15 of Pittsburgh's Future Power Brokers

According to the region's behind-the-scene players, these individuals are some of the city's rising stars.



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Julie Butcher Pezzino, Grow Pittsburgh

Led by Pezzino, the urban-gardening nonprofit organization — which seeks to bring fresh food to city neighborhoods — is blossoming. It now oversees three separate grow operations, including farms in Braddock and North Point Breeze, as well as the greenhouse at the Frick Art & Historical Center.
 

Adam Shuck, Eat That, Read This

The curator behind the pointedly funny weekday roundup of local news and gossip has become a must-read among members of the city’s power set — if only to ensure that they weren’t among the day’s targets.
 

Luke Skurman, Niche, Thrill Mill and Thrival Festival

Skurman’s Thrival music and innovation festival, held for the past two years in East Liberty and Larimer, is going big this year by moving to Hazelwood’s Almono site and including a week’s worth of innovation-focused events.
 

Luis von Ahn, Duolingo

As the co-founder of language-learning app Duolingo — which just netted $45 million from Google Capital to fund a staff and office expansion — von Ahn is helping to build Pittsburgh’s tech reputation. 
 

Jake Wheatley, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

The star of state Rep. Wheatley, who represents the Hill District, is soaring these days, thanks to a close relationship with Gov. Wolf and the millions in development dollars pouring into his neighborhood.
 

Dr. Vonda Wright, UPMC

In August, UPMC and the Penguins opened their long-awaited Lemieux Sports Complex, a 185,000-square foot practice, training and sports-medicine facility in Cranberry Township. The new medical director at the merging of the two mega brands? Dr. Wright, a respected orthopaedic surgeon, author and speaker. She’s also the brains behind the Women’s Health Conversations, a rapidly rising consumer health conference.
 

Lynn Zelevansky, Carnegie Museum of Art

Museum curation generally is focused on collecting and displaying history, but Director Zelevansky has made a strong effort to expand beyond the museum walls by involving the local community, including incorporating area artists into the Carnegie International. 
 

 

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Bill Fuller’s portfolio includes overseeing five specialty restaurants — Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar, Soba, umi and Kaya — as well as 14 fast-casual Mad Mex restaurants and a full-service catering operation. Even in an increasingly competitive environment, his restaurants remain in-demand and relevant.
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