Public Engagement Guide

Public Engagement Specialists 

Engagement Specialist manage and develop public involvement and stakeholder engagement activities for Department of City Planning (DCP) projects. Diverse outreach to underserved populations to achieve inclusive participation in our public engagement efforts is a priority for the Department of City Planning.  DCP's Engagement Specialists develop, manage, and execute the Department’s public engagement initiatives, plans, and strategies, including management of DCP’s content on the City’s online engagement platform (EngagePGH) and the implementation of DCP’s Public Engagement Guide and Toolkit.

Public Engagement Guide  

In the fall of 2018, Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning invited the Pittsburgh community to participate in a Public Engagement Working Group, a group created to review and renew the approach to public participation in the City’s long-range planning process. The key focus of the group’s work was to contribute to the public engagement strategy for the City’s Comprehensive Plan initiative. Engagement is a key aspect of completing the Comprehensive Plan, which, in coordination with major planning initiatives, will shape policy and practice for the city’s sustainable growth to 2030 and beyond.

The Public Engagement Guide outlines a framework for how the City should conduct engagement efforts throughout planning processes and establishes guidelines for improving the approach to engagement more broadly. The guide was developed through a collaboration of residents, community organizations and City Planning. It is designed to help increase engagement with the planning process. 


Public Engagement Guide Documents 

The following Public Engagement Guide and Public Engagement Toolkit, along with the Public Engagement Plan for both, were approved by Planning Commission on Tuesday, December 3.


In the final planning phase for the Public Engagement Guide, the community was invited to participate in a 30-day comment period. 

  • 30-Day Public Comment Period — October 11 through November 10, 2019 
  • Planning Commission Briefing — November 19, 2019
  • Planning Commission Hearing — December 3, 2019, unanimously approved


Public Engagement Working Group

The public engagement strategy development process included three key meetings and one public panel that focused on best practices and innovation for public engagement.

  1. Public Engagement Panel
  2. PEWG Meeting #1: Wednesday, October 10, 2018
  3. PEWG Meeting #2: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
  4. PEWG Meeting #3: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 
  5. PEWG Meeting #4: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 

The Public Engagement Working Group builds on a multitude of efforts by the City and Civic sector to improve public engagement, including the Deliberative Democracy approach, neighborhood planning, and equity and sustainability initiatives, which have worked to encourage and achieve active participation across a broad and diverse cross section of the Pittsburgh community. The Public Engagement Working Group’s tasks include reviewing engagement tools and national best practices, and looking at specific avenues for improvement, from public hearings to workshops and training. To see some of the examples we’ve been reviewing and to read about best practices in public engagement, check out Examples/Readings on Public Engagement.

In creating the Public Engagement Working Group, the Department of City Planning focused efforts on inviting and selecting a diverse and broad range of experts in public engagement. Those invited include individuals representing local universities, city government, Pittsburgh Public Schools, faith-based, non-profit and community organizations. Invited individuals were also asked to fill out an “Open Call” application, which was live for approximately two weeks as well as advertised on the Office of Community Affairs Facebook and Twitter, on the City’s NextDoor account, on the Department of City Planning Facebook and Twitter, in every Carnegie Library within city limits, and at a number of coffee shops and museums around the Pittsburgh. Additionally, City Planning staff distributed information about the Public Engagement Working Group to the community groups they work with and asked them to share that information. When the application closed, the Department of City Planning received approximately 70 applicants, from which 29 individuals were selected based off the criteria listed below. During this process we pushed to not only have a diverse representation of city residents, with at least two individuals represented from each of the nine Council Districts, but to also have the following types of representation:

  • Ethnic and racial background
  • Residential location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Experience in public engagement

The full listing of the Public Engagement Working Group members is below:

Zeba Ahmed Fineview & Perry Hilltop Citizen's Council
Karen Brean Brean Associates
Rashod X. Brown Arlington Resident, Garden of Peace Project
Brian Burley Young Black PGH
Geoff Campbell Greenfield Community Association
Rachel Canning Perry South Resident
Robert Cavalier Deliberative Democracy Forum - CMU
Keyva Clark

Mayor's LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council Representative

Patrick Clark Jackson/Clark Partners
Phyllis Comer Crafton Heights Resident, HOPE Project
Kristen Compitello Crafton Heights Resident, PHLF, CDC
Martell Covington Lincoln-Lemington Resident, Community Empowerment Association, Homewood Community Sports
Tim Dawson Deliberative Democracy Forum - CMU
Krista DiPietro Hazelwood Initiative, Resident
Carol Hardeman Upper Hill Resident, Bedford Hill Choice Neighborhood Board
Christina Howell Bloomfield Development Corporation
Shannon Hughes Lower Lawrenceville Resident, PA Health & Wellness
Donna Jackson Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar Resident, Larimer Consensus Group
Natalie Jellison Brookline Resident
C. Denise Johnson Crawford-Roberts Resident
Joshua Kivuva Stanton Heights Resident, PhD in engagement for democracy
Kevin McNair 1Nation Mentoring
Chrstine Mondor Pittsburgh Planning Commission
Aweys Mwaliya Somali Bantu Community Association of Pittsburgh
Grace Oxley Highland Park Reisdent, Homewood Children's Village
Chase Patterson Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh
Renee Robinson Garfield Resident, Carnegie Library Engagement Coordinator
Sarah Steers Brighton Heights Resident, Disabilty Community
Guillermo Velasquez Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Coorporation

Sophia Robison
Project Manager
Department of City Planning