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.
Sakinah I. Rahman, chief operating officer
Sakinah I. Rahman, MBA, brings more than 15 years of public finance experience to the Philadelphia Park Alliance. As COO, Sakinah leads finance and operations. Prior to joining the Park Alliance, Sakinah worked on nonprofit capital and cash flow financing as a commercial banker, investment banker and most recently as lead of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation’s tax-exempt bond division. Sakinah’s career has centered around telling the financial stories of nonprofits and she is a frequent lecturer on nonprofit financial statement analysis.
In further support of mission-driven organizations, Sakinah has served on several not-for-profit Boards. Sakinah currently serves as the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s Board of Directors and on the African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Finance committee. Sakinah earned a M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Finance from Morgan State University.
Sakinah claims Philadelphia as home. She is a resident of Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood and frequent traveler of the Wissahickon hiking trails
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.
Bethany Chisholm Yost, Development Director
Bethany is a Boston native where she attended the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has become a Philadelphia lover in her six years here, thanks to the city’s vibrant arts and culture community and the top-notch food scene. She has spent the last five years in fundraising for the nonprofit sector, starting as an intern at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), and eventually working her way up to Manager of Annual Giving and Special Events. She then worked as the Development & Marketing Manager at Girls Inc. of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, before coming to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance.
Bethany founded HSP’s Young Friends board in 2014 and has served on the board of Young Involved Philadelphia since 2015 as the Development Chair from 2015-2017, and now as the Vice President.
Bethany lives in West Powelton with her husband, Justin and their lazy dog, Charlie.
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, both green and gray, in combination with her passion for community development and fond memories of her eight years in rec soccer led her to complete her year of service at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. She is participating in a yearlong fellowship as an AmeriCorps VISTA and her year of service is supported by PHENND Fellows, a post-graduate fellowship that connects college graduates to non-profit opportunities while developing professional skills and engaging them in the robust community of Philadelphia. Mattie is a Washington, D.C. native and enjoys traveling, hiking, and salsa dancing.
Oneido Luis, Community Outreach Coordinator, quaker voluntary service
Oneido "Ony" Luis works as a Community Outreach Coordinator here at the Parks Alliance. He graduated from Earlham college in spring 2016, where he majored in Political Science. In the last few years, Ony has developed an interest in public spaces and how they can be used by communities to address their needs. Ony is joining the Parks Alliance through the Quaker Voluntary Service program. His interests include rooting for the Miami Heat, eating and cooking Cuban food, hiking, and biking around.
naomi hargrave, administrative assistant
Naomi Hargrave works for the Parks Alliance as an Administrative Assistant and handles Front Desk Communications. After moving to Philadelphia from Virginia, she worked as an Administrative Assistant at the Southwest Community Development Corporation.
Jennifer Stephens, Administrative Assistant
Jen is an Administrative Assistant at the Parks Alliance. Previously, she worked for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as an analyst for the Voting Section. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala for two years. In her spare time, Jen enjoys reading, traveling, dancing, kayaking, and doing karaoke as often as possible!
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.
Sidney Buckingham, Design Intern
Sidney is a senior at Temple University studying landscape design and French. She grew up splitting her time between Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, cultivating a love for both the city and the country. She is excited to get to work in the city of Philadelphia where she gets to explore new historical and diverse neighborhoods. Sidney is passionate about using design to both empower people and communities and to cultivate personal relationships with local ecology. She loves meeting new people and exploring new cities, especially when she gets to learn about how different people interact with their public spaces. When she isn’t studying or working at the Parks Alliance, Sidney is experimenting with new recipes, riding her bike, or hunting through thrift stores for the perfect pair of gogo boots.
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.
KRIS ROBINSON, RECREATION COMMUNITY INITIATIVE INTERN
Kris is a recent graduate of Temple University where he studied Sociology and Anthropology. With a passion for youth development and education, he served in schools throughout the greater Miami, Florida area as an AmeriCorps volunteer; teaching, coaching, and inspiring students. While in service, he developed an interest in the use of public space, the intersection of nature and culture, and its promotion as a vehicle for inspiration and education. As a Philadelphia native, he would like to make use of and highlight the many hidden gems in Philadelphia in order to enrich the lives of native Philadelphians by increasing access to and knowledge of local parks and recreation centers. Kris enjoys making use of the walking trails of the Wissahickon Valley and Fairmount Parks, often accompanied by tech, sports, or music podcast.
Winnie Sun, Development & Grant Writing Intern
Winnie is a senior Sociology major and Psychology minor at Bryn Mawr College. She is from Edison, New Jersey and Taipei, Taiwan, where she volunteered as an English teacher for three years and continues to help out whenever she returns to Taiwan. She has traveled to many parts of Asia, such as Bangkok, Tokyo, Cebu, Manila, and Shanghai and has learned about how different cities and countries promote sustainability and create public spaces for the people. She has thus developed a passion for sustainability and public spaces and hopes to help Philadelphia create even more public spaces with the Parks Alliance. When she has free time, she enjoys taking her dogs out for walks in a local park and exploring Philadelphia with her friends.