Introducing 13 of Western Pennsylvania’s rising stars, all under the age of 30!
by Lauren Schmeer | Photographs by Cayla Zahoran | Art direction by Jason Solak + Allie Wist | Produced by Nicole Barley | Shot on location at River Vue Apartments
———- These 13 individuals caught our eye and held our attention this year for their impressive personal drive and their dedication to improving our city. All under 30 years old, they represent a younger generation, making a difference and giving back in the arts, business, and community planning. After rounds of nominations and research, we were excited to invite these fun, creative, and committed young stars to Downtown’s River Vue — where a photo shoot quickly became a networking event among Pittsburgh’s best and brightest. We invite you to get to know these inspiring individuals as we have and join in their appreciation for the city that’s at the center of such long, brilliant futures.
[toggle title=”Megan Gavin” state=”closed”]
You may know Megan Gavin from Jeffrey Smith Studio in Lawrenceville, where she is a stylist and colorist. But outside of the salon, she busily fills her days as the L’Oréal Professionnel Sales and Education Coordinator for Western Pennsylvania. From this position, Gavin pushes for change within her industry towards ammonia-free products, and she leads professional classes for a healthier and greener beauty industry. She also hopes to build a concentrated network of L’Oréal Professionnel experts in our region. Gavin grew up in Mars and Cranberry and says, “It was an adjustment to start working Downtown. Soon though, I fell in love with the city — it was busy, original, rich with history, and yet, in a constant state of growth. Amidst all this transformation, though, still lie the core values of Pittsburgh: hard work, a genuine heart, and a friendly atmosphere.” Gavin’s resolution for the year is to give back to another industry that has inspired her by focusing her personal time on our local libraries. For more information, visit jeffreysmithstudio.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “Any laid-back, local place with great friends will quickly become a favorite — shout out to Jake and Archie of The Jaggerbush and Archies, and to Shiloh Grill.”
[toggle title=”Kristi Moss” state=”closed”]
In the short time since Kristi Boutique opened in July 2012, it has already become a shopping destination for women of all ages and neighborhoods throughout the Pittsburgh region. Owner Kristi Moss accomplished a life-long dream in opening the clothing and accessories shop, and through her determination, it all came together in seven months of tough planning. “I chose Aspinwall as a place to live and open my business because it reminded me a lot of Franklin, the town I grew up in. I love that I can live in such a small community, where everyone knows everyone, but can be in the city in less than 15 minutes. Coming to Pittsburgh was a natural choice for me, as I love the city aspect, but I am a true country girl at heart. Living here gives you the best of both worlds.” For more information, visit kristiboutique.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “Any spot on the rivers outside of Heinz Field to hang out in the sunshine on a beautiful day and listen to country music. My favorite restaurant by far is Casbah in Shadyside.”
+ Stop in at Kristi Boutique for its very first spring season in business and a spring event, March 4-9.
[toggle title=”Sam Badger” state=”closed”]
Sam Badger has a flair for the dramatic, so when the Pittsburgh Opera recruited him for the position of special events manager, it was a perfect fit. The new opportunity has been an exciting and challenging one, as Badger is responsible for planning the many elegant and show-stopping events of the Pittsburgh Opera throughout the year. Coming up next is the Maecenas XXIX Gala, the opera company’s largest benefit and fundraiser, and Badger’s skills in event planning don’t stop there. He also is a co-chair for the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force’s Annual Benefit on March 20 and is on the host committee for the Carnegie Library’s Late Night @ the Library events. Badger additionally serves as a board member of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh. Regarding the city where he resides, Badger says, “I don’t think anywhere else would feel like home. Pittsburgh is an extraordinary place. I think it is great that international affairs, cultural institutions, and champion sports teams can all thrive in one place and are at our fingertips. If you are bored with Pittsburgh, it’s your own fault. If there is something missing, you can create it yourself!” For more information, visit pittsburghopera.org.
+ Attend the Pittsburgh Opera’s largest benefit and fundraiser, Maecenas XXIX on the stage of the Benedum on May 11.
[toggle title=”Allison Trbovich” state=”closed”]
Working at the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Penguins and CONSOL Energy Center allows Allison Trbovich the opportunity to be at the center of the Downtown sporting experience. Trbovich is the sales manager at the Cambria Suites Pittsburgh at CONSOL Energy Center — the contemporary, upscale hotel suites located Downtown just next to CONSOL Energy Center. Trbovich says, “I love the vibe you get from going to sporting events in Pittsburgh. It is definitely something everyone should experience. All the facilities have something special to offer.” Trbovich is excited for a new partnership with Duquesne University this year, as the Cambria Suites Pittsburgh becomes the official Downtown hotel of Duquesne University Athletics, and the continuation of hockey season makes each work day exciting. Trbovich adds, “I would encourage other young people to move to Pittsburgh to experience the culture and arts this city has to offer. I feel there is a lot of opportunity for young professionals in the city and surrounding areas.” For more information, visit cambriasuitespittsburgh.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “I have three favorite places in the city: CONSOL Energy Center, PNC Park, and Heinz Field.”
