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Though she grew up loving the outdoors and being in nature, Anna Heilferty didn’t have any formal education in sustainability or climate change before college. After quickly discovering her passion for environmentalism at Boston University, the biology major added a minor in sustainability to continue her green education.
“It wasn’t until BU that I was able to investigate my interest in environmentalism from an academic perspective,” said Heilferty. “My passion for sustainability grew through the classes I took and the great community I found around it. As a biology major, I enjoyed the scientific challenges of the subject but what really appealed to me was the practical applications that could be made to our environment.”
Once she was drafted by the Spirit in 2021, the Falls Church, Virginia native started looking for ways to volunteer in the region she grew up in. After connecting with Casey Trees, a DC-based nonprofit aimed at restoring the tree canopy in the nation’s capital where she had previously volunteered, Anna went in search of ways she could use her platform as a professional athlete to promote sustainable action in the DMV. Spirit community relations manager Zoe Wulff connected Anna with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office about potential collaborations.
After making the connection with the mayor’s office, Anna was quickly identified as an ideal ambassador for Sustainable DC. An arm of the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Sustainable DC is a mayoral initiative centered on environmentalism and sustainable planning. With Sustainable DC, Anna will have the opportunity to work with and learn from a variety of DOEE experts. Anna’s ambassadorship will be primarily focused on project development and promotional planning as she raises general awareness and response to environmental issues facing the nation’s capital as well as the rest of the world.
“Public awareness is one of the biggest things [I’m striving for],” Anna said on her goals for the partnership. “I want to amplify the good work being done by Sustainable DC and further encourage the DC community to be involved and empowered to affect positive and sustainable change in their own environments. I want to be a part of that movement, combining athletics and sustainability and using the platform I have to raise more awareness in the issues facing us and our planet. Bringing in other athletes to amplify our messages is another way we can accomplish that.”
This partnership does not just represent a hobby for Anna. After a long playing career, she sees herself staying in the field of sustainability professionally. Through her work with Sustainable DC, she hopes to develop a clearer picture of what a full-time career in environmentalism looks like for her.
“I want to thank the people at Sustainable DC for allowing me to take on this opportunity,” said Anna. “Hopefully, I do them proud!”
Anna’s tenure with Sustainable DC officially begins on Tuesday, June 14. To keep up with the work Anna is doing in our nation’s capital city, you can follow her and Sustainable DC on social media and stay tuned to Sustainable.DC.gov.