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Environmental Charter School taps Patrick Dowd as CEO after founder’s retirement

Ryan Lowe
90.5 WESA

Patrick Dowd is stepping away from his role as Allegheny County’s acting health director to take over as the Environmental Charter School’s next CEO, according to a June 17 announcement.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced on June 24 that Dr. Iulia Vann will follow Dowd later this summer after a brief interim headed by Dr. Barbara Nightingale. Dowd’s last day with the ACHD will be July 9.

The ECS announcement, sent on behalf of board president Adam Tobias, said “our stakeholders were uniformly effusive in praising Dr. Dowd’s experience, curiosity, and student-focused concern as he met adults and students alike.”

Dowd also served as the inaugural executive director at Allies for Children and as the 7th district’s city council representative from 2008-2013. His experience in education includes a term on the Pittsburgh Board of Education and posts teaching history at the Winchester Thurston and Ellis schools. He officially starts at ECS on July 15th.

In a prepared statement, Dowd said he has cherished his time spent teaching the most throughout his career.

“My experiences have always connected me to education whether they were through policy and advocacy or teaching in the classroom,” Dowd said. “I am a long standing school choice advocate, and I know from my own experience of having 6 children that education is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

Dowd’s appointment at ECS follows founding CEO and Principal John McCann’s decision to retire this year after 16 years with the school.

ECS is one of Pittsburgh's largest charter schools, with over 1000 students enrolled and 200 staff members across four buildings, accommodating grades K–12. The school's mission is "to educate each student to high academic standards using innovative curricula that will foster knowledge, love of, and respect for the environment and preserve it for future generations."

The school’s first class of high school seniors graduated last month on June 7.

Lane Moore is an intern at 90.5 WESA. They are a senior at Ohio University studying journalism and sociology, and their reporting is published in Print Newspaper, Southeast Ohio Magazine, and