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Announcing the Winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s 2023 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship

Superintendent AP Diaz announced today the winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s (SPR) 2023 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship. The winners are a cross-section of Seattle’s most creative, dedicated, and hard-working volunteers who donate precious time and energy to improving Seattle’s parks and recreation programs.

The Denny Awards acknowledge and honor the crucial role volunteers play in supporting neighborhood parks, community centers and recreation programs throughout Seattle. The awards reflect the early commitment by the Denny family to the preservation of parkland and open space for public use and enjoyment. David T. and Louisa Denny donated land that became the first Seattle park, Denny Park, in 1884. 

“We could not do the work we do without our incredible volunteers! I am thrilled we get to shine light once again on the amazing contributions of our park volunteers who coach youth sports, help us plant native trees in our parks, serve on various advisory councils and boards, and provide countless other services which allow Seattle Parks and Recreation to be the shining system Seattle loves and depends on,” said AP Diaz, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.      

2023 Denny Award Winners:

HEALTHY PEOPLE – Antje Mueller

Antje is a Seattle Urban Nature Guide (SUN Guide) who has been leading walks and guiding active education programs in nature for 17 years. She fosters mind/body wellness through engaging physical activities such as insect games, forest tag, animal movement ambulators, and more. Since 2016 alone, she has guided 180 programs. One program she volunteered with this summer was the Garfield Family Gardening series where she taught young people where their food comes from and how to grow their own food in an urban garden. Antje also leads by example–she bikes, walks, or buses to almost every program, modeling a healthy lifestyle for herself and the environment.


Eric is a founding member of the Friends of Dead Horse Canyon (FODHC). Dead Horse Canyon serves the communities of Rainier Beach, Skyway, and Lakeridge, some of the most diverse and underserved communities in Seattle when it comes to outdoor recreational opportunities.  Since 1995, Eric has led volunteer groups in forest restoration efforts in the canyon amassing more than 20,000 total volunteer hours and resulting in a nearly completely restored, mature forest ecosystem in the canyon. At every work party (at least once per month), Eric takes new volunteers on a tour of the canyon. His tours are rich with information about the history of the canyon and the efforts of FODHC in its restoration.

EQUITY CHAMPION – Friends of Hutchinson Playground

The Friends of Hutchinson Playground was formed through the leadership and advocacy of community members coming together to create a safer and better park for the entire community. Since 2020, the group has led a number of advocacy efforts. This year, in part due to their advocacy and SPR’s asset management plan, the park has received $4.105 million to renovate the park. As such, the group turned their attention to supporting and partnering with SPR to ensure equitable engagement to inform the design of the renovations.    


Since they were four years old, Riley and Cooper have volunteered with their parents to support SPR events such as the annual Polar Bear Plunge and Halloween special event at Meadowbrook Pool. Riley and Cooper are now 16 years old and have spent hundreds of hours this year at Meadowbrook Pool (up to 6 days per week during the summer) co-teaching swimming lessons, assistant coaching SPR’s Summer Swim League swim team, helping create swim team line ups, herding swim team kids at busy meets and to their events, cleaning the pool deck and locker rooms, doing laundry, and just helping out in whatever way the staff need. To date, Riley has logged nearly 350 volunteer hours and Cooper about 240 volunteer hours.

SUPERINTENDENT AWARD – Rainier Beach Distance Running Program (Cross Country Team)

Rainier Beach Distance Running Program (Cross Country Team) consists of coaches Jeremy Rene, Tom Thompson, Margot Keany, Karen West, and the newest addition, Coach Woody.  The coaches have been running this program for youth for almost 10 years out of the Rainier Beach Community Center with practices at Genesee Park. The Rainier Beach Distance Program coaches have always been welcoming of all youth, and for the past several years the program has been offered for free to get more people of color to join. The running coach group is always encouraging and working to provide opportunities for the team to participate in running off season, as well as supporting the team in giving back to the community through volunteer efforts.


The winners of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s 2023 Denny Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Stewardship will be honored at an event on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

2023 Denny Award Nominees:

Ellen Phillips-Angeles, Kubota Garden

Aresli Marmolejo-Avila, David Rodgers Tennis Courts in Queen Anne

Tracy Banaszynski, Mid Sound Fisheries and Enhancement Group

Chris Delaune, North Central Little League

Friends of MacLean Park

Hunger Intervention Program

Danielle Jackson, Rainier Beach Skatepark

Jefferson Advisory Council

Greg Kogita, Jefferson Advisory Council

David Koon, Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project

Kubota Garden Foundation

Sharon Levine, Walks With Dogs

Lisa McGinty, Lincoln Park Volunteer Forest Steward

Cindie Moulton; MacLean Park

Lisa Powers, Tidy Uptown Committee of Uptown Alliance

Gordon Sata, Seattle Metro Pickleball Association

Robert Stephens Jr., Garfield Super Block

Andrea Suarez, We Heart Seattle

Volunteer Park Trust

We Heart Seattle