Dennis Chestnut – Champion of the Chesapeake

You voted and now let us congratulate our Lifetime Champion, Dennis Chestnut!

Share a message below to congratulate Dennis!

Dennis Chestnut is a native Washingtonian, and is a lifetime resident of the Hillbrook neighborhood of Ward 7. Dennis is a master carpenter and vocational educator by profession, but his dedication to youth development, community improvement and civic duty has led to his involvement with many civic and conservation projects, and enriching experiences. He is also a lover of the outdoors, has a passion for conservation and the environment, and has advised many community, business and government leaders on civic ecology and civic engagement issues. Growing up in the far-northeast section of Washington, DC, Dennis became connected to the many green spaces, parks, streams, and the Anacostia River, where he learned to swim as a child. Dennis has served as the Carpentry internship instructor at the Academy of Construction and Design at IDEA Public Charter High School since 2017, and is the retired founding executive director of Groundwork Anacostia River DC. Among the many programs and projects developed by Groundwork, two stand out, the Green Team youth leadership development program, and the Bandalong litter traps. Managing these four litter traps resulted in the removal of tons of trash and floatable debris from the Anacostia River, becoming one of Groundwork’s signature programs.

Dennis is a board member with the East of the River Youth Steel Band, the Capital Recreation Youth Sports Program, and chairs the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Dennis is a Senior Fellow of the Chesapeake Region Environmental Leadership Program, an appointee to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Leadership Council for a Cleaner Anacostia River and the Urban Forestry Advisory Council. He is a member of the United for a Healthy Anacostia River Coalition, the National Capital Region Anacostia Watershed Stewards Academy, and the Anacostia Watershed Community Advisory Committee. Dennis has received numerous awards including the Greater Washington Interfaith Partnership Vision Award, the Lankford/Giles/Vaughn Minority Architect Award for Community Activism, the DC Appleseed 2019 Sustainable Living and Leading Award, and most recently the 2019 River Network River Hero, Chesapeake Conservancy 2020 Lifetime Champion Award, and the Cox Communications Trust for Public Land Cox Conserves Heroes Award. Dennis has also appeared in numerous publications, books and video documentaries that highlight his work on restoring the health of the Anacostia River, improving the natural resources in the East of the River communities, and developing high quality youth programs. Ward 7 and areas east of the Anacostia River have been described as the “Greenest” Ward and section of Washington, D.C. outside of the National Mall, but also is where some of the most environmentally challenging conditions in the city has existed. This is the reason why Dennis has committed himself to restoring the health of the Anacostia River, improving the natural resources located in this community and throughout Washington, D.C., and connecting the residents, schools, businesses, civic and community organizations to the many outdoor resources and natural environment through tangible on-the-ground projects that Change Places and Change Lives.

Congratulate Dennis for being a Champion of the Chesapeake

Dennis is a dear friend and high school classmate of my wife and I. We celebrate Dennis’ accomplishments and this recognition of his efforts to educate the public and to improve our environment.

– Dr. Darnell Bethel


Thank you for all your work and caring for the Chesapeake and its Washington area tributaries. So often when people think of the Chesapeake they do not even think of the urban areas that are part of it and its watershed…and therefore those champions in the city are not always included. Yet access to land and clean water is of deep and abiding importance right there at home. You are an exemplar, though it is my bet you never think of yourself that way!

– John Reynolds, Chesapeake Conservancy Board of Directors

Thank you for your lifelong work as a leader in your community and in the conservation movement.

-Anne Richardson

Congratulations Dennis! You are amazing.

-Jackie and Paul

Proud of you Dennis 

– Wanda Harris

Well deserved Dennis! Congratulations!

-Suzy Kelly

Congratulations, Dennis Chesnut and family for your outstanding contributions to the environment, especially to restoring the health of the Chesapeake and its tributaries throughout the Washington Region! Thanks for your many years of service.

Gratefully yours,
Daria Portray Winter

Congratulations Coach Chestnut!

– Jeanene Langley Cotton

Congratulations Dennis. You are really contributing to the community and helping make this world a little better. Thanks for your dedication.

– Randall Larrimore

Mr. Chestnut, thank you for your lifelong commitment to environmental leadership. You have been an exceptional teacher and mentor to high school students in our Academy of Construction and Design. As the Academy’s programming concluded at IDEA PCS this year and we have moved forward on an exciting houseboat building project in partnership with The Wharf on D.C.’s southwest waterfront, your gift for teaching and inspiring others continues to be essential to our mission and work. You are a champion and a local hero helping all of us understand and embrace the Anacostia River’s history and significance as part of the Chesapeake and the urban communities in its watershed. Thanks and congratulations!

– Paula Ralph, DC Students Construction Trades Foundation

Dennis, I want to congratulate you on your great accomplishment. You truly deserve this honor.

– Willie Wiliams

Dennis.. Thank you for your dedication and hard work in restoring the beauty of the Anacostia River.

– Donna Richardson

Thank you!

– Carlene Moscatt

Congratulations on this extraordinary honor. I have known you since Benning and Coolidge. You represent Washington, DC well.

– Susan Rodgers Davis

Congratulations Abu, you are an inspiration to all!! Your passion to want a change for the better is what makes you, you. To the lifetime champion that’s dedicated his life to educating people about the environment and many other things, congrats!

– Isis Plaza

Well deserved, Dennis and ways to go. Congrats!!!

-Ziad Demian

Congratulations Dennis, I am glad to be able to read about the work you have done in the community. Amazing work, keep up the good job!

-Malik Lang

Congrats! Well deserved!

– Mike Barrette

Dennis, I am happy to salute and congratulate you. You are an amazing example of what a devoted Washingtonian and 1967 Coolidge Colt looks like!! I’m proud to call you my friend.

– Emille Mercer Robinson

Congratulations, Dennis for the outstanding work that you do for our community and as well as our youth.

– Joyce A. Johnson

Congratulations Uncle Dennis I’m very proud of your efforts and services

– Yvette Chestnut

Congratulations Dennis! Thank you for being an inspiring Chesapeake steward. 

– Emilie Lahneman

With God’s direction, you forged a path…

– Elizabeth Ayanna

Congratulations Dennis on your life work, conservation, mentoring, civic duty. I love nature & glad to see your dedication. I live in Texas now but saw this post from your friend coach Ronald Jenkins.

– Davette Daggett

Dennis you have lived this in your life every day,

Every person must decide, at some point,
whether they will walk in the light of creative
altruism or in the darkness of destructive
selfishness. This is the judgment.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question
is: What are you doing for others?” –
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

– James Grady Gaston II

Congratulations and thank you for your service to the community!

– Nicole Dunn Garay

Congratulations Abu on this great recognition!!! You have always been a champion to everyone!!!

– Akeelah Chestnut Charles


Venus Bell

You were always a champion in our book. Congratulation on this well deserved award.

-Carol Randolph


– Edward Fisher

Congratulations to my friend and former high school alumna (Calvin Coolidge Sr High).
Dennis we are so proud of the lifetime of service and community engagement you Zan have exhibited over 40 plus yrs. You’ve earned every award and honor and Washingtons environment benefits and its citizenry is grateful and most proud. May the world take notice of the good works you do and replicate where needed.
Congratulations and Many Blessings!

– Roxanna Bilal. Chair. NCACARES

Congratulations Dennis. You have always stood strong for the residents and the environment in your neighborhood.

– Ronald Jenkins