Sewickley resident to lead riverfront planning organization

Monday, July 8, 2019 | 6:00 AM

After a nationwide search, the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Riverlife selected Sewickley resident Matthew Galluzzo as its president and chief executive officer.

Riverlife, founded in 1999, works to implement a community vision for Pittsburgh’s riverfront areas, including trails, parks, public spaces and real estate. Galluzzo, who currently serves as executive director of Lawrenceville Corp., will begin his new appointment Sept. 16.

“While I have thoroughly enjoyed my work in Lawrencevillle, and I believe that the Lawrenceville Corp. represents the very essence of a responsible, strategic and innovative (approach) to enriching place, the opportunity to serve Riverlife — to shape the future of our one shared asset — is an incredible and undeniable privilege,” Galluzzo told the Sewickley Herald.

Riverlife’s search committee fielded hundreds of applications for the CEO position from candidates throughout the country, according to Peg McCormick Barron, chair of Riverlife’s board of directors. The board unanimously voted to hire Galluzzo.

“Matt’s remarkable accomplishments in one of (the) fastest-growing riverfront neighborhoods in the city, combined with his knowledge, leadership and heart for community-driven development, made him easily stand out as the perfect fit for the next chapter of Riverlife,” Barron said.

In his current role, Galluzzo facilitated more than $200 million in public and private investment in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. He also worked with Pittsburgh City Planning to establish the citywide Riverfront Zoning District and oversaw the implementation of the first community land trust in Western Pennsylvania, according to the Riverlife press release.

“Although it’s hard for any organization to lose an executive director like Matt, we are thrilled for him and excited for our region and its riverfronts as he steps into his new role with Riverlife,” said Lauren Byrne Connelly, Lawrenceville Corp. board chair.

Galluzzo discussed some priorities he will help address in his new role at Riverlife. Historically, he said, the organization has focused on developing a 15-mile loop of interconnected parks, open space and real estate centered around downtown Pittsburgh.

Riverlife projects have included the Mon Wharf Landing park and switchback trail connecting it to the Smithfield Street Bridge, as well as South Shore Riverfront Park at SouthSide Works.

While the original interconnected loop is 80% to 85% complete, “there are still remaining gaps in places like the Strip District and South Side that we’re looking to fill so there’s a seamless experience for riverfront users,” Galluzzo said in an email. “We continue to advance a vision for a riverfront park and improvements in the Strip, and also revisit ‘first generation’ riverfront projects that are now 20+ years old and could use a refresh.”

Galluzzo said other priorities include making the riverfront accessible across the ability spectrum and working with stakeholders — including public entities, property owners, developers, community groups and nonprofits — to develop a plan for maintaining existing parks and improvements.

“The rivers not only physically define Pittsburgh, but they serve as a fitting metaphor for the city right now: unique with incredible promise and potential, grand in both presence and spectacle, constantly in fluid change and a little rough around the edges,” Galluzzo said. “Riverlife is an essential part of that fabric. I relish the challenge to lead such a vital part of our community.”