Friday, May 27, 2011

Two Major Festivals Impact Road and Garage Access in Pittsburgh


Media Contact: Veronica Corpuz, 412-471-6082

Road closures announced for two major festivals next week

Pittsburgh, PA: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will host two of the city’s biggest events this summer: the 52nd annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival (June 3-12) and the first annual Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival (June 3-5).

For the safety of our guests and participants of the Arts Festival, the following street closures will occur around Point State Park and western edge of the Cultural District:

From 10:00am on May 31 through 10:00pm on June 14, two lanes of Commonwealth Place between Penn Avenue Extension and Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, adjacent to Point State Park, will be closed.

Traffic will continue to flow in both directions in the remaining two lanes of Commonwealth closest to the Wyndham Grand Hotel.

From 6pm - 12am on Thursday, June 2, and 8pm – 12am on June 5, 7, 9 and 12, the following temporary closures will be in effect:

Two lanes of Penn Avenue Extension outbound will be between Stanwix Street and Commonwealth Place.

All lanes of Liberty Avenue Extension inbound from the entrance to Gateway Center Parking Garage to Stanwix Street

Parking meters and curbside lanes along Commonwealth Place between Ft. Pitt Boulevard and Liberty Avenue.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2011, the following road closures will be taking place in the upper Penn-Liberty corridor of the Cultural District at 7am – 12am on Saturday, June 4, 2011:

Penn Avenue from Courtyard Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown to 9th Street

9th Street between Liberty Avenue and Penn Avenue

Liberty Avenue from 10th Street to Smithfield Street

Garrison Way from between French Street and Exchange Way

Exchange Way from Garrison Way to 9th Street

Please note the following:

Access to all Pittsburgh Parking Authority Garages and all parking garages noted above will be open and will not be impeded by the road closures, with exception of the 9th and Penn Parking lot on June 4, 2011.

All of the above closures are in addition to street closures for Port Authority construction, Fifth Avenue Place construction, Pittsburgh Pirates home games, Pride in the Streets and PrideFest.

For more information on the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, visit To learn more about the highlights of the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, visit

For information on Port Authority bus stops that may be affected by these or other road closures, please call the Port Authority Customer Service center at (412) 442-2000 or the TTY number (412) 231-7007, for the speech and hearing impaired, or visit

Showcase Noir Exhibition Concludes Pittsburgh JazzLive International


Veronica Corpuz
(412) 471-6082

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosts


African-American artist and designer exhibition will conclude weekend festivities of Pittsburgh JazzLive International

Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street, Cultural District

Sunday, June 5, 2011, from 12 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.


PITTSBURGH, PA: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education and Community Engagement Department hosts Showcase Noir, the eighth annual exhibit and sale of artwork by African-American artists and designers, on Sunday, June 5, 2011, from 12 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Byham Theater. This year’s installment of Showcase Noir coincides with the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival and the conclusion of the Pittsburgh JazzLive International to showcase, promote and nurture jazz musicians.

Showcase Noir celebrates the works of African American Artists and Designers from the greater Pittsburgh area and beyond. The exhibit showcases paintings, sculptures, photographs, fiber art, jewelry, pottery, and art in various mediums, from some of Pittsburgh’s most talented emerging and established artists. This free event is complemented by live jazz music featuring Alton Merrell Ban and acid jazz and rare funk grooves spun by DJ SMI.

Participating artists in Showcase Noir include: Kyttie Ayiku, Ernest Bey, Cheryl Clayton, Denise P. Clayton, Curtis E. Cureton, Roberta L. Ellis, Joktan J. Faulk, Kendrah Foster, Hope Frasier, Florence Smith, George Hogan, Jeffrey B. Jones, Charlotte Lorraine Ka, LaVerne A. Kemp, Curtis Tina Lockhart, Brenda Marshall, Mary E. Martin, Terry Mitchum, Saihou Njie, Bill Osborne, Tracy L. Smalley, Kenn Thomas and more.

For more information on Showcase Noir please call 412-456-6666. Visit for a detailed schedule of Pittsburgh JazzLive International events.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Google Pittsburgh Hosts Small Business Works Seminar

Pittsburgh, PA – May 25, 2011

Small Business Works Seminar continues at Google Pittsburgh

Building Bridges for Business in conjunction with Allegheny County, The City of Pittsburgh, The Small Business Administration, and Duquesne University – Small Business Development Center, continues their highly successful SMALL BUSINESS WORKS at the Pittsburgh headquarters of GOOGLE on June 28, 2011. Andrew Moore, GOOGLE PITTSBURGH, will address the audience. The event will feature everything you need to improve your GOOGLE knowledge to grow your business. SMALL BUSINESS WORKS SEMINARs educate and empower business owners. The key note speaker will inspire attendees and attendees will see first hand how to use resources to start or grow business. The event will be held at Google Pittsburgh 6425 Penn Ave. Suite 700 Pittsburgh, PA 15206 and registration begins at 5:30pm

“Building Bridges For Business should help eliminate barriers by connecting businesses to resource partners,” says Carl Knoblock of the Small Business Administration. The United States SBA has helped small business owners since 1953 by offering loans, contracts, counseling sessions, and other forms of assistance. The Pittsburgh District Office is located downtown.

The five organizations partnered and will host the June and several other Small Business Works events scheduled in neighborhoods in Allegheny County. Every event will provide access to education and the region’s amazing business resources. Additional Small Business Works events will be held in the fall focusing on Welcome to Oz - How being green can benefit you and your business. Details for the June 2011 Small Business Works event are located on These events will allow participants to expand networking opportunities and meet valuable business resources at the same time. Sponsors include The Pittsburgh Technology Council, The Pittsburgh Business Times, C-Leveled; Enterprise Rent a Car, Cold Cypress, Minute Man Press, Louis Plung and Company, Staples, and Solutions for Networks, and Comcast Business Class. Register at

"The vision for the Building Bridges for Business community is an environment where entrepreneurs can grow and advance their business, support other business owners, and develop as entrepreneurs giving back to their community,” says Building Bridges for Business founder Linda Handley, an entrepreneur, author and business advisor. “We want to bridge the valuable resources in Western Pennsylvania with business owners and residents who want to start a business," says Amanda Wodzenski, President of Building Bridges. Building Bridges for Business was created based on the need Handley and others saw in the area understanding that small and start up business owners have limited finances.

“Pittsburgh has an exceptional variety of excellent sources to start, grow and build a successful business. Getting business to the right source at the right time is our goal at Building Bridges for Business. The right advice and business guidance is crucial for long term success. Timing is everything in business and this is the time to encourage growth and sustainability in our region,” stated JoAnn R. Forester, BBB Board member, 30 plus year business owner of S. I. Business and 2010 YWCA Tribute to Women Honoree.

Building Bridges for Business focuses on business growth, promotion, management, and people who want to launch a new business. In the past year, Building Bridges has grown and showcases over 30+ Pittsburgh resources. Building Bridge’s goal is to create an organization that truly serves the “small” business owner or struggling entrepreneur.

There is no fee or yearly membership rate to join as a general member of Building Bridges for Business. That is one of the major factors that differentiates Building Bridges from other business and networking groups. Additionally, Building Bridges has plans to offer educational webinars empowering and educating entrepreneurs throughout the year. The variety of programming, allows Building Bridges for Business to provide value to the greatest number of education and business resources regardless of budgetary and time constraints. Visit for a full listing of resource partners, educational opportunities and events.

Linda Handley
Building Bridges For Business
342 South Highland Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Contact: 412.475.9010, ,


PICT Receives Grant for Production of The Importance of Being Earnest


Media Contact: Melissa Hill Grande
412.561.6000 x203

PICT Receives NEA Grant

$10,000 Access to Artistic Excellence grant supports upcoming production of The Importance of Being Earnest

Pittsburgh, PA- May 23, 2011. Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre has received a $10,000 Access to Artistic Excellence grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, for their production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Importance of Being Earnest is being presented by PICT in a version adapted by Irish playwright and director Conall Morrison. The production features a new prologue and interludes which turn Oscar Wilde into a character in the play. The Importance of Being Earnest will be performed from August 4th through August 27th 2011 at the Charity Randall Theatre, located in the Stephen Foster Memorial on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus.

