Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Board Members & Staff

- Board Members -

The Three Rivers Community Foundation is committed to maintaining the most inclusive governing board in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. Our work is governed, guided, and supported by a talented and diverse volunteer board of directors.  The board is organized around six standing committees, with at least one board member serving on, or co-chairing each committee.  The members of TRCF’s Board of Directors are listed below.

2013-2014 Board Members

Leslie Bachurski — Executive Committee, Vice President; Grantmaking Committee
Jeremy Burnworth — Advancement Committee
Kathy Cameron — Advancement Committee
Kurt Colborn — Advancement Committee
Laura Custer — Finance Committee
Deno De Ciantis — Executive Committee, President; Advancement Committee
Linda Dickerson — Advancement Committee
Chris Gonzalez — Advancement Committee
Alex Heit — Advancement Committee
Harriet C. Jackson — Advancement Committee
Lora Losier — Advancement Committee
Lee Marcuzzi — Executive Committee, Secretary; Advancement Committee; Grantmaking Committee
Gerald E. Smith — Building and Social Change Committee
Kelly Sorice — Co-Chair, Advancement Committee
Craig Stevens — Co-Chair, Building Social Change Committee; Co-Chair, Advancement Committee
Vivian B. Taylor — Co-Chair, Grantmaking Committee

Leslie Bachurski
Leslie Bachurski is the Director of Consumer Navigation & Organizational Development  at the Consumer Health Coalition.  For more than eight years, Leslie has helped hundreds of consumers to access public health programs and free health care services, while strategically working with community members to strengthen advocacy and community organizing efforts.  She is passionate about helping underserved populations access healthcare and has built a reputation as a reliable source for consumers and community partners to call on for help.  Leslie is also responsible for developing new general operating revenue streams and managing the membership campaign of the coalition.  Leslie holds a B.A. in Public Administration and a Certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine from the University of Pittsburgh.  She is a graduate of the Leadership Development Initiative XIV., a program through Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.  She serves on the board of the Three Rivers Community Foundation as the Vice President, along with their Grantmaking Committee. Additionally she is an Advisory Board Member of the Program for Health Care to Underserved Populations.

Jeremy Burnworth
A Fayette County native, Jeremy Burnworth was born and raised in Markleysburg, a small town of 282 people.  Amidst the rural countryside, he proved to be a boy with a great passion for knowledge and culture.  During his teenage years, Jeremy took on a variety of leadership roles in the community, including starting a recycling project for Markleysburg and Henry Clay Township that is still in existence.  Self-taught in the computer industry, Jeremy began Creative Computer Concepts in 1998 after graduating high school.  In 2007 he expanded the business by creating the web development firm Geneva Marketing Group.  Jeremy’s belief in the people and businesses of Fayette County has led him to participate in numerous non-profit groups.  He has devoted hundreds of hours to boards and community endeavors.  He currently sits in a variety of positions on 16 boards of directors in the region, including Adagio Health, the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, Fayette County Coal and Coke Heritage Music Festival, Fayette County Historical Society, Fayette Young Professionals, the State Theatre Center for the Arts, and Uniontown Rotary Club.

Kathy Cameron
Coming soon…

Kurt Colborn
Kurt Colborn
Kurt is a native of Greensburg, PA, and a Physics graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. He comes to TRCF with a long history of involvement in the progressive, pro-feminist men’s movement. Locally, this was as a leader in the Pittsburgh Men’s Collective, and as a board member of the Second Step Program; a counseling program for men who batter. Kurt also served on the Council of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), and was its Treasurer for several years. He was very active in the collaboration of the Men’s Collective and NOMAS to host two national Men and Masculinity Conferences; Pittsburgh in 1989 and Johnstown 1995. Kurt has returned to Pittsburgh after a 10-year hiatus in Ashtabula Ohio, where he was a crisis hotline volunteer. Professionally, Kurt works to shepherd and properly dispose of hazardous and nuclear waste. He lives in Swisshelm Park with his husband Marvin.

Laura Custer
Laura Custer
Laura Custer is a Corporate Banking Associate at PNC Financial Services Group rotating through the Public Finance group. She is originally from Cleveland and currently lives in Mount Washington.  She graduated from Ohio University in 2012, where she developed her true passion for equipping and developing leaders of integrity and character. Utilizing her passion for community service, she has been involved with non-profits as the Treasurer for the Center for Student Legal Services and a volunteer with Junior Achievement. She also worked with a small non-profit in Athens, Ohio called Passion Works, which offered art making opportunities, education, and employment to people with developmental disabilities, practicing artists, and volunteers. She serves on the board of the Three Rivers Community Foundation on the Finance Committee.

