Climate Reality: Pittsburgh & SWPA Leadership Committee

The chapter's first ever Leadership Committee was elected in January 2018 to serve through January 2019.

 
   Chapter Co-chair - Larry Schweiger    Larry Schweiger is the president emeritus and past CEO of PennFuture. For ten years prior, he was the president and chief executive officer of the 4.5-million-member National Wildlife Federation. Under Larry’s leadership, fighting climate change became the Federation’s top priority. Collaborating with the late Senator John Heinz, Larry played a critical role in the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments to curb acid rain through a cap and trade strategy.  His tenure at the Federation was marked by his determined efforts to safeguard the nation’s wildlife against climate change and other ecological threats. He spent thirty days on the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the BP spill helping to get the story of America’s largest oil spill to the public and later successfully promoted the Restore Act to use 80 percent of the BP penalty funds to restore the Gulf Coast. The Blue Green Alliance presented Larry with their “Right Stuff” Award for his leadership on the auto efficiency rules. His book, Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth, won first prize for nonfiction and first prize for science at the Indie Book Awards in 2011.  Larry is the founding chairman of the National Institute for Conservation Leadership an organization dedicated to strengthening volunteer leadership. Larry also worked with Former Vice President Al Gore to launch Climate Reality and currently serves on the CR board and as Chair of Climate Reality Action Fund. Larry also acted as the founding executive director of the Friends of Gettysburg National Parks.

Chapter Co-chair - Larry Schweiger

Larry Schweiger is the president emeritus and past CEO of PennFuture. For ten years prior, he was the president and chief executive officer of the 4.5-million-member National Wildlife Federation. Under Larry’s leadership, fighting climate change became the Federation’s top priority. Collaborating with the late Senator John Heinz, Larry played a critical role in the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments to curb acid rain through a cap and trade strategy.

His tenure at the Federation was marked by his determined efforts to safeguard the nation’s wildlife against climate change and other ecological threats. He spent thirty days on the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the BP spill helping to get the story of America’s largest oil spill to the public and later successfully promoted the Restore Act to use 80 percent of the BP penalty funds to restore the Gulf Coast. The Blue Green Alliance presented Larry with their “Right Stuff” Award for his leadership on the auto efficiency rules. His book, Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth, won first prize for nonfiction and first prize for science at the Indie Book Awards in 2011.

Larry is the founding chairman of the National Institute for Conservation Leadership an organization dedicated to strengthening volunteer leadership. Larry also worked with Former Vice President Al Gore to launch Climate Reality and currently serves on the CR board and as Chair of Climate Reality Action Fund. Larry also acted as the founding executive director of the Friends of Gettysburg National Parks.

   Chapter Co-Chair - Joylette Portlock    Joylette Portlock, PhD, has spent her career thus far successfully connecting people to each other and to needed information. Dr. Portlock is associate director of science and research at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. She is also the executive director of Communitopia, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit focused on climate change communication. There, she is the project lead and star of the   Don't Just Sit There - Do Something!  video series  on climate change, targeted to the general public.  Dr. Portlock studied biology and anthropology at MIT and completed her PhD in genetics at Stanford University in 2006. Her career in science communication began with designing programs for science museums. Following this early experience, Dr. Portlock worked for The Climate Reality Project, pioneering the organization of the national community of climate presenters (she is one of the first 1100 trainees). Later, she served as Western Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator for PennFuture, a statewide environmental advocacy group where she worked with the organization's members, elected officials, and the public on climate, energy, air, water, mining, and transportation issues. Dr. Portlock currently serves on the Allegheny County Board of Health. She has worked on climate change issues and advocacy at the individual, local, regional, state, and national level. Long before any of that, however, she started her family recycling (before curbside pickup was a thing) and co-founded her high school's Earth Club.  Her accomplishments make clear her passion and aptitude for making the world a better, fairer, more knowledgeable place.

Chapter Co-Chair - Joylette Portlock

Joylette Portlock, PhD, has spent her career thus far successfully connecting people to each other and to needed information. Dr. Portlock is associate director of science and research at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. She is also the executive director of Communitopia, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit focused on climate change communication. There, she is the project lead and star of the Don't Just Sit There - Do Something! video series on climate change, targeted to the general public.

Dr. Portlock studied biology and anthropology at MIT and completed her PhD in genetics at Stanford University in 2006. Her career in science communication began with designing programs for science museums. Following this early experience, Dr. Portlock worked for The Climate Reality Project, pioneering the organization of the national community of climate presenters (she is one of the first 1100 trainees). Later, she served as Western Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator for PennFuture, a statewide environmental advocacy group where she worked with the organization's members, elected officials, and the public on climate, energy, air, water, mining, and transportation issues. Dr. Portlock currently serves on the Allegheny County Board of Health. She has worked on climate change issues and advocacy at the individual, local, regional, state, and national level. Long before any of that, however, she started her family recycling (before curbside pickup was a thing) and co-founded her high school's Earth Club.

