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Since 1994 Richard V. Piacentini has led the green transformation of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Richard is interested in the important connection between people and plants, particularly as it relates to human and environmental wellness. He serves as Chair of the International Living Future Institute™ (ILFI) board, and on the board of the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh. He is also the recipient of numerous professional honors, including ILFI and U.S. Green Building Council leadership awards, and is a past president of the American Public Gardens Association. Richard has a BS in Pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island, an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a MS in Botany from the University of Connecticut.
Director, Development Campaign
Since 2002 Greg has overseen transformational growth in capital and operating development campaigns while assisting the Board of Trustees’ Development, Trusteeship, Nominating and Executive committees. Previously he was Director of the Diocese of Pittsburgh Foundation and diocesan annual, capital and gift planning functions. Greg began his nonprofit career with the national headquarters of the American Bar Association while attending the University of Chicago.
Jane Fahringer, director of guest services since 2007, is responsible for managing Phipps’ admissions processes, gift shops, café and catering, and event sales. Among her key achievements was her oversight of critical operations during the blockbuster Chihuly at Phipps: Glass in the Gardens exhibit and the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit, as well as her role in managing the transformation of Café Phipps from a traditional museum eatery to a healthy, sustainable dining establishment celebrated by Food & Wine as a Best Museum Restaurant.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Connie George has led non-profit marketing and communications efforts for more than 20 years, including tenures as vice-president of communications for VisitPITTSBURGH and director of marketing and PR for the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Connie is secretary of the board of directors for the Women’s Press Club and a member of the Western PA Humane Society Board of Directors, and also serves on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust First Night and Junior Achievement Advisory Boards.
Director of Science Education and Research
Dr. Emily A. Kalnicky is director of science education and research. She oversees all science education programs at Phipps and conducts original research and collaborative research with universities and other organizations. She holds a doctorate in ecology from Utah State University, a master’s in natural resources and environmental sciences from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and bachelor of science degrees in zoology, psychology and Spanish from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her passion is developing cutting-edge programming and research using botanic gardens as a platform for connecting youth and adults to nature.
Director of Human Resources and Operations
Jan Kortz, director of human resources and operations for Phipps since 1998, has supported the nonprofit through a time of rapid transformation that included major campus expansion, a stronger focus on sustainability, and large-scale events such as the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit. In 2012, Jan received a Pittsburgh Business Times Human Resource Leadership Award recognizing top professionals in the region who have made great strides in shaping their workplaces.
Chief Financial Officer
Robert S. Mermelstein has served as chief financial officer at Phipps since 2011. As CFO, he is responsible for managing all financial affairs and protecting Phipps’ assets, as well as directing the financial planning, control and administration of the finance, information technology and membership departments. He also serves as the primary liaison to the Finance and Audit Committees of the Board of Trustees. A certified public accountant and certified global management accountant, Bob was formerly at Coopers & Lybrand (now Price WaterhouseCoopers) and is a frequent speaker on nonprofit finance.
Director of Programming and Operations, Let's Move Pittsburgh
Mary Kathryn Poole provides leadership for Phipps' Let's Move Pittsburgh initiatives, dedicated to providing families with the resources they need to eat more nutritiously, get active and reduce screen time. Mary Kathryn comes to Let’s Move Pittsburgh with a master of public health degree with a focus on community health sciences, as well as several years of experience in areas related to improving children’s health.
Director of Horticulture and Education
Margie Radebaugh has managed both the horticulture and education departments at Phipps since 2007, and is a part of the top level management team for the overall organization. She works with her staff to encourage and promote interdepartmental cooperation and teamwork resulting in a uniquely collaborative work environment. Margie served as director of education for Phipps from 2001 – 2007. She spent 13 years as Horticulture/Education Director of Pittsburgh Garden Place, formerly the Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center, prior to its merger with Phipps.
Director of Facilities and Sustainability Management
Jason Wirick works to advance sustainable design and initiate safe, healthy and green operating practices at Phipps. He holds a B.S. from Virginia Tech University and a M.B.A., with a focus on corporate sustainability and social responsibility, from Duquesne University. Jason has supervised hundreds of contractors on award-winning projects.
Photos © Mark Dixon