Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership — Investing in people and protecting the local watershed
Guest blog by Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. They interviewed our Executive Director, Julie Slavet to learn more about TTF’s work and what motivates her. Original interview appeared on Medium.com
“What motivates me is our incredibly creative and committed team. I know that they are always focused on our mission of improving our 30 square-mile impaired urban watershed while also setting a very high standard for everything we do.”
-Julie Slavet, Executive Director, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership
Flowing through North Philadelphia, the Tookany Creek, its six tributaries, and the Tacony-Frankford Creek, together make up the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford watershed. Stormwater flows through these creeks and eventually drains into the Delaware River bringing all of the harmful stormwater runoff with it. This negatively affects plants, wildlife, and our sources of drinking water. There is a lot at stake in protecting our watersheds, and this is where Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) comes in.
TTF is “dedicated to improving the health and vitality of our watershed by engaging our communities in education, stewardship, restoration, and advocacy” (“Our Mission”).
They have installed 5 rain gardens, created over 50,000 square feet of creekside rainwater buffers, restored a wetland and vernal pool, and planted thousands of native plants and trees. TTF’s work can be seen throughout communities in Philadelphia, Abington, and Cheltenham. While they have clearly made heavy lasting investments into the sustainability of our environment and natural water sources, TFF also prides itself on their investment in people.
In addition to coordinating over 1,000 volunteers to aid in their projects, the partnership also heavily focuses on providing value for community members, interns, and employees. After winning 2017’s Excellence in Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Award, TTF has been expanding their efforts, showing how triple bottom line initiatives can have huge impacts with the right team. Executive Director, Julie Slavet, spoke with us on how they manage to seamlessly do it all in the name of the triple bottom line.
Tell us what drives you to wake up each day and continue to demonstrate how business can be a force for good: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What motivates me is our incredibly creative and committed TTF team. I know that they are always focused on our mission of improving our 30 square-mile impaired urban watershed while also setting a very high standard for everything we do.
What is a recent challenge that you have overcome, and how did you do it?
Staff transitions are always a challenge. A long-time staff member with a lot of history and responsibilities recently left. I determined which tasks a temporary part-time employee could cover and began the hiring process for the full-time position. I selected the best candidate for the position even though it meant that we would have a gap in coverage. My experience is that it’s worth waiting for the strongest applicant instead of settling for second best.
Not everyone loves traditional networking functions: What’s your personal networking strategy and what role does your community play in the success of your business?
I love networking! As a former Executive Director of a regional Chamber of Commerce as well as District Director for a Member of Congress, networking has been my life. I think of networking as a chance to listen and identify connections. My strategy is two-fold: you never know who you might be sitting next to on a train or at an event and relationships can last a lifetime. I left my job as District Director with over 4,000 contacts. I still have relationships with many of these people today.
It’s so important to be part of your many communities. Belonging to SBN links TTF to a community of like-minded organizations and businesses. It’s just one of the groups to which we belong.
SBN members demonstrate the degree to which businesses can build profitable enterprises while protecting the environment and serving community needs. Can you walk us through one of your triple bottom line practices and the impact it has had on your business
A triple bottom line practice that makes us proud is our investment in people: interns. We involve our interns in all facets of our work, from writing blogs to planting trees. We also make sure that each intern completes a concrete project. (We also feed them lots of hoagies.) Our interns stay in touch and of course, we have hired interns for staff positions. We invest in people.
What is one thing that most people do not know about your business that you would like them to know?
People seem to think that there are more of us working at TTF than there are, especially when it comes to our strong social media presence. Although one person on our team handles our communications, she also does a lot of other things! We follow the system that our first amazing Communications Coordinator established and we all take pictures and post.
Can you tell us about your ideal day off in Philadelphia, and where you would spend it?
I’d spend the day at the Reading Terminal Market! I’d have breakfast, dinner, and lunch there and schmooze in the great shops I run by when I’m there buying food. I’d have breakfast at the Down Home Diner. I might take my lunch over and eat with a friend in the courtyard or Dilworth Plaza at City Hall. I’d have dinner with my husband.