Today’s Locals to Know knows for herself — her focus at work is connecting Pennsylvania women with the opportunities they need to launch, reinvigorate or rethink their careers. When she’s not helping area workers, Naomi Tannenbaum is picking apples, taking care of her family and/or exploring local destinations. Let’s learn more about Naomi and what she does!
Hi, Naomi! What keeps you busy?
I am the Senior Director for Programs at Pennsylvania Women Work, a Pittsburgh-based women-focused workforce development organization. Our organization helps women not just find a job, but build a career where they can support themselves and their families. Our programs are free to anyone who is reimagining their career or looking for employment.
I began working here almost a year ago, and I am excited to be part of a growing organization that is working toward creating a more equitable workplace. We have a long way to go, but I’m proud to be part of it.
Wax poetic for a second and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?
Two things drew me to Pittsburgh — the fact that it’s a smaller city with a whole lot of cultural amenities, and the strength of the neighborhoods.
I love living in a neighborhood where I know my neighbors and where I can sit on my porch and have conversations with folks as they walk by. I also love how the wealth of the Industrial Age helped create not only amazing parks and museums, but a large, thriving non-profit sector in a smaller city — it means that there are only one or two degrees between people, and it’s easy to connect and navigate.
What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
I often tell the story that while I grew up in central PA, I never came to Pittsburgh until my work brought me here in the mid-00s. I was living in New Mexico at the time and flying in to start a branch of my organization here. My first visit to Pittsburgh was in February, and the highs were maybe in the 20s. Despite that, I like to say that our local partners showed me such a good time that I decided to move here! I met lots of folks who were welcoming, on the ball, and enthusiastic about their city — they sold me!
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
LOL. People who know me know I have trouble answering ‘only one’ questions — I can’t commit! Also, a couple of things prevent me from eating out a lot — I love to cook and my family loves my food, and we have a 13-year-old-son whose eating preferences run to… well, let’s just say more mundane than Michelin star. When we do go out, I like it to be for something I wouldn’t cook at home, like gyro sandwiches (and best fries in the area IMO) at Pitaland or the buffet at Taj Mahal.
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Pittsburgh day.
I don’t know if I would have one perfect day, but right now my family has a routine of getting up on Saturday mornings and walking through Uptown Mt. Lebanon to the farmers market, the library, and to Pamela’s or La Gourmadine for brunch. I enjoy seeing the community out and connecting at local venues, and being a part of that. The afternoon might be spent enjoying our backyard, or maybe a walk at the Panhandle Trail or Botanic Garden. Another fall activity for us is to drive out to Bedner’s to get pumpkins and to Brown’s Orchard for apples. Nothing too fancy for us; it’s all about quality time with family at the moment!
What’s your favorite local social media account to follow and why?
I am not much of a social media person, but I AM an NPR junkie and listen to WESA every day to get local news.
How does Pittsburgh help you do what you do/influence your work?
My approach to working in the community is very much based in understanding and listening to the community, and coming from a strengths-based perspective. In that way, I strive to ensure my work is responsive and reflective of people and places.
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to cross a river! Vote your class interests!
What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?
When I came here in the mid-00s, I didn’t realize how deeply segregated racially the city is, or that the status of women, in terms of women leaders and pay rates, is behind so many other cities in this country. Pittsburgh prides itself on new technology and innovation, but in many ways the culture is traditional and not progressive.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
It’s been wonderful being out and about at events these past few months, and I’m looking forward to more of those connections. Also, TBH, I am looking forward to a beach vacation next summer!
Find out more about Pennsylvania Women Work at pawomenwork.org.
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