Capturing the people, places and things in Pittsburgh that demonstrates what makes our city so livable and a special place to call home.
Duquesne Light Holdings Inc. is pleased to announce that President and CEO Kevin Walker has been named to the Environment and Energy Subcommittee on Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team.
As the new administration prepares to take office, Walker will join other environmental and energy experts, labor leaders and policy advisors to shape Shapiro’s vision in creating a bold, comprehensive climate and energy plan that will grow Pennsylvania’s economy; protect and create jobs; address climate change; and protect the state’s constitutional right to clean air and water.
“I’m beyond honored to have a role on this critical subcommittee that will help shape the energy future of our great state in ways that benefit people and the planet,” said Walker.
“As the leader of an electric utility that serves more than 600,000 customers, including the city of Pittsburgh, we work every day to enable access to energy and create a positive impact on every community and customer. I look forward to working closely with Governor-elect Shapiro and other leaders and experts to ensure that all Pennsylvanians benefit from the opportunities provided by a clean energy transition,” he added.
Shapiro will formally assume office on Jan. 17, 2023. More information about the transition team can be found here.
Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, a joint program of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, has awarded 49 grants totaling $1.61 million, the largest annual distribution in the 12-year history of the program. The funding will support the work of individual artists and collectives as well as provide project, planning and operating support for arts organizations.
In June 2021, ABAP received a $2 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott that allowed the program to provide multi-year support for a cohort of Black-led organizations and those serving a substantial or primarily Black audience. Pittsburgh Foundation and Heinz Endowments staffs worked together to determine how that award would be distributed in the community, and this is the first grant cycle to include a portion of the funds.
“Black artists and arts organizations in our community exhibit amazing talent and productivity, despite a continuing struggle to secure sufficient funding,” Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder said in announcing the grants. “We hope this record amount of support will boost access and opportunity for artists of color and related organizations. It’s important to recognize that a robust and diverse arts-and-culture ecosystem is essential for any city to grow and thrive.”
“The energy, insight and skill that these Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grantees bring to their work is exemplary,” said Endowments Vice President of Creativity Janet Sarbaugh. “Their deep creativity, thoughtful perspective, and commitment to their artistic vision elevates both our creative community and our region at large.”
Recipients include the SCALE Fellowship for Black Women in Music, which provides the opportunity for fellows to design, develop and produce a live and recorded project; the BlackTeaBrownSuga Network, which serves youth, families, cultural workers and community members in Western Pennsylvania by promoting mental wellness through music and media-based programs; and Protohaven, which aims to address the lack of diversity in the Pittsburgh makerspace community while also providing opportunities for new skills and creative pathways for both emerging and experienced Black artists.
Since 2010, the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program has awarded more than $9.4 million in support of the acknowledgment, celebration, preservation and perpetuation of Black culture. The funding has focused on helping build the careers of individual artists and increasing the sustainability of cultural organizations that support Black arts. Program goals include expanding community awareness of the Black arts sector and supporting efforts toward greater collaboration and acknowledgment of the racial disparities within the larger arts ecosystem.
Publicity images of the artists and their work are available for media use. Details on each artist, including social media handles, are available on the About the Awardees resource page on The Pittsburgh Foundation’s website.
Advancing-the-field grants totaling $54,109:
Culturally relevant residency grants totaling $60,000:
Individual artist grants totaling $231,645:
Planning grants totaling $15,000:
Project support grants totaling $160,000:
Operating support grants totaling $100,000 over two years for each organization:
Core programming support grants totaling $200,000:
Special Opportunities grant totaling $37,000:
Discretionary grants totaling $40,000:
From Championing the Employee Ownership Movement and Returning Wealth to Native Communities to Exposing Environmental Threats to Vulnerable Ecosystems, 27th Heinz Awards Recipients Embody Courageous Leadership
The Heinz Family Foundation today announces the recipients of the 27th Heinz Awards, which will present unrestricted cash awards totaling $1.5 million to seven Americans for outstanding contributions in the categories of the Arts, the Economy and the Environment. Two awards will be given per category. As part of the accolade, each recipient receives an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000.
Created to honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards recognize excellence and achievement in areas of great importance to Senator Heinz. The 27th annual awards bring the total number of recipients to 165 and reflects more than $30 million in awards given since the program was launched in 1993.
