By Christine McMahon Tumpson | Photographs from WQED
2018 Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest
Presented by UPMC and UPMC HEALTH PLAN
This year, Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest, an elite group of the area’s most accomplished and eligible men and women, celebrates its 23rd anniversary. Every year, Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest committee selects and recognizes men and women who best represent the present and future of Pittsburgh. These individuals are chosen for their professional achievements and commitment to giving back. Honorees then pledge to raise 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 CF research, as well as medical and educational programs. Read on to find out more about the class of 2018!
The summer of fundraising will culminate on
Saturday, August 18 @ 6:00 P.M.
with a gala at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown
Tickets are $100 ($43 tax-deductible) • For tickets, visit pgh50finest.finestcff.org
Thomas Sprague works for Howard Hanna and has received many awards during his time there. “My work is fast-paced and ever changing, and the best thing about my job is helping people find solutions to be able to finance their first home,” he says. His grandfather is the person who inspires him the most because he is the strongest man Thomas has ever known. His grandfather has taught him, he says, “that once you set your mind to something, don’t stop until you accomplish it.” Thomas likes to give back to the community and that is one of the reasons why he wanted to be involved with The 50 Finest Program. He wants to raise money for CF because, as he says, “this is an area of medical need where people suffer due to the fact we have not yet found a cure and I want to raise money to help find that cure.”
Top Supporters: Howard Hanna
University of Pittsburgh graduate, Rachelle O’Connell, is a Financial Services Professional at New York Life. She describes herself as a vivacious woman with a passion for giving back. “Knowing I can help add tomorrows to the lives of those who live with cystic fibrosis inspires me to want to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” she says. Rachelle says that her parents taught her that “you will come across a lot of problems in life. However, if those problems can be solved by money, you truly don’t have real problems.” She also learned from her parents to be thankful for health, friends, and family.
Top Supporters: Students of Jazzercise at Bethel Park and McMurray, Agents and partners at New York Life, and my friends and family.
Anthony Michael Capizzi is a Pittsburgh replant, an electrical engineering graduate from Pennsylvania State University, and an M.B.A. recipient from Ashland University. Anthony has been involved with several community outreach programs including: Richland Young Professionals, Pittsburgh Young Professionals, Leadership Unlimited, and sat on Junior Achievement’s Board of Directors. He is most proud of the opportunities he has been given traveling the world while working in Sales and Business Development for Emerson. “Experiencing foreign cultures has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life,” he says. Anthony is inspired by those who, despite seemingly insurmountable adversity, strive to improve their lives and others. He continues, “whether these achievements are personal, professional, or societal, the determination and perseverance of individuals shows us true strength of the human spirit.”
Top Supporters: The Capizzi Family, Edgewood Country Club, Blend
Lexie Zoppetti, Westmoreland County Community College graduate, is a Business Manager at Bompiani Spine and Sport and the founder of L & L Archery. L & L Archery is a nonprofit organization allowing youth, women, and underprivileged children to have the opportunity to get involved with archery and bowhunting. She believes she was selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because of her passion and strong determination to be involved in the community and local charities. Lexie says the most valuable things she learned from her parents and grandparents “is to be thankful for what I have” and to “never take life for granted.”
Top Supporters: Bompiani Spine & Sport, Platinum Salon & Spa, Bompiani & Zoppetti Family
Seton Hill University graduate, Ben Thomas, is a District Manager at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. “My favorite spot in Pittsburgh is where I am from and where I still live: Millvale,” he says. “There are so many great things in Millvale, from breweries, great bars and restaurants, tea and coffee shops, and concert venues, but the greatest thing about it is the people.” In his free time, Ben likes to play hockey, try new restaurants, travel, and go out with family and friends. For the past four years, he has participated in the ALS walk with Wayne’s Warriors, and in the MS walk for the past five years with Team Zurch.
Top Supporters: Rosemary O’Neill, Jeanette Thomas, and Friends & Family
University of Pittsburgh alumna, Dana Prill, recently became a Loan Office Assistant with Movement Mortgage. She is excited to launch her career in the mortgage industry and looks forward to creating new relationships in the Pittsburgh area. Dana was nominated for Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest by her former employer, Bobby Feldman at Snowden Lane – her largest campaign supporter. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and walking her two Boston Terriers. She believes she was chosen as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest because of her network and personality. “I love to meet others and learn from them,” she says. The Murrysville native is also involved in the Multiple Sclerosis Society, as well as serving as the assistant coach for Point Park University’s competitive dance and cheerleading teams. Dana is excited to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and believes, “that we are closer than ever to advancing the medication that can give those affected [by cystic fibrosis] a chance at a normal life, and I want to be a part of helping that movement.”
