Ilyssa Manspeizer, Ph.D.
Ilyssa Manspeizer is an anthropologist with 30 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.
Ilyssa and her husband Brian have called Pittsburgh home since 2006 and are grateful to have raised their four children here. Ilyssa also serves on the Board of Jewish Family & Community Services. When she’s not at work, with her family, or volunteering, you can find Ilyssa running the woodland trails in Frick Park.