Amongst the flood of nominations we received this year, these 13 honorees captured our attention for their pioneering attitudes. All under the age of 30, they epitomize the evolving professional landscape in Pittsburgh, representing a variety of fields and backgrounds. We were thrilled to invite these exceptional individuals to Kimpton’s newly opened Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, where the fresh, fun, and inspiring atmosphere complemented the energy, charm, and intellect this generation brings to the table. Mark our words — if this is the first time you’re reading about these movers and shakers, it certainly won’t be the last.

By Liz Petoniak
Photographs by Michael Fornataro
Art Direction by Jason Solak + Samantha Casale

Special thanks to Susan Randolph + Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
Tawni Darby Orloski

Tawni Darby Orloski, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

In 2014, Tawni Darby Orloski, from Hermitage, Pa., opened the doors of Millennium Dance Complex Pittsburgh, a franchise of the international dance brand, recognized for working with big name acts like Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Usher, among others. Citing Pittsburgh as “geographically ripe for the expansion of the commercial dance industry,” the owner and CEO, who also dances herself, says she recognized a need for a space where dancers of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels could train together in a creative and supportive environment. The South Side studio celebrated its one-year anniversary last month, boasting a staff of nearly 30 world-class instructors, work-studies, and other employees at the drop-in dance training area. Most recently, Millennium has teamed up with RAE Productions to produce the studio’s first choreography showcase, featuring more than 70 dancers and choreographers. “It’s exciting to see so much collaboration and innovation because it’s yet another sign that Pittsburgh is going to remain one of the top places to live and work for years to come,” she says. “The people I work with every day continually prove that Pittsburgh is the place for 20- and 30-somethings to establish their careers in any industry because we live with the idea that if it’s not already here, we’ll bring it here.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The Cultural District! I love the food; entertainment; the quaint, artistic vibe; and the close proximity to everything.”

Fred Smallhoover

Fred Smallhoover, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

If you frequent local restaurants, diners, and coffee shops, chances are you’ve sipped a cup of coffee brewed from Fortunes Gourmet Coffee’s beans. Based in Pittsburgh for more than 60 years, the local company focuses primarily on wholesale business. But, recently, President Fred Smallhoover made the move to distribute his family’s artisan coffee to individual buyers, as well. He says, “I have lived in Pittsburgh my whole life, and I could not imagine a better city to grow my business in. Our city is becoming aware that coffee can be more than just some brown liquid that wakes you up in the morning, and we’re poised to become a major region in the specialty coffee community.” Smallhoover and Fortunes constantly test and develop new offerings, including seasonal coffees, and are working to expand “Direct Trade” selections — roasts originating from their network of individual farmers to assure fair wages for the coffee and the workers. “The young professionals in Pittsburgh are truly making the area an exciting place to live,” he says. “I am lucky enough to meet many of them, especially restaurateurs and café owners, and I think the most inspiring thing that I notice is their concern and dedication to their communities. Many of them feel a deep connection to where they establish themselves, and that pride makes Pittsburgh an even better place to live.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The Strip District in the morning.”

Kevion Latham

Kevion Latham, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

A southern gentleman hailing from North Carolina, Kevion Latham wasn’t sure a city lifestyle would appeal to him. But, charmed by Pittsburgh’s “hometown people, old-world food, and big time business,” paired with attractions like the Cultural District, Mt. Washington, and the Strip District, he saw the city as the perfect place to lay down roots. “While others might consider Pittsburgh to be a blue-collar, steel mill town, I see its future of setting standards for many industries, including banking, IT development, and professional sports,” he says. As a former Penn State football player, and current husband, father, and leader in the African-American community, he offers a unique perspective as a partner at Fort McIntosh Wealth Advisors, a growing financial firm that’s currently completing its 20,000-square-foot headquarters in Beaver, Pa. Additionally, Latham serves as the vice president of Orange Arrow. The nonprofit, founded by Shawn Robinson, diligently aims to groom young, male student athletes into accountable gentlemen and community leaders through after-school programs. He says, “Pittsburgh is pouring into the young professionals in and around the city, and they certainly are giving right back. This generation seeks more than just to make a name for themselves locally. With pride, these young professionals appreciatively brand themselves as being Pittsburgh-made. I may be Carolina born and bred, but Pittsburgh is most certainly home.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“Butcher & the Rye. I am blessed to call the owners, Chef Rick DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik, my friends. They are innovators and prime examples of young professionals carrying the Pittsburgh-made brand to the max. My second place of refuge is Studio AM in Homestead. Artist Baron Batch and his team have created an ambiance that hasn’t been done here in Pittsburgh before.”