Top Supporters: Robert Feldman, Coughlin’s Law
Eddie Blacka grew up in White Oak, PA and is a proud graduate of McKeesport Area High School. Upon graduation from Allegheny College, Eddie began his career at UPMC where he is currently a manager of finance within the health services division. He is also pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration degree at Carnegie Mellon University and serves on the board of Mt. Hope Golf Course. Eddie is extremely honored to be a part of this year’s class of 50 Finest and feels privileged to be raising funds for such a worthwhile cause. Eddie is especially grateful to his mother, father, and family for instilling a strong internal compass of faith, hard work, kindness, and compassion within himself and his three brothers. Outside of work and school, Eddie can be found spending time with family and friends, golfing, snowboarding, and making wine.
Top Supporters: Blacka Financial Consulting, UPMC, Family & Friends
Slippery Rock alumna, Erica Kernic, describes herself as a firecracker. She loves Pittsburgh, especially the pride the city possesses. She says, “there is so much pride here that it really makes you feel like you are part of something bigger.” Erica is a member of the American Marketing Association and currently works at Schneider Downs as an Executive Assistant for the Retirement Solutions Department. She is also on the Bucco Brigade, the in-game entertainment for the Pittsburgh Pirates, so she spends time at her favorite spot, PNC Park, where she shoots t-shirts to Pirates fans on game days. Erica also has a passion for giving back to the community. “Although I am fortunate to be in good health, I understand that there are others who are struggling with their health each and every day,” she says.
Top Supporters: Friends & Family (especially Belechak Family), Schneider Downs, and Capitol Suites at 5th Avenue
Grant Kelly, Bethel Park native and Saint Vincent College graduate, is the National Key Account Manager & Regional Manager of Asia/Pacific at Xodus Medical, Inc. At Xodus, he’s received many awards including Salesperson Rookie of the Year and the Distinguished Excellence in National Accounts award. At Saint Vincent, he was the baseball team captain for two years, won the John Granish Award, and was selected to participate in a 2-week service trip to Taiwan and China. Grant’s favorite spot in Pittsburgh is PNC Park. “I’ve been to many stadiums,” he said, “and I’ve yet to find one as beautiful as PNC.”
Top Supporters: Craig Kaforey, Chiesi USA, and Family & Friends
Brian Czapor is a realtor at Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. He is involved as a chairman for Howard Hanna’s “Chow Chow,” benefiting Children’s Hospital. In his free time, Brian is extremely adventurous and enjoys kayaking, biking, zip-lining, recreational soccer, kickball, volleyball, and paddle boarding. Brian is also involved with several professional organizations, such as the National Association of Realtors and the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh. His favorite spot in Pittsburgh is Mount Washington, saying, “after a long day of work, I often find myself taking a drive up there to enjoy the sunset or nighttime skyline. It always takes my breath away and brings me back to reality.” Brian’s family inspired him to be the person he is today.
Top Supporters: Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Friends & Family
Lisa Haberstroh, a realtor at ReMax Select Realty, has received a slew of awards as a result of her outstanding performance, including The ReMax Executive Club Award, ReMax 100% Club Award, ReMax Team Platinum Club Award, The AEF Ring of Excellence Titanium Team Award, and “10” Best Client Satisfaction Award for both 2016 and 2017 in Pennsylvania. Her role model is her sister because she is smart, a good decision maker, helpful, and kind to others. Lisa says she wants to raise money for the Foundation “to elevate public awareness and to financially support research and CF patients affected by this life threatening genetic disease.” Lisa also supports other local organizations: the Autism Society, American Cancer Society, Pittsburgh Zoo, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Carnegie Science Center, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Top Supporters: The Kevin Shaner Real Estate Advisors Group, Pure Barre Murrysville, Family Links, Friends & Family
Fox Chapel native, Leah Cullen, is the General Manager at Holzer Sciarretti Contracting & Universal Windows Pittsburgh. She loves her job, because, as she says, “it challenges me, utilizes my degree, and allows me to take my ideas and run with them.” She graduated from Juniata College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Leah is an advisor for BBYO, a Jewish youth group, and is involved with the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh. Leah wants to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in order to bring more awareness to cystic fibrosis. “Not many people know what cystic fibrosis is,” she says, “so it’s great to get more recognition for it and help raise more funds!”
