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40 Under 40: 2016

Meet our 2016 class of 40 Pittsburghers Under 40 who are changing our region – and the world – for the better.



(page 2 of 11)


 

Christy Uffelman   [39]
Partner-in-charge, Pittsburgh Office, Align Leadership


Christy Uffelman was the first woman executive at Mascaro Construction. Later, she launched Align Leadership’s East Coast office, where she builds mentoring programs to help cultivate female leaders from the Millennial crowd. Under her, Align Leadership partnered with such firms as Consol Energy, Eat’n Park and FedEx Ground.

She volunteers with the Girl Scouts as a troop leader and is the Pittsburgh Chair of the 2020 Women on Boards. She serves on the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council Executive Team and the ATHENA committee of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

A native of Sheraden, she earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and corporate communications from Duquesne University before launching her first company at age 27.

Her speaking gigs have included appearances before the National Association of Women in Construction, the International Women and Film Summit, the Business and Professional Women and the Commercial Real Estate Women.  

My favorite Pittsburgh thing ... When I am talking with a friend at an event — and run into another a friend who I am then super-excited to introduce to the first — only to discover that they already know one another! Good people know good people. I love that about our town.
 

Chris Daley   [35]
Senior Manager of Digital Media, UPMC Health Plan


The TEDx talks — Technology, Entertainment, and Design — have become the Chautauqua movement of our century: a chance for ordinary folks to hear extraordinary ideas. They came to Pittsburgh in 2015 because of one man: Chris Daley.

By day, he is senior manager of digital media for the UPMC Health Plan, but he also has earned standing as one of Pittsburgh’s foremost digital innovators. Audiences have heard details about driverless car technology from its creator, Carnegie Mellon University’s Raj Rajkumar. Gisele Fetterman, herself a 40 Under 40 honoree last year, captivated listeners with her explanation of the Braddock Free Store and the 412 Food Rescue program.

Ticket sales doubled in the past year, and Daley created a proprietary mobile app for the events.

You’d be surprised to know ... I front a punk band called Mace Ballard (A-F Records). I’m laid back most of the time, so it’s sometimes surprising to people I know from outside the music scene when they see a show. I’m lucky to have an outlet to share another side of myself and be loud.

Michael Nites   [24]
Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company


Michael Nites didn’t simply take the helm at the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Government Board — he steered the ship toward new horizons.

Carrying a triple major in industrial engineering, mathematics and economics, Nites put in 40-hour weeks with student government while maintaining a 3.94 grade-point average.

As a junior and senior, Nites coordinated students running Pitt Make a Difference Day, sending more than 3,500 students to provide service around the city. With other student leaders, he convinced the university to hire a full-time sustainability coordinator, to eliminate plastic bags and paper receipts at dining halls and establish a university-sponsored thrift store. It culminated in his winning Pitt’s Star of Distinction for Campus Leadership and in 2015 being named Pitt’s Senior of the Year.

Toward the end of his senior year, Nites opened up to friends about his struggles with depression and later came out as gay. Since then, he has become an advocate for sexual minorities and volunteers with Proud Haven, a homeless shelter for LGBT youth.

My favorite Pittsburgh thing is ... the top of the Cathedral of Learning. You can see the city and the suburbs, and it gives you a different perspective.
 

Luis Von Ahn   [37]
CEO, Duolingo


If you recently have proved to a website that you’re not a robot, thank Luis von Ahn. The Guatemalan native is one of the co-creators of “CAPTCHA,” that little box in which you type blurry numbers and odd combinations of letters. Computer robots can’t read that text; only humans can. And it’s the field of “human computation” that von Ahn has helped to develop and define.

Through his work, he won a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and produced two companies that he sold to Google in his 20s. And it helped him to found Duolingo, the most popular online language-learning platform in the world. Duolingo boasts more than 120 million users and $83.3 million in investment.

One of Pennsylvania’s best-funded startup companies, Duolingo now employs 75 people at its East Liberty headquarters. School districts already have begun to adopt Duolingo as part of their language-training regimens.

At von Ahn’s direction, Duolingo has begun to sponsor Creative Technology Nights, a program focused on inspiring middle school girls to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.  

You’d be surprised to know ... I don’t read any books. Even though I’m a professor, I don’t like reading books. I find them inefficient.
 

Heather Hopson   [39]
Communications Director, Allies For Children


An award-winning “mom blogger” and community volunteer, Heather Hopson studied journalism in college, worked as a TV reporter in the Cayman Islands and helped the Pittsburgh Public Schools system with its social media outreach.

Today, as communications director at Allies for Children, she co-chairs the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, coordinating efforts for 50 disparate organizations across Pennsylvania. She scored a major victory when the state legislature enacted a new public school-funding formula for its 500 districts.

She spends her extra hours mentoring a Pittsburgh student as part of the Amachi program, has partnered with national brands to solicit donations for the Braddock Free Store and is opening a Free Store location in her native Penn Hills — all while raising her daughter.

My favorite Pittsburgh thing is ... My family. My maternal grandparents were married for 65 years and raised 15 children together. So as you can imagine, their home is always filled with lots of people, love and laughter. 
 

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