"40 Under 40" 2009
They come from all walks of life, with a diversity of backgrounds, professions and community-service passions that speak to the richness that is young, professional Pittsburgh. This is our 11th annual 40 Under 40, a celebration of 40 inspirational, successful, generous men and women from our region, all under age 40, who represent the best in Pittsburgh's present and future
Sylvia McCoy » 37 » Founder, ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour » ‘Burgh Bits and Bites is a culinary tour business that provides a "food-tasting adventure and historic walking tour of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods," says founder Sylvia McCoy. "After living overseas in my father’s native country, Switzerland, for eight years and returning to Pittsburgh, I looked at our city with new eyes. I became passionate about two things: sharing the culinary and historic treasures of Pittsburgh with other people, and teaching people to appreciate the city they live in. It’s good to be a tourist in your own city!" McCoy says she is also passionate about community service, particularly in making meals and providing them to the needy. "I believe that serving a meal is both a humbling and fulfilling act. We are all connected…. Food is the bond that we all share."
Rachel Filippini » 33 » Executive director, Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) » Rachel Filippini is the executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution. Founded in 1969, the nonprofit GASP has been a diligent watchdog, educator, litigator and policy-maker on many environmental issues, with a focus on air quality in the Pittsburgh region. "Through education and advocacy, every day I work to improve the air Pittsburghers breathe and to engage local citizens in decision making that will affect Southwestern Pennsylvania’s environment," she says.
Jason W. Ross » 35 » Executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, Allegheny Valley Bank » As executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Allegheny Valley Bank, Jason Ross oversees all financial aspects of the bank, as well as the IT department, human resources, and the bank’s investment and insurance-sales subsidiary, AVB Advisors. "In addition to being a strong community bank," Ross says, "our employees are also very dedicated to helping others. Through the bank’s Helping Hands program, we provide hours of volunteer work to organizations such as Family Guidance, American Cancer Society, Storehouse for Teachers and others. " Ross is a member of the American Cancer Society board of directors, where he just completed a two-year term as chairman. He also is a member of the Alle-Kiski Medical Center board of directors and is treasurer of the Allegheny Shade Tree Association. He’s a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XXI.
Heather Starr Fiedler » 37 » Assistant professor of digital media, Point Park University; founder/general manager, PittsburghMom.com » At PittsburghMom.com, Heather Starr Fiedler handles all the online content including blogging, writing features and reviews, and managing the message board and directories. "It’s my pleasure and passion to introduce local families to the vast array of family-friendly activities that Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities have to offer," Fiedler says. "I launched the site to help moms connect with each other, to make friends and to learn about the city. I love nothing more than hearing a local mom say she tried out a new play place based on my suggestion and to hear a business say they had a new client come in because they’d heard about it on PittsburghMom." As Fiedler goes on to say, "I also get a lot of e-mail from people outside of Pittsburgh who are looking to visit or move here about how thankful they are for the site and its vast array of information and opportunities to connect with other local parents."
Dana Davis » 39 » Founder and president, The Open Door » Started by Dana Davis and a group of volunteers, The Open Door provides a supportive housing program that improves the health of the forgotten population of high-risk, chronically homeless people living with HIV. "All of the individuals we serve are achieving optimal health care outcomes, despite the problems in their lives. This is thanks to our staff that are peers to the program, meaning they are also living with HIV and have had similar problems in their past as the residents do," Davis says. "Not only is The Open Door helping these individuals and the homeless community in general, but it is also showing the community what a small group of volunteers can accomplish. You don’t have to win a big government grant or spend years planning a project and asking for funding – you can just start doing it!"
