Michael DiBerardinis was born in Downingtown, PA and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from St. Joseph’s University. He is the former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR), appointed by Governor Ed Rendell in 2003. He resigned from DCNR in 2009 to become the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation and serve as Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources for the City of Philadelphia. He also serves as special advisor to the mayor, Michael Nutter, on the Free Library of Philadelphia. His position as Commissioner for the Parks and Recreation Department requires management of all of the city’s 63 parks in the Fairmount Park System, and as deputy mayor, he oversees the operations of the city’s recreation events, facilities and programs.
Prior to DiBerardinis’ public administrator positions, he got his start in peace activism in the early 1970s, eventually moving on to grass-roots community organizing work in neighborhoods. He worked as a community organizing in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, later becoming a political organizer for Rep. Thomas Foglietta in the late 1980s. In 1991, Mayor-elect Ed Rendell offered him a city government position, and he took it with the Recreation Department, revitalizing Philadelphia neighborhoods throughout the 1990s. In 2003, he rejoined newly elected govenor Ed Rendell to become the secretary of DCNR.
In DiBerardinis’ six years as secretary of DCNR, the department protected more than 150,000 acres of Pennsylvania land and helped establish and develop the Pennsylvania Wilds. He also helped expand TreeVitalize, a state-wide initiative to help plant 1 million trees in the metropolitan areas of the commonwealth. He received the Joseph Ibberson Government Award from the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation in 2007 largely as a result of these efforts.
As commissioner of Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department, he works alongside the City Planning Commission, updating the comprehensive plan and developing Green 2015 (http://planphilly.com/green2015), a park planning project that provides parks and recreation resources within 10 miles of 75% of the city’s residents. This sustainability plan has a goal to add over 500 acres of new, publicly accessible open space, transforming overdeveloped and under-utilized areas of the city.