Healthy ecology, healthy community

Dam in stream

About UpstreamPgh

Climate change is having an impact across the globe. Here, in our urban environment, these shifts are felt in our neighborhoods, parks and backyards. This is why we work to combat the effects of it, from managing excessive stormwater flows, to pollutants in our water, soil and air, and to connect each other with the environment to create positive change. From large green infrastructure projects that divert and infiltrate thousands of gallons of stormwater to residential projects that keep basements dry while providing beautiful native landscaping, UpstreamPgh has become the region’s leading resource for water management. Our heritage in Nine Mile Run, coupled with hundreds of projects via StormWorks, provides our community with hands-on, brains-on solutions.

In 2021, to recognize our proactive approach to stormwater problem-solving and its impact across the region, we became UpstreamPgh. Together, we are working to address the environmental problems that are happening in our communities by thinking, speaking and acting upstream. We invite you to join us.

What we do

We work to connect people with nature for a positive impact on the environment. From schoolchildren to municipal leaders, scientists to citizens, volunteers to homeowners, a healthy community starts with education, outreach and engagement.

Learn more about our initiatives and the projects that bring engagement to life.


Our watershed, our stream, our urban tree canopy, our ecosystem. They all deserve a voice. We work to advance new ideas that create change by advocating for policies and practices that further the health of our environment.

Learn more about our initiatives and the projects that bring advocacy to life.


As a regional leader in stormwater management, we work with municipalities, homeowners, private organizations and public entities on services and infrastructure projects that are effective, environmentally responsible and yes, beautiful.

Learn more about our initiatives and the projects that bring plan/build to life.

Vision, Mission & Strategy
path next to stream


We envision a region with clean water accessible to all, healthy and resilient communities, and ecosystems restored to their natural functions.


We restore and protect our watershed ecosystem, while working regionally to support and implement resilient solutions for a healthier urban environment.


We build capacity for community members to become the stewards of, and advocates for, our watershed.

We advocate regionally for policies and funding for sustainable water management strategies that prioritize clean water for all in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

We implement green infrastructure projects throughout our watershed, while working to educate public officials, community members and young people.

Learn more: 2020-2023 Strategic Plan

Brenda Lynn Smith, Executive Director, UpstreamPgh

Brenda Lynn Smith

Executive Director


Brenda Smith joined UpstreamPgh as Executive Director in January 2008. During her tenure, the organization completed the Rain Barrel Initiative and the Wilkinsburg TreeVitalize 500 Trees project, built and maintained some of the first large-scale green stormwater infrastructure facilities in Pittsburgh, became a founding member of the Our Water Campaign, and continued to steward and monitor the Nine Mile Run Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration in Frick Park. In 2011, she initiated the StormWorks fee-for-service program, which generates nearly a third of the organization’s income.

Over the two decades prior to coming on board, Brenda helped nonprofit groups as diverse as humanitarian aid organizations and arts ensembles with strategic planning, board development, fundraising and management challenges. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Brenda traveled around the world four times through Semester-at-Sea and studied at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. In 1989, she co-founded Global Links, a nonprofit organization that channels surplus supplies from hospitals in Western Pennsylvania to hospitals and clinics serving the poor in Latin America; she served as President of Global Links for ten years. She lives in Squirrel Hill with her wife, Rosemary Welsch, their dog, Ruby, and cat, Omar.

Mike Hiller, Assistant Director, UpstreamPgh

Mike Hiller

Assistant Director


Mike Hiller rejoined UpstreamPgh in 2019 as the Assistant Director after previously serving as the Director of Policy and Outreach. He has 15 years of experience working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Mike is a passionate climate justice advocate and Regenerative Practitioner and brings the frameworks and principles of regenerative development to UpstreamPgh. This approach calls for co-developing living systems that integrate people, nature and the built environment in our watershed communities. Mike moved to Pittsburgh from upstate NY, where he received his Master of Arts in Geography with a Graduate Certificate in GIS + Spatial Analytics from the University at Albany. When not at work, he can be found with his wife, Haley, his son, Myles, and their rescue Pitbull, Layla. He stays busy renovating his 120-year-old house, studying and practicing permaculture and hunting for the perfect slice of pizza.


Kelsey Small

Chief Financial Officer, Environmental Finance Collaborative

Kelsey Small is the shared Chief Financial Officer for the Environmental Finance Collaborative with financial responsibilities for four additional organizations: Allegheny County Conservation District, Construction Junction, Grounded Strategies and Tree Pittsburgh. Kelsey is responsible for providing strategic financial management and oversight for financial operations, accounting, financial analysis, reporting and planning. Prior to joining UpstreamPgh in 2019, Kelsey worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art, where she oversaw financial, fundraising and organizational planning initiatives. Kelsey holds a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. When not at work, Kelsey can be found hiking, gardening and enjoying sweet treats from her kitchen or other local bakeries.


Jan Raether

Watershed Programs Manager


As Watershed Programs Manager, Jan is responsible for working with watershed communities on issues of stormwater, urban forestry, monitoring data and the restoration area. Jan grew up in Pittsburgh’s east end neighborhoods and regards Frick Park and the Nine Mile Run restoration area as inspiration for his career in the environmental field. Passionate about environmental justice, equity and sustainable natural resource management, Jan finds purpose and fulfillment throughout the community and with each individual he interacts with.

Jan spent a few years away from “home” while studying at the University of Oregon, responding to natural disasters with Americorps, and restoring salmon habitat in Northern California. Back in Pittsburgh since 2018, Jan spends his free time watching birds, taking pictures, fostering dogs and tending to their urban “homestead” with his partner and their dog, Forest.


