GEORGE MATYSIK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
A native of Lower Northeast Philadelphia, George’s love for Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation began while he was playing baseball at Jardel Recreation Center and Burholme Park, where he was the perennial leader in two statistical categories: hit-by-pitch (HBP) and errors (E). Having cast aside his career in professional sports, George enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his degree in urban studies, while working his way through the school as a janitor. Armed with his experience in urban studies, George took a position as advisor to several prominent area elected officials, where George began his career in public service.
George most recently served as Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Philabundance, where he led the development of Fare & Square, the nation’s first non-profit grocery store. George also recently served as President of country’s preeminent senior hunger relief organization—the National CSFP Association—and was founding Executive Director of Feeding Pennsylvania, a collaborative non-profit of the Commonwealth’s food banks. George is Founder and former Co-Chair of the Friends of Mifflin School, an organization dedicated to providing resources to his neighborhood’s community public school. He also serves on the boards of Mercy Career & Technical High School and the Pennsylvania Resources Council.
In his free time George is an avid traveler, reader, and parks and recreation user, though mercifully has retired his bat and glove. George lives in the East Falls neighborhood with his wife, Alix, and his diabolical miniature pinscher, Duke.
VINCE RONGIONE, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
To hear his older siblings tell it, Vincent grew up from a tadpole stowed away in a cooler on the way home from a family trip to Ridley Creek State Park. Regardless of his murky origins, what is clear is that Vince’s love of parks has come to him quite naturally and from a very early age.
Vince has built a successful career as an attorney, non-profit executive, and political operative. After graduating from Villanova University and the Villanova School of Law, he has worked: for major international law firms, at small nonprofits, in higher education development, on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer, and in federal, state, local and judicial elections in at least 10 states and the District of Columbia. An experienced major gift fundraiser, Vincent is eager to combine his passion for parks and playgrounds with his experience navigating the donor community to create meaningful philanthropy for the Philadelphia Parks Alliance.
Vin is certified in “Leave No Trace” backcountry travel by the National Outdoor Leadership School, he was named one of Pennsylvania’s top 10 staffers by the Allentown Morning Call, once played the role of Estragon in Waiting for Godot, and is deeply ambivalent about what version of his name you use to address him. He currently resides in Upper Darby with his wife, Skye, and their floofy cat, Rhubarb.
Teresa Lundy, Communications Consultant
Teresa M. Lundy, a government affairs and public relations professional, serves as the Principal of her own firm, TML Communications, LLC. Teresa has long served communities in and around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by handling media relations, event management, campaigns and engagement strategies for business owners, candidates and elected officials. Teresa’s mission is to inspire others to be and stay involved in their communities, to create lifelong changes for the next generation of leaders.
Nance Kerns, Gifts Processing Assistant
Nance is a park leader and steward serving as the Vice President of Public Affairs for the Friends of Pennypack, a board member of Community Umbrella Agency Four, and Secretary of the 8th Police District Advisory Council. She is also a consultant for the Friends of Poquessing Watershed.
KATIE BREINER, public policy Manager
Katie grew up hiking, biking, and playing softball in Philly's parks and recreation centers. Her experiences in sports management and environmental advocacy led her to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. Armed with a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts & Sciences and Management & Sustainability from the Wharton School of Business, Katie wants to transform public spaces so that they promote environmental and social resiliency.
At the Parks Alliance, Katie uses geographic information systems (GIS), database design, and research to manage information and tell stories about Philly's public spaces. During the day, Katie's mapping software helps her analyze the parks and recreation centers, but by night, it enables her to find the path of least resistance to the closest Indian restaurant or used book store.
Mattie Cohen, Community outreach coordinator, americorps vista, phennd fellow
Mattie recently graduated from Temple University where she received degrees in Geography & Urban Studies and Spanish as well as a minor in Political Science. Her love for public spaces, community development, and the city of Philadelphia as well as fond memories of her eight years in rec soccer led her to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. She has previously interned with Philadelphia 3.0, The Pennsylvania Democratic Campaign Committee, Americans for the Arts, and the World Affairs Council. Mattie is a Washington, D.C. native and enjoys traveling, hiking, and salsa dancing.
Olivia Ortiz, Community Outreach specialist
Olivia recently graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Environmental Studies, though she prefers to think of it as the other way around. She calls southern Michigan, northern Georgia, and the handful of vegetable gardens 'home' but suspects that Philadelphia is making its way onto the list. Olivia is excited to join the Parks Alliance under the auspices of Philly Fellows. She hopes one day to have a good response when George asks "How are we changing the world today?"
Carl Smith, Community Outreach Specialist
Mr. Carl “Roscoe” Smith is the Parks Alliance’s Community Outreach Specialist. Carl’s primary activities at the Parks Alliance include community organizing at rec centers. In his spare time, Carl is involved with his own rec center, West Mill Creek Recreation Center, and is active in his church, Redeemer Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Nadine harris, administrative assistant
Nadine Harris works as a Parks Alliance administrative assistant. She grew up in South Philly where she spent most of her time at the Ridgeway Community Center playing with family and friends. These days, she's more involved at the Marian Anderson Rec Center. Nadine is a loving, caring person and loves to help out anybody who needs it. She loves to read, go to the movies, watch reality TV shows, and spend time with her twelve grandchildren and her one great grandson.
Oreales Knight, Administrative Assistant
Oreales "Rea Rea" Knight works as a Parks Alliance administrative assistant. Before joining she worked as a nurse for 34 years. She is also a long time member of the Calvary Baptist Church in West Philly. In her spare time, she likes to show her love for her family and friends by cooking for them.
