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Greenbelt Alliance

2020: Our Proudest Moments

What more can be said about the year 2020: record-breaking, unprecedented, simultaneous trials and tribulations coupled with progress and hope like we have not seen. At Greenbelt Alliance, 2020 was a year of reimagining what’s possible and charting a new course, welcoming new team members, and strengthening our commitment to the resilience of Bay Area communities and lands in an equitable way. Here are some of our staff’s proudest moments of 2020:

“My biggest win for the difficult year of 2020 was winning Measure W to renew the City of Sonoma’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) with 78 percent of the vote. That far exceeded our expectations as the original UGB 20 years ago won with 64 percent approval. I was so glad to partner with a highly motivated team of community leaders to run a positive campaign to protect open space, prevent sprawl, and support affordable housing. The financial support of major donors from Greenbelt Alliance and community members provided resources for Yes on W mailings, full-page newspaper ads, and phone banking — all carried out by local businesses and consultants. The remaining funds were donated to the city’s Housing Trust Fund. It was the toughest UGB campaign I’ve led so far due to unexpected opposition, but we learned once again that the voters are with us all the way!”

Teri Shore, Advocacy Director

“2020 has many unforgettable and unique events: the global coronavirus outbreak, the United States heart-wrenching elections, and the Bay Area apocalyptic orange skies. Yes. 2020 could’ve been the worst year, but it also has been a year of strength and overcoming challenges for me. My proudest accomplishment is being part of the fantastic team at Greenbelt Alliance. Like you and many others, we’ve faced uncertainties and difficulties, and we’ve overcome them. We refuse to let any obstacles stop us from our fight for climate-resilient communities. I am proud of the impacts we’ve made and the actions we’re going to take to ensure the Bay Area’s land and communities are resilient to a changing climate.”

Luna Vu, Finance Director

“I’m proud to have this incredible opportunity to work with such a dedicated and passionate team here at Greenbelt Alliance! Looking back on the year—my first at the organization—I’m also grateful for the myriad conversations over Zoom getting to know our network of Board members, supporters, and partners. Learning more about the impactful legacy of Greenbelt Alliance, and listening to the real areas of need today in tackling the climate crisis, I gained a heightened appreciation for the bold spirit and drive for change unique to the Bay Area and California at large. This certainly inspired and informed the new direction we are taking at Greenbelt Alliance to center urgent equitable climate resilience work that will make a tangible difference for our communities and lands for generations to come.”

Sarah Cardona, Deputy Director

“Since I joined Greenbelt Alliance right before the wake of the United State’s COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to grow and learn so much about the intricacies of regional planning, committee facilitation, politics, law, and even web design. I am glad to join such an amazing team that supports each other to get the work done. This year amongst all the uncertainty I am glad to say our work to fight climate change continues to persist. This year, I am glad to help accomplish the launch of SolanoYouthOutdoors.org, a website started by a committee of people who live, work, and care about Solano County’s youth access to outdoor & open spaces. I am so grateful to meet so many of our ally organizations (too many to name) who are wonderful, passionate people.”

Kevin Riley, Regional Representative

“When I started as Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance in May of 2019, I was both excited and intimidated. I was passionate about the importance of centering climate-related risks in all of our work to be most effective and impactful in protecting our precious open spaces and building the vibrant, equitable cities we need. I knew it would be a challenging road, but of course, did not anticipate a global pandemic and the accompanying devastating effects across our communities. At the same time, we knew that our focus on climate risks was more important than ever, that floods and fires don’t stop because of other crises, and that their effects are magnified. I am so proud of the tenacity and focus of our small but mighty team here at Greenbelt Alliance that has, over this challenging year of 2020, developed and launched an inspiring updated mission, vision, and plan to educate, advocate, and collaborate to ensure the Bay Area’s lands and communities are resilient to a changing climate.”

Amanda Brown-Stevens, Executive Director

“The unwavering support of our donors and the solutions-oriented mindset of the Greenbelt team has been a source of positivity throughout this extremely trying year. At the outset of the pandemic we had so many unanswered questions. Did we have the Zoom skills to pull off virtual events and would people actually attend? But we had to try, so we got creative and began hosting webinars and virtual fundraisers, creating a space for our community to come together to further our common goal of realizing a more climate resilient Bay Area. To our surprise and delight our events ran smoothly. We danced (virtually) to a local band, heard from inspirational climate leaders, and were able to reach new individual, foundation, and corporate supporters through a more inclusive virtual format. So thank you to our donors and partners for your incredibly generous support during a time when we needed it most.”

Paris Badat, Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager

“I‘m the most recent team member, and my proudest moment was to have joined this organization with such an incredible history, credibility, and drive to make an impact. I was also proud of our engagement during the Elections, providing relevant information about the ballot measures that advanced climate resilience in our region. We saw voters backing this up—delivering many important wins not only in the Bay Area but around the country! Nonetheless, the important work to transform these wins into reality has just begun. I’m excited for a new year to advance our agendas!”

Daniela Ades, Marketing & Communications Manager

One shining moment of the year is without a doubt the historic staff report and San Jose General Plan Task Force recommendation to protect Coyote Valley. While the battle is certainly not over, and the issue is slated to go before the San Jose City Council in 2021, it cannot be overstated how momentous of a decision that was. As the largest undeveloped portion of Silicon Valley’s groundwater aquifer, as well as the natural infrastructure that Coyote Valley provides against other climate challenges like fires, floods, and drought, this is a huge success in our efforts to prepare our region for a changing climate. While I am lucky to be here at Greenbelt  Alliance during our efforts to pull this over the finish line, it would not have been possible without our partners, my predecessors at Greenbelt, and our funders.”

Justin Wang, Advocacy Manager

“I’ve missed seeing our Greenbelt Alliance community this year. One of the reasons I love the work that I do is I get the opportunity to engage with our donors and supporters who are just as passionate about protecting open spaces and ensuring the Bay Area is made up of thriving communities as I am. We all want future generations to be able to enjoy this beautiful place we call home, but we also know we have many challenges ahead of us. Over the long history of Greenbelt Alliance, the organization has adapted to the various problems that arose throughout the Bay Area. We started off as an organization focused on the protection of our open spaces and agricultural lands. When development started occurring heavily on natural lands, we shifted our focus to smart-growth to ensure that development was happening within city centers and towns and not on our sprawl lands. Now in 2020, as we see climate change impacting our region heavily, especially low-income and communities of color, we are shifting our focus to building a more climate-resilient Bay Area. But, through it all, Greenbelt Alliance never loses focus on ensuring the unique natural beauty and diverse metropolitan areas of this region continue to thrive. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that tackles head-on the challenges that the region faces and that we have a strong group of supporters that make it all happen. Thank you so much for your longtime support throughout the years and for standing beside us as we evolve to meet the Bay Area’s challenges.”

Nora Cullinen, Director of Major Gifts

“Wow, what a year 2020 has been. Through the up’s and down’s, my proudest moments are reflected in the strength and support of my team at Greenbelt Alliance. Transitioning to 100% remote work seemed daunting, but the GA crew pulled through, ensuring the work continued at a high quality. And when it comes to culture, I’m thrilled to report that our digital office has remained inclusive, creative, and fun! I’m also extremely happy that a new member joined me to tackle our Marketing and Communications work. Daniela Ades impressed us with her deep understanding of digital platforms, audiences, and how to promote and inspire our audience to engage. Her background in journalism as well as within the world of climate change has been an incredible addition to our work and mission. Bringing Daniela on board in 2020 was certainly a highlight I won’t soon forget, and with our robust staff of passionate experts more ready than ever to ensure the Bay Area is resilient to a changing climate, I highly recommend that y’all stay tuned to see the exciting things we have in store!”

Jessie Brennan, Director of Marketing & Communications

Our work is made possible by the rich partnerships we are lucky to have throughout the Bay Area. However you engaged in our work and with our team in 2020, we thank you for your collaboration and support. Here’s to an outstanding 2021!

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