Meet WHIRL Magazine’s 13 Under 30 Class of 2017
By Rachel Jones | Photographs by Michael Fornataro | Art Direction by Alyssa Otto + Jason Solak
Each year, WHIRL Publishing receives massive amounts of nominations for our annual 13 Under 30 feature. And each year, the excitement to learn about and meet these ambitious, inspiring go-getters is always buzzing. This year, we’re proud to introduce 14 individuals who are already sending positivity and progress throughout Pittsburgh — all before their 30th birthdays! To mirror their passion, we chose to conduct the photo shoots for this feature in an equally energetic location: the Strip District. Join us on a journey through the historic neighborhood and get to know the future leaders of our city a little better.
Introducing the 2017 class of rising stars in Western Pennsylvania, all under the age of 30!
Although Pittsburgh native Alexandra (Ali) Good earned her bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, she returned home to get her Juris Doctor and Masters of Art Management through a dual degree program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. “Four years of Ravens fans were more than enough for me,” she jokes. “I love Pittsburgh. I knew that I wanted to end up here, but I did not want my legal practice to be geographically limited.” Good gets the best of both worlds as an associate attorney at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, which offers her the opportunity to work on a global platform with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups. Outside of work, Good stays involved in the city she loves, supporting the Pittsburgh Opera, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the Mattress Factory, and The Watchful Shepherd. (She even won the People’s Choice Mirror Ball at the Watchful Shepherd’s annual Dancing for a Cause event last fall!) “I was taught from a young age that we are responsible for bettering the communities in which we live,” Good says. “From Andrew Carnegie’s industrial boom to the Andy Warhol mystique, Pittsburgh has a rich and dynamic history. My generation is building upon this momentous past and helping the city evolve. We are invested in making the rest of the world view Pittsburgh the way we do.” For more information, visit morganlewis.com.
+ Save the date for the Pittsburgh Opera’s Maecenas XXXIII Gala on May 13, where Ali Good and her mother, Dr. Lisa Cibik, will serve as co-chairs!
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “I’m a total foodie, so I love checking out new restaurants. That being said, my husband, Lt. Brian Linville, and I recently moved to Mt. Washington — I’m a total sucker for a view!”
Growing up in Pittsburgh’s East End, Sean Kelly spent much of his early years trying to get out and explore the world. And when he did, he was left with a greater appreciation of everything his hometown has to offer. Through his work at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the realtor spends every day exploring the various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and introducing them to clients. “The current Pittsburgh real estate market is tight, and we do not have the luxury of a building boom here like other cities,” Kelly explains. “So it is a huge responsibility for me to know each and every neighborhood’s different dynamic and [offerings].” His career path also connected him to the Howard Hanna Free Care Fund, which raises funds for The Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Additionally, the avid volunteer works to support the United Way and its Fit United Program, as well as the annual fundraiser for his alma mater, Central Catholic High School, making a positive impact on local youth and helping Pittsburgh continue on its current path to greatness. “All of the start-up, mid-size, and big companies coming into Pittsburgh have really helped amplify our city, and my generation is at the forefront of this,” Kelly says. “More importantly, a lot of people want to stay in Pittsburgh. I truly feel my generation is taking the reins off of the trailblazers before us and helping to guide the next generation.” For more information, visit seankelly.howardhanna.com.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “The place I go to the most — besides my office — is my gym, Exercise Warehouse in Bloomfield. I also love going out with my girlfriend Downtown to explore the city at night. My favorite restaurant is Piccolo Forno [in Lawrenceville], and if I could eat at one place every day, it would be Café Raymond in the Strip. They have the best blueberry ricotta pancakes!”
