Not so long ago Andrea Wenner was headed for a traditional career in New York real estate. She entered Columbia Business School, but on her daily commute she noticed that her neighborhood elementary school lacked something quite fundamental: a playground. “That struck me as sad and unusual,” she recalls. She tucked this thought away until a summer internship introduced her to an organization that rebuilt high school sports fields through a combination of corporate and private donations coupled with grants from New York City. Andrea then remembered playgrounds, or rather their lack, and Out2Play was born. Before she had even graduated from Columbia, Andrea was well on her way to building her first playground – and the organization that today has raised more than $10 million to build eighty school playgrounds in high-need neighborhoods all over the City. Building playgrounds is much more than a business for Andrea; it is a passion, a way to make a demonstrable and longlasting difference. “The future of this city,” she said, “lies in the hands of today’s youth and nurturing their health and development should be a top priority.”
Sarah Gilbert joined Out2Play in 2008. She had just returned from Barcelona, where she lived and worked for nine years after graduating from Haverford College. While in Europe she gained valuable management experience working with multicultural teams on a range of projects. She is fluent in Spanish and certified to teach English as a Second Language. Sarah draws upon all this experience in her role as Out2Play’s Program Administrator. Reaching out to schools, working with principals and teachers, managing timelines and budgets, overseeing construction – it’s all in a day’s work for Sarah. But perhaps her favorite activity is working with students, encouraging them to dream about their ideal playground. During these ‘Design Days’ Sarah stands ready with a bright marker in hand, noting on a large easel all the kids’ ideas – many of which ultimately become reality.