Stone Living Lab Hires Two New Leaders!


Contact: Katherine Adam

Joe Christo and Melanie Gárate to serve as Managing Director and Director of Climate Engagement

Boston, MA (June 28, 2022) – The Stone Living Lab today announced the hiring of two new directors to guide its mission conducting transformative research and outreach to make vulnerable coastal regions adaptive to climate change while enhancing natural and built environments. Joe Christo will become the Lab’s Managing Director and Melanie Gárate will become the Lab’s new Director of Climate Engagement.

“We are delighted to welcome Joe and Melanie to our team at a time when our coastlines face enormous challenges but also opportunities,” said Paul Kirshen, Director of the Stone Living Lab and Professor of Climate Adaptation, School for the Environment at UMass Boston. “Boston is poised to become a global hub of climate adaptation and education and Joe and Melanie will play key roles in this effort.” Paul Kirshen will be  transitioning to the position of Director of Research and will continue to co-direct the Lab.

As Managing Director, Joe Christo will lead the Lab’s internal and external relationships, oversee day to day and long-range planning, and ensure coordination of the Lab’s activities. He  most recently served as the Senior Resilience and Waterfront Planner for the Boston Planning and Development Agency. Previous to this, he worked to launch and manage equitable infrastructure and economic mobility programs as a Program Director with the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. He also helped to lead the Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery effort in New York City at the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations. He brings expertise in the fields of climate resilience, community planning, environmental justice and disaster response and recovery.

As Director of Climate Engagement, Melanie Gárate will develop and lead the Lab’s strategies related to  outreach with local communities to ensure the Lab’s efforts are driven by the needs and priorities of people most impacted by climate change. Most recently she served as the Climate Resiliency Manager at the Mystic River Watershed Association and previously served in education specialist roles at Mass Audubon and the New England Aquarium. She is a 2022 Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis with the OpEd Project in partnership with Yale University and brings a wealth of experience working with environmental justice and social justice communities.

Joe and Melanie’s positions will be housed within Boston Harbor Now, a member of the Stone Living Lab partnership.

“Solving for climate adaptation requires science, policy, and above all else, strong collaboration and partnership,” said Kathy Abbott, President and CEO of Boston Harbor Now. “We feel very fortunate that these two talented leaders will join us in our commitment to creating a Massachusetts coastline that is adaptable and resilient to the risks and impacts of climate change.”