For some people, helping others is their life’s mission.
Every day, these 17 Pittsburghers work to make Pittsburgh better — both in the office and after work. From grant writers to development officers, volunteers to funders, these young people are molding Pittsburgh today and for the future.
Every month, we seek nominations and recognize up-and-comers in Pittsburgh. In 14 classes, we’ve featured nearly 250 of the city’s leaders under the age of 40, from pioneers in health to education to food in our Who’s Next series, presented by S&T Bank.
This group, with support from class sponsor PNC YMCA, spotlights young people shaping the city’s philanthropy scene. You have a chance to meet and celebrate them at a Feb. 28 happy hour. Get your tickets now.
Until then, let us introduce you to the 17 people making an impact on Pittsburgh’s philanthropy scene.
Join us as we recognize stellar under-40 young philanthropists making an impact in Pittsburgh through Who’s Next, a series presented by S&T Bank. Your ticket includes light bites from Choolaah Indian BBQ, beer, wine, and samplings from Threadbare Cider and Stateside Vodka, as well as your chance to meet The Incline’s Who’s Next: Philanthropy class, sponsored by PNC YMCA and Moxie.
Where: Moxie office (Alcoa Building, 9th Floor) at 611 William Penn Place (Downtown)
When: February 28, 2018 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
How much: $25 for public | Free for Who's Next: Philanthropy honorees
For more than a decade, Valerie A. Beichner has immersed herself in the world of nonprofits, with roles at the Green Building Alliance, International Leadership Association, Conservation Consultants and now as executive director at Friends of the Riverfront. She calls her life “mission driven.” She also says she’s not one “to sit idle” — quite an understatement considering that she earned a master’s degree with a 4.0 in 18 months while raising four kids and launching élan evolutions, a nonprofit management consulting business, in partnership with her husband. “Her ideology of leadership is to fully and entirely support the human beings that work for us and we work for,” her nominator said. Sparking her passion for trails, she and her husband ran 335 miles of trails connecting Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, a feat raising $3,800 for the Free Care Fund of the Children’s Hospital Foundation through a charity her daughter started called Moira’s Mission. Beichner, a Leetsdale resident, holds a bachelor’s degree from Clarion University and a master’s degree from Robert Morris University.
The title of the organization he leads is more than just a name, it’s a mission. Repair the World strives to make meaningful service a defining element of American Jewish life by mobilizing young volunteers to tackle local needs each year and help transform neighborhoods, cities, and lives. In his role as executive director in Pittsburgh, Block has led five cohorts of fellows from across the country, focusing on food and education realms. In Repair the World Pittsburgh’s first four years, Block quadrupled the number of volunteers, and in 2017, he doubled the amount of individual donors. A former tax attorney, Block said he wanted to “be fulfilled in my work and that comes from building a strong and vibrant community.” Indeed, his nominator said, “His cross-communal and constant relationship building with a wide array of individuals and groups has served as a crucial bridge-builder in connecting folks.” Block holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin and a law degree from University of Pittsburgh. He lives in Squirrel Hill.
Joshua Bow is what you might call a “philanthropic sherpa,” his nominator says. In his role at Carnegie Mellon University, Bow fundraises for major gifts, helping donors to optimize their impact to the university community and the world. Recently completing a chartered advisor in philanthropy certification, his work unites fundraisers and financial planners. Even outside of work, he gives back as a board member for the Pittsburgh Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, which provides mentorship, continuing education and fellowship for nonprofit professionals. He also serves as a part of The Children’s Museum Ambassadors and with the Alumni Association of Lamda Chi Alpha. A Swissvale resident, Bow holds degrees from Edinboro University and the University of Michigan.
As founder and CEO of Hello Neighbor, Sloane Davidson matches recently resettled refugees in Pittsburgh with dedicated neighbors who provide guidance and support. In 2017, the project’s first year, Hello Neighbor brought together refugees from seven different countries with locals. A mentor in the program who nominated Davidson for this award described how Hello Neighbor impacted so many lives — “not only for the refugee families who found support and friendship from an American mentor, but for the mentors who were lucky enough to be chosen for the first class of the program.” Before Hello Neighbor, Davidson ran her own consultancy firm focusing on digital marketing, fundraising and corporate social responsibility working with international NGOs and Fortune 500 companies. With a background in fundraising, marketing, and volunteer work, Davidson has been asked to speak at more than a dozen engagements including SXSW and the Women’s Philanthropy Summit. She sits on the Council at the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. A Highland Park resident, she holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Vermont and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
In his role as major gifts officer at University of Pittsburgh, Raymond M. Davis seeks potential university donors, focusing on the Florida region, striving to pair donors’ interest with university goals. He collaborates with Pitt clubs and leaders in Florida to grow mutual affinity and connections. Davis describes himself as a “positive and highly motivated individual with aspirations of making an impact and change where it matters.” He began his work in donor relations at Walsh University, helping with the completion of $1 million annual campaign goal and overseeing a phone-a-thon. With a bachelor’s degree from Walsh University, Davis, a Swissvale resident, is currently pursuing a master of studies in law at Pitt.