Top Supporters: Gerber Akers Family, Holzer Sciarretti Contracting, A.G. Cullen Construction
Jaime Morgan, Product Manager at McKesson Pharmacy Systems, has a personal connection to cystic fibrosis. Jaime has been inspired by her cousins, Erica and Bryan, both of whom have the disease. “Erica and Bryan have spent far too much time in hospitals, yet they have thrived and lead rich, full lives,” she says. “I am honored to have the opportunity to help raise funds for a cure and I look forward to the day when my amazing, kind, and intelligent cousins and others like them no longer have to live with cystic fibrosis.” Jaime’s list of accomplishments includes an undergraduate degree from Duquesne University, a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with an Organizational concentration, and an MBA from Chatham University. She is a member of the Employee Assistance Association and holds various professional certifications, including a Green Belt in Six Sigma. Throughout her career, Jaime has worked in a wide range of roles and has had the opportunity to develop several patented products.
Top Supporters: The Wolf Family, The Boyd Family, and McKessen Corporation
Anthony Freeze is the founder of 24Hour Media and the host of the #24HourHustle Show, where he talks with accomplished guests who share their stories, struggles, and successes with him and his audience. His work has only built upon his passion for serving others. “I think we are meant to live to serve our fellow men and women, and be able to lift each other up to progress the human race to do even greater things in the future, he says. “It’s the best thing anyone could do in their job.” Anthony is also building a digital marketing agency where he can help small businesses deliver their stories online.
Top Supporters: Vernard Alexander, Kristie Knights, Nicole Manns
Worthington, Ohio native, Kelly Spiers, is a physician assistant for Envision Healthcare and is currently employed as the lead PA in the Emergency Department at Washington Hospital. She received both her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Duquesne University, where she serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and is very active with community service both locally and globally. Kelly volunteers at a clinic in the Dominican Republic three times a year. “My biggest inspiration is the children I care for while I am there. What they lack in goods, they make up for in heart and spirit,” she says. “Their smiles inspire me to continue doing what I’m doing: learning, teaching, loving, and serving others.”
Top Supporters: Bellwether, Stella&Dot, and Friends & Family
Mariah Jensen, CPA, is a Senior Accountant at JLL who loves to cook and look for the best ingredients for her recipes on Saturday mornings in the Strip District. Her mother, a 20-year ovarian cancer survivor, has taught her not to take life for granted and that she can do anything she puts her mind to. She ran a half-marathon to raise money for Girls on the Run at Magee-Women’s Hospital as part of their SoleMates program. Mariah is looking forward to running another half-marathon this fall. “I believe everyone should live a long, full and joyful life, and we are helping those with CF do that,” she exclaims.
Top Supporters: Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Brian & Leslie Jensen, and friends
Matthew Ficorilli, Manager at Your Town Realty, is hopeful that his work with the CF Foundation will help those affected by the disease. “The money I will raise will go to the research needed to hopefully one day find a cure,” he says. Matthew was taught valuable life lessons from his family. In particular, he learned how to sacrifice for others from his great-grandfather, who left Italy to join the United States Army. Matthew is a member of the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and is on the Bloomfield Development Corporation’s Board of Directors. He describes himself as reliable, trustworthy, and honest, and believes this is why he is a great addition to Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest Class of 2018.
Top Supporters: Your Town Realty, PA Land Titles and The Pub in the Park
Kara Buggy, a Robert Morris University graduate, is the Director of Market Research at CorCom, Inc. She is involved with many professional organizations, including: UPMC, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Remake Learning, and Innovation Works. Kara’s parents instilled in her a sense of generosity and compassion early on, telling her to always be kind to others and offer help whenever you can because you don’t always know everyone’s background or situation. Kara believes she is a good fit for Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest program because she strongly values opportunities, helping others, being challenged, and participating on a team.
Top Supporters: Tim & Cherri Buggy, AXA Advisors, CorCom, Inc.