Justin Gunther » 31 » Curator of buildings and collections, Fallingwater/Western Pennsylvania Conservancy » Justin Gunther oversees the care and preservation of Fallingwater’s buildings, collections and landscape and develops and manages the museum’s exhibition program. "Working to preserve this landmark is intensely rewarding and important, for no place better illustrates [Frank Lloyd] Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture, which promotes harmony between people and nature through design," Gunther says. "As Pittsburgh works toward a sustainable future, Fallingwater will serve as inspiration for the successful integration of the built environment into the natural world." Gunther also volunteers to "get young people excited about history" as board chair of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh and works as an adjunct-faculty member in historic preservation for Savannah College of Art and Design’s online master’s program. "Responsible stewardship of our past requires that the inheritors of our history understand it and value it."
Felix Brandon Lloyd » 33 » President, CEO and founder, Skill-Life Inc. » Felix Brandon Lloyd is president, CEO and founder of Skill-Life, which Lloyd describes as "a game-based platform that lets youth earn real-world rewards as they play cool games that teach them life skills. " The company’s first product, CentsCity, is an online world that builds the financial literacy of tweens (ages 8-14). "Skill-Life combines Pittsburgh’s passion for social impact with innovation in entertainment technology," Lloyd says. "The company’s mission is to provide families and communities fun, effective and easily accessible tools that increase young people’s real-world savvy."
Natalia Rudiak » 29 » Management consultant, Civic Capital Consulting Collaborative » Natalia Rudiak is a management consultant with Civic Capital Consulting Collaborative, a group that helps nonprofit organizations and community groups create and implement concrete plans for growth and collaboration. Rudiak, who is a candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, is an active member of South Pittsburgh Neighborhood Forum and has helped individuals and groups share information and work together using technology. She is also a member of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, vice president of Carrick Community Council, co-founder of the Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society and co-founder of the popular blog IHeartPGH.com (regularly featured on the WDVE "Friday Morning Show").
Janera Solomon » 34 » Executive director, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater » Janera Solomon is executive director of Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, a performing-arts center based in East Liberty. "Kelly-Strayhorn brings local, national and international artists to Pittsburgh and to the East End," Solomon says. "The tickets are affordable and the atmosphere is fun and interesting, adding to the diversity and vibrancy of Pittsburgh’s arts scene."
Cara Erskine » 30 » Artist » With a master’s degree from Yale University School of Art, Cara Erskine moved from New York City to Pittsburgh in 2003. "When I saw Pittsburgh for the first time I was beautifully disoriented. Labyrinths of houses and bridges cling to hillsides in impossible, stacked formations. It reminded me of space from a Japanese scroll painting," Erskine says. Since arriving here six years ago, she has been in numerous group shows in the Mid-Atlantic region, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cleveland, and is currently making paintings for a solo show at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., which opens in January. Erskine says she is dedicated to building the reputation of the Pittsburgh art scene.
Danielle M. Bacco » 31 » Owner/attorney, Bacco Law Group; owner, Hobby Horse Hideaway » As an owner and attorney with Bacco Law, Danielle M. Bacco acts as the firm’s manager and practices law in criminal defense, civil rights and estate planning while concentrating on a significant pro-bono effort to help clients and families having difficulties with legal costs. Bacco also owns Hobby Horse Hideaway, a private boarding stable in South Park that offers riding lessons to children and riders of all levels and, she adds, "gives children an opportunity to learn about animals and self-discipline in a family-friendly environment."
Mary C. Burke » 39 » Director, doctoral program in counseling psychology, Carlow University; co-founder/director, Project to End Human Trafficking » Mary C. Burke is program director for the doctoral program in counseling psychology at Carlow University. Burke collaboratively founded and directs the Project to End Human Trafficking. This Pittsburgh-based nonprofit group works regionally, nationally and internationally to raise awareness about the enslavement and economic exploitation of human beings. In this role, Burke has given more than 100 talks about human trafficking and has begun anti-trafficking coalitions in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. In the Pittsburgh region, Burke and her colleagues have assisted close to 30 victims of human trafficking in the past 2 1/2 years.