Lancaster, Pa., native Marqui Lyons came to Pittsburgh to obtain a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and then a master’s degree from Duquesne University. Once she landed a job at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust after graduation, the city became her new home! “A large part of what I do is work to build and maintain relationships with other community organizations and institutions throughout the city,” says Lyons, the program manager for the Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Department at The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Her department is responsible for planning events such as Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, the Gallery Crawls in the Cultural District, and the programs and visual art at the August Wilson Center. “In the past few years, the arts and culture scene here has truly evolved and grown, and it is our generation that is fueling the movement,” Lyons says. “And while there is much more work to be done, there are some beautiful things that are happening in Pittsburgh.” From new spaces to ever-changing events, there are so many opportunities for local and international artists in Pittsburgh. “There is no better feeling than seeing the smiles on people’s faces after a successful event or seeing people in the audience dancing out of their seats during a great performance,” she reflects. “With everything going on in the world, it is rewarding to know that we can help bring some positivity into people’s lives through the arts.” For more information, visit TrustArts.org. – Maggie McCauley
+ Stay tuned for upcoming events from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, including The Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, March 24-26 and the Spring Gallery Crawl April 21!
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “The Cathedral of Learning — even after having class in there every day for four years, I am still in awe of that view! Carmi’s Family Restaurant in the North Side, where everything on the menu is amazing. And the Cultural District. Even if I didn’t work in the District, I would still find myself taking in all it has to offer.”
During his sophomore year at Point Park University, Cody Baker hosted his first photography event at Social Status called “Ninelives.” “It really opened my eyes to how fun it is to organize a few hours for people to come and hang out,” Baker says. A few months later, he and Chancelor Humphrey decided to launch Creatives Drink, which organizes events for attendees to “discuss their passions, professions, and hobbies in an energized space filled with fellow ambitious people.” The group most recently hosted an event at the Carnegie Museum of Art. “Our generation has been making an impact by creating more and more opportunities for our community to come together,” Baker says. “Some say Pittsburgh is too small, but I look at it as a good thing. It gives our generation an opportunity to launch an idea or focus on their craft at an earlier age without having to slave over a job just to pay the bills. And the more we grow, the more events, professionals, businesses, and opportunities the city gets.” When he’s not hosting an event for Creatives Drink, a Pop Style party at Brillbox on the first Saturday of each month, or a Block Party at Market Street Grocery, Baker stays busy taking photos and running the social media for local restaurants. “I love that I have full control of my schedule while also having the freedom to create content and practice my craft. The free cocktails and food from the shoots are also a bonus.” For more information, visit creativesdrink.com.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “Downtown has to be my favorite, but I love Lawrenceville at night. You can find me at Market Street Grocery or The Goldmark at least once a week.”
With a love of the arts and the art of bringing people together, it was almost inevitable that Randall Oaks found his niche at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art. As the events manager, he promotes the museum’s vision and programs by executing its most prominent happenings, including The Sky’s The Limit: Grand Reopening Celebration, after the museum’s massive renovation and expansion in 2015, and the Big Art Party, which is now its annual fundraiser, after the inaugural event in 2016. Both celebrations garnered attention across Westmoreland County and into the Pittsburgh area, too, and kept Oaks’ passion for his work burning bright. With each upcoming event, Oaks takes other community organizations in the area into careful consideration and finds ways to collaborate across the area. “I really believe that curating strong relationships and partnerships within the region is the best way to develop community pride and achieve growth,” Oaks says. “I think we are seeing our generation spearheading a lot of collaborations and partnerships between their businesses and organizations. I think we’re recognizing it truly does ‘take a village.’ The amount of support one gets from our communities at times is overwhelming, and I think that is what really makes Pittsburgh and this region an awesome place to live and work.” For more information, visit thewestmoreland.org.
+ Stay tuned for the second annual Big Art Party at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art on October 21!
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “My wife and I really enjoy when we are able to get a day to head to the Strip District together. Although my friends and I frequent Market Square and the South Side, we are always looking to try new places!”
