We catch up with Jayne Miller five months into her job as President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy — and just in time for summer. A leading international public park expert, Miller came to Pittsburgh from Minnesota, where she was superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Under her leadership, the Minneapolis Parks system was named #1 in the U.S. by the Trust for Public Land five times. She reversed decades of chronic underfunding and was devoted to racial and economic equity.
In October, she’s heading to Melbourne, Australia to deliver the keynote address at the World Urban Parks Congress. We’re lucky to have her in Pittsburgh.
What upcoming events are you excited to attend?
I am excited to continue to explore the city and our parks. As an active cyclist, I love to discover Pittsburgh’s different communities on my bike. I especially love to see how people use our parks.
I look forward to going to more events in our parks from concerts to movies to nature walks; going on hikes, exploring new places to eat, and taking in more theatre, opera and of course, catching those Steelers and Pens in action!
Best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the people I work with every day – the Parks Conservancy staff, board members and volunteers as well as partner agencies who are so passionate about our work and our parks.
What would you like your legacy in Pittsburgh to be?
I want to leave a legacy of improving the lives of ALL Pittsburghers through parks. I want to be able to provide all residents with the ability to get to a quality park within a 10-minute walk; improve the health and wellbeing of Pittsburghers by providing easy access to trails and parks, restoring the quality of park amenities such as basketball courts, tennis courts, sports fields and expanding active recreational opportunities; improve the air we all breath by expanding our urban tree canopy; and help solve the stormwater challenges by using our parks for the natural solution to stormwater management.
What is your favorite park and why?
The Adirondack Park in upstate New York holds a very special place in my heart. It is where I grew up spending countless hours camping, hiking, swimming, skiing, boating and simply exploring the massive park as a child. It is where I developed my love of the outdoors; it connects me back to my roots and my family.
Podcast you’re addicted to?
Do you live near a park and how do you incorporate the space into your life?
Of course! One of the requirements in finding a place to live in Pittsburgh when I moved from Minneapolis was I needed to live near a park. I walk, bike and/or drive through Highland Park every day. Parks and green space restore my soul. For me, parks are about coming home emotionally, physically, psychologically and physiologically. They ground me.
What’s your big idea for Pittsburgh?
Making Pittsburgh parks the envy of cities around the world; making our park system the best, the #1 park system in the United States.
What book is on your nightstand or in your e-reader right now?
“Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance” by Mark Whitaker.
Write three words to describe Pittsburgh:
Welcoming — Friendly — Proud.
What song in your playlist is on endless repeat?
“September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Where will we find you on a Sunday morning?
On my bike.
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