Mayada Mansour » 28 » Program director, A+ Schools » A+ Schools is an independent, nonprofit, community advocate for the improvement in public education focusing on school-board governance, teaching and equity within the school system. As program director, Mayada Mansour develops and implements programs for A+. "My jobs and professional development have all been for the purpose of creating equity in the way in which students of different races and backgrounds are treated in terms of their access to education," she says. "In the simplest terms, achieving equity will ultimately make Pittsburgh the leading public-school system in the country in educating its students, which, in turn, supports the extreme success of the region." She also serves as an adjunct trainer for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership’s Leaders in Learning program.
Melissa Swauger » 34 » Assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania » At Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Melissa Swauger is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, where she teaches sociology and women’s-studies courses; conducts research on gender, race and social-class inequalities in education and work, and participates in activism that promotes social justice for poor and working-class girls and women. Through presentations and consultations, Swauger raises awareness about the unique education and career-development needs of girls, and through mentoring and guest speaking, she helps adolescent girls make informed decisions about their future academic and career choices. She works with several organizations including Gwen’s Girls, which offers programming to girls ages 8 to 18; The Future Is Mine program, the Consortium for Public Education’s initiative that connects students to authentic career-awareness experiences; and The Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Jennifer DeFazio » 29 » Shareholder-relations coordinator, F.N.B. Corp.; founder and chairman, Stacking the Odds » Jennifer DeFazio is one smart cookie. She is the founder and chairman of Stacking the Odds, an Oreo-cookie-stacking competition to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Pittsburgh, the local branch of an organization dedicated to education and research about causes, treatment and the search for a cure for breast cancer. "It is a family-oriented, fun event with lots of smiles, lots of cookies and lots of hope. We try not to focus on the sadness of breast cancer, but on the determination to do whatever we can to end the disease," DeFazio says. Along with the competition itself, Stacking the Odds holds a baking contest in which Oreos must be included in the recipe and a building competition, Oreo Architects, for kids. "Our event makes getting education, mammograms and post-surgery care a little easier for the women of Pittsburgh every day. My wonderful volunteers and I are happy to be a part of that, and I will continue to do my part until a cure is found."
Piyush Seth » 36 » Shareholder, chair of the immigration practice, Tucker Arensberg, P.C. » As chair of the immigration practice at Tucker Arensberg, P.C., Piyush Seth handles immigration work for corporate clients, many of them in the technology sector. "My perspective as an immigrant and a U.S. citizen helps bring the world and Pittsburgh together, allowing immigrant clients and businesses to adapt and assimilate their resources to our local economy," Seth says, going on to note that many of his clients have added to the region’s "talent, culture, diversity, work ethic and entrepreneurship." Seth is an active member of the growing Indian-American community, including serving as a trustee at the Hindu-Jain Temple. "I moved to Pittsburgh from New York in 1995 and have never looked back," he says. "I find Pittsburgh to be an amazing and livable city."
Robert Daniel Lavelle » 32 » Chief of staff for state Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr., District 19; sales associate, Lavelle Real Estate; nominee for Pittsburgh City Council District 6 » "What I’m probably most proud of is knowing that my work has positively affected people’s lives," says Robert Daniel Lavelle. "Whether it’s through the work we’ve done here in Jake’s [Sen. Wheatley’s] office by mentoring young folks, to passing legislation or bringing home resources that better a person’s life." These experiences also include serving as a role model under his father’s tutelage with Boy Scout Troop 93; sitting on boards such as Wireless Neighborhoods, which strengthens a child’s education; and working at Lavelle Real Estate, which, he says, "ensures a couple or a family has a decent place to live." As Lavelle goes on to say, "All of that is an example of bettering a person’s life, which in turn improves the future of Pittsburgh."
