I’m guessing many of you know Elaine Kramer. If you don’t, you definitely know of her work, and you’ve seen it if you’ve been in any of our parks. Let me introduce you to her. Elaine’s initial college career earned her a journalism degree from Northwestern University. But in 2014, she shifted gears and completed a masters in landscape architecture at Chatham, leading to a career in landscape design, park planning and design and community planning.
If you are lucky enough to have met Elaine, you might have encountered her as a result of her volunteer work with the Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy and the Mt. Lebanon Parks Advisory Board, where she worked hard on the Mt. Lebanon Arboretum project. Whether it’s pulling weeds or pulling photos to submit for our website, Elaine has been part of the beauty you see in Mt. Lebanon’s natural spaces. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, although as a voracious swimmer, they’d wash off soon enough.
Elaine is also a planner and designer with Pashek+MTR, where she has been shepherding some of the work of Mt. Lebanon’s Comprehensive Plan. The plan will result in a living document that will guide decisions in Mt. Lebanon for the next decade. No small thing, that. (Get more details on that project at AscendLebo.com.)
Elaine and her husband, Joel Shaul, met because of their service in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone. The lovely story of how they met serves to kick off our new series “Called to Service.” It features Mt. Lebanon residents who have done what many of us long to do but never summon the bravery—they picked up and went somewhere to work on whatever was needed to help others, facing down horrors like malaria and extreme poverty.
If you think the outdoors is the only place you’ll find Elaine, you’d be wrong. She has volunteered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and has been a writing coach at Jefferson Middle School, nurturing the next generation of writers.
So you can see, I’m a big fan of Elaine’s, not just because she’s a trained journalist and not because she loves our parks and our trees and wants to ensure they’re here for the next generation to enjoy. I’m a fan because she digs in, does the work and asks for nothing in return.
Laura Pace Lilley, Editor in Chief
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