Striving to “make the world kinder and more accepting,” Jordan Corcoran launched Listen, Lucy to give a voice to those who felt they couldn’t be heard. The online outlet is a place to “express yourself freely, creatively, and anonymously to find comfort in seeing you are not alone.” Users can write about their troubles or share other forms of healing — all in a welcoming, anonymous environment. “I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, and I am so thankful for my struggle,” Corcoran says. “Without it, Listen, Lucy wouldn’t exist.” Running everything from Listen, Lucy’s accounting to social media and everything in between, Corcoran is the creator and sole maintainer of the organization. “I am lucky to have people that support me and offer advice, help, and even their talents whenever they can,” she says. “My role in this company is overwhelming for sure, but it also makes every single victory that much sweeter.” Corcoran also carries out her mission in person, speaking to college, high school, and middle school students to help them see that their struggles are normal and that they have support systems who care. “What I hope my generation will always be known for is being a group of well-rounded, open-minded, and accepting people,” Corcoran says. “We accept people for who they are, where they come from, and what they believe in. And, for the most part, we allow each person to be themselves, exactly the way they are.” For more information, visit listenlucy.org.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh:“For exercise and my version of meditation? The Barre Code in McCandless Crossing. For a quiet and cozy place to work? Coffee Buddha. For drinks and dinner and to act like I don’t spend all of my time working? Industry in Lawrenceville. But my all-time favorite place in this city is, without a doubt, on the couch in my living room with my husband, binge-watching whatever show is up on our list of things to watch.”
Only a year and a half apart in age, sisters Lauren and Erica Kelly share everything from an alma mater to a dedication to helping those in need. They both attended the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law — Lauren graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both communication rhetoric and Italian language and literature, then received her Juris Doctor degree in 2012, and Erica graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and a concentration in Arabic language, then received her Juris Doctor degree in 2014. Currently, they live together in Market Square and work together at Gordon & Rees. As associate attorneys at the law firm, where Lauren is a 5th year associate and Erica is a 3rd year associate, the sisters specialize in medical malpractice defense.
They also use their experience and expertise in the field to support the causes they deeply care about. “Because we are third-generation Syrian-Americans (our great-grandparents were Syrian immigrants), we are passionate about raising awareness for the current refugee crisis and the ongoing war in Syria. Additionally, we have recently been working with the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS Foundation) to raise money for the Save Aleppo Fund, which helps fund the medical needs of civilian victims of the war in Aleppo, Syria. We are also running the FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in May, along with our two younger sisters and our cousin, to raise money to benefit Syrian refugees.”
Erica is always looking for ways to utilize her legal and Arabic language skills to help others affected by the current political issues related to immigration and refugees. In addition to bringing awareness to helping Syrian refugees, Lauren is also a member of the Children’s Trust of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, which seeks to raise money for research and provide volunteer opportunities for young professionals.
“It’s been evident the past several months that young people in Pittsburgh have been actively involved in fighting for the causes that are close to their hearts and have been extremely vocal about standing up for the rights of others. Rather than sitting back and hoping for change, our peers have been actively engaged in making a change. Pittsburgh has been at the forefront of making strides toward change, and that makes us proud to be from this city.” For more information, visit gordonrees.com.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “Pittsburgh is such an up-and-coming city, but it still has the small town vibe. We live and work Downtown, where everything you need is within walking distance. You can have dinner at a world-renowned restaurant, visit one of the museums, and catch a sporting event — all in one weekend! Our favorite places in the city are: Ali Baba in North Oakland — the best Syrian food in the city, in our opinion! — Morcilla in Lawrenceville, Gaucho in the Strip District, Social House 7 in Downtown, The Goldmark in Lawrenceville, Penn Avenue, and Market Square.”
