Meet the Board
The Sewickley Creek Watershed Association's Board of Directors is comprised of several individuals with diverse educational and professional backgrounds. These individuals are in charge of planning projects, applying for grants, coordinating outreach efforts, and much more.
Rob Cronauer, President
Hello there! Thanks for your interest in the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association.
As President, my goal is to help the Watershed Association improve Sewickley Creek. If you share that
same goal, we would welcome you to our group. We invite community members who share our same
passion for improving water quality for the benefit of all.
My passion likely began developing at a young age. Growing up in rural PA my childhood pursuits often
found me outdoors doing things mother’s generally dread like hunting, fishing and playing in the mud! It
is through these youthful experiences that I began thinking about a career field that involved nature and
the environment. Specifically I wanted to help preserve the natural environment.
My work with the Watershed Association has centered on improving water quality by promoting,
educating, and implementing conservation principals through examples and programs. I truly enjoy my
work as every day is something different, and it is true, “variety is the spice of life”. While my work
varies in task, the core effort is always to improve the environmental health of Sewickley Creek. This
work is very rewarding as I see the benefits it has had on both the natural environment and the
populous of the Watershed.
Executive Director- Vanessa Whipkey
The Board of Directors for the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association is extremely happy to announce the hiring of Vanessa Whipkey the organization's Executive Director. As Vanessa settles into the position on biography will follow. The Board of Directors is very happy to have her aboard, and very exited to see where she takes the Association.
James W. Pillsbury, Secretary
Jim Pillsbury, a SCWA director for over 20 years, is the Hydraulic Engineer for the Westmoreland Conservation District, a position he has held since 1988. With a BSCE from Penn State and a MSCE from Villanova, Jim is experienced in the areas of streams, stormwater, ponds, wetlands, flooding, and other water-related issues. A registered Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania since 1997, Jim is a resident of Southwest Greensburg and enjoys baking pies in his spare time.
Dr. Sarah Pillsbury, Treasurer
Dr. Sarah-Jane Pillsbury joined the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association Board of Directors as Treasurer at the end of 2017. She has been an SCWA member since about 2009. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Chemistry Department at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe PA. She has a B. S. Chemistry and Mathematics from Geneva College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Penn State. She enjoys walking, reading, cooking and eating Jim’s pies.
Ted Curnow, Vice President
As a child, I can remember fishing for carp behind the Post Office in the Village of Armbrust. There were only carp, as I was told, because they were the only fish that could live in the “sulfur creek.” I heard stories by my Great Grandmother of how the tributaries to the Sewickley Creek used to be a well-kept secret for prize trout fishing, but the remnants of the mining industry had left nothing but an orange stain. As an Eagle Scout (Troop 457, New Stanton) I was instilled with an appreciation for nature, and for not only conserving, but improving our natural resources. I spent five years with Youngwood Borough’s Department of Public works, ending my time there as Public Works Supervisor. It was during my time with Youngwood that I was approached by Tom Keller, who at that point was simply one of my old Assistant Scoutmasters from my days as a Boy Scout. Tom extended an invitation to a board meeting to see if serving would interest me. I must say, the first meeting was overwhelming; though I was aware of a few of the treatment sites (having done Eagle Scout projects at two of them) I didn’t know the full scope of what the SCWA did. I’ve since taken the position of Deputy Director of Public Works for Hempfield Township, a position that sees me responsible for an even larger portion of the Sewickley’s watershed. During my time on the Board, I have tried to use my experience in public works to improve the facilities of the SCWA, and I take pride in getting my hands dirty in an effort to improve a watershed that directly impacts the public I serve in my day to day job.
Mark has worked closely with grassroots watershed organizations throughout Western Pennsylvania for over 25 years, previously serving as Regional Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (WPCAMR) and as a Watershed Manager for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, where he assisted in watershed restoration projects of many kinds.
Mark is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor Degree in Education and a Masters Degree in Geography and Regional Planning. His diverse background includes a working knowledge of biologic and earth sciences, wetlands, watershed and stream assessment and restoration, conservation planning, abandoned mine drainage treatment systems and designs, mapping and geographic information systems (GIS), technical drawing and design, manufacturing processes and construction trades, quality assurance and quality control, and nonpoint source pollution prevention techniques. Mark has been involved with Sewickley Creek Watershed Association almost since its inception and works with other local watershed organizations. He enjoys many outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and travel.
I feel fortunate to have become a member and now sit on the board of directors for SCWA. It came to be as Tom Keller approached a small group of us that work at Menasha Packaging along side the Sewickley Creek in Ruffs Dale to participate in an Earth Day cleanup event and since then I’ve been able to participate in a variety of SCWA cleanups and Lowber Day’s events as my interest continued to grow. My roles at Menasha Packaging entail package engineering, eCommerce packaging and supply chain, sustainability initiatives and continuous improvement programs.
I have tremendous passion for the outdoors both on the water and land as well as mentoring youth. I am currently the administrator for Norwin Inline Hockey as well as a head coach for Elementary, Middle School, and High School in addition to assembling teams to travel around the country to compete in national tournaments. It is my desire and intention to provide opportunities and exposure for the youth that I coach to join me and others in outdoor initiatives and adventures.