Board Directors and Staff

The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition is currently served by its elected 2019 Board of Directors, consisting entirely of residents or business representatives of the Squirrel Hill area. Board members serve 3-year terms with two term limits. Board meetings occur on the 3rd week of every month, and are free and open to the public. To find out where this month’s meeting is held or to be on the agenda, please contact us at 412-422-7666 or Be sure to check our Events Calendar to verify date and time of upcoming meetings or search the archive for our past meeting minutes.


Martha Isler, President – Martha “Mardi” Isler defines the term super-volunteer. Mardi is a founding board member and president of Allies for Children, Chair of the City of Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission, a long-time leader of Tree Pittsburgh, and past president of Uncover Squirrel Hill, to name just a few. In 2009, Mardi led the Gateway Committee to develop a plan for the revitalization of the public spaces in the Forward-Murray area. The initial results included a new “Welcome to Squirrel Hill” sign on Forward Avenue, new street lamps and trees along Murray, and a renewed Post Office parklet at Murray and Darlington. Mardi’s leadership at Uncover Squirrel Hill has been crucial to the success of the Squirrel Hill Night Markets. Mardi and her husband, Bill, have lived in the same house in Squirrel Hill since 1984 and raised their son there. Mardi shops, eats, and sleeps Squirrel Hill.

Marshall Hershberg, Co-Vice President – Before his involvement with SHUC, Marshall used his PhD and MBA degrees in support of a happy career in the social sciences: college teaching of political science and business; conducting market research and strategic planning for hospitals; owning and operating a management consulting firm serving healthcare and government organizations; executive positions at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and at Pittsburgh’s Jewish Association on Aging; and grant-writing and program development at Goodwill Industries serving the Greater Johnstown region. His involvement in SHUC is the best way he could think of contributing to the well-being, vibrancy, and improvement of the neighborhood he loves so much.  Participating in SHUC and its myriad activities and interests has given great meaning and enjoyment to his time in retirement. He and his wife, Eleanor, find Squirrel Hill particularly attractive because of its convenience, strong cultural, commercial, residential, and recreational amenities; Schenley and Frick Parks, as well as many trails and by-ways. Squirrel Hill’s proximity, connections, and transit options to Oakland, Shadyside, downtown and all points beyond, make Squirrel Hill one of the most important parts of Pittsburgh and the region.

Lisa Crooks Murphy, Co-Vice President – Lisa joined the SHUC board in June 2016 and has been an active member since 2010. Lisa is a certified urban planner with a B.A. in Economics and a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning, specializing in transportation and land use. Lisa works part-time for a consulting firm creating transportation plans for cities, counties, and regional organizations. Lisa and her husband, Rick, have three children. In her spare time, Lisa does home renovations, gardening, and baking.

Joshua Sayles, Co-Vice President – Josh joined the Coalition Board in 2016 after moving to Squirrel Hill to become Director of Community Relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. As Director, Josh is the liaison from the Jewish community to the other communities in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He sees his job at the Federation as complementary to his role on the SHUC Board. Josh believes we can create a thriving, vibrant, engaged community by engaging and building strong relationships with all groups across all communities.

Lisa Steindel, Assistant Treasurer – Lisa Steindel is the wife of Beth Shalom Rabbi Emeritus, Stephen Steindel and a 1970 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She has served on many local Boards including Community Day School, Hillel Academy, and The Rainbow Kitchen. As a Career Counselor she established her own practice, What Should I Be, LLC and later served as the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh office of The American Jewish Committee. She is currently a member of the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, serving as its Board Secretary and Personnel Committee Chair.

Raymond N. Baum, Secretary – Ray is a Counsel of the Real Estate Group of Pittsburgh at the law practice, Clark Hill PLC . Ray concentrates on all aspects of real estate development, operations, and transactions–ranging from acquisition, debt and equity financing, environmental evaluation and remediation, land-use regulation, construction, formation of ownership entities, leasing, taxation and management. Ray assists clients dealing with government assisted housing and economic development, particularly developments involving HUD, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, redevelopment authorities and housing authorities. He has extensive experience in developments employing low-income housing tax credits, historic tax credits and funding sources such as the HUD Home Investment Partnership, Community Development Block Grant, and public housing Mixed Finance Programs. Ray’s practice also includes assisting clients with real estate tax taxes, abatement, assessment appeals and exemptions. He appears regularly before the planning commissions, municipal government bodies, zoning hearing boards, real estate assessment appeals boards and Court hearing appeals from each.

