DC Names Sports Celeb as City’s First Sustainability Ambassador
WASHINGTON — Heading into her second year with the Washington Spirit, the professional women’s soccer team in the nation’s capital, Anna Heilferty expressed an interest in using her sports prowess to share her equal passion for sustainability. A new mayoral initiative centered on environmentalism has just named her the city’s first-ever sustainability ambassador.
“Sports can be extremely influential in normalizing ideas and spreading information to a wider audience. Sports have the ability and visibility to make a huge impact, but have largely failed to leverage sustainable practices as a norm,” Heilferty told The Well News.
While many cities have used student-level community programs to amplify green efforts and several pop culture and musical celebrities personally act as role models in the space, Heilferty, who joined the Spirit following the 2021 NWSL College Draft, is the first sports notable The Well News has identified to be named to an official citywide ambassadorial post.
In her role she both “engages the sports side and helps amplify messages and information that are pertinent to [the District Department of Energy and the Environment] and the residents it serves,” according to the midfielder.
She sets up volunteer opportunities for local professional sports teams and organizes events for DC residents.
“I wanted to help wherever [DDOE] felt I fit, and also to utilize my experience and connections in the professional arena,” Heilferty, a native of Falls Church, Virginia, said.
Specifically, she hopes to host the first sustainability nights at some of the local professional teams’ games to bring information, resources, and the community together around climate change concepts.
“At a fundamental level, I think how we respond to climate change is the biggest question mark on our existence,” Heilferty told TWN. “The world is changing as a result of our actions. We can either be victims to change or adapt and persist as a human race.
“Also, environmental issues are deeply connected to many of our historic issues of power imbalances and inequities. Addressing the problems of climate change by looking at ourselves will not only improve the conditions of our environment but also the experience of our shared lives.
“This idea that helping improve the environment is not only good at face value but can be financially, physically, and mentally beneficial to the community, is what initially drew me into environmental advocacy.”
Among the first initiatives that Heilferty will lead is the Washington Coalition of Women’s Professional Sports’ adoption of the Anacostia River, a long-neglected waterway which feeds the iconic Potomac River and encompasses most of the eastern half of the District of Columbia and large parts of two adjacent Maryland counties.
Local professional teams that sign on to this adoption will aid in regular clean ups of the river, promote the wellbeing of the ecosystem, and visibly showcase a commitment from sport role models that environmental advocacy is a win.
Kate can be reached at [email protected]