AmeriCorps VISTA Member Alex Cupo

As a Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA in Pittsburgh, Alex Cupo worked to promote and build resilience to extreme weather in the city, bolstering the city’s community response, emergency response resources, and environmental education curriculum. Alex is now the Southeast Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator for PennFuture, where he advocates for state policy that supports sustainability and green infrastructure.

Did you go in with any expectations that changed during your service year?

I expected Pittsburgh to have a sustainable government. I was excited to work for a city that’s doing large scale sustainability work. That was confirmed once I started working there.

I got to meet with people all of the time, went to meetings and conferences. That was a cool part of the job I wasn’t expecting. I expected to be in the office all day. There were a lot of great opportunities to get out and get to know the people in the community.

I got to meet with people all of the time, went to meetings and conferences. That was a cool part of the job I wasn’t expecting. I expected to be in the office all day. There were a lot of great opportunities to get out and get to know the people in the community.

Can you give me one specific experience from your service year that has prepared you for your work with PennFuture?

Setting up meetings. It sounds benign and simple, but the simple fact of getting people’s information and email, following up with them, making sure that I’m getting to know more about the work that they’re doing. And just having the ability to get out of the office and get to feel comfortable talking about my organization and the work that I’m doing as well as getting to know more about their work. [This was] a huge part of what I was doing with Pittsburgh as a VISTA and it’s a huge part of what I’m doing with PennFuture. So much of my work is getting to know people. It sounds silly, but it’s super important to let people know about the resources that your organization offers.

How does the mission of your new employer align with your goals and values?

I went to college for environmental studies and political science. My professional career has been about trying to improve my understanding of environmental issues and how to communicate those issues to other people. I think that aligns with PennFuture’s mission of putting action to words and to making sure that the environment is being preserved for generations.