Rich-FederRich Feder, Immediate Past President – Rich has been on the board for over 15 years. He is formerly planning director at Port Authority of Allegheny County where he worked on multimodal transportation studies, environmental impact statements, and planning of transit routes and stops. In addition to volunteering at SHUC, Rich is an adjunct faculty member and researcher at Pitt and CMU. Rich plays tennis, rides a bike and does a lot of walking. He is an aficionado of rock and similar music. Rich and his wife Helen have lived in Squirrel Hill for 40 years.


Dalia Belinkoff – Dalia is a retired attorney who worked for many years for the National Labor Relations Board. Having enjoyed the many perks of living in Squirrel Hill, including easy access to stores, entertainment, libraries, parks and bike trails, she thought working on behalf of SHUC would be an ideal way of giving back to the community.

Vivian Didomenico – Vivian joined Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition after many years of ownership of residential and commercial real estate in the Squirrel Hill Area. She has been engaged in Squirrel Hill since 1974 and is very proud of Squirrel Hill’s past, its present and its future. She is also very committed in maintaining a viable commercial corridor of Forbes and Murray. With her husband, Rocco, they are supporters and one of the sponsors of the yearly Treasures Dinner to help assure a stronger coalition. Sunday dinners with her family, which include twelve grandchildren, is the highlight of her week.

Lori Fitzgerald – Lori is a practicing architect with Margittai Architects and is an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture. Lori is a LEED Accredited Professional (BD+C), Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) and WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP). She has completed comprehensive project management training from the Project Management Institute (PMI), and she is a graduate of the City of Pittsburgh’s Civic Leadership Academy. She has lived in Squirrel Hill since graduating from CMU in 1999. In her SHUC board role, she facilitates communication between various neighborhood stakeholders such as property owners, developers, and city representatives. She infuses her practice with her strong personal interests and beliefs in people (collaboration, team integration), place (context, community, history) and purpose (environment, experience). Lori and her family enjoy living within walking distance of Schenley Park and the Squirrel Hill Business District.

Heather Graham – Heather Graham is originally from northern New Jersey and received her BS in Finance from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2004.  She moved to the Pittsburgh area in June 2013.  By May 2014 she opened her first franchised location for European Wax Center in Squirrel Hill, with 2 more to follow in Shadyside and Murrysville, PA.  She realized after opening her Squirrel Hill location that she needed to become involved in the community to be able to meet the residents and merchants of the community. Heather loves working with the community and wants to be able to give back through her time and knowledge to be able to help Squirrel Hill thrive and be a destination for all. She loves helping host events that are family driven and really enjoys seeing how a team can work together to make a great event for all!  She is the current president of Uncover Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood chamber of commerce.

presidents-message-barb-picBarbara Grover – Upon retirement in 2004, Barb became aware of the litter in Squirrel Hill and joined a group of people who wanted to DO SOMETHING about it!  She has been involved in the Litter Patrol and the Coalition ever since.  She learned that keeping a neighborhood strong and vibrant is no accident.  A lot of people give their time, energy and intellect to make that happen!

Michael Douglas Henderson – Born in the Hudson Valley near Albany, New York, Michael first came to Western Pennsylvania to attend Penn State University where he received a B.A. in history.  He also holds an M.A. in American History from SUNY at Albany.  Michael is an 18 year veteran of the National Park Service, having served as Park Superintendent for the Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey; the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites in Hyde Park, NY; and the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, NY. Currently, he pursues his interests in historic preservation and planning through service on the boards of the Morris County Trust for Historic Preservation and the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. Michael moved to Pittsburgh eleven years ago and settled into Squirrel Hill with his partner, Sam Taylor, and two fox terriers. Having lived many places Michael says Pittsburgh is his favorite, and it was this interest in his new home that encouraged him to first, volunteer for the SHUC magazine committee and subsequently join the SHUC Board.  In addition to his unusual interest in, and knowledge of, the life of former President Martin Van Buren, Michael is also an avid collector of antique porcelain and oriental rugs.

