Those wishing they had a time machine to see into the future of Pittsburgh had no further to look than the New Pittsburgh Courier Fab 40 Reception at the US Steel Tower on April 29. This year’s list of honorees represented a cross section of the city’s young African-American elite, a group of individuals as committed to achieving their professional goals as they are to helping others.
“I feel humbled. I think it’s always a pleasure to have people recognize you for things you would do anyway,” said Les Scales, credit officer, PNC Financial Services Group. “I think it’s important to recognize young African-Americans because we have such a lack of positive representation.”
Each year as part of their annual series of events, the Courier recognizes 40 individuals under the age of 40 who have been recommended by readers. Though the group of young men and women come from a variety of backgrounds, they all seem to share the same sense of humility and modesty.
“Most of us go about doing our business day to day. We don’t do it to be recognized,” said Sonya Tilghman, vice president and community reinvestment act manager, Fifth Third Bank. “I think the most important thing about the work I do is it’s grounded in the community. I’m very proud of our company.”
“It’s a humbling and exciting experience and I know there are a lot of people doing a lot of good things in Pittsburgh,” said Brian Edmonds, pastor of discipleship, Macedonia Baptist Church, Hill District. “It’s a privilege to be able to support people in every stage of their life.”
While many on this year’s list have achieved greatness in the business world, others are in the business of giving back. In their positions as educators, public servants and philanthropists, their ladder to success has been marked by the many people they’ve helped a long the way.
“It’s extremely humbling. You try to do as much as you can and you don’t expect to be recognized,” said Camille Raquel Davidson Bazron, truancy advocate specialist for Youth Advocacy Programs. “I like to serve and I don’t think I’m the only one; it’s just second nature to me.”
Others are developing new and interesting ways to make a positive impact through technology, media and the arts. Through his work with the Minority Networking Exchange, Founder and CEO Vernard Alexander helps connect African-Americans and other minorities, allowing them to form social and entrepreneurial partnerships.
“I’m very humbled and honored for the opportunity to be part of this group,” Alexander said. “I’m very passionate about helping people become more self sufficient through way of employment and entrepreneurship.”
The Courier has a dedicated group of sponsors that have shown support for their events over the past few years. Among them is the University of Pittsburgh whose employees are often recipients of Courier awards.
“I think it’s important particularly in Pittsburgh to recognize emerging leaders. We’re at a time when able committed Black leadership is needed more than ever,” said Robert Hill, vice chancellor for public affairs, University of Pittsburgh. “I take great satisfaction that all of the Courier’s great recognition activities always recognize Pitt people. That’s an example of how Pitt is having an impact.”
Other sponsors included Fifth Third Bank, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dignity and Respect Campaign, UPMC and Real Times Media. The reception was also sponsored in part by Donate Life Pennsylvania who used the opportunity to educate guests on the importance of organ donation.
“This is a great opportunity to get information out to the community,” said Lisa Upsher, program director, Minority Organ Transplant Education Program, Center for Organ Recovery and Education. “When we look at the over 100,000 on the waiting, the minority population is underrepresented as far as being on the donor list. We really want to get past the myths and misconceptions.”