The announcement was made by Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. The Access to Artistic Excellence grant was created to assist with maintaining the arts, as well as to provide access to the arts for all individuals. 1,415 applicants were eligible to receive the grants, and 789 of those were recommended. The grants given in the Access to Artistic Expression category totals $24.9 million.
# # #

Art Green Lauded as Local SCORE Volunteer of the Year

News Release


Release Date:
May 23, 2011
Contact: Janet Heyl
(412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-17

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Former executive receives accolades from SBA

as local SCORE Volunteer of the Year

PITTSBURGH – When Art Green, a retired engineer and quality improvement consultant at Westinghouse, opened the doors to his own consulting firm years ago, he admitted he could have used the assistance of SCORE – America’s Counselor’s to Small Business.

At that time, Green hadn’t yet heard about the volunteer corps of retired and working professionals who lend their expertise counseling area entrepreneurs and small business owners. Ironically, Green, was recently selected as the 2011 Western Pennsylvania District SBA SCORE Volunteer of the Year.

Green and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon which will be held at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week.

A native of Ambridge, Pa., Green earned a degree in mathematics from Saint Vincent College and a degree in electrical engineering from [now] Carnegie Mellon University. He went to work at Westinghouse, serving in the process control computer systems engineering division.

“We built control systems to automate steel mills and power plants,” Green said. “The systems controlled the settings, speeds and power to generate optimum output.” But Green did more than build the control systems; he also installed the systems throughout the country and often took his family with him.

“One time I helped install a control system at a steel mill near Chicago and I moved my family out there for about six months; another time we rented a furnished apartment in Phoenix while I did installation work for a power plant,” he said. “The funny thing is those computer control systems were housed in a cabinet that was about seven feet high and today it would fit in a laptop computer.”

Green obtained his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh, transferred out of engineering to finance and accounting and then spent the last third of his Westinghouse career as a quality improvement consultant. He focused on productivity and quality techniques to improve profitability.

“I travelled around the world and the U.S. and when I retired after 34 years, I started my own consulting business and spent time with many U.S. companies and made frequent trips to Saudi Arabia,” he said. “When I became the sole owner of my business, I was the consultant and the marketer and the accountant and I probably did a lot of things wrong.”

While Green was unaware of SCORE and how the organization assists small business owners, a chance golf game introduced him to a local member. In 2005, a now-retired Green joined the Pittsburgh Chapter of SCORE.

“It’s been a great experience and I even have an office – which is the Panera Bread restaurant in Monroeville,” he added chuckling. “I love one-on-one counseling and right now I have about 30 active clients.” Green said he not only helps entrepreneurs determine if they are prepared to start a business, but recently assisted a specialty cleaning operation with their inventory management system.

“I went to their site for a few hours each week for six months to look at their inventory needs,” he said. “I suggested they employ the “Just in Time Management System” that enabled them to never run out of a product or over order… it involves labeling items used and determining the lot size of that item.”

According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, Green is prime example of how SCORE volunteers continue to give back to their community. “Here you have a retired executive who for many months lent his productivity and inventory expertise to a small business,” Knoblock said. “It’s a win-win situation for the counselor, the business and the community.”

In addition to counseling, Green serves as the co-chair for Pittsburgh SCORE’s monthly Small Business Basics workshops, in which guest speakers teach topics such as business planning, recordkeeping/taxes, marketing, finance and legal issues.

“Those workshops are my baby, I attend each session to make sure it runs correctly,” he said. “I coordinate the speakers, venue, and catering and have been doing that for five years. In that time we’ve had almost 1,000 attendees.”

Green, who never thought his career would span volunteering and coordinating workshops, said that he was floored to be nominated and even prouder to win. “I spend a great deal of time with SCORE and I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s fun and there are about 20 of us who do part-time counseling. It’s a great experience.”

Note: If you would like to speak with Art Green or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103.
The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Barbara VanKirk Named SBA Woman-Owned Business of the Year

News Release


Release Date:
May 20, 2011
Contact: Janet Heyl
(412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-16

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Local engineer computes formula for success and receives honor as SBA Woman-Owned Business of the Year

MURRYSVILLE, PA – Growing up with her 12 brothers and sisters in the Pittsburgh suburbs, Barbara VanKirk often found herself acting as a mediator. She would listen to both sides of their problems and offer a practical solution. Today VanKirk still works as a facilitator, but at her own company: IQ, Inc. As president and CEO, she coordinates the dynamics between her staff of 45, and clients requesting consulting, project management and product development services.

VanKirk has grown her firm from its humble beginning at her family home to its own site and has worked with the Port Authority of Allegheny County, PNC, UPMC and Management Science Associates. The IQ, Inc. philosophy of smart choices and smart people has enabled VanKirk to blend her love of technology and people to offer smart solutions for her clients.

The woman who went to night school for seven years to earn her degree in computer science will be honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the Western Pennsylvania Woman-Owned Business of the Year. VanKirk and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon which will be held at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week.

“I was the typical geeky kid in school and particularly loved math because it was like solving a puzzle,” VanKirk explained. “I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college so my school counselor sent me to a job fair where I took a math aptitude test and was hired by Westinghouse in three weeks.”

VanKirk, started her career as an engineering technician and soon transposed her problem-solving skills to writing computer programs. She wrote numerous informational tracking systems programs and applied those skills to her courses at Point Park University. Her degree in computer science led to new responsibilities and duties as a computer engineer and project manager, which allowed VanKirk to travel throughout the country.

“I not only converted old software bases to new hardware platforms, but because I interacted with Westinghouse personnel, I was able to fulfill my customer service needs,” she stated. “In 1988, I left Westinghouse to see what the rest of the world had to offer.” VanKirk said for six years she worked for a consulting company marrying her technical abilities with her people skills to find the right resources for each project. However, two children beckoned VanKirk to open the doors to her business within her family home.

“I was able to get them off to school, work all day, pick them up, cook dinner and then work at night,” she said. “During the day I worked with my clients and at night I recruited; eventually I hired my own recruiter.”

For six years she shared office space in two different homes with up to four employees, then rented space for five years, before constructing her own facility for her growing company.

“We offer flexible work schedules for our employees, because I know how important flexibility is for dual-income families,” she explained.

VanKirk recalled a project for Respiraonics in which her team wrote custom software that interacted with their sleep therapy devices. IQ, Inc. also provided a membership management system to a local chamber. Her firm has even supplied engineers to Union Switch and Signal who were working on a control center for the Port Authority’s light-rail system.

“We get quite involved in our projects and place consultants in the field with our clients,” she said. “We develop the software, implement it and even provide training.”

According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, VanKirk illustrates that following a passion and vision can correlate into success. “From her early days as a technician she was always solving problems, so it’s no surprise she was able to combine her technological and people skills with a desire to break that glass ceiling,” he said.

VanKirk said she was surprised to learn she was named the Woman-Owned Business of the Year. “I’m very excited and honored,” she said. “I still can’t grasp the significance of the award, but I will.”

Note: If you would like to speak with Barbara VanKirk or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103


The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Officer and Senator John Pippy Saluted by SBA for Service to Veterans

News Release


Release Date:
May 18, 2011
Contact: Janet Heyl
(412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-15

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Army officer and state Senator John Pippy to be saluted by Small Business Administration for service to veterans

PITTSBURGH – When John Pippy was in high school he applied to the Air Force Academy, hoping to become an officer in the same branch his father served as an enlisted man during the Vietnam War. But the U.S. Army sacked those plans when they recruited the defensive end to play football for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“West Point talked so much about leadership, I loved it, I’m from a blue-collar town near Boston and have always had a sense of duty and patriotism, not only was my dad in the Air Force but my grandfather was in the Navy during World War II,” Pippy said. “We joke in our family that because I joined the Army we have a complete circle representing the military services.”

Pippy, 40, has since dedicated his adult life to service. For 19 years, he has defended his country as an officer in the U.S. Army and Pennsylvania National Guard and since 1997 he’s served Pennsylvania residents as a state legislator. This month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) salutes Pippy as Western Pennsylvania’s Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year.

Pippy and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week.

