Gabriel Pendleton, Esq. President of the Board

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Gabriel I. Pendleton grew up on a small island off the coast of Maine and attended the University of Maine, graduating magna cum laude in 2005.  He received his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2010.  While at law school, Mr. Pendleton worked at the Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic and served as an editor of the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law.  Following law school, he spent two years as a judicial law clerk at the Vermont Superior Court, where he worked on criminal, civil, and family law matters.  Mr. Pendleton is admitted to the Maine and Massachusetts State Bars, and focuses on criminal defense, family law, and civil litigation. He started a solo private practice in Maine and runs his family boating business on a part-time basis as well.


Evan durst, Esq., Secretary of the Board

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Evan J. Durst is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, but grew up about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Religious Studies. He received his law degree in 2011 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. While at law school, Evan spent two semesters in the Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic and a summer as a research intern in the Clinic. He also spent a summer working for the Washington, D.C., Department of the Environment mostly working on stormwater and air quality issues. He spent yet another semester working at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where he worked on administrative legal issues surrounding brownfield sites. Evan is admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania.

After graduation, Evan spent two years working for a community-based non-profit organization doing development associated with both their annual fundraising and community foundation. Since November 2013, Evan has worked as an Associate Trust Advisor for PNC Bank’s Wealth Management Division in Pittsburgh. His work consists, mostly, of trust and estate administration.

Evan also sits on the board of the First Tee of Pittsburgh.


Enrique Valdivia, Esq., Treasurer of the Board

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Enrique has practiced environmental law at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in San Antonio, Texas since 1985. Enrique is a member of the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors, representing District 7, which covers a northwest-central portion of Bexar County. As secretary, Mr. Valdivia serves on the board’s Aquifer Management Planning Committee, Executive Committee, and chairs its Permits/Enforcement Committee. He was elected to the board in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. His current term expires December 1, 2014.

Enrique, a resident of San Antonio, is a practicing attorney with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Carleton College, and Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Law.

Enrique has served as board president of San Antonio non-profits Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AGUA), the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, and Fuerza Unida. He also serves on the boards of Texas Fund for Economic & Environmental Education and Jump Start Performance Company.


Dr. Michael Blackhurst

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Dr. Michael Blackhurst is currently a Research Development Manager at the University Center for Social & Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a Research Consultant for the Ethos Collaborative. His research is robustly interdisciplinary, drawing especially from engineering, economics, and statistics. Dr. Blackhurst oversees applied and basic research and consulting projects in the energy and environmental sectors. His record demonstrates strong leadership in developing robust, data-driven decision-support resources for a wide array of stakeholders. Current research and consulting domains include energy and water demand-side management for the buildings sector, regional climate change mitigation and adaptation, regional water resource planning, and environmental life cycle assessment. His work has been profiled in the New York Times and National Geographic. Dr. Blackhurst has eight years of experience leading a diverse array of engineering consulting services for public sector clients.

Dr. Blackhurst received his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University in 1999. After receiving his M.S. from The University of Texas-Austin in 2001, he earned a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Engineering and Public Policy Department. He completed his Post-Doc at Carnegie Mellon in 2011. He held an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin from 2011-2014 before joining Pitt.


Bala Kumar, Esq.

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Bala is originally from Pensacola, Florida, but moved to Pittsburgh for law school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is currently a resident in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Florida in 2009 and his J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2012 with a Certificate in Environmental Law. At Pitt, he was a Certified Legal Intern in the Environmental Law Clinic and an Editor of the Tax Law Journal. He worked as a legal intern with the Zoning Board of Adjustment in Pittsburgh. He is currently a title attorney at M.W. Gary & Associates.


Professor randall walsh

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Randy Walsh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Arts and Sciences. Randy’s research interests involve public economics, urban economics, environmental economics, applied micro economics, economic history, and racial disparities. Randy currently serves on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board Environmental Justice Technical Guidance Review Panel. He has also served on the Allegheny County Health Department’s Air Toxics Commission. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University and his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire.


Aurora Sharrard, Phd, leed ap bd+c

Photo Credit: Mark Dixon

Photo Credit: Mark Dixon

Dr. Aurora Sharrard is the Executive Director of Green Building Alliance (GBA), a nonprofit organization that inspires the creation of healthy, high performing places for everyone by providing leadership that connects knowledge, transformative ideas, and collaborative action.  Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, GBA was founded in 1993, is one of the U.S.’s oldest regional green building organizations, and is a chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. 