Her accomplishments make clear her passion and aptitude for making the world a better, fairer, more knowledgeable place.

   Communications Chair - Bre Evans    Bre is a co-founder of the Climate Reality: Pittsburgh & SWPA Chapter of the Climate Reality Project, as well as its webmaster and marketing & communications director. She has more than a decade of diverse experience in organizational development and leadership, high-visibility communications, digital and experiential marketing, leading-edge technologies/information systems, and omnichannel user experiences.   Bre is an entrepreneur at heart who owned a small coffee shop in Seattle that awakened her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices. She is currently wrapping up her MBA/MSMIS at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business where she took a sustainable business course that both inspired and terrified her. The course helped focus her passion and prompted her to take a more active role in solving the climate crisis, beginning with her participation in The Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps training in October 2017. Bre is a strong proponent of businesses “doing well by doing good,” and she plans to focus on reducing the impact that businesses have on the environment, the people, and the communities in which they operate in her next career move.  Her 4-year-old son continually renews her passion to educate others on the urgent need for sustainable business models and global action. Although she’s a lover of all-things-high-tech, Bre has been researching low-tech ways to talk to young children about climate change and is developing a modified Climate Reality presentation for preschoolers.

Communications Chair - Bre Evans

Bre is a co-founder of the Climate Reality: Pittsburgh & SWPA Chapter of the Climate Reality Project, as well as its webmaster and marketing & communications director. She has more than a decade of diverse experience in organizational development and leadership, high-visibility communications, digital and experiential marketing, leading-edge technologies/information systems, and omnichannel user experiences.

Bre is an entrepreneur at heart who owned a small coffee shop in Seattle that awakened her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices. She is currently wrapping up her MBA/MSMIS at the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business where she took a sustainable business course that both inspired and terrified her. The course helped focus her passion and prompted her to take a more active role in solving the climate crisis, beginning with her participation in The Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps training in October 2017. Bre is a strong proponent of businesses “doing well by doing good,” and she plans to focus on reducing the impact that businesses have on the environment, the people, and the communities in which they operate in her next career move.

Her 4-year-old son continually renews her passion to educate others on the urgent need for sustainable business models and global action. Although she’s a lover of all-things-high-tech, Bre has been researching low-tech ways to talk to young children about climate change and is developing a modified Climate Reality presentation for preschoolers.

   Secretary - Marcel Minutolo    Marcel Minutolo has been an entrepreneur and a business development consultant for over 25 years. He is currently an Associate Professor of Strategic Management in the School of Business at Robert Morris University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in strategic management, entrepreneurship, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He currently sits on the board of directors for Adagio Health as the Vice-Chair of the Board; the Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania as the Chairman; and, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania and is the Secretary of the Board. He is the President and Co-Founder of Peritia, LLC. which assists firms in overcoming organizational challenges by adding flexible executive capacity. He has an earned Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Strategy with a minor in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Pittsburgh. He has taught course at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in strategy, finance, and decision making. He has been invited to teach and lecture in Chile, Taiwan, and Tajikistan. He has publications on technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions, strategic management, sustainability, human resources, and decision making. He has consulted with firms on economic impact studies, negotiation of test service agreements, business development plans, and various funding mechanisms with the Federal Laboratory systems. He has conducted research studies for the United Way of Allegheny County, led the strategic planning process for nonprofit firms and local municipalities, and has been a partner with Just Harvest. He is a former military intelligence company commander with multiple deployments.

Secretary - Marcel Minutolo

Marcel Minutolo has been an entrepreneur and a business development consultant for over 25 years. He is currently an Associate Professor of Strategic Management in the School of Business at Robert Morris University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in strategic management, entrepreneurship, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He currently sits on the board of directors for Adagio Health as the Vice-Chair of the Board; the Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania as the Chairman; and, the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania and is the Secretary of the Board. He is the President and Co-Founder of Peritia, LLC. which assists firms in overcoming organizational challenges by adding flexible executive capacity. He has an earned Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Strategy with a minor in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Pittsburgh. He has taught course at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in strategy, finance, and decision making. He has been invited to teach and lecture in Chile, Taiwan, and Tajikistan. He has publications on technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions, strategic management, sustainability, human resources, and decision making. He has consulted with firms on economic impact studies, negotiation of test service agreements, business development plans, and various funding mechanisms with the Federal Laboratory systems. He has conducted research studies for the United Way of Allegheny County, led the strategic planning process for nonprofit firms and local municipalities, and has been a partner with Just Harvest. He is a former military intelligence company commander with multiple deployments.