While majoring in environmental engineering as a cadet, Pippy met his wife who was also an Academy cadet. While home is his house in Moon Township, Pippy has travelled the world as a soldier, from South Korea and Germany to Iraq and Kuwait. His travels have taught him about different cultures and human needs.

"What we in the U.S. take for granted, such as water and electricity, isn’t the norm for a lot of cultures,” he said. “You realize how fortunate you are.” For Pippy, taking care of those who have served has been his stateside mission as a legislator in addition to his duties as a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

“About one-half of the individuals who have served in the current war are reservists or members of the National Guard,” Pippy explained. “Their experiences shape the community they live in, so it’s important that we honor all those who have served their country.” In addition to supporting legislation to reduce the capital stock and franchise tax which spurred economic growth and jobs, Pippy also sponsored a Small Business Energy Efficiency grant program.

The program provided a matching grant of up to $7,500 for small businesses to defray the costs purchasing and implementing energy efficient products or systems. Pippy has also provided quality-of-life benefits for Pennsylvania armed service members and retirees, writing legislation to ensure that military personnel receive lower tuition rates when stationed in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh-based Robert Morris University now offers free tuition to veterans.

“It’s a win-win situation at Robert Morris because non-military students and professors can discover so much from our men and women who have served their country and share their life stories,” he said. Pippy himself said he has learned from retired military personnel he often meets at veteran organizations.

“I was at a Vietnam Memorial function and a gentleman came up to me and told me his brother would never be able to see the memorial because he was wheelchair bound and could'nt travel,” Pippy explained. “We couldn’t find a DVD, so we took a film crew to D.C. and a park ranger hosted a tour.” Pippy said DVDs were burnt and the tours, along with a Korean Memorial tour, now are available online.

According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, Pippy serves as an example of why veterans are so valuable to their community.

“I commend and thank him for serving his country and for continually improving the lives of military personnel, both active and retired, in Pennsylvania.”

Pippy said it was a privilege and honor to be selected as the SBA’s veteran champion.

“I think it’s great that the SBA recognizes service to veterans,” he said. “I was just doing my job [as a senator and officer] and will stay in the military as long as they have a job for me,” he added. “I can’t imagine not being part of a military family.”

Note: If you would like to speak with Sen. John Pippy or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103


The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Charles Powell Recognized by SBA for Work with Region's Minority Community

News Release


Release Date:
May 18, 2011
Contact: Janet Heyl (412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-11

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SBA honors community director for outreach efforts, economic growth and social acceptance

PITTSBURGH – Throughout his four-decade career in community development as director of diversity affairs and community outreach for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh, Charles Powell never lost sight of his target: to work constructively on behalf of the region’s minority community.

For his efforts, Powell will be honored May 27th as the Western Pennsylvania Minority Small Business Champion of the Year at SBA’s Western Pennsylvania Awards Luncheon. Eight other local small business owners and advocates will be honored at the luncheon, which is held at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.

In the past 20 years, Powell has been instrumental in leveraging more than $500 million contract dollars for women and minority businesses.

“We [the URA] are the economic engine for this city and my role centers on training and community outreach,” Powell said. Powell explained his work is judged by the many communities within the city of Pittsburgh and that most organizations would give him an “A grade.”

“At the recent Target development site in East Liberty, the mayor and URA board established a minority contracting goal of 25 percent,” he explained. “But, through our outreach and compliance, that project saw 42 percent of contracts and subcontracts awarded to women and minority firms.” Growing up in McDonald, Pa., Powell attended Virginia Union University where he majored in psychology and entered the workforce just as America was embracing the Great Society.

“The Great Society was an introduction to a national emphasis to provide support to communities for education to embrace and deal with changes in social thinking,” Powell explained. “The jobs provided decent wages and the government was looking for people with a background in psychology and sociology.” He started his community relations career with the Greater Pittsburgh Dairy Association, where he was responsible for educating the area’s 26 local dairies on integration and the importance of hiring African-Americans as dairy workers and truck drivers.

“I received strong support and a lot of publicity because we [the association] wanted people to know that our goal was to integrate the Western Pennsylvania dairy industry,” Powell stated.

However, one day, he noticed a large group outside of the former Mellon Bank headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh protesting the bank to hire African-Americans.

“I was recommended to Mellon to assist their efforts and stayed there for 20 years where I increased my responsibilities, first in employee relations and finally moved to corporate affairs where I became a vice president,” he added.

When Mellon shifted its focus to investment banking, Powell transferred his skills to the URA and to the community.

He was appointed by former Gov. Rendell to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Board and also serves on the board for the Salvation Army. While Powell certainly is pleased at his civic contributions over the last 40 years, he is most proud of being a founding member of Pittsburgh’s African-American Chamber of Commerce and being invited to a 2007 National Security Seminar at the U.S. Army’s War College in Carlisle, Pa.

“I wasn’t a veteran and someone nominated me and I was selected and that was special,” he said. “So was the 1992 creation of the African American chamber by a small group of visionaries.”

According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, Powell serves as an example of how government leaders can strive for community involvement and betterment. “He has given so much back to neighborhood small businesses through his leadership and commitment. He truly is an asset.”

Powell said he was overjoyed to be recognized by the SBA, which has a mission parallel to that of the URA.

“Being involved with small business is a great mission because we help the economy grow; it’s a great honor to be acknowledged.”

Note: If you would like to speak with Charles Powell or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103


The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dignity and Respect Champion Harish Saluja Honored for Efforts


Melissa Marullo

Harish Saluja Recognized as Dignity and Respect Champion for His Efforts to Spread Knowledge, Love, and Joy

Executive Director of Silk Screen Provides a Gateway
to Asia to Eliminate Prejudices

(PITTSBURGH, PA) May 18, 2011– Six years ago, Harish Saluja founded Silk Screen, an organization that works to educate communities about Asian history, art, culture, and more, based on the belief that if people knew more about their neighbors, there would be less prejudice and offer love to others.

“Love is what touches the heart, and that is what makes a difference. There isn’t money or anything that can compensate for this. Treating others with dignity and respect is normal, proper, and as required as breathing,” Harish said.

Nominated by Katie Jones, Saluja has been chosen as the May Dignity and Respect Champion for his work as the executive director of Silk Screen, a nonprofit organization that fosters understanding across lines of race, ethnicity, religion, age, and region.

Silk Screen’s mission is to celebrate diversity and multi-cultural appreciation of the Asian and Asian American experience through cultural events such as their annual Asian-American Film Festival.

“Harish helps at community outreach events presenting Asian arts and crafts and cultural awareness with Silk Screen. He always wants to spread love and joy to the world so people understand each other better,” Jones says.

Harish lives south of Pittsburgh with his wife. He is a filmmaker and artist in addition to founding Silk Screen. His film “The Journey” won Best Film awards in Florida and Cleveland film festivals, and was shown in more than 20 film festivals around the world. Harish is a nationally recognized painter and a co-host of Music From India on WDUQ-FM.

“I gave up a lucrative career in corporate America because I believe that one’s life fulfillment can only be found by doing something good and by giving something back to people. I started Silk Screen as a gateway to Asia so people could get to know the culture, resulting in less prejudice,” Harish said.

Harish strongly feels that treating others with dignity and respect should be important in everyone’s daily lives because it could drastically change a community.

“If we treat each other with tolerance and acceptance, it would make the world a better place and bring upon happiness and love.”

The Dignity & Respect Campaign is an awareness campaign designed to join individuals, community leaders, community organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and corporations under the common notion that everyone deserves dignity and respect.
# # #

Pittsburgh Dance Council Announces Celebrated Season

The Pittsburgh Dance Council, a division of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, announces a season that showcases works by some of the most celebrated choreographers in America, including dance masters Paul Taylor, Moses Pendleton, Lar Lubovitch and Karole Armitage. The Dance Council season is generously sponsored by First Commonwealth to support the growth and development of dance in Pittsburgh.

“The spirit and heritage of contemporary American dance gives this season an especially rich vibrancy,” said Executive Director Paul J. Organisak. “I’m proud of the fact that some of the best work in contemporary dance today is being produced by American dance companies, and that we can present these outstanding works in the Cultural District.”

In addition, as part of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Distinctively Dutch Festival in 2012, the Pittsburgh Dance Council will present two U.S. premieres: Dance Works Rotterdam/André Gingras’ wry and exuberant Anatomica; and former Nederlands Dans Theater artistic director Jiri Kylian and collaborator Michael Schumacher’s poignant dance theater production, Last Touch First.

