Three Peduto Administration Staff to Depart for New Positions

PITTSBURGH, PA (November 5, 2021) Three additional members of the Peduto Administration are moving on to new opportunities.  

“Leah, Hersh and Gisele have provided unparalleled public service to the communities of Pittsburgh,” said Mayor William Peduto. “They have listened to our residents, helped them with problems, educated them about city operations and assisted with breaking down the red tape that has traditionally separated residents from the government. I want to thank them all for their dedication, energy and service to the City.”  

Gisele Betances started her work as a community liaison in the Office of Community Affairs (OCA) in May of 2020 following a CORO Pittsburgh fellowship with the office. During her time with OCA, Betances worked directly with communities and managed several community engagement programs for residents.  

Her accomplishments include: 

  • Managed the City Cuts program during the height of the pandemic 
  • Increased immigrant participation in the Civic Leadership Academy, which teaches residents about local government operations directly from city department directors and leaders, and arranged to have Spanish interpretation for the program 
  • Coordinated and promoted volunteer engagement with internal and external partners to support critical city resident programs

Her last day in OCA was October 29 and on November 1 she started a new role as a Community Programming Coordinator for the Department of Public Works, where she will continue to manage community engagement programs.   

Leah Friedman began working for the City in 2017 as an AmeriCORPS VISTA Resilience Fellow with the Office of Sustainability and Resilience before moving to the role of community liaison in OCA in 2018. She was promoted to Community Affairs Manager in 2020 and shepherded the public engagement office through the new challenges to community interaction presented by the pandemic. She demonstrated leadership in OCA’s commitment to continuing to work with neighborhood and community groups to advocate their priorities and needs citywide. Her many accomplishments over the past four years include:  

  • Launched and managing EngagePGH, the City’s first online engagement platform 
  • Provided funding and education to Pittsburgh resident and communities through Love Your Block and Civic Leadership Academy and delivering vital services to seniors through Snow Angels and the City Cuts Programs 
  • Hosted and facilitated transparent public engagement opportunities for City residents, specifically for the Capital and Operating budgets engagement processes 

Friedman’s last day is November 5 before moving to a new role within the Department of City Planning as the Public Engagement Coordinator to strengthen public participation efforts in the City of Pittsburgh.   

Hersh Merenstein has served as the Local Government and Community Relations Coordinator for the Office of Mayor William Peduto since 2020. Merenstein joined the City in 2016 as communications manager for City Council District 8 before joining OCA in 2019. In his time with the city, he has worked on policy, legislation, community engagement and has advocated for residents' quality of life citywide. Some of his accomplishments include:  

  • Co-authored Mayor Peduto’s Marshall Plan for Middle America 
  • Contributed to crafting the City’s Dark Sky Lighting Ordinance, the first of its kind nationally 
  • Assisted restaurants with developing outdoor seating areas during the height of COVID-19 restrictions to help them safely continue operations during the pandemic 

Merenstein’s last day with the City was November 3. He will be assuming a new role as Government and Foundation Relations Manager for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. 


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Molly Onufer
Communications Director
Mayor's Office