   Campaigns Co-Chair - Erin Copeland    Erin loves the quiet of falling snow on forests, the stream as it sings, and the laugh of her child on her bike. Erin grew up at the base of Chestnut Ridge where her family cross country skied, biked, and camped. Those moments as a kid have led to deep love of wild places. Erin firmly believes in protecting this region – with its rivers, parks, and countryside - and vowing to improve it for future generations. Erin’s studies took her to explore rural Pennsylvania and achieve her Bachelor of Science in Ecological and Political Science and Vermont for her Masters of Science in Forest Ecology. For the last decade Erin has been with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy as the Senior Restoration Ecologist completing watershed planning and improvement, and ecological restoration programs such as the Panther Hollow Watershed Restoration. Specifically, this has entailed collaborating with her colleagues and partners for an improved park system through forest restoration, built and natural green infrastructure installation, and understanding their efficacy. Lately, what has made her smile is seeing the growth of the urban forests and meadows that she and her colleagues seeded a decade ago. These new ecosystems are necessary for us as humans; they filter air, store carbon AND have been proven to make us joyful!

Campaigns Co-Chair - Erin Copeland

Erin loves the quiet of falling snow on forests, the stream as it sings, and the laugh of her child on her bike. Erin grew up at the base of Chestnut Ridge where her family cross country skied, biked, and camped. Those moments as a kid have led to deep love of wild places. Erin firmly believes in protecting this region – with its rivers, parks, and countryside - and vowing to improve it for future generations. Erin’s studies took her to explore rural Pennsylvania and achieve her Bachelor of Science in Ecological and Political Science and Vermont for her Masters of Science in Forest Ecology. For the last decade Erin has been with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy as the Senior Restoration Ecologist completing watershed planning and improvement, and ecological restoration programs such as the Panther Hollow Watershed Restoration. Specifically, this has entailed collaborating with her colleagues and partners for an improved park system through forest restoration, built and natural green infrastructure installation, and understanding their efficacy. Lately, what has made her smile is seeing the growth of the urban forests and meadows that she and her colleagues seeded a decade ago. These new ecosystems are necessary for us as humans; they filter air, store carbon AND have been proven to make us joyful!

   Campaigns Co-Chair - Debra Smit    I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by the beauty of our natural environment, from the mountains of western Pennsylvania to summers at the Jersey Shore. This passion informed my engagement through the years as an advocate for environment issues both as a volunteer and now professionally. I am currently Communications Manager for the Breathe Project in Pittsburgh, an organization comprised of 25 environmental organizations in SWPA working to improve regional air quality. In this role, I work directly with local environmental advocates on campaigns, creating communications and messaging around these campaigns. I’ve worked as a daily newspaper reporter and freelance journalist for more than 25 years, was the founding associate editor of NEXTpittsburgh and have been a frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Magazine and Crain’s Pittsburgh. My work has appeared in Fast Company, OZY, The Washington Post and Time-Life Books.

Campaigns Co-Chair - Debra Smit

I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by the beauty of our natural environment, from the mountains of western Pennsylvania to summers at the Jersey Shore. This passion informed my engagement through the years as an advocate for environment issues both as a volunteer and now professionally. I am currently Communications Manager for the Breathe Project in Pittsburgh, an organization comprised of 25 environmental organizations in SWPA working to improve regional air quality. In this role, I work directly with local environmental advocates on campaigns, creating communications and messaging around these campaigns. I’ve worked as a daily newspaper reporter and freelance journalist for more than 25 years, was the founding associate editor of NEXTpittsburgh and have been a frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Magazine and Crain’s Pittsburgh. My work has appeared in Fast Company, OZY, The Washington Post and Time-Life Books.

   Outreach Co-Chair - Laura Micco    Growing up, Laura Micco never played inside not when there were acres and acres of woods surrounding her family's house in rural Ohio. That's how she first became connected to the natural world. For the last eight years, she's helped children make their own discoveries about nature and ecology as an educator at the Environmental Charter School (ECS) adjacent to Pittsburgh's Frick Park, where she's taught environmental science at every grade level, kindergarten through eighth grade. Today, Micco supports ECS teachers as an instructional coach, a role that earned the extrovert a 2016 Carnegie Science Award. Among her accomplishments: working with teachers to develop project-based, integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) lessons, and a Get Outside campaign that inspired her peers to log more than 1,500 outdoor experiences with students in a single school year.

