25 Most Beautiful People

This year’s 25 Most Beautiful People aren't just pretty faces. These men and women make our community a better place. They are our protectors, healers, advisors, mentors. All are likable, giving new meaning to why we’re most livable. Behold, our 2008 beauties.

Yvonne Petraitis
Owner, Mia Boutique

Works: For herself as owner of Mia Boutique, an upscale clothing and accessory shop in Oakmont.
Loves: Giving back. A three-time cancer survivor, she’s passionate about the local chapter of Gilda’s Club, an organization that supports families and patients battling cancer.
Beauty Is: “Sincerity, compassion, integrity and direction,” says Petraitis. “That is how I live my life, thinking about how another person feels and what makes someone else feel good.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I’ve healed physically and grown stronger spiritually. I want to help other women in the same way by raising awareness [of], and donating to, Gilda’s Club.”

Joshua Nicholas
Waiter, Morton’s The Steakhouse

Works: Providing personalized service to guests at Morton’s The Steakhouse. He views restaurant hospitality as entertainment for patrons. Nicholas treats every table as if the patrons there are
dining in his own home. He also occasionally models on the side.
Loves: Interacting with people; a good steak; a good game of softball with the local gay softball league; renovating the home he owns with his partner in Point Breeze, and their two miniature dachshunds, Oscar and Alfie.
Beauty Is: “When one is grateful with what one has. When I have a grateful heart, my attitude is abundant with joy–my heart opens up and things are just so much more open to me.”
New Year’s Resolution: “To live more in the moment and to enjoy and appreciate each day.”

Ron Johnson
Firefighter, City of Pittsburgh

Works: Fighting fires or responding to other emergencies. Johnson works 24-hour-long shifts for the city, covering calls in the downtown and Oakland areas.
Loves: Trips to the gym, volunteering as a coach for little league, motorcycle rides and time with his daughters, Anastasia and Ayana.
Beauty Is: “[How you] carry yourself and treat others.”
New Year’s Resolution: “To be a better father, stay in shape and stay on top of my job.”

Arnold Zegarelli
Education Director and Stylist, Izzazu Salon

Works: As a stylist and trainer of stylists at Izzazu. Though partially retired, Zegarelli puts his 50 years of salon experience to work, cutting hair and helping his protégés and bosses, owners Emilio Cornacchione and Gino Chiodo, train the staff at their downtown salon.
Loves: Helping clients discover their own beauty, donating his makeover expertise to charities to raise funds, and his wife of 50 years, Dolores.
Beauty Is: “Someone like Mother Theresa or Mr. Rogers who gives but never really expect anything back.”
New Year’s Resolution: “Appreciate every day. What you think about you bring about, so I’m going to be as positive as possible.”

Vike Rideout

Worked: As a nurse, then in the reservations center for the airlines. Now retired, Rideout was recently one of the AARP’s “Faces of 50+ Real Models,” part of a group that shows beauty and style don’t expire at any age. Rideout was part of a March/April 2007 AARP Magazine feature on beautiful skin.
Loves: Tennis and golf, activities that keep her busy almost every day when the weather is warm. Rideout also volunteers for Union Aid Society, a Sewickley-based nonprofit that helps people in the Quaker Valley School District.
Beauty Is: “As beauty does. I think it’s a spirituality you have to have about you. Giving,
loving your neighbors and yourself, helping others and just being selfless.
New Year’s Resolution: “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I used to, but nine-tenths of the time they fizzled out.”

Tom Bedger and Jeff Pierce
Owners, Toadflax

Work: Together, bringing their interests and passions to the shelves of the Shadyside boutique Toadflax. The shop
specializes in floral arrangements, high-end personal-care products, garden accessories, holiday decorations and
anything else that they find exciting and interesting.
Love: Their clients, many who have been customers for decades. They both love their dogs. Bedger’s giant schnauzer, Edgar, and Pierce’s Briard, Ellie, spend the workdays at Toadflax and are recognizable staples on Walnut Street. Bedger and Pierce share interests in cooking, gardening and traveling—and all of these passions are reflected in the merchandise on their shelves. “We sell what we love,” says Pierce.
Beauty Is: “What we do here,” says Bedgar. “We try to make the shop really beautiful. There’s nothing here that
people need. It’s the pleasures of life.”
New Year’s Resolution: Not for these two. “If something’s wrong with my life, I change it,” says Pierce, speaking for Bedgar as well.

