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Executive Director: Ildiko Polony

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

We are excited to welcome Ildiko Polony (she/her/hers) to the Executive Director role here at Sutro Stewards!

Born in Oakland, California, Ildiko has been a lifelong environmentalist. She focused most of her energy on advocacy for action on climate change and has founded and led many projects and organizations including student groups and 350 San Francisco, founded in 2012. About 10 years ago she started gardening in her San Francisco backyard and discovered local wildlife for the first time, her life changed. Asking herself the question, “how can I foster the birds, bees, butterflies, and surprisingly diverse wildlife I see,” she went to the internet and soon learned that planting locally adapted California native plants provided food, shelter and resources for local wildlife.If we want wildlife, we must provide the plants that the wildlife evolved with. She quickly became a native plant and habitat restoration enthusiast.

She received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies, with the thesis titled “Connecting People, Connecting Wildlife: A Bicycle Wildlife Corridor on Arguello Boulevard in San Francisco.” Ildiko has been a native plant seed collector and propagator specialist at Larner Seeds, a California native habitat landscaper, a coordinator for Nature in the City’s Backyard Native Nursery Network and San Bruno Mountain Watch’s Mission Blue Nursery Manager. She joined Literacy for Environmental Justice as the Native Plant Nursery Manager in 2017 and was a crucial part of the successful development of their Eco-Apprentice program, while growing 70,000 plants.

Ildiko sits on the Urban Forestry Council and has been a contributing writer to Bay Nature Magazine.

Ildiko is the founder of Wildfires to Wildflowers: Restoring California Lands for Climate Stability, a campaign to achieve carbon negativity in California through massive investment in habitat restoration.

Ildiko is also a modern dancer and aerialist.

What are you excited about most working with Sutro Stewards?

I am thrilled to become closely acquainted with this special, urban open space, to learn all its nooks and crannies and unique characteristics. I am excited to spread the power and potential of habitat restoration and urban nature beyond the immediate community at the footsteps of the mountain, and contextualize it within the larger city-wide movement for biodiversity, as well as the global movement to restore ecosystems as a crucial ingredient in mitigating climate change. I am excited to do this with the UCSF community, with the mountain bikers and hikers, the native plant lovers and school children in a way that is inclusive, listens to all voices and concerns and keeps our mission of conservation, recreation and stewardship central.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I love to dance, wander through wild places, garden, do yoga, read and write, learn about wild edible plants and make art.

Do you have a favorite plant?

I cycle through different plant crushes. I have a special relationship with the California buckeye. Mugwort is super calming and somehow mysterious. I have it dried and hanging above my bed. I also love hummingbird sage for its smell and leaves that are soft to the touch. And Yerba Buena tea is amazing!

Anything else you would like our readers to know?

I am really excited to get to know everyone who loves Mount Sutro and to work with everyone towards our common vision! Feel free to get in touch!

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