Have a question or comment? Call us at 412/622-6914 or email a member of our team below.
Richard V. Piacentini
President and CEO
Since 1994, Richard Piacentini has led the green transformation of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, including construction of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, the only building in the world to meet Living Building Challenge™, LEED® Platinum, WELL™ Platinum, SITES™ Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding In-Use certifications. Richard is interested in the connection between people and plants particularly as it relates to human and environmental health. He has received numerous professional honors, including APGA, ILFI and USGBC leadership awards.
Chief of Staff
Ashley Dean supports the President and CEO by executing cross-departmental initiatives that promote the success of organizational goals and contribute to the development of all stakeholders. Ashley has worked in Human Resources at Phipps since 2014 and brings over 10 years of management experience in both not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. Ashley has a B.A. in business management from Houghton University and holds SHRM-CP credentials.
Gregory R. DuFour
Director of Development Campaign
Since 2002, Greg DuFour 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.
Director of Horticulture
Ben Dunigan has been passionate about horticulture for over 30 years. After graduating from Cornell University with a BS in Plant Science he joined Phipps to focus on the Tropical Forest Conservatory where he developed a love for these complex ecosystems. Over the years Ben has participated in several ethnobotanical research trips focusing on various tropical regions across the globe. Before serving as Director, he served as Horticultural Curator and Collections Manager. During this time, he worked to improve the diversity of the permanent collections at Phipps and its care, including the development of one of the first Plant Collections Network orchid collections administered by the American Public Gardens Association. Ben is a member of multiple horticultural societies and he is regularly invited to speak at universities, conferences and other institutions to share his infectious love of the plant kingdom.
Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement
With over 15 years of experience in diversity, equity and inclusion, Corinne Gibson previously served as the director of DEI for the Office of the Chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education and was selected as a 2021 recipient of the New Pittsburgh Courier Women of Excellence Award. Her passion for building relationships shows in her ability to create inclusive communities and connect with underserved people. Corinne is working to broaden Phipps' relationship with communities of color and LGBTQ communities, as well as to develop opportunities for community partnerships and collaboration.
Allyson Koteski is responsible for overseeing all revenue generating departments here at Phipps including admissions, gift shop, café and special events. With her team, Allyson is dedicated to providing the highest level of customer engagement to all guests. Allyson comes to Phipps with 25 years of management experience in specialty big box retail. She has a dual B.A. from Hiram College in International Economics and Management as well as French.
Chief Financial Officer
Katie Lynch is responsible for managing the financial affairs of Phipps, including planning, budgeting and reporting. She also serves as the primary contact for the Board of Trustees Finance and Audit Committees. Prior experience includes work for local nonprofit and real estate development firms as well as financial analysis for Fortune 500 companies. A 30-year Pittsburgh resident, Katie has served in leadership positions in educational, political and athletic organizations. She received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Richmond and an M.B.A. in finance and accounting from Columbia University.
Senior Director of Site Operations
Karen Priore brings over 30 years of experience in human resources and leadership to her role at Phipps. Prior to joining Phipps, Karen served as an HR director for Giant Eagle, where she won multiple awards and was widely recognized for outstanding leadership efforts, including being named to the Top Women in Grocery. Karen is responsible for overseeing the operations for guest services, horticulture, facilities and human resources to ensure collaboration of these areas for the optimal guest experience. Karen graduated from Geneva College with a B.A. in Human Resources Management, holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification and is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management.
Senior Director of Communications
Since 2007, Joe Reed’s accomplishments at Phipps have included grant writing for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes; successful nomination of over 100 professional awards, including accolades from American Institute of Architects and American Association of Museums; and development of Phipps’ first internally-managed website. His work received a Marketer of the Year Award from the American Marketing Association Pittsburgh Chapter. He is a past presenter at the American Public Gardens Association conference.
Sarah L. States, Ph.D.
Dr. Sarah States is responsible for creating innovative local, national and international research partnerships in the research areas of Phipps, such as ecology, human health and wellness, environmental education and science communication. Moreover, she oversees the development and implementation of pre-K – 12 informal education programs that focus on connecting youth to nature. She received her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University and completed postdoctoral research at the Yale School of Public Health and Columbia University, focusing on community ecology and vector-borne disease.
Director of Facilities
Pete Thomson is responsible for the day-to-day operation of all facilities at Phipps. He started with the organization in 2019 moving to Director of Facilities in 2022. Pete brings an extensive knowledge of the built environment and a passion for sustainability. He has a master’s degree in Sustainability from Chatham University.
Director of Adult Education and Community Outreach
Gabe Tilove works to connect people more closely to beauty and healing power of the natural world through education and outreach. Gabe directs 200+ classes annually on topics including sustainable horticulture and native plant landscapes, landscape design, botanical art, floral design, and culinary arts. Gabe oversees Phipps Master Gardener program, and sustainable landcare training for green industry professionals. In 2013, Gabe helped launch Phipps' Homegrown program, an edible garden outreach program installing raised bed gardens for families in food insecure neighborhoods.
Photos © Mark Dixon, Paul g. Wiegman