“I am living my dream in Pittsburgh and I love connecting other people to our great city."
Alberto Benzaquen was in awe of “this beautiful city in the U.S.” the first time he visited Pittsburgh as a child, travelling here with his family so his mother, an electrical engineer, could participate in a training program with WestinghouseElectric. He returned again as an adult, and that time, he was struck by the economic potential he saw here. “Seeing the trains and barges going all daylong gave me a sense that things were being created and produced here and I also saw that there was innovation in medicine and technology happening as well.” Alberto had a professional background in economics and industrial engineering, and was living in southern Florida, but knew he wanted to relocate here and become part of the city’s transformation. He also had become a fan of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins and looked forward to one day seeing games from the stands rather than just on television. So he combined all of his savings and airline points and began travelling here regularly for two years, before moving here in 2012.
Today, he is on the front lines of promoting the Pittsburgh region to companies and people across the U.S. and Latin America as a place to live, raise a family and work. “I believe in Pittsburgh and I love connecting other people to our great city.”
In his role as the executive director of the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, Alberto interacts with local Latino organizations, including the Latin American Cultural Union (LACU) to promote Latino culture and understanding in the region. He also works with Vibrant Pittsburgh to coordinate an initiative known as ¡Hola Pittsburgh! to attract Latinos to the region for professional and skilled jobs, and then to help integrate them into the community so that it feels like home.
Alberto condensed his own integration here into a few short months by watching local PBS affiliate WQED-TV’s programs about Pittsburgh’s history, people and attractions, and by immersing himself in local economic development organizations and culture. He’s a regular in the Strip District on Saturday mornings and his work is connected to the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
His favorite landmark attractions in Pittsburgh? The Duquesne and Monongahela inclines which run from Mt. Washington down to the city, the city skyline, the Gateway Clipper fleet, the bridges, the Cathedral of Learning and Phipps Conservatory in Oakland. Alberto also enjoys the Kennywood amusement park but noticed that, among its many heritage days, there was no Latino day. So he met with management and now has one planned for September.
He is also lending his perspective as a Latino, volunteering on an advisory group to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as it mounts its 2014 exhibition on race. Alberto recently returned to Florida for a week to take his Oath of Allegiance and become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Even then, Pittsburgh was utmost in his mind, taking with him promotional material to spread the word about his new hometown to other new U.S. citizens, friends and business owners.