Deno De Ciantis

Dr. De Ciantis is the first Director of the Penn State Center:  Engaging Pittsburgh.   His focus is to connect and engage the entire Pennsylvania State University system with local partners.  This initiative pursues active solicitation of stakeholders to identify regional needs and helps to develops key strategic relationships to connect Penn State research and programming with Pittsburgh area corporations, communities, academic institutions, non-profits, and other organizations.  Resources of University Park and commonwealth campuses are used to help provide appropriate solutions to real problems in the areas of sustainability, alternative fuels, community and economic development, corporate research and development, professional development, and more.

He previously, served 15 years as County Extension Director for Penn State Extension of Allegheny County.  Local affiliations include:  past president of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, current president of The Pittsburgh Green Innovators Board, chair of Allegheny County’s Green Team, Duquesne University Century Club of Distinguished Alumni, Autumn House Press Board, Three Rivers Community Foundation Board, numerous Penn State committees, and various other local community initiatives.

He holds an Interdisciplinary Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Duquesne University.

Linda Dickerson
Linda Dickerson is Principal of 501(c)(3)2, a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations.  In previous jobs, she has served as Chief Executive Officer of the Pittsburgh Aviary, Principal of Dickerson & Mangus, Inc., an issues management and communications strategy consulting firm specializing in crisis communications and community affairs, and President of Riverview Publications.  She is the Mayoral Appointee to the City of Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Joint Task Force on Disabilities, and serves as the Director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Board of Trustees.  Amongst the many Boards that she sits on are the Homeless Children Education Fund, Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau, Zoological Society of Pittsburgh, and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Chris Gonzalez
Coming soon…

Alex Heit
Coming soon…

Harriet C. Jackson
Coming soon…

Lora Losier
Coming soon…

Lee Marcuzzi
Lee Marcuzzi started out in the corporate sector, and she has spent the last 15 years working to help those seeking or in recovery, and the LGBTQ community.  She has served on numerous board, including the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh, and of a national organization dedicated to helping recovering alcoholics.  She was chair of the Performance Committee for Pittsburgh’s PrideFest in 2005 and 2006.  She worked as a consultant for GLSEN Pittsburgh from 2008-2011, helping to train thousands of students, parents, and teachers on how to make schools safe for all.  Now, she is working with the Center for Spirituality, helping those with drug and alcohol addictions.  She is the first to volunteer if any organizations needs help in any area, adding her vibrant energy to causes she believes in.

Gerald E. Smith

Gerald is a certified high school math teacher, and has taught in public schools in Missouri, Oregon, Washington State, and now works for a cyber-school based in Pittsburgh. Gerald has also worked with communities in East, and Southern Africa on increasing access to quality education.

Between 2004 and 2008, Gerald took a break from the classroom and became a community organizer with the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO). With NWFCO, Gerald coordinated a national health care coalition focused on eliminating racial disparities in health outcomes, led a successful federal campaign to reauthorize an important health program for low-income children, and worked as a regional campaign manager for the national health care campaign that resulted in the Affordable Care Act. Gerald also led research on living wages jobs. Since coming to Pennsylvania, Gerald has been an active volunteer with local environmental organizations, and the Indiana County Democrats. He received his BA degree from Northwestern University in Mathematics and Philosophy.

Kelly Sorice
Kelly Sorice is an unflappable communications professional with 14 years of experience and a proven record of accomplishment in planning and leading comprehensive, creative communications plans. Her talents include writing, executive communications and serving as a spokesperson during times of crisis. She is skilled at building relationships internally and externally, leading teams and dealing with ambiguity. She is also known for taking initiative and producing results.  Kelly works currently for the West Penn Allegheny Health System, as their Vice President of Communications.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1995, and her Masters of Arts degree in Communications from there in 1996.

Craig Stevens

Craig Stevens, a Pittsburgh resident, has spent most of his adult life serving in volunteer and professional roles as a community organizer and coalition builder around peace, economic, racial, and social justice issues and campaigns at the local, state, and national level.  He currently serves as Coordinator for the Parental Stress Center’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, a program to support people seeking to become more economically self-sufficient and fully engaged members of their community.  Craig is a member of the Board of Directors of Three Rivers Community Foundation, and serves as co-chair of the Building Social Change Committee.  He also serves on the Coordinating Council of The Black and White Reunion.