Tyra Good » 32 » Director of education, training and community partnerships, YouthPlaces » YouthPlaces is an organization dedicated to helping underserved high-risk youth ages 12 to 18 engage in quality after-school programs within their own neighborhoods in order to develop the skills that will increase their opportunity for success. In her role, Tyra Good oversees the academic-enrichment curriculum in all 18 locations, providing both after-school and summer programs to more than 6,000 boys and girls. Good is known for developing curriculum and activities that are educationally sound and engaging. "I assist the youth in exploring potential career opportunities and to help them succeed on the pathway to the Pittsburgh Promise," she says. She also serves as co-chair of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Statewide Advisory Board, the Manchester Academic Charter School Board and the IVY Charitable Endowment Board.
Rob Wilson » 32 » Vice president/financial adviser, Blazer Capital Management » Rob Wilson, vice president and financial adviser at Blazer Capital Management, says he "provides comprehensive financial advice to successful professional athletes and entertainers to ensure that they are financially secure well beyond their playing years." Wilson says he works hard to "provide trustworthy and timely financial advice to the Pittsburgh region at large by hosting financial segments on the KDKA-TV morning news, by blogging and by conducting various workshops throughout the Pittsburgh area." He also sits on the boards of local organizations including the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and the Young Preservationists Association (partly because of his involvement with revitalization efforts in his neighborhood, the Hill District), and he works with young students at the First Tee program, which teaches kids life skills through the game of golf, at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park.
Barrett Ivory Woods » 28 » Orthopaedic-surgery resident, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; co-founder, Renaissance Group » "With my brothers Royce and Lance Woods, cousin James Williams III and Chase Patterson, we have started a nonprofit called the Renaissance Group," says Barrett Ivory Woods, an orthopaedic-surgery resident at UPMC. "The focus is to provide mentorship to at-risk inner-city youth and provide scholarship money for college for deserving young men and women." Woods volunteers as the team doctor for the Lincoln Wildcats youth football organization and is an active member of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church. "Pittsburgh is full of talented young people; however, there is often a lack of positive direction especially in the inner city," Woods says. "The goal of Renaissance Group is to provide direction and resources to inner-city youth, which will ultimately improve the individual communities of Pittsburgh and the city as a whole."
Deborah Gilboa » 38 » Clinical assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; family physician, Squirrel Hill Health Center » In her role as a family physician with the nonprofit Squirrel Hill Health Center, Deborah Gilboa treats a wide variety of patients, from newborns to the elderly, many without health insurance, and without regard to their ability to pay. "At our health center, we see patients who speak one of 36 languages at last count," she says. "They come from dozens of countries, with many different beliefs about health and doctoring. I work with all these patients and their families to help them get healthy and stay that way." She says her work with deaf patients is especially rewarding. "I am one of a handful of doctors in the country fluent in American Sign Language and, as much as possible for a hearing person, versed in deaf culture." Gilboa says her areas of special interest and training include ongoing care for children and adults with disabilities, and treating and preventing family obesity.
Charlie Batch » 34 » Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers; president/founder, Best of the Batch Foundation » Charlie Batch, the likable Homestead native who serves as a reliable support quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is known for his off-the-field generosity. As president and founder of the Best of the Batch Foundation, he says, "Our goal is to provide underprivileged youth and their families with the purpose, desire and resources to give their best efforts in all they do throughout their lives." Batch says Best of the Batch teaches kids the value of giving back to a community by offering sports and educational programs. "Throughout the years we have touched over 1,000 kids’ lives. I encourage every child to live by the same quote that I live by from Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.’"
Kelly Barcic » 25 » Executive director, Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security » As executive director of an organization with more than 90 members, ranging from large companies to small, Kelly Barcic helps prepare local businesses for an emergency. The Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security provides information to the business community relating to training opportunities, business-continuity information, pandemic planning and emergency information. "We also have an asset database that allows us to have businesses pledge assets so the region responders can know what the business community has to offer for use in the time of emergency before a disaster. Working together, the business community becomes a stronger force during an emergency, and the relationships are already formed," Barcic says.