New this year is a Pittsburgh Dance Council special at the August Wilson Center: Heidi Latsky’s GIMP Project. Details for all the performances and subscription information follow.

The Pittsburgh Dance Council 2011-12 Season Line-up



Friday, September 16, 2011

Saturday, February 17, 2011

8 P.M.

Byham Theater

With an eclectic score ranging from birdsong to Vivaldi, Moses Pendleton’s Botanica reveals nature's changing imagery. An herbal remedy and natural aphrodisiac, Botanica showcases the endlessly renewable energy of the superb MOMIX performers. Fantastical costumes, projections and custom-made props and puppetry add an extra dose of whimsy to the elixir. This is dance at its most organic and inventive. The seasons will never be the same. “People shouted out, gasped and applauded furiously. MOMIX is ideal for turning audiences on to dance.” -L.A. Herald Examiner

Paul Taylor Dance Company

Saturday, October 22, 2011

8 P.M.

Byham Theater

Setting the global standard for excellence, Paul Taylor Dance Company is the epitome of modern dance. Paul Taylor’s signature athleticism and graceful techniques create exquisite stories that borrow the audience’s imagination for awhile. Since 1954, Paul Taylor has choreographed more than 130 works, many of which have attained iconic status and have been celebrated throughout the world. “The American spirit soars whenever Taylor’s dancers dance.” – San Francisco Chronicle

Dance Works Rotterdam/André Gingras (U.S. Premiere)


Saturday, February 18, 2012

8 P.M.

Byham Theater

Dance Works Rotterdam/André Gingras, the Netherland’s most explosive modern dance company, performs Anatomica, an unyielding exploration of the danger, beauty and consequences of the human body on display. Anatomica presents a wry commentary on the obsessive culture of “showing off” with its unabashed physicality and Gingras’ signature high-octane partnering. "It's a terrific splurge of vibrant physicality and joie de vivre that sets out what an amazing miracle the body represents." The Times (UK)

Armitage Gone! Dance

Three Theories

Saturday, March 3, 2012

8 P.M.

Byham Theater

Celebrated “punk ballerina” and artistic director Karole Three Theories is an evening-length work inspired by physicist Brian Greene’s best-selling book, The Elegant Universe, which Armitage uses as a means for exploring new possibilities in movement and patterning. “The spectator remains dazzled by so much received pleasure.” - Le MondeArmitage is renowned for pushing boundaries. In Karole Armitage’s hands, classical dance receives a needed shock to its system with speed and fractured lines, abstractions and symmetry countermanded by asymmetry.

Last Touch First by Jirí Kylián and Michael Schumacher (U.S. Premiere)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

8 P.M.

August Wilson Center

Famed Dutch choreographer Jirí Kylián (former artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater) and expat Michael Schumacher eschew physical virtuosity for control, subtlety and timing with the intimate Last Touch First. Characters move surrealistically back in time to a 19th century Victorian atmosphere reminiscent of a Chekhov play. The dancers’ meticulous movements, accentuated with extravagant costumes and scenery, create a dramatic and gripping work.

“Last Touch First is an intimate and moving performance.” NRC Handelsblad

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Saturday, April 28, 2012

8 P.M.

Byham Theater

One of America’s most versatile, popular and highly-acclaimed choreographers, Lar Lubovitch founded the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company 43 years ago. Lubovitch’s work is extolled for its musicality, rhapsodic style and sophisticated formal structures. His radiant, highly-technical choreography and deeply humanistic voice have been acclaimed throughout the world. “One of the ten best choreographers in the world.” - The New York Times


Heidi Latsky Dance GIMP

Saturday October 15, 2011

8 P.M.

August Wilson Center


Heidi Latsky, artistic director and former principal dancer with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance, is a dynamic force in the dance world. Latsky’s GIMP (2008) is about beauty – the breathtaking, unexpected sort that is physical, emotional and full of grace. At the heart of GIMP are five trained dancers and five performers with physical disabilities who create an edgy landscape of uncommon magnificence.

“GIMP is without a doubt a gleaming milestone in the progress of contemporary dance and theater, proving that the term ‘disabled dancer’ is an oxymoron.” - Dance Magazine

Subscription Information

Subscription packages for the Pittsburgh Dance Council’ six-show series are available for: $109-$217. To subscribe, call 412-456-1390; groups of 10 or more tickets, call 412-471-6930. Single tickets for Pittsburgh Dance Council performances will go on sale to the general public in mid-August.

About The Pittsburgh Dance Council

The Pittsburgh Dance Council joined The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in as a programming division 2002. The mission of The Pittsburgh Dance Council is to bring the best contemporary dance companies from around the world to the Cultural District. Each season, the Pittsburgh Dance Council presents diverse, world-class contemporary works, including U.S. and world premieres.

2011 Tribute to Women Leadership Awards Announced



Laura Harwin
YWCA Greater Pittsburgh

YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Announces the 2011 Tribute to Women Leadership Awards

Awards Luncheon scheduled for Wednesday, May 25

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 20, 2011): The YWCA Greater Pittsburgh will recognize seven extraordinary women for their demonstrated excellence and leadership in the workplace and in the community as part of the 29th annual Tribute to Women Leadership Awards Luncheon to be held on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., at the Westin Hotel, 1000 Penn Avenue.

Awardees for 2011 include:

Allerton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Eva Tansky Blum, Senior Vice President & Director, Community Affairs, PNC Bank; Chair & President, The PNC Foundation

Arts & Culture: Janet Sarbaugh, Senior Program Director, Arts and Culture, The Heinz Endowments

Business & Industry: Yvonne Cook, Vice President, Highmark, Inc.; President, Highmark Foundation

Civic & Community Service: Bonnie W. VanKirk, Community Volunteer

Health & Human Services: Claudette R. Lewis, Special Assistant to the Director, Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Professional Services: Rona L. Nesbit, Executive Vice President, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Science & Technology: Valerie Patrick, Ph.D., Sustainability Coordinator, Bayer Corporation

“I am truly impressed and inspired by the work and achievements of these seven outstanding women, and the strides they’ve made to improve the lives of women and children in the Pittsburgh region,” said Magdeline E. Jensen, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. “Each of this year’s awardees uniquely embodies the YWCA’s legacy as a social force for good in the community.”

The YWCA Greater Pittsburgh launched the Tribute to Women Leadership Awards in 1983 to affirm its mission to empower women and girls to reach their personal and professional goals. Since then, the YWCA has honored the accomplishments of more than 200 exceptional women, saluting them for helping to shape the direction of our region and improve the lives of others.

The Allerton Award, named after the first president of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, Mrs. O.H. Allerton, was created to honor a woman for lifetime achievement. Mrs. Allerton served as president of the YWCA’s board on three separate terms; from 1878 to 1881, 1895 to 1896, and 1915 to 1916. This special award is given, at the discretion of the Selection Committee and with approval of the YWCA Board of Directors, to a woman who epitomizes the philosophies and concepts of the YWCA. This year’s Allerton Award recipient, Eva Tansky Blum, is only the 11th such recipient of this honor since the inception of Tribute to Women 29 years ago.

Peggy Finnegan, co-anchor for WPXI Channel 11 News at 5 and 6 p.m., is serving as Mistress of Ceremonies during the luncheon. Ms. Finnegan was honored with a Tribute to Women Leadership Award in 1997 in the Communications category.

Proceeds from the event benefit the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s programs and services. For more information about Tribute to Women, call 412-255-1279 or e-mail

The YWCA Greater Pittsburgh is a women’s membership movement committed to the elimination of racism and the economic empowerment of women and girls. To learn more about the YWCA’s programs and services, visit or call 412-391-5100.