Outreach Co-Chair - Laura Micco

Growing up, Laura Micco never played inside not when there were acres and acres of woods surrounding her family's house in rural Ohio. That's how she first became connected to the natural world. For the last eight years, she's helped children make their own discoveries about nature and ecology as an educator at the Environmental Charter School (ECS) adjacent to Pittsburgh's Frick Park, where she's taught environmental science at every grade level, kindergarten through eighth grade. Today, Micco supports ECS teachers as an instructional coach, a role that earned the extrovert a 2016 Carnegie Science Award. Among her accomplishments: working with teachers to develop project-based, integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) lessons, and a Get Outside campaign that inspired her peers to log more than 1,500 outdoor experiences with students in a single school year.

   Outreach Co-Chair - Lauren Palamara    Greetings! My name is Lauren and I am born and raised in Pittsburgh. I received my bachelor's degree from IUP and my Master of Education from Edinboro (near Erie, Pa). For the past 8 years, I have worked in the field of education. While the bulk of my experience lies in k/1 science education, I have also taught outdoor and environmental education to children in grades 4-8, and have a deep passion for this type of work. I feel fortunate to work at the Environmental Charter School where I am given full creative freedom over my curriculum, and have worked hard throughout the years to instill in my students positive attitudes toward the environment, critical thinking skills, and confidence to follow their passions. I am eager to utilize the knowledge I gained from the Climate Reality Leadership Training to positively influence members of our school community and greater Pittsburgh Community to take action on Climate Change!

Outreach Co-Chair - Lauren Palamara

Greetings! My name is Lauren and I am born and raised in Pittsburgh. I received my bachelor's degree from IUP and my Master of Education from Edinboro (near Erie, Pa). For the past 8 years, I have worked in the field of education. While the bulk of my experience lies in k/1 science education, I have also taught outdoor and environmental education to children in grades 4-8, and have a deep passion for this type of work. I feel fortunate to work at the Environmental Charter School where I am given full creative freedom over my curriculum, and have worked hard throughout the years to instill in my students positive attitudes toward the environment, critical thinking skills, and confidence to follow their passions. I am eager to utilize the knowledge I gained from the Climate Reality Leadership Training to positively influence members of our school community and greater Pittsburgh Community to take action on Climate Change!

   Speakers Bureau Chair - Perry Recker    Perry has been a Climate Reality presenter and leader since 2006, and a mentor since 2013. He has also been a member of the Citizens' Climate Lobby since 2010. Perry lived in the City of Pittsburgh from 1978 - 1996, and in South Hills since 2015. He grew up in small-town-suburb of Chicago -- Lansing, IL. Perry majored in philosophy at Trinity Christian College (1966-1971) and studied history of science and western civilization in Toronto Canada (1971-77) earning a M.Phil degree. Perry translated first party platform of the CDA, Netherlands into English (Not By Bread Alone (1978) and worked in campus ministry. Perry continued his graduate studies in Pittsburgh earning a Master of Library Science degree in 1986 followed by serving as a librarian for Semester at Sea in the spring of 1988. He continued to read and study information theory while working in academic libraries in Pittsburgh and City Colleges of Chicago, IL until 2015 when he retired from library work and moved to Jefferson Hills, PA and enrolled in the Osher Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Today, Perry is enjoying his retirement as a self-employed library and information research consultant and as a Treekeeper (IL) and Tree Tender (Pittsburgh area). He has served as a member of the board and as a volunteer coordinator for the A.W. Robertson Arboretum in Pleasant Hills, PA since 2016.

Speakers Bureau Chair - Perry Recker

Perry has been a Climate Reality presenter and leader since 2006, and a mentor since 2013. He has also been a member of the Citizens' Climate Lobby since 2010. Perry lived in the City of Pittsburgh from 1978 - 1996, and in South Hills since 2015. He grew up in small-town-suburb of Chicago -- Lansing, IL. Perry majored in philosophy at Trinity Christian College (1966-1971) and studied history of science and western civilization in Toronto Canada (1971-77) earning a M.Phil degree. Perry translated first party platform of the CDA, Netherlands into English (Not By Bread Alone (1978) and worked in campus ministry. Perry continued his graduate studies in Pittsburgh earning a Master of Library Science degree in 1986 followed by serving as a librarian for Semester at Sea in the spring of 1988. He continued to read and study information theory while working in academic libraries in Pittsburgh and City Colleges of Chicago, IL until 2015 when he retired from library work and moved to Jefferson Hills, PA and enrolled in the Osher Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Today, Perry is enjoying his retirement as a self-employed library and information research consultant and as a Treekeeper (IL) and Tree Tender (Pittsburgh area). He has served as a member of the board and as a volunteer coordinator for the A.W. Robertson Arboretum in Pleasant Hills, PA since 2016.