As GBA’s Executive Director, Dr. Aurora Sharrard leads the organization in achieving its mission while setting strategy & future visions.  Aurora drives organizational innovation while advancing GBA’s strategic plan, programs, staff, and stakeholder relationships.  With a staff of 16 and an annual budget over $2 million, GBA does dynamic, evidence-based, collaborative work throughout Western Pennsylvania. 

A nationally recognized green building expert, Dr. Sharrard has served GBA since 2007 under several titles, always providing innovative solutions, strategic thinking, and real world application.  Key current projects include Pittsburgh Green Story, Enviro Social Capital, and advising the Pittsburgh Living Product Hub (in collaboration with the International Living Future Institute). In 2012, Aurora notably co-founded the Pittsburgh 2030 District, wherein buildings in Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland aspire towards measured high performance of 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by the year 2030, cementing Pittsburgh as a national leader in healthy and high performing places.  She also has and continues to provide technical support to innumerable local green building projects, most notably Almono, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Phipps Conservatory Center for Sustainable Landscapes, and the Lower Hill Redevelopment.

Dr. Sharrard created and implemented several past GBA programs, including the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative (PCI), DASH, and Product Innovation Grants. Still an active PCI Partner, Aurora continues to advise development of the third versions of Pittsburgh’s greenhouse gas inventory and climate action plan.  From 2008 through 2011, Dr. Sharrard convened PCI and the Higher Education Climate Consortium while leading completion of two Pittsburgh Climate Action Plans and one citywide greenhouse gas inventory.  From 2007 through 2012, Aurora spearheaded the GBA-led national conversation to build DASH: Database for Analyzing Sustainable and High Performance Buildings.  This evidence-based web tool worked to provide building industry professionals with building performance information that enables better decision-making about building design, construction, operations, and maintenance across the triple bottom line.  With GBA’s Product Innovation Grant program, Aurora led award of $1.2 million to 24 recipients working to commercialize innovative green building products across Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Sharrard has a mayoral appointment to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission—and serves on the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership’s Advisory Team, Carnegie Mellon University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Alumni Advisory Council, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation Advisory Board.  She is a Science Ambassador and regularly evaluates projects and products for funders and competitions, while still finding time to peer review papers for academic journals.  She also maintains multiple academic and nonacademic publications of her own.

Dr. Aurora Sharrard holds a Master’s and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in Green Design from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University.  In 2016, she received both a Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 Award and a Pittsburgh Business Times Women in Energy Award.  Previously, she was a finalist for the Greater Pittsburgh Athena Young Professional Award and received the BusinessWomen First Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times, the 40 Under 40 Pennsylvania Environmental Leaders Award, and the Recent Alumnus Award from Carnegie Mellon University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.  Dr. Sharrard is an alumna of Leadership Pittsburgh and a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP BD+C).    

Aurora lives in Pittsburgh with her husband Jesse and sons, Angstrom and Faraday.  She loves breakfast, enjoys costumes, and looks forward to someday completing renovations on her 112-year-old house.


jordan yeager, esq.

Jordan B. Yeager is Partner and Chair of the Environmental and Public Sector Section at the firm Curtin & Heefner, LLP. Mr. Yeager focuses his practice on employment law, environmental law, land use law, municipal law and appellate litigation. Mr. Yeager has served as Solicitor and Special Counsel to municipal governments, with emphasis on labor, employment, zoning, land use and civil rights litigation. He represents public and private sector employers and employees in all aspects of labor and employment law, including counseling, negotiations, arbitration, litigation, trials and appeals. Mr. Yeager also advises municipal governments, community associations, non-profits and individual property owners in connection with environmental and land use matters, including issues related to gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation. Mr. Yeager litigates zoning, DEP permitting, and environmental claims in state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Mr. Yeager has been a frequent lecturer on employment law, land use, and civil rights issues.  

Mr. Yeager was named by American Lawyer Media as a Lawyer on the Fast Track in 2006. Among other public sector clients, Mr. Yeager currently serves as Solicitor to Yardley Borough and Nockamixon Township. He has served as Solicitor to the Bucks County Democratic Committee and as legal counsel to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and numerous federal, state and local campaigns.