Knauer: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination


Kathy Knauer received her MS from Pitt Public Health in 1992 and is currently executive producer of The Allegheny Front, a nonprofit environmental news outlet, affiliated with the Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation. She started as a volunteer in 1995, leading an all-volunteer staff to produce the weekly environmental radio program. She was also an environmental scientist with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority until 2002, when The Allegheny Front received its first foundation grant to compensate staff.

Today, Knauer leads a team of award-winning journalists who report on environmental stories that impact the lives of the people in western Pennsylvania through public radio, podcasts, and digital media. She has developed collaborations with 90.5 WESA in Pittsburgh and other newsrooms across the country, building a national reputation for their reporting.

"Because of my time at Pitt Public Health, I can effectively guide reporters in interpreting the results of complex environmental health studies, so that research relevant to our region can inform the public, as well as decision-makers and leaders in the community. It’s one way that Pittsburgh can move toward a healthier future."

Knauer also was part of a multi-disciplinary team at Carnegie Mellon University, managing a water quality survey of Pittsburgh’s three rivers and multiple watersheds. As a student, she received a scholarship from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"At Pitt Public Health, I gained a deep understanding of how environmental factors like water quality, air pollution and toxic chemicals impact human health. This knowledge has been invaluable in my career in journalism, as I am able to communicate environmental issues to the public in a way that is easily understandable and can help drive solutions to these pressing problems," said Knauer. 

Knauer and her team were recently recognized by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. They received four Golden Quills and five Keystone Media Awards, including the First Amendment Award for their tireless work to publish the terms of a confidential 2018 settlement between a fracking company and residents who experienced the adverse effects of fracking operations. The immense importance of the work done by The Allegheny Front for our region cannot be underestimated. 

"A favorite part of my job is working with reporters to develop stories and special series about western Pennsylvania’s environmental issues through the lense of people’s first-hand experiences. It’s very rewarding to be able to tell these rich stories, with compelling voices from the community, that help the audience understand that environmental problems do indeed have a human component."

Read coverage: The Allegheny Front’s Executive Producer Recognized for Her Work by Pitt Public Health


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