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.
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.
damon c. williams, community outreach manager
Damon, born and raised in West Philadelphia, is a product of Temple University’s JPRA program.
Upon completion, Damon embarked on two award-winning tenures in journalism, first as a community and breaking news reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, and later, as a Senior Political Reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune. Over the past decade and a half, Damon has developed and nurtured relationships with a wide variety of Registered Community Organizations, Advisory Councils, stakeholders, and community members in ensuring Philadelphia’s communities received proper coverage and exposure.
Through his tireless community work and responsible writing, Damon has been recognized and honored by Philadelphia City Council, the National Association of Black Journalists, IAFF Local 22, and the Greater Philadelphia Hip-Hop Alliance. Damon is a fervent supporter of all of Philadelphia’s great and diverse communities.
Damon currently lives in Overbrook with his wife Francina, two children – Jahfari and Selah - a blasé cat and mischievous dog, and he is a member of J.C. Price Lodge #82 – Prince Hall Affiliated.
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!
Dayona Jones, Summer Intern
Dayona Jones is interning at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance this summer as part of the Bloomberg Arts Internship Program for high school students. She likes to work on creative projects and is excited to help the Parks Alliance create websites and work with different rec centers across the city. She has also participated in several local community events to help raise money to build play and activity areas for youth. Dayona is a self-proclaimed “people person” who enjoys working with others and helping people. In her spare time she enjoys writing, reading, doing hair, and going shopping. Dayona’s fun fact: “I worked with the YMCA and took classes to get CPR & AED certified.”
Jonathan jackson, Summer Intern
Jonathan Jackson is an intern at Bloomberg Arts, in association with the Philadelphia Parks Alliance. Jonathan is passionate about communications and graphic design work, and enjoys using Adobe software to work on creative projects. He is a rising senior at Northeast High School.