Programs Team Intern
A former captain in the United States Army, Blaise graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2015 and served as a logistics officer for five years. In his most recent role prior to transitioning from the military and joining Sustainable Pittsburgh, Blaise was an Operations Manager within the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.
Blaise developed a strong interest in sustainability initiatives during his military career. He sought to minimize inefficiencies and waste within the Army’s supply system and oftentimes served as his unit’s Environmental Officer. His proudest achievement in sustainable work came while serving as a Maintenance Control Officer when he conserved over $5 million of his team’s budget through the Army’s Exchange Pricing Program, a credit-based recycling program for supply items and maintenance parts.
Meredith’s appreciation for the natural environment is what led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Sustainability from Chatham University. With nearly 20 years’ experience in hospitality, Meredith has developed a deep appreciation for the complexities of the industry. This expertise coupled with her educational background provide a foundation for her to create meaningful event experiences with a low environmental impact. Through her work she hopes to be able to inspire positive change with effective strategy and communication.
Passionate about sustainable living, Meredith makes her own soaps and other natural household products in an effort to create a home environment void of toxins and help keep plastic waste out of the oceans. Meredith is passionate about traveling and spending time in nature hiking, kayaking, and camping.
Kelsy Black’s marketing and communications work is driven by a passion for good storytelling. Originally from Nashville, TN, she has enjoyed the professional opportunity to tell stories all over the world, traveling from Texas to South Africa, from Israel to Pittsburgh. Before working with Sustainable Pittsburgh, Kelsy was a marketing and design consultant for a variety of local Pittsburgh-area nonprofits. Prior to consulting, she worked in television production, helping to write, produce, and complete over 200 television spots and special programs. Kelsy obtained her B.A. in Communication Studies and Advertising from Lee University. In her personal life, she extends her design experience to sustainable fashion, with a goal of making her wardrobe 100% handmade or reclaimed.
Neil Brown, Ph.D.
Policy and Equity Specialist
Dr. Neil Brown joined Sustainable Pittsburgh in 2020 as the Policy and Equity Specialist. He focuses on identifying and activating practices that support equity and sustainability in our region. His work at Sustainable Pittsburgh is complemented by his role at UrbanKind Institute where he serves as a researcher and project manager for the Equitable and Just Platform for Pittsburgh (EJPP). Prior to arriving in Pittsburgh in 2007, Dr. Brown was an Assistant Professor at Penn State University where he directed international education, research and outreach programs in South Africa and Jamaica. These programs were focused on sustainability and the relationship between nature and society. Dr. Brown continues to engage with academia by teaching part-time at Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh and Chatham University.
Rebecca joined Sustainable Pittsburgh in 2014 to develop and lead the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program. Through this performance program, she works with restaurants throughout the Pittsburgh region to gain recognition for their sustainability efforts, improve sustainability performance, and catalyze change within the regional food system.
Rebecca comes to Sustainable Pittsburgh as a 2014 graduate of the Duquesne MBA Sustainability program. Prior to returning for her MBA, Rebecca was also the sole owner and operator of a small, local granola production company, Heart of the Earth. By generating almost zero waste and sourcing products locally, Heart of the Earth was designed with sustainable values at its core and distributed through Pittsburgh area farmers markets. Rebecca also possesses approximately two decades of experience working in the restaurant industry through various capacities.
Rebecca obtained her B.A. in Psychology from The Ohio State University, then went on to complete her teaching certification through The University of Georgia. Prior to returning to school to earn her MBA, she was an educator for eleven years.
Rebecca is a Steering Committee member with Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, a member of the Project Team for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Action Plan, an Advisory Committee member of the Hilltop Urban Farm, and also serves on the Steering Committee of the Restaurant Opportunities Center’s Behind the Kitchen Door project.
Alexis Henry is the Administrative Assistant for Sustainable Pittsburgh. A Pennsylvania native, Alexis first moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 to pursue a History degree at Pitt. During this time, she fell in love with the art and culture of Pittsburgh, only leaving to complete an MA in Museum Studies at UCL. Back in PA, Alexis managed an art gallery until transitioning into her non-profit career. Alexis likes to practice sustainability every day by supporting local farmers, buying second-hand, and eliminating plastic usage by owning a multitude of jars.
Director of Programs
Gina Johnson is the director of programs at Sustainable Pittsburgh, responsible for advancing programs that align the region’s environmental, social and governance needs through business sustainability practices. Previously she was a corporate social responsibility analyst at BNY Mellon, involved in global CSR strategy and reporting according to GRI guidelines.
Gina serves as president of the Pennsylvania Solar Center Board, chair of the American Solar Energy Society’s Fellows Board Committee, and as chief sustainability officer of the nonprofit Blue Stream Farms, a K-12 learning platform to advance STEAM concepts and Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice through aquaponics. She has been named a Fellow of the American Solar Energy Society and received Duquesne University’s inaugural Excellence in MBA Sustainable Business Practices award.
Assistant Programs Manager
Carol is the Assistant Programs Manager at Sustainable Pittsburgh, where she supports the planning and execution of the organization’s sustainability performance programs. Prior to this role, she served as the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant Program’s Communications Coordinator and social media specialist. Originally joining Sustainable Pittsburgh as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) Fellow, she supported the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge program (now called Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge) by guiding organizations to complete actions that improved energy efficiency, water usage, waste, and emissions reductions.