Marshfield, WI native, Brett Baur, is the Manager of Partnership Sales at the Pittsburgh Penguins. He originally got involved with the Foundation during his time at Ohio University, where he raised over $2,000 for the November campaign. Last year, Brett was invited to sit on the Coaches vs. Cancer committee as the Pittsburgh Penguins representative, which raised over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. “My parents have been my most influential people in my life,” he says, “and have been the best mentors for me personally and professionally.”
Top Supporters: HBK CPAs & Consultants, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Gator Pit
Kristen Lucks, a Packaging Coordinator at Ravenwood Packaging, graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science Pre-Law. While she is new to Pittsburgh, she is not new to making a difference in the lives of others. She was recognized by Club Dust, an organization that raises funds to be able to build homes for families in Mexican border towns, as a top fundraiser. Kristen was also a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, and volunteered for Saving Innocence, an organization that works to combat sex trafficking. She is inspired by Emma Gonzalez, an American activist, survivor, and fighter, because of her bravery; a bravery that Kristen says she hopes “will help inspire more young men and women in the world today.”
Top Supporters: Ravenwood Packaging, Wexler Packaging, Catapult Print
As a Tax and Accounting Specialist at Exler and Company Inc., Sean believes he was chosen as a member of this year’s 50 Finest class because of his passion and dedication to helping others. “I especially have a soft spot for ailments that cause children to suffer,” he says. “I’ve been a big supporter of charities like St. Jude’s, and knowing that this disease also impacts children really made me want to get involved.” Sean is a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, travelling, and exploring Pittsburgh’s food scene.
Top Supporters: Allstate: Snider Agency, Exler & Company, Inc., Dr. Jeffery Hitchan
Lori Lower currently works for Edwards Lifesciences Corporation where she helps establish protocols and clinical pathways to help improve outcomes of surgical patients in the Western PA region. She is also a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a Master degree in Public Management. Lori says, “CMU Heinz College’s Master of Public Management (MPM) program imparts traditional management skills and policy understanding, forges leaders of the future and helps make a positive impact on my work environment and the people around me.” She believes her values align with her position, saying, “life is now and making a positive impact in other’s lives is what drives me.” Lori has received the Territory Manager Diamond Award several years in a row, as well as President’s Club and District Representative of the year. Lori is a carrier of cystic fibrosis and became involved with the CF Foundation to help raise awareness and find a cure.
Top Supporters: Edwards Lifesciences, Medtronic, and Bariatric Fusion
Mercyhurst University alumnus, Chadd Coury, is affiliated with the Institute of Entrepreneurial Excellence and First Financial Resources. He is a field agent at Coury Financial Services, where, as he says, he has “the opportunity to truly help people in aspects of their lives that can be extremely sensitive.” He is also a member Million Dollar Round Table, where he achieved the “Top of the Table” member status, which is awarded to members who make the highest sales goals in their industry. Chadd feels he has been extremely blessed to have countless opportunities throughout his life and the support of his parents, family, and mentors. “I am now in the position where I can and want to give back in a meaningful way,” he says.
Top Supporters: Delallo’s, PGT Trucking, Glimcher Group
Melissa Maggi is a Commercial Real Estate Advisor for SVN | Three River Commercial Advisors. Over the past 15 years, she has received numerous real estate sales awards in the industry. She is inspired by all of the women in her family – particularly her grandmother, sister, and mother – as they are all strong, independent, hard working women for which she credits her strong work ethic and people-pleasing demeanor. Melissa says she has a natural way with people and has always been able to see the best in someone. Melissa’s father would describe her as compassionate. Melissa’s favorite part of the city is the Strip District due to its atmosphere, culture, and diversity. She frequents the Strip on the weekends for her shopping, often after a bike ride around town because she loves being outdoors. Melissa got involved with CFF because she realizes the importance of the fundraising and that the lives of those living with the disease rely on support from these donations. She wants to help raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because she wants to find the cure.
Top Supporters: PV Settlement, LLC, DG Builders Gianakas, SVN | Three Rivers Commercial Advisors
To Zach, there is nothing more important than helping to make our world just a little bit easier to live in for the next generation. For several years, Zach worked as a political operative and consultant on numerous Democratic political campaigns throughout Pennsylvania. After managing a race encompassing all of Pennsylvania, Zach joined the natural gas industry. He currently serves as the Membership Manager for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade association for Pennsylvania’s unconventional natural gas producers and related companies. Zach spends his free time exploring Pittsburgh’s burgeoning restaurant scene and eating way too much food. He’s also on a mission to find the city’s best Old Fashioned. Cooking is cathartic for him; whether it’s grilling up some homemade burgers by the pool, or continually perfecting his risotto, Zach is at his happiest making delicious food. Zach loves all things politics and policy, and continues to read anything and everything he can get his hands on.