Jill Lipman Beck – Jill is an attorney on Blank Rome’s civil litigation team. She represents and advises businesses and financial institutions, both in the role of plaintiff and defendant, in matters of corporate and commercial litigation; represents plaintiffs in protection from abuse cases; assists individuals facing housing insecurity; and regularly volunteers in support of voter protection efforts. Jill also serves as a member of her office’s Pro Bono coordinating Committee and the pro bono working groups of the firm at large addressing civil rights, systemic criminal justice reforms, and voter protection. She is co-chair of Blank Rome’s working group aimed at protecting the right to protest. Prior to joining Blank Rome, Jill was a judicial law clerk on the Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts, respectively, drafting judicial decisions addressing all areas of Pennsylvania law. She began her legal career as an attorney for KidsVoice where she represented abused, neglected, and at-risk children in Allegheny County. Jill has been a member of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition Board since 2019, serving as the chair of its Events Committee. Jill previously served as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Allegheny County Bar Association, and as a member of Gilda Radner Leadership Board of Gilda’s Club of Western Pennsylvania (now Our Clubhouse). Jill has lived in Squirrel Hill with her husband and two children since 2007.

Joseph Ott – Joe has worked in community development for most of his career, including ten years of service with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland as its Pittsburgh-based Regional Community Development Advisor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Duquesne University and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his work with SHUC, he serves on several non-profit Boards focused on serving low and moderate income households and communities. He currently works at BNY Mellon as their CRA Officer.

Mary Shaw – Mary has lived in or near Squirrel Hill for half a century (mostly just west of Beeler St, which isn’t technically Squirrel Hill but feels more like Squirrel Hill than it does like Oakland; there were also a few years in Greenfield) and currently live near Schenley golf course. Her principal interest is outdoor recreation, especially bicycle and pedestrian issues. She is currently on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University.

Erik Wagner – Erik is a Commercial Realtor that has lived in Squirrel Hill all his life and has been involved with SHUC since the mid-70’s. He has chaired the Zoning and Land Use committees and co-chaired the Building committee. He also founded the commercial division of Howard Hanna Co. Erik is a member of numerous community and professional organizations, such as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the National Association of Realtors, and the Squirrel Hill Historical Society.


Ceci Sommers – is a retired public broadcasting executive having served in management and on-air positions at WTTW in Chicago and WQED in Pittsburgh. As producer and host of the Sunday Arts Magazine in Pittsburgh, she had the pleasure of interviewing many celebrities in the arts including everyone from Tiny Tim to Pavorotti. She continued to do on-air fundraising after retirement and raised thousands of dollars for WQED-FM, which she and her late husband, Jack Sommers, founded in 1973.  When she asked friends why they gave when she was on the air, some explained: You remind me of my mother telling me to eat my peas. She has brought those fundraising skills to many nonprofit organizations in Pittsburgh over the years including the Coalition, Highmark, the Middle East Institute, the Pittsburgh Opera, and many more.  She has four grown children and four grandchildren.


Maria Cohen, Executive Director: Maria Cohen became the Executive Director of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition in August of 2019 and supports the many programs and initiatives that have a positive impact on the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. In addition to being a long-time volunteer for a number of local nonprofits, Maria holds an MBA in International Marketing and Finance from DePaul University and earned her LEED Green Associate credential. Her background includes marketing, high-level recruiting, office operations, and budget management. Maria has been a Squirrel Hill resident for over 15 years with her husband Josh, a local Chiropractor, her two teenage sons, Cole and Julien, and their family’s dog Julio.

Natalie Kovacic, Editor-in-Residence

Latest PostsO'Connor's Corner

O’Connor’s Corner: History

With the O’Connor’s Corner project underway, let’s take a look back at all the hard work that got us here! Below is the timeline of progress on O’Connor’s Corner, starting with its initial proposal a decade ago. Timeline 2010 Concept drawing with clock by Rothchild/Doyno designating O’Connor’s Corner after series of community meetings and recommendations