Edited by Andrea Bosco Stehle | Photographs by Michael Fornataro | Art direction by Alyssa Otto and Liz Petoniak | Shot on location at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex | Event Director Lauren Pesce
2016 marks the 21st anniversary of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest. This elite group of the area’s most accomplished men and women are honored each year for their career success and involvement in the Pittsburgh community. The honorees commit to raising much needed funds and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF). All proceeds raised by Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest help to support vital CF research, medical, and educational programs. Read on to learn more about the class of 2016!
The summer of fundraising will culminate on
August 25 from 7-11 p.m. with a gala at the Wyndham Grand Downtown Pittsburgh.
Tickets are $85 ($41 tax-deductible).
For tickets, click here.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Katey Mauro is one of triplet sisters. She graduated from Duquesne University with a bachelor’s in health management and IT, and an MBA and a master’s in information technology from Robert Morris University. She is involved in multiple nonprofit and social organizations within the Pittsburgh community, and tries to commit as much of her free time as she can outside of her job at K&L Gates. As an IT project manager, her colleagues will tell you that she is organized, pays great attention to detail, and strives for perfection in everything she does. Her family and friends will also tell her that she is genuine, honest, and rarely holds anything back. She loves to travel as much as she can, but regardless of any destination she has been to, she loves calling Pittsburgh home. No matter the season, from the farmers market to the Christmas market, Market Square is her go-to. “There is always something for everyone,” she says. Top Sponsors: Villain Vape Shop, J. Mauro & Sons, Bronze Beauty Spray Tanning.
Tony Atkins is a digital content producer at WPXI-TV, originally from Milwaukee, Wis. Although he’s not a native Pittsburgher, he feels he was selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because of his down-to-earth approach to life despite his accomplishments and endless desire to give back to the community. As a journalist, he finds himself on tight deadlines constantly. That said, his favorite place in the Pittsburgh area has to be among the peace, quiet, and nature of North Park. Top Sponsors: Cox Media Group; a mentor, Jermont Terry; his girlfriend, Kyshira Moffett.
Though relatively new to Pittsburgh, Kenny Chen has lived here for two years — a much longer time span of time than he’s spent in any other place in his career, which, he says, is a great sign for the city. He’s enjoyed working in a direct or collaborative capacity with several dozen organizations and companies. In this small town full of close-knit networks, Kenny appreciates how incredibly supportive people have been, and how quickly a small group of passionate, dedicated people can generate substantial impact. In various roles, he’s worked as program director of Thrill Mill, co-founder of involveMINT, co-founder of SIM Pittsburgh, board member at Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh, board member at MIT Enterprise Forum, board member at Pittsburgh Young Professionals, organizer at Startup Weekend Pittsburgh, co-host of PGH Connectors, and alumnus of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. Pittsburgh’s Northside is home to many of his favorite people and places. “The fascinating wealth of history, culture, music, art, and scenic beauty is soberingly juxtaposed with a range of persistent challenges; and it is around these assets and issues alike that the strength of the Northside’s communities is built,” he says. Top Sponsors: His roommate, Marissa Torre; the team at Thrill Mill; the many friends and mentors at Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh.
Kiley Pollio is a senior consultant with Business Intelligence at Microsoft. In her free time, she stays busy by serving on multiple community groups, including the Trimont HOA, SQL Server PASS Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Business Intelligence meetup. Kiley enjoys reading with her book club, learning, boating, yoga, traveling the world, and spending time with family and friends. She is also a certified Les Mills Body Combat instructor. Kiley is committed to local community efforts, especially those in her backyard, and supports the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, among other charities. She believes that every little bit counts in her effort to change the world for the better and is honored to be a part of this year’s Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest class. Top Sponsors: Trimont Condominium Association, Richard & Virginia Fischer, Microsoft, Joyce Barber.
Chris Clackson, a native of McMurray, Pa., grew up always striving to reach his full potential along with a passion for helping others. After competing in minor professional hockey for a number of years, Chris returned to Pittsburgh to work as a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley. He saw the abundant potential of the city and wanted to be a contributing member for the future of the city of Pittsburgh. He also saw an opportunity to raise awareness and support for a courageous group of local people, fighting to save lives. Chris is honored to be selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest and looks to continue to make a difference in the community. From growing up in the South Hills, he always enjoys the initial view of the city skyline after driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. “It’s the first view I like to show people when they come to visit because I don’t know another city in the world where you emerge directly into the city like you do in Pittsburgh,” he says. Top Sponsors: CrossFit Mt. Lebanon, Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh, Beitler Trucking.
