40 Under 40: 2013
Our honorees help the city to become even more innovative, caring and socially conscious.
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Hollie Geitner 
Vice President of Client Services, WordWrite Communications LLC
There was a time when Hollie Geitner lived her life in Pittsburgh’s spotlight. While at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, she helped coordinate communications outreach related to the 2009 G-20 Summit, the 2011 NHL Winter Classic and the renovation of Market Square; she also oversaw the 50th anniversary of Light Up Night. In 2011, she changed jobs and slipped behind the scenes to work one-on-one with corporate clients, sharing their stories with everyone “who needs to see, hear and experience them.” Her service work has reflected this move, as she sits on the board of Circle C Youth and Family Services and uses Twitter to find causes that need a little extra help. When Geitner learned that Light of Life Ministries was hosting a baby shower for seven women who wouldn’t otherwise have supplies, she says, “I just couldn’t even imagine being in a [circumstance] like that, where it’s such a joyous situation — but you don’t have a home, and there’s a lot of uncertainty.” Geitner put together bags of baby necessities and dropped them off one day on her way to work. Such acts define her service.
Michael Rethage 
Consultant, SDLC Partners LP
Michael Rethage was awarded the Presidential Service Award 2013 for his work as the president of the Young Professional Outreach Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. He brings his passion for service into his office at SDLC Partners, where he has spearheaded SDLC Connects, a committee to help organize and promote volunteerism and philanthropic efforts within the company. As president of that team, he brought everything full circle with the 2013 Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake event, at which more than 130 SDLC employees raised nearly $17,000. Why did he choose Big Brothers Big Sisters? “A lot of people look at Big Brothers Big Sisters and they think that these kids are just troubled youth, and that’s not the case. Sometimes they’ve just had a rough situation.” The reasons could be as wide-ranging as disabilities or a death in the family, “or maybe they just want a ‘big brother.’” While Rethage has his cause of choice, he’s interested in encouraging people to spend a little extra time with an organization they believe in.
Scott Tobe 
President, Signature Financial Planning
Scott Tobe remembers the day he job-shadowed his father, a financial planner. A client began crying tears of joy, hugged his dad and said, “Because of you, my son is the first person in our family to graduate from college.” Tobe was hooked. He got an internship with Eaton Vance, a financial company in Boston, worked for Putnam for three years and came back to Pittsburgh in 2002 to join his father’s business, Signature Financial Planning. He is now company president, and he brings a service element to the business. Staffers go out as a team to the Jubilee Soup Kitchen and the Ronald McDonald House to volunteer their time. “It allows everyone to recognize how fortunate we all are,” says Tobe. “None of us is going to worry about where our next meal is coming from. For the people that we’re serving, that’s not necessarily true.”
M. Bernardine Dias 
Associate Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon University; Founder and Director, TechBridgeWorld, CMU Robotics Institute
Growing up in Sri Lanka, M. Bernardine Dias witnessed foreign experts who were flown in at great expense to solve problems. In the end, they often tried to “transplant a solution,” she says. “It never really worked and often caused more problems.” That’s what she wanted to avoid when she founded TechBridgeWorld, a research group out of Carnegie Mellon University that seeks to use robotics to solve problems and meet the needs of underserved communities. “We try to build technology that can serve them, rather than trying to push technology that has been built for the rest of us,” says Dias. Unlike many similar groups, those affiliated with TechBridgeWorld never go anywhere without a local partner or an invitation, and their partnerships often last for years. For important projects that don’t fit into academic restrictions, Dias also owns a consulting group, Diyunu, which undertakes regular consulting jobs and reinvests a portion of the profits into social-justice projects.
