Volunteer Spotlight: Kris Charny
Oct 07

Volunteer Spotlight: Kris Charny

By Karen Santelli

Phipps is well-known for our beautiful gardens, seasonal flower shows, pioneering sustainability initiatives, informative educational programs and community outreach. None of our work, however, would be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our volunteers. In this series of profiles, we meet some of the people who give their time to make Phipps possible.

The interplay of nature and art is what inspired Kris Charny to become a Phipps docent, and it’s what keeps her intrigued. Kris began volunteering during summers at Phipps with the Chihuly glass exhibit in 2007. “I was attracted to the whole idea of art and plants coming together,” she says. After retiring as an elementary school teacher in 2009, Kris trained as a conservatory docent and a sustainability docent. “When I retired, I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere, and Phipps was a natural fit because I have been a long-time member. I have been coming to Phipps for over 45 years, and I brought my children here from the time they were very young.”

Kris, who has a master’s degree in environmental education, also appreciates the combination of old and new at Phipps: the old Victorian building and the new sustainability initiatives. “There’s always something new here. It’s such a pleasant environment. As a docent, you get to share Phipps with other people, and they’re so enthusiastic about it. I always feel good after I’ve done a tour for people who are really engaged and asking a lot of questions.”

Kris enjoys wildlife and hiking, and walks five miles a day near her home in O’Hara Township, which she shares with her husband, Dan. She also enjoys the many cultural opportunities in Pittsburgh, such as the Carnegie Museums, Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, theater, ballet and Beechwood Farms, where she has worked in the past as a naturalist.