Top Supporters: Stephen & Fern Schwartz, Doyle for Congress Committee, and The Carey Group
Scott DiGuglielmo, who was recently selected as one of WHIRL Magazine’s Outstanding “20 in their 20’s,” is extremely passionate about his position of Director of Agency Brokerage at Burns Scalo Real Estate Services. Scott is inspired by his parents, who always support him, saying, “they’re certainly my no.1 cheerleaders of all time.” Scott is involved with various professional organizations, like NAIOP, Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership, and Pittsburgh Technology Council. He also is active with Pittsburgh nonprofits, such as Junior Achievement, Wesley Family Services, and Education Partnership of Pittsburgh. Scott recognized the work the CF Foundation does and wanted to be a part of it, saying that he “could not be more honored to be involved with such a driven Foundation that works so aggressively to find a cure for such a chronic disease.”
Top Supporters: Burns Scalo Real Estate, Sokolin Wines, Jacqueline’s Fine Jewelry, Friends and Family
Victoria Guscoff, a member of Pittsburgh Business Exchange, Junior League of Pittsburgh, and ARCS Foundation, is a Senior Radio Frequency Engineer at AT&T Mobility. In her spare time, she enjoys ballroom dancing, watching movies, and attending concerts. She wants to raise money to find a cure for cystic fibrosis and bring more awareness to the disease. “With the recent changes in the federal government, it’s more important than ever to advocate for healthcare and research for diseases with no known cures, like cystic fibrosis,” she says. Recognized by her work peers, she has been the recipient of the Key Contributor Award, NetOps Star Performance Award, and AT&T Wireless Spirit Excellence Award. In 2017, she also earned the Red Chair Scholarship to attend the EDGE Women’s Leadership, a mini-retreat for mid-career tech leaders held by the Pittsburgh Technology Council.
Top Supporters: Family, Friends, and Co-Workers
“Hustle and heart will set you apart” is what Maggie McCauley says is one of the most valuable things she has learned. She is the Marketing and Special Events Coordinator at Ohio Valley Hospital and enjoys creating content for her food blog, #412Brunch, going to barre classes, and attending shows in the Cultural District. Maggie is the PR Summit Co-Chair on the PRSA Pittsburgh board and she served as Volunteer Chair for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Pittsburgh walk. She describes herself as a go-getter and says she always puts 100% of herself into all of her goals. “Though I am young, I set the bar high for myself,” she says. Maggie’s drive to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation comes from hearing the stories of those affected by the disease. “A world without CF sounds like a great place to me,” she says.
Top Supporters: Family, Friends, and Co-Workers
Co-Founder and Owner of Elevate: Fusion Fitness, Jordan Rose spends much of his free time at his church, Petra International Ministries as part of the Worship Team. He is proud of his work at Elevate, as he has been able to give back to organizations like the American Heart Association and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jordan’s favorite thing about Pittsburgh is its uniqueness. “It’s full of traditions, but constantly evolving and I love that,” he says. The one word he chooses to describe himself as is “blessed.” He was previously recognized as one of Whirl Magazine’s Outstanding “20 in their 20s” and The Incline’s “Who’s Next in Fitness.”
Top Supporters: Fusion Fitness, Honeygrow, and T.J. & Valerie McConnell
Jack Arnold, whose cousin, Thomas, has cystic fibrosis, has been involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for many years and has participated in countless events, including: A Passion for Wine, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, and Great Strides. He is a Land Representative at Chevron Appalachia and enjoys hiking, playing soccer, and exercising in his free time. Jack is a member of the American Association of Professional Landmen, Michael Late Benedum Chapter, and the Penn State Alumni Association. He is passionate about supporting the Foundation because of his cousin. “Not once has he given up on battling this genetic mutation, so neither will I,” he says.
