Lisa Schroeder will be the first woman to lead one of the region's oldest and most powerful community philanthropies.
The 62-year-old nonprofit executive joins the Pittsburgh Foundation from the Parks & People Foundation in Baltimore, where she served as the group's second-ever president and CEO. She succeeds Maxwell King, who has served as president of the Pittsburgh Foundation since 2014.
“Max is not only a friend, but a mentor,” Schroeder tells 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence. “I have watched the trajectory of so many positive things happening in Pittsburgh over the last few years, and it's a thrill to be able to come back and participate.”
Schroeder previously served as head of Riverlife, a public-private partnership established in 1999 to guide and advocate for redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. Both Riverlife and the Parks & People Foundation supported environmental causes—a mantel Schroeder says she hopes to continue in her new position.
"Nonprofit organizations, particularly small service organizations that are on the ground, are under more and more pressure to find resources to support the good work that they do,” she says, “and so community foundations, I believe, have a more important role in Pittsburgh and this country than ever before."
Schroeder says she's strongly supportive about the mission and initiatives already in place at the Pittsburgh Foundation—including acquiring new donors, grant-making strategies and its work around poverty—but that she also has a lot to learn. She says she’s hoping to kickoff a series of community conversations, similar to those she once spearheaded at Riverlife, "where people with differing opinions can come together in a safe place to have conversations about things that matter.”
“That tradition is very precious to me,” she says, “and I believe it's precious to Pittsburgh.”
The hiring process included the vetting of more than 100 candidates, according to the foundation. Board chair Edith Shapira said in a release that Schroeder’s Pittsburgh roots and “remarkable talent for bringing together stakeholders across a wide range of business, ideological and political interests to benefit the entire community” put her over the edge.
Schroeder says she’s thrilled to be the first woman to serve as president, noting that Shapira is also the first female board chair.
“The Pittsburgh Foundation has a very long history of enriching people's lives through health, human service, the arts—so many ways to make the condition of people's lives better, to do their best for as many people as possible,” she says. “That is an awe-inspiring challenge, and I'm excited to take it up."
King was one of Riverlife’s founders and served as its board chair when Schroeder was hired as president in 2002. She later served as director on the Pittsburgh Foundation's 17-member board from 2008 through 2011.
A full interview with Schroeder will air on The Confluence Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
UPDATED: 10:13 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. WESA receives funding from the Pittsburgh Foundation.