Allyson M. Lowe » 35 » Chair, Department of Political Science, Carlow University » Allyson M. Lowe joined the faculty at Carlow University in the summer of 2009 to chair its Department of Political Science. She explains, "As a women’s-centered institution, we give special attention to the role of women in politics and policy. We cultivate student leaders who can understand and respond to issues of power and authority as they impact policy development, manage conflicting interests and understand competing global dynamics." Lowe has an on-going commitment to women’s public leadership, having previously served as director of the PA Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy, and Elsie Hillman Chair of Politics at Chatham University. She still serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Women’s Campaign Fund, and chairs the advisory board of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy.
Carlos T. Carter » 38 » VP/senior portfolio manager, Fifth Third Bank » "The work that I do at Fifth Third Bank helps companies in the region accomplish their business goals and objectives, and we promote financial literacy in low- to moderate-income areas," says Carlos Carter. "In my community service, I work to motivate and mentor youth to realize their potential and accomplish their dreams." Carter gives motivational talks and works closely with several area schools and organizations including Class Academy, Life Works, CLAY Program, Urban Youth Action and Triumph Baptist Church, and helps nonprofit organizations with business and financial issues. Carter also promotes diversity and inclusion through his involvement with Sustainable Pittsburgh, Community College of Allegheny County Diversity Board and Ambridge Community Council.
Bob Grayson » 31 » Managing partner, Pittsburgh Business Center and Focus Pittsburgh consulting group; founder/host, "Cancer Corner"; founder/executive director, Grayson’s Strength Cancer Charities » At Pittsburgh Business Center and Focus Pittsburgh consulting group, Bob Grayson works with entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Pittsburgh region. "’Cancer Corner,’" Grayson says, "is an Internet talk show supporting cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family, friends and anyone affected by cancer or similar disease or experience," adding that it’s one of only three programs like it in the world. "Grayson’s Strength Cancer Charities is a newly launched nonprofit supporting individuals dealing with cancer on any level," he explains. "As a cancer survivor, these groups are extremely close to my heart." Grayson says he hopes his work in the cancer projects "will build awareness and really give back the help that I received when I was going through my cancer experience."
Victor Dozzi, Jr. » 34 » Partner and chief operating officer, CrawfordEllenbogen LLC » "CrawfordEllenbogen provides comprehensive accounting services for individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations," Victor Dozzi says. "The work I do with business clients is essentially aimed at making them financially efficient and profitable. That translates into being effective competitors – in some cases, leaders – in their industries, with the additional benefit of job creation for Pittsburgh, as well as tax revenues to support local government services." As he goes on to explain, "For nonprofits the aim is similar: boosting their financial efficiency and effectiveness – essential to the health and vitality of some of the arts, civic and other organizations that contribute to the quality of life in the Pittsburgh region. But apart from work with clients, my work on the board of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) helps it perform its vital role in the arts community."
Dennis K. Geary » 38 » CEO and co-founder, Pittsburgh Business Center; president and co-founder, Focus Pittsburgh Business Consulting Group » In his role at Pittsburgh Business Center, Dennis Geary says he "provides free entrepreneurial assistance to scores of entrepreneurs and small-business owners that have aided in the development of those business ideas and ultimately their entrance into the Pittsburgh business market." Geary says he also has "a passion for helping smaller charities of Pittsburgh by assisting in plugging them into the business community for help with free services and products." His work at Focus Pittsburgh Business Consulting Group has provided pro-bono assistance to business-idea people or inventors to gain start-up funding and in-depth business consulting.
Robert W. Chambers III » 39 » Business development, Massaro Corp. » Working in business development for Massaro Corp., a family-owned general contracting company, Robert W. Chambers III helps bring business to the company. "One of our core values is to ‘serve the communities in which we work,’ therefore I get an opportunity to talk to youth about careers in construction," Chambers says. "I have had a major influence with our diversity initiative to get minorities opportunities in the industry. I also have been able to get young folks internships within the company who otherwise would not have had those opportunities, or even knew that they existed."
