Dunmorean of the Month: Maria MacDonald

Maria MacDonald 1By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore’s Maria Pane MacDonald, program director for interior architecture at Marywood University School of Architecture, was named executive director of the national nonprofit, Center for the Living City.

The Center for the Living City was founded 15 years ago by friends of urban journalist and community activist Jane Jacobs who grew up in Dunmore.

Daughter of Michaelene and the late Francis Pane, MacDonald is a lifelong Dunmore resident and very proud of her roots in the borough.

“I see a lot of great architecture in Dunmore,” she said. “We have some great buildings and homes. But it is the community of Dunmore and the people in it who stand apart. All of the great things that are said about Dunmore and its citizens are true. This a borough I grew up in and never left.” 

MacDonald, who grew up in the same block in Dunmore as Jacobs, will become only the second director for the Center for the Living City organization. 

She replaces the center’s founding executive director, Stephen Goldsmith, who is stepping aside to focus his time on advancing the Center’s global Observation and Action Network. Goldsmith will remain on the center’s board of directors.

MacDonald is the founder of the Marywood University School of Architecture.

She continues to work as a practicing architect and specializes in adaptive reuse, preservation and restoration projects.

The Center for the Living City is a United States based nonprofit launched in 2005 by a group of activists, practitioners and teachers. It holds the distinction of being the only urbanist organization founded in collaboration with Jacobs.

The center’s governing board selected MacDonald from a strong field of more than 70 applicants.

Well versed and thought provoking, MacDonald received bachelor of arts degrees in both architecture and interior architecture from the University of Rhode Island School of Design, where she received the Excellence in Design award for her work on the “Reclamation of Forgotten Spaces.”

She utilizes a holistic, integrative design approach that aims to strengthen the relationships between the allied design disciplines and people and and the environments in which they live.

“I am thrilled to have been selected to work with the center’s board and staff to advance the mission,” MacDonald said. “This is an exciting time for Dunmore and Scranton and all of the universites and nonprofits.” 

MacDonald throughout her career has been team leader for many significant community projects. As an educator, her intense focus is on service and community outreach, providing community-based, experiential learning opportunities for her students and the people in the communities where they work.

She served for the past 15 years as Interior Architecture Program Director at Marywood University. She steered the program successfully through two full NASAD accreditations. 

“I am very proud to be a Dunmorean,” she said. “Jane Jacobs grew up on Monroe Avenue in Dunmore and I grew up and still live on Clay Avenue in Dunmore. She is an internationally known Urbanist and I am grateful to follow in her legacy.”

MacDonald has two sons. Her older son Neil MacDonald, 26, is a chemical engineer. Her younger son Ethan, 21, is a senior aerospace engineering major at the University of Maryland. Both are Scranton Prep graduates.

Her mom is a lifelong and proud Dunmore native. Her late dad died when she was young.

“We have a lot of great buildings in Dunmore,” MacDonald said. “that we can renovate and live in.

“We are now recognized both locally and on the international level. I think that is pretty great. We should be proud to maintain our identity. I am very proud to be a part of the Dunmore community my entire life.

“It is not a myth that we all know each other and you look out for your neighbors in Dunmore. We in Dunmore give back. There is a reason I never left Dunmore.”

The Marywood University School of Architecture is accredited with over 350 current enrolled students, MacDonald said.

MacDonald is a 1985 graduate of Dunmore High School. 

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