Gallagher sets big goals as new Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall executive director

Written by Kellen Stepler

Marlee Gallagher loves telling stories.

She’ll now be telling the story of the historic Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall.

Gallagher, 35, of Carnegie is stepping into the role of executive director for the Library and Music Hall.

She started the position Jan. 2.

“I’m most looking forward to being part of this organization for this next phase,” she said.

Gallagher said her background is in fundraising and community engagement. She spent a decade working in community development in Wilkinsburg, Millvale and Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Gallagher moved to Carnegie with her family in 2020 and fell in love with the borough.

“Carnegie just has a nice feeling to it. … It’s walkable, community-oriented and friendly,” she said.

During her undergraduate years at the University of Pittsburgh, a mentor encouraged her to look into grant writing and public and professional writing, Gallagher said. The storytelling aspect of grant writing to positively impact a community was appealing to her, she said.

That, and living in Carnegie and being a library patron, made the decision to pursue the job of executive director seem like a perfect fit.

“It’s interesting to be at an organization that is so involved in the community, and my background in community development, it all came full circle,” she said.

Former executive director Maggie Forbes said Gallagher’s background makes her a “fabulous fit” for the position.

Gallagher has the background to be successful in the role, and she can bring a fresh outlook to the table, Forbes said.

“The things we can do with this gorgeous building, as far as I’m concerned, the sky’s the limit,” Forbes said.

Forbes, who has worked at the library and music hall for 20 years, said she’s excited to see what the future holds under Gallagher’s leadership.

“I think it’s a very exciting time and having met her, I was so impressed with how her background seems to fit,” Forbes said.

The library has a special place in Carnegie’s history and Gallagher wants to be sure that continues.

The library itself is unique, Gallagher said. It is a community library with a lot of programming for all ages. The music hall is a smaller venue that offers musical shows and other programs. The restoration of the music hall is a future project.

“It’s a very multipurpose building, and making it available to the community is very important to us,” Gallagher said.

Other goals Gallagher has are to ensure the building is around for years to come and to be sustainable to continue serving the community for the long term.

She said Carnegie is a very diverse community, and she’d like to expand on programming and reach more people in the community.

“I’m most looking forward to being part of this organization for this next phase,” Gallagher said.

Kellen Stepler is a TribLive reporter covering the Allegheny Valley and Burrell school districts and surrounding areas. He joined the Trib in April 2023. He can be reached at

Published on January 17, 2024 by TribLive.