Allegheny County Parks Foundation board selects chief

Ex-leader at Heinz Endowments tabbed

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The board of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation on Tuesday selected longtime environmental professional Caren Glotfelty as its new executive director.

“She’s just perfect for this role,” said James Mitnick, chairman of the board of directors, in an interview. Her appointment was approved by a unanimous board vote Tuesday morning, he said. She starts the job Aug. 1.

Ms. Glotfelty, 67, of Mount Washington said she was excited to take on the position, calling now a “really important time” for the county parks system and the foundation.

“I think we have the opportunity to really make our citizens aware of the treasure that we have among the nine county parks,” she said in an interview. She added that she believes the foundation will be helpful to the county in terms of raising money and awareness about the parks.

Ms. Glotfelty spent 13 years as senior program director of the Heinz Endowments Environment Program, work that included spearheading the creation of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development. She departed from the Endowments in August 2013, part of a larger shakeup that also saw the departures of communications director Douglas Root and later, executive director Robert Vagt.

There was speculation that her departure was related to creation of the center, but chairwoman Teresa Heinz Kerry said in an interview last fall that there was no such link. Ms. Glotfelty herself told the Post-Gazette last summer only that the board felt it was “moving in a different direction” regarding its environmental program. She declined to comment about the issue further Tuesday.

Since last summer, Ms. Glotfelty has co-chaired the Sewer Regionalization Implementation Committee and earlier this year was appointed to the board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Prior to her work at the Endowments, she was the Maurice K. Goddard chair in forestry & environmental resources conservation at Penn State University. She also served as deputy secretary for water management in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources from 1991 to 1995, according to a county release.

Rich Fitzgerald, the county executive, praised the selection in a statement.

“Caren’s work is well known and well respected,” he said. “She is a leader in many areas, particularly in environmental and quality-of-life issues, including parks, and I fully expect her reputation to continue to grow in this new role with the Allegheny County Parks Foundation.”

Ms. Glotfelty replaces Ron Schipani, who was serving as acting executive director and capital projects manager for the Parks Foundation, Mr. Mitnick said. Mr. Schipani, whom Mr. Mitnick called “terrific,” will remain as capital projects manager.

The Parks Foundation, a nonprofit established in 2007, works with Allegheny County to support the county’s nine parks. Its current work includes efforts with Allegheny County to improve the North Park Lake Trail.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

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