San Diego native Amanda Wright first came to Pittsburgh to work as a research assistant at UPMC, studying adolescent brain development. But after a few years, she decided to embark on a completely different career path: culinary school. She earned her degree at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., then returned to Pittsburgh to open A519 Chocolate. Her whimsical, colorful truffles are made from scratch with local ingredients, and are almost too pretty to eat — almost. “My favorite part of this venture is my ability to have unrestrained creativity in developing everything from new flavor combinations to our bold, hand-painted designs,” she says. Celebrating its second anniversary this June, A519 sells its confections at Whole Foods in the South Hills. Wright says having her products on the shelves there helps A519 expand its reach in the region and connect with more community members. “Pittsburgh has always been a city open to the imaginations of its longtime residents and new transplants alike,” Wright says. “This tradition continues to this day, where talented people feel buoyed by the strong sense of community to open ventures expressing their artistry and visions for what the city may become. The security provided by the community in Pittsburgh allows our generation to craft a template for what a small, modern city should be.” For more information or to place an order, visit a519chocolate.com.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “I like to wander around the historic neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, experiencing the vigor of new development that is anchored to Pittsburgh’s history by the grandness of the old architecture throughout. This is particularly notable in the Strip District, Lawrenceville, and Downtown, where I like to take my dog for walks as often as possible.”
While he’s currently on a one-semester break from studying small business management at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, we wouldn’t say Evan Strittmatter is really taking a break. He’s busy working as the president of Indiana Vac, LLC, and Pittsburgh Central Vacuum, which he runs with his mother, Cindy. “Because we complement each other well and don’t hold anything back, we have a really good work relationship,” Strittmatter says. “We are able to keep that separate from our mother-son relationship, too.” He splits his time between Indiana and Pittsburgh, meeting with central vacuum customers and working in the retail store in Indiana. “I’m a big believer in relationship sales, so I like to actually get to know my customers and what their needs are,” says Strittmatter. Through this and his volunteer work, he’s made a lot of connections in the community. He serves as a board member of the Alice Paul House; the associate vice president of the Indiana-Armstrong Home Builders Association; is a member of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Midday Rotary, and Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh. His go-getter attitude reflects on his belief that his generation is a “new group of groundbreakers.” He adds, “With my generation starting new businesses and organizations here in Pittsburgh, we are bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to our city and staying ahead of the game.” For more information, visit indianavacuum.com and pittsburghcentralvacuum.com. – M.C.
+ Look for the Indiana Vac, LLC and Pittsburgh Central Vacuum booth at the Duquesne Light Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show March 10-19!
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “I try to get my hair cut every three weeks with MJ at Mister Grooming and Goods in Lawrenceville where the entire staff and atmosphere is top-notch. A few of my favorite restaurants are Girasole, Joseph Tambellini’s, and Urban Tap.”
With a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, a master’s degree in mass media and communications, and his own determination, Nick Brucker had all of the tools he needed to create Sparq Designs. Developing and executing strategic marketing plans for regional, national, and global brands, Brucker and his team “give creative individuals the opportunities to be successful in their own skin.” He adds, “We’ve been extremely fortunate when finding great people who have helped develop a corporate culture for the company. The most gratifying part of starting this business is building a team to scale and grow at a larger level.” And grow it has! In 2017, Sparq Designs is poised to receive the honor of being one of Pittsburgh’s fastest growing companies. The new goal is to become one of the top marketing agencies in Pittsburgh, in the next three years, and even open a second location in Youngstown, Ohio. In addition to the team’s hard work and perseverance, a major reason for the company’s success is the fact that it started in Pittsburgh. “I enjoy the opportunities that Pittsburgh has to offer,” Brucker says. “It is a great place to start a business, and meet driven and passionate people who are willing to help one another out. It is a city that has a great deal of talent when it comes to art, culture, food, and music.” For more information, visit sparqdesigns.com.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “Tres Rios Mexican Kitchen Y Tequila Bar on East Carson Street and the Strip District”
Once she won the crown and title of Miss Pennsylvania, part of the Miss America Organization, Samantha Lambert has been putting major miles on her car. Hosting speaking engagements, participating in community events, or fundraising — particularly for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which is nationally partnered with Miss America — Lambert spreads positivity across Pennsylvania. “So far, some of my most notable experiences have been working a cow showing contest — with my crown and sash on! — speaking at the elementary school I formerly attended, and meeting with the state representatives in Washington, D.C.,” Lambert says. “Getting to meet people from different areas and hear their stories is my favorite part of this job. I not only talk about the things I am involved in, but I also hope to inspire others to find their passions and use them for good in their community.” In her own community, the Fox Chapel native is proud to call Pittsburgh home. She’s especially excited about the more recent advancements in the local technology field, spearheaded by the amazing individuals studying at local universities or transplanting to the area for work. But her favorite part about Pittsburgh is the people. “We have such an awesome sense of community here, no matter where you go,” Lambert says. “Whether it’s cheering for a sports team or gathering to support fundraising efforts, it is great to see how willing people are to come together here.” For more information, follow Samantha Lambert on Instagram and Twitter @MissAmericaPA.
