Katharine Dixon Receives Alexandria’s Ninth Annual Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award
For Immediate Release: April 29, 2017
The 2017 Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award has been awarded to Katharine Dixon, president and chief executive officer of Rebuilding Together Alexandria. The award was presented today during Alexandria Earth Day 2017 by Alexandria Renew Enterprises and the Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission.
The award is named in honor of the late Ellen Pickering and her lifelong dedication to preservation and conservation. She helped create the Mount Vernon Trail between Alexandria and Washington, D.C., and urged the adoption of the City of Alexandria’s Open Space Plan. Pickering also implemented the planting of 1,000 community-donated cherry trees during her tenure as chair of the Alexandria Beautification Commission. She was a member of the board of directors of the Alexandria Sanitation Authority (now known as Alexandria Renew Enterprises) and served on the Alexandria City Council and numerous boards and commissions.
Through Rebuilding Together Alexandria, Dixon helps repair and enhance homes, parks, and schools across Alexandria. She raises private funds and applies for grants to beautify the city in sustainable ways. Her organization provides grant opportunities for schools to apply to have play spaces rebuilt, learning gardens created from scratch, and courtyards remodeled. Rebuilding Together Alexandria repairs green spaces and helps make seniors’ homes more energy efficient.
Last year, John Adams Elementary School won a “learning garden” grant from Rebuilding Together Alexandria Over the course of two days in May 2016, more than 100 volunteers working with Dixon built nine learning gardens, created a reading circle, rebuilt the pre-kindergarten playground, and revamped the kindergarten courtyard and learning garden.
“It was like a miracle,” said Greg Tardieu, who nominated Dixon for the award. “One day there was nothing and the next, there were picnic tables, beautiful benches cemented into the ground, huge raised beds with enriched soil, and a transformed playground.”
Dixon and her organization are now planning to rebuild the Cora Kelly School’s courtyard into a learning space and learning garden. They are also going to recreate their community garden, which helps surrounding families who do not have land for growing vegetables during the summer.
“In so many ways, Katharine Dixon is an embodiment of the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award,” said Alexandria Renew Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Karen Pallansch. “She and her nonprofit organization are focused on preservation, conservation, and beautification, just like Ms. Pickering was. We are proud to present this award to Ms. Dixon.”