“Pam Eichenbaum is a true example of building bridges within Pittsburgh communities through philanthropy,” her nominator says. “She has built her career around solving community challenges via innovative and creative community development, philanthropic, and outreach solutions.” As business development associate at Innovation Works, Eichenbaum helps to drive an innovative start-up ecosystem. She supports fundraising activities from foundations, government entities and corporations — all set on spurring growth of the region’s economy. In addition to her role with Innovation Works, she serves as part of the Repair the World Advisory Committee, Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh, Adele’s Circle of Women at the University of Maryland, and Gateway Committee of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition. Most evenings, you can find Eichenbaum attending a community meeting or event that engages local organizations in the intersection of innovation and social justice. A Squirrel Hill resident, Eichenbaum holds a bachelor's degree from University of Pittsburgh and a master's from University of Maryland.
Amber Farr has been involved with The Buhl Foundation’s One Northside initiative since the very beginning, working on community development, project management and recruitment. One Northside is Buhl’s 20-year commitment to improving the lives of all North Side residents. “By working hand-in-hand, North Side residents shape Buhl’s grantmaking agenda and guide its leveraging of assets and resources,” Farr said. Driven to give back to the community, Farr previously worked at the Girl Scouts of Western PA and at the Steeltown Entertainment Project, where she helped students learn life skills through the art of filmmaking. Prior to those roles, she worked as a producer at Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation. Even outside of her day job, community service is key for her, as she volunteers for numerous organizations including: The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, The Best of the Batch Foundation, Temple University Alumni Association, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and United Way’s “Be There.” A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Farr earned a bachelor’s degree at Temple University and a master’s degree at Point Park University. She lives in Penn Hills.
The work Gina Fisher is doing now will benefit students for years into the future. As Carnegie Science Center’s Advancement Director, she serves as the museum’s No. 1 cheerleader. She helped to lead the SPARK! Campaign, a $46 million fundraiser to make possible the Science Center’s expansion, which will transform the museum for generations of visitors. Currently, she oversees the Science Center’s strategy for securing funds for operations, educational programs, exhibits and events. Fisher identifies and works with funders and donors of all levels to match their philanthropic interests with the museum’s vision and plans for the future. A Fulbright scholar who taught English in Thailand, Fisher graduated from Swarthmore College and lives in Squirrel Hill.
For Heather Franz, fundraising is more than a job — it’s a passion. “There's something invigorating about being the champion of a cause and seeing it come to life through growing support,” she says. At Robert Morris, she works with sponsorship, grant writing and government affairs on university-wide projects. In her career, she has raised more than $13 million for capital projects and $2 million for special interest projects across Pennsylvania. Over the years, she’s worked on refugee resettlement in France, community revitalization in Kensington, Pa., and housing initiatives in Lancaster County. In addition to her work, Franz volunteers time with the Moon Economic Development Group, the RMU Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program, the Wesley Forest Retreat Camping Program, and Miracles in Moon. A Pitt graduate, Franz lives in Glen Osbourne.
Ryan Gayman calls himself a “product of the power of philanthropy.” Growing up in rural south central Pennsylvania, he received a Lenfest Scholarship to attend the University of Pittsburgh. Now, he works to help nonprofits grow. He co-founded and serves as partner at CitizenCity, a Pittsburgh-based social impact business development firm. The firm engages with businesses to scale their impact and financial growth. He co-manages Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh's Full Circle Impact Accelerator for Nonprofits – one of only a few nonprofit accelerators in the nation. The program offers an intensive three-month training for innovative nonprofits, which are paired with engaged philanthropists. Having dedicated his life to priming the next generation of philanthropists, Gayman “exemplifies what is good and thriving in the sector,” his nominator said. A Pitt graduate, Gayman lives in Morningside.