Coming from an engineering background focused on packaging sustainability, and a design background in graphic communication, Carol thrives on collaborations in problem solving and creative presentation. She is an active member of the: Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP), Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Trailblazer Non-Profit Community Group. She is a fan of continuous learning, especially about sustainability! This includes personal interests in circularity, zero-waste, biomimicry, and sustainable packaging design research.
Carol is also a certified LEED Green Associate and a member of the Churchill Area Environmental Council. The Council serves the municipalities of Chalfont, Churchill, Forest Hills, and Wilkins. As a local community advocate, she educates her neighbors about sustainability issues and advises ways in which they can take small (or big!) steps to help improve their local surroundings and quality of life. In her free time on weekends, she enjoys visiting local farmers markets, volunteering, and delivering meals and smiles to her senior neighbors!
Dr. Joylette Portlock is the Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, a nonprofit working to advance sustainability policies and practices in southwestern Pennsylvania. Sustainable Pittsburgh regularly works with hundreds of partners in the region — including local governments, nonprofits, and the business community — to ensure our economy is built to last and that our people and our planet thrive. Prior to her role at Sustainable Pittsburgh, Dr. Portlock served as Associate Director of Science and Research at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and as Executive Director of Communitopia, a nonprofit based in Pittsburgh that focuses on climate change communication. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in anthropology from MIT and a Ph.D. in genetics from Stanford University.
Her work focuses on building community around sustainability topics, with a particular interest in making important scientific, technical or complex information accessible and useful. Dr. Portlock has worked on environmental issues at the local, state, and federal level, and also currently serves on the Allegheny County Board of Health. She was an advisor to Project Drawdown, and serves in many other roles in the community, including as an advisory board member of the Black Environmental Collective. Dr. Portlock has lived and worked in the Pittsburgh region since 2007.
Jim Price joined Sustainable Pittsburgh in February of 2016 to work with municipalities in measuring and enhancing their performance in the policies and practices of sustainability. He manages the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification program, a statewide performance recognition program for municipalities managed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Municipal League and he organizes and facilitates the Sustainable Community Development Network, a professional network for municipal, community development, and elected leaders in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Before coming to Sustainable Pittsburgh, Jim acted as the economic development director for a small borough, the policy manager for an innovative urban policy organization and as a coordinator on a Department of Energy solar development project.
Jim holds both a Bachelor of History and of Political Science from Cleveland State University and a Master of International Development with a focus on development planning and environmental sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh.
Director of Finance and Administration
Gary is the Director of Finance and Administration for Sustainable Pittsburgh. Prior to this, he worked as the Operations Manager for the Hollow Oak Land Trust and Director of Programs at the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association. He has also worked as a consultant for the Allegheny County Parks Foundation to develop a plan for mobilizing volunteers and the Allegheny Land Trust to lead them through the process of obtaining accreditation. Gary currently serves as a volunteer in leadership positions for the Friends of North Park and the North Area Environmental Council. Gary is a native of Pittsburgh who spent 20 years working in the corporate sector for organizations such as Mellon Bank, IBM, and Oracle before making a transition into nonprofit management.
Sarah SanGiovanni joined Sustainable Pittsburgh in 2020 to manage workplace performance programs and education. In addition to her role at Sustainable Pittsburgh, Sarah is a fifth-year PhD Candidate in Clark University’s Graduate School of Geography. Her dissertation research examines the extent to and means by which neighborhood governance initiatives shape sustainable development in the Pittsburgh region, with a particular focus on ecodistricts. Prior to her doctoral studies Sarah served as Program Coordinator for the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, a program of the University of Iowa that promotes state-wide sustainability initiatives and university teaching and learning through facilitating community-engaged research partnerships. She holds a Master of Urban Planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and English from Binghamton University.
Sarah’s work is driven by an abiding interest in how organizations and communities can develop and scale innovations for promoting sustainability. In her neighborhood, Sarah enjoys community gardening and serving as a board member for the Millvale Community Library.
Special Projects Coordinator
Ally is a Special Projects Coordinator for Sustainable Pittsburgh, working to coordinate both the efforts of the Plastics Collaborative as well as the Regional Shared Sustainability Measurement Work. Originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania, she received her Bachelor’s in International Business from Elon University in Elon, North Carolina before moving to Pittsburgh to pursue her Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Wearing several hats, Ally is also working as CONNECT’s Regional Recycling Research Coordinator to complete a project to improve recycling in the greater Pittsburgh area.
Ginette Walker Vinski
Director of Communications
Ginette Walker Vinski began her tenure at Sustainable Pittsburgh in 2007 as Communications Manager and in 2015 became Director of Communications. She is responsible for developing and executing the organization’s communications strategy, encompassing public relations, marketing, and events.
Over the years, Ginette has organized several large-scale projects and events with regional nonprofits, academic institutions, local governments, and businesses including: Walls are Bad, a communications campaign that increased interest in outdoor recreation among residents by 23%, and I Am Sustainable Pittsburgh, a competition to make Pittsburgh an even better place to live. She has been interviewed by all major news outlets in the city and appeared multiple times on local programs including KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live.
Prior to her work at Sustainable Pittsburgh, Ginette was an Environmental Program Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Resources Council. While there, she organized the first “Hard to Recycle” collection events for the region and worked with the City of Pittsburgh Office of the Mayor to help draft legislation establishing the Clean Pittsburgh Commission. She served as an appointed member of the commission for two years.
Ginette earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Marketing and IT) from Duquesne University.