Andrea Smith is the business development coordinator of Caliber Contracting Services, Inc., a commercial construction firm in Pittsburgh. Most of the causes that she stands behind have to do with children, as she studied elementary education in college. She has a soft spot for children’s charities, and sits on the board of directors for the Brookline Teen Outreach and is part of the NAIOP Developing Leaders program. In the process of becoming a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh program, Andrea believes she was selected to be one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because she becomes emotionally invested when she feels she can make a difference in someone’s life, which leads her to making sure that more people understand what cystic fibrosis is and how we can all help to create more tomorrows for those affected. Also, she is a great connector of people and is passionate about making a difference as a team. Her favorite place in Pittsburgh is her back deck in Forest Hills, surrounded by friends and family. “Good food, music playing, kids running around, and laughter a plenty,” she says. Top Sponsors: Caliber Contracting Services, Inc., Oakland Catholic High School, the Azzarello family, generous family and friends.
Thomas West is the owner of TRIM Pittsburgh, a men’s boutique focusing on underwear and swimwear. Nearly three years ago, after a career as a television news producer, he fulfilled a dream and became his own boss. “The feeling is great!” he says. Since opening TRIM Pittsburgh, he’s been able to hold events to help fundraise for the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, as well as donate to several other local charities and organizations. He’s also been heavily involved with the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce, and has recently been named a board member. His goal is to help bring back the bustle to East Liberty and help other entrepreneurs to reach their goals. He loves to run and bike the trails all summer long. Top Sponsors: Adam Childers, Vivian and Jerry Gould, supporters of TRIM Pittsburgh.
After graduating from Allegheny College, Cathy moved to Pittsburgh to begin her career with State Farm Insurance. As a claim specialist, she works to assist people in returning to their lives following significant car accidents. She has been actively involved in the Pittsburgh community and its many nonprofit organizations, including the Junior League of Pittsburgh, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pressley Ridge, and Strong Women, Strong Girls. When she is not working, Cathy is likely to be found watching one of her three boys play baseball or taking in the beautiful view of the city from a Pirates game at PNC Park. Top Sponsors: Friends and family.
Born and raised in Fox Chapel, Andrew Exler graduated from Ohio University in 2013. Following graduation, he spent a year in Columbus, Ohio, and Nashville, Tenn., before relocating back to Pittsburgh to become the regional director of Keystone Mountain Region BBYO, a youth organization providing identity enrichment and leadership development experiences for hundreds of thousands of Jewish teens for over 90 years. He has always done his best to do fundraising in the community and Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest has been an amazing experience, he says. Some of his favorite Pittsburgh places include PNC Park, Heinz Field, and CONSOL Energy Center — depending on which sport is in season! Top Sponsors: Wagner Insurance Agency, Jonathan and Lisa D’Cunha, and Exler & Company, Inc.
Melissa Laukaitis is a Pittsburgh transplant, originally from Chicago, who is now proud to call the Steel City home. She’s celebrating her 10-year anniversary of living in the city and is passionate about charity work, running, yoga, and enjoying everything Pittsburgh has to offer. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is very important to her and her family, as they lost her beautiful cousin, Charity, to the disease. This year, she is the same age as her cousin was when CF took her from them — way too soon. She is humbled to be able to work with the foundation to know she is, in some small way, contributing to finding a cure. From the first moment she saw the view of Pittsburgh from coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel, she fell in love with the city! Top Sponsors: Local, state, and federal law enforcement officers.
Ryan Moad was nominated as one of this year’s Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest honorees by his mentor at New York Life, Courtney Semplice. At New York Life, he serves as a financial advisor, but says he enjoys going to the gym and attending social and sporting events in his free time. A Bethel Park native, he was ultimately selected for his involvement in the local community and volunteer work, which includes his efforts in several area schools to provide a financial literacy program focused on teaching the basic of investing. He says his favorite part of Pittsburgh is the interconnectivity of the individuals in the city and says PNC Park is his favorite spot in the city. Top Sponsors: New York Life, Rumfish Grill.
Charonda L. Hill
Charonda L. Hill is a multilingual enthusiast and visionary with high hopes of improving the lives of others by raising money for scholarships and medical conditions, such as heart disease and cystic fibrosis — she’s done so for over 10 years. She graduated from Penn State University and Geneva College with a bachelor’s and master’s in international communications and organizational leadership, respectively. As a servant leader with aspirations to give back to her community, city, and nation, Charonda is the president of a Penn State alumni group in Pittsburgh. Her aim is to connect as many people as possible with those that need assistance or may be of assistance. She believes she was selected as a 50 Finest honoree because she is a selfless worker and an advocate for multiple causes. By being a part of the nonprofit world, she’s realized the power of many and the force behind a village! When she’s not advocating, she often frequents her favorite Pittsburgh restaurant, Alla Famiglia. Top Sponsors: Penn State University — AAAO-PGH, Love Style Love, Vision Enterprises.
