Julie Butcher Pezzino is executive director of Grow Pittsburgh, an urban agriculture nonprofit based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The organization promotes food production and education in the region through the development of urban farms and gardens, an Edible Schoolyard program for children, agriculture-based educational employment opportunities for youth, and gardening classes for adults. As a social enterprise, Grow Pittsburgh is committed to diversifying its funding sources through special events, corporate partnerships, fee-for-service educational offerings, and the sale of produce to local restaurants and seedlings to the general public. Since Pezzino began managing the organization, the staff and budget have doubled due to an overwhelming demand for the programs and services offered.
Growing up in the Hudson Valley region of New York, Pezzino gained a love and respect for farming and food from an early age. She holds an MS in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was a Dean's Fellow, a Lingren Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and a Lauble Fellow in Community and Economic Development. She also holds a BA in communications from American University.
Prior to joining Grow Pittsburgh, she worked at The Pittsburgh Foundation, the city's community foundation, as manager of communications. Earlier, she lived in Manhattan and worked or consulted for various food and agriculture-based organizations including The Eat Well Guide, Sustainable Table, and City Harvest. She now lives in Pittsburgh, where she enjoys tending to her own vegetable garden every year with her husband, Andrew, and dog, Jasper Bacon.