+ Watch the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four on April 11 & 13 at the CONSOL Energy Center.
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Luke Mohamed was born and raised in Pittsburgh and earned his college degree at Robert Morris University. He is proud to now give back to the region that has given him so much through his role as development manager at Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. “I’ve traveled to and visited other places, but none has appealed to me as much as Pittsburgh. In terms of work, Pittsburgh was one of the first three cities to have been declared officially out of the recession. I think that speaks volumes about our city and the opportunities here,” he says. Mohamed was presented with just such an opportunity at the Pittsburgh Marathon four years ago and continues to make creative contributions to one of our city’s most exciting events. The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon will be held on the weekend of May 3-5 this year. Says Mohamed, “Our team works year-round, planning to make it a world-class event. If you aren’t running, I encourage you to volunteer or cheer alongside thousands of spectators along our course.” For more information, visit pittsburghmarathon.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “Anywhere by our rivers. I don’t think we appreciate what a great asset we have with our three rivers and the mountain trails that run along them.”
[toggle title=”Jamie Holmes” state=”closed”]
Out of a challenging situation, Jamie Holmes discovered an avenue for helping others. Holmes was born with a rare disorder known as V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome, and she continues to live with its resulting medical issues, enduring more than 30 surgeries in her young life. Holmes remembers the cheering effect receiving balloons from a loved one had on her when she was staying at Children’s Hospital of UPMC, and from this inspiration, she founded Jamie’s Dream Team at the age of 17. The charitable organization works to lift the spirits and ease the burdens of those suffering from serious illnesses and hardships. To spread happiness and hope to those in need, Jamie’s Dream Team works to fulfill the dreams of children and adults who are in need — from orchestrating a helicopter ride for a young boy to planning a dream wedding for a loving couple. The charity is based out of White Oak. Says Holmes, “The people in Pittsburgh are very generous and very nice. There is no place like it.” For more information, visit jamiesdreamteam.myfastsite.net.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “The North Shore. The two stadiums, restaurants, and the river trail. The trail is so peaceful and gives you a great view of the city.”
+ Attend a benefit concert in Lawrenceville on March 23 to help support Jamie’s Dream Team.
[toggle title=”Joshua Bakaitus” state=”closed”]
Talk about a go-getter, Joshua Bakaitus began promoting concerts at the age of 12 in Charleroi, and only a decade later, he is already recognized as a major force in the Pittsburgh music industry. As a talent buyer for Drusky Entertainment, Josh books shows like Kevin Smith, M83, and Converge, while also managing marketing and graphic design. He is president of Cursive Creative, an artist management company he founded, and marketing director for The Altar Bar. Bakaitus was drawn to Pittsburgh for the opportunity to promote bigger and more diverse shows. “There is so much to learn here, mainly because of how unique and competitive our industry is,” he says. “We have a lot of incredibly talented musicians and business professionals in our city for inspiration.” Bakaitus is recognized not just for his business savvy — his coworkers and clients laud him as an unfailingly kind and genuine person, attributes that make him a sought-after promoter and mentor. For more information, visit druskyentertainment.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “The Panther Hollow Valley Lake in Schenley Park, as well as the narrow and old, eroded walkways that lead you there.”
[toggle title=”Julie Sokolow” state=”closed”]
An acclaimed musician, writer, and filmmaker, Julie Sokolow is an engaging part of the Pittsburgh art scene, and she is already earning accolades beyond our three rivers. Sokolow is the founder and director of the documentary series, Healthy Artists, in which artists speak about their lives, work, and health care stories. Recently, she was officially invited to blog about the Healthy Artists project for filmmaker Michael Moore. As a recipient of the Creative Development Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation, she is also currently editing her own feature-length documentary, Aspie Seeks Love, about one artist’s late-in-life diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome. “Pittsburgh allowed me to find my footing as an independent filmmaker. It may be the next Portland or Austin, and if you get in now, you have a chance to grow your practice among supportive networks, start a collective, business, or nonprofit, and make a mark on the city,” she says. Sokolow’s work has been featured across many different venues, and she is also currently recording a “cheeky new pop album.” For more information, visit juliesokolow.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “On an ideal day, I might browse the Carnegie Library in Oakland, catch a film at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, grab an ‘endangered cocktail’ at Kelly’s in East Liberty.”
[toggle title=”Bethany Narey” state=”closed”]
Bethany Narey was born in England, moved to California, and was raised in Pittsburgh. So, when choosing a location for her business, she decided Pittsburgh was the ideal location. “Pittsburgh is a great city for up-and-coming young business professionals. Pittsburgh’s social and business scenes are compatible with a young, energetic environment,” she says. Narey’s business is Health Enhancing Thermography, and she uses thermography to offer health screenings that are non-invasive, radiation free, and affordable. Thermography produces a quick clinical image of the body and allows for earlier detection of diseases, such as cancer. Narey specializes in women’s wellness, and she is focused on reaching as many women as possible in the upcoming year and educating the community on the benefits of her practice. She provides complimentary health screenings for those women with demonstrated need in the community, and she hosts free health seminars for local men and women. For more information, visit heat-images.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “Going to PNC Park on the river for summer evening baseball games is amazing.”