Kelly Waldman

Kelly Waldman, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

The thriving health care scene in Pittsburgh drew Kelly Waldman back to the city she grew up in, after leaving to obtain an engineering degree from Duke University and attending Dartmouth’s business school. As a project manager at Creehan & Company, she now sits at the forefront of the “health care IT” movement, dubbed by many in the industry as the hot new field that’s still not covered in graduate-level courses. Most recently, the Fox Chapel native was selected for Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc.’s Leadership Development Initiative program. She says, “It’s great that Pittsburgh provides so many ways for young professionals to become involved with the city, whether it is through business opportunities, community engagement, or volunteer positions.” Up next on Waldman’s agenda is completing her Masters of Regulatory Science online through Johns Hopkins University and establishing a nonprofit support group for children and young adults with chronic and serious diseases. She says, “What I’ve found through personal experience and volunteering is that people with greater access to information and those that feel like they’re a part of a community can have a better quality of life. With the extraordinary hospitals and professionals that we have in Pittsburgh, I couldn’t think of a better place to begin this group.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“PNC Park. I’ve been one of those crazy Pirates fans who didn’t give up. Even if they don’t bring home a win, there is a great atmosphere and an incredible view that makes it worthwhile.”

Amber Kunselman

Amber Kunselman, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

As pastry chef and co-owner of The White Rabbit Café & Pâtisserie in Downtown Greensburg, Amber Kunselman contributes a special flair to our region’s blossoming culinary scene. Together with her business partner, Tommy Medley, she offers coffee, tea, pastries, confections, and custom cakes — made using the freshest ingredients — in the quaint café. Prior to returning to the area, she lived in Miami and worked in a number of high-end restaurants and luxury hotels, such as The Ritz-Carlton. Greensburg’s “cute and walkable” vibe, as well as its revitalization due to the rapid expansion of Seton Hill University, positioned the city as a top contender for her to open her first kitchen. But, Kunselman is made of more than French macarons and salted caramel candies. Most recently, The White Rabbit has teamed up with Westmoreland County Community College’s Early Childhood Education Club for a free program called, “Reading at the Rabbit,” where student volunteers read and plan activities for young children in the community on the last Thursday of every month at 10:30 a.m. She says, “I appreciate the region’s dedication to education and affordability that allows young professionals, like myself, to thrive in the community. Since my area of interest is the culinary field, it’s encouraging to see a developing food scene happening here, largely advanced by the younger chefs of the area.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The Strip District. I love all of the different ethnic markets and restaurants, as well as the unique independent businesses there. It is quintessential Pittsburgh.”

Matthew Spangler

Matthew Spangler, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

A go-to guy for happenings in the community, Matthew Spangler holds the title of director of education and community engagement at WYEP, where he plans and executes a variety of educational events and programs for all ages, from concerts to internships, and tours of the radio station. The alternative station’s mission and community outreach initially sparked the Indiana University of Pennsylvania grad’s interest in media, and he hasn’t looked back since. Originally hailing from Spokane, Wash., he says Pittsburgh’s renaissance made the city all the more attractive as a place to pursue his career goals. Right now, he’s gearing up with the station for another fun summer, filled with events like the Summer Music Festival and Final Fridays at Schenley Plaza, as well as the release of WYEP’s second Reimagination CD, a compilation of Southwestern Pennsylvania teen musicians who are mentored in the station’s Reimagine Media program. In addition to his position at WYEP, Spangler also helps others take advantage of everything Pittsburgh has to offer as the founder and managing director of FreeBurgh, LLC, a lifestyle organization that promotes and encourages free and affordable events in the city. He says, “It may sound cliché, but there’s no limit to what you can accomplish in Pittsburgh. No matter how far-fetched an idea may seem, there’s someone who will encourage you to make your dream a reality.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“Whether it’s enjoying a restaurant, visiting a brewery, or exploring a park, the city has a lot of great spaces, which makes it hard for me to choose a favorite.”

