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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: the Living Building Challenge™, LEED® Platinum, WELL™ Platinum, and 4 Stars Sustainable SITES™ certifications. Piacentini is interested in the important connection between people and plants particularly as it relates to human and environmental health. He serves as past Chair of the International Living Future Institute™ (ILFI) and is a past president of the American Public Gardens Association. He has received numerous professional honors, including ILFI and USGBC leadership awards.
Director, 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.
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 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.
Director of Marketing and Communications
A strategic marketing leader with over 20 years of brand management experience, Julie LaBar oversees marketing and communication initiatives at Phipps. Prior, Julie developed and directed integrated marketing plans with leading global brands including AccuWeather, Valvoline and Cooper Tire. A collaborative and passionate leader, Julie’s expertise includes brand development, consumer research insights and data analytics. Her focus is on delivering the most personalized, best-in-class brand experiences that will engage new guests and strengthen loyalty among existing ones.
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 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.
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 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, Paul g. Wiegman