Stephanie P. Walker » 35 » Vice president and director, Talent Acquisition Programs, BNY Mellon » Stephanie Walker is vice president and director for the Talent Acquisition Programs of financial-services firm BNY Mellon. "The work I have done at BNY Mellon, along with our team of business leaders and recruitment professionals, has enabled us to add some 700 jobs in Pittsburgh since our merger [of Bank of New York Co. Inc. and Mellon Financial Corp.] in 2007," Walker says. She also raises funds for Child’s Way, a program of The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center that provides a high-quality, low-cost alternative to home care for families who require daytime child-care services for their medically fragile children. Without the services of Child’s Way, Walker says, she would not have been able to return to work full-time at BNY Mellon following her son Ryan’s kidney transplant in 2007 – a kidney he received from Walker.
Steve Toprani » 30 » District attorney, Washington County » As district attorney of Washington County, Steve Toprani has been a leader in the fight against the illegal-drug trade. He worked with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to designate Washington County as a drug interdiction and investigation technology test bed, and he has worked to bring more than a million dollars of state and federal grants to support the war on drugs in Washington County. Toprani is chairman of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Drug Threat Assessment Oversight Committee, which coordinates a regional response to drug trafficking in metro Pittsburgh. He serves on several volunteer and government boards, and is a member of the board of directors and treasurer for Bridges to Hope, a charitable organization that provides support and assistance to children with autism.
Daisy Klaber » 33 » Owner/director, Household Harmony; manager of communications, The Simplex Group Inc. » Daisy Klaber is manager of communications for The Simplex Group Inc., a professional-services company that helps organizations select and implement technology solutions. But she is also family- and musically focused in her role as owner/director of Household Harmony, a 2009 Nickelodeon Parents’ Picks Award nominee. Household Harmony offers family activities, including musical ones, at several class locations to foster a family culture of cooperation, respect and fun. She also teaches Music Together, a family musical program, at several locations and at WYEP Radio, and volunteers with several organizations, including the Pittsburgh chapter of Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV), an independent, nonpolitical organization promoting peace education and cross-cultural friendship.
Erin Baker » 28 » Relationship manager, Strategic College Recruiting Group, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. » "I manage PNC’s relationship with eight universities to create a strong candidate pool and talent pipeline for our lines of business, and coordinate our corporate-wide internship program," says Erin Baker. "My job affords me the ability to bring talented, fresh college grads to Pittsburgh or to retain the ones who are being educated here." And her efforts continue outside the office as well. "In my free time, I serve on advisory boards and committees that have missions of workforce development, mentoring, and attraction and retention of this population. Preparing the next generation for work, involvement and engagement in their communities is something that I’m very passionate about. Pittsburgh has a constant influx of talented young people – it’s something to celebrate!"
Regina Anderson » 29 » Director, Regional Internship Center » Regina Anderson is director of the Regional Internship Center (RIC) of Southwestern Pennsylvania, an online clearinghouse that connects college students with regional businesses in 14 counties for a variety of internship opportunities. Anderson also volunteers for many organizations in the area, including The Midwife Center, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, The Young Preservationists Association and Pittsburgh Community Television. She also coordinates "collaborations for action," including the Valentine’s Day fundraising event and celebration Love of Friends. "My volunteer work mostly focuses on raising awareness for the nonprofits and actively seeking friends and colleagues to volunteer their time, expertise and philanthropic dollars to causes that they feel passionate about helping," she says. "I also actively recruit folks to come and stay in the Pittsburgh region."
Khalif Ali » 38 » Community organizer, Operation Better Block Inc. » Through grassroots organizing, Operation Better Block (OBB) is committed to improving the quality of life for those who live, work and play and are educated in Homewood-Brushton, says Khalif Ali. "Organizing and training stakeholders in Homewood enables them to not only identify quality-of-life issues but also to work together to resolve these issues," he says. Ali also serves as a mentor at Amachi Pittsburgh, a group that provides mentors to children and youths ages 4 to 18 who have one or both parents incarcerated. "My personal endeavor has been to work with social-service organizations to improve their performance through program and leadership development. My role as principal and co-founder of K. Ali Consulting Group allows me the opportunity to improve or heighten the impact of services provided by local nonprofits." Ali is also a member of the mayor’s Safe Neighborhood Cabinet, which comprises community stakeholders and people with experience confronting and deterring crime who share their thoughts and ideas on improving public safety.