Jon Borgo
Account Executive

Works: As a newly hired sales professional selling mortgages and personal loans. Previously, he was a
drug-and-alcohol counselor. And if you’re thinking he looks familiar, Borgo appeared in the November 2007
issue of Cosmopolitan magazine as Pennsylvania’s “Most Eligible Bachelor.”
Loves: His motorcycle, playing guitar (he’s self-taught), going to the gym, running and playing hockey.
Beauty is: “[When people are] comfortable in their own skin,” Borgo says. His mom nominated him for the Cosmo contest, and he credits his parents for his own self-esteem. “They gave me every opportunity to succeed and have faith in me, which made me a more confident person.”
New Year’s Resolution: “To keep in touch with friends and find some old college friends [from Indiana University of Pennsylvania]. We had such a good time in school—I want to bring that back.”

Jackie Duplantier
Teacher, Pittsburgh Linden

Works: As a second-grade teacher at Pittsburgh Linden where her kids know her simply as “Mrs. D.” She’s been teaching for 28 years, starting in Louisiana. She and her family moved here 18 years ago, and she’s been teaching at Pittsburgh Linden ever since.
Loves: Teaching, children and making a difference in young lives. Duplantier also enjoys seeing her
students play together and smile, the changes in seasons in Western Pennsylvania, and her family.
Beauty Is:  “When I walk into the classroom and I see the children. I see their eyes light up as they see what I’m teaching or helping them learn. Beauty means you are kind to other people, respectful and helpful.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I try to live every day as effectively as possible. And I try to learn something new,” she says.

Daniel Sepulveda
Punter, Pittsburgh Steelers

Works: As the starting punter for the Steelers. This special-teams player was the Steelers’ startling but celebrated fourth-round draft pick last year, proving a good pick to the black and gold during his rookie season.
Loves: God, his faith, his parents and three brothers in Texas, anything he can do outdoors, and pancakes.
Beauty Is: “I can’t help but bring faith and your heart [into my definition of beauty]. Really that’s all we are. True beauty is faith, and what we are deep inside. True faith is reflected by the way you live your life and the principles you apply to life to make decisions. All of us fall short, but I try to live my life according to biblical principles: putting God first, others second and myself third.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I’ve never really been big on New Year’s resolutions.”

Sabrina DeMatteo

Works: As lead singer, percussionist and songwriter for No Bad Juju, a high-energy, funk/r&b/soul band. DeMatteo has sung professionally since she was 16 and has appeared in musical theater productions, and in print and TV ads.
Loves: Music and performing. Growing up, DeMatteo studied classical piano, dance and participated in musical theater at Schenley High School. “On stage, that’s where I come alive,” she says.
Beauty Is: “How you make other people feel—wonderful, comfortable and happy,” DeMatteo says.
New Year’s Resolution: “To become more productive in every way, career-wise, doing charity work, or just life in general.”

Nate “Da Phat Barber” Mitchell
Stylist, DJ and Promoter.

Works: Three different jobs, the result of three passions. He’s a barber and owner of The Natural Choice salon in Oakland. He and his team specialize in styles that don’t require chemicals, such as braiding, dreadlocks or twists. Known as “Da Phat Barber,” Mitchell also spins primarily at events and private parties. His most recent venture is a party-promotion firm called Charismatic Marketing.
Loves: Practicing yoga, cooking, spending time with his 12-year-old daughter and caring for his home with his fiancée.
Beauty is: “Being able to make lemonade out of lemons, at any time or any place, with any person in any situation. Even with the problems, you’re blessed to be here. Life is beautiful, just being here, and being able to live it.”
New Year’s Resolution: “My resolution every year is not to make any resolutions. If I could, I would try to make time for other people.

