Candidates for the FCG Board of Directors
The following candidates have been recommended by the Nominating Committee for election to the FCG Board of Directors for the 2019 - 2020 term.
South Pacific Avenue
Diana and her husband, John Axtell, purchased their home on South Pacific Avenue in 1996, when their daughter, Sarah, was two-and-a-half years old.
One of Diana’s first volunteer ventures within Friendship was to write grant proposals for the neighborhood’s construction of the playground at what is now Pittsburgh Montessori School. She became the committee chair, leading the creation of an agreement between Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), the City of Pittsburgh, and Friendship’s former community groups, FPG and FDA, for the use of the site and specific role of each partner. For several years following its completion 1999, Diana organized clean-up activities for the playpark and surrounding gardens. In 2005, when PPS announced that the Friendship Academy program would be closed, Diana, with the help of two other Montessori parents and Johnson Martin, its former principal, wrote the proposal to move the city’s Montessori program into the historic Friendship building and preserve the playpark.
In 2000, Diana was named to the City’s Shade Tree Commission, and wrote a proposal to address Friendship’s backlog of street tree requests, resulting in getting over one hundred street trees planted in the neighborhood. She organized “tree tender” training for neighborhood volunteers and led tree care work events. In 2005, Diana was elected chair of the Commission and led the fundraising for a citywide inventory to determine the composition and condition of the City’s street tree population. Seeing the need for a citywide tree advocacy and tree tender organization, Diana was the principal founder of the Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest, now Tree Pittsburgh. In 2016, Diana initiated a Christmas tree recycling endeavor in Friendship that was expanded in 2017 to include Allegheny Commons.
Diana co-founded and has remained one of the organizers of Friendship’s Progressive Dinner for over 21 years. She is also a master gardener and has led clean-up and gardening efforts at Baum Grove for well over ten years. She is primarily interested in environmental issues.
South Pacific Avenue
Victoria and her husband, Mike, moved to the Friendship neighborhood in March 2017 and live in the 400 block of Sooth Pacific Ave. They had moved back to Pittsburgh for her husband’s job, after having been here from 2010-2012, and the first thing she said was, "I want one of those old gorgeous houses!" They had their son, Graham, a few months after moving last year, and now have a full house with the toddler, two cats, and a dog. Victoria is a scientist by training and has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. Since graduating, she has worked in research/laboratory operations and strategy management and has just begun a new job at a gene therapy start-up. Victoria loves living in Pittsburgh, and especially Friendship. She has always been a self-labeled “city gal” but loves that the neighborhood is a blend that’s great for a family. She enjoys the community feel, in which her family can walk down the street and run into their neighbors and friends. Her interest lies in event planning with FCG because she loves being social.
Kristin, a designer and educator, works with members of at-risk communities to address complex social problems. Since no one discipline holds the ultimate solution for such problems, Kristin honed a community engagement model of design that generates solutions by fusing the expertise and passion of community members and leaders across disciplines including education, health care, fine arts, and public policy. Kristin’s career in education spans more than 18 years. As an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, Kristin and her colleagues have developed interdisciplinary courses that blend design with informal learning, health literacy, and more recently, public policy. These endeavors highlight Kristin’s personal mission: to demonstrate how design can be leveraged for social change. Kristin has lived in friendship for 17 years. She started the Octopus Garden in 2009, and in the very near future, she will be opening the Night Owl Bakery on Penn Ave. Night Owl Bakers is a workforce development program for young adults who will learn to figure out who they are, why they matter, and where they fit through making and selling artisanal breads and baked goods. Their mission is to improve the health of young adults by addressing their social, educational, and economic needs through relationships—person to person, person to community, and person to nature.
South Atlantic Avenue
Larry is a current FCG Board Member and is up for reelection for a 2nd term.
Larry and his wife, Marianne Kasica, have lived on South Atlantic Avenue since 1984. Larry has a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and retired in 2014 after working for 46 years at the Bettis Laboratory in West Mifflin. Larry has worked with various nonprofit organizations over the years, including the Shadyside Action Coalition (when he was living in Shadyside) and on the local and national boards of Hostelling International USA. He enjoys gardening, bird-watching, traveling, and learning new languages. Larry has been on the board of the Friendship Community Group for 3 years, serving as secretary and currently as Treasurer. He wants to continue supporting the group that has supported the Friendship neighborhood so well over the years. Larry and Marianne enjoy living in the city, and in Friendship, especially, because they have easy access to everything they need and can walk to most of their appointments.
