Hidden Heroes of the Greenbelt



In-Person Celebration, Salesforce Tower: 5:30 – 8 p.m. (ticketed event)

Hidden Heroes is sold out! Thank you for buying a ticket!

Greenbelt Alliance is Celebrating 65 Years of Protecting People and Nature!

Raise a toast with us at the Salesforce Tower on August 14th.

Join us in celebrating this milestone by honoring the unseen yet dedicated government staff who advance extraordinary work at the intersection of land use and climate change here in the Bay Area. Hidden Heroes of the Greenbelt is an annual benefit that celebrates these remarkable government leaders along with our community of supporters. Learn more about last year’s Hidden Heroes of the Greenbelt event here.

This year, we’re highlighting our Resilience Hotspots work and the leaders who are forging bold, on-the-ground climate adaptation solutions across the Bay Area.

From 5:30 – 8 p.m., we will premiere three short films that tell the stories of these heroes, highlighting the impact they’re making in communities across the Bay Area. Stay tuned for our Hidden Heroes announcement and more event details, and please see our sponsorship opportunities below.  

We hope you are able to join us for this exciting occasion, and that you will invite your friends and family to come along for a toast in support of our work to create a more climate-resilient region.


This year’s Hidden Heroes of the Greenbelt awards are being given to three extraordinary leaders from across the Bay Area whose stories are inspiring and contribution to climate and land-use policies will leave a legacy of positive impact in the region. Watch their films below:

Hidden Hero of the Greenbelt recognized for fostering nature-based climate adaptation

Watershed Planner, Contra Costa County Watershed Program

John Steere is an environmental planner who resides in Berkeley, CA. His career spans public, private, and non-profit sectors of conservation and planning. His work as an environmental planner, activist and alchemist over the past 40 years demonstrate his commitment to the importance of connecting people to nature in the Bay Area as a way of cultivating a sense of place and well-being and to create tangible community.

Throughout his career, John has advocated for protecting special open spaces, innovating and leading collaborative habitat restoration projects, and has used his multidisciplinary skills for reimagining communities’ relationships to their surrounding environment.

John's ecological outlook informs his career as an Environmental Planner—of environmental analyses and resource management plans, trail and open space planning, and the development of green infrastructure and LID around the East Bay) is coupled with his avocation as an environmental “alchemist” to foster collaborative “placemaking”– to creatively engender community through several mediums: 1) park making and stewardship, 2) urban creek restoration, and 3) supporting and leading community sustainability and climate resiliency projects. He is also an expert in public involvement facilitation, CEQA/NEPA regulations and managing and writing environmental impact reports (EIRs), and in watershed management planning processes.

John Steere has been the Watershed Planner for Contra Costa County since 2013; in this capacity, he implements green stormwater management requirements for new development and pollution prevention regulations to protect the County’s waterways; coordinates and advocates for green infrastructure (GI); works with many organizations in development of community-based beautification and on-land cleanup programs; project managing the preparation and implementation of the County Green Infrastructure Plan, including the “North Richmond Watershed Connections” Project, a multi-benefit urban greening, GI, and resiliency project.

Hidden Hero of the Greenbelt recognized for planning for climate change resilience

Senior Environmental Engineer at Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District and Solano Stormwater Alliance Manager

Emily Corwin is a Senior Engineer at the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, a Registered Professional Civil Engineer in the State of California, and the founder of an environmental engineering firm that focuses on water resource and conservation projects. At the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, Emily is creating partnerships and field examples to bring innovative nature-based climate adaptation solutions to the Solano Bayshore region in the San Francisco Bay. These projects combine the conservation and restoration of critical ecosystems with the selective use of conventional engineering approaches. Emily studied Hydrology at the University of California Davis, Environmental Engineering at the University of California Berkeley, and founded the Global Green-Gray Community of Practice at Conservation International, with representatives from 200 organizations and 500 individual members. She also is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers Committee on Natural and Nature-based Infrastructure Systems, manages the Solano Stormwater Alliance, and co-chair of the Solano Bayshore Resiliency Roundtable.

Hidden Hero of the Greenbelt recognized for promoting climate-SMART housing

Director, East Palo Alto Community and Economic Development Department

Amy Chen is the Director of East Palo Alto’s Community and Economic Development Department, which includes housing and rent stabilization, building permits and code enforcement, and planning functions including the entitlement of new development
projects. This department also carries out the City’s economic development initiatives and support for job training of local residents.

Under Amy’s leadership, the Community and Economic Development Department advanced crucial City initiatives including:

  • Building Reach Codes that encourage more efficient development and more sustainable design
    A Local Minimum Wage Ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and increasing automatically every year thereafter.
  • A Transportation Demand Management Ordinance, which will reduce up to 40% of vehicle trips in EPA.
  • An Urban Forest Master Plan and updated related tree ordinances, that provide a roadmap and shared vision to increase the tree canopy in East Palo Alto

Currently, she is overseeing the City’s efforts to receive certification of its 2023 Housing Element that projects EPA will meet and exceed its Regional Housing Needs Assessment goals over the next 8 years.

She is also leading an update to the Ravenswood Business District/Four Corners Specific Plan which will refresh the existing plan and bring more community benefits, including public open space, to the city and to this area.

Prior to EPA, Amy worked in the City of San Jose for 12 years, holding key roles in the City Manager’s Office, the Office of Economic Development, and various departments, including Environmental Services, Transportation, and Housing. Over the years, Amy and her teams brought in more than $120 million to support planning efforts and sustainable transportation improvements in San Jose.

Amy graduated with honors from Santa Clara University with a dual bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies and received her Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.


Resilient Communities Sponsors

Conservation Education Sponsors

Thriving Neighborhood Sponsors

Alta Housing | Avison Young | Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) | Brakeley Briscoe | Build It Green | Community Planning Collaborative | Eden Housing | Habitat for Humanity Bay Area | HOK | IGH Partners, LLC | Laurel Prevetti | Marin Agricultural Land Trust | Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) | MidPen Housing | Mithun | Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California | Palo Alto Forward | Pathways Climate Institute |  Perkins&Will | PlaceWorks | Studio KDA | The Nature Conservancy | Tidewater Capital | Water Emergency Transportation Authority 

In-kind Sponsors

Adventure Cat Sailing Charters | Mike’s Bikes | Napa Valley Wine Train  |  Oakland A’s | Oakland Zoo | Patagonia | San Francisco Botanical Garden | San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Scroll to Top