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sarah sangiovanni

Director of Community & Systems Research

Sarah is an urban sustainability researcher and professional who is passionate about linking theory on equitable community development, sustainability transitions, and urban governance to their practice on the ground. 


Academically, she holds a PhD in Geography from Clark University and a Master or Urban Planning from SUNY Buffalo. Her research focuses on how the creation, use, and governance of urban places and spaces shapes transitions to more just and sustainable urban development. For her NSF-funded dissertation research, Sarah investigated how ecodistricts in the Pittsburgh metro area develop and scale governance innovations that shape regional place-making, investment, and community engagement practices. Prior to her position at the SWPA Hub, Sarah served as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Urban Studies program, where she designed and taught classes including Neighborhood Planning, Urban Sustainability, and Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning. 


Professionally, Sarah has enjoyed linking research and thought leadership on urban sustainability to the development of practical projects, tools, and partnerships. As a Program Manager at Sustainable Pittsburgh, Sarah developed programs to help businesses and municipalities adopt sustainable operations and practices, including creating the Sustainable Pittsburgh Workplace program. As a Program Coordinator at the University of Iowa’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, Sarah coordinated partnerships between university students and faculty with municipal and nonprofit leaders across the state to advance community-driven sustainability projects and research. 


Originally from New York, Sarah moved to and fell in love with Pittsburgh in 2019. She loves to garden, read, do yoga, and tend to her cats, and is a proud board member of the Millvale Community Library and Millvale Ecodistrict Collaborative. 


You can reach Sarah at

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