March 21, 2023

2023 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards

Each year, PennFuture honors the accomplishments of outstanding women conservationists in Pennsylvania. The 2023 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards are designed to recognize excellence in conservation and to forge a stronger network of women who are deeply committed to working to protect Pennsylvania’s environment.

This year's event will take place March 21, 2023, as part of our celebration of Women's History Month, at the Fitler Club in Philadelphia. Sponsorships available now. Tickets go on sale later this year.

Congratulations to our Honorees:

  • Young Woman of Conservation Leadership: Sabirah Mahmud, Philadelphia County -  Sabirah is a 19-year-old Sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations. Currently she is working as a part-time Strategy Organizer at Philly Thrive. She has been organizing in climate work since 2019 when she founded the Philadelphia Youth Climate Movement at the age of 16. She has been driven because of the effects of climate change in her family home of Bangladesh which has been greatly affected by climate change. Recently she appeared on Nickelodeon's Earth Day special.​

Read our interview with Sabirah

  • Woman of the Watershed: Julie Slavet, Philadelphia County -  Julie has 40 years of experience in building organizations and serving communities. She came to Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership in 2011, after serving as the senior district staff member for Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. A founder of Indivisible PHL, she has served as leadership for the Jenkintown Community Alliance, Montgomery County Democratic Women’s Leadership Initiative, Hiway Theatre, and Jenkintown Library. She is a Democratic Committee person in Philadelphia’s Fifth Ward and serves on the Board of Directors of the Fund for the Fairmount Water Works. 

Read our interview with Julie

  • Woman of the Watershed: Karen Young, Philadelphia County - For over 30 year Karen has devoted a career to environmental education, including the last fifteen years as executive director of the Fairmount Water Works. Karen's achievements include overseeing the development of the ResourceWater.org urban watershed curriculum guide and its introduction into classrooms across the region. Karen is also a founding member of the Alliance for Watershed Education. More recently, Karen and the Fairmount Water Works has used its platform to address urgent issues and narratives around racial equity, hosting the POOL! exhibit curated by Victoria Prizzia. This groundbreaking exhibit leaps from a water utilities traditional orientation to "swimmable" waterways to grapple with issues of race and racism in pool segregation, drowning risk, representation, and access to swimming instruction.

Read our interview with Karen

  • Woman of Environmental Justice: Carolyn Moseley, Philadelphia County -  Executive Director of the Eastwick United Community Development Association, Carolyn is a devoted member and leader of the Eastwick community. She has fought for decades to ensure that Eastwick is provided with the resources necessary to combat the escalating impact of climate change and help her community prosper. She seeks restorative justice for the community that served as the site of the nation's largest urban renewal project during the 20th century. Her lifetime of work in advocating for an environmental justice community was recently recognized by the City of Philadelphia with her appointment to the city's newly-formed Environmental Justice Advisory Commission.

 

  • Woman of Climate and Renewable Energy: Mayor Barbarann Keffer, Delaware County - In the past two years, during her new role as the the Mayor of Upper Darby, the Township has planted many more trees than it had in decades. Barbarann has helped the Tree Tenders of Upper Darby build a community nursery for native trees and shade trees. She has advanced a riparian buffer project along the Darby Creek at Gillespie Park (ripping out an unused baseball field and fence along the creek to restore it to its natural conditions) consisting of over 300 native trees and shrubs that were planted in the fall of 2021. She has secured funding to utilize goats to control invasive plants in natural areas. She is a supporter of River friendly garden concepts, and implemented an addition to stream waste reduction by having weekly garden and yard waste collections as part of a recycling program to limit the amount of trash being incinerated or landfilled. Mulch piles (from Xmas trees) are also available now for residents to load up on locally produced compost to again, reduce the waste stream.

 

  • Woman of Environmental Arts: Meg Lemieur, Philadelphia County - Meg is an illustrator based in the ancestral lands of the Lenni Lenape, now known as Philadelphia. She illustrates using pen, paper, and digital color. Her work focuses on natural and urban environments and subjects, while lending her skills to numerous environmental and racial justice issues. With artist Bri Barton, Meg created The Waterways (thewaterways.org), an enormous illustration that uses animals and a playful style to explain the many steps of fracking in Pennsylvania and the characters and communities that interact with this infrastructure. They printed it on mural-sized fabric and took it on tour explaining fracking to everyone, had it translated to Spanish, and turned it into a game. 

 

  • Woman of Environmental Education: Jeanne Barrett Ortiz, Philadelphia County - Jeanne is the Senior Program, Manager Landscape Conservation, for Audubon Mid-Atlantic. She has served for over eight years as the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) Network Coordinator, establishing numerous EAC’s across the state and was also the primary author of the original EAC Network Handbook. She is a key environmental policy and planning member of the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI), providing education and technical assistance to municipal officials with policies and programs designed to protect and restore the watershed. In the Upper Lehigh DRWI “cluster”, in Carbon County, Jeanne’s leadership in producing a 2018 Return on Environment study for the County resulted in the county economic development director becoming a champion for conserving natural areas, creating a “Nature and Commerce” committee.  She directs the Kittatinny Conservation Landscape. This Global Important Bird Area is home to 152 miles of the Appalachian Trail and is PA’s most climate resilient landscape. On the home front, Jeanne was a co-founder of the Wissahickon Sustainability Council, at her children’s elementary school, bringing in experts on native landscape restoration that resulted in a campus landscape plan and planting of two native meadows, a native magnolia grove and raised bed gardens. 

 

  • Woman of Environmental Media, Marketing, and Communications: Jaimie Field, Philadelphia County - Jaimie has served as Audacy's Founding Sustainability Director for more than 13 years, institutionalizing Audacy’s commitment to the environment in every aspect of how the company operates: including using 10M fewer sheets of paper over the past 10 years and using 99% eco-friendly paper products in their offices to save 15k+ trees and 7.4m gallons of water, and reducing 1.3M+ lbs of greenhouse gas emissions. Jaimie has built Audacy’s 1Thing Sustainability Initiative, #1Thing, to share practical actions, with over 200 million listeners, that we can all take to have a big impact on our environment. The tips are in the form of 30-second PSAs running on their 235+ stations, digital audio stream, the 1Thing Radio streaming station, across social channels, and in editorial content on their digital platform, 1ThingUS.com. Each year, Audacy also grants $1m in media time to local environmental partners promoting specific organizations - like Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia, Allegheny Cleanways in Pittsburgh. In addition to her role within Audacy, Jaimie’s leadership in environmental stewardship is recognized through her work with Conservation International, the Field Family Environmental Foundation and Earth Force. She currently sits on PennFuture's President's Leadership Council.

 

  • Woman of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation: Carol Collier - Philadelphia County - Carol served for more than 15 years as executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) before joining the Academy. Prior to that she was executive director of Pennsylvania’s 21st Century Environment Commission and regional director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) Southeast Region. Prior to PADEP, Collier served 19 years with BCM Environmental Engineers, Inc., beginning as a student intern and ultimately becoming vice president of environmental planning, science and risk. She is a professional planner licensed in the State of New Jersey, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and a certified senior ecologist. In 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded her the Bronze Order of the DeFleury Medal. She is a member of her township’s environmental protection advisory board, on the Boards of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) (President, 2013), the U.S. Water Alliance, and recent past chair of the Board for the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. She teaches environmental management courses at the University of Pennsylvania and has published on environmental and water-related topics. She has testified before the House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 2004 she was a member of a nine-person U.S./China/Japan team to assist the People’s Republic of China with river basin management. She has also participated in water management and sustainable forest practice events along the Yangtze River in China and in the rain forests of Ecuador.

 

  • Woman of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation: Debra Wolf Goldstein, Philadelphia County - Debra has devoted her almost 30 year career to protecting nature, conserving land, and raising environmental awareness in southeastern Pennsylvania. She served as regional advisor to the PA DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation & Conservation, where she drafted the state’s first Land Trust grant program guidelines and awarded hundreds of grants to municipalities and counties to create new parks and trails. She served as vice president of the Fairmount Park Commission for over 10 years, followed by a term as Mayor Michael Nutter’s representative on the Commission. She went on to serve on the newly created Philadelphia Commission on Parks & Recreation, where she chaired the Land Use & Planning committee and drafted and guided passage of the city’s first parkland protection ordinance. She co-founded the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival in 2017, bringing in hundreds of top-notch new environmental shorts and feature films to the region, as well as creating speaker programs for filmmakers and local policy experts to share their knowledge with thousands of Festival attendees over five years. As principal of Conservation Matters, LLC, she has represented dozens of land trusts, government agencies, and landowners, drafting strategic plans and legal documents enabling them to create parks, trails, and nature preserves.  She co-authored the state’s first manual on what park agencies need to do comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. A singer-songwriter, Debra won the 2022 PA Parks & Forests Foundation President’s Choice Award for her song “People Have the Power,” which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment.  She currently sits on PennFuture's President's Leadership Council.

 

  • Woman of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation: Jeanne Bonnie Van Alen, Chester County -  Bonnie recently stepped down from the position of Executive Director and President of Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT), a nonprofit land trust and conservation organization she founded over twenty-five years ago in Chester County. She continues as a Trustee and President Emerita of WCT. Her land conservation legacy began over 40 years ago when she raised concerns over development threatening the rural Willistown countryside. In the early 1980’s, she left her work at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia to launch a satellite program under the Brandywine Conservancy, with the purpose of conserving Willistown land with conservation easements held by the Brandywine Conservancy. Following years of successful conservation easement negotiations — 90 in total — that inspired a community of conservation in Willistown and beyond, she received Brandywine Conservancy President Frolic Weymouth’s blessing and partnered with friend and current Trustee Alice Hausmann to create an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 1996. In addition to her conservation work at the Trust, she is also the co-founder of Delchester Group, Inc., a nonprofit organization formed to acquire and preserve critical properties by re-sale to conservation-minded buyers. Within the Trust’s focus area of 28,000 acres, Willistown Conservation Trust has conserved over 7,500 acres, and Delchester Group, Inc. is responsible for saving more than 2,000 acres. Bonnie has served as a Trustee of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the PA Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and has served as a member of the Chairman's Council of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association. 

Later this summer we will be presenting expanded individual profiles and interviews of each of these amazing women - stay tuned!

If you would like information on being a sponsor of the 2023 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards event, please contact Travis DiNicola at dinicola@pennfuture.org or 717-214-7924.

Thank you to this year's sponsors!

Jaimie and David Field