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  • Meet the SustainPHL 2018 Nominees: Sustainability Mentor SUSTAINPHL SUSTAINABILITY MENTOR NOMINEES 2018 Full view

    Meet the SustainPHL 2018 Nominees: Sustainability Mentor

    Our three SustainPHL nominees for Sustainability Mentor of the Year are broadening the reach of sustainability education to both traditional and non-traditional students across the city. From helping underserved communities better understand and benefit from renewable energy solutions to creating the next generation of sustainability stewards, each works tirelessly to connect complex environmental challenges to real-world learning and opportunity. Join us for SustainPHL on August 16th to find out who will become our Sustainability Mentor of the Year!

    • Damali Rhett
    • Diane O’Fee-Powers
    • Matthew Fritch

    Damali Rhett

    Damali Rhett Sustainability Mentor

    On a quest to bring economic empowerment to communities through renewable energy

    “Energy tends to feel complicated to most people so they ignore it. By giving people the basics, they can change how they consume and pay for energy. “

    An expert in the field of renewable energy and electric utilities, Damali Rhett believes in bringing together communities to support one other. A self-proclaimed educator and problem solver, Damali’s goal in life is to help people live their most authentic lives so that they can make more fully informed decisions. She helps people understand how they get their energy and why they should care about what’s happening at a global level by working with local schools, community groups and organizations, and through her work as executive director of The Energy Co-op. A passionate advocate for environmental justice and diversity in the environmental movement, Damali believes that the expansion of renewable energy can (and must) lead to economic empowerment for local communities not historically served by traditional climate solutions.

    Although new to the city, Damali is committed to bringing positive change to the Philadelphia and beyond. In addition to her role with The Energy Co-op, she helps the Pennsylvania Energy Authority promote its “Solarize Philly,” campaign, works closely with numerous community groups, and serves on the board of the Philadelphia Area Co-op Alliance, the Pennsylvania chapter of 100 Black Women (a national organization), and Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy. A sought-after speaker on sustainable energy, education access, leadership and community development, Damali was recently a panelist for the exclusive Energy Executive Forum and has consulted for several national and international energy companies.

    Diane O’Fee Powers

    Diane Powers Sustainability Mentor

     Exposing students to green spaces and connecting classroom learning to real life

    “Diane teaches the importance of taking care of our Earth so her students will become stewards of their environment.”

     As a middle school science teacher and member of the Wissahickon Sustainability Council (WSC), Diane O’Fee Powers has been a driving force for sustainability at Cook-Wissahickon School in Philadelphia for many years. Motivated by a desire to connect environmental concepts to real-world learning, her impact on the school community is visible to all who walk by. Dianne, a prolific grant writer, has raised funds and organized the planting of a school meadow, a garden with raised beds for growing herbs, plants, and vegetables, the creation of an outdoor classroom, recycling programs, and much more.

    Always one to seek new resources for bringing environmental and sustainability education to her classroom, Diane has participated in PECO’s Energizing Energy program, the Fairmount Water Works Watershed curriculum, and the School District of Philadelphia’s Green Futures sustainability plan. Many of her lessons focus on how to mitigate stormwater, providing her students with an opportunity to connect classroom learning with real-life issues in their community. A committed mentor, Diane created science boxes for her elementary school colleagues to use with their students in the outdoor classrooms. Through community education events, including two Green Apple Days of Service, Diane has engaged Cook-Wissahickon families in understanding environmental challenges celebrating the school’s successes and solutions.

    Matt Fritch

    Matthew Fritch Sustainability Mentor

     Combining environmental awareness with exposure to coding, electronics, and making

     “Matt is inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and sustainability champions by introducing students to hands-on projects and experiential learning connected to nature.”

    An environmental engineering specialist in the Office of Watersheds at the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), Matt Fritch developed GreenSTEM Network, an education program which connects students in Philadelphia to the environment by teaching them how to use low-cost DIY electronics and open-source code to monitor and mine data from the environment.

    Originally intended as a way to promote PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters program at schools with rain gardens in the playground, the program has evolved to include all kinds of creative, tech savvy solutions to environmental challenges. In the last few years Matt worked with 15 schools across Philadelphia on projects such as creating a rain barrel/bench structure with a solar cell phone charging station with students from Science Leadership Academy and developing an underwater, camera-equipped, submersible drone, allowing students from Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School to study and address issues like water quality, pollution and benthos (the aquatic organisms living in the creek bed), and more. Through GreenSTEM, Matt also designed Root Kit, a physical product that provides a framework for students to solder circuit boards and build soil moisture sensors that help measure the temperature and soil moisture content of green stormwater infrastructure (like rain gardens) on school campuses. aA natural problem solver, Matt seeks to connect creative STEM projects to solutions that improve students’ communities. This win/win philosophy allows Matt to help students learn 21st century skill while preparing them for college and future careers.


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    Lori Braunstein

    About Lori Braunstein

    Lori Braunstein is the founder of Sustainable Cherry Hill and Director for Change Leadership at The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. Always evolving, she enjoys figuring out how everyday people can be a force in creating a clean, green future. Reach Lori at braunsteinlori@gmail.com or @lori_braun on Twitter.

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