John M. Saras
John M. Saras is currently an assistant principal at Baldwin High School. Outside of his profession, he enjoys playing golf, watching all Pittsburgh sports teams, and the cultural aspects of Pittsburgh. He believes he was selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because of his willingness to assist other individuals for a greater cause. He takes great pride in his work and celebrates the successes of these types of endeavors. He also enjoys the view from the top floor of the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Top Sponsors: Saras family (John, Bonnie, Chrissy, Jeffrey, Ali), Baldwin-Whitehall School District community, University of Pittsburgh School of Education.
A native Pittsburgher who is working to make a difference, Shannon Thieroff is the CEO of Healthyworks and the president of Choice Chiropractic — companies that both strive to make an impact on the health of our city. She believes she was chosen for Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because of her strong history of supporting causes that directly affect people’s lives on a local level. Her favorite spot in Pittsburgh is North Park. “What’s not to love? Lake, dog park, trails, kayaking — it’s a gem,” she says. Top Sponsors: Bob Kresson of Empire Investigation, LLC; fellow CEOs in Vistage Group SB253; Ten Penny; DJ Joe Costa.
Dan Maxwell is one of the youngest professionals in the restoration business. He broke into ServiceMaster of Greater Pittsburgh one year ago as a business development specialist. Since then, he has become an ambassador for the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber, and is an active member of Pittsburgh Young Professionals and the Butler County Chamber of Commerce. As a former baseball player, the constant competition in the restoration field drives Dan to do everything possible and to be the very best. That being said, his favorite place in Pittsburgh is PNC Park. Top Sponsors: The Ferraco family, ServiceMaster of Greater Pittsburgh, Mei Tsui.
Cara Walkowiak is a senior hair artist at Denham and Company Salon. She is also very involved in the theater scene — directing, choreographing, and even performing in local musical productions. One of her greatest accomplishments is helping to keep theater alive and on-going at her alma mater, Carlynton High School, by directing its spring musical. She can often be seen walking her dog around Point State Park. She enjoys walking her pup along the river’s edge and through the shady paths. Living and working Downtown has helped to make Cara somewhat of a Downtown connoisseur. She’s always excited to meet friends for delicious food and drinks at one of the many restaurants in our city. Special thanks should go to her parents, Christine and Raymond Walkowiak, for their unending support and her bosses, Tim Denham and Rick Astel, for backing her up in this exciting endeavor, she says. Top Sponsors: Family and friends.
Entrepreneur and community philanthropist Ian Coyle is the founder and president of Semper Gratus; owner and operator of DJ Cai Entertainment; and director of business development of e-Staff Consulting. His personal commitment to leading a life of impact led him to create his nonprofit, Semper Gratus — Latin for “always grateful” — which creates a platform of partnership with local nonprofits, charities, and/or organizations for the purpose of community betterment while assisting a specific effort. Ian’s authenticity-through-action approach allows others to be socially present and in a position of influence. Similarly, e-Staff Consulting, an IT staffing agency niched in the Pittsburgh market, taps his desire to inspire others through active career coaching. Since 2004, DJ Cai Entertainment has specialized in wedding entertainment and corporate events. It marries Ian’s passion for music and entertainment. Currently, Ian is a member of the curriculum advisory boards for Pittsburgh’s ITT Technical Institute and Pittsburgh Technical Institute, as well as a member of the Leechburg-Gilpin Lions Club and designated student mentor for Allegheny College. Ian attributes his motivations to life experiences and influencers who have instilled a personal sense of authenticity with a heightened sense of compassion. His business ventures are reflective of how he chooses to live his life with humility, honesty, and hard work. In his free time, Ian enjoys frequenting Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar. Top Sponsors: Semper Gratus, Susie Dietrich, e-Staff Consulting.
Born and raised a Florida girl, Chelsea Schaffer has been lucky to call Pittsburgh her home for the past four years. Upon graduating from the University of Florida, Chelsea accepted a job at DICK’S Sporting Goods in the Merchandising Training Program and currently works as the associate buyer of Women’s Under Armour. At the age of two, Chelsea was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and has served as an advocate for the disease through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She is most proud of working with her mom, Michelle, and father, Russell, as they started a Walk to Cure Diabetes in her hometown, raising $1.5 million to date. Chelsea chose to become involved in Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest to help others fighting a life-threatening illness, to become more connected in the Pittsburgh community, and to use her big personality and self-proclaimed party planning skills to do what she loves the most — have a good time with good people for a good cause. In her free time, Chelsea enjoys cooking, growing her urban patio garden, trying new restaurants, and working out in Pittsburgh’s growing fitness scene. She often frequents one of her favorites, The Summit on Mt. Washington. Top Sponsors: MassMutual, Lucy Yoga Apparel, Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Co.
