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.
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.
Oneido Luis, Community Outreach ASSOCIATE, quaker voluntary service
Oneido 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 Oneido has developed an interest in public spaces and how they can be used by communities to address their needs. Oneido 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.
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.
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.
SARA RECKAHN, Community Outreach Specialist
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.
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.
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.