A Look Back: 32 Years Celebrating Great Pittsburghers
Since 1986, Pittsburgh Magazine has recognized exceptional individuals or organizations as Pittsburghers of the Year. The recipients of these annual awards have made unmeasurable contributions to our city and region. Here, we revisit each winner and find out where they are now.
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2017 Kelly Frey.
The WTAE-TV news anchor and mother of two, including a son with extra needs, was named Pittsburgher of the Year for her brave and public stance after revealing, at age 43, she had breast cancer. Her frank, educational on-air announcement of her diagnosis sparked hundreds of thousands of comments on social media that called the anchor an inspiration to others. She finished radiation treatments in 2017 and chemo in the spring of 2018. As she did throughout treatment, she remains on air today. —JS
2016 The Pittsburgh Penguins.
After winning the Stanley Cup Finals against the San Jose Sharks in 2016 — and bringing together the city in a frenzy of excitement — the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team accepted the Pittsburghers of the Year title with deference to their fans, who, according to Pens CEO and President David Morehouse, made the designation possible. “We are who our fans are, and our fans are some of the greatest fans in the world,” he told the magazine. —JS
2015 Karen Wolk Feinstein, Morgan O’Brien, Billy Porter.
To celebrate 30 years of recognizing exceptional individuals, Pittsburgh Magazine chose three winners in 2015. Karen Wolk Feinstein was honored for shepherding the Jewish Healthcare Foundation through its 25-year evolution into a national voice for patient safety and health care quality. She continues to lead JHF as president and chief executive officer. Morgan O’Brien was chosen after emerging as the region’s foremost economic development champion, investing time and resources both as Allegheny Conference on Community Development chairman and as Peoples Natural Gas CEO and president, a position he still holds. Today, he chairs The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and sits on the board of directors for The Pittsburgh Foundation. Billy Porter was honored for his artistic talent and triumphs, as well as his ongoing support and promotion of the arts in Pittsburgh and nationally. The Tony and Grammy winner dropped his latest studio album, “Billy Porter Presents The Soul of Richard Rodgers,” in 2017. —JS
2014 The Fred Rogers Company.
For its application of 21st-century media technologies, its reinvigoration of the beloved legacy of PBS series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” through the animated, award-winning “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” — which premiered in 2012 — and its passionate advocacy for children, the Fred Rogers Co. and its talented staffers were named Pittsburghers of the Year in 2014. —JS
2013 &1988 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Following 20 consecutive, frustrating seasons of missing the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Pirates won an emotional Wild Card victory against the Cincinnati Reds at a packed PNC Park in 2013, propelling them to a five-game National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. While their run went no further, the team managed to win something else, the hearts of a “lost generation of fans." They also were named Pittsburghers of the Year in 1988, when the team finished second in the National League East. —JS
2012 &1999 Mario Lemieux.
A multiple winner, who also was named to the magazine’s 50 Greatest Pittsburghers of All Time list, Lemieux was honored as Pittsburgher of the Year in 2012 and 1999. Credited with saving hockey in Pittsburgh when he became an owner of the team in 1999, the hockey legend, a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, turned his attention toward opening the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers at UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Center in 2012. In 2018, the nonprofit Mario Lemieux Foundation, which raises money for cancer research, celebrated its 25th year. Since its inception, it has raised nearly $25 million and built 36 Austin’s Playrooms for children and families in challenging medical situations. —JS