Michael W. Mann
Michael W. Mann is a distinguished alum from Point Park University, where he is an MBA Graduate from the School of Business. Having an extensive background in management and customer service, he is currently a general business manager for Dr. Bobbie Lee Hawranko, overseeing all business ventures for her and her family. He is also the business chair for The Twentieth Century Club in Oakland, and is a regulatory board member for the Face 2 Face Foundation through the UPMC Shadyside Hospital Foundation. A long time fundraiser, Michael proudly joined Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest this year in honor of his childhood neighbor’s daughter, 3-year-old Natalie. The Gibsonia native resides in Shadyside, and loves Downtown Pittsburgh’s nightlife. His favorite restaurant is Habitat at Fairmont Pittsburgh. Top Sponsors: Family, friends, Narcisi Winery, Renaissance Day Spa, The Dentists at Shadyside Place.
Mary Grace Cox
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in media and business communication, Mary Grace Cox worked in a management position in the retail industry. Desiring something more, Mary returned to school to earn a degree in nursing from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing. She is currently enrolled in a master’s degree nursing program at Robert Morris University. As a critical care nurse, Mary knows firsthand the devastating effects cystic fibrosis can cause. Her passion for patients and their families is her priority. She is thankful that her health has allowed her to live her life to the fullest, and she hopes to continue to make a difference in the lives of others. In her free time, Mary enjoys rooting on all Pittsburgh sports teams, trying out new restaurants in the city, and spending time with her 1-year-old niece. Her family, especially her parents, have been some of her biggest supporters during her pursuit to add tomorrows for those living with cystic fibrosis. Top Sponsors: A.C. Dellovade, Bar Marco.
Passionate, driven, and outgoing are three words that describe Amanda Posteraro. Upon graduating from Penn State University with degrees in accounting and international business, Amanda began her career as a certified public accountant with PwC in Pittsburgh. After six years working in public accounting as an external auditor, Amanda transitioned to the natural gas industry and currently works as an accounting manager with EQT. A proud Pittsburgh native, she loves the city, its people, and the pride they exude for all things black and gold. When not cheering on her favorite hometown sports teams, Amanda enjoys spending time with her family, Saturday mornings in the Strip District, and volunteering with Women In Energy and Junior Achievement. Amanda is especially excited to be part of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because it provides her with the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis with other Pittsburghers who are equally motivated about making a difference. Top Sponsors: EQT, Howard Hanna, Steamfitters, Gentile, Horoho & Avalli, P.C, friends and family.
Derek Davies is proud of his entrepreneurial and prudent mindset, strong network, and growing aspirations to give back. As a recent graduate of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, he was ready to return to Pittsburgh and focus on his business projects and ideas while also trying to focus on a charitable project. Enter: Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest. At the young age of 22, he felt that he proved he had what it takes to raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis by pledging to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, in support of those with CF and the foundation itself. His favorite Pittsburgh to-dos include lunch at the Pretzel Shop in South Side, a stop at REI Co-op, and 6 o’clock Mass at Saint Paul Cathedral. Top Sponsors: Father Kris Stubna, pastor and rector, Saint Paul Cathedral; Mark DeAndrea, NPR WESA Pittsburgh; Wholesale Mulch and Gravel; Allegheny Answering Service.
A fourth-generation Pittsburgher, Lauren Hadburg obtained her juris doctorate from Duquesne University and currently practices with a law firm that specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law. She’s also volunteered at several charitable organizations over the years. At the age of four, Lauren met a young girl with cystic fibrosis and witnessed firsthand the unpleasant treatments she endured. All of these years later and after having the opportunity to meet more families affected by this disease, Lauren is honored to be a part of finding a cure. During the day, Lauren breaks up her busy days with a serene stop at the Point. “It’s a respite from the busy Downtown streets and a great place to relax,” she says. “At night, the Point is beautifully lit up and the most perfect centerpiece to our great city.” Top Sponsors: The Elder Law Offices of Shields & Boris, Benjie K. Hadburg Financial Services, the Pechersky family.
As a financial advisor, Frank Emmerling helps many clients throughout the area plan worry-free retirements, education for children, and efficient estates. He grew his successful financial practice with the help and support of his family and a great team. Growing up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, he’s been involved in community organizations for quite some time. A move Downtown has filled him with the desire to become more charitably involved in the city. As great strides are being made for cystic fibrosis, he is happy to be a small part in working toward a cure. Living on the water in Washington’s Landing, he really enjoys our trails, especially along the North Shore. He also likes Saturday mornings in the Strip District and evenings out on the town. Top Sponsors: His family, company, co-workers, clients.
