Our Role

Root Local serves as the backbone organization for collective impact planning. Our role is to create the space for collaboration between a diverse set of stakeholders and guide the collective towards development and implementation of a shared vision for environmental impact and sustainability.


We inspire a productive process where all members have the opportunity to learn from each other. We foster steady progress towards common goals, helping with communications, scheduling, coordination, governance infrastructure, information sharing, data management, and attracting financial resources.


We also educate the community on the features and benefits of the collective impact plan and the recommended step-by-step actions individuals, communities, and organizations can take to meet the plan’s goals and objectives. We administer programs and services that connect individuals and businesses with information and resources that support their own as well as the plan’s environmental sustainability commitments.

View our strategic plan


Root Local convenes environmental allies, identifies opportunities for impact, connects stakeholders, and educates communities to conserve our natural resources.


We envision a future where Atlantans know their environmental footprint and are empowered to make global impact on a local scale.

Our Values

  • 1

    As the old saying goes: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

  • 2

    The only way we can create trust and become a source for information is by being open, honest, and clear with each other.

  • 3

    We're in this for the long haul. It’s on us to bring everyone to the table and create trust by creating an environment where being transparent with each other is paramount.

  • 4

    To truly move the needle, we must ensure we are staying true to our words. All Atlantans have the right to clean natural resources and to have an equitable voice.

The Team

Johanna Ellis Reisinger

Founder / Board member

My perspectives as a business owner, investor, community activist, and now most importantly, a wife and mom, have taught me two things. First, business can be used for the betterment of our communities and our planet. The environmental challenges the earth faces are too big for the government to fix on its own. The private sector must be an active participant in efforts to build sustainability.


Second, there are actions we can take in our everyday lives that can, and will, positively impact the long-term health of our planet. I like to think we can all be pollinators for change, through education and a commitment to a healthier world for all citizens.

Butch Whitfield

Founder / Board member

I have always viewed the planet as our most precious and fragile resource and my path to becoming an active conservationist has developed over time. Through my degree and subsequent first career in horticulture, I have a deep love and appreciation for all things flora. In my current career as a top performer at Harry Norman, I’m passionate about finding ways to make easy lifestyle changes that can have a big impact, like installing solar panels, driving an electric car, using earth-friendly products, and by reducing the use of plastics and consumption of meat.


Community connection is also important to me- I am an advisory board member of Open Hand Atlanta, member of Midtown Alliance, former board member of the Decatur Business Association and the Luxury Marketing Council of Atlanta, former president of the Oakhurst Business Association, twice co-chaired the Decatur Beach Party, and – I also channel my years as an Eagle Scout and experience as the auctioneer for the Oakhurst Elementary School live auction for two years.


I believe that if you’re not going to roll up your sleeves and be a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem. To that end, with Johanna and Liz, we founded Root Local to be connectors and conveners in an effort to create long-term and measurable solutions.

Liz Lapidus

Founder / Board member

I came to environmentalism straight out of college, as an intern monitoring environmental legislation at Georgia’s state capitol. Getting to know the many elected officials, lobbyists and conservationists who were invested in positive change made me keenly aware that if enough people use their voices, you can make a difference.


While my career pivoted to public relations, I remained actively involved in the community. For more than 25 years at the helm of Liz Lapidus PR, my firm promoted some of the most anticipated brands. Yet my passion remains with our nonprofit clients and through board positions I’ve held and committee work I’ve done with the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, The Hambidge Center, Dad’s Garage, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, the Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation, AID Atlanta, Jerusalem House and Community Farmers Markets.

Tabitha Schwartz

Executive Director

From an early age I had a deep interest in the natural world and my own impact on it. I spent my youth learning about how to be a good steward to the environment at Northampton County Junior Conservation School. During this program, I learned I could make small but deliberate changes to reduce our impact. At Emory, I earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Environmental Studies and Psychology. During this time, I was given the opportunity to travel abroad to Namibia, where I saw the benefits and support their pillars of the community gave to each other and how that dramatically protected their environment. I left inspired to bring that level of collaboration back to the states. I spent the past 10 years working with AmeriCorps and environmental nonprofits like Trees Atlanta where I built and grew programs and supporting databases. In 2020, I graduated from UGA with a Master of Public Administration with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. I aspire to continue to build a strong foundation for environmental stewardship and connect communities together to reduce our negative environmental impact.