Vivian B. Taylor
Vivian Taylor, an attorney, is a graduate of Duquesne University School of Law.  Her focus is in Real Estate and Community Development.  While at Duquesne, Vivian was President of the Christian Legal Society at school and Liaison for the evening students for the Black Law Student’s Association. Vivian was an Administrative and Human Resources Manager for over 20 years, mostly for Consulting Environmental Engineering firms.  Vivian fell in love with non-profit work at Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a community development financial institution headquartered in San Francisco, CA.  LIIF issues grants and makes low interest loans to developers who are building providing low income multi-unit housing, child care programs/facilities and charter schools.  Before completing a BSBA and MBA, Vivian studied at University of California, Berkeley (Architecture Student) as well as worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (HVAC and Mechanical Designer).  Currently Vivian is employed as a Human Resources Director and Operations Counsel at United Cerebral Palsy.  She volunteers with and sits on the Board of Christian Legal Aid, where lawyers provide free legal counseling on civil matters for people who do not qualify for county legal aid, nor can afford it themselves.  She has an interest in being on the TRCF Grant Committee because she believes in its major premise – making sure the grantees promote progressive social change.

- Staff -

Nick J. Palazzetti, Ph.D., CFRE
Executive Director
Contact Nick at

Nick J. Palazzetti has 25 years of diverse executive and fund development experience, as well as more than 15 years of work in adult education and social services.

As executive director of the Three Rivers Community Foundation in Pittsburgh, Dr. Palazzetti is responsible for oversight of all aspects of the Foundation’s operations including administration and staff supervision, grantmaking, fundraising, outreach, and public relations and marketing.  Dr. Palazzetti works closely with the working committees of the Board of Directors to ensure effective operation of the foundation and strategic, planned organizational growth.  He also serves as the Foundation’s designated board representative of The Funding Exchange, of which the Three Rivers Community Foundation is a member fund.

In his role with The Bentz Group, a national Fund Counsel Firm, Dr. Palazzetti served as resident campaign director for multi-million dollar capital campaigns throughout the United States.  He also has performed development audits and pre-campaign leadership planning studies for other institutional clients.

Dr. Palazzetti has also served as Director of Development and Planned Giving for PennFuture in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a statewide public policy research and advocacy organization devoted to improving Pennsylvania’s environment and economy.  In Pittsburgh, he was formerly:

•   Vice President of Institutional Development for The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
•   Executive Director for The Bayer Foundation
•   Senior Development Officer for the Pittsburgh Zoo and Zoological Society

In addition, he has provided consulting services to various state and Federal agencies, institutions of higher education, organizations for individuals with disabilities, and other smaller nonprofit agencies.  He also served as a fundraising trainer for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Dr. Palazzetti holds Certified Fund Raising Executive status, a distinction awarded by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  He earned his Ph.D. in education from the University of Pittsburgh, a master of arts in English literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a bachelor of arts in English and political science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Prior to beginning his development career, he served as founder and Executive Director of the Tri-County Community Education Agency, Executive Director of New Tradition Senior Citizen Center, and program director at La Roche College.  In addition, he has authored and edited publications on adult education and financial development and served as a consultant to numerous government agencies and not-for-profit organizations.

A resident of southwestern Pennsylvania, Dr. Palazzetti has served on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations and participates in the Team Pennsylvania Ambassador Program.

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Anne Lynch

Manager of Administrative Operations and Special Projects
Contact Anne at

Anne Lynch started out as the Office Manager for Three Rivers Community Foundation in September, 2001, after graduating summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Anthropology (with a History minor).  Now the Manager of Administrative Operations and Special Projects, she has helped TRCF become a true force in the activist communities in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Having moved here from Slidell, Louisiana, in 1997, she’s adopted Pittsburgh as her home.  In addition to her work at TRCF, she runs her own catering business (The Vegan Goddess), and is the co-founder of the Three Rivers Vegan Society.  She also is the Secretary/Treasurer of Greater Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day.  She is unapologetic about her beliefs in equality for all – including non-human animals.  She has served on the boards of several local animal rights organizations, helped to organize dozens of animal rights and environmental events, and has spoken about animal rights at local high schools, colleges and universities, and even at a conference at American University in Washington, DC.  In her not-so-spare time, she enjoys reading (primarily nonfiction) and cooking.

Sydney Olberg
Youth Program Coordinator
Contact Sydney at

Sydney Olberg graduated from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, in December 2012 with a M.A. in Community Development and Planning, focusing in Youth Work and Program Evaluation. She holds a B.A. in both Spanish and International Development and has lived abroad in both China and Chile. Past positions include Academic Coordinator at Dynamy Youth Academy, Reading Program Director at a summer youth camp and working on the Department of Education Promise Neighborhood grant in Worcester, M.A. She loves working with youth and is passionate about their ability to contribute to social justice in Pittsburgh.

