New County Executive Becomes Pitt Trustee

Issue Date: 
January 9, 2012

With his inauguration on Jan. 3, Allegheny County’s new chief executive, Rich Fitzgerald, became a member of the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees. Under the bylaws of the University, four governmental officials are ex officio members of the University’s Board of Trustees; they are the governor, the secretary of education, the mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, and the county executive of Allegheny County.

Fitzgerald succeeds Dan Onorato, both as county executive and as a member of the Pitt Board. Jim Roddy, the first Allegheny County executive, had been an active Pitt Trustee for many years prior to his election to the county’s highest post.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, Fitzgerald attended St. Lawrence O’Toole Elementary School, Central Catholic High School, and Carnegie Mellon University, paying his college tuition by working for the Yellow Cab Company as a taxi driver. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a business minor.

Fitzgerald began his career in Rockford, Ill., at NALCO Chemical Co. as a water treatment chemical sales associate. In the fall of 1982, he returned to Pittsburgh and started a small business, Aquenef (a verbal representation of the company’s mission, the combination of water and energy efficiency).  Almost three decades later, the company is the leading provider of water treatment equipment and services in the Western Pennsylvania region, with more than 700 customers.

In 1998, Fitzgerald worked on the campaign to change the form of government in Allegheny County, and a year later he ran for one of the district council seats in the newly formed Allegheny County Council. He represented District 11 from 2000 to 2011, serving as County Council president from 2004 until 2011, when he left office to seek the position of county executive.

In commenting on Fitzgerald’s new roles, Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, who recently was named to a six-person steering committee that will help oversee the work of the county executive’s transition policy committees, said, “Rich and I have enjoyed a mutually respectful relationship for years. He understands the importance of higher education to the strength of this region, now and in the future, and since he first was elected to County Council, we have been in regular contact on wide-ranging matters.  I not only welcome him to the Pitt Board, then, but look forward to working with him for the good of Allegheny County.”