About Us

Since its inception in 1991, Friends of the Riverfront has been a pioneering organization working to protect and restore the Pittsburgh region’s rivers and riverfronts after decades of legacy pollution. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail now encompasses over 25 miles of urban riverfront trails along both banks of the mighty Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. Through broad and diverse collaborations, we continue the work of providing environmental restoration, economic vitality, and public health benefits to the Pittsburgh region through the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Our mission

Build safe, clean, and accessible riverfront trails as part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail system to create and maintain an outstanding experience for trail users while providing economic, environmental, and health benefits to the Pittsburgh region.

The Staff

Valerie Beichner

Executive Director

With ten years of nonprofit management experience, Valerie brings a wealth of knowledge to Friends of the Riverfront having a background in organizational efficiency and capacity building, fundraising, HR, IT and more. She holds expertise in green building and green building products, sustainable corporate culture, community and economic development, advocacy and organizational leadership. Prior to joining Friends of the Riverfront, Valerie worked at Conservation Consultants Inc. as Director of Operations and Analytics as well as Green Building Alliance as Vice President of Development. She also formerly worked at the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission facilitating a statewide energy efficiency program targeting municipalities. Valerie earned a BA in Political Science at Clarion University and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Robert Morris. An avid runner, Valerie is an assistant coach for a local Girls on the Run team and enjoys volunteering in multiple other capacities within her community. She and her husband, Chris, live in Leetsdale with their four young children.

Courtney Mahronich Vita

Director of Trail Development

Courtney earned her B.A. in Political Science and M.S. in Environmental Studies from Point Park University. Prior to working with Friends of the Riverfront, Courtney spent over two and a half years working with 21 communities along long‑distance trails in western Pennsylvania, working as a Student Conservation Association Fellow and Project Coordinator with the Trail Town Program® where she provided technical assistance on the community and economic impact of trails on the region and their communities. She ran the Trail Town Certified Network, promoting trail friendly and sustainable business practices, doubling its membership to over 120. As Director of Trail Development at Friends of the Riverfront, Courtney works to extend the Three Rivers Heritage Trail; one of her primary focuses is the extension of the Trail along the Allegheny River corridor from Millvale to Freeport, where it will connect to and become a part of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail, as well as several other regional trails.

Rosie Wise

Community Initiative Coordinator

Originally from rural central Pennsylvania, Rosie is a Pittsburgh transplant. She earned her B.S. from Lycoming College, has over 20 years of experience in the plant sciences field, and was born with a green thumb. Her previous job role included restoration management of Frick Woods Nature Reserve, 100+ acres of Frick Park. She played a major role in helping the Frick Environmental Center and it’s 4 acre native landscaped campus receive the Living Building Challenge certification. She also works with private landowners on habitat restoration projects to reestablish native plant species. Her duties with Friends of the Riverfront involve executing goals related to the volunteer stewardship events and activities and transitioning the stewardship program into a more neighborhood‑based, self‑sustaining program. She enjoys hiking the trails less traveled and discovering new trails with her furry companions.

Kaitlyn Roth

Communications Specialist

After completing a year of service with Friends of the Riverfront through the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE), Kaitlyn has officially joined the team. A native of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, she completed her undergraduate degree at Juniata College studying Communication Advocacy and Biology. During her time at Juniata, Kaitlyn served as a Newman Civic Fellow, a NextGen Climate Pennsylvania Fellow, and interned with Central PA SURJ. During her service year with Friends of the Riverfront, Kaitlyn was nominated by her fellow PULSE Fellows to the position of Diversity and Inclusion Chair of the PULSE Outreach Board of the Leadership Committee. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys getting outdoors to hike and ride her bike through nature preserves. So far, her favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh has been walking along the North Shore in the early evening.

The Board

Stacey Vernallis


Kelsey Ripper

Vice President

Cathy Rogers


Durwood Hill


Mary Ellen Ramage


Marla Meyer Papernick


Jim Martin


Tom Demagall


Stephen Ayer


Jeanne Clark



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