Adam Paul Causgrove 
Grant administrator, University of Pittsburgh Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Director of Community Outreach, Side Project Inc.; President, Paws for Olympia Park
In 2012, Adam Causgrove, his cousin and several friends combined their skills to form Side Project Inc., which offers fundraising, legal and administrative support to up-and-coming nonprofits and community groups. “People all around Pittsburgh are doing really amazing things,” says Causgrove, adding that up-front costs can be an obstacle for organizations with limited funding. “We help people build sustainability, where they can work with us until they’re able to go and sustain themselves on their own.” Under the Side Project umbrella, there are also “Side Project side projects.” One of these is Dinfinity, in which a Pittsburgher hosts dinner for a few acquaintances who have never met. Each guest contributes $1 — and agrees to host a Dinfinity event of their own in the future. At the end of its first year, Dinfinity will donate the money to an apolitical, community-based charity. Causgrove, who sports a neatly groomed handlebar mustache, also is president of the American Mustache Institute — another “Side Project side project.” The institute, which named Causgrove its 2012 Mustached American of the Year, satirically protects the rights of mustached people while raising money for children’s charities. Why kids? “Because kids love mustaches,” says Causgrove. “They’re some of our biggest supporters.”
Ryan Saari 
Manager of Acquisitions, Allegheny Financial
Ryan Saari always had a great interest in medicine. Although he typically works more than full-time hours at Allegheny Financial, Saari finds time to volunteer at Sharon Regional Health System on weeknights and weekends. He keeps cancer patients company as they receive treatments. “It’s absolutely the most grounding and real experience,” says Saari, who notes that many patients go to treatments alone. He learned that in person at age 13, when he stayed at a Ronald McDonald House while recovering from a knee surgery. That experience left a lasting impression on Saari, who also helps at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Ronald McDonald House. “In my opinion,” he says, “volunteering is really about recognizing that someone’s life is tougher than yours and then doing something to make their life easier.” For Saari, volunteering is a mutually beneficial experience. “They often can tell that they’re helping me fill a little bit of a void in my life, as far as being a young person living at the speed of light,” he says. Despite the significance of his volunteer work, Saari says he still finds himself typing “31 too old to be a doctor?” into Google every once in a while.
Adriane Deithorn 
President and CEO, Wish Hope Dreams, Inc.
Though Adriane Deithorn’s first career was as a figure skater, she grew up in a family that was devoted to giving back. Her mother was instrumental in bringing the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to Pittsburgh in 1993; Deithorn’s mother later joined the board of directors on the national level, while she became a local volunteer in the movement to fight breast cancer. Then her mother became ill and died of the very disease they’d been working to defeat. Deithorn says “... I made it my mission to continue to help people, to work in nonprofit in some caliber.” For five years, she was employed by the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, where she started as expo director and moved up to a director position. Today, she calls herself the “Heinz 57 of Fundraising.” As an independent fundraising consultant, she does anything from grant writing to event planning to board development. Deithorn also supports groups including Bethany House Academy, Stage Right, Pressley Ridge and Grace Life Church.
Anya Martin 
Founding Artistic Director, Hiawatha Project; Director, Writer and Performance Artist; Adjunct Professor in Theater Directing, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama
Anya Martin wants you to think differently about theater’s potential. As the founding artistic director of the Hiawatha Project, she builds collaborative pieces focused on diverse and eclectic social issues from the ground up, starting with an issue-related question and involving the community in establishing a more complex understanding of it, and finally collaborating with artists. “The goal,” says Martin, “is to take a really specific story and crack it open and find the universality in it.” Her first show, Camino, began with the story of an immigrant friend who was incarcerated in a for-profit jail. For the piece, the Hiawatha Project connected with the Latino Arts Youth Group and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Interact Network. After staging the performance, Martin says she hopes she’s spurred people to change their perspectives. In Pittsburgh, people talk a lot about immigrant history, but, she says, “they think of it in a sepia-toned nostalgic sense, whereas there are many immigrants still coming to Pittsburgh today for the exact same reasons that our great-great-grandparents came to Pittsburgh.” She hopes to shed some light on those experiences through each of her works, including a forthcoming show about folk legend John Henry.