On Dec. 4, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh held its 14th annual Ronald H. Brown Leadership Gala to once again honor those who have made a positive impact on the African-American community.
“For the past 13 years, this gala has offered a great opportunity for the Urban League to identify and acknowledge individuals and organizations that help African-Americans achieve economic self-resilience, parity and power and civil rights in our region,” said Murry Gerber, honorary chairman and chairman and CEO of EQT. “And by highlighting these individuals and organizations, the Urban League encourages all of us to step up to the plate and do our part.”
More than 400 guests attended the benefit at the Westin Convention Center, raising more than $300,000 for the Urban League.
This year, the Urban League recognized Fletcher Byrom, former CEO of Koppers, Inc., who recently passed away in July at the age of 91, with the Special Posthumous Award. Byrom was remembered for not only his entrepreneurial success but also his dedication to advancing social change in the Pittsburgh area.
“Most notably when Pittsburgh was experiencing urban tensions in the late 1960s, Byrom and Arthur Edmonds, head of the Urban League, initiated a dialogue between corporate executives and leaders of Pittsburgh’s African-American community—a dialogue that would last eight years,” said Esther Bush, Urban League president and CEO. “These dialogues would lead to the founding of NEED, PACE and the National Association of Business, which assisted minority education grants, job training, and minority business enterprise.”
Elsie Hillman was honored with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award for her lifelong commitment to hospitals, schools, cultural organizations, public broadcasting and organizations addressing social issues.
“I’m very proud and I don’t feel I’ve done enough to deserve it,” Hillman said. “It’s wonderful and maybe it inspires other people to make an impact in the community.”
The year’s Civic Leadership Award was given to Marcia Sturdivant, deputy director of Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Beyond her work with the Office of Children, Youth and Families, Sturdivant continues her dedication to families by serving on several boards including the Urban League, the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption Council, the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission on Services to Children and Youth, and the American Association of Family Group Decision Making.
“I am very grateful that they recognized me for my contributions,” Sturdivant said. “I hope that I make a difference in the lives of children and families in an arena where sometimes African-Americans aren’t heard. I’m very proud to be of service.”
Adding another honor to their list, the Hill House Association received the Community Leadership Award. The Hill House offers a number of programs in early learning and child development, youth services, family and workforce development, senior services, and neighborhood services.
“It’s really a great honor to receive. It shows we’re committed to the changing needs of our neighborhoods,” said Hill House Executive Director Evan Frazier. “It speaks to the dedication of our staff, volunteers and board. What’s inspiring about the people at the Hill House is that the people are so committed. We have a lot of roots over the past century that we have to stand on.”