Brandon Schwan was born in Pittsburgh, but moved at a young age. After attending Purdue University and having a quick stint in Philadelphia, he made his way back to Pittsburgh to work for Fragasso Financial Advisors. Fragasso Financial Advisors is a wealth management company based Downtown that manages assets for individuals, endowments, and nonprofit organizations. In his free time, Brandon likes to give back to those in need and is honored to be a part of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest and the great cause it supports. His favorite spot in the city is Gooski’s. Top Sponsors: Fragasso Financial Advisors, Kathleen and Dale Schwan, Mike Malkin.
Amanda Schaub, a Pittsburgh native, earned her degree in marketing with a minor in sociology from Penn State University. Following graduation, she pursued an account manager training position with Otis Elevator in the D.C. area, shortly after returning to the Pittsburgh area to fill an account manager role. For five years, she’s been the sales manager with the company. This year, she pursued her dream of interior design/real estate and started a professional real estate staging company, Staged Right Pittsburgh, which provides her a creative outlet in her free time. “I was excited when approached by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the 50 Finest program because I have close family and friends that have been impacted by the disease and at Penn State I participated in THON,” she says. “Since graduating, I have been looking for a similar opportunity to give back to the community.” She has enjoyed watching the city transform and supporting all of the new restaurants that continue to pop up. Top Sponsors: Otis Elevator Company, McKnight Property Management, CrossFit Iron City.
Christian G. Simmons
Christian G. Simmons is the founder and CEO of Pennsylvania Libations and the co-founder and owner of Four Seasons Brewing Co. The father of a beautiful 7-year-old son believes he was selected for his passion for life and his pursuit of happiness, which is abundant enough to share with the world. His enjoyment of helping others is shown through and through on all levels, he says. And, his ability to work well with others while being a leader is a quality only a Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest candidate can embody, he says. His favorite spot in Pittsburgh is the historic section of the Strip District on a Saturday morning. Top Sponsors: Pennsylvania Libations, W.N. Tuscano Agency, CJ Spirits, Big Spring Spirits.
Natalie Shugars, a Latrobe native, holds an extensive resume in the entertainment and production industry as a vivacious live performer, singer, model, and creative producer. Recently, she was named a local legend of her hometown in the book, “Legendary Locals of Latrobe.” She’s toured internationally as a singer, and has appeared in Maxim magazine, and in several commercials as the face of various companies, including Auto Mart and The Pittsburgh Dental Spa. Returning to Pittsburgh in 2008, Natalie was the first female to write and record a Pittsburgh Steelers fight song, “I Love Black ‘n’ Gold,” which became nationally recognized. She performed the song at Heinz Field during a AFC Championship game and later co-hosted an episode of “OT with the Bus” on WPXI-TV with Jerome Bettis. No matter where life has taken her, and will take her, she feels that the blue collar character and pride that was instilled in her is what has helped her to be strong in life, her career, and above all, giving to others. As the manager of special events for Three Rivers Entertainment & Production, Natalie continues to perform with one of their top-touring bands, In The Mood. When she’s not singing, she can be found eating at Pizza Taglio and Dish. Top Sponsors: The Pittsburgh Dental Spa, Pittsburgh Winery, Jergel’s Rhythm Grille.
Richard Hatcher is a father, friend, business owner, philanthropist, and Christian, but he believes that these are really just roles that he is blessed to play. He is a man who makes things happen despite staunch adversity. He feels giving up is not an option and that that mentality is one of the reasons he was selected as one of this year’s Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest. “My business acumen, coupled with my commitment to help save lives and better the community in which I live, is not only my duty but my honor,” he says. Richard’s favorite hot spot is The Wicked Fox Bar & Grill in Fox Chapel. Top Sponsors: AIO, The Eye Surgeons, Arnold Zegarelli, Salonika Imports.
Kathryn “Scotty” Nelson
Growing up in the exciting city of Pittsburgh, Kathryn “Scotty” Nelson has been inspired by a lifelong love of nonprofit organizations, landing her a career as a consultant for Carter. It was during her sophomore year of high school, volunteering for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps, when she discovered the impact and influence this one camp had on children with terminal illnesses and their families. After high school, Scotty continued her involvement with nonprofits, specifically those involving children, serving on the Alumni Executive Counsel for Pomfret School, traveling to Ecuador to teach, working as a development director for the YMCA, and currently volunteering her time at local Pittsburgh nonprofits. For Scotty, being from Pittsburgh is something to be proud of. One of her favorite characteristics about the city is its generosity. “People from Pittsburgh are genuinely interested in each other, willing to help one another, and are incredibly kind with their time and money,” she says. “This is what has made Pittsburgh such a great place for all nonprofit organizations to thrive, in particular the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.” Top Sponsor: UPMC.