Epic Sculptural Installation Corrugated Fountain at 709 Penn Gallery


Veronica Corpuz
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
(412) 471-6082

James Grashow: Corrugated Fountain

June 3 – July 2, 2011

709 Penn Gallery

709 Penn Avenue at Seventh Street

Downtown Pittsburgh Cultural District

PITTSBURGH, PA: Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, a program of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, presents the epic sculptural installation Corrugated Fountain by East Coast artist James Grashow at the Trust’s 709 Penn Gallery. James Grashow’s ambitious, large-scale work recalls the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Steeped in classical mythology, the room-sized installation fills 709 penn Gallery with a mammoth sculpture of Neptune, Tritons, rocks, waves, fish and dolphins. As homage to the achievements of classical and baroque artistry, Grashow uses his signature cardboard material to breathe playful new light into old stone. Three years in the making, Corrugated Fountain is James Grashow’s most ambitious work to date.

About James Grashow

James Grashow is a renowned sculptor and woodcut printer. Born in Brooklyn, Grashow studied at the Pratt Institute, where he received his BA and MFA in painting and sculpture. Growing up as son of a light industrialist, Grashow had access to a constant supply of cardboard as a child and discovered early on his facility with this medium. From intricate cardboard and twist-tie birds to the delicate and colorful Houseplant series, in which buildings seem to grow from blossoming wood and paper flowers, the artist’s varied oeuvre is marked by a contagious sense of humor and a longtime fascination with quotidian materials.

James Grashow will conduct workshops in Point Park during Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 3 – 5. Visit for more information.


709 Penn Gallery is located on 709 Penn Ave. / Downtown Pittsburgh Cultural District

Hours: Wed. & Thurs. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun.11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Important: 709 Penn Gallery hours will be from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday during Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, which runs June 3 – 12, 2011.

709 Penn Gallery is a Project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Education & Community Engagement department.

WICKED Tickets on Sale

MEDIA ADVISORY: Monday, May 23, 2011



WHO: Patrons have the opportunity to purchase single tickets to WICKED

WHEN: Monday, May 23, at 7:00 a.m. EST in person at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue; and 9:00 a.m. EST by phone (412) 456-4800 and online at

WHERE: Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue

WHAT: After breaking box office records and selling out in record time in 2008, WICKED, Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, will return to Pittsburgh, with performances at the Benedum Center, from September 7 through October 2. WICKED is a season special, part of the PNC Broadway Across America-Pittsburgh series, presented by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Broadway Across America and Pittsburgh Symphony.

DETAILS: With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Academy Award-winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “Once And Again” and “thirtysomething”), WICKED, the untold story of the witches of Oz, is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Vagina Monologues)and features musical staging by Tony® Award winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed…).

Based on the best-selling 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, WICKED, winner of 35 major awards, including a Grammy® and three Tony® Awards, is the untold story of the witches of Oz. It is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.

TICKETS: Single tickets are $35.25-$138.25. The performance schedule is as follows: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 1:00 and 6:30 p.m. On Thursday, September 8, there will be a 2 p.m. matinee.

PNC Broadway Across America – Pittsburgh subscribers may purchase tickets in advance from The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust by calling 412-471-1390. Groups of 20 or more may also purchase tickets in advance by calling 412-471-6930. For information, visit

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Images of Yesterday: A Peek Into Brownsville's Past at Rose Mansion


Blake Fisher Phone: 724.785.9331

AmeriCorps VISTA Fax: 724.785.8626


Images of Yesterday: A Peek into Brownsville’s Past

BROWNSVILLE, Pa. – The Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp. (BARC) is hosting a photography exhibit during The National Road Festival on May 21 from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and May 22 from noon to 4:00 p.m. The exhibit will be held at the Rose Mansion at 320 Market St., Brownsville, PA and will include images of Brownsville’s Northside and historic ‘Neck’ districts. The admissions fee is $5.

The Rose Mansion was donated to BARC by the heirs of the Rose estate in 2010. Since that time BARC has received funding to conduct significant roof repairs as well as a marketing assessment considering the property’s future use.

Photographs curated for the exhibit were selected from the recently donated Norman Patterson Collection. The collection was donated in February of 2011 and contains approximately 1,000 photos of the Brownsville area dating from the 1860’s up through the 1970’s.

The event is sponsored by The Sprout Fund Seed Award for Greene and Fayette counties, Brownsville Bus Lines, the Fayette County Tourism Grant Program and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Proceeds and donations will help BARC continue to fund its community revitalization efforts in Brownsville. BARC is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to achieve economic development through historic preservation, heritage tourism, outdoor recreation, community stewardship, education, youth advancement and the arts.

For additional information or arrange interviews:

Dennis Cremonese, 724.785.9331


Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp. (BARC) is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to achieve economic development through historic preservation, heritage tourism, outdoor recreation, community stewardship, education, youth advancements and the arts. Contact the BARC office, 724.785.9331, for additional information about programs and upcoming events.

Pittsburgh Blues Festival Line-Up Announced

Line-Up for 17th Annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival Announced

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has completed the 2011 musical line-up for the Pittsburgh Blues Festival, presented by First Commonwealth. The 17th Annual Festival is scheduled for July 22-24, 2011, once again at Hartwood Acres.

Since Saturday night’s headliner, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, was announced April 14th, their tour has been garnering rave reviews at every stop. Also playing on Saturday will be the 2011 Blues Caravan “Girls With Guitars” tour, this year composed of hot new blues talents Dani Wilder, Samantha Fish and Cassie Taylor. Lionel Young is known for a “blues boogie-woogie” sound made unique by his virtuoso blues violin. John Nemeth, Blues Festival Guide’s 2011 cover artist, is another blues up-and-comer, who one critic says is “Hands down the toughest young harp player I’ve ever heard.”

On Sunday the Blues Festival welcomes the legendary Tommy Castro, making a return appearance at the Blues Festival fresh from winning 2010 Blues Music Awards for Band of the Year, Best Contemporary Blues Artist, Best Contemporary Blues Album (Hard Believer), and being named B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. One more act on Sunday is in final negotiation and will be posted on the website as soon as possible.

Finally, the one and only Johnny Winter will close the Festival on Sunday night. Since his first self-titled album in 1969, Winter has made “blues rock music for the angels.” He has just finished his newest studio CD, is touring in Japan and headlining Blues Festivals from coast to coast.

The Blues Festival also retains its free* Friday opening night. This year’s theme is “Girl’s Night Out,” featuring Janiva Magness, Kelly Richey, and a collection of some of Pittsburgh’s favorite women of the blues. Magness was just nominated for 4 awards at the 2011 Blues Music Awards, including Best Album, which was also Living Blues magazine’s #1 title on the chart of blues albums of the year. Richey is a songwriter and powerful, provocative guitar player whose music is “a thrilling mix of blues-powered rock.”

Pittsburgh Blues Festival also features a host of local blues talent, an active and creative KidZone, and food and merchandise vendors. Fans used to attending the regular Hartwood Sunday night free concerts with their coolers are asked to remember that the Pittsburgh Blues Festival is a fundraiser for Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and all proceeds go to providing food assistance for those in need.

Pittsburgh Blues Festival takes place July 22-24 at Hartwood Acres. Visit the Blues website at www.pghblues.comfor ticket information; tickets are on sale now.

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is indebted to Blues Festival sponsors First Commonwealth, David A Tepper Family Foundation, Allegheny County, FedEx Ground, Direct Energy, Del Monte Foods, Children’s Hospital, UPMC Health Plan, Giant Eagle, Bay Valley Foods, WDVE, WPXI-11, Comcast, Chemistry Communications, Sodexo, Armstrong Cable, Moondog’s, White Diamond Vodka, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and WYEP.

* Friday, July 22 admission to the Pittsburgh Blues Festival is free with the donation of a bag of non-perishable groceries for the Food Bank. ###

Pittsburgh's Tom Rocco Celebrates Release of Live-Recorded CD

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Presents Tom Rocco’s “My Big, Fat, Proposition 8 Wedding.”

Sunday, June 5 Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA…”Tom Rocco is blissfully brilliant on every level.” Andrew Martin,

Pittsburgh-bred, NYC-based actor and singer, Tom Rocco, will be coming home to the Cabaret at Theater Square on Sunday, June 5th to celebrate the release of his new, live-recording CD, “My Big, Fat, Proposition 8 Wedding.”

