First Annual Jefferson Forum: Collaborating for a Changing Community


Full speaker table

On Thursday, June 11, 2015, Jefferson Regional Foundation hosted over 240 people representing over 130 organizations at the “ JEFFERSON FORUM: Collaborating for a Changing Community”, a networking and learning event at the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South in Upper St. Clair.  The audience included superintendents, churches, libraries, borough officials, educational institutions, government organizations and nonprofit organizations.  Every participant had wonderful opportunities to network as assigned seating assured that each table (labeled with the name of a Jefferson area community) included folks from a variety of organizations.

Highlights of the day included a Keynote address from Allegheny County Health Department  Director Dr. Karen Hacker on the current state of health in the South Hills region; an overview of the Jefferson Regional Foundation as a new community partner by Mary Phan-Gruber, a presentation on suburban poverty by Allegheny County Department of Services Deputy Director Erin Dalton; and a panel presentation on Refugee and Immigrant populations in the Pittsburgh area from Rosamaria Cristello, Director of the Latino Family Center, Upendra Dahal, Project Director of the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh, and Kheir Mugwaneza, Director of the Refugee Resettlement Program at the Northern Area Multi-Service Center.

Jefferson Regional Foundation Executive Director Mary Phan-Gruber moderated a discussion of the impact and opportunities these issues present in the communities of the South Hills and Lower Mon Valley. The discussion featured panelists Susan Friedberg Kalson, CEO of the Squirrel Hill Health Center Community College South Campus President Charlene Newkirk, Greg Jones, Executive Director of Economic Development South, Dr. Chong Park, Chief Medical Officer of Jefferson Hospital, Allegheny Health Network, PA State Senator Matt Smith, and Cindy Moore, Chief Outreach Officer at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

A networking lunch was followed by an interactive session where participants visited issue and vision stations and posted hundreds of notes to include their ideas about their vision as well as assets, challenges and opportunities in the region on key issues.  After a quick summary of these ideas, participants revisited the stations to mark promising ideas and priorities.

At the end of the day, the participants left with a better understanding of the social determinants of health and their effect on communities, the impacts of suburban poverty on the South Hills and lower Mon Valley, the refugee, immigrant, and international population, and key groups operating in the South Hills and lower Mon Valley, with over 100 individuals committed to participating in issue-focused workgroups.  Evaluations of the event were extremely positive—with 100% of the (150) respondents indicating the day was valuable and that the Forum should be an annual event.

Please visit our Community Reports page to see the presentations given by Forum guests and visit again soon to see more pictures of the event.