As past president of her local Rotary Club, Kary Coleman was the youngest individual and only the fourth female to hold this position in the club’s near 100-year history. As Kary has advanced at the Rotary International district and zone levels, central to her success in this organization and life has been her whole-hearted belief in the organization’s commitment to service and credo, “Service Above Self.” Kary, who has 15 years of experience in higher education, nonprofit sector, and corporate communication within the Greater Pittsburgh region, serves as the director of development and alumni relations at Penn State New Kensington, where she is also an adjunct instructor in public relations and advertising. As an engaged leader in Westmoreland County, Kary is a member of the United Way’s Women Leadership Council, a past member of the Executive Cabinet for Campaign, and a helping hand with the organization’s Faith in Action program. She supports the Westmoreland Cultural Trust and is a member of its annual Fashion Show committee. Kary is also a regular volunteer with the Westmoreland County Food Bank’s Our Lady of Grace Food Pantry. Her perfect Pittsburgh day includes a visit to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, followed by brunch at DeLuca’s. Top Sponsors: Milanscape, Penn State New Kensington, Art and Frame Gallery.
Steven Fisher is a reporter at WPXI-TV and is excited to help raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. A Philadelphia native, Steven graduated from West Chester University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism, and is still getting to know the city of Pittsburgh. He believes that he is a good representative for 50 Finest as it gives him the opportunity to give back to his new community, and do something positive for himself and with the group to make a difference. He enjoys working out, exploring the city, and finding a good spot for live music. Of all the hotspots, his favorite is PNC Park. “It’s one of, if not the best-looking ballparks I’ve ever visited,” he says. Top Sponsors: WPXI-TV, Fox Chapel Dentistry, Primanti Bros.
Michael Sciulli is an alum of Mercyhurst College, where he earned his degree in business and was a member of the men’s lacrosse team. He then went onto Lake Erie College, earning a graduate degree while serving as the men’s assistant lacrosse coach. As a growing professional, Michael is a relationship manager for PNC. Besides working on his career, Michael also works on his interests: real estate and lacrosse. A self-proclaimed handy man, Michael invests time and hard work into his rental property, which he renovated himself. As lacrosse has afforded him many opportunities and has helped shape him into the person he is today, Michael now enjoys giving back to the sport as an assistant coach for the Upper St. Clair High School boy’s lacrosse team. He continues to work on his career and interests while also looking forward to investing more of his free time into professional organizations to jumpstart his philanthropic work in the community. Top Sponsors: Cusumano Insurance Agency, Scottrade Inc., family, friends.
Dusty Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree of arts in psychology from West Virginia Wesleyan College and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree of nursing at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds pediatric medicine very dear to her heart, as she has spent the majority of her career working with that patient population. Since moving to Pittsburgh in 2008, Dusty has been an active member in the community. She serves as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and for the past six years has been a part of the Junior League of Pittsburgh, a league that prides itself on providing effective volunteer services to make a positive impact on the Pittsburgh community. Her favorite spots in Pittsburgh are Pittsburgh Winery and Pusadee’s Garden.
David Kaplan is a reporter for WTAE-TV Pittsburgh Action News 4. At a young age, he saw the effects of cystic fibrosis, as he watched his good friend suffer from the disease. New to Pittsburgh, he saw the opportunity of 50 Finest as a way to get acclimated to the city and raise funds for a cause close to his heart. “It’s been a blessing to be a part of such a great group doing so much good for Western Pennsylvania,” he says. His favorite spot in Pittsburgh is the view of the city from the Veterans Bridge — the skyline; the David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s sloping roof; and the Andy Warhol, Rachel Carson, and Roberto Clemente Bridges. Top Sponsors: Close friends Chris Hurst, Chad and Natalie O’Donnell, the Newman family.
Laura Early is a born entrepreneur with a striking knack for cultivating strong relationships. Born and raised in Southwestern PA, Laura is proud to call Pittsburgh home for the last 17 years. During this time, she’s made an indelible mark on our city in advertising, publishing, and now as the chief marketing officer of Fame15Creative — a boutique marketing and PR agency that promotes an array of clients, from Pittsburgh’s burgeoning restaurant scene to wellness concierges, and more. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in marketing and a minor in economics, Laura has a passion for spotting what’s innovative, fresh, and fun while helping her clients raise their visibility and make lasting connections with each other. Laura has extensive experience applying her marketing talents to local charities — over the years she has directed numerous successful fundraising events in Pittsburgh. Her work on the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has helped to raise significant funds for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh, while her work on the charity chef cook-off, featuring the talents of local chefs, raised thousands for “A Glimmer of Hope,” which benefits breast cancer research. When she’s not promoting the movers and shakers of Pittsburgh, Laura can be found in one of the city’s many hot spots, such as Mt. Washington’s The Summit (a neighborhood favorite) or doing outdoor yoga in Grandview Park, with the spectacular view of our city as her backdrop. Laura hopes to follow her business partner, Sara Ruth, who was a member of the 2015 class of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest, and is thrilled to support a great cause. Top Sponsors: Sara Ruth, Tom Michael, her mom.
