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, 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. Mattie is a Washington, D.C. native and enjoys traveling, hiking, and salsa dancing.
Oneido Luis, Community Outreach ASSOCIATE, 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.
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.
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.
Yayin Cai, GIS intern
Yayin is a graduate student of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about urban issues including public space, green infrastructure, property development, and community building. She loves exploring different cities and experiencing different cultures around the world. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, listening to classical music, and writing stories and poetry. She is excited to join Parks Alliance and hopes to create better public spaces with the team together.
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.
Maddison Rothacker, Urban Studies Intern
Maddison is a senior at Temple University where she is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Global Studies. Since moving to Philadelphia from Eastern Pennsylvania, Maddison has fallen in love with the way green spaces and public parks are used all over the city! This love grew stronger through volunteer experience with the Philadelphia based nonprofit, Urban Roots. Maddison’s appreciation for parks and passion for social justice brought her to the Parks Alliance as an Urban Studies intern. When she’s not trying to make the world better one park at a time, she enjoys jazz music, latte art, calling her local and state representatives to voice her opinions, and exploring all corners of this fabulous city.