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Meet the SustainPHL Nominees: Neighborhood Champion 2022
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Meet the SustainPHL Nominees: Neighborhood Champion 2022

This nominee is making a difference on a micro-level (neighborhood engagement, block captain, etc) and his/her/their efforts could be unrecognized.

In October, Philadelphia’s SustainPHL Awards will highlight and celebrate these community changemakers. Join us to honor them and announce the recipient at the SustainPHL Awards on October 20 at the Academy of Natural Sciences. 

Ivana Gonzalez, Esperanza

Gonzalez is Esperanza’s Community Outreach Associate and is in charge of the organization’s green initiatives. She has been instrumental in the heat preparedness efforts happening in Hunting Park. At Esperanza, she organizes the community to plant more trees and install cooling elements at the block level. She is a tireless champion for her community, bringing more and more resources to residents, while also graciously disseminating lessons learned to other communities and stakeholders. 

Esperanza is a national community-based social benefit organization founded in?1986?with a mission to strengthen Hispanic communities. Esperanza Housing & Economic Development is a subsidiary 501c (3) founded by Esperanza with an emphasis on community engagement, housing and economic development. Programs include tree tending, block to block ambassadors, small business technical assistance and corridor management, among other services. 

Sally McCabe, PHS

As the Associate Director of Community Education and Community Gardens at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, McCabe is well-known throughout Philadelphia as an educator, resource provider, and advocate of community gardens. In her professional capacity she has led or participated in sustainability initiatives such as Garden Tenders, Green City Teachers and Gardeners, Philadelphia Urban Agricultural Plan, etc. She instructs gardeners and educators via workshops that service hundreds of people annually. 

McCabe describes herself as an “enabler,” who prompts change at the neighborhood level by working directly with community members. She empowers them to make use of their own skills and pre-existing resources within their communities. Her teaching philosophy is centered around asset-based community development which allows community members to work from their own strengths and resources, and then connect with outside entities as needed to fill any resource or knowledge gaps. As a neighbor and community leader, McCabe collects, stores and shares gardening resources such as seeds, starter plants, soil, tools, knowledge and experience with whomever wants help. Over the course of 40 years at PHS, she has witnessed the impact of her philosophy in practice and seen hundreds of community groups thrive through empowerment, support, and education.

Bria Wimberly, The Discovery Center

Bria Wimberly serves as an Environmental Educator at the Discovery Center. Born and raised in West Philadelphia, she found her interest in environmental science when visiting Cobbs Creek as a child. After receiving her BS in Marine Biology from Florida International University in 2015, Wimberly moved back to Philadelphia to teach what she learned. She spent five years working as an educator and coordinator for Fairmount Water Works focusing on aquatic macroinvertebrates and the outreach program for their freshwater mussel hatchery. In January 2020, Wimberly joined the Audubon team as an Environmental Educator teaching neighborhood children about the importance of our watersheds, conservation, ecosystems, and everything in between. She hopes to give kids a modern representation of what a scientist and educator looks like, and spark an interest in science within her students. 

The Discovery Center, affiliated with Audubon Pennsylvania and the Outward Bound School, offers environmental education and recreation programs for people of all ages. Programming focuses on the surrounding Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, adjacent to the reservoir. The Discovery Center opened in 2018 with the goal of reclaiming the reservoir as a recreational, green space, and educational facility.


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Stephanie Ostroff loves exploring green spaces in and around Philly. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and has been published in National Geographic, Generocity, and Fathom. When she’s not writing, she works as a speech/language therapist at AIM Academy. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys getting lost in the Wissahickon, practicing yoga, and planning travel adventures. View all posts by Stephanie Ostroff

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