Top Supporters: The Arnold Family, The Haser Family, and Chevron
Amy Hilton works for Pineapple Payments and says work is a very special experience because at a start-up, you must work long hours to make sure the business is successful, and I get to work with tireless, passionate people who inspire me every day. Her parents have truly inspired her; she admires her mother’s tenderness and patience and her father has taught her to stay true to what she believes in. Because of her passion and positivity to help others, Amy believes it is important to raise awareness of CF and educate more people, so they are able to help fight for a cure. “My class this year has an incredible goal and my ability to bring others together to make sure we achieve that, I believe, is what I was chosen for,” says Amy.
Top Supporters: Hilton and Pankopf Families, Pineapple Payments
Jacqueline Hanna has spent the last four years working as a clinical pharmacist in Specialty Pharmacy, where she services cystic fibrosis patients and has direct contact with both patients and caregivers. Most recently, she has been involved in a variety of high profile Specialty Operations Projects. “In my current role, I am able to channel my passion for patient care into innovation and process design,” she says. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Duquesne University in 2011 and is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Pharmacy Business Administration program at the University of Pittsburgh. This 12-month, executive-style graduate education program is designed for working professionals striving to be tomorrow’s leaders in the business of medicines. One of the most important things her family has taught her is that your education is the one thing that no one can take away from you. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, running, and traveling.
Top Supporters: Natrona bottling company, Pub in the Park in Swissvale, Zenergy Cycling in Shadyside
Since returning to Pittsburgh after 12 years away, Haley Ruzomberka is a Private Bank Relationship Manager at Huntington National Bank. She is a four-time National Achiever with JPMorgan Chase – twice in Chicago and twice in New York — meaning she was in the top 10% of bankers company-wide. In her free time, she loves to travel; she has been to 30 states and 14 countries. Haley is hoping to add two more countries to her list this year. Her dad would always tell her, “the choices you make determine the choices you get to make.” That statement, she says, “becomes more poignant with each year and each new decision I am faced with.”
Top Supporters: Huntington private bank, RHRS, Susan Ruzomberka
Christopher Saltzman, Securities Specialist Operations II at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, graduated with a degree in Business Management from Penn State in 2011. He is a member of Central Catholic Alumni Association, BNY Employee Engagement Council, and Penn State Behrend Basketball Alumni Association. Christopher enjoys playing basketball, spending time with his family and friends, and woodwork. His greatest accomplishments are his fundraising achievements, as he has been working alongside his family for over 20 years to support the Breast Cancer Foundation.
Top Supporters: The Saltzman Family, Dean Honda, and Paskeoff Family
As the General Contractor and Owner of AJ Services, Adam Jumblat enjoys networking and building relationships with new clients. “I’m inspired by my mentors,” he says. “Most of them are owners of local construction and development companies that were built from nothing.” Adam’s ambition to make a difference in the lives of others is why he believes he was chosen as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest. “Hearing the stories of the people suffering with cystic fibrosis was motivation enough to want to get involved and help make a difference in these people’s lives,” he explains.
Top Supporters: ABS Building Systems, A.J. Services
Anna Berish is an Account Manager and Cultural Ambassador for RoadRunner Recycling. She believes it is a rewarding career for her because raising awareness about recycling is something she is truly passionate about. Anna says, “the most important lessons I have learned from my mentors are to work hard and give back as much as possible.” Having had the opportunity to attend many Cystic Fibrosis Foundation events over the past few years, Anna heard many amazing stories that truly inspired her – leading her to get involved with CF. Anna believes she was selected as a 50 Finest Honoree because she truly cares about raising awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis.
Top Supporters: Friends, Family, Co-Workers
Adam DeFlorio, aka DJ AdamBomb, is the owner of PowerBomb Productions LLC and Moxie Events. He is a member of several professional organizations, such as the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Visit Pittsburgh, the latter of which he is Partner of the Year. Throughout the year, Adam has donated his “Selfie Station” to other honorees of the 50 Finest and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in attempts to not only provide fundraising entertainment but offer another avenue for guests to donate towards their cause. No matter where his services take – be it events and weddings here in Pennsylvania or across the country — he always strives to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. He is excited to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because, as he says, “a cure is so close to being discovered, but we can at least add more tomorrows, today.”
