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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 4 of 11)


 

Latasha Wilson-Batch   [39]
Executive Director, Best of the Batch Foundation


Transforming a family foundation from a single program serving 100 youth to a dozen programs that reach more than 3,300 boys and girls from financially challenged communities is no small order.

As leader of The Best of the Batch Foundation, Latasha Wilson-Batch did just that, giving the organization a reach across six counties. She developed special programs for girls and women focusing on education, sports and the challenges of growing up in the world today.

She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and physical education from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., and a master of science degree in professional counseling from Carlow University. She’s currently at work on a doctorate.

She also has raised more than $1.3 million for the foundation so far and is organizing a $10 million capital campaign to expand the organization’s reach and success.  

The biggest thing I ever had to overcome: The concept of letting go and just letting life happen.
 

Kathryn Vargas   [31]
Senior Manager, United for Children,
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania


Kathryn Vargas has a simple goal of colossal proportion: making sure children have an inalienable right to a quality education, a decent community and a fulfilling life.

As manager of programs for children and youth at the United Way of Allegheny County, Vargas has the job of making sure the agency’s investments in Allegheny County make the maximum positive impact on children and youth. In fact, she once dressed up as the PBS KIDS character Daniel Tiger just to see the reaction from children.

“I had never been in costume before, and to see how different kids and their parents reacted to a life-sized version of their favorite TV character was really adorable,” she recalls.

Serving at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, she was the sparkplug for a range of neighborhood efforts, reaching into schools, parks and community-wide campaigns. Among her notable innovations: she encouraged the neighborhood’s school crossing guards to work as “attendance mentors” to make sure young scholars didn’t just cross the street but crossed the boundary called graduation.  

If I had a second chance ... Nothing — I think it’s important to learn from both good and bad choices while keeping your mind and motivations on the things ahead.
 

John Huckle   [39]
Founder & CEO, BusinessForward


John Huckle keeps the music of his ancestral homeland Croatia alive in the United States. By profession, he’s an entrepreneur who began his career as a consultant with the Deloitte accounting firm, then later Pittsburgh’s own Freemarkets, before launching his own company, BusinessForward, at age 29.

He cut his musical teeth with the Tamburitzans, then a part of Duquesne University, and went on to serve on the board of directors of the newly formed Pittsburgh Institute of Folk Arts.

As rock and pop took over here and in Europe, the tradition needed an advocate. In the case of Huckle, the advocate knew the form so fluently that his previous band was invited four times to perform at Croatia’s largest folk music festival, showing that the new-age entrepreneurship of one Pittsburgh boy remained linked to the traditions of his ancestors.  

If I had a second chance ... I would have left Pittsburgh for a period of time and come back. I think that the opportunity of leaving and coming back possibly positions people to take new and different ideas from other areas and offer them to the folks in our region.
 

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