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2024 Anacostia Heroes!

11th Street Bridge Park

The Anacostia River Festival (a collaboration between the 11th Street Bridge Park, National Park Service and National Cherry Blossom) celebrates the Anacostia River, Anacostia Park and the communities that line its banks. At our recent 10th annual Festival, we took a moment to honor individuals who have been instrumental in shaping the Anacostia community. We paid tribute to our Anacostia River Heroes – individuals whose tireless dedication to stewardship, advocacy, and community engagement help preserve and amplify the importance of our natural resources. 

These honorees have made a lasting impact on the health and vitality of our beloved river and its surrounding ecosystem and community. Their grassroots initiatives, educational outreach, and innovative projects have inspired us all to be better stewards of our environment and advocates for positive change. 

Our 2024 Anacostia River Heroes are: 

Brenda Lee Richardson

Brenda Lee Richardson is a long time Ward 8 leader in environmental justice. She advises on initiatives for equitable development, health advocacy, and integrating nature for healing east of the Anacostia River. Brenda was the Deputy Director for Councilmember Marion Barry and currently directs the Anacostia Parks and Community Collaborative, a network of organizations committed to maximizing the value of public spaces along the Anacostia River for Ward 7 and 8 residents. 

Rodney Stotts

Rodney Stotts is a native of SE DC and discovered his passion for rehabilitating raptors. He joined the Earth Conservation Corps in the early 1990s. He has been instrumental in cleaning up the Anacostia River and restoring the bald eagle population along the Anacostia. As one of the few Black master falconers in the United States, he aims to inspire Black youth in raptor conservation and falconry.

Phillip Pannell

Phillip Pannell has been a long-standing force for justice and equality in the District of

Columbia and has dedicated over 40 years to championing the rights of residents east of the Anacostia River. In 2015, Phillip co-founded the Anacostia Parks and Community

Collaborative (APACC) that underscores Phillip’s commitment to community engagement and environmental stewardship, promoting meaningful park engagement and enhancing the quality of life for DC residents.

Dennis Chestnut

Dennis Chestnut, a lifelong East of the River resident, has a connection to the Anacostia River that stretches back to his childhood. As a community advocate he has spearheaded the creation of organizations like Groundwork Anacostia and impactful projects like the Green Team youth leadership program and the bandalong litter traps, which have removed tons of trash from the Anacostia river. In his current work he is working to create a resilient east of the river community through Flood Preparedness.

Doug Siglin

Doug Siglin has worked on political and environmental issues in the District since 1983. He was the founder of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust and has studied and written extensively about the history of the Anacostia River. He has been working towards its restoration since 1997.

Tony Ford

Commodore Tony Ford leads the Seafarers Yacht Club the oldest African American Yacht

Club in the United States. Captain Ford has continued to connect the community to the river with affordable boating opportunities. For decades his leadership has ensured inclusivity and environmental stewardship of the Anacostia River. 

Trey Sherard

Trey Sherard is instrumental in advocating for the health and restoration of the river. He has worked diligently to connect people and increase access to the Anacostia River through programs like Friday Night Fishing and Explorer Boat Tours. He has worked at the Anacostia Riverkeepers for over 12 years.

Graylin Presbury

Graylin Presbury is a resident of Fairlawn for 35 years, has been deeply involved in community leadership. As president of the Fairlawn Citizens Association since 2010, he has facilitated constructive dialogue between developers and residents. Presbury has contributed to preserving the neighborhood’s history. He advocates to preserve green spaces for respite and uses his voice to advocate for the Fairlawn community. He has also worked to connect residents to the Anacostia Park Pavillion using one of his many talents as a DJ to create a safe and fun space.

We thank these incredible individuals for their commitment to creating an Anacostia River, Park and Community for all and helping to build a more equitable and resilient Washington DC! 

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