Elizabeth Cardillo

Elizabeth Cardillo, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

Though she spent five years in California, studying at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, working as a bridal consultant, and discovering her love of pageants, Allison Park native Elizabeth Cardillo made the decision to return home. “I absolutely love the hard-working people and close family mentality that the people of this city have,” she says. “Pittsburgh is becoming the ‘place to be’ more and more. No longer do young professionals need to move away to become successful.” Cardillo certainly serves as proof. This past December, she was crowned Miss Pennsylvania USA 2015 and took on the full-time job of traveling across the state for public appearances and shedding light on a cause that hits home — the need for adoption. As someone who was adopted herself, Cardillo expresses excitement to work with local programs to bring awareness to foster children. Early this summer, she will represent our state at the televised 2015 Miss USA Pageant.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“PNC Park — the most beautiful baseball stadium in the country!”

Anqwenique Wingfield

Anqwenique Wingfield, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

This year is off to a sensational start for local opera, classical, jazz, and soul vocalist and teaching artist Anqwenique Wingfield. She and her band, Kinetic, closed out 2014 with the debut of their first album, World of Wonder, which is now available on iTunes and Amazon. The jazz group is in the process of planning its regional tour to take place this summer. The Pittsburgh native, who you may recognize from jazz performances at venues like the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and James St. Gastropub & Speakeasy, was drawn back to the area after studying voice performance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania because of the city’s “amazing community of artists and art supporters.” She says, “Pittsburgh has provided many spaces and opportunities for me to grow and challenge myself creatively. Young professionals here are doing amazing and fearless work.” Count Wingfield among them! In addition to contributing to the city’s progressive community of performers with her own music, she’s also giving momentum to the next generation of artists, teaching voice and piano at Hope Academy of East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Witness the soprano’s prowess first-hand, June 19-21, when Wingfield will perform Douglas Levine and Julie Tosh’s original composition, “Mercy Train,” with Microscopic Opera at the New Hazlett Theater.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“BOOM Concepts. The community art space in Garfield has hosted art exhibitions, music performances, yoga practice, community conversations, film premieres, and so much more.”

Alex Lancianese

Alex Lancianese, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

Alex Lancianese’s career took an unexpected — and welcomed — turn into the nonprofit sector after meeting Jennifer Markus, co-founder of Explore Sewickley, who she credits with fueling her passion for community development, revitalization, and event planning. As the marketing director for Explore Sewickley, Lancianese has played a vital role in reinvigorating the borough by working to showcase and build up its business district, in addition to executing highly attended (and amazing!) community events. Currently, she and her team are working toward obtaining the designation as a National Main Street organization, which she says is exciting for sustainability in the future. “I think this 21st [century] renaissance vibe that’s happening is awesome,” she says. “It’s great that the rest of the country is looking to Pittsburgh as a bold city, set for innovation, culture, and education.” Be sure to mark your calendars for a number of not-to-miss events in Sewickley, like the Soup Crawl on March 14, the Gallery & Art Walk on April 10-11, and Sewickley Unleashed on May 16!

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“There’s just something about espresso and the Strip District on a Saturday morning.”

