Q&A: Julie Butcher Pezzino
(1) Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a young professional who loves doing work I’m passionate about. I moved to Pittsburgh 5 years ago and expected to be here for a year while my husband finished graduate school. Over the course of that year, I fell in love with the city and we’ve made it our home ever since. I live in Regent Square with my husband, Andrew and our dog Jasper Bacon. I love taking walks in Frick Park, spending time with great friends, and of course, eating great meals with lots of fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies.
(2) What caused you to get involved with Grow Pittsburgh and what is it about the organization that keeps you coming back?
I grew up in a farming community and took it as common that people shopped at farmer’s markets and ate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. When I went away to college in Washington, DC, I learned that was not at all the case. I started working in sustainable agriculture and became intrigued by the concept of urban agriculture. I started interning at Grow Pittsburgh while in graduate school at Carnegie Mellon and realized this organization had so much to offer the City of Pittsburgh. What keeps me coming back are the boundless opportunities that urban agriculture can create, the great people that I have the privilege to work with, and the belief that we can do so much more to feed ourselves right here in the city.
(3) Describe how a mentor or someone you look up to has helped you mold your life?
This my sound cliche, but my parents are two of my biggest mentors. They taught me about morals and social responsibility, that meaningful work doesn’t necessarily equate with loads of money, and the value of family and friends. They also fed me well and with all the right ingredients, so for that I am forever grateful!
(4) What makes you happy?
Having a lively discussion with friends and family over a glass of wine and a home-cooked meal at my house.
(5) If you had $1million, what would you do with it?
I’d certainly put some of it into Grow Pittsburgh’s operations, but I’d also give a lot of it to small, family farmers in the region and around the country. Without them, we will not be able to achieve food security in the United States.
(6) What type of music do you listen to, and what song will make you get up and dance?
I love all kinds of music – jazz, folk, hip-hop, reggae, classical. I couldn’t really say there is one type that I like the most. One song that will always make me get up and dance is Boogie on Reggae Woman, and really anything by Stevie Wonder.
(7) What are 3 things we would find in your refrigerator?
2. Various Cheeses
3. Lots of vegetables!
(8) What has made you as successful as you are?
I try not to bite of more than I can chew, but also challenge myself to do as much as possible in a short amount of time. I value time away from work and I think shutting off is extremely important for success – I believe strongly in weekends. I think its of utmost importance to listen to your staff when it comes to organizational decisions and ideas. There is no “I” in team!
(9) How do you define success?
Success is when you love what you’re doing and making a tangible difference in the world while doing it.
(10) Any decisions that you’ve made that you’ve regretted?
Plenty of them. I try not to dwell on regrets, though, because it would only keep me up at night. I just try to learn from bad decisions and not make the same mistake twice.
(11) What do you like to do on the weekend?
I like to spend time outside, hang out with my husband and my dog, go out for a good meal, see friends and enjoy all of the cultural activities Pittsburgh has to offer.
(12) What is your ideal vacation?
A week on a beach with no phone and email.
(13) What were some of your favorite childhood memories?
Playing in the woods with my sister, going to the farmer’s market with my parents and going on vacation to Cape Cod with my family every summer.
(14) Do you have any superstitions?
(15) How would your best friend describe you?
Well, this was a little hard for me to guess, so I asked her! Here’s what she said: “Julie is dependable, thoughtful and honest. She is the person who I can call on for anything at any time and know that I will get a listening ear, good insight and a compassionate truth about any situation. Julie’s dedication to the people and causes that are important to her is also a quality that I truly admire.”