In the past several years Rocco has added cabaret artist to his resume, culminating in his winning of a 2010 MAC Award, cabaret’s highest honor (presented by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs), for his show, “My Big, Fat, Proposition 8 Wedding.” This show had its debut in Pittsburgh at the Cabaret at Theater Square where, in fact, the soon to be released live-recording took place. “I have such deep respect for my Pittsburgh musicians and such a love of performing in front of a Pittsburgh crowd that it was a no-brainer to debut the show here,” Rocco says, citing pianist Deana Muro, bassist Paul Thompson and drummer R.J. Heid. The show then went on to have a successful run in New York City at The Metropolitan Room and Rocco even flew Muro to NYC for those gigs to continue her role as Musical Director.

Rocco grew up on Pittsburgh’s Northside and attended Oliver High School. He received a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from Point Park University. He cut his teeth with the usual suspects of the Pittsburgh theater scene…from Don Brockett Productions to the Pittsburgh Playhouse to Pittsburgh Musical Theatre to CLO and has been seen onstage at the Byham, Heinz Hall and the Benedum. His credits over the past two decades also include playing Uncle Ernie in the Broadway production of “The Who’s Tommy” as well as stints off-Broadway and in national tours. Yet he always welcomes the chance for warmly-received trips home to the stages of Pittsburgh.

The show celebrating the CD release will be on Sunday, June 5th, 2011 at the Cabaret at Theater Square at 5:30pm. Tickets will be $18 with $10 student tickets available.

“It’s wonderful to come full circle, in a way,” says Rocco, “and do the show in Pittsburgh again to celebrate the CD release.”

Additionally in June, Rocco will be taking on the role of Felix Ungar in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, PA. His friend and colleague, Gavan Pamer, serves as Artistic Director of LPPAC and Rocco is delighted to experience their state-of-the-art facilities. “It’s the kind of theater that actors dream of working in,” Rocco says. Plus, it gives him a chance to be in the Pittsburgh area catching up with friends and family. Performances of “The Odd Couple” will be 6/17-6/19 and 6/24-6/26.

For more information on Rocco, or to be directed to his clips on YouTube, please visit

Financial Services Champion of the Year goes to Rebecca MacBlane

News Release


Release Date: May 16, 2011 Contact: Janet Heyl (412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-11

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Executive director who strives for lender education receives high marks from SBA as regional and local Financial Services Champion of the Year

PITTSBURGH – Each month, Rebecca MacBlane executive director of the Regional Development Funding Corporation, (RDFC) sends an email to approximately 650 Western Pennsylvania lenders and economic development organizations showcasing a borrower who has benefitted from a Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan.

This month, MacBlane, 52, became a story herself when she was selected as the SBA Region III Financial Services Champion of the Year and the Western Pennsylvania District SBA Financial Services Champion.

Like the other 68 district winners, her nomination was forwarded to her respective regional office -- in this case Region 3, which comprises 7 districts; Delaware, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia – where she became the regional winner.

MacBlane who holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in business administration spent some eight years overseeing SBA loans at local financial institutions before joining the ranks of a lending executive. “I originally got assigned to SBA lending because no one really wanted to do it,” she explained. “But, I found myself loving the details and the way SBA programs provide financing for persons that never would have gotten a loan.”

She recalled that her most exciting loan wasn’t for a big project or for a large dollar amount, but, rather for a woman starting her own upscale hair salon. “[The salon owner] was diligent and overcame a lot of challenges in her life…the odds were against her,” MacBlane added. “But, I fought like a pit bull for her because she completed everything I asked her to do and, now, when I visit her salon, I look around and smile at her success.”

In fact, MacBlane maintained she was so passionate about SBA lending that 10 years ago she opted to join the Western Pennsylvania Association of SBA-Guaranteed Lenders (WPASGL), an organization dedicated to providing training and information on SBA programs. MacBlane has served as president for the past three years and embraces the role.

“It’s a huge amount of work, but we make inroads,” she stated. “Lenders come to our training and walk out stating ‘I can do that.’”

MacBlane, who was chosen in 2006 to head RDFC, said she wanted to change the culture of non-profit lending. “I wanted to make it more competitive and I hope that I’ve been able to initiate more of a sales culture, where we focus on outreach,” she explained. “It’s helping lenders understand the programs and that it’s not too complicated.”

MacBlane believes the desire to educate centers on her background as a former elementary school teacher. “It’s about marketing the program to lenders letting them know how easy it is for banks and small business owners to partner with us and assemble a 504 Loan package.”

According to MacBlane she also utilized her training and email marketing strategy to compete with other 504 lenders for market share.

Her plan worked. In fiscal year 2010 RDFC doubled their loan and dollar-volume from 2009 and ranked second in dollar-volume in Pittsburgh SBA loan activity. The staff of three full-time and two part-time employees processed 18 loans for more than $11 million, which created more than 100 local jobs. RDFC was the only non-profit lender among the SBA Pittsburgh District’s top five SBA lenders.

According to Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, since arriving at RDFC MacBlane has posted large gains in the SBA’s 504 Loan Program. “Her leadership has enabled RDFC to capture such a high market share and they are on track to post incredible numbers again this year,” Knoblock said. “It’s pretty amazing when you consider they are a small, non-profit, economic development entity with a specialized concentration of utilizing only the 504 Loan Program.”

MacBlane and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon which will be held at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week. Once the festivities begin, the public can “attend” Small Business Week events virtually, via the SBA’s streaming video on the Web at

“I am truly honored to receive the SBA’s Financial Services Champion of the Year Award, because throughout my career in SBA lending, I’ve always been an unwavering advocate of their programs,” she said. “I’ve made it my mission to help educate lenders that SBA loans really do help borrowers, financial institutions and spur economic growth in our region.”

Note: If you would like to speak with Rebecca MacBlane or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103

The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Priory Hotel and Grand Hall Honored as Family Owned Business of the Year

News Release


Release Date: May 17, 2011 Contact: Janet Heyl (412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-11

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The Priory

Historic North Side Hotel and Monastery Honored by SBA

as local Family Owned Business of the Year

PITTSBURGH – In the 1980s, residents of Pittsburgh’s historic Deutschtown neighborhood were the recipients of the immaculate redirection.

It wasn’t a game-saving football play but an interstate blueprint redesign that kept the former Saint Mary’s church and adjacent monastery intact for purchase by Edward and Mary Ann Graf. Their artistic vision transformed the structures into the Priory Hotel and Grand Hall at the Priory.

Grand Hall at The Priory

“They were going to turn it into office space, when a friend suggested they convert [the monastery] into a small hotel for people staying at Allegheny General Hospital,” said son John Graf, vice president and director of operations for The Priory Hospitality Group. “The place had been boarded up for years and had paint peeling and water damage, but with the original woodwork and high ceilings you could see it could be something neat.”

His parents’ vision of a hotel became reality when the Priory Hotel opened in 1986. John Graf, an attorney, made a second-generation contribution to the family business by transforming the church into The Grand Hall, a majestic facility suitable for weddings and banquets.

Graf, 46, who joined the hospitality group full-time in 2002, will be honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Family Owned Business of the Year. Graf and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week.

While his parents assembled collections of Victorian-era furniture for the rooms and added bathrooms to each guest room, as the monks shared a single bathroom, Graf has put his own touches on the thriving destination.

“In addition to the Grand Hall, I’ve updated operations by utilizing the internet to boost reservations,” he explained. “Also, when a fire destroyed a nearby apartment building and parts of The Priory, I purchased the building and added a 17-room handicap accessible addition.”

The new rooms offer a seamless transition to the original Priory Hotel, which now is complimented by The Monks Bar – an intimate pub for guests and residents to frequent. Graf also has plans for an outdoor urban garden and bike parking area.

It was his concept of a Winter White Wedding Package garnered him accolades as the Grand Marketer of the Year by the American Marketing Association.

“We have twinkling, white lights on the tree, the dance floor looks like a skating rink and we sell a package consisting of the Grand Hall, hotel space and cakes and we even have a bakery a few blocks from the hotel,” Graf added. “We offer a complete package with exceptional food, cake, accommodations and parking because we know that if they all are good then people will come back. If one aspect is off, guests won’t return.”

Graf even paired with Pittsburgh’s business community to offer a complimentary wedding package to a veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan War. “Local merchants donated wedding dresses and tuxedos, entertainment and photography services and even wedding bands,” he explained. “We’ve done it for two years and we will continue until our soldiers are out of harm’s way.”