Bob Fragasso
President, The Fragasso Financial Advisors

Works: Managing his company. Fragasso and his team of financial advisors manage portfolios for individuals to plan for long-term goals, such as funding college educations. Fragasso also helps companies manage their employee retirement plans.
Loves: His community work with Animal Friends, where he’s been a board member for 15 years. Fragasso also sits on the boards of LaRoche College, Amen Corner and the Rivers Club.
Beauty Is: “Character, accomplishment and contribution. Beautiful people live their lives the way they believe they should live it; they put their gifts and opportunities to work, and they realize that nobody got where they are on their own and there’s a payback obligation.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions [that are] corrective and punitive. I would rather make a 2008 set of objectives, which will concentrate on my family, my business and personal accomplishment.”

Lillian Ochoco-Cavanaugh
Doctor of internal medicine

Works: In internal medicine, specializing in the treatment of geriatric patients. Dr. Ochoco-Cavanaugh visits several area nursing homes, is affiliated with West Penn Hospital and sees patients twice a week at the practice she shares with her
husband, Francis Cavanaugh.
Loves: Hula dancing. It was a fad when Ochoco-Cavanaugh attended medical school in her home country, The Philippines. She travels to continue studying hula and teaches two classes a week. She also sits on the board of the Pittsburgh Folk Festival, where she organizes the event’s vendor/marketplace area.
Beauty Is: “In the medical profession, it’s being compassionate with whoever you treat,” says Dr. Cavanaugh, who works primarily with elderly patients. “[Older people can be] difficult to take care of because they are reluctant to talk, can’t express what they’re thinking or aren’t able to talk to you. I take time with them, to know what they’re feeling. If you rush, you cannot do as much for them.”
New Year’s Resolution: “Through the years, I’ve been giving, and giving and giving, so maybe for just the first few months of this year, my resolution is to spend more time with myself instead of giving so much time to those around me. I need more time for myself to relax.”

John George
Student, Bar Security

Works: As a bouncer at Alto Lounge, Firehouse Lounge, Shootz Café and many other locations. Next month,
he’ll complete his associate degree in carpentry from Triangle Tech begin to fulfill his aspiration to work with his hands.
Loves: His teenage daughter, Nicole, and infant son, Ian. “My drive and determination come from my little man,” George says.
Beauty is:  “Someone who is genuine. It’s about how they treat you and act—they make everyone feel good.”
New Year’s Resolution: “To continue to be a better person, a better father, a better friend and a better husband.”

Natalie Coccia
Executive Assistant, DataVibes Inc.

Works: In a number of roles. Coccia assists the CEO of Datavibes Inc., a data warehousing company, where she’s also developing marketing materials for the company’s sales force. She’s also a waitress at Spaghetti Warehouse, and she uses her public-relations expertise while working with La Vie Gallery on the South Side.
Loves: Writing, graphic design, playing viola with the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra and living in Lawrenceville.
Beauty Is: “Doing things you’re passionate about,” Coccia says. “It’s trying to accomplish things you want to do,
living life to the fullest, and being happy.”
New Year’s Resolution: “To become more involved in different cultural [organizations] or charities in Pittsburgh,” Coccia says.

Melanie Costa

Works: Dr. Costa is co-owner and practitioner at Francis and Costa Associates in Dermatology. There she helps patients improve their skin and keep it healthy.
Loves: Working with her hands. Costa enjoys the surgical part of dermatology. But she also loves that her specialty allows her to be well-balanced, which means spending more time with her husband, Brent Cain, and young daughters, Lily and Gracie.
Beauty Is: “Feeling good about yourself. I have confidence in myself, and I help others achieve self-confidence and that makes me feel good.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I’d like to get involved in charitable work with my kids. I want to volunteer so my family can benefit [from the experience]. It all comes back to them.”

