Some of Pittsburgh’s most elite, young leaders were inducted into the New Pittsburgh Courier’s 2010 Fab 40 class on March 26. If it’s up to this group of honorees, the future looks extremely bright.
|DR. BARRETT WOODS, Lance Woods, Camille Davidson, Dr. Shailen Greene, Suzanne Woods, Elizabeth Greene, Tyrone Greene and Royce Woods.
Celebrating their success in areas such as social service, corporate, health care and education, each honoree brings a gift of having taken advantage of the doors opened by those who have gone before them. Not forgetting where they’ve come from, these leaders under the age of 40 have reached back to help others reach upward. They’ve become the change we’ve all waited for.
WTAE’s meteorologist, Demetrious Ivory, a 2009 Fab 40 honoree, emceed the event, held in the upper lobby of the U.S. Steel Tower. Ivory said this year’s group of honorees is a fresh crop from a wide range of career paths, who just don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
Harry Johnson II, a representative from Councilman Danny Lavelle’s office and the council of the city of Pittsburgh, congratulated the honorees and declared March 26, 2010 as Fab 40 Day in the city of Pittsburgh. He read a brief history of the Pittsburgh Courier from its start in 1910 to the paper’s rise of becoming the only Black newspaper to publish national and local editions, with a circulation of more than 100,000.
Prior to reading parts of a proclamation from Councilman Mike Dole, K. Chase Patterson field representative for Doyle, and former Fab 40 inductee, said each honoree holds a responsibility to ensure a better tomorrow for all. “There are young bothers and sisters dying on our streets. We cannot just get awards and not give back. We need to use our collective force to do better for our communities,” he said.
The proclamation commended the honorees for their exceptional character and talent in their respective areas of expertise. “In deed these 40 remarkable individuals are part of the new vanguard that has demonstrated active engagement in helping to shape our community,” Patterson read.
In his welcoming remarks, Rod Doss, New Pittsburgh Courier editor and publisher, told the audience that this distinguished group of 40 was not chosen by happenstance or by way of a personality contest. “It was a nomination process by our readers and a careful screening that brought you here tonight. All of you are the embodiment of accomplishment, determination, and a beacon that others should follow,” he said. Doss commended the honorees for sharing their time, talent, and treasury with others ensuring a better community. “You build on the legacy and mentoring of those before you, and yes, you honor them in so doing. Your feet are set upon the path of what is yet to come and the mantel of greatness is still before you,” he said. Doss urged the honorees not to let anyone deter them from their dreams or aspirations, and to pursue their dreams with fearlessness. “Know that you have earned our respect in all that you do and promise. You are our future, and our future is in your hands. I am confident that tonight is just the beginning of many great things to come,” he concluded.
The evening’s event culminated with mingling and dancing to sounds by DJ Night Child.
All honorees were humbled and grateful that their diligence had been recognized. A sentiment that
Cynthia James, director, Public Allies Pittsburgh, echoed. James was recognized for her leadership coordination, youth mentoring, and community volunteering efforts. James said being part of the Fab 40 means a lot to her as a child who grew up in Beltzhoover, who honors and loves Pittsburgh. She added that through the years she has always valued the New Pittsburgh Courier and the history that the publication brings to the community as well as the nation. “It feels fabulous really, to be recognized in the paper’s 100th year and to look at all the beautiful Black people being honored that continue the legacy of so many who wanted us to get to this point and were never recognized for it themselves,” she said. “I’m happy, honored, and humbled at the same time because I know that I have a long way to go in order to be fabulous, but this is very rewarding and humbling.” James hopes to expand the Public Allied site across the state. On a personal level, she hopes to filter individuals to the Fab 40 recognition and nominate those who are not always rewarded for making a difference in the community. “My purpose is to be that pipeline and give back and play it forward,” she said.
Grateful for the recognition, Kenyon Bonner, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Life at the University of Pittsburgh has enriched the student experience at the University by engaging an increased number of undergraduates in community service and assisting students with employment placement. In the past year, the placement of job search kiosks throughout campus has increased student participation in the Student Employment and Placement Assistant program by 36 percent. Bonner expressed humility saying he was proud and thankful that someone recognized the work that he’s done. “I know I have a long way to go, this is a humbling experience,” he said. He hopes that young people see themselves in this group of honorees and realize how important education is and see that if they believe in themselves and work hard that they too can achieve. “I think it’s important for people to see images of people who look like them succeeding. It’s inspiring and cultivating. I hope I’ll be able to continue to do things that earned me this nomination,” he said. Bonner plans to continue working in higher education developing and educating future leaders, “who are good citizens and are understanding of others and appreciate differences and give back to the global community,” he said.
As Program Director, Center for Inclusion in Heath Care, UPMC, Dawnita Wilson promotes diversity initiatives within the largest health care system in southwestern Pennsylvania. She was instrumental in launching and maintaining the Dignity and Respect campaign, promoting inclusion throughout the organization. She lives by the words: “Be grateful for what you have, content with what you don’t, and prepared for what’s ahead.” As an inductee of the Fab 40, Wilson said she is honored. “I think it shows what the young people here in Pittsburgh can do. It gives us an opportunity to showcase our talents and ensure that the city is aware of all the great young talent here,” she said. Wilson said young ones should look to Fab 40 honorees and learn to strive for their goals, doing work that they are passionate about. “When you are passionate about your work it shows, and you do well with it,” she said. Wilson’s passion about diversity and inclusion in the workplace fuel her efforts at UPMC and the Pittsburgh region. She is passionate about ensuring that youth are aware of opportunities here in Pittsburgh. “Events like the Fab 40 speak to the opportunities that exist here in Pittsburgh, and show that these opportunities can take you anywhere you want to go,” she explains. Wilson said that by looking at the accomplishments of her Fab 40 cohorts, it shows that “Pittsburgh can be a great place to live and work,” she said.
Ryan Patrick Parker, director of Diversity, University of Pittsburgh’s Schools of Health Sciences, and Actor, believes that there are no coincidences. Parker put aside his love for the stage and picked up another torch. “I came to Pittsburgh to pursue entertainment but through a series of events, I realized I needed to change that pursuit and do other things,” he said. “Two years later, here I am here, with this honored as part of the Courier’s Fab 40.” He fulfills his role at the University with the same vigor as he would under taking any performance. At the University of Pittsburgh, Parker strives to diversify the health sciences field by enlightening students of opportunities available in health care. In 2009, Parker established Health Sciences Diversity Week in Pittsburgh. Parker said being among this year’s honorees this means so much to him on many different levels. “It’s always good to have an extra incentive to continue to do your work,” he said. He believes that “to whom much is given, much is required,” so to that end, the honor “just gives me even more reason to continue to do the work,” he said. “To be considered some one who is fabulous or a trailblazer sets a major task and responsibility. It’s a big torch to carry.” Parker said in the two years that he’s been in the area the city has been kind and welcoming to him, allowing him to connect through great professional and personal relationships. “It’s because of the people here that I am able to be recognized for the work that I do,” he explained. He said he is especially grateful for the collaborations and partnerships with people who have paved the way to allow him to sit at the table and share in the discussion. “I want to thank the New Pittsburgh Courier and the city of Pittsburgh, and especially those giants who allow young professionals to have an outlet to use our gifts and talents toward the betterment of the community.”
Parker said he wants young people to understand that it is ok to have dreams. He said he had aspirations to do things on stage. “But my mother was an advocate of education and college was not an option for me,” he said. So while Parker believes that everything happens for a reason, he said “it’s your responsibility to tap into the opportunities for growth while you are in that transition to what’s waiting at the end of that road.”