Lindsey-Rose Flowers

Community Engagement Manager


Rose joined the team in October of 2015. She attended Oberlin College, completing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology. During her time at Oberlin, she served on the staff of an ecological wastewater treatment facility, the “Living Machine.” She went on to earn a Master of Science in Sustainability at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. While at ASU, she served as a Fellow in the National Science Foundation’s GK-12 Program as part of the Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools initiative. Lindsey-Rose coordinates our community outreach efforts, environmental education programs, stewardship events in the restoration area and regular monthly water quality monitoring. In her free time, Rose can be found throwing stoneware pottery, cooking and baking, tackling needlepoint projects, spending quality time with her family and taking every opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.


Aaron Birdy

Programs Assistant


Aaron joined UpstreamPgh as an intern in January of 2020 after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a certificate in GIS and Remote Sensing from the University of Pittsburgh. With a focus in GIS and a passion for sustainable infrastructure, Aaron found a perfect fit at our organization working on a GIS study that highlights locations for green stormwater infrastructure projects within our watershed through an environmental justice lens. Aaron joined the team full time in October of 2020 as our Programs Assistant helping with Communications, GIS, Monitoring and Residential GSI programs. Outside of work, Aaron likes cooking vegetarian meals, tasting local craft beers, hiking and helping out on his father’s hemp farm with his partner, Lauren.


Taylor Wilkerson

Operations Coordinator


Taylor joined UpstreamPgh in April 2021. A California native, Taylor originally studied Theatre Design and Production for her Bachelors at UCLA, but quickly moved into human services nonprofit administration while trying to make her technical theatre dreams come true. Eventually, after a cross-country move and stage managing quite a few shows both in Los Angeles and New York City, she decided that she was going to merge her two work loves. Taylor then moved to Pittsburgh in 2016 to study for her Masters of Arts Management at Carnegie Mellon. Since graduating, she has been working in the nonprofit education sphere, and is very excited to find the next leg of her administrative journey at UpstreamPgh. In her spare time, Taylor likes playing way too many video games, watching Star Trek with her husband, Matt, talking to dogs in dumb voices, and taking care of her plant babies both at home and in the office. She’s also a big fan of a well-crafted Excel spreadsheet.


Evan Burbridge

Landscape Designer


Evan joined UpStreamPgh in April of 2021 and moved to Pittsburgh in 2020 from Los Angeles, CA. He has a Masters and Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Idaho. His previous work experience involved designing active transportation such as bike facilities and multi-use paths. Evan also has over five years of experience doing residential, commercial, and institutional landscape design using a “native plant” focus and best management practices. Having grown up in the West and practicing landscape design in an arid region, he has learned the importance of designing for the local ecology and efficiently utilizing precious resources. Evan most recently worked for Gruen Associates where he developed large scale projects along the Los Angeles River, as part of a larger vision to revitalize and return the river to a naturalized state. Evan currently works as a project manager for UpStreamPgh, overseeing the project’s design and implementation. For fun, Evan enjoys biking and is a passionate bike advocate.


Leslie Centola

Community Organization and Social Action (COSA) Intern


Leslie joined UpstreamPgh in the fall of 2020 as an intern from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Social Work degree with a concentration in Community Organization and Social Action (COSA). In 2005, she graduated from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology concentrating in Habilitation Services. Leslie grew up on the coast of North Carolina but spent most of her early career in the North Carolina mountains. Having over a decade of experience working in the community, Leslie brings experience from the field of community support and mental health including working with youth, adults, and families involved in social service systems in a variety of settings such as private homes, communities, schools, group homes and foster care settings, correctional facilities, and hospitals. Her most recent position was Community Residential Rehabilitation Supervisor with Milestone Centers in Wilkinsburg. In her free time, she enjoys being in nature, gardening, knitting, music, and traveling.

Board of Directors

We are deeply grateful for the many community members who have generously given their time and talents over the last 20 years as member of our Board of Directors. Board members can serve two consecutive three-year terms, during which they oversee and support UpstreamPgh operations, determine the future strategic direction of the organization and bring a variety of resources to support our work.

We are always looking for candidates with experience and skills in financial management, fundraising, law, small business, environmental science, engineering and landscape architecture. We are striving to achieve greater racial diversity to better reflect the population of our communities.

2021 Board of Directors

Heather Dodson, President
Senior Manager, Client Services
Local Office Leader
Brown and Caldwell

Joseph Fedor, Vice President
Environmental Scientist

Claudia Saladin, Secretary
Senior Project Manager
evolve environment::architecture

Keith Roeper, Treasurer
Director, Finance and Controller
Robert Morris University

Louis Ammon
Laboratory and Compliance Manager
Wilkinsburg Penn Joint Water Authority

Tom Batroney P.E.
Senior Technical Director, AKRF

Christopher Corbett
Planner, Department of City Planning
City of Pittsburgh

Scott Fingal
Principal and Co-Owner
Behar Fingal

Ana Flores, EIT
Associate Project Manager, PWSA

Yvonne James
Owner, James Floral

Mary Kostalos
Professor of Biology Emeritus
Chatham University

Zinna Scott
Community Volunteer
Board Member, Operation Better Block

Amy Silbermann
Director of Planning
Port Authority of Allegheny County

Janis Tucker
Senior Vice President,
The PNC Financial Services Group

Daniel Cody
Director of Leadership and Legacy Giving
Human Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh

Brenda Lynn Smith, ex officio
Executive Director

Kelsey Small, ex officio
CFO, Environmental Finance Collaborative