as well as reasons of social justice.  

Nancy Hurley - Secretary

Nancy Hurley, Secretary

Nancy Hurley is a new resident of Midtown after living in Harrisburg for a year; she decided to permanently relocate from Boiling Springs PA, where she lived for 32 years. She is a retired IT Business Analyst and Project Manager who consulted, planned and executed projects for clients globally with solutions to their communications, tracking and training requirement needs. Before starting with IT, Nancy worked nineteen years as a Food Broker, marketing food manufacture’s products from US, Europe, and Latin American. 

After successful careers helping foodservice communities within the United States Eastern Regions and IT clients within the Finance, Insurance, Science Research, and Educational sectors, Nancy now as a retiree is dedicated to using her business skills to assist organizations with initiatives for improving human welfare.

Nancy enjoys outdoor activities and is always open to new adventures and is always looking for ways to assist people struggling within our community. She is available for marketing, writing projects, organizing, communications and assisting with any GUI requirements for the good of our local community.  

Ilyse Kazar - Treasurer

Ilyse Kazar, Treasurer

Ilyse Kazar chose Harrisburg as her new home in 2018, after 40 years in New York City’s Lower East Side, a highly diverse neighborhood with many of the same characteristics as Harrisburg City. Over the decades, she joined and led many community efforts —  furthering tenant rights and land-use justice, fighting for quality public schools, founding a community garden on one of the last vacant lots in her neighborhood and steering the garden towards permanent protection under the NYC Parks department, engaging in local community composting practice and education, and various other collaborative efforts centered around equity, inclusion and environment.

In New York City, Ilyse served for 12 years as secretary of the board for Children’s Liberation Day Care Center (offered high-quality, subsidized services to low-income families), and for four years as secretary of Earth Matter (a nonprofit practicing and teaching the art of composting in an urban context). She has also created and led workshops for special-needs students, designed to support their self-perception as citizens who do have social agency. 

After decades as a custom database applications consultant and developer, in her professional life Ilyse now provides “virtual back office” services — business administration, digital infrastructure improvements, strategy and workflow consulting, and bookkeeping — supporting best practices, risk management and the sustainability of small business and organizations.

Ilyse believes in food independence, human interdependence, local resiliency, and economic, racial and environmental justice. In addition to her service on the board of Green Urban Initiative, she works as a volunteer for the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association (LSRA) and is bringing a surface-water monitoring program to the city. Ilyse fills her spare time making art, upcycling salvaged materials, rehabbing her historic Harrisburg “fixer-upper,” and biking around the city…and she stakes her hopes in the power of the Harrisburg Community.  

 

John Mescan

John was born and raised in the Uptown Area of Harrisburg. Attending kindergarten at Cameron School, Our Lady’s Elementary School and Bishop McDevitt High School. He was active in both school and city sports leagues.

After high school, he pursued a technical career graduating first from Electronics Institutes in Harrisburg and later Penn State Capitol Campus. After graduating, his career took him to Texas, Connecticut, Kentucky and Illinois before returning to Harrisburg. While in Kentucky, he received an MBA from the University of Louisville. Working for an international company, an opportunity arose and he was able to fulfill a lifelong dream to live and work in Germany. After 7 years in Germany, he returned to the states and since 2016, John lives in the Baltimore area were he works for an equipment manufacturer in the material handling industry. 

John’s experience includes engineering contracts’s management, project management, product management, and account management.

 John enjoys outdoor activities that include hiking, cycling and gardening. His familiarity with the Harrisburg Uptown Area brings to Green Urban Initiative an interest in the revitalization of Harrisburg and the community. 

Board of Advisors


Jeanne Parisi - Board Advisor

Jeanne Parisi

Linda Ann Hammond

Garden Coordinators


Donnel Brown (Wesley Church Garden)

Mike “Yop” Lacey (3rd Street Garden)

Joshua Anwyll (Marion Street Garden)

Enoch Cinotta (Atlas Street Garden)

John Monte (Naed Smith’s Peace Garden)