If there’s one thing you need to know about Sean Gray’s energy, it’s what his business card says: Consider it handled. Gray is the type of person who gets stuff done — and his tireless work is always on behalf of others. As Pittsburgh Area Director of All Star Code, he is providing opportunities for high school boys of color to learn computer science and gain tech industry exposure. After leading the first iteration of the program outside of New York City in 2017, he’s already working to expand it in its second year. He founded Pittsburgh Codes and also founded lifestyle enhancing enterprise Sean Gray International. Gray has also served as event lead for the mayor’s office, event consultant for Carnegie Museum of Art and event producer for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Every day, he’s guided by this notion: “Today, right now, your story is what you give.” When Gray isn’t working, he spends time with Farah, an Arabian horse he rescued, and he hopes to work with Farah to provide equine therapy for kids. A Pitt graduate, Gray lives in the East End.
For the entirety of her career, Caitlin Lasky has worked to give back to others. She held jobs at Every Child, Inc., Chatham University, Pressley Ridge, Arthritis Foundation, and Western Pa. Humane Society before taking on her current role at Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania. Working at the Parkinson Foundation is very important to her because her Uncle Gary was diagnosed a few years ago and because of the high prevalence of Parkinson’s in Pittsburgh. Lasky uses her skills in public relations, marketing and fundraising to tell the stories of nonprofits and the people they serve. Outside of work, she founded Pittsburgh Yoga Collective after learning about the scientific benefits of yoga and mindfulness. The Collective strives to spread the benefits of yoga to populations who might not regularly encounter the practices. “Caitlin's enthusiasm for making our region a better place can be felt by anyone who has met her,” her nominator said. Lasky, a Kenyon College graduate, lives in the North Hills.
Jay and Bonnie Mangold founded the Children's Trust at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. The Trust established a network of young professionals who pool their resources to support the most innovative research and quality of life programs for patients at Children's Hospital. "Through this model of philanthropy in motion," their nomination reads, "young talent in Pittsburgh supports young talent at Children's." Under the Mangolds leadership, the Trust has grown to more than 200 members, awarding $240,000 to support the kids at Children’s Hospital. Jay works as an associate at Cohen & Grigsby, P.C., while Bonnie works as an associate at Reed Smith LLP. The couple both attended Colby College for undergraduate studies before graduating from William & Mary School of Law. They live Downtown.
On the government end of the philanthropy sector, Melanie Ondek serves as senior grants officer in the Mayor’s budget office. In her role, she acts as the local foundation liaison for all City of Pittsburgh departments and advises those departments about grant opportunities at the federal, state, and foundation levels. She’s constantly keeping an eye on potential grants that could benefit Pittsburgh. With a passion for public service, her job gives her the the opportunity to work with every single city department, always learning something new. Her nominator calls her “always professional and incredibly eloquent” and lauds her “vast institutional knowledge of city programming and the landscape of the foundation community.” After graduating from St. Vincent College and earning a master’s degree at Duquesne University, Ondek lives in Brookline.
Attorney by day, philanthropist by night, Michael Quatrini co-founded Visionaries, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. The program is dedicated to educating people in their 20s through 40s about local philanthropy and community foundations. Since 2010, the group has provided more than $25,000 in funding to Westmoreland County nonprofits that serve young people and encourage volunteerism. He helped adapt the concept for the Pittsburgh Foundation, which unveiled its New Philanthropic Leaders initiative in January. Quatrini also serves as board president for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Westmoreland County, Inc. and as a recycling coordinator for Westmoreland Cleanways. In the office, he focuses on representing injured workers and veterans as an associate attorney at Quatrini Rafferty law firm. A Point Breeze resident, Quatrini earned degrees from Dickinson College and Duquesne University School of Law.
As grants manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, Hannah Sherer is responsible for obtaining funds to provide one-to-one mentoring for children facing adversity. That means she spends her days writing proposals, evaluating the impact of current initiatives, monitoring how grants are used and reporting outcomes. Before Big Brothers Big Sisters, she managed an after-school program in Sharpsburg and spent two years volunteering internationally in Zambia and domestically through AmeriCorps. In addition to her day job, she is involved in her community as a Big Sister at Schiller Middle School, as a mentor to her little brother Dom and through volunteering with Circles Sharpsburg. Her nominator calls her “a rising star in grants and fund development.” Sherer is a graduate of Saint Francis University and a is a certified grants professional from the Grant Professional Certification Institute. She lives in O’Hara Township.