Meet Pittsburgh's 40 Under 40 Honorees for 2017

We present this year's class of 40 people under the age of 40 who are making Pittsburgh a better place.



(page 3 of 10)

Megs Yunn  (32)
Co-Director and Founder, Beverly’s Birthdays


One day in 2011, Megs Yunn met an 11-year-old girl named Beverly who told her that she had never had her own birthday party or a slice of her own birthday cake. With the somber realization that some kids only live through their birthdays rather than celebrate them, Yunn decided to bring the birthday cheer herself. She submitted her idea to the “BE BIG in Your Community Contest,” and her $2,500 first place grant launched Beverly’s Birthdays, a charity supporting kids who are homeless and families in need. The nonprofit now celebrates an average of 50 birthdays a day and hosts 120 group parties each year. “That’s a lot of birthdays,” Yunn says. In five years, the nonprofit has raised more than $1 million and has partnered with 57 social service agencies and 68 schools. They also provide local food banks and other agencies with “Birthday-in-a-Bag” kits containing all the makings of a home celebration. Yunn says it’s been a privilege working with children who show resilience in the face of devastating problems. “At every birthday party, there is never a sad face,” she says.
 

Dr. Aaron V. Mares (37)
Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery / Primary Care Sports Medicine, UPMC Sports Medicine


Whether you’re playing football for the University of Pittsburgh or running your first Pittsburgh Marathon, Aaron V. Mares is on the sidelines. After getting a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and an M.D. from Temple University, Mares came to Pitt’s med school for residency in internal medicine and completed a fellowship in sports medicine. Now, as co-head team physician, he manages all medical care, therapy and rehab for Pitt’s football players, attending every practice and every game. From August to January, he says, it’s seven days a week. Despite his limited downtime, he also serves on the Pittsburgh Marathon’s medical team, helping to develop treatment protocols for injured athletes.  Mares, a father of two, emphasized his nonstop work schedule wouldn’t be possible without his wife, Melissa. “Her understanding and willingness with everything is beyond amazing,” he says.
 

Julius A. Boatwright [34]
Executive Director, Will Allen Foundation
Founder and CEO, Steel Smiling


Julius A. Boatwright sees connections in everything he does, from his duties as a social worker to his desire to start a consulting firm to his service as a mentor with the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ “We Promise” program. He says that connecting with other people helps everything align, which allows him to build new programs and strengthen already impactful ones, whether in his full-time work, as a consultant or as a volunteer. Boatwright and his wife plan to launch a consulting firm in 2018 that focuses on “servant leadership,” ideally by focusing on projects that benefit the entire region by working with a variety of companies, nonprofits and schools as opposed to a series of one-off projects. And the serendipitous relationships he’s built in Pittsburgh will help him achieve his goals. “That’s not happenstance. Whatever we call it — I call it God — it is guiding every single thing that I do,” he says.
 

Zack Block [39]
Executive Director, Repair the World Pittsburgh


Zack Block grew up around people who loved what they did for a living. His grandparents ran a restaurant for more than 60 years, and his father taught at Duquesne University for 42 years. But Block was “pretty miserable” working as a tax attorney. “I wanted to find work that felt meaningful to me,” he says, so he could give his children the same example he had. So in 2013, he joined Repair the World Pittsburgh, which connects volunteers with organizations that work on food and education justice issues. At the end of the organization’s first year, it worked with 1,000 volunteers. Now, that’s up to 4,200, largely millennials. In the fall, Repair the World launched a program that will allow parents and kids to volunteer together, giving Pittsburgh parents the ability to do what Block does on a regular basis through his job — such as volunteer with his kids in a community garden or on a beautification project. 
 

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