January: Comings & Goings

Management Positions Change at Top Energy and Sustainability Groups
The Managing Director’s Office of Philadelphia hired Nic Esposito as director of its new Zero Waste and Litter program. Esposito has worked previously for Parks and Recreation as a training specialist, project manager and—most recently—sustainable practices manager. The city’s goals for this program include: diverting almost all waste from being sent to conventional landfills and incinerators by 2035; better management of litter and illegal dumping in public spaces; and implementing measurable standards to demonstrate the progress of these goals.

Greensgrow Farms announced that long-time staff member and program director Ryan Kuck will lead operations at its Kensington and West Philly locations following the passing of founder Mary Seton Corboy, the previous executive director. Kuck’s previous titles at Greensgrow include sustainability manager, food access programs manager and director of Greensgrow West. 

Jamie Gauthier is the new senior director of public partnerships at Fairmount Park Conservancy. She served as executive director of the Sustainable Business Network for almost four years.

Phil Rinaldi announced his retirement in early December as chief executive officer of Pennsylvania Energy Solutions. He has been a central figure in expanding Philadelphia’s role as an East Coast “energy hub”—a proposed long-term project widely criticized by environmental activists and those opposed to reliance on fossil fuels

NextFab Opens its First Delaware Studio for Training and Workspace
NextFab—a membership-based studio and consulting space for manufacturers, designers and entrepreneurs—opens its first Delaware location this month, expanding from its studios at 2025 Washington Ave. and 1227 N. 4th St. in Philadelphia.

A $350,000 grant from the Delaware Strategic Fund was approved by the Council on Development Finance in September 2016, which enabled NextFab to secure a lease for a 10,000-square-foot space at 501–509 Tatnall St. in Wilmington—an area referred to as the Creative District. 

Activists Disrupt Business at Wells Fargo, Demand Divestment from Dakota Access Pipeline
Activists gathered at the Wells Fargo Bank and History Museum on Dec. 15 to protest the bank’s funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The group sang songs, displayed a banner and asked the bank’s manager to withdraw funding.

Standing Rock protesters—led by Sioux leaders who have gained national support at the site of the pipeline’s construction and at local rallies across the U.S.—cite as their main concern the pipeline’s proposed crossing of the Missouri River, which has the potential to threaten the water supply and encroach on land deemed sacred and sovereign to Native American populations.

A Dec. 5 protest at a local TD Bank made similar demands for divestment.

State Grants $45M to Conserving Parks, Trails, Community Space
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced in December that $45 million will be invested in 261 projects across Pennsylvania for new recreational opportunities and conservation of natural resources, according to PR Newswire.

“The health and vitality of our communities is reflected in the quality of parks and trails, access to rivers, open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn said during the announcement at Long’s Park in Lancaster.

Year-End Awards Given for Sustainable Practices in Building and Planning
Paul W. Meyer was presented with Montgomery County’s 2016 Planning Advocate Award in November, in recognition of contributions to advancing planning within the area. Meyer, executive director at Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, has also served as a member of the Springfield Township Planning Commission and the Montgomery County Open Space Board. 

Also in November, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Institute of Architects presented A. Stevens Krug of West Chester with the President’s Award. Krug chairs the Climate Change Advisory Committee, a group of 16 appointed representatives that advises the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Lawrence Township was among 26 municipalities to receive Sustainable Jersey Silver Certification for 2016. In 2000, the township helped launch Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit providing tools, training and financial incentives toward sustainability programs.

New Computer Literacy Lab Educates Public on Web Skills, Job Hunts
SEAMAAC (Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition), a nonprofit that supports immigrants and refugees in their search for opportunities in their new homeland, launched a series of computer literacy classes in November, with more than 80 people in attendance.

The courses, held Thursdays and Saturdays at SEAMAAC’s outreach center at 2110 S. 8th St., cover typing skills, Microsoft programs, cover letter and resume drafting, email setup and the basics of navigating the internet.

The Comcast Foundation provided funding for the computer courses, and Sunrise of Philadelphia is supporting beginner and intermediate English classes in conjunction.

SEAMAAC plans to include tutorials on Pennsylvania’s COMPASS program and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Public Housing Grant Will Expand Education Aid for Residents
The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) will be able to hire two full-time “education navigators” with a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These new employees will work with public housing youth and their families as they apply for federal student aid and educational opportunities.

“Education is a game changer,” said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah. “This grant will help alleviate some of the barriers that prevent residents from going to college.”

The grant was made under HUD’s Project SOAR (Students + Opportunities + Achievements = Results), a pilot program to expand educational services to youth living in public housing.