Dallas Sauers is a salon owner in the South Hills, where she hones in on her individual talents and mentors staff members to be the best they can be at their craft. Dallas Beauty Lounge employs a range of all ages and has a versatile clientele. She loves the empowerment her employees give to one another and the encouraging work environment. “As a young entrepreneur, mentor, and volunteer, I am so pleased to have been chosen for this opportunity to work alongside Pittsburgh’s best,” she says. When she’s not beautifying others, she’s dining on “trendy and delicious!” food in the Cultural District. Top Sponsors: Clients and staff of Dallas Beauty Lounge, David Alan of The Proper Knot, Venture Energy.
Born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, Joel Pokorney attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina and moved back to Pittsburgh after graduation to start his career with PNC Capital Markets. In August of 2013, he joined Tecum Capital, a $175 million mezzanine debt and private equity fund based in Wexford, and serves on the board of directors for two of Tecum’s holdings, Uncle Charley’s Sausage Company and Red Head Brass. Joel is passionate about helping those in need and views his participation in this year’s Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest as a fun way to raise money for an extremely worthwhile cause. When he’s not working, he is often boating on one of the three rivers. Top Sponsors: Pokorney Family Foundation, Chris Kail, Alexis Wetzel.
Raised in Pittsburgh with her three sisters, Allison Mears attended Emory University in Atlanta and returned home to Pittsburgh to open her indoor cycling studio, Steel Revolution, at 23 years old. She never could have imagined it going this well or that she would be this happy. She has helped many find a healthy, happy life, and is driven by the hope that maybe, in one of her classes, she can inspire even one single person. “You never know what someone is going through, what their story is, or whose life you can change by just reaching out and being friendly,” she says. “That is how we have built such a large and great community in Shadyside.” She can often be spotted at Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville noshing on pizza and wine, or running at the track at Shady Side Academy Senior School on a warm summer night. Top Sponsors: Steel Revolution, Ragged Row, Robosol.
Phil Morrissette is currently a 2018 MBA Candidate at Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business. Before getting accepted into the full-time program, he worked at PNC Wealth Management as an investment advisor. Even with the short two-year stint at PNC, Phil displayed noteworthy success, being promoted out of the associate role (normally a two-year position) and into the advisor role in just nine months time. As an advisor, Phil was able to amass $110 million AUM (assets under management) in a five-month time span. Phil’s early work ethic can be traced back to his days at Allegheny College through his studies and collegiate baseball success. “Make Something Happen” has been his mantra since those days, and he certainly has had success in his professional life so far. Phil is excited about the opportunity to contribute in Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest, and to develop more connections and friendships with his peers. He sends a special thank you to the O’Neills, who first introduced him to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through various events that they’ve hosted. Top Sponsors: Jim and Rosemary O’Neill, The Simple Greek.
Jessica Scalo believes she was selected as one of this year’s Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest for her tenacious spirit and heart for service. She’s not afraid to ask for what she wants when she believes in the cause — it goes without saying that she believes in the work of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is proud to call herself a member of this wonderful organization, she says. “I’m also lucky to have an incredible network of friends, family, and business partners, thanks to the great work and reputation of my family that has been influential in the City of Pittsburgh far before I was even a twinkle in their eye!” A new favorite place of hers is Eastside Bond. “It’s a brand new apartment complex in the heart of East Liberty,” she says. “I hosted my fundraising event at this venue because it has completely challenged the status quo of the apartment scene in Pittsburgh. You feel like you’re in L.A. or New York when you’re in their clubhouse. I just love the way this area of Pittsburgh has developed.” Top Sponsors: Burns & Scalo Roofing, Burns & Scalo Real Estate, Eastside Bond, Steve & Marian Mosites.
Chad Keller is an entrepreneur born and raised in Pittsburgh, who loves sports, networking, and growing his businesses. Currently, he is diving headfirst into a new manufacturing business, WUDN, that he founded here in Pittsburgh. His company makes premium lifestyle and promotional wooden products for individuals and companies. Chad has a passion for giving back and helping others, and is thrilled that Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest allows him to do so on a weekly basis. “I want to say thank you to everyone who has donated thus far and I am looking forward to what the next few months hold for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and this year’s class,” he says.
Erik Thomas is the owner of Bright Thought Design, an agency in the Pittsburgh area. A graduate of Robert Morris’s Keller Graduate School of Business, he describes himself as a motivated individual with an ever-growing network of people who can help with causes such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He says one of his favorite places to go is the overlook on Mt. Washington. “The views are amazing, and, it is a rather peaceful way to spend an evening,” he says. Top Sponsor: DreamCream Ice Cream.
