Understanding Pittsburgh's unelected power structure

In the spotlight: 30 panels that address public safety, public health and economic development

Emma Lucas-Darby

This professor-turned-developer leads the panel that independently investigates allegations against Pittsburgh police.

Thomas C. Waters

The director of new media for the University of Pittsburgh is an independent voice on a board that's under the microscope.

Rev. Ricky Burgess

The city council member chairs the Pittsburgh Land Bank and holds seats on the boards of the Housing Authority and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

About this project

The Pittsburgh region is run in large part by more than 500 unelected board members of authorities, commissions and other governmental agencies.

Board members usually don’t get headlines. Those go to the mayor, the county executive or, occasionally, council members, controllers and directors. But boards often push for new policies, award contracts and grants, lead the charge against disease and pollution, and more.

Now, as the region copes with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and surging civil rights concerns, the operations of those boards are likely to affect our lives and futures more than ever. It’s time we got to know them better.

PublicSource’s new Board Explorer sheds light on these panels and their roles, providing information about each member and inviting analysis of this important part of the region’s power structure.

We started with 16 boards involved — directly or indirectly — in development. Now we're sharing details on 14 boards that address public safety, public health and economic opportunity.

Over the coming months, PublicSource will add more boards, further analysis and deeper looks at key members. Explore with us and, if you have a story idea or something you think we should investigate, please let us know.

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