Bobbi Watt Geer.

Bobbi Watt Geer became president and CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania in 2019 after holding multiple leadership roles with United Way of Westmoreland County. Prior to her work with United Way, she served as president of The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and worked at St. Anne Home and the American Heart Association. Bobbi lives in Murrysville with her wife and their two children.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

As you would expect, the job is keeping me very busy attending a myriad of community and United Way events. Outside of work, we have a number of family birthday celebrations, including my daughter’s 12th birthday party, that I look forward to attending.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of leading United Way is the opportunity to work closely with so many business and community leaders who are committed to helping people in our region live better lives. We are at the intersection of corporate, public and human service leaders; it’s an honor to work with so many caring, thoughtful leaders in our region.

Bobbi Watt Geer kayaking with her family on Lake Superior. Photo courtesy of Bobbi Watt Geer.

What is your big idea for Pittsburgh?

My big idea for Pittsburgh is to harness the power of the region. There are incredible resources and talent in the areas both inside and outside of what we traditionally think of as “Pittsburgh.” When I travel, I always say that I am from Pittsburgh, but people in Pittsburgh think I live days away because I live in Westmoreland County (Murrysville). While we certainly need to welcome more people and ideas from outside of Pittsburgh, we also need to be connecting our region to learn from one another and implement strategies that serve us all better and help the region to grow.

What book would you highly recommend?

“Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” by Stephanie Land. It is an incredibly visceral story of a single mom’s struggles to raise her daughter, illustrating how hard many people have to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?

I am a daredevil at heart. I will ride any roller coaster or any amusement park ride. I have flown in an acrobatic plane, tried scuba diving, had my motorcycle driver’s permit (though never got the license) and recently kayaked on very rough waters on Lake Superior. Age is tempering this a bit, but I have also learned to take the ibuprofen before these adventures.

What’s been bugging you lately?

The word “bugging” seems to imply minor annoyances. I try very hard to not let the “little things” bug me and I am mostly successful in not letting those little things (for example a long, traffic-ridden commute) alter my days. However, I will say that the degree to which people are willing to disparage others — our community friends and neighbors — on social media has weighed heavily on my mind lately.

Bobbi Watt Geer, president and CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Photo by Annie O’Neill.
Bobbi Watt Geer, president and CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Photo by Annie O’Neill.

Your not-so-secret Pittsburgh spot?

Most of my favorite Pittsburgh spots revolve around walking. I love walking in Frick Park and walking around city neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill and Highland Park.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to in the past year and why?

I love to travel together with my family and we have especially enjoyed visiting National Parks. A few months ago, we kayaked and camped in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin. The sunsets on Lake Superior were gorgeous.

Fill in the blank: In Pittsburgh, I can’t live without my ___.

Hate to sound cliché, but I can’t live without my Steelers. I grew up in Southwestern PA and watching the Steelers with my dad and brother was always special. This is a tradition I continue with my son, but now we have to text back and forth during games since he has moved to the Baltimore area.

See who else is NEXT Up hereHave a suggestion for NEXT Up? Email us!

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.