A New Chapter, New Direction in 2021
Grow Pittsburgh is pleased to announce our next Executive Director, Denele Hughson!
Denele, a Homewood native who holds degrees from University of Pittsburgh (B.A.) and Carnegie Mellon University (Master of Science, Public Policy & Management), is currently Grow Pittsburgh’s Director of Farm Education and has been with the organization for more than five years. In that time, she has been integral to expanding food access initiatives across Allegheny County, strengthening relationships with the community, and leading efforts to expand programs and seedling production at Grow Pittsburgh’s newest urban farm site, Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery in Wilkinsburg.
“It has been such an honor and privilege to work at Grow Pittsburgh over the last five years with an amazing staff and community partners,” Denele said. “I am looking forward to stepping into this leadership role and continuing Grow Pittsburgh’s work to ensure everyone benefits from urban agriculture and has access to fresh produce.”
An exciting new phase of growth is already in progress with new greenhouse construction and site redevelopment underway at Garden Dreams. Denele will lead the completion of this project, which will increase capacity for urban farmers and gardeners by creating an agriculture hub and social enterprise in Wilkinsburg that will be home to a retail seedling business, new greenhouse space, youth job training program, an urban farmer workshare program, and an educational workshop series that will support the strong network of gardeners and urban farmers throughout Allegheny County for generations to come.
“We were looking for a leader who would build on the organization’s 15-year track record of seeding the work of urban agriculture in the region,” said Anne Marie Toccket, Chair of the Grow Pittsburgh Board of Directors. “After a national search, we were pleased to find that we needed to look no further than our own backyard: Denele Hughson, with her passion for our mission, extensive experience in farm education and production in our community, and can-do attitude for our next phase of growth, was the natural choice to be the next Executive Director.”
Grow Pittsburgh also bids a fond farewell to our outgoing Executive Director, Jake Seltman. “The board of directors thanks Jake for his years of passion, service, and vision at Grow Pittsburgh,” Toccket added. “Under his leadership, the organization grew in its financial position, internal culture and values, and became a household name in the work of backyard, schoolyard, and community gardening in Pittsburgh. His legacy is one that Grow Pittsburgh will benefit from for decades to come.”
Jake will be working closely with Denele early in this year to ensure a smooth transition. We are excited to have Denele take the lead on January 19, 2021.