Professional Development

Meet the 48 ‘rising stars’ tapped for Leadership Pittsburgh’s 2021-2022 cohort

The program brings together promising young leaders across industries with a goal to foster new business partnerships and civic engagement.

Members of a previous Leadership Development Initiative cohort.

(Courtesy photo)

Pittsburgh’s economic momentum is building, but it will take more than just technical prowess to reach success. A local nonprofit founded 37 years ago wants to solidify the city’s future by convening young leaders in the hopes of creating a network across all of the city’s industries.

Within that nonprofit, Leadership Pittsburgh, is its Leadership Development Initiative — a program that names an annual cohort of emerging business leaders to educate and connect them with each other. There is no limit on the kind of business that the leaders can be working in, and this year’s list includes not only a wide array of local tech companies, but nonprofits, sports teams and universities, too. The goal is to both keep young talent engaged with the city as well as to bring together people from diverse backgrounds in the hopes of creating a stronger leadership network in Pittsburgh.

“Folks who apply to this program and get selected tend to be the rising stars of their companies and organizations,” Leadership Pittsburgh President and CEO Aradhna Malhotra Oliphant told “These are the young people that companies and organizations want to invest in to continue to grow.”

To be a part of the program, applicants can either self-nominate or be nominated by the company or organization they work for. From there, Oliphant said, Leadership Pittsburgh makes the final selection, ensuring that no company or expertise is overrepresented.

Participants in the program will meet twice a month for eight months for a mixture of training and discussion sessions around the core values of Leadership Pittsburgh, Oliphant said. And eventually, the cohort will get to do a “real-life case study” through a project of its choosing with an “emerging” neighborhood; past cohorts have worked with residents in areas like the Mon Valley, Larimer, Wilkinsburg, the North Side and more, Oliphant said. This year’s neighborhood has not yet been announced.

This year’s list has a good representation from the tech industry, including employees from Argo AI, the digital product side of PNC Bank and Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute.

Here’s the full 2021-2022 cohort:


  • Marissa Barber, organizational development specialist, FedEx Ground
  • Barbora Batokova, UX design team lead, Software Engineering Institute
  • Thomas Bencho, director of property management, CityLife Property Management, LLC
  • Gina Clapp, IT manager for enterprise solutions, Highmark Health
  • Janay Coleman, strategic workforce initiatives manager, The Pittsburgh Promise
  • Jennifer DeBrincat, senior finance manager, Argo AI
  • William Deller, managing consultant, Schneider Downs & Co., Inc.
  • Kaitlin Donahoe, director of corporate partnership marketing, Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Jessica Fedan, VP, PNC Bank
  • Ryan Fronius, manager, Grossman Yanak & Ford LLP
  • Thomas Galligan, associate, Reed Smith LLP
  • Andrew Giallonardo, manager, Grossman Yanak & Ford LLP
  • Maggie Giel-Bovaird, program manager, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, Inc.
  • Thomas Graham, constituent services adviser, State Representative Jake Wheatley
  • Zachary Harr, recruitment manager, Edgility Consulting
  • Jordan Hartman, distributions manager, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
  • Kaitlyn Hendrickson, policy and program strategist, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Aubrey Hiskey, associate attorney, Dingess, Foster, Luciana, Davidson & Chleboski LLP
  • Garrett Lewis, associate lead of product management sourcing, Google
  • Sandy Liu, portfolio advisor, Highmark Health
  • Tara Logut, project manager, FedEx Ground
  • Juanita Lomax, chairwoman of the Black Organization of Leadership and Development, Highmark Health
  • Markese Long, director of diversity, equity and inclusion and community engagement, Partner4Work
  • Vanessa Love, assistant VP of equity and inclusion, Point Park University
  • Erinn Maguire, director of premium service and hospitality, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Ryan McAndrew, regional sales manager, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Talia O’Brien, project manager, Etna Borough
  • Patrick O’Donnell, director, Headstorm
  • Brian Plowman, director of strategy realization and implementation, Highmark Health
  • Matthew Poljak, manager of business analysis, Calgon Carbon Corporation
  • Amy Razem, senior development officer, The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Lalithya Reddy, manager of practice operations, HM Health Solutions
  • Daniel Richey, associate, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
  • Ellen Romagni, senior director of operations and real estate, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Laura SanBoeuf Paris, director of development, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
  • Tyson Sears, financial representative, Northwestern Mutual
  • Brianne Smail, Koppers Inc.
  • Glenn Stanzione, digital product manager lead, PNC Bank
  • Katherine Swanson, community investment manager, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh
  • Lisa Tennis, manager, Maher Duessel
  • Valerie Tuite, senior counsel, PNC Bank
  • Laura Veith, attorney, K&L Gates LLP
  • Ryan Wagner, business analyst, BNY Mellon
  • Adam Walkowiak, department manager, Michael Baker International
  • Laura Winters, deputy chief of staff, University of Pittsburgh
  • Lauren Wright, director of undergraduate recruitment, University of Pittsburgh
  • Chelsea Zahn, partnership activation manager, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Dominic Zappa, assistant director of finance and operations, Sojourner House

Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-
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