Donna W. Pitz, 65, of Paoli, former executive director of the GreenSpace Alliance and a major figure in the open-space movement in Southeastern Pennsylvania, died Friday, Sept. 11, of multiple system atrophy at Tel Hai Retirement Community, Honey Brook.
Born in East Stroudsburg, Pa., Ms. Pitz graduated in 1971 from Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in biology and education.
In 1978, she earned a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y.
From 2008 to 2011, when she resigned for health reasons, Ms. Pitz led the GreenSpace Alliance, a nonprofit in Philadelphia consisting of the leaders of environmental groups and land conservation agencies.
“The GreenSpace Alliance will miss Donna’s creativity, persuasion and devotion as the organization moves forward,” the group said as she departed.
Along with Patty Elkis, she authored Return on Environment: The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The study, published in 2010, detailed why preserving open space made economic – as well as ecological – sense.
“Her creativity and energy ensured widespread delivery of the messages in the report. She worked tirelessly to advocate for open space and foster collaboration on preservation issues,” said Elkis, of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Among Ms. Pitz’s projects was one to preserve land and develop trails in the Pennypack Creek watershed.
A year after Ms. Pitz left, the alliance was absorbed into the regional planning commission.
Earlier in her career, she had worked as a teacher, food program manager, environmental planner, and farmer’s market program coordinator.
She enjoyed weaving, quilting, rug braiding, and knitting as well as cooking, baking, gardening, and international folk dancing.
She is survived by her husband, D. Andrew Pitz; sons Scott and Cody; a daughter, Kathryn Pitz; and two brothers.
Services are to be at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, at Berwyn United Methodist Church, 140 Waterloo Ave., Berwyn. Burial is private.
Donations may be made to Chester County Food Bank via http://chestercountyfoodbank.org/donate/donate-money/, or to the Share Food Program via http://sharefoodprogram.org/tribute-gifts/.