- Interns -

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Madeline D’Onfro

Special Events Intern

Madeline is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in Political Science and Business and minoring in Public Service. As the Outreach and Special Events intern she will be responsible for helping Three Rivers Community Foundation establish relationships with key organizations in the region and work with staff to coordinate special events such as the fundraising event to promote the Foundations new PEER Fund (Pride Equality Empowerment Respect), which will help to support groups in the LGBT community. After spending the last 3 months abroad studying social justice and political inequality in Brazil, India, and China, Madeline gained an interest in the advancement of social activism and community level agency. She believes that through working with the Three Rivers Community Foundation she will be able to continue to gain experience in these areas.

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Brian Mallow
Development Intern
Contact Brian at

Brian graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 with a BS in Psychology and Religious Studies.  After gathering some experience working for a Pittsburgh City Councilperson, he spent the next five years at Arche Wellness, a high-end drug treatment start-up.  Since then, Brian has worked at the Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center and Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, spending much of his time managing youth employment programs, writing grants, and organizing around local causes/issues.  Brian is a second-year Masters of Social Work candidate (macro studies/COSA program) at the University of Pittsburgh.  As the Fund and Web Development intern, he spends much of his time writing letters of inquiry and grant proposals, as well as managing the upkeep of the TRCF website.

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Lixin Liu
Outreach Intern

Lixin (Lizzie) is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh in the Social Comparative and Analysis Education program.  She is focusing her studies on educational issues for people with a low socioeconomic status.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in History and Education while in China.  She was also a volunteer in an orphan school while in China and gained more experience through working with refugees in Pittsburgh.  Lizzie is very excited to start working for Three Rivers Community Foundation and raise attention towards social justice through empowering youth.

Michaela Lies
Michaela Lies
Writing Intern

Michaela is a junior at Washington & Jefferson College double majoring in Spanish and International Business. She loves to learn about people and believes that everyone has a story to tell. The past semester she studied abroad in Ecuador where she was able to learn an immense amount about the culture and history of the country through the stories of those she met as well as her own experiences. This semester she continues being an active member in the W&J Theatre and Improv club as well as the Student Activities Board.

Channing M - Youth Empowerment Intern
Channing McNeal
Youth Empowerment Intern

Channing McNeal is a junior studying Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. His interests include literature, sports, poetry, philosophy and cooking. Upon graduation he plans to pursue a career in education, specifically working with either the Department of Education or an education focused non-profit. He is the Outreach Coordinator for Scholars Working Ambitiously to Graduate, a mentoring program geared towards increasing the graduation rate of Black men on campus. He is responsible for all marketing and communication initiatives for the organization. He is also a Brother of the Iota Phi chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Cashmere L. Gore
Fund Development Intern 

Cashmere L. Gore is in the final stages of completing his baccalaureate degree in Corporate Communications from Robert Morris University. Cashmere is also a graduate of Bidwell Training Center’s Pharmacy Tech program.

Before working for TRCF Cashmere worked to attain his GED and pharmacy technician diploma all while conquering homeless at the age of 18 coming from Florida to Pittsburgh to get to know his family. Now at the age of 26, Cashmere plans to pursue a career in sustainability development and business communications.

Cashmere comes to TRCF with a background in community were he served as the liaison to the mayors office for three diverse communities working with businesses, and civic organizations in the Pittsburgh area.

Throughout his educational career and through his personal achievements Cashmere has gained insights in the areas of advocacy, community-building, and civic leadership. If you were to ask him what his most vital skill is he might say professionally and personally being able to identifying and create opportunities. He strongly believes that effective collaboration occurs as a result of engaging a variety of community groups, and individuals.


- Founders and Early Board Members -

In 1989, a group of concerned activists got together to create a new type of grantmaking for our region. Using their own personal resources, they established the Three Rivers Community Fund (now Foundation) as an alternative to more traditional avenues of support, such as United Way and larger foundations that frequently could not fund grassroots efforts. This visionary group included:

Founders (signed on 1989/1990):

Pauline Cooper
Allen Goodman
Penny Lytle
Irene McLaughlin
Jan Neffke
Dolores Patrick
Mark Peterson
Suzanne Polen
Ken Regal
Jeff Richardson
Judy Ruszkowski
Lucy Spruill
Cynthia Vanda (founding President)
Bill Wekselman
Arthur Young

Early Board Members (signed on 1991/1992):

Nancy Bernstein (past President)
Felecia Bute
Bonnie DiCarlo
Frances “Penna” Drew
Molly Rush
Nancy Washington