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Pittsburgh's About RiverQuest

Karl A. Thomas,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
RiverQuest

Karl Thomas is the Executive Director of RiverQuest, the not-for-profit environmental education organization that provides river-based programming for school children, the general public, and charters for businesses and corporations. He started in this post in March of 2005.

Karl, who was raised in Mendham, New Jersey, has broad experience in environmental engineering and environmental technology, and served in various capacities onshore and aboard submarine and surface vessels as part of naval officer training. Most recently he served as executive director for Friends of the Riverfront, Inc., a Pittsburgh not-for-profit dedicated to promoting public access to and appreciation of the region's waterways, and the developers and stewards of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, Pittsburgh’s riverfront trail network.

Prior to his tenure at Friends of the Riverfront, Inc., Karl served Pittsburgh-based Michael Baker Corporation in several roles. He was employed in Baker’s environmental division from 1995 until 1999 as an environmental engineer and later as an environmental information management specialist. In 2000 he took on increasing roles working across multiple divisions of this global company of more than 4,000 employees, and managed projects for local, domestic and international clients in the areas of environmental information management and geographic information systems. In his final two years with the firm, Thomas served on Baker’s international geospatial information technology leadership team.

From 1991 to 1992 Thomas completed chemical engineering studies at one of two federal Swiss engineering schools in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in 1994 earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, a bachelor's degree in engineering and public policy, and a minor in environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Karl is also a member of Leadership Development Initiative Class V. He is a Lieutenant in the Individual Ready Reserve of the United States Naval Reserves.

Karl lives in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh with his wife, Beatrice, and their two children, Ian, 6, and Lydia, 4. They are raising their children bilingually in French and English. He is an active member of an intentional faith community and volunteers with at-risk youth, the homeless, and neighborhood crime prevention and beautification.