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.

John Bares, Uber

It’s been only a few months since Uber put its new self-driving car lab in Pittsburgh, but Director Bares — who founded Carnegie Robotics — is already making moves by scooping up half of CMU’s legendary robotics staff. 

William M. Carter Jr., University of Pittsburgh School of Law

The new dean of Pitt Law is winning accolades for attracting diverse, dynamic classes of future attorneys — the men and women who will try our region’s cases, advise businesses and nonprofit organizations, and serve as our future political leaders.

Don Charlton, Jazz

As the founder and CEO of Jazz (formerly known as The Resumator), Charlton has created a data-driven software company that is upending the recruiting business on the national level.

Richard DeShantz, chef

For generations, downtown dining was focused on feeding the lunch crowd — fast. DeShantz continues to upend that belief with upscale dining at his growing empire, which includes Meat & Potatoes, Butcher and the Rye and now täkō.

Dan Gilman, Pittsburgh City Council

Few have a tighter bond with Mayor Peduto than his former chief-of-staff, who was elected to Peduto’s former seat on City Council in 2013. Gilman, who represents the development-rich East End, has proven to be a prolific fundraiser. 

Andre Heinz, The Heinz Endowments

The tight-lipped Heinz family won’t reveal who eventually will succeed Teresa as the president of the $1.5 billion foundation, but smart money is on Andre, who helped to lead its P4 urbanism event in May.

Marimba Milliones, Hill District Community Development Corporation

In early 2015, Milliones showed the might of neighborhood organizing by preventing the completion of the Penguins’ deal in the Lower Hill District until developers acceded to the group’s demands of oversight, minority hiring and affordable housing. 

Corey O’Connor, Pittsburgh City Council

The son of the late Mayor Bob O’Connor led a bold effort to make sick-pay leave a requirement for area businesses. Despite his relative youth — he’s 30 — his name is being bandied about among the power set as a future mayoral contender.

Next: 7 More of Pittsburgh's Future Power Brokers


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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