According to Western Pennsylvania SBA District Director Carl Knoblock, Graf and his family were bold visionaries who opened a city inn and perhaps helped turn around Pittsburgh’s Deutschtown neighborhood “You can see the rehabilitation and civic pride all through this historic neighborhood,” he said.

Graf said winning this award accentuates the family side of his business.

“It’s exciting, to be a part of this business where people come for a respite and leave their problems behind, we try to do it right so they leave happy”

Note: If you would like to speak with John Graf or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103

The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

Empowering Entrepreneurs Theme for SBA National Business Forum

Small Business Administration

News Release


Release Date: May 16, 2011 Contact: Cecelia Taylor (202) 401-3059

Release Number: 11-32 Internet Address:

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SBA Kicks Off National Small Business Week 2011

In Washington, D.C.

Business Forums on Social Media, Exporting and Strategies for High Growth, High Impact Firms Free to the Public

WASHINGTON – The nation’s top entrepreneurs will gather this week to be recognized for their entrepreneurship, growth and success during the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week celebration, May 18-20, 2011, in Washington, D.C.

Under the theme "Empowering Entrepreneurs,” the three-day event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Conference Center will highlight business owners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, whose business achievements have contributed to job creation, the economy and to the nation’s recovery. The National Small Business Person of the Year will be named from this group on Friday, May 20.

Awards will also be presented for notable achievements in disaster recovery, government procurement, small business advocacy, and to top-performing SBA resource and lending partners.

Featured Speakers at National Small Business Week will include:

Administrator Karen Mills, U.S. Small Business Administration

Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, U.S. Small Business Administration

Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)

U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-Louisiana)

Gail McGovern, President and CEO, American Red Cross

Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairperson of Radio One Inc., and Chair of SBA’s Advisory Council on Underserved Communities

Steve Case, Co-founder of AOL and Chair of Startup America Partnership

Bill Rancic, Reality Show Star, Executive Producer and Author

Seth Goldman, President and TeaEO, Honest Tea

National Small Business Week will also feature a series of small business forums that are open to the public. The forums address real-world topics that affect small businesses, including Growing Your Business While on the Go, Social Media, Exporting Tools for Success and Strategies for High Growth, High Impact Firms.

The public can register for the free forums onsite starting at 1:00 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 18. Events during National Small Business Week can be viewed virtually through SBA’s free, live webcasting accessible online at Visit to register for forums, and for the full Small Business Week schedule. A list of the 2011 state winners can be found online at

National Small Business Week 2011 Schedule of Events

(Subject to Change)

Wednesday, May 18

1:00 pm – 6:00 pm Registration Open

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Pre-Function Area

Sponsored by Microsoft

2:30 pm – 4:30 pm Growing Your Business While on the Go - A Road Warrior's Perspective

Mandarin Oriental, Oriental Ballroom

Sponsored by AT&T and SCORE

Speaker: Bill Rancic

Thursday, May 19

8:00 am – 5:00 pm Registration Open

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Pre-Function Area

Sponsored by Microsoft

8:00 am – 5:00 pm Cyber Café Open

Mandarin Oriental, Hillwood Room

Sponsored by Google

8:30 am – 9:45 am National Awards Breakfast Honoring Procurement Award Winners

Mandarin Oriental, Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by Raytheon

10:00 am – 11:15 am Forum #1: Social Media: Get Your Business Connected

Mandarin Oriental, Oriental Ballroom

Sponsored by Intuit

11:30 am –12:45 pm Forum #2: Strategies for High Growth, High Impact Firms

Mandarin Oriental, Oriental Ballroom

Sponsored by Careerbuilder

Speaker: Seth Goldman

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Phoenix Awards Luncheon

Mandarin Oriental, Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by Sam’s Club

Speaker: Sen. Jack Reed

2:30 pm – 5:00 pm Networking Time – Visit Sponsor Tables, SBA Officials and the Cyber Cafe

Mandarin Oriental Exhibit Areas

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Congressional Reception

Hart Senate Office Building, Room SH-902

Speaker: Sen. Mary L. Landrieu

Friday, May 20

8:00 am – 2:00 pm Registration Open

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Pre-Function Area

Sponsored by Microsoft

8:00 am – 5:00 pm Cyber Café Open

Mandarin Oriental, Hillwood Room

Sponsored by Google

8:30 am – 9:45 am Breakfast Honoring the Entrepreneurial Development and Lender Award Winners

Mandarin Oriental, Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by Northrop Grumman

Speaker: Steve Case

10:00 am – 12:00 pm Forum #3: Exporting Tools for Success

Mandarin Oriental, Oriental Ballroom

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm National Awards Luncheon Honoring State Small Business Winners

Mandarin Oriental, Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by Sam’s Club

Speakers: SBA Administrator Mills, Valerie B. Jarrett

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm Networking Time – Visit Sponsor Tables, SBA Officials and the Cyber Café

Mandarin Oriental Exhibit Areas

7:30 pm – 11:00 pm Champion Award Winners Gala

Mandarin Oriental, Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by Visa and Avaya

Speakers: Deputy Administrator Johns, Cathy Hughes

Media Contacts:
Dennis Byrne
(202) 205-6567

Cecelia Taylor
 (202) 401-3059

Small Business Week 2011 sponsors and cosponsors include: Association of Small Business Development Companies, AT&T, AVAYA, CareerBuilder, Dun & Bradstreet, Google, International Franchise Association, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, National Association of Development Companies, National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, National Association of Small Business Investment Companies, National Association for the Self-Employed, National Small Business Association, Nomadic Display, Northrop Grumman, Office Depot, Raytheon, Sam's Club, SCORE, The Neat Company, Verio, Visa, the Wall Street Journal, and

Women Impacting Public Policy.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s participation in this cosponsored activity does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of any cosponsor’s, donor’s, grantee’s, contractor’s or participant’s opinions, products, or services. All SBA programs and cosponsored programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made, if requested at least 2 weeks in advance, by contacting Cosponsorship Authorization #SBW2011.
# # #

Pedal Pittsburgh Showcases the City from a New Perspective

WHAT: Pedal Pittsburgh 2011

Produced by the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, Pedal Pittsburgh annually attracts more than 2,000 participants. Ranging from families with children and recreational riders to fitness enthusiasts, participants can choose from six courses ranging from 6 to 60 miles. Since its inception in 1994, Pedal Pittsburgh has hosted more than 22,000 cyclists.

WHEN: Sunday, May 22nd, rain or shine

6:30 am Registration Opens

7:00 am; 8:00 am; 9:00 am; and 10:00 am Riders Depart

11:00 am Lunch and Entertainment

WHERE: All rides start and finish at the SouthSide Works

WHO: Community Design Center of Pittsburgh

Cyclists from all ages and experience levels

PURPOSE: Pedal Pittsburgh is a signature event of Great Outdoors Week. Returning for its 18th year, Pedal Pittsburgh is a great way to experience Pittsburgh from a new perspective by showcasing the city’s great architecture, urban design, neighborhoods, and more.

Pedal Pittsburgh benefits the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, a non-profit organization that improves the quality of life in the Pittsburgh region by encouraging good design of the built environment.

For More Information

Melissa Marullo –
412.281.0995 – office
412.969.2530 – mobile
To schedule an advanced interview, contact Melissa Marullo

Monday, May 16, 2011

Robert L. Vann Media Award Winners Announced

Pittsburgh Black Media Federation

28th Annual Robert L. Vann Awards

30 Journalists win Vann Awards

and Recognized 5 with Special Honors

University Of Pittsburgh William Pitt Union

Thursday, May 19, 2011, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation (PBMF) is proud to announce the winners of the 28th Annual Robert L. Vann awards. There are more than 30 winners and the awards celebrate outstanding achievements in journalism related to the coverage of the African-American and African Diaspora community of Western Pennsylvania. Winning entries were published or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010. Entries were judged by professional journalists in Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y. Award recipients will be recognized during PBMF's annual awards reception on Thursday, May 19, 2011, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., in the William Pitt Union, located at the corner of Bigelow Boulevard and Fifth Avenue, on the University of Pittsburgh Campus, in Oakland. Reception begins at 5:30 p.m.; program begins promptly at 6 p.m.