+ Samantha Lambert is working on something special with Jewelbots, which makes programmable friendship bracelets, this spring. Stay tuned for more details!
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “Favorites of mine have always been the Carnegie Museums and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Those are places I have been going to since I was young, and I won’t ever get tired of them.”
Having worked everywhere from a hotel and steakhouse in New York City, to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa, Corrie Michael satisfied the itch to be in a more urban environment when he took on the Pittsburgh restaurant industry. As the general manager of Social House Seven, Michael has a hand in the current revolution of Downtown Pittsburgh. “We are focused on making Downtown a destination for people to come, stay, and enjoy once again,” he says. “Being a part of the industry, I am always curious to see what everyone else is doing. Exploring the city helps me be more of an ambassador, helping guests that come through. I enjoy having a good time, so it is always rewarding to be able to create an experience for others to enjoy.” When he’s out enjoying the city — which he calls, “a great balance between a small town and a large city” — Michael frequents the different neighborhoods that give Pittsburgh its unparalleled flavor. “[Our generation thrives] on the unique and innovative environment that occurs when a city not only retains young talent, but is also a city great minds actively try to come to,” Michael says. “The eclectic artisans and thriving restaurant industry ensure access to a rich source of food culture. Food has truly revolutionized Pittsburgh as a tourism city and is keeping everyone hungry for more.” For more information, visit socialhouse7.com.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “Every morning, I can be found at Crossfit Pittsburgh. I really enjoy Soba’s industry night on Wednesdays, I’m obsessed with the wings from the William Penn Tavern, and I also can’t get enough of täko.”
Growing up in New York City, Barbara Arroyo witnessed the 9/11 attacks firsthand. That experience solidified her decision to pursue a career in public safety. “I was selected to be in the FBI Explorer Program,” says Arroyo. That position took her through various stages of her career path, but ultimately brought her to Pittsburgh to obtain a master’s degree from Point Park University. “Shortly after receiving my master’s degree, I made the move to call Pittsburgh home for good,” she says. She currently serves as the emergency management planner for the City of Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. In this role, Barbara is ready and able to handle the consequences of any kind of disaster in the area. “I believe in the importance of community resilience through education and building relationships,” she says. Community efforts are important in Arroyo’s personal life, too. She’s involved with Latinas Connect and Be a Middle School Mentor, and she also co-founded Fit and Empowered Minds Mentorship Program with a former colleague. The latter inspires women and girls in the City of Pittsburgh Public Schools to lead healthy lifestyles, a program she’s excited to have expanding into other school districts. “To see these young ladies commit, work hard, and just laugh is what brightens my day,” she says. The same can be said about her fascination with the “millennial work ethic.” Young professionals are no longer striving just to obtain “fancy titles,” but instead, they are seeking “value-based work that makes an impact.” For more information, visit pittsburghpa.gov. – M.C.
Favorite Place in Pittsburgh: “I have traveled a lot, and Pittsburgh is one of the prettiest cities I have ever seen. I love Bloomfield’s Little Italy Days. R Wine Cellar in the Strip District and The Yard are just some of my many favorites.”