Ilyssa Manspeizer, Executive Director

Ilyssa Manspeizer, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Ilyssa Manspeizer is an anthropologist with over 20 years of experience working in community-based development and natural resource conservation. Formerly the Executive Director of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, she has also managed programs and conducted research on conservation and community development in the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Zambia, and the United States.  Ilyssa has a wide diversity of experience, including managing and administering non-profits, raising funding for community investment, enhancing community-centric development strategies, developing urban parks, conserving and monitoring African elephants, and evaluating rural African community development programs.

Ilyssa directed the award-winning Emerald View Park initiative for the MWCDC for 7 years, working closely with the community to build Pittsburgh’s newest regional park on 260 acres of formerly mined, denuded and dumped on land on the steep slopes of Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington neighborhood.  Under her direction, the organization raised more than $3 million in investments in the Park, resulting in the creation of a 20 mile trail plan and 10 miles of trails, the creation of the Emerald Trail Corps, the restoration of Mount Washington’s priceless view corridor, the removal of over 300,000 pounds of dumped garbage, the planting of more than 5,000 trees, and the creation of a treasured Park on land once thought to have no intrinsic value.

Ilyssa has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Binghamton University (State University of New York), an M.Sc. in Nature Conservation from University College London, and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Cook College, Rutgers University.

Thomas Guentner

Program Manager

Thomas Guentner brings nearly a decade’s worth of leadership experience with equal experience as a trail builder to the Landforce management team. Thomas received a BS from Slippery Rock University for studies focused on Public Relations and Sociology. He has worked as a court appointed advocate for Children and Youth Services and as a direct care worker specializing in independent and transitional living for teens aging out of the system before beginning a tenure with the Student Conservation Association as a crew leader and environmental educator.

Thomas was able to hone his project management and leadership skills as the manager of the Emerald Trail Corps workforce development program for the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation where he assisted in the development of Emerald View Park, Pittsburgh’s newest regional park, employing close to 50 adults with barriers to long term employment. Thomas has entrepreneurial experience as a former small business owner as well as a creative background as a writer and musician. He is also certified in Sorens Eriksson’s Game of Logging and National Green Infrastructure Certification Program.

Tiffany Mrotek, MSW

Workforce Development Director

Tiffany Mrotek, MSW, is the Workforce Development Director at Landforce. She received her Master’s in Social Work degree focusing on Communities, Organizations, and Social Action from the University of Pittsburgh in May 2016. During her graduate program, she had the opportunity to work for the Hill Community Development Corporation and The Heinz Endowments.

Tiffany is originally from Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas and spent over four years working on training development in suicide prevention. She also spent a year in a remote part of Ghana working on a dry season sustainable farming initiative, teaching at an education center, and coordinating bicycle deliveries and workshops.

John Jones

Program Assistant/ Crew Leader

John Jones is the Program Assistant at Landforce. He is a graduate of Peabody High School and attended Slippery Rock University with a concentration in Social Work. Also, John is an alum of the 2016 Landforce crew and provides a valuable perspective to the staff.

He is a native of Pittsburgh, who learned of Landforce through a contact at Manchester Bidwell. He enjoys working outside and being able to work with those in need while we steer them in a positive direction through workforce development. In addition, wants to educate people in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas to obtain a better understanding of what it takes to become work ready in today’s world and open the participants’ eyes to the new fields of employment that are opening up in Environmental Services and Green Infrastructure. He is also certified in Sorens Eriksson’s Game of Logging.

In his free time John enjoys writing, producing music, and playing basketball.

Shawn Taylor

Senior Crew Leader

Shawn Taylor proved himself as an exemplary worker in 2011 when he began working with the Emerald Trail Corps as a Crew Member only to be promoted to Crew Leader the following year. With four years of crew management experience with the Emerald Trail Corps, Shawn has provided the guidance and skills training necessary to complete around 15 miles of trail construction in the southwestern Pennsylvania area, including Pittsburgh’s newest regional asset, Emerald View Park.

A graduate of South Vocational Tech High school, with knowledge in outdoor power equipment technology small engine mechanics Shawn provides technical know-how and vision to each project he has worked on. Shawn has received several different certifications in trades that reflect his motivation for success and leadership through his participation in the A. Philip Randolph Institute and has served as a GTECH intern working on Sunflower harvesting for Biofuel use and community outreach.

Shawn enjoys working outdoors and providing a sense of brotherhood among his team. From work to recreation he enjoys all things outdoors. He also enjoys cooking and home DIY projects as hobbies. Shawn is a perfectionist who has an eye for detail and takes immense pride in his work. He is also certified in Sorens Eriksson’s Game of Logging.

Tricia Dougherty

Operations & Communications Manager

Tricia is the Operations & Communications Manager at Landforce. Prior to her work with Landforce she honed her problem solving, management and operations skills as a legal assistant at a small law firm for five years.

She has a degree in Political Science with certificates in Women’s Studies and European Union Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

Tricia is an active community member, volunteer, and advocate and currently serves on the board of a number of local nonprofits including the Garfield Land Trust, Equality Pennsylvania, and the Mayor’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council.

In her free time she enjoys listening to podcasts and lounging on her porch with our newest office dog, Pandora.