Susan Fitzsimmons chairs the board of directors of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. She has also served on the board of the 25 Club of Magee Women’s Hospital and as chair of the board of the foundation for Auberle, a social services organization.
How is Western Pennsylvania Conservancy different from Mt. Lebanon Nature Conservancy? A major difference is geographic focus; WPC works throughout Western Pennsylvania to protect and restore land, forests, wildlife habitat and waterways and provide community gardens and green spaces. In addition, WPC owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Fayette County and monitors rare and endangered species throughout the Commonwealth.
How does the Conservancy care for the environment? With partners, WPC has restored more than 3,000 miles of waterways using effective ways to improve water quality for the benefit of plants, animals and people. We also care for more than 12,000 acres of WPC-owned property, where our restoration efforts involve removing invasive plants (think goats in Bird Park), planting trees, improving trails, and providing canoe and kayak access points. We also do green infrastructure projects such as planting street trees, installing bio swales and improving storm water management.
What might inspire someone to make a return visit to Fallingwater? Every visit to Fallingwater is awe-inspiring, and the house looks different in every season. In-depth tours show aspects of the house that can’t be experienced on the regular tours. Rotating gallery exhibits help visitors learn more about Fallingwater—the 2016 exhibit focuses on other architecturally significant houses owned by the Kaufmanns.
You have accepted leadership roles with several important nonprofits. What motivates you? The credit goes to my mother and father, who instilled the love of community involvement in all their children. Watching them lead by example, giving back with humility, guided us to the understanding that we had a much more secure life than many.
—Photo by Martha Rial