How Getting Outside Changed My Life

March 27 at 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

How Getting Outside Changed My Life: An Intimate Conversation

March 27, 2018, 7-9 p.m.

Join Rivers of Steel for an intimate conversation with women who credit trails and time spent outside with transforming their lives. More conversation than presentation, the evening program features stories of women whose experiences highlight the aspirational and the accessible capacity of trails to enhance our quality of life. From traveling great distances and building communities around shared passions to advocating for accessibility for all, these women’s journeys reveal the power of making personal connections to the natural world. 

Scheduled to attend are:  

  • Jayne Miller, President and CEO of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, an active cyclist and hiker and recent transplant from Minneapolis
  • Kerry Gross, who biked across the country in 2017, interviewing women along the way and now produces the Women Who Dare podcast
  • Lucia M. Aguirre, a.k.a. “Bikeygirl,” a renaissance woman who serves as president of the cycling advocacy group 412 Flock! and credits riding a bicycle to improving and changing her life. 
  • Valerie Beichner, Executive Director of Friends of the Riverfront, who did a 335-mile family relay run between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. in 2016
  • Heather McClain, a resident of Beechview who connects with nature and the urban forest in small but meaningful ways in her daily life and serves as a board member for Pretty Up Beechview.


This program will be held at The Brew House at 711 S. 21st Street in the South Side, and will be emceed by Amy Camp of Cycle Forward. The event is open to all ages and genders. Doors will open at 7 p.m., with the panel discussions beginning at 7:30. Attendees are invited to view the current gallery exhibit before the program begins. Light refreshments will be provided. Street parking and bike racks are available.

How Getting Outside Changed My Life is part of a two-program series exploring how women connect with and advocate for the outdoors. The other program, Opening Doors to the Outdoors, will feature a panel of five women sharing their personal nature stories on March 13.

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, the Heritage Areas Program under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. The space was generously donated by The Brew House Association.

These programs are presented by Rivers of Steel, a nonprofit that was founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region's natural and shared resources. Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences. 


This program is free and open to the public, although donations will be accepted in support of Rivers of Steel. Registration is required, as seating is limited. Please email or call (412) 918-6563 to register.


The Brew House
711 S. 21st Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)

Attendees are invited to view the current gallery exhibit, Growlerfest, which celebrates the art of the beer growler and features ceramic handmade growlers.

Panelist Bios

Lucia AguirreLucia M. Aguirre is an artist, writer, and music and bicycle aficionado who is the Board President for 412 Flock!, a local cycling group that is trying to make Pittsburgh better one ride at the time. Besides loving riding her bike, Lucia is a Project Manager and LEED AP™, BD+C at LGA Partners, a multi-service Architectural Design Firm located in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood.

Valerie BeichnerValerie Beichner is a seasoned nonprofit management professional with a background in organizational efficiency and capacity building, fundraising, HR and more. She holds expertise in green building and green building products, sustainable corporate culture, community and economic development, advocacy and organizational leadership.  Prior to joining Friends of the Riverfront, Valerie worked at Conservation Consultants Inc. as Director of Operations and Analytics as well as Green Building Alliance as Vice President of Development.  She also formerly worked at Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission facilitating a statewide energy efficiency program targeting municipalities. Valerie earned a BA in Political Science at Clarion University and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from RMU.  An avid runner, Valerie is an assistant coach for a local Girls on the Run team and enjoys volunteering in multiple other capacities within her community.  She and her husband, Chris, live in Leetsdale with their four young children.

Kerry GrossKerry Gross is the producer and host of Women Who Dare, a bike adventure podcast featuring interviews with remarkable women. Kerry started the Women Who Dare project as a way to make stories of inspirational women more accessible. During her 5-month, 5,800 mile bike journey from San Francisco, CA to Camden, ME, Kerry interviewed more than 20 noteworthy women and gathered a few adventure stories of her own. Now, she spends her time sharing these stories and wondering where life might take her next.

Heather McClainHeather McClain developed an appreciation for natural spaces at a very young age, spending time at a family friend’s butterfly farm in the rural Philadelphia area, and swimming in local lakes. That appreciation continued with environmental stewardship summer camps and high school clubs. Later she found a love of jogging while spending time at Valley Forge National Park on its beautiful hiking trails, and kayaking at Marsh Creek and French Creek State Parks in southeastern PA.

As an adult Heather has tried to tie nature and sustainability into her various media jobs, from work as a production assistant on “Growing a Greener World,” a TV show about organic living and gardening, to hosting community radio stories about environmentally sustainable businesses in and around Pottstown, PA. Heather is now a Beechview resident who connects with nature and the urban forest in small but meaningful ways. She also seeks to make an impact on her neighborhood and our urban greenways as a board member for the environmental stewardship group Pretty Up Beechview.

Jayne MillerJayne Miller began in February 2018 as the President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC), a U.S. nationally recognized parks conservancy.  The PPC was founded in 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh’s historic city parks.  To date, the PPC has raised over $105M for Pittsburgh parks and has completed 17 major improvement projects.  Currently active in 22 parks, the PPC is poised to raise its profile even further; working with the City for a parks referendum in 2018 and creating a unified governance structure with the PPC being responsible for management, operations and development of all Pittsburgh parks. 

From November 2010 through February 2018, Jayne served as the Superintendent of the nationally renowned and CAPRA accredited Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB).  The MPRB was recognized by the Trust for Public Land in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 as the #1 Park System in the United States and in 2016 and 2017.   The MPRB is a diverse system of land and water spanning 6,804 acres of parkland and water featuring 179 parks with 22 lakes serving approximately 23 million visitors annually. Jayne serves on the board of the World Urban Parks, City Parks Alliance, Indiana University Executive Development Program. Jayne also serves as a Founding Member of Editorial Board for the Journal of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in Public Health.  




160-inch Mill

160-Inch Mill
The Homestead Works 160-inch Mill was one of the largest plate mills in the U.S.