2008 – Meg Cheever & Christina Schmidlapp

Schmidlapp CheeverThe Allegheny City Society is pleased to present two Rimmel Awards this year. The first goes to Meg Cheever, the CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Established in 1996, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is the non-profit partner to the city of Pittsburgh and the community for the protection, restoration, maintenance and improvement of Pittsburgh’s parks. It has completed 7 major capital projects in partnership with the city, and runs numerous park programs, special events and volunteer stewardship activities.

For the last eleven years, Meg Cheever has been its President and CEO. Meg played a founding role in establishing the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and has been responsible for introducing and implementing a strategic management approach to that organization as well as to the parks management efforts of the public private partnership for parks jointly developed by the Conservancy and the city. This has included the introduction of innovative business management practices, as well as innovative improvements in ecological restoration and management.

Meg’s qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in the History of Art and a law degree from Boston University School of Law. Meg completed the Harvard Business School’s program on Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Non-Profit Organizations in 2005. Meg spent 18 years at WQED in Pittsburgh, serving as General Counsel through 1991 and Publisher of WQED-owned Pittsburgh magazine from 1991 -1997. During Meg’s tenure as publisher, the magazine received the City and Regional Magazine Association’s gold medal for general excellence, the highest national award given a city magazine. Meg is currently on the boards of the City Parks Alliance based in Washington, D.C. and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

Any spare time is spent enjoying life with her husband George, a lawyer at the K&L Gates firm, and their three grown children. Interests include traveling, reading and walking in the parks.

It is my privilege to present the Allegheny City Society’s 2008 William Rimmel Award to Meg Cheever. The second 2008 Rimmel Award goes to Christina Schmidlapp.

Christina’s interest in Allegheny Commons began when she moved into 910 Cedar Ave. in 1981 where she lived with her husband Ellis for 13 years, before moving to Allegheny West where they resided until 2000. Daughters Emily and Jane, now 21 and 19, used the Martin Luther King playground daily and often visited the outdoor bird pens of the Aviary on walks through the park. (John Canning’s daughters, Rachel and Jenny, were favorite babysitters.) For several years, Christina planted and maintained the Western PA Conservancy’s flowerbed, first in front of Allegheny General Hospital and then, at the corner of North Ave. and Brighton Rd

. In the late 1980s, the community had secured City Historic District designation for the park and Christina was involved in protecting its trees, with support from the Garden Club of Allegheny County. Grant funding in the early 1990s allowed for the production of the park Visitors Guide, a study of the park’s history by Eliza Brown, tree pruning and labeling, and seed money for a park master plan. In 1999, the Allegheny Commons Steering Committee was created to produce a complete park master plan, overseen by the Ed Brandt and Donna Allison at the Northside Leadership Conference. After a two-year process, the plan was completed in 2002. Christina served on the steering committee and in 2004, became Project Director, supported by Northside businesses who agreed to underwrite operating costs. Subsequent work in the park consisted of continued tree planting and care and the completion of the East Common Pilot Project to test the recommendations of the master plan.

In 2000, the Schmidlapp family moved to Schenley Farms in Oakland, a historic district for which Christina prepared the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places as her first assignment at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation in 1981.

Christina is a native of Sewickley. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in history and attended Harvard University’s summer program in Urban Planning at the Graduate School of Design.