Meet Joey-Linn Ulrich!

An Interview with Joey-Linn

What do you look forward to the most about joining the Parks Foundation team?

I look forward to meeting the people and learning about their stories and what the parks mean to them.

What’s your favorite way to get outside and connect to nature?

This is a tough one as I have so many favorite ways! If I had to narrow it down to just one, I’d say hiking. I can do it in any kind of weather and I, by far, do this with the most people in my life, friends, family, colleagues.

What fuels your passion for environmental work? Where did this passion stem from?

My first memories as a child were going fishing with my dad. He would pack my sisters and me in the car along with my mom and dog and we would go up north to our cottage along French Creek for the weekends. Those were my fondest memories and made me passionate about ensuring that green and blue spaces would be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

What already completed Parks Foundation Project do you find most inspiring? 

I love the meadows for so many reasons! They help attract pollinators, which is so important to our eco system. Their ability to capture rainfall is another important feature and they are just so beautiful! I love it when they are in full bloom! It is like the ground is smiling when you come upon them in our parks. I love seeing so many people taking photos and sharing pictures on social media too. They are truly enjoyed by all.

Tell us about your favorite experience in one of your 9 parks.

So many!! I will limit it to just two. As a child, learning to ride my bike and biking with my dad and sisters. This is where he took us in the evenings while my mom worked. Some of my favorite childhood memories. As an adult, I would say training for and completing the Rachel Carson Challenge the first time. The training hikes with friends and then actually completing the full hike and crossing that finish line in Harrison Hills is an amazing feeling!

What is one thing you’d like Parks Foundation partners and supporters to know about you?

That working for the Parks Foundation is a true honor and privilege. Our work in improving the parks impacts every resident in Allegheny County and is so important to ensure that these beautiful spaces are preserved for future generations to come and enjoy and make memories.

After 25 years in the nonprofit sector, what is your biggest “lesson learned”?

That there is always more to learn and ways to grow! Every day I learn something new no matter where I have been. Each day presents a new challenge and the ability to be nimble is key to being successful.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanja Gupta. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and passed away a few years ago. Since then, I have been interested and fascinated by our brain health. In 2020 my best friend’s daughter was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at 16 and is now walking, talking and carrying on a life that we all never thought was possible.

What’s one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?

I was in the very first class of the Americorps program when it launched in 1994.

In college, I organized the first jean day to raise awareness about alternative lifestyles. I also helped organize the first alternative spring break program which has now grown to include domestic and international options.

What are 3 things you can’t live without?

A journal, duct tape and a good cup of Joe!

What is one thing you wish you knew at 15?

That life always has a way of working itself out. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, it is where true growth happens!

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Paddling the Salmon River in ID! I traveled solo to the destination before meeting up with a group of women I had never met before. 7 days on the Salmon River, camping along the river banks ~ the best time of my life!


Click here to view our announcement welcoming Joey-Linn as our next Executive Director!