At the program, five special honors will be given. Community Service Awards will go to Dr. Larry Glasco, a University of Pittsburgh History professor whose work has long documented Black life in Pittsburgh, and to Sylvester Pace, CEO of the Negro Educational Emergency Drive (NEED), for steadfast efforts to provide aid to the college-bound; Journalism Legacy Awards will honor Tene Croom, national radio journalist for her reports on urban Black America, and to George E. Barbour, ground-breaking print, radio reporter; Communicator of the Year honors will go to Donna Baxter, multimedia communicator for her entrepreneurial media and community service.
Tene Croom
Sylvester Pace
Dr. Larry Glasco

Donna Baxter
Admission to the reception is $10 per person.

Proceeds help fund scholarships for graduates of the PBMF's Frank Bolden Urban Journalism Workshop for high school students.

RSVP to Deborah Todd, 412-263-1652;;

or Ervin Dyer, 412-624-4796;


Newspaper Editorial/Commentary

1st place -- Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Black and white: U.S. Schools racial achievement gap"

2nd place -- Debbie Norrell, New Pittsburgh Courier, "Socially Correct"


1st place -- Nafari Vanaski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Should anyone use the 'n-word?"

2nd place -- Jonathan Wander, Pittsburgh Magazine, "The Great One"

Newspaper Feature Story

1st place-- Chris Togneri, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Glimmers of hope"

2nd place -- Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Solving a family mystery: Finding the woman who raised him"

Magazine Feature Story

1st place-- Cara Masset, Pitt Magazine/University of Pittsburgh, "Love's Palette"

2nd place-- Matt Stroud, Pittsburgh Quarterly, "Baby Byron Turns 18"

3rd place-- Renee Aldrich, Blue, Gold and Black/University of Pittsburgh, Power in "Black and White"

Magazine commentary

Winner -- Robert Hill and Anthony M. Moore, Blue, Gold and Black/University of Pittsburgh, "Black Like Me"


1st place-- R. Conway, D. Roddy, D. Templeton, D. Majors, S. Kalson, K. Rujumba, D. Malloy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Haiti resettlement/adoption issues"

2nd place-- A. Leff Ritchie, M. Kelly, A. Moore, P. Lomando White, Pitt Chronicle, Black History series


Winner --Jill King Greenwood, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Epidemic"

Business News

1st place -- Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Study finds median wealth for single black women is $5

2nd place --Chris Ramirez, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Curiosity spurs a Roots cause"

News Feature

1st place -- Margaret Harding, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Living with homicide"

2nd place -- Peter Hart, University Times/University of Pittsburgh, "Making Pitt Work: Deborah Walker

3rd place -- Rebecca Nuttall, New Pittsburgh Courier, "Enough is Enough"

Public Affairs

Winner -- Anya Sostek, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "County steps up effort to prevent crib deaths"

Spot News Story

1st place -- Jeremy Boren, Adam Brandolph, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Mother Alleges son brutalized by police"

2nd place -- Christian Morrow, New Pittsburgh Courier, "CEA: More Target jobs

Sports Feature

1st place-- Scott Brown, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Second Chance"

2nd place --Sean Conboy, Pittsburgh Magazine, "Rashard Mendenhall Thinks He Can Dance"

Business Feature

Winner --Bob Batz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Brooklyn Brewmaster: The rock star of beer"



Winner -- Daniel Marsula, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "First Blacks bear the weight of history"

Feature Photo

1st place -- Michael Henninger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Devastation in Haiti"

2nd place --Joshua Franzos, The Heinz Endowments - h Magazine, "Food for All"

News Photo

Winner -- Andrew Russell, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Family Braces for horrifying news"



Winner --Mark Barash, Jonas Chaney, Steve Fogle, Brian Leopold, WPXI-TV, "15 Who Dared to Dream"


News Feature

Winner -- Kim Lampkins, American Urban Radio Networks, "One Nation Working Together"

Spot News Story

Winner -- Tene Croom, American Urban Radio Networks, "Funeral of Dr. Dorothy Height"

Admission to the reception is $10 per person.

Proceeds help fund scholarships for graduates of the PBMF's Frank Bolden Urban Journalism Workshop for high school students.

RSVP to Deborah Todd, 412-263-1652;;

or Ervin Dyer, 412-624-4796;

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Washington Wild Things' Chris Sidick Named Young Entrepreneur of the Year

News Release


Release Date: May 13, 2011 Contact: Janet Heyl (412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-10

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Hometown minor league franchise player hits home run –

as SBA’s regional and local Young Entrepreneur of the Year

WASHINGTON, PA – Centerfielder Chris Sidick owns virtually every offensive record for the Washington Wild Things baseball team, including games, at-bats, hits, runs, triples, walks and stolen bases.

This May Sidick hit a double with the U.S. Small Business Administration when, as sole managing member of C-Side Sports Academy, LLC, he was selected as SBA Region III Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the Western Pennsylvania District Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Like the other 68 district winners, his nomination was forwarded to his regional office – in this case Region 3, which comprises 7 districts; Delaware, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia – where he became the regional winner.

Sidick has been playing baseball and football, and has wrestled, since he was four years old. However, the high-school standout only received a letter of interest to play football from Marietta College in Ohio. “I played four years of football, but also walked onto the baseball team and was selected All-American in both,” he said. “I majored in business management with a minor in sports management.”

After graduating in 2005, Sidick was approached by the Pittsburgh River Rats to play arena football and the Washington Wild Things. He signed with the Wild Things and has played centerfield/leadoff hitter ever since. He currently holds the distinction of being the only local player on the roster.

However, Sidick noted that baseball is only a summer occupation and soon he found himself without revenue for eight months of the year. “It was my third year out of college and I said to myself that I had to find a way to make some money during the offseason,” he stated. “One fan asked me to train his kid and that snowballed into five kids. I truly enjoyed helping the young players, but I had nowhere to train them.”

He asked his parents if he could use their garage and invested $700 for a batting cage.

“I had to open up a credit card and this was a huge investment for me because I was only living on $20 month and saving the rest…living with my parents and driving my grandmother’s car,” Sidick said. “I’ve always had great coaches throughout my career, so teaching was easy for me – paying for the batting cage was hard.”

By the next year, his clientele was growing and Sidick moved from his parents’ garage to a rented garage that cost him $1,000 each month. But he saw an opportunity to fix the garage for a rent reduction and was given a batting cage. With almost 50 kids to coach, Sidick turned to the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to formulate a business plan and rent yet a larger space.

“During that summer when I played ball, I saved every penny and wrote the business plan by hand during our bus rides; we play 96 games in 100 days so I had the time,” he explained. “My goal was to get a $50,000 loan.”

Sidick’s vision for his baseball complex was a large field complimented by two batting cages.

Without a loan, he spent $80,000 on netting and turf by using a small credit line and bargaining power. Meanwhile, he still was responsible for rent, but his complex was filled once again and he began looking for a larger facility

“I had college, high school and youth teams renting out the space but I hated paying rent, so I revamped my business plan to get $1 million from a bank and was approved for almost that amount,” Sidick said. “I needed land to build my new facility, so I went door-to-door asking people if they would sell me their land.”

Not only did Sidick find property, but also an investor. “I was approached by a financier who wanted to be a partner, and that made sense because since I started my business, I’ve been the plumber, the janitor, the electrician and the tax man,” he explained. “A partner allows me to concentrate on training and marketing.”

Sidick is awaiting approval for his new facility, which would house a full-size NCAA regulation infield and offer additional sports such as football, soccer and laser tag. “This will be at 27,000 sq. ft. facility, and utilizing the large turf area is limited only by my imagination.”

Sidick admitted that winning an award from the SBA was gratifying because in four years his business has thrived in a bad economy. “It was great to win,” he added, “I don’t consider my job work and love talking to kids about sports and staying healthy.”

According to Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, Sidick’s success is linked to his passion for baseball. He’s doing something he loves and is helping young people hone their skills in a sport they love,” Knoblock said. “He’s paid attention to his competition and the needs of athletes in the region and created a following for his services.”

Sidick and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon which will be held at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week. Once the festivities begin, the public can “attend” Small Business Week events virtually, via the SBA’s streaming video on the Web at

Note: If you would like to speak with Chris Sidick or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103