Meghan Fanelli is a Pittsburgh native who enjoys traveling and experiencing new places. That is why, over the past five years, she has been spotted in Oxford, Ohio, at Miami University; in Charleston, S.C., touring King Street and the many beaches; and in Houston living the corporate life. She’s returned to Pittsburgh and works as a productivity consultant for TowerMetriX. Meghan is an avid volunteer and enjoys giving back to the community through volunteering, fundraising, and helping those in need. You can find Meghan enjoying a nice glass of wine, and a meat and cheese board at Cure in Lawrenceville. Top Sponsors: Lori Allen, Brandon Brooks, Neal Fanelli.
A native Pittsburgher, who never stops moving, talking, or laughing, John D’Amico loves meeting and working with new people. As the promotions manager of 100.7 Star and Y-108, John plans many events, and helps raise funds and awareness for many of Pittsburgh’s terrific nonprofit organizations, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation! Living on Mt. Washington, he loves the true neighborhood feel and can often be spotted at Bigham Tavern. Top Sponsors: Michelle Benincasa; his sister, Rachel; Roy Smith of Breathe In, Rock Out at Hard Rock Café.
Ashley Schmider is a regulatory compliance consultant for KPMG LLP. Over the past year, she’s had the honor of representing her state as Miss Pennsylvania 2015 for the Miss America Organization. “Joining the fight to find a cure for cystic fibrosis with my 49 fellow honorees aligned perfectly with my year of service as Miss Pennsylvania and my passion to give back to the community,” she says. Her favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh is to spend Sundays in the Strip District. She loves to start her morning with coffee at La Prima Espresso and stroll down Penn Avenue, taking in all of the great food and culture Pittsburgh has to offer. Top Sponsors: Family, friends, Prescott Roofing and Remodeling, ESI Associates Insurance.
Aaron Watson hosts and produces one of the fastest growing podcasts to come out of Pittsburgh, “Going Deep with Aaron Watson.” He interviews entrepreneurs, writers, and athletes about following an alternative path and pursuing their dreams. Aaron has won two National Championships in 2012 and 2013 with the University of Pittsburgh’s ultimate frisbee team. He currently captains Pittsburgh semi-pro ultimate frisbee team, the Thunderbirds, in the American Ultimate Disc League. Finally, Aaron is the vice president of sales for TopScore, a software startup providing solutions for sports organizations. He can often be spotted at the Red Oak Café, his favorite spot in Pittsburgh. Top Sponsors: Pittsburgh Thunderbirds, the AUDL, TopScore.
Kelsey Kanspedos’ interests have always been surrounded around creativity, so it is no surprise that her career path is focused on just that. After graduating at the top of her class with honors at West Virginia University, with a bachelor of science in landscape architecture, Kelsey was able to secure a job working for Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. This opportunity has given Kelsey the ability to work on various projects in and around the Pittsburgh area. In doing so, she helps to creatively grow and better the community through innovative and synergistic design. She is an active member of the nonprofit real estate organization, NAIOP, and has been a part of the developing leaders committee for the past two years. Over the years, she has been involved with several organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and the Circle C Youth and Family Services. In her free time, Kelsey likes to frequent the newly developed areas of the North Shore. And, no matter what event is taking place Downtown, Kelsey enjoys being a part of the most livable city. Top Sponsors: Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc., Ubuildpgh, Ken Miller.
Andrew Onorato is the third son of immigrant Italian parents who instilled in him a strong work ethic, respect for people, and compassion for others. He enjoys his days doing what he loves in construction, and spending his evenings and weekends either training for a marathon, baking for family and friends, or attending fundraising events. He feels that he was chosen to be one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because of the genuine passion he has for fundraising, which was further inspired by the passing of his eldest brother, Giovanni Onorato, from leukemia. His favorite place in Pittsburgh is the original Fiori’s Pizzaria in Dormont. Top Sponsors: Jay Sofranko of Sofranko Wealth Management Group at UBS, Scott Green of George Irvin Green Funeral Home, Gina Viola of Old School Italian Sandwich Shop.
Upon graduating from Penn State University, Carly began her career in human resources with UPMC. Over the last eight years with the organization, Carly has held positions at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, and is currently the HR manager at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. Carly has a passion for giving back and helping others, which has been prevalent throughout her career as she has participated in several fundraising events and supported organizations including Make-a-Wish, United Way, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Children’s Hospital and Magee-Womens Hospital Foundations, and most recently honoring her commitment to fundraise on behalf of cystic fibrosis. In her free time, you can find her “in the orange zone” at Orangetheory in the East End or at La Tavola on Mt. Washington. Carly is grateful for her family, friends, and colleagues who continuously support and encourage her to accomplish her goals, and make a difference in the lives of others. Top Sponsors: Master Builders Association, family, friends.