Dear Friend,

During the weeks leading up to our virtual event, on October 8, we'll be profiling the eleven amazing women from Southwest PA we're celebrating this year. Today, we meet our Woman of Environmental Community Engagement, Maren Cooke – Environmental Science Educator & Sustainability Salon Host

Meet Dr. Maren Leyla Cooke
Women of Environmental Community Engagement

Maren Cooke is a planetary scientist by training, though since completing a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT she has been engaged in science education, environmental activism, and the arts (ranging from wood engraving and pen-and-ink illustration through computer graphics to wood carving, timber framing, and stone masonry). She has taught physics, astronomy, and environmental science at Carnegie Mellon University, Wheaton College, St. Paul's School, MIT, and Cornell. She currently teaches about food, gardening, nature, and climate in Pittsburgh schools and parks.

She serves as Secretary on the board of the Group Against Smog & Pollution (GASP) and works closely with other organizations including the Climate Reality Project, Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens, Carnegie Mellon University Institute for Green Science, and the City of Pittsburgh. 

Maren's primary focus is on sustainability, and she has worked extensively on education, community building, land use issues, pollution prevention, local food systems, permaculture, urban farming, sustainable agriculture, and green building. She has advocated for detailed, dynamic soil testing for safe urban food production, now underway with county and nonprofit involvement. She served on Mayor Bill Peduto's Transition Team, and enjoys contributing to the community as a Tree Tender, an Urban EcoSteward, a Master Gardener, and a Climate Reality Leader.

She maintains an online listing of environmental and social justice events at, and hosts Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons, a monthly environmental education forum drawing distinguished and passionate speakers to connect with diverse audiences on many important topics.

Congratulations, Maren!


The Event Goes On!



Each year, PennFuture honors the accomplishments of exceptional women conservationists in Pennsylvania. The 2020 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards are designed to encourage continuing excellence in conservation and to forge a stronger network of exceptional women working to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. 

Since its inception in 2015, this event has traveled around the state to different communities to ensure recognition of local leaders, volunteers, and career professionals. And for 2020 we are celebrating women in Southwest Pennsylvania. 

We also want to give special thanks to our sponsors for their continued support during these difficult times. If you would like information about sponsorship opportunities for this event, please contact Susanne Whitehead at


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