Luke Skurman » 29 » CEO and founder, College Prowler » Luke Skurman is CEO and founder of College Prowler, a company that publishes insider information on colleges written entirely from the students’ points of view, covering both the traditional and nontraditional aspects of campus life. College Prowler guides are available in bookstores nationwide, and all of the award-winning content is available free on its Web site. Skurman says he started College Prowler the day after he graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002. In July 2008 he was elected as CMU’s first-ever Young Alumni Trustee. "I’m a huge advocate of entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh, constantly meeting with new start-ups and organizations that support them," Skurman says. "Pittsburgh has incredible potential in terms of ideas coupled with brilliant people." In his spare time, Skurman is a volunteer Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.
Kristy Trautmann » 39 » Program officer, FISA Foundation » As a program officer for FISA (Federation of Independent School Alumnae) Foundation, which awards grants to Southwestern Pennsylvania nonprofits that improve the lives of women, girls and people with disabilities, Kristy Trautmann oversees most of FISA’s grants related to women and girls. She founded and co-chairs the Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania, leading efforts to end sexual and domestic violence. "My work at FISA Foundation helps to address inequities that prevent women, girls and people with disabilities from participating fully in the community," Trautmann says. "The region’s future depends on young people reaching their potential, deciding to stay here for work and finding unique ways to contribute their own gifts. My goal is to level the playing field for girls, help them envision bright and successful futures, and arm them with skills and confidence to realize their dreams."
Armen Arevian » 30 » Founder, Open Science Initiative » Founded in 2009 by Armen Arevian, the nonprofit Open Science Initiative was created to foster collaborative efforts among scientists and to help drive innovation in science by implementing a novel method in the form of "micro prizes," which fund scientific research. The goal is to encourage a type of innovation that could lead to novel breakthroughs and an accelerated pace of progress. "There is such a great amount of scientific work being conducted in the Pittsburgh region. We hope to help researchers be more successful, which could lead to even more medical advances stemming from this region," Arevian says. "This could help contribute to the image of Pittsburgh as being an innovator and leader in the scientific community. This could lead to even more people being attracted to the region to contribute to the field and partake in the scientific process."
Matthew Erb » 28 » Director of urban forestry, Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest » Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest is an environmentally focused nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing Pittsburgh’s vitality by restoring and protecting the urban forest through tree maintenance, planting, education and advocacy, says Matthew Erb. He works with community volunteers, called Tree Tenders, to plant and maintain trees in their neighborhoods. Their efforts are central to the TreeVitalize program, a citywide effort to plant 20,000 trees by 2012. "Trees provide numerous benefits, most obviously aesthetic, but also environmental, economic and social. Increasing awareness [and] planting and maintaining the trees that we have will ensure these benefits will be realized by future generations of Pittsburghers."
Marissa Gallagher » 26 » Primary learning-support teacher, Pittsburgh Manchester K-8 » Formerly a special-education teacher at Manchester Academic Charter School, Marissa Gallagher launched and was coordinator for a gifted-education program at the North Side school, MACS Super Stars. Focusing on service learning, a method she says she holds "very dear to my heart," the program has engaged students in a variety of fundraising and service activities. These include a Reading Buddies program with Conroy Educational Center, the School Walk for Diabetes and the "charity : water" walk. In her current position at Pittsburgh Manchester K-8, Gallagher says she hopes to bring a new perspective to the idea of special education. "Pittsburgh Manchester is an old building with a young heart, and I am excited to be a part of its learning community."
To nominate an outstanding individual under the age of 40 for the 2010 40 Under 40 awards, visit 40under40pittsburgh.org.