Just a few tickets are left for the Monday, Sept. 26 ATHENA Awards luncheon! Get yours today at

Eight women – five veteran managers and three emerging leaders – have been selected as finalists for the 2016 ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh. They will be among the many nominees recognized for their professional excellence, contributions to the community and mentorship of other women at the annual ATHENA Awards luncheon on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The awards are presented by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. One finalist from each category – the traditional ATHENA award, and the ATHENA Young Professional Award – will receive her respective award at the event.

The finalists for the traditional ATHENA award compose a varied and distinguished group. Each woman uses her leadership to create professional excellence and positive regional impact. The finalists are:

  • Audrey Dunning, CEO, Summa Technologies, Inc.
  • Kelly Gray, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, FedEx Ground
  • Diana Reid, Executive Vice President, PNC Real Estate
  • Tracy Vitale, Superintendent of Schools, Seneca Valley School District
  • Yvette Williams, Senior Patient Advocate/Program Manager, Allegheny Health Network/The Open Door, Inc.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award (AYPA) will be presented to a woman 35 years of age or younger who exemplifies the traditional ATHENA qualities, with an emphasis on being a role model. The finalists are:

  • Marteen Garay, Director of Entrepreneurship Programming, Urban Innovation21
  • Caitlin Green, Vice President, PNC Bank, N.A.
  • Katie Kopczynski, Marketing Analyst, Eaton

A complete list of nominees can be found at

Also at the luncheon, ATHENA officials will announce the recipient of the new Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship, named for the ATHENA program’s founder and retired president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (an Allegheny Conference affiliate). The scholarship will be awarded annually to one woman age 35 or younger to attend, tuition-free, the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women. The deadline to apply is July 29 for the academy session that begins Sept. 23. Learn more about the scholarship and the academy here.

Last year’s Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon drew nearly 900 attendees. That makes it among the largest stand-alone events of its kind among the 500-plus communities around the globe that present the award each year.

Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased online at Sponsorships are still available; contact

Did you know there are more than 24,000 positions open today across the 10-county region on That’s the region’s hub for information about careers, employers and job postings that are updated nightly from more than 1,000 jobs boards and corporate websites.

Here are few of the jobs available right now from’s Featured Employers:

Key Global Accounts Manager at Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience)

SAP-MM Business Process Analyst at MSA

Programmer – Lead with .NET expertise at UPMC

Senior Tax Analyst at PNC Financial Services

In addition, high school graduates are sought for paid, earn-while-you-learn apprenticeships to become ironworkers, electricians, heavy-equipment operators and more.

And for veterans: Emerson Process Management would like to hire a veteran for a test technician’s job. Connect directly with a hiring manager there or at dozens of other regional employers through regional employers through

Not quite what you were looking for? Check out our Neighbors page to see what kinds of careers young and mid-career professionals are pursuing. You can reach out to the Neighbors for networking ideas via the LinkedIn addresses include in their profiles. And stay up-to-date with new job postings and other news about building a great life in the Pittsburgh region via our newsletter, our RSS feedFacebookTwitter or  LinkedIn.

Bonnie Pfister

Why nominate a Pittsburgh-region woman for one of the ATHENA awards? It will raise the profile of that woman and her work among Pittsburgh’s most influential people.

Women lead, but are not always recognized for it. Recipients of the ATHENA Award and the ATHENA Young Professional Award (for a woman 35 or younger) capture the attention of Allegheny Conference on Community Development, which sponsors the awards. Its membership is comprised of more than 300 of Pittsburgh’s largest and most successful corporations, foundations and universities.

Despite the region’s reputation for friendliness, Pittsburgh’s business community can be tough to penetrate for those not born into it. For newcomers and those traditionally underrepresented in the corporate suite, the third-party validation of the ATHENA awards can be a game-changer.

Despite 18 years in Pittsburgh, litigation and career/executive coach MJ Tocci said she was still considered a newcomer by many — until she received the ATHENA Award in 2011. The ATHENA award, she noted, “provided the wind behind the sails” that helped her to launch a women’s negotiation and leadership academy at Carnegie Mellon University two years later.

Winning isn’t the only thing: simply begin nominated offers valuable networking opportunity and visibility at the Sept. 10 nominees’ reception at the Fairmont Hotel, and in the ATHENA program published by Pittsburgh Magazine for the Oct. 9 awards luncheon.

The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30 at The awards recognize women who mentor other women, with one award designated for a young professional age 35 or younger.

Learn more and submit nominations at by 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30. (Nominations will only be accepted online.)

Watch videos, learn more at / Look for updates under #PghAthena on Facebook and Twitter.

Laura Fisher

This article first appeared in the May 8, 2015 edition of the Pittsburgh Business Times

“Could the next Brooklyn be Pittsburgh?” asks the headline of a recently published article in Brooklyn Based, a popular online magazine about all things Brooklyn. In the piece, the writer interviews seven former Brooklynites who flocked to Pittsburgh to seek out opportunity. She poses the obvious question: Why Pittsburgh?

