75 years of Visionaries

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has sought out visionaries throughout its 75-year history – organizations and leaders with bold ideas to improve the quality of life in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and to advance environmental conservation across the United States. The leaders of six of the Foundation’s longtime grantee organizations shared the stories of their visionary work enabled by the Foundation, at a celebration of the Foundation’s 75th anniversary in December 2022.

A Vision to Conserve Precious Lands Across the U.S.

To realize its vision for environmental conservation across the United States, the Foundation needed a national partner with a passion for environmentalism and the business savvy to achieve it at scale. It found such a partner in The Conservation Fund. Conservation Fund CEO Larry Selzer shared the story of the Conservation Fund’s remarkable work with the Foundation.

A Vision of the Arts as an Engine of Prosperity for All

The Foundation’s first Board meeting in 1947 included its first gift to advance Pittsburgh’s arts and cultural resources. Through generations of strong artistic and cultural organizations, Pittsburgh now is a national destination for arts and culture, with a roster of destinations that reflect Pittsburgh’s rich diversity. Janis Burley Wilson, the CEO and Artistic Director of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, shared the story of that vision.

A Vision to Transform Pittsburgh Through Technology

In 1964, Richard King Mellon and his wife Constance gave a significant gift to Carnegie Mellon University for a fledgling academic enterprise called “computer science.” CMU President Farnam Jahanian shared the story of how that gift, and others since, have enabled CMU to become a national leader in computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced manufacturing – with powerful positive impacts for Pittsburgh.

A Vision for Healthier Communities and National Healthcare Leadership

Two of the grants at the Foundation’s first Board meeting in 1947 were to local hospitals – hospitals that later became part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. UPMC has played a central role in making Pittsburgh a national healthcare leader. Leslie Davis, UPMC’s President and CEO, shared the story of the impacts of that 75-year partnership.

A Vision of Prosperity Through Higher Education

In the 1830s, a young farmer named Thomas Mellon had big dreams – but knew he needed an education to achieve them. So he matriculated at a small school that today has become one of the nation’s great academic and research institutions: the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher shared the story of how the vision that Pitt seeded in Thomas Mellon started a powerful collaboration that continues today, and that culminated recently in one of the grandest shared visions yet.

How Pittsburgh Became Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

All the world knows the remarkable story of Fred Rogers, and his essential work for children through his public television program, “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” Fred’s longtime colleague, Bill Isler, shared the story of how Fred’s remarkable vision found a home in Pittsburgh, and the important work since to share it with the world.