Green Burial Association of Maryland – Board of Directors

The Green Burial Association of Maryland promotes environmentally sound burial practices in the State of Maryland through public education, funeral industry outreach, legislative advocacy, and support for creating conservation burial grounds. Green Burial upholds natural resource and land conservation, worker health protection, and reduction of pollutants and carbon emissions.

The Board is actively involved in promoting GBAM’s mission.  If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please fill out the form here.
GBAM is a 501(c)(3) organization. Your financial support for our volunteer efforts is fully tax deductible. (donate) https://greenburialmaryland.org/donations/1125/

Jennifer Downs

President

Jennifer Downs is a Licensed Acupuncturist and RN in practice since 1980. Jennifer has planned and coordinated many conferences and events focused on education and the arts and has developed programs for people in the very fascinating and important later decades of life. In her many years of service in the healing arts she has come to appreciate the importance of how we prepare for death, our own and our friends and loved ones. The green burial movement inspired her to get involved as it provides practical ways to preserve the earth and open more green space for the living.

kim holcomb

Vice President

kim holcomb has been producing and directing award winning video projects for more than 3 decades at Maryland Public Television and for freelance clients. This path has provided continuing education in technology. Throughout her life, she has offered volunteer energy and leadership in roles as varied as aerobics instructor and board member and President of Owings Mills Green Action, where she helped run a recycling center and lobby for curbside recycling in Baltimore County. She has varied interests and enjoys singing, traveling and laughing with friends. kim believes that “Green Burial is the Ultimate recycling!” - it makes sense and is the most natural and environmentally sound end of life process.

Michael Cordes

Treasurer

Mike Cordes is the Managing Director and Principal with Columbia National Real Estate Finance. Previously he was Chief Operating Officer of Mercantile Mortgage Corporation, a real estate finance subsidiary of Mercantile Bankshares (now PNC Bank). Mike financed the first significant office-to-apartment conversion in Baltimore City, and, by working to provide thousands of new Class A apartments throughout his career, he has helped to alleviate our country’s housing shortage in an environmentally sound way. Mike greatly enjoys working to change the culture of burial practices towards more environmentally sound practices.

Betsy Sexton

Secretary

Betsy holds an MSW degree from UNC and worked as a social worker in Connecticut before moving to Baltimore in the 1980s. Most recently she was an ESOL (English language) instructor, teaching immigrants in Baltimore County. She has served in leadership positions at the League of Women Voters of Baltimore County and the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, and NeighborSpace, a nonprofit that develops pocket parks in neighborhoods that do not have community green spaces. Betsy enjoys traveling, swimming and the Japanese craft of stitching embroidered Temari balls. She enthusiastically promotes green burial as a simple and earth-friendly practice.

Mike Franch

Board Member

Mike Franch is an affiliate minister at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore (Universalist and Unitarian) and has also served as clergy leader of the Baltimore Ethical Society. He has officiated at many graveside services. He finds that while one can do a beautiful service in almost any setting, the green burial experience is particularly gentle and peaceful. He is pleased that the opportunities for green burial have considerably increased since he struggled to find a green burial place for his late wife in January 2020.

Robin Hessey

Board Member

Robin had a 17-year career working with the University of Maryland Master Gardener program as the State Advanced Training Coordinator, and a 8 year career as a business owner (Aardvark Design Group). She has also done stints as a producer and promotions coordinator for local Baltimore TV (WBAL and WMAR) shows. Robin spends most of her free time working on climate related issues, hiking, biking, dancing and playing pickleball as well as numerous volunteer activities. She strongly believes in green burial and is grateful that this is now a possibility in Maryland.

Alex Hirtle

Board Member

Alex Hirtle is a Policy Analyst and Special Projects Coordinator for Prince George's County. He also serves on Riverdale Park’s Sustainability Committee and Chairs the Tree Subcommittee. Alex grew up near the South River in Annapolis, where his appreciation for the Bay and dense tree canopy inspired his lifelong commitment to the environment. He enjoys reading historical non-fiction, traveling, bicycling, and attending local festivals with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. After watching a film on Green Burial at the DC Environmental Film Festival, he became interested in utilizing Green Burial as a way to preserve open and green space in his county.

Ann Phillips

Board Member

Ann holds a Masters in Social Work from University of Maryland. She was drawn to the concept of natural burials having worked in hospice, dealing with end of life issues, and the choices involved in disposition of the body. She participates actively in her church; and enjoys playing duplicate bridge, cooking, and entertaining family and friends. Ann is a founding member of GBAM and served as Treasurer for five years.

Carrie Shipton

Board Member

Carrie is a Baltimore native and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She first became involved with GBAM while doing undergraduate research and has enjoyed volunteering ever since. She has served on the board since 2022. She is inspired by green burial and its capacity to use community to create healing experiences - for humans and the environment.