Top Supporters: Carol Israel, Moxie Events, Wareham Investment Company
Joseph Junker is a Pittsburgh native who graduated from of North Catholic High School and earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. Joe is the Director of Leadership Annual Giving in the Division of Philanthropy and Engagement at Pitt, where he also currently serves on the steering committee of the Year of Pitt Global, a campus wide initiative to celebrate global engagement and pave the way for innovative global initiatives at the university. Joe’s favorite spot in Pittsburgh is the top of the Cathedral of Learning. “The space offers panoramic views of the surrounding areas and is a reminder of the impact Pitt has had in my life and the lives of many others.” Joe is a longtime community volunteer and advocate for LGBTQIA+ groups. He has been involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for 10 years, having served on the Brewer’s Ball committee for the past three. For the past five years, Joe has served on the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation’s Board. In his free time, Joe enjoys traveling and spending time with his family, friends, and his Hurricane Katrina rescue dog, Mario.
Top Supporters: Friends & Family
Baldwin High School graduate Kait Schoeb is an artist and owner of Paints By Kait, LLC. She has been involved with several charities and professional organizations, such as the Mario Lemieux Foundation, Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh, Make-A-Wish PAWV, and 25 Club of McGee Women’s Hospital. Kait has also been the recipient of various awards, including 1st place Art + Smart 2008 with a $15,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 1st place in the 18th district of Pennsylvania for Congressional Award-2008 and Best of Show Greensburg Art Center-2014. Her favorite place in Pittsburgh is the zoo. “I’m obsessed with animals and instantly become a 5-year-old, squealing and talking to the animals when I see them,” she exclaims. “If I had the chance to touch all of them I would!”
Top Supporters: PNC, People’s Natural Gas, Sheraton Hotel, and Chris Kail
Stephanie Wiltman, Graduate Student Researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Bioengineering, has received several awards for her accomplishments, including: the Swanson School of Engineering Wesley Pickard Fellowship (2018); National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention (2016, 2017); and College of Engineering Teaching Assistant of the Year (2018). She is the president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, vice president of the Engineering Graduate Student Organization, and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Ingenium. “I love to learn and my job allows me to do that every day,” she says. She is inspired by her dad, who, she exclaims, “always says to be a positive influence and say yes to new adventures!”
Top Supporters: Jim and Rosemary O’Neill, Myles Harrinton,
and Jim Wiltman
Kyle Majerick, Pittsburgh native and Ohio University graduate, is an Account Executive at Wagner Agency Inc. “The best part of my job is being able to meet new and interesting people in so many different unique fields of work,” he says. “It’s fun learning about how different companies and industries work.” Kyle got involved with the Foundation after his brother was chosen as a 50 Finest Honoree. Ultimately, it’s Kyle’s big personality and optimism that has driven him to be a part of this year’s 50 Finest program. “I want to enhance the lives of people who are affected by this disease,” he says.
Top Supporters: Wagner Agency Inc., Porters Tours, family and friends
Jamie Machak of Pompton Plains, NJ has “fallen in love with the people and culture around Pittsburgh,” he says. He truly feels at home in Pittsburgh, despite not being native to the area. “I have embraced Pittsburgh as Pittsburgh has embraced me,” he says. Jamie is an Institutional Investment Advisor at PNC and a member of both the CFA Society of Pittsburgh and the Duke Alumni Association. One of the first places he visited in the city was Mount Washington and it is now his favorite spot in Pittsburgh. “It showcases everything that Pittsburgh has to offer and reminds you that you are just a small part of a truly amazing city with powerful rivers, towering buildings, amazing geography, and most importantly, great people,” he says.
Top Supporters: The CFA Society of Pittsburgh on behalf of David Harvey Jr., Sewde Construction Co., and Friends & Family.
Shawna Smith is the owner of Inkewell to Oilwell Abstracting, LLC and loves her job because it challenges her everyday and provides flexibility and the ability to work from home. Shawna’s grandfather inspires her the most, she says, by preaching that “money should come secondary to a good, fulfilling life.” He has instilled principles to her life by teaching her to always stick to her core values despite her successes in life. “He taught me that there is always hope, even in the darkest situations and not to get discouraged from the bad times, but to use them as lessons to grow,” she continues. Shawna got involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because her close friend’s daughter, Kaelyn, has CF and it is near to her heart. She wants to raise money for CF because she believes in the integrity of the Foundation and its ability to not only extend children’s lives, but also to greatly improve the quality of those suffering with this disease. Shawna wants to be a part of the movement to help find the cure for Kaelyn’s mutation and everyone other child whose treatment for their specific mutation has yet to be developed.
