Meet Pittsburgh's 40 Under 40 Honorees for 2017
We present this year's class of 40 people under the age of 40 who are making Pittsburgh a better place.
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Wasiullah “Wasi” Mohamed (25)
Executive Director, The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
Wasiullah Mohamed took over the leadership of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in 2015, at a time he was noticing a spike in hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment. And that stream of negativity has turned into a barrage, he says, since the election of President Donald Trump. “We have received plenty of negative messages and threats,” he says. “But we also receive an overwhelming amount of positive support.” Mohamed has helped to create how-to-be-a-Muslim-ally training; community potlucks unite Muslims and non-Muslims. The Islamic Center, located in Oakland, also gives tours to anyone who asks. “We do our small part to dispel the negativity,” he says. Mohamed, who came to the center just a week after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, presides over a diverse Muslim community comprised of 45 different nationalities. He serves on the city’s Commission on Human Relations and is also a local regional coordinator for Emgage, an organization that aims to engage the local Muslim community in political and other activist platforms to become a force for positive change.
Katie Patterson (35)
Program Coordinator, The Watson Institute Education Center in Sewickley
Growing up in Connecticut, Katie Patterson volunteered to help students with special needs by coaching a Special Olympics swim team. When she moved to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne University, she worked with children with autism at a summer camp program run by The Watson Institute. She loved the work and knew she had found her calling — to help children with special needs reach their full potential. “I never left Watson,” says Patterson, who started as a student teacher and worked her way up to leadership positions. As program coordinator of The Watson’s Sewickley site, she oversees around 125 staff members and more than 190 students who have a variety of special needs. She has expanded the SCALE summer program for children with autism by pairing each student with an organization so they can volunteer while learning pre-vocational skills in the community. As a mentor, Patterson has trained The Watson staff and other organizations on ways to teach independent living skills and on the benefits of iPads and other technology in their classrooms.
Kelly K. Wesolosky (38)
Community Outreach Specialist, FBI Pittsburgh Field Office
Kelly K. Wesolosky has seen many depictions of the FBI on TV and in movies. The Hollywood image doesn’t always match reality, and her job is to demystify the image of the FBI typically portrayed in books and movies and create partnerships within communities to help in the fight against federal crimes. To that end, she hosts the FBI Citizens Academy, where business and community leaders get an inside look at the investigative offices. “I cover all of western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. There is only one me and all that territory. I need partners. We value the partners in the community,” she says. Wesolosky is also the Director of the HOPE (Heroin Outreach Prevention and Education) Initiative to educate youth about the dangers of opioid and heroin abuse. Partnering with western Pennsylvania area school districts, she provides supplemental materials the schools use in health and journalism classes. “It has become a problem that cannot be ignored anymore,” she says. In addition to all that, she runs the Jr. Special Agent Program to promote internet safety and keep children safe from online predators.
Toni Murphy (34)
Vice President of Comcast Business, Keystone Region
Toni Murphy is constantly on the go. Running an organization of 160 employees, her territory at Comcast covers 100,000 customers in four states. In the hyper-competitive cable, Internet, fiber optics and telephone business, her role as a vice president for the company is to grow market share. “We are kind of a one-stop shop for businesses as they grow,” she says. “They can start off as a small business and grow to a large corporation. Our products scale as they grow.” Murphy, a graduate of Princeton University, worked on Wall Street before joining Comcast 10 years ago. In her leisure, Murphy unwinds by watching the “Real Housewives” reality shows. “I have such a busy and hectic life, it helps me find my happy place. I’m a Bravo-holic,” she quips. Murphy also serves on the board of the Pittsburgh chapter of Strong Women, Strong Girls. The group facilitates cross-generational mentoring by pairing executive women with college women, who in turn mentor young girls.