PennFuture Blog

Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues

The Importance of Women Leading the Way in Southeast PA

We are excited to share our latest blogs with you as we highlight the contributions of Pennsylvania women working on behalf of our environment. We are at a critical time when big decisions are being made that will influence the trajectory of our climate future, and what pathways to clean air, water and clean energy will look like going forward. As we approach Thursday, April 19, the evening in Philadelphia when PennFuture will honor these women and their work at our Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards, I am reminded that never before have we needed the voices of these women, and of all the others we know are out there doing good work. We thank and honor all of them and hope to see some of you in Philly at the event.

In our latest series of blogs, our honorees are sharing their stories. This year’s honorees all come from southeast Pennsylvania, but their experiences are vastly different, spanning work with the White House to the neighbor’s house. But a commonality among them is their passion for the work, commitment to enlisting others into advocacy at this important time, and their dedication to their communities. 

I think of the road I have traveled since becoming involved in environmental work in 1983 as a Sierra Club volunteer where I was able to build a large coalition of  hunters, anglers, recreationists, scientists and others who collectively stopped the damming of a high quality cold water fishery in northeast Pennsylvania called Nescopeck Creek. It was a fight that lasted 15 years, and I continued the work during my time at National Wildlife Federation.  I was lucky to find the Sierra Club and luckier to find work in a profession that called to me.  

As PennFuture’s sixth president and CEO, I’m the third woman to hold that position in the organization, following in the footsteps of founding president and CEO John Hanger, who was followed by George Jugovic, Jan Jarrett, Cindy Dunn and Larry Schweiger.  PennFuture has had four board chairs over our roughly 20 year history, beginning with founding board chair R. John Dawes, Jr., followed by Joy Kauffman, David Lane and now Char Magaro. So, the organization has had a gender balance of leadership on both the staff and volunteer leadership side, with many, many other talented and committed individuals as part of our organization now, or who were in the past.

I am sure that all of our honorees had the help of a great many people as part of their stories – families, mentors, teachers, partner organizations who ascribed value to these individuals.  I am sure all found inspiration, perhaps from nature herself, or motivation from their children’s or  communities’ health that compelled action.  

Not everyone’s story will look the same but we all have a part to play. For some, making a meaningful life will be a solitary and quiet endeavor, and a pat on the back will never be felt, or expected. It feels important to keep this in mind as today’s world calls on all of us to do more for the people and places we care about.   


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