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    Meet the Sustain PHL Nominees: Activist of the Year

    This nominee is promoting a sustainability cause and is an activist in his/her/their community by increasing visibility and awareness of sustainability initiatives to new & broader audiences.

    In August, Philadelphia’s SustainPHL Awards will highlight and celebrate these community changemakers. Join us to celebrate these visionaries and announce the recipient at the SustainPHL Awards on August 16 at WHYY!


    • Flora Cardoni
    • Gabriella Gabriel Paez
    • Kelly Offner


    Flora Cardoni is the Climate Defender Campaign Director at advocacy org PennEnvironment. She recruits and trains teams of volunteers to build support across the state for climate and clean energy policies.

    Since September 2017, Cardoni has gathered 1,000 attendees at 15 community events, including rallies, forums, panels, and citizens’ hearings. Also in her job description: tabling events, collecting petitions, submitting letters to editors, and connecting constituents to their elected officials so they can express their climate concerns. Her efforts have helped push forward a bill financing the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) and PennEnvironment’s 100% Renewable Energy Bill.

    “To me, the best chance we have to prevent the worst of this climate crisis is building enough grassroots pressure and public outcry that our elected officials are forced to take serious action on climate change,” she said.


    Gabriella Gabriel Paez is the education and community development manager at Esperanza, which aims to strengthen Hispanic communities through education, economic development, and advocacy. Since 2014, she has been leading the community development portions of the Hunting Park 2022 Strategic Plan, part of which aims to enhance open space and the protect the local environment.

    Gabriel Paez attended high school in Hunting Park after emigrating to the U.S. in 2006. To increase environmental awareness in the neighborhood, Gabriel Paez has been organizing residents to plant trees in their yard and sidewalks, participate in neighborhood clean-ups, and recycle. She’s also promoted the installation of rain barrels and other stormwater management tools in the community.  

    Since Hunting Park’s population is over 60% Hispanic, Gabriel Paez has also focused on making the City’s environmental education resources bilingual. She personally translates materials and serves as the interpreter for sustainable living workshops at Esperanza. Thanks to her advocacy, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society developed its first ever bilingual tree tenders training in April.

    Gabriel Paez also leads NeighborCare, a program that funds greening and cleaning projects in the neighborhood. This program has targeted over 100 blocks in Hunting Park and has funded hundreds of flower planters and the development of seven community gardens throughout the neighborhood.

    “This is what I love the most about my work, the fact that every resident I work with has taken ownership of the process of making of this neighborhood a better, healthier and greener, Hunting Park,” she said. “My dream would be to walk down the streets of Hunting Park five to ten years from now and see a green neighborhood with ample shade and clean air.”


    Kelly Offner leads United by Blue‘s waterway cleanups department. The company, which sells sustainable outdoor apparel, hosts community cleanups across the nation, including one or more monthly cleanups in their home city of Philly.

    Since 2010, United by Blue has organized almost 90 cleanups and removed 165,530 pounds of trash near Philadelphia watersheds. Offner herself has overseen the organization of approximately half these cleanups since joining the team in 2014.  

    Her passion for outdoor fun, like swimming in lakes and rock climbing, motivates her desire to preserve our natural resources.  

    “My hope is that our Philadelphia cleanups bring awareness to volunteers about the sources of urban litter, their impact on the waterway, and the transformative power of collective action,” she said. “On a global scale, I hope that someday our cleanups contribute to the scientific study of where ocean trash begins, how it moves, and where humans fit in as a solution (not a source) to pollution.”


    Join us at SustainPHL on August 16th to find out who will become the 2018 Activist of the Year recipient!

    Brianna Baker

    About Brianna Baker

    Brianna is a senior journalism major Temple University. While studying abroad in Fall 2017, she interned at WHERE Rome magazine, and has also worked for Baltimore STYLE, QWERTY Philly, and student publications like Templar, The Temple News and 14th Street. In addition to writing, she loves re-watching her favorite sitcoms, going to concerts, and doing yoga (when she’s not feeling too lazy).

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