Credit: pawel.gaul/E+ via Getty Images


Breathe Project is a clearinghouse for information on air quality in Pittsburgh, Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. We use the best available science and technology to better understand the quality of the air we breathe and provide opportunities for citizens to engage and take action.

About the Breathe Collaborative

The Breathe Collaborative is a coalition of citizens, environmental advocates, public health professionals and academics working to improve air quality, eliminate climate pollution and make our region a healthy and prosperous place to live. The Collaborative powers the Breathe Project through science-based work and a community outreach platform.

Meet Our Team

Matthew Mehalik smiling

Matt Mehalik

Executive Director
Matt is Executive Director of the Breathe Collaborative and its communication platform, the Breathe Project, beginning in September 2016. From 2007 – 2016, he served as Program Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh where he created Pittsburgh’s sustainable business network, Champions for Sustainability, and its performance programs and networks. Matt has been teaching sustainability and environmental policy at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, since 2008. He has published multiple peer-reviewed articles in sustainability, design and education and has co-authored “Ethical and Environmental Challenges to Engineering” with Michael E. Gorman and Patricia Werhane. Matt’s Ph.D. is in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia. For the past 25 years, Matt has dedicated himself to creating and managing networks that transform systems for a sustainable, just, fair and hopeful future. He serves on the Phipps Conservatory Board of Trustees.

Debra Diamond Smit

Director of Communications
Deb serves as Director of Communications of the Breathe Project where she is managing media, marketing and messaging for more than 36 environmental organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia who are members of the Breathe Collaborative. She is an award-winning editor and journalist with more than 25 years of experience in print, radio and digital media. As a reporter, she specialized in environmental issues, business, technology and healthcare features. She was the founding associate editor of NEXTpittsburgh, a popular city-based publication, and a frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Magazine and Crain’s Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Fast Company, OZY, The Washington Post and Time-Life Books. Deb grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and has lived with her family in Mt. Lebanon for the past 20 years.

Phoebe Shackeroff Reese

Director of Programs
As Director of Programs for the Breathe Project, Phoebe facilitates collaboration and collective action between the 60+ member organizations in furtherance of the Collaborative's core clean air campaigns. She brings experience leading community climate action, sustainability consulting and visual storytelling. As Co-Chair of the Climate Reality Project Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA Chapter, she produced non-partisan climate education events and delivered a variety of public climate talks. Through her work as a sustainability consultant, she helped divert tens of tons of waste for large events such as a Hollywood movie premiere, a day of action on the National Mall and a clean air conference for 10,000 high school students. Previously, she served on the Executive Board of the Orange County, CA Renewable Energy Society and worked in the Sustainable Commerce Program at World Wildlife Fund. During her multimedia career, Phoebe worked on two independent features that won prizes at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals; a network TV show; several commercials; corporate video for Fortune 150 Companies; and a series for The History Channel. Phoebe holds a BA with honors in Literature from Yale, and an MFA in film and television production from University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts where she focused on directing and producing.

NaTisha Washington

Communications Manager
NaTisha uses her extensive organizing experience and media skills to educate residents on air quality and petrochemical issues alongside 60+ organizations. Formerly she worked as an Environmental Justice Organizer for 412 Justice advocating with community members to improve the quality of their environment. Formerly as the Green Initiative coordinator at Operation Better Block, she worked with the Junior Green Corp youth program in urban farming, vacant lot restoration and community engagement work within Homewood. In addition to her organizing work, she also owns an environmental consulting business named Washington Green Solutions and co-owns a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) consulting business named Just by Nature. In January 2023, she will be officially sworn in to serve as a Wilkinsburg Borough Council member for her hometown. Her ultimate goal is to ensure that disinvested communities are provided with the resources and investment needed to create equitable, safe and healthy communities.

Joe Callahan

Business Manager
Joe serves as the Business Manager for the Breathe Project and Marketing Specialist for the SWPA Grassroots Town Halls. He is a seasoned marketing and operations professional with over 20 years of experience managing complex campaigns and projects across many different industries. He is published in more than 100 journals publications and blogs including Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily, CNBC, Time, Fortune and Marketing Sherpa. Joe grew up in the south hills of Pittsburgh and is a graduate of Westminster College.

Breathe Collaborative