+ Check in with HE@T for its “Don’t Let Your Body Spring a Surprise on You” health incentive for spring, which will include promotions and discounts.
[toggle title=”Jeremy Angus” state=”closed”]
In 2008, Jeremy Angus became one of the youngest chamber of commerce directors in the United States, and in the five years since, he has only increased his community involvement and dedication to the region’s school districts. Angus is currently the Director of Development and Alumni Affairs at Bishop Canevin High School. He has also previously served four years as the executive director of the Ambridge Area Chamber of Commerce and was a candidate for State Representative in the last election. Angus was born and raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and says, “The city has a unique appeal to it — maybe it is the rebirth of an old American steel town, the amazing cultural scene, or the picturesque scenery. I encourage others to find a region where so much culture, history, and pride for a community are packed into such a tight, square-mile vicinity.” To give back to this community, Angus and his family sponsor Project Holiday Dreams, a holiday charity program that Angus created and organizes each year. Angus also serves on many boards of directors, helps run his family’s business, and is a member of the Ambridge Area School Board of Directors. For more information, visit bishopcanevin.org.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “The Fairmont Hotel and Andys Wine Bar. I am a huge jazz fan, and Andys fits perfectly into that equation and into the rebirth of this great American city.”
[toggle title=”Ashley Reefer” state=”closed”]
As the youngest partner at American Adventure Sports, Ashley Reefer runs the day-to-day operations of a large-scale sports company — from planning adventure races to building new partnerships within the community and meeting marketing goals. Reefer is particularly excited to be designing Greensburg’s first half-marathon and is making plans to restore the Keystone Triathlon. “Western Pennsylvania is a mecca for outdoor activities; being so close to the Laurel Highlands, you can access everything from Class V rapids to the Appalachian Trail. The area also offers a lot of great incentives for young entrepreneurs via The Progress Fund and Pittsburgh’s Business Development Center,” she says. “I truly believe if you can dream it, you can do it in our area.” Reefer’s other initiatives include her position as Platform Development Specialist at Gnarly Crew Media Productions, and she is an instructor for the Junior Naturalist Outdoor Adventure Series. For more information, visit americanadventuresports.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “No question — the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden in the summertime. It amazes me how they transformed some 400 acres of abandoned mining land into this beautiful place. It’s a great place to stop after shopping at the Waterfront or visiting some of Pittsburgh’s great museums.”
[toggle title=”Megan Chicone” state=”closed”]
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Megan Chicone’s entrepreneurial spirit quickly took over and led to her becoming a State Farm Insurance owner in Venetia. Chicone is a third-generation State Farm agent, and she has always considered Pittsburgh home. “The region satisfies everything I look for in a lifestyle. We have world-class museums, a fabulous theater district, five-star restaurants, cute neighborhood bistros and coffee shops, great shopping, walkable streets, livable neighborhoods, wonderful city parks, and communities that look after one another. In essence, we have everything big cities have to offer but in a small-town setting,” she says. Megan gives back to her community in a number of ways. As volunteer coach for the Peters Township Junior Varsity Dance Team, Chicone is proud of the girls she influences. She is also a volunteer for the American Cancer Society, as well as for Junior Achievement at Peters Township Middle School and Trinity High School. For more information, visit meganchicone.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “It’s a toss up between the trails behind our home in the South Side, which are part of The Great Allegheny Passage, and a Big East game at the Petersen Events Center, cheering on my Pitt Panthers!”
[toggle title=”Brett Horowitz” state=”closed”]
For a luxurious getaway, Brett Horowitz is your man. He is executive vice president of Olsen O’Leary Travels, Inc., a Luxury Travel and Incentive Marketing Company in Fox Chapel. The company specializes in lavish trips from the exotic to the relaxing, and it recently received a prestigious invitation to join the “The Affluent Traveler Collection,” a renowned group of luxury travel advisors across the nation. As the company sponsors several local charity walks and golf tournaments, Horowitz participates in various community events throughout the year. He is also thrilled to assist in coaching the Fox Chapel Varsity Baseball Team for the third year in a row. In his spare time, Horowitz takes advantage of the many athletic pursuits Pittsburgh has to offer, including skiing and golfing. “As a resident of downtown Pittsburgh, I enjoy watching the city continue to revive and continue to develop downtown housing. I love the feel of the ‘big city’ with sports, arts, and entertainment but the vibe of a Midwest town,” he says. For more information, visit olsenolearytravels.com.
Favorite Pittsburgh Place: “Being a huge sports fan, I find myself enjoying all of the different venues to support our local teams.”
This article is featured in the March 2013 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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