Bonnie Pfister
entrepreneur, Latino, African American, Resumator, La Rumba, WRCT
Cindy Fernandez-Nixon and Don Charlton in Dave DiCello’s photo spread in Pittsburgh Magazine.

We’re proud — but not surprised — that Pittsburgh Magazine selected four — count ‘em, four — of the ImaginePittsburgh.com Neighbors to be among its 2014 40 Under 40.

Selected from a nomination pool of more than 225 candidates, this year’s honorees were chosen by an independent panel of judges comprised of former winners, business professionals and civic leaders. Winners were chosen based on their passion, commitment, visibility, diversity and overall impact on the region.

The ImaginePittsburgh.com Neighbