ALLEGHENY GROUP EXCOM ELECTION: NOMINEE BIOGRAPHIES

Ashley Funk

Ashley comes from an old coal mining community in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and her experiences growing up next to abandoned mine waste sites has inspired her work as a community organizer. She currently works as Mountain Watershed Association’s Community Organizer, where she supports communities throughout southwestern Pennsylvania in securing their rights to clean air and clean water. She has also worked with Our Children’s Trust as the lead plaintiff on legal action against the state of Pennsylvania for not taking adequate means to address climate change. Ashley also spent four summers volunteering for the Sierra Student Coalition’s summer training program, SProg, where she served as a participant, cook, and a trainer. These experiences allowed her to build a network of like-minded organizers across the country that have supported and motivated her. By serving on Sierra Club’s Executive Committee, she hopes to give back to this network of organizers and serve as a voice for rural communities throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Barb Grover

I have been an active member of the Allegheny Group since 2004, joined the Executive Committee in 2007, and served as Chair for 5 years . Although I stepped down as Chair in January 2017, I continue to be active as co-chair of the Political Committee, serve as our liaison to Pittsburgh United, and participate in Activist Nights nearly weekly. Interacting with so many like-minded people in south western Pennsylvania is an absolute delight. We continue to fight for better air quality in our region, a ‘green first’ solution to our stormwater control problem, and advocate for environmental and social justice issues. We have made progress.

As I know you are aware, the negative attitude toward environmental and social justice issues expressed by leaders in the Trump administration make it all the more imperative that we continue to fight for a habitable planet for future generations. We all need to call/write/tweet our local, state, and federal representatives when actions are taken that negatively impact the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the public lands we enjoy. Our collaborative work with other environmental organizations, faith-based groups, and labor organizations makes me know that together we can meet these challenges to make our neighborhoods, our state, and our planet a better place to live and work. Now more than ever, I feel a sense of urgency to continue this work. For these reasons, I wish to continue as a member of the Executive Committee for the Allegheny Group.

Sarah Martik

My name is Sarah Martik: I’m a lifelong resident of Coal Center, PA (Washington County), a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Theatre and Spanish, and a lifelong passionate Democrat. I am submitting my name for consideration for the Allegheny Group Executive Committee because I believe in southwestern Pennsylvania’s potential to transform from a rusty, extraction-heavy area into a thriving one where residents can enjoy clean air, clean water, and the benefits of a good-paying job. I do not believe that the economy can only function at the expense of the world we live in, and I do believe that the policies we enact and the actions we take now must always prioritize the long-term of our world as opposed to the short-term.

As a member of the Executive Committee, I would be part of a group that champions environmental stewardship and opposes the current narrative that fossil-fuel extraction is all we have. I also see opportunities to use the voice the Sierra Club has in this area to push even policies that would have a strong impact on residents in the area: for example, my hometown does not have a recycling service as part of routine trash pick-up, and adding the service yourself is extremely cost-prohibitive. The state of Pennsylvania should require that recyclable materials are recycled, as numerous other states already do. While this wouldn’t be enough to reverse the effects of climate change or even persuade some that is a real phenomenon, it is a change that would help all residents be engaged in one effort to protect the planet. On a larger scale, improving outreach to rural communities in the area is important: we live in a politically red area, but the Sierra Club has the capacity and the information to combat the falsehoods about the environment that come from the current administration and to create a pro-labor, pro-environment dialogue in these hard-to-reach communities.

The ability to do this type of work is why I am interested in serving on the Allegheny Group Executive Committee. I thank you for your time and consideration.

Naomi Swerdlow

I have been active with the Sierra Club for over ten years. My sister originally got me started when we did a couple of the outings, then we became active members. She moved on to others things and I have kept on. I have been on the executive committee meeting for a couple of those years, and now the secretary. I still have a full time job in early childhood and volunteer with Friendship Circle as well.

I have worked on the endangered species team, done work against climate change, and am now involved in the Wilkinsburg pollinating garden projects and helped design our scavenger hunts for the Wilkinsburg summer program. I participate in weekly activist nights, among other meetings. I table, phone bank, among other activities for our club. I also am an administrator for our facebook group. I want to make the world a better and greener place for the present and future.

I would like to continue to be a part of the executive committee. I like having a voice in what happens in our club that I am so active in.

Michael Pastorkovich

Currently serving as Chair of the Sierra Club Allegheny Group's executive committee, I have been an activist with the Sierra Club since the Pittsburgh office opened in 2004. I have been on the excom three different time during that period, and held the position of Vice Chair before assuming the Chair. I am especially committed to the Sierra Club's policy of diversity and outreach to communities of color and gender minorities. Other organizations I am affiliated with include the Hill District Consensus Group. Summit Against Racism, Black Political Empowerment Project, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, and the Thomas Merton Center Anti-War Committee. As a Sierra Club Activist, I have had two essays included in the reference works World Energy Crisis and Fracking, both edited by Dr. David Newton.

Justin Wasser

No statement submitted

Jay Welsh

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, attended California University. My work life has been focused on marketing a variety of products and services primarily in the metals fabrication industry. My personal life has been centered on activities regarding environmental causes and protection of the natural world.

12 years ago I left the comfort of working for a paycheck and started a company that better reflects my "tree hugging" personality. I started with a crazy idea and risked everything on the promise that someday we as a civilization would move swiftly into renewable energy to provide for our growing energy needs. Fortunately for humanity both the solar and wind industries have exploded in the last twelve years and my business (visit www.solarmaid.comto learn about us) has grown in tandem.

With a prospering company that requires my attention less everyday, I wanted to share some of my experience and devotion in working to protect the environment.