Past Award Winners
The Katherine Coffey Award is MAAM’s highest honor. The following individuals have been recognized for distinguished achievement in the museum field.
Richard Piacentini- 2017 Coffey Award Recipient
“Richard thinks differently. He sees the risk in not taking risks.” – Sarah Sutton, Consultant at Sustainable Museums
“A true game-changer… Richard’s innovative vision has furnished a new path for museums, one in which collections, research and education become part of an expansive platform to investigate the intersection of human and environmental health.” – Jason F. McLennan, CEO and Partner, McLennan Design, LLC
The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums is proud to announce Richard V. Piacentini, Executive Director of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as the winner of this year’s Katherine Coffey Award in recognition of his distinguished achievements in the field and lifetime achievements.
Since his appointment as Executive Director in 1994, Piacentini recognized that to serve a community in a lasting way, Phipps had to expand beyond classic plant display in the conservatory’s Victorian 1893 glasshouse and encompass issues relating to sustainability, worldwise biodiversity, and environmental health into the organization. He lead the charge in the green transformation of Phipp’s facilities and operations which included the construction of the first LEED® certified visitor center in a public garden; the first LEED certified greenhouses (LEED Platinum EBOM); the Tropical Forest Conservatory, one of the most energy-efficient in the world; and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a net-zero energy and water building and the only building to meet the Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, 4 Stars Sustainable SITES™, and Platinum WELL® Building certifications.
The sustainability efforts Piacentini initiated at Phipps are based on recognizing the vital connections between people, plants, health and the planet. This systems-based way of thinking influences all of the organization’s actions and programs, particularly those focused on awakening children to nature, and promoting human and environmental well-being. Additionally, Piacentini cofounded Let’s Move Pittsburgh, a program based on First Lady Michelle Obama’s national Let’s Move! Campaign, to improve children’s health in the region.
Piacentini serves on numerous boards of organizations including the International Living Future Institute, the Biophilic Cities Advisory Board, the Biophilic Design Initiative Advisory Committee, and the Mission and Community Needs Committee for Magee-Womens Hospital. He is a Past President, Treasurer and Green Buildings and Landscapes Committee founding chair of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). Piacentini has received numerous awards including but not limited to: 2017 CEO of the Year Award, Pittsburgh Business Times; 2015 University of Rhode Island Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award; 2014 Catalyst Award, 18th Annual Carnegie Science Awards; 2014 and 2013 Who’s Who in Energy, Pittsburgh Business Times; and 2011 Service Award, American Public Gardens Association (APGA).
Piacentini holds a Master of Science degree in Botany from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Business Administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island. He is a registered Pharmacist in Washington, D.C. and is a WELL Accredited Professional.