Ian Miller has been a resident of Friendship since 2006. He previously served on the FPG Board, including two years as President. After his wife, Carla, gave birth to Stella in 2009 and Rose in 2011, Ian suspended volunteer activities to focus on lack of sleep, arguing with irrational little people, and watching his hair rapidly turn grey. Ian graduated from Penn State with degrees in History and Philosophy. He has been an over-the-road truck driver, a Peace Corp volunteer in Kazakhstan, a Congressional staffer, and a political reporter in Washington, DC. He has worked in the construction industry since 2003 as a general contractor, project manager, and builder. He most recently worked on building a 25,000 sq. ft. school in Los Angeles built out of 50 repurposed shipping containers. Ian and his family live in a 100-year old house on Coral Street, which needs twenty years of work. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, reading, writing fiction, hiking, running, and biking.
Born in Squirrel Hill and living there for his entire childhood, Evan attended Minadeo Elementary School, Reizenstein Middle School, and Taylor Allderdice High School. He went on to study Theatre Arts at Penn State University and subsequently had a fulfilling theatrical lighting career. Evan was involved in community, regional, and national theatre productions, including several national tours, international cruises, and productions on Broadway and in Las Vegas. Evan was also the Master Electrician for Pittsburgh Public Theater from 2006-2014. Show business proved to be very rewarding but lacked the lifestyle conducive to raising a family that Evan aspired to. Seeing an opportunity to enter the internet market by delivering Wi-Fi connectivity to off-campus undergraduate housing, Evan and a childhood friend started the IT firm Frank and Stein Associates, which does business today as Green Light Wireless. Evan, his wife, and their 8-month old son live on the corner of Roup Avenue and Upsal Place, in the house Evan purchased as a bachelor in 2009. Evan’s philanthropic pursuits include initiatives with Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Children’s Museum, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Emma Kaufmann Camp, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. In his spare time, Evan is a pilot and enjoys flying anywhere departing from the Allegheny County airport.
Evan is currently an FCG Board Member who is up for reelection for a second term. A native of the Allegheny Valley, Evan moved to Friendship in 2016. He has been a member of the FCG Board since January of 2017 and currently serves as co-chair of the Neighborhood & Environment Committee and is a member of the Finance Committee. Evan brings with him over five years of experience working with nonprofits and local governments on community and economic development initiatives. Prior to joining FCG, Evan served on the Quality of Life committee for the Westmoreland Economic Development Initiative for Growth. In 2015, while Evan was a graduate student, he was awarded the Smart Growth Partnership’s Jack Robertshaw Fellowship where he developed a concept revitalization plan for the City of Arnold, PA.
Evan acquired his passion for community development during his years as a student. He holds a BS in regional planning and an MS in geography. While he is no longer a student, he continues to study the urbanism and geographic phenomena that give cities their unique character. Evan currently works as an environmental planning consultant and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. In his spare time, Evan likes to ride his bike, read and sketch buildings around the neighborhood. He also enjoys spending time with his friends and family.
South Evaline Street
Tom and his wife live in the 300 block of S. Evaline St. They moved into the house in December of 2017 after living for 25 years in three different homes in Squirrel Hill. They have two children: Catharine is 26 and lives in Seattle, and Daniel is 22, a recent Pitt grad, and is currently traveling the US in a van with his girlfriend. They have an 11-year-old lab mix and a 22-year-old cat.
Tom received his BA in Economics from the State University of NY at Albany and a Masters in Public Management from CMU. He has been in the purchasing profession for most of his career, including time with the federal government, Mellon Bank, Allegheny County, and currently with the University of Pittsburgh.
Of the list of items of special interest, he leans towards environmental, housing, zoning and business relations. He is still getting to know Friendship, but he likes that it’s close enough to be able to walk to work as well as to many stores and restaurants. His immediate neighbors have been very welcoming since move-in day.