Vonda Wright
Orthopaedic Surgeon, UPMC Center for Sports Medicine

Works: Treating athletes, especially those who are over 40. These patients are the largest demographic, have the most needs and are the most frequently ignored. Wright developed one program to help mature athletes stay on top of the game and another to help adults get in shape.
Loves: Long-distance running and adventure travel. Wright climbed Machu Picu and toured the Italian countryside alone. These days, however, she’s loving spending time at home with her newborn daughter, Isabella.
Beauty is: “An innate quality that people carry with them to enable others to feel happy, listened to and important.”
New Year’s Resolution: “If there’s something I really want to accomplish, I find the people who can help me, and I just do it. If I don’t take an active approach, it’s just words.”

John Lynch
Swim Coach; Investment advisor, Hunter Associates

Works: As an investment advisor with Hunter Associates, managing financial portfolios for clients. Lynch also coaches swimming, a passion he’s pursued for 25 years. He’s coached the Jewish Community Center’s Sailfish Swim Team since 1990.
Loves: A good round of golf. Lynch used to swim competitively and ski, but injuries prevent him from hitting the water or the slopes these days.
Beauty Is: “Trying to bring out the best in the people you meet and encounter,” Lynch says. It’s something he does when coaching the Sailfish. “If [kids] set goals and take the steps necessary over time, they can achieve things, and hopefully they can learn that and apply it in college or in the future.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I don’t do those.”

The Style Sisters (clockwise from top left: Allison Gannon, Anne Sweeney, Elizabeth Casey,
and Shannon Kosko)
Personal Shoppers and Stylists, YourStyleSisters.com

Work: Elizabeth, Shannon and Anne own the nail portion of Stilo Salon in Wexford; Allison is a teacher by training, and Anne practices law. But together, these real-life relatives started their own  business and are known as “The Style Sisters.” Each sister has her own style and puts it to work helping clients pick a single outfit or overhauling their closets to build a new wardrobe. “We help people’s exterior beauty match their interior beauty, and it’s so amazing to see someone happier, more uplifted, walk out taller…and feel good about themselves,” says Elizabeth.
Love: Their large family; they come from a family of eight siblings, and Elizabeth, Shannon and Allison each
have three children of their own. The foursome also loves Pittsburgh, donating time to a good cause and, of course, fashion.
Beauty Is: “This, right here—family,” says Allison. Shannon adds, “[Beauty is] us all together.” Anne adds, “It’s our
relationships with all of our siblings; we’re so close and so proud of each other on a daily basis no matter what.”
New Year’s Resolution: “Never,” says Elizabeth, speaking for the group. “We don’t do ’em.”

Kumiko Tsuji
Principal Dancer, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Works: On her toes, quite literally. As one of the lead dancers at the PBT, Tsuji dances starring roles. Recently, she’s played Ketri in Don Quixote and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.
Loves: Fellow PBT principal dancer Dai-Sake Takeuthi, her husband-to-be. Tsuji also loves sewing and
knitting. She may make her own wedding dress and would love to design costumes after she retires from ballet.
Beauty Is: “When I feel confident with who I am. I need to be confident in order to be on stage, so this is very important for me.”
New Year’s Resolution: “As a person and a dancer, I want to keep growing–always trying hard things and
not giving up.”

Gabriel Gaffney Smith
Dancer, Corps de Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

As part of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet. This Saugerties, N.Y., native came to Pittsburgh as a teenager–alone–to finish high school and train with the PBT.
Loves: Dance. He started his performance career in musical theater, taking ballet for the first time at 14. The late start meant he learned the basics alongside more advanced training.
Beauty Is: “When someone can draw you in with movement,” Smith says. “As a dancer, to take music, movement and emotion, put it together and make a connection with the audiences, it’s a beautiful feeling.”
New Year’s Resolution: “I’ve been trying to make my dancing better today than it was yesterday, trying to improve
one day at a time. If someone is determined, I don’t see why you have to wait till January first.”

Categories: Community Feature