President, Green Shores NYC
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Green Shores NYC is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit community organization that works to improve and maintain the East River waterfront in Queens.
As president, Katie Ellman leads a team of volunteers in their mission to sustain the waterfront by advocating for safe public parks, green spaces, street trees and more. Her responsibilities range from event organizing, marketing, web design, photography and videography, among others.
“There is never a dull moment and there is always something fun and interesting to do,” she said.
PERSONAL: Ellman was born and raised in Queens. For her day job, she works as a producer in the film and television industry. Even when she’s not volunteering, she enjoys spending time at waterfront parks and open spaces.
FAVORITE MEMORY: While she said she has far too many great memories with Green Shores NYC to list, she counts one of the proudest moments the organization has experienced as being the release of its Waterfront Vision Plan for Astoria and Long Island City. The Plan, which was produced with the Trust for Public Land, took over a year to create and relied heavily on public outreach and community feedback.
“It was a lot of work but when we released the plan at the Noguchi Museum in June 2011, we were proud to know that community members felt that their opinions about and their desires for the future of the waterfront were heard,” she said.
INSPIRATION: Having always had a desire to volunteer in her community but not knowing where to begin, one day back in 2005, Ellman came across a flyer for a beach cleanup in Astoria Park. She attended the cleanup and was quickly inspired by the experience of working with her neighbors to improve the community.
“It was empowering to know that I could actively make a difference in my community and that the results of the work were immediate and evident,” she said.
She continued to volunteer with the group, which is now known as Green Shores NYC.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Ellman said the most valuable lesson she’s learned throughout her service as a volunteer is remembering to be patient.
“Change takes time and if you stay the course and are consistent and patient, it can and will happen,” she said.
Ellman added that raising funds poses a challenge at times as well, since Green Shores NYC relies entirely on donations to ensure that programming remains free and available to everyone.