Top Supporters: Juniper Grill, James Kesslar , and Paul Martinez
Nicole Rainey of Belle Vernon is employed by Ross Staffing as a Senior Recruiter and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration degree from Columbia Southern University. She believes she was chosen as an honoree, “because of the adversity I have overcome. After being diagnosed with encephalitis in 2003 and being on life support, I understand what it is like to live in a world where you are a statistic and not supposed to overcome such immense difficulties.” Nicole is passionate about raising money for the Foundation because she wants to be involved in developing the cure. She also wants to help support the families that are affected by cystic fibrosis, as she knows that medical bills quickly add up. “When dealing with such a horrible disease, they should not have to worry about the costs of getting proper care,” she sympathizes.
Top Supporters: Ross Staffing, Chuck Hammel (Pitt Ohio), and Family & Friends
Ellwood City native, Kelly Coccia, graduated from Point Park University, where she is now on the Alumni Board of Directors. She is an analyst at PNC and enjoys painting, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family. Kelly is a strong and positive breast cancer survivor. It was because of the tribulations she faced during her treatment that she developed the drive to participate in Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest. “Through prayers, the unwavering support of friends and family, and a positive attitude, I was able to beat cancer,” she says, “By participating in the 50 Finest Program, I look forward to assisting young people who are experiencing a different kind of adversity.”
Top Supporters: Family, Friends, and Co-Workers
James Brett Robinson
James Brett Robinson is the president of Terra Building Group, an design/build firm specializing in LEED and ENERGY STAR certified homes. Before opening Terra, Brett worked as an engineer, project manager, and division manager for various national construction companies in the Washington D.C. marketplace. With a yearning to return to Pittsburgh, Brett moved back and earned his degree in Finance with an Accounting minor, an MBA, and his LEED Green Associate credential. Brett credits his mentors, both family and friends, for playing a key role in his successes and accomplishments. Some of these same mentors were influential in Brett becoming a 50 Finest 2018 Honoree, and he is grateful to do his part for the CFF. Brett’s favorite spot in the city is Point State Park. To him, it is a peaceful oasis to recharge while offering an amazing vantage point of the skyline, rivers, and surrounding hills.
Top Supporters: Terra Building Group, Business Associates, and Friends
Rania Sakmar, a Leasing Specialist at Burns Scalo Real Estate, thoroughly enjoys her job in the commercial real estate industry. Her enthusiastic personality, she says, allows her to “wake up every single day happy to go to work.” Rania is best described as a kind-hearted, enthusiastic, and passionate person, who is anxious to give back to the community where she was born and raised. She enjoys volunteering as a mentor at Choices, an interactive classroom program educating young students on future life decisions, in addition to fundraising for cystic fibrosis. In her free time, Rania’s favorite activities are cooking, dining at Pittsburgh’s popular restaurants, and spending time with family and friends. Most important to Rania is her two-year-old son, Beau, who she says is her biggest inspiration and motivation to succeed and pay it forward in life.
Top Supporters: Burns Scalo Real Estate, Pittsburgh Bottleshop Café, Retail without Boundaries
A Highland Park native and Mountain State University graduate, Jason Jones is on Homewood Children’s Village and El Sistema Board of Directors. He is currently the Community Development Divisional Manager at Woodforest National Bank where he gets to make a great impact in the low-to-moderate areas. In his free time, he enjoys reading and spending time with his children. Jason was selected as one of PUMP’s “40 Under 40.” He is inspired by Mamar Gelaye because, as he says, “she has been able to be successful in her career yet remains humble.”
Top Supporters: Mamar Gelaye, PNC Bank, and Nika Bryant
Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest Alumni
First Row left to right
Andrew Exler, Anthony Judice, Emily Musial, Michael Mann, James Austin Snow, Allison Saras, Alison Mears, Christina Hapanowicz, Renee Williams, Nicholas Borsuck, Seth Dresbold, Lauren Hadburg, Katey Mauro, and Summer Drummond
Second row from left:
Dominic Janidas, Tara Sease, Carly Pasquini, Alyssa Gerlack, Helen Cestra, Kelly Waldman, Justin Davis, Megan Walsh Paull, Katie Miller, Chris Kail, Mike Rush, Kacie Farmer
Third row from left:
Gretchen Dimeling, Brian Henciak, Chad Irving, Brielle Audino, Adam Danenberg, Ron Bauer, Rachel Rooney, Dusty Miller, Alex Guminski, Missie Cekus