Thank you all for your gracious reception of our new executive Director, Denele Hughson, following our announcement earlier this month. As Denele officially settles into her new role, we thought we’d take this opportunity to share more about her time at Grow Pittsburgh up to this point as well as some fun facts that may surprise you.

Having been a part of our team for the past five years, most recently as the Director of Farm Education, Denele has been integral to widening the reach of our food access initiatives across the county as well as spearheading Grow Pittsburgh’s expansion into Garden Dreams in Wilkinsburg. “I am so excited to see the new greenhouses open and have all of our time planning and dreaming at the site come together” she says. Denele also expresses her excitement in being a black woman “placed in a position to guide the organization into its next phase.” When asked about her dreams for Grow Pittsburgh over the next decade, her thoughts go far and wide, noting the presence of Garden Dreams as a premiere urban agriculture hub that will help support regional and national growers networks.

In her previous role as Director of Farm Education, she often found herself at our farm sites, working alongside farm staff on the ground. That’s not to say she’s a fan of all our farm’s offerings however. “Something most people don’t know about me is I actually don’t really like fresh tomatoes!,” she admits. A crop she has been excited to grow over the past couple years, however? “Leeks!” Denele is our resident Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones aficionado. And in her time outside of Grow Pittsburgh, she also enjoys spending time with her daughter, Aria (pictured), and dogs, Spencer and Bolin, as well as reading YA fantasy novels.