Stephanie Koay

Stephanie Koay, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

Pittsburgh was a “natural fit” for West Virginia native Stephanie Koay, a title professional with CONSOL Energy Inc.’s CNX Land Resources. After graduating from San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law, she followed her sister to the area and fell in love with its urban environment, proximity to home, and diversity. “It is such a livable city and all of the neighborhoods offer something different, making it attractive to people with various interests,” she says. “There are a lot of different industries in the region, and I’ve also noticed many individuals are given the chance to take on important leadership roles early in their careers.” Drawn by the Marcellus Shale boom, the oil and gas attorney also works as an adjunct professor at Robert Morris University developing an “Intro to Land Management Course,” a part of a larger certificate that she hopes will assist others in breaking into the growing field. Koay’s most rewarding work, however, is volunteering as a “big sister” through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, which celebrates 50 years of helping youth in our community in 2015. With nearly 240 children on the waiting list, she encourages other young professionals to get involved. She says, “You’d be surprised at how just a little bit of your time can impact a child’s life and fulfill yours.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“I love the view coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. I fell in love with the skyline when I was a little girl and would visit Pittsburgh with my family. It was always so exciting and such a big deal. I still feel the same way every time I drive into the city.”

Meghan Swick

Meghan Swick, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

While noting that Pittsburgh offers all of the amenities of a large city, Hampton native Meghan Swick most appreciates the ‘Burgh for its small town feel. “Pittsburghers are all one giant family,” she says. “Spend longer than five minutes talking to someone and you’ll find out that they know your dad’s high school buddy’s cousin because they sat next to each other once at a Penguins game, and ‘oh, by the way, does your aunt still make her famous Christmas cookies?’ I love that sense of community and the way we appreciate hard work here and root for each other.” As the center director of the Brain Balance Achievement Center in East Liberty, community and family sits at the center of Swick’s professional life. She and her team are making a difference in Pittsburgh by helping children with learning disorders and behavioral issues overcome academic and social challenges. And, she tells us they eagerly await the chance to reach more kids and help more families. Brain Balance’s second center is slated to open in the South Hills this summer! Says Swick, “Everyone here has big dreams and big plans, and they aren’t stopping for anything. All of that drive, ambition, and passion is perfectly balanced with a sense of fun, excitement, and silliness. If you
want to do something, do it here; you’ll be in good company.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The rivers. I love sitting on the grass by the stadiums, and reading a book or people watching. There is so much to do — walking, bike riding, or kayaking. It’s such a fun atmosphere in the summer when everyone is out on their boats, enjoying concerts or sporting events.”

Finn Skovdal

Finn Skovdal, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

After attending the University of Pittsburgh and falling in love with the city, Finn Skovdal of Morrisville, Pa., opted to stay and earn his law degree from Duquesne University. “There are many opportunities for young professionals within this city,” he says, pointing to the primary reason why he chose to live and work in Pittsburgh. Skovdal serves as an assistant district attorney for Allegheny County, spending his mornings in the courtroom and working under District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., to protect the rights of and ensure justice for the county’s residents. And, of course, he continues to make a great case for the city that captured his heart years ago. Skovdal says, “Pittsburgh is trying to reinvent itself as a ‘young city,’ and it’s doing a great job at accomplishing that. There are so many new and unique restaurants, stores, and places for activities. I feel that the steady increase of young professionals in this city is responsible for this and has had a significant impact on economic growth throughout the city.”

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The South Side [Riverfront] Trail. It’s a great place to exercise, clear your mind, and observe a different view of the city.”

Zachary Snyder

Zachary Snyder, WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh's 13 Under 30 Class of 2015

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, self-proclaimed “sports nut” Zachary Snyder spent most of his time growing up playing hockey or basketball, and of course, debating all aspects of his favorite games at every opportunity. After constant discussion with his close friend, Jonathan Weinberg, the duo decided to “pull the trigger” and develop a platform where “knowledgeable, passionate, and insightful” fans could debate and discuss their favorite teams. Their mobile app, FanDings, launched in 2014 with Pittsburgh as its home base. Snyder says, “Pittsburgh is both traditional and innovative. Its people are aware and proud of the city’s heritage, while simultaneously playing a huge part in moving our world into the 21st century.” The app has already received a positive response and astounding user-retention. FanDings is now available for purchase in the iTunes store, and will soon be available for Android users.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“CONSOL Energy Center.”

Previous post

Pittsburgh’s Magee-Womens Hospital Launches "MyMageePregnancy" App

Next post

Dish on WISH 99.7: Here Comes the (Wedding) Guide