Steering Committee

Melissa Abramson

Melissa Abramson is the National Field Manager, Marketing for REI, the country’s largest consumer cooperative.  Forming strong partnerships with local non-profits, government, and land agencies has been the cornerstone of her work, in an effort to promote conservation and equitable access to nature for all,  both in the greater New York area along with the nation. 


As an avid outdoor enthusiast, she has dedicated her life, both personal and professional to adventure, exploration, education and stewardship.  She has worked in Brazil, Costa Rica and the Pacific Northwest, designing adventure based Leadership Education programs for both youth and adults.  After receiving her Master Degree in Economics and Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics, she planted roots in New York City to create a direct pathway for urban dwellers to access nature and ultimately taking a vested interest in protecting and preserving public green spaces. 


Most recently, she has founded the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition, providing a unified voice of outdoor enthusiasts for New York’s diverse user groups across the industry.

Melodie Mendez

Melodie helped co-found NYORC back in 2020 and supported the initial stages of the Open Spaces for All Report. She returned to the coalition in 2023 after a hiatus to help establish a full-time role with Latino Outdoors, a community-led organization dedicated to bridging the outdoor equity gap for Latine communities across the city. She also serves as a Steering Committee member for the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, a national coalition dedicated to connecting youth and families with the outdoors, and is a New York State licensed outdoor guide. Melodie previously served as a Strategic Communications Manager for the Natural Resources Defense Council as well as a decade-long career as a publicist representing outdoor brands like Arc’teryx, REI Co-Op, NAU, BLACKYAK, and others. Her commitment to fostering inclusive and diverse outdoor experiences, coupled with her professional background working alongside outdoor agencies and businesses alike, brings a holistic perspective and deep alignment with NYORC’s mission. 

Hank Osborn

Hank Osborn is an avid outdoor educator and advocate.  In 2013 he joined the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference staff and is currently the Director of Programs. Hank has a long history and a deep passion for the outdoors. He began maintaining trails as a boy in Garrison, N.Y. and later, as an adult, chaired the Garrison School Forest Committee; was appointed to the Philipstown Greenway Committee, and became a Hudson Highlands Land Trust hike leader.  Hank has taught geology, environmental science and ecology at the high school level and served as associate professor of physical education and rowing coach at Columbia University and Dartmouth College.  Hank graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Sociology and Geology and did graduate work at Dartmouth College with a focus in environmental studies.  He has completed two National Outdoor Leadership School courses and currently serves on the Beacon Greenway Committee, LaGrange Conservation Advisory Council and the Topfield Center Advisory Committee.  Hank is President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks.  He lives in the Hudson Highlands where he and his wife enjoy hiking the trails with their children.

Herb Brooks

Herb’s love for the Outdoors started with viewing and reading National Geographic media as a child. He later had the opportunity to embark on a 50 mile Appalachian trail trip with his New Jersey high school. Throughout his school career he has been on staff with Project U.S.E, a NJ based outdoor education provider and taken part in group adventures with them all over the East Coast.  

In 2020, he was chosen as a volunteer lead with Outdoor Afro, a national team dedicated to facilitating African Americans in a return to outdoor lifestyles and connections with nature. 

He has recently received his Level 1 Kayak instructor certification and is in training for his NYS Guide License.

As an inaugural member of the NYORC, Herb is excited about galvanizing the outdoor community in New York for sharing of resources, access and environmental advocacy

Keith Oberlin

Keith Oberlin served as co-chair of NYORC from 2020 to 2024. He is the Founder & Adventure Director at Get Out And Trek (GOAT) - a fun-loving community of LGBTQ+ adventurists actively working to change the face of the outdoors. Through GOAT's trips, festivals, advocacy, and the LGBTQ+ Outdoor Equality Index™, Keith works to build a better, more inclusive outdoors for queer people.