The Heinz Endowments announced the appointment of Karen Abrams as program officer for equitable development. Ms. Abrams joins the Endowments Dec. 7 and will focus on infusing equity into the Endowments’ redevelopment funding initiatives in the Pittsburgh region.
Ms. Abrams will help the Endowments develop and implement a range of grantmaking that supports sustainable investments in neighborhood-level projects as well as city and region-wide initiatives, including the All in Pittsburgh effort.
In helping to advance the Endowments’ aim of fostering a more sustainable, diverse and inclusive Pittsburgh region, Ms. Abrams will be collaborating with other Endowments staff in supporting the foundation’s three strategic areas — Creativity, Learning and Sustainability – giving particular attention to the work of nonprofits that incorporate one or more of the areas. Ms. Abrams will assist in coordinating community development grantmaking in the Endowments’ focus communities, which include the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Hazelwood, Homewood and the Hill District.
“Karen Abrams brings a lifetime of experience creating equitable development opportunities in both the nonprofit and government realms, as well as enormous dedication to the health, environmental and economic issues that are vital to a vibrant region,” said Endowments Vice President of Sustainability Andrew McElwaine. “Her energy, wealth of knowledge and deep community roots are a wonderful asset to the sustainability and equity work of The Heinz Endowments.”
Ms. Abrams has over a decade of economic, sustainability and community development experience, serving most recently as manager of Diversity and Community Affairs for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA). Her tenure with the URA included creation and management of Urban Matters, an arts and design-based civic engagement program for residents in distressed Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
While with the URA, Ms. Abrams founded and coordinated the URA Equity Working Group, and worked with neighborhood stakeholders to increase their capacity to address urban regeneration and sustainability in economically challenged communities.
Ms. Abrams earned undergraduate degrees in history and African American
history from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and a Master of Science degree in sustainable systems from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
In May 2017, Ms. Abrams was honored with a Loeb Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.