In the Arts category, Pittsburgh artist Vanessa German is a recipient.
vanessa l. german, Visual Artist and Founder, ARThouse, Pittsburgh, Pa., is a visual and performance artist whose assemblage sculpture, installations, spoken-word poetry and community-based work confront racism, violence, homophobia and hate, while also expressing hope for healing. A visual storyteller with a strong focus on the female form, she builds her sculptures from everyday objects, embellishing them with glass, beading, fabric and other materials and transforming them into power figures that acknowledge collective suffering while also offering affirmation and optimism. Ms. German is also recognized for her work as a citizen artist, most notably in Homewood, a Pittsburgh community acutely affected by disinvestment, where she has established gathering spaces for women, families and children to engage in artmaking and creative expression as a means of coping with trauma and grief.
Pittsburgh based consulting company, CASTUS, announces the second annual cohort of the Fellowship for Minority Business Owners. "We were incredibly impressed with last year's Fellowship participants, and continue to be amazed by the quality of talent in our local community," says CASTUS Founder, Damon Claus.
"Our entire team, and the Subject Matter Experts who have generously pledged their time, are looking forward to working with this year's Fellowship participants, learning from their experiences, and helping them better define their growth journey."
This year's cohort includes:
These business owners were selected to participate in the Fellowship based on their leadership, innovative thinking, and contribution to the community. The Fellowship will consist of three workshops led by Pittsburgh-based companies:
The public can support these minority owned businesses by visiting their websites, following them on social media, and sharing CASTUS's updates on the Fellowship. The CASTUS Fellowship Award consists of $5,000 funding and a Business Identity workshop with CASTUS. Information about the Fellowship can be found at www.castusglobal.com/castus-fellowship.
Maggie Richardson, Owner and Chief Creative Strategist /Richardson founded Jazzspace Consulting
CTE Provides Essential Skills for Essential Workers.
As our nation faces a health crisis like COVID-19, we become more acutely aware of CTE’s value in providing a skilled workforce. CTE offers 16 programs that prepare PPS high school students for careers in high demand fields that are crucial to our infrastructure as a society.
Actor,Chadwick Boseman urged students to pursue life with passion and to fight for justice and equality. "The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose," said the actor, whose movie "Black Panther" has earned more than $1.3 billion worldwide. "Press on with pride and press on with purpose."
For Jess Towns, a case of turf toe (a painful injury that permanently sidelined Pittsburgh Steeler great Jack Lambert) led to her receiving a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship. After suffering the injury while cheerleading, Towns began researching ways to improve the safety of the sport, including reducing concussions and other impact injuries. Her research garnered the NSF recognition and a highly competitive grant from Stanford, where she will begin her doctoral studies in the fall.
Having been part of two biomedical engineering labs at Duquesne’s Rangos School of Health Sciences, Towns has worked on developing a variety of products, including the design of a portable, low-cost device for meningitis detection. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and mathematics.
Stephon Burton, 24, knew he wanted to go to law school by the time he was in 7th grade. “I just knew it was something I wanted to do, and I remember doing research on both colleges and law schools with my mom,” the Fort Washington, Md., native said. After earning his BA in political science at Washington and Jefferson College, Stephon started Duquesne University School of Law, where he was busy both in and out of the classroom. In addition to serving as president of the Student Bar Association for the 2021-2022 academic year, Stephon was a Dean’s Leadership Fellow; president of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society; member of the Corporate Law Society; member of the Health Care Law Society; a McGinley Public Interest Fellow; member of the Black Law Students Association; and a member of the Dean’s Diversity Action Council.
He also volunteered for 100 Black Men of Pittsburgh for two years, which included speaking on panels to approximately 200 students from close to 10 high schools across the Greater Pittsburgh Region. A proponent of community engagement, Stephon is also working with Blaqk House Collections art gallery to have some of their works displayed in Duquesne’s Law Library.
Academically, Stephon has completed two concentrations: Business Law on the Corporate Governance and Transactions track, and Business Law on the Health Care Law track. He plans to combine both, working in M&A and Capital Markets and as “outside general counsel,” particularly with health-related companies and ventures. Stephon, who writes for the sports law podcast/blog Conduct Detrimental, also has an interest in Sports Law and would like to use his business expertise to encourage both professional and college athletes to start ventures to help create and insulate generational wealth.
When asked what he knows now that he wishes he knew when he first started law school, Stephon replied simply, “The importance of giving yourself grace. I think that grace is what happens when empathy meets patience. You're not going to have everything figured out or get everything right on the first try—school, relationships, anything. You just have to keep trying and give yourself that patience, that understanding that you're human.”
At just 28, Ryellen Joaquim’s music career has led her to performing with orchestra tours around the world—in countries such as Portugal, Bolivia, Ukraine, Scotland and the U.S.—and participating in acclaimed events like Brazil’s Festival de Música de Santa Catarina and as principal viola for the U.S. Color of Music Festival. “I was born in a place in which people usually do not have the same opportunities I have had,” said Ryellen, who is graduating from the Mary Pappert School of Music with a master’s in music performance-viola, studying under Marylène Gingras-Roy, a violist with the Grammy-award winning PSO.
A native of Campos dos Goytacazes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ryellen began studying viola at 11, and later orchestra conducting, at Orquestrando, a nearby free music school, where she’d eventually become a viola teacher herself and conduct one of the school’s orchestras. She has a bachelor’s degree from Mozarteum University, a music educator degree from Faculdades Integradas Ariquemes and studied psychopedagogy at Faculdade Morumbi Anhembi. She first enrolled at Duquesne in 2018—with a full scholarship—to earn her artist diploma and is headed to Texas Tech University this fall, fully prepared to earn her doctorate in viola.
“My gratitude for Duquesne University is immeasurable—it has contributed in a strong way to the development of my musical skills and the opportunities I am having now,” she said. “Everything in my life comes with a lot of dedication, many hours of practicing and people who God put in my life to help me. We know that the way is not easy, but now I feel more prepared for my future.”
At the May 8th commencement ceremony, Gabby Adams joyfully addressed the 2,000+ attendees as the proud recipient of Carlow University’s highest undergraduate academic honor, The Joseph G. Smith Award. This capstone award is in recognition of both excellence in academic work and community service at Carlow and in the community at-large.
With a double major in social work and communications and more than 100 hours of volunteer service during her Carlow career, Gabby is respected for consistently applying a social justice lens to her thinking, writing, and breadth of projects and activities.
Gabby brings her deep sense of care and compassion, along with her advocacy skills, to bear in all that she does. Some notable examples include her leadership in Carlow’s Youth Media Advocacy Project, an academic partnership between Carlow’s Social Justice Institute, the social work and communication faculty, and local media professionals in service of high school students in under-resourced Pittsburgh area Public Schools. She was spectacular member of the Carlow Sports Talk Webcast team, a joint partnership between TribLive Media and Carlow which she was invited to join as a sophomore. As the Co-President of the BSW Student Association for two years, she helped to organize numerous volunteer events such as blanket-making for the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Gabby has also served in a global capacity as well. From 2015-2019, she was an intern with All We Are, an organization based out Raleigh, NC that raised over $10,000 to provide clean water for a health clinic in Uganda through educational outreach and fundraisers. Gabby also directed youth activities at various schools in Kampala, Uganda during her global volunteering experience there.
Gabby offered the following words of wisdom to her fellow graduates, “The goal of education is not to replicate information on an exam, but to immerse ourselves in diverse opportunities that enrich our lives. Each one of us has been asked by Carlow to consider not just what we want to do, but rather who we want to be.”
She added, “The more I discover, the more I understand the vastness of truth and the sheer amount of work there is to do. We have had the veil lifted from our eyes through the power of learning, and now we can see: the disparities within the healthcare system, the violation of women's autonomy, mass incarceration, violence against TLGBQ people, stolen indigenous land, environmental degradation and the constant threats to our functioning democracy. And now because we see, we have a responsibility to address these and all the unjust institutions and structures within society. The future is up to us. Let’s get started with compassion and understanding as these are key to our pursuit of a more just and merciful world.”
Lisa Oguike and Vijay Adipudi will address their fellow graduates from the stage during Carnegie Mellon University’s 124th Commencement, expressing gratitude for the skills they developed, connections they made, memories they treasure and challenges that helped them grow.
“As a class, we have overcome a lot together, and I am truly so proud of us,” said Oguike, who has earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and politics with an additional major in science, technology and public policy.
“Though our stories are not the same, I hope my speech will illuminate and validate the reality of what these years have been for us: difficult, painful, fun, chaotic and ultimately rewarding,” she said.
Oguike, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, is most grateful for the relationships she was able to establish at Carnegie Mellon.
“People made me feel like Pittsburgh was indeed becoming my home. They stepped up for me, showing me that I meant something to someone here,” Oguike said. “I will never forget that feeling, and I am forever grateful to Carnegie Mellon for giving me the opportunity to interact with some truly amazing people.”
Adipudi, who earned an MBA from the Tepper School of Business with a focus in finance, strategy and sustainability, also values the relationships he developed at Carnegie Mellon, noting his most positive experiences happened just hanging out with classmates in the common areas in between classes.
“I’ve learned so much in my time here and made many friends and lifelong connections at CMU. I know I’ll keep these connections well after graduation,” he said. “I’m also excited to start my career after CMU with the tools and skills I’ve acquired during my time here.”
Adipudi enrolled at Carnegie Mellon to develop a strong, quantitative and technological approach to business. As part of the Energy Business elective curriculum track, he worked with Honda to create a business model to help deliver 24/7 green hydrogen power to industrial electricity users. After graduation, he will join BlackRock as an associate within the Financial Institutions Group.
“If there is one thing I have learned here at CMU, it is that widespread democratization of sustainability is possible. The technology exists; it’s the people in the decision-making positions that need to be convinced. I hope to be able to use my voice to continue to promote green technology, and ultimately one day be in the position of decision-maker,” he said.
Adipudi represented the Tepper School Graduate Student Body as president of the Graduate Business Association (GBA), helping allocate budgeted funds toward professional, social and educational clubs. With GBA, he fostered community and inclusion through hosting class-wide events for full-time, part-time and Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM) students. As an alumnus, he will continue to be active in alumni relations and engagement with the university.
Oguike will pursue a master’s degree in international politics at SOAS University of London. Upon completion, she plans to return to the U.S. to work as a global public affairs associate for Google Inc., using her international relations and engineering and public policy degrees in diplomacy.
For two years, Oguike worked as a research associate under Kiron Skinner, the Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics in the Institute for Politics and Strategy. During her senior year, she worked as a Foreign Service intern for the Nigerian mission to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Oguike belongs to numerous organizations and served as an at-large member, senator and director of Diversity and Inclusion on the Student Senate at CMU. She also served on the University’s Academic Review/Disciplinary Board and Center for Shared Prosperity, and worked with the Dietrich College Dean’s Strategic Subcommittee to create a plan for diversity, equity and inclusion that was published in 2021.
For her work as the chief operating officer of the Pillars of Love Foundation and others, she was recognized as the Strong Women Strong Girls (SWSG) College Woman of the Year in 2020.
“It has been a journey I could not have prepared for, but one I would do over and over again, given the chance. We are uniquely positioned to make a change in our own lives, the lives of others, and overall, in our communities,” she said.
Today, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population—and 50 percent of people worldwide—live in and around urban centers.
The Graduate Certificate in Urban Ministry is a flexible program allowing community members and seminarians to explore their Christian vocation in urban settings. This program allows students from all denominations to think about how to apply their faith to where they work, live, and play.
Robert Ramirez has been named the new head of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, effective Aug. 1. Ramirez joins CMU from the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he served as professor and chair.
Ramirez joined UT in 2014 as associate professor and head of acting. He later was named professor of acting and, in 2016, became head of the Performance Division. He was named senior associate chair and Interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance prior to his appointment as department chair in March 2020. During his tenure as chair, Ramirez brought his extensive professional career experience to bear, in order to benefit the student experience, as well as benefit the roles of faculty and staff in the department. He worked to transform hiring practices at UT, resulting in the addition off five full-time tenure-track faculty members of color in the last two years. He also created the role of a department intimacy director, who addresses production needs, as well as curricular and pedagogical imperatives.
Prior to his roles at UT, Ramirez was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, serving as an associate professor of acting, voice, speech and dialects. He also was an adjunct professor of voice and speech for the stage at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City; he served in a similar role at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
Ramirez has long been a part of the professional theater industry as well. He has worked as a professional voice artist; voice, text and acting coach; director and actor. His research interests lie in the areas of Shakespeare and classical theater, contemporary acting practices, voice and speech pedagogy, and recorded voice artist practices. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Los Angeles Theatre Academy at Los Angeles City College and earned his MFA at the University of Delaware's Professional Theatre Training Program.
"I've admired Robert's leadership for years and could not be more delighted that he will be joining us at CMU. I'm absolutely convinced that he is the right person to take the School of Drama forward, in community and in this exact moment," said Mary Ellen Poole, dean of the College of Fine Arts.
A strong believer in giving back, Ramirez intends to continue his service to the community, the university, the profession and, most importantly, the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon. Throughout his career, he has extended his reach as an academic and theater professional to help raise awareness of the power of the arts. That will not change upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, he said.
"I am, indeed, honored to join the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon," he said. "This is an opportunity to build upon the solid reputation and foundation that exist here among every discipline that contributes to the theater-making process and performance industry."
Dean Poole also commended the search committee members who assisted in bringing Ramirez on board.
“We all owe a debt of gratitude to the tireless search advisory committee co-chaired by Sartje Pickett and Tomé Cousin and assisted by a team from Isaacson Miller as well as Amy Kapp,” she said. “Members were Carolyn Hess Abraham, Mindy Eshelman, Kyle Haden, Rob Handel, Cindy Limauro, Mica Harrison Loosemore, Britton Mauk, Catherine Moore, Susan Tsu, Miso Wei, Kim Weild and Charlie White.”