Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Creating an inclusive organization and park system


The Parks Conservancy entered its 25th year with a continued focus on equity, one of the organization’s foundational tenets. Equity efforts these past two years were highlighted by the development of an equitable investment strategy for the entire park system. Working closely with the city of Pittsburgh, the equitable investment strategy is a data-driven plan to improve parks that have suffered due to decades of systemic disinvestment.

The Conservancy raised funds and initiated capital projects that improved parks serving diverse communities. The organization was much lauded for the 2019 restoration of the Northeast Fountain in Allegheny Commons, which has become a focal point for the North Side community. In 2021, the Conservancy restored a portion of the Allegheny Commons North Promenade, with plans to continue restoration of the Promenade in accordance with the park’s Master Plan. In McKinley Park, one of the City’s largest community parks, a green infrastructure capital project was completed in 2020.

Equity and engagement with diverse audiences remains a principle of the Conservancy’s education and programming outreach. In 2020, for the first time, Conservancy staff collaborated with Citiparks and Learn and Earn teams on the Meet Me in the Parks community program. The Conservancy facilitated nature activities at or near city parks that served as summer food distribution sites in Homewood, the Hill District, North Side, and East Liberty.


In early 2021, the nonprofit solicited proposals to establish a contract with a qualified and experienced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant. Now, in partnership with Venture Outdoors and Grow Pittsburgh, the organization has taken the next steps in this process. The partnering nonprofits recently held an internal training with their collective staff members, led by the selected consultant. This training is the first step in a year-long process to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues at the organization, focusing on racial equity and guidance on how to best support Black Pittsburghers and park users.

ALL ARE WELCOME IN YOUR PARKS an organizational update - June 2020

The recent horrific killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis and others are a sad reminder of society’s struggle to effectively address racism, discrimination, and unconscious bias. It’s a reality that one cannot fully grasp unless you’ve experienced it. And for those of us who have not, we need to listen, educate ourselves, and be present in this moment. 
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy supports the national movement to eliminate racial injustice in all forms. We stand in solidarity with black and brown communities and with all who face injustice, and unite with them to pursue permanent, positive, and just results. 
We will stay true to our mission and focus on our parks and urban green spaces. With a clearer lens and new sense of urgency, we continue our effort to improve the quality of life for all people of Pittsburgh by ensuring park equity through restoration of all 165 city parks. Park equity means so much more than providing new equipment and increased park maintenance. 
Park equity cannot be achieved unless everyone feels welcome in all parks. 
To that end, together, we must create park spaces that truthfully reflect diversity, that highlight the characteristics of neighborhoods and communities, that create opportunity, that foster growth, that support our mental, physical, and emotional well-being, that lift up all who visit and, most of all, that are safe. 
We will educate our leaders on the positive impact park equity can have on broader urban equity challenges such as affordable housing, infrastructure investment, health and wellness, youth development, and environmental justice. 
We cannot do this right without first looking inward. At the Parks Conservancy, we are already having honest, at times uncomfortable, internal conversations evaluating our history through the lens of systemic bias and developing a plan to be the best we can be moving forward. 
As we live through these unsettled times and strive to improve our world and communitywe remember that basic human decency and kindness are never the wrong decisions. 
Be well,
Mike Lyons, Board Chairperson
Millie Myers, Vice Chairperson
Meg Cheever, Senior Executive Advisor
Richard Reed, Senior Executive Advisor
Catherine Qureshi, President & CEO


Pittsburghers need parks. They're where families create lasting memories together, where people of all ages connect to nature, and where all of us can simply enjoy a breath of fresh air. Parks, in return, do more than we realize. They clean the air, filter stormwater, lower stress, and provide a natural sanctuary. 

We believe in the power of parks. We are all in. Are you?