The TreePhilly Team

Erica Smith Fichman, City Forester

Erica Smith Fichman

City Forester

As the City Forester at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Erica manages the Urban Forestry Unit, including the TreePhilly Community Forestry program, street and park tree planting and maintenance, and emergency tree work. She was the project lead for the Philly Tree Plan, a 10 year strategic plan for the equitable growth and care of Philadelphia’s urban forest, which was released in 2023. She is an ISA certified arborist and the recipient of the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2018 Trailblazer Award. Erica received a B.S. in biology from Haverford College and an M.S. in environmental horticulture from the University of California, Davis.

Kate Illes

Acting Community Forestry Manager

As Acting Manager, Kate leads the Community Forestry Team and the community based programming of TreePhilly. She has a BA in English and Gender Studies from Rutgers University. She found her way to gardening through mentors, friends and great books. She has expressed her deep love of Philadelphia by caring for public green spaces, tending historic gardens, and coordinating community-lead food sovereignty projects. Now, she’s grateful to share her enthusiasm by helping empower communities to build and maintain thriving, healthy neighborhoods. Kate loves cooking for friends, listening to old music, trying new flavors and swimming.

Marisa Wilson

Community Initiatives Specialist

Marisa works to support and organize community members to build capacity for tree planting and care in their neighborhoods. She supported the community engagement process for the Philly Tree Plan in 2020-22, and originally joined the TreePhilly team as a Program Assistant for the Neighborhood Park Tree Inventory Project. Marisa brings with her experience researching community-based climate resilience, organizing around racial and environmental justice, and working in urban planning. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Social Science from Davidson College.

Arika Berwanger

TreePhilly Program Assistant

Riki has a deep and abiding love of the forest, particularly for trees and mushrooms which led her to pursuing work in environmental restoration and justice. She feels strongly that developing a personal relationship with our environment is the key to its protection as well as its ability to provide for us. She has an AA in Biological Sciences from CCP and looks forward to fostering community engagement and planting more trees in our city.

The Arborists of

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

The Arborists of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry & Ecosystem Management divisions are charged with the care of the trees on 10,250 acres of park land, and the 117,000 trees along the city streets. These men and women are passionate, hardworking, and proud of the work they do to keep Philadelphia’s trees healthy and its citizens safe. For this project, photographer Sabina Louise Pierce worked with the TreePhilly program to capture the special relationship between Philadelphia Parks & Recreation arborists, the trees they care for, and the tools of their trade.

A Word from the Artist

“When I was asked by TreePhilly
to shoot portraits
of Philadelphia’s Arborists as a freebie,
I said sure!
I love trees,
I love Philly.
Little did I know was how much the people
that worked with them loved them too.
Some have master’s degrees and all could
make more in the private sector
but they do this because they love trees too!”

Sabina Louise Pierce
Lover of trees and nature.