Aidan Molloy, Urban Studies Intern
Aidan is a senior majoring in environmental studies at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. Growing up in Swarthmore, a small town that loves to brag about its abundance of trees, a love for the outdoors and public spaces was second nature. In his free time, he enjoys anything that will keep him active and outside, diversifying from rowing to rock climbing. Aidan is looking forward to contributing to an organization with such important and relevant causes.
Yayin Cai, Recreation Community initiative intern
Yayin, who is a graduate student at University of Pennsylvania majoring in City Planning, currently works as a Recreation Community Initiative (RCI) intern at the Parks Alliance. She is passionate about urban issues including public space, green infrastructure, property development, and community building. As a student majoring in city planning, she loves exploring different cities and experiencing different cultures around the world. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, listening to classical music, as well as writing stories and poetry. She is excited to join Parks Alliance and hopes to create better public spaces with the team together.
Shannon Rafferty, Development Assistant
Shannon is a Philly transplant by way of Bel Air and St. Mary’s, Maryland. She holds undergraduate degrees in Art & Art History and Psychology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and is currently pursuing a Masters in Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to starting her Masters, she worked for a management consultancy specializing in strategic communications. Shannon is excited to merge her enthusiasm for public space with her communications background to help the Philadelphia Parks Alliance build their funding base.
Before joining the Parks Alliance, Sara Reckahn worked for many years in non-profit ESL and adult literacy programs because she wanted all Philadelphians to enjoy life and prosper. The same desire to connect residents with resources, combined with her love of parks and public spaces, brought her to volunteer with the Parks Alliance. Sara is a little obsessed with the city of Philadelphia in general, and enjoys exploring trails and side streets with her two Chihuahuas, Ernie and Dot.
Jaslyn Peterson, RCI InTern
Jaslyn, a senior Communications Media major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was born and raised in Southwest Philadelphia. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and is also a member of the IUP Women’s Rugby Team. In her free time, she enjoys writing short fiction stories, drawing, and working on DIY projects.
Bindu NicholsON, RCI Intern
Bindu is a recent graduate from Wellesley College, where she majored in English and minored in Environmental Studies. She believes that thriving urban community and green spaces are important to the well-being of Philadelphia's citizens. She is excited to be a part of supporting the revitalization of Philadelphia's recreation centers through her work with the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. In her spare time she enjoys riding her bike around Philadelphia's neighborhoods and playing racket sports.
Ryan Coughlan, GIS Intern
Ryan is currently at Temple University obtaining his Professional Science Master's in GIS. Ryan also graduated from Temple University for his undergraduate degree, majoring in Environmental Studies. Outside of the classroom, Ryan is extremely active in the Ultimate Frisbee community within the Philadelphia area. Ryan played competitively for Temple University and is now helping coach the team. Ryan also has been coaching for his alumni high school team, Archbishop John Carroll in Radnor PA, for the past 6 years. He currently lives in Delaware County and loves going for long runs in Ridley Creek State Park. Ryan is excited to use his background in environmental studies and his current knowledge in the GIS field to help make Philadelphia and more sustainable city environment.
Rebecca Del Rossi, Public Policy Intern
Rebecca is a rising senior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace & Justice. She hails from Canton, New York, which is a small town in upstate New York that her friends like to call “southern Canada”. She grew up exploring rivers, forests, and mountains and loves being outside. She is excited to intern with Philadelphia Parks Alliance because it combines her love for nature, her love of Philadelphia, and her passion for social justice and equity. When she is not running around suburban Delaware county for ‘Nova’s cross country and track team, she is baking cookies, hiking, knitting, or looking at videos of cats on the internet.
Austin Fluck, GIS Intern
Austin is a recent graduate of Temple University, where he majored in economics and minored in geography and urban studies. He has worked as a driver in the construction industry in Allentown, but his favorite mode of transportation is by bicycle, preferably on a shady canal trail in his hometown. Besides access to public spaces, Austin cares about urban design, sustainable economic development, and labor rights. He hopes to use what he learned about GIS for good, and never for evil.
Danrick is currently a 10th Grader at Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus. He was born and raised in Jamaica with his younger siblings. He plays multiple sports, but his favorite is soccer. He is currently enrolled in a soccer League at Academy at Palumbo. He wantes to also be successful in his internship (a requirement for at Mastery Charter students), so he is going to give it his all and do his best at the Parks Alliance.
ALEXA ZIZZI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF GREENE COUNTRIE TOWNE
Alexa is a recent graduate of Temple University with a degree in journalism and has a passion for looking through the lens of others to share their stories with the world. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Alexa moved to Philadelphia to pursue a career in journalism and communications. She has been invested in advocating for sustainability, green spaces, underserved neighborhoods and community work. During her time as an intern for the Parks Alliance, she established Greene Countrie Towne as a platform to create conversation amongst neighbors and share important stories within Philadelphia’s beloved communities. She loves to connect with people through community outreach and public service and hopes to eventually travel the world someday and document it all.
ZURI HOFFMAN, MANAGING EDITOR OF GREENE COUNTRIE TOWNE
Zuri is a Germantown native and sophomore journalism student at Temple University. Her love for writing, reporting and helping others influenced her to get involved in community work and public outreach, which led her to interning at the Parks Alliance. As a current writer and reporter for Greene Countrie Towne, she looks forward to one day connecting with people in her career as a broadcast journalist.