This isn’t the first time that Pittsburgh has been compared to another hip, fast growing region in the country. It was only a few years ago that the Washington Post declared Pittsburgh “in” and Portland, Ore., “out.” And recently, Cleveland State University noted that Pittsburgh was best positioned to be “the next Boston.” Our region’s high quality of life, relatively low cost of living, and availability of jobs continues to attract national attention. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Brooklyn is taking notice.

bbFor the former Brooklynites interviewed, much of their initial reasoning for leaving New York City’s fastest growing borough had to do with cost of living. According to RealtyTrac, Brooklyn has the nation’s most unaffordable housing market when comparing median monthly household incomes to median housing prices. The same data firm also found Brooklyn is one of the least affordable areas for Millennials in the country. Compared to Pittsburgh, Brooklyn’s overall cost of living is almost twice as high.

Cost of living is important, but there are other reasons why Pittsburgh has become an attractive alternative. Our region was cited as having an abundance of economic opportunity, an educated population that is getting younger and is beginning to grow, and an authentic spirit of community and collaboration. Pittsburgh is a place where passionate, creative individuals can put down roots and feel a true sense of belonging. Opportunity is on the rise here.

This sense of real opportunity is already bringing in a population cohort that is increasingly important to our region’s future – Millennials. While it’s no secret that we have one of the nation’s oldest populations, our younger population is beginning to grow. Since 2010, Millennials have been our fastest growing age group. Between 2010 and 2013, the population of 25 to 34 year olds grew at a rate of 6.1 percent, more than twice the national rate of 2.8 percent. Conversely, the fastest growing age group nationally was 65 and over, which increased by 6.9 percent. Regionally that increase was just 2.3 percent.

Labor force participation by younger people in the region is also higher than the national average, with a 2.7 percent increase among 25 to 34 year olds compared with 0.4 percent nationally. Today, the median age in the City of Pittsburgh is 33.7, below the national average of 37.5.

These are positive trends, but as a community we have more work to do to meet the workforce demands of the future. Today our region’s working age population is home to many more people aged 45-65 than those aged 25-44 in line to replace them, a gap totaling 144,000. Despite recent positive trends (more people moving in than out and a fast-growing Latino population), our overall working age population is not growing fast enough to close this gap before the last of the Baby Boom generation leaves the workforce. There’s no silver bullet that will solve this problem. Rather, we need to be proactive in supporting a multi-pronged approach to attract, retain, educate and train more skilled workers.

The question, “Could the next Brooklyn be Pittsburgh?” is a bit misleading. Pittsburgh has its own unique community, culture and sense of place. It’s what makes us so special. It’s also what makes us attractive to those Brooklynites who are seeking a new place to call home. We must leverage our assets and work together to attract and welcome more talented individuals from Brooklyn and other regions across the country. Our region’s future depends on it.

Jon O'Brien

MBA 2Are you the owner of small business looking to grow? Come to the Kaufmann Center at Hill House on Tuesday, March 31 to learn about contracting opportunities with the region’s leading construction companies.

The 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. “Meet the Builders” event offers an opportunity to network with member companies of the Master Builders’ Association of Western Pennsylvania, which is responsible for 80 percent of the commercial construction in the Pittsburgh region. Companies participating on March 31 include the Builders Guild of Western PA, Mascaro Construction Co., PJ Dick, dck worldwide, the city of Pittsburgh, Landau Building Co., Massaro Corp. TEDCO Construction, Turner Construction Co. and more.

This networking opportunity is open to any small business that sells services to other established firms. Minority, woman and veteran-owned companies are especially encouraged to attend to learn about upcoming construction projects and resources that can help their business.

“As MBA contractors, we are committed to providing emerging businesses with an opportunity to form beneficial, long-lasting relationships that will help shape the future of our region and deliver a great experience for everyone involved,” said Kathy Agostino of Mascaro Construction. Agostino – along with George Germany of Massaro and Jennifer Howe of PJ Dick helped us to launch the annual “Meet the Builders” events in 2011.

For more information and to register for the March 31 event, go to Meet the Master Builders.

Zersha Munir

Film Screenings, theatrical presentations, discussions and much more continue across the Pittsburgh region through Feb. 28 in commemoration of Black History Month.

Pittsburgh Playwrights is presenting a Theater Festival in Black and White through Feb. 28, featuring two separate, evening-length programs.

The Sembene Film & Arts Festival continues at Carnegie Library in Homewood, including films by famed Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, and Saturday’s showing of Freedom Summer by Stanley Nelson. Friday features a showing of Black Girl, the first feature film produced in sub-Sharan Africa by an African filmmaker to receive international attention.

Dormont’s Hollywood Theater along with PNC and WQED are presenting a free showing of The Ground on Which I Standa documentary about the late Tony- and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright (and Pittsburgh native) August Wilson. The film includes rarely-seen interviews with Wilson and new readings of his seminal 10-play cycle with film and theater stars Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks and Phylicia Rashad.

Plan your own a journey through more than 200 years of the African-American experience in southwestern Pennsylvania though this list of historic sites compiled by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh.

On Feb. 28 from 12-4 p.m., Cafe Con Leche is holding Herencia Africana to celebrate the African roots of Latino culture. Join an afternoon of live music, dance, great people and community conversations. This event is free with a $5 suggested donation. Appropriate for all ages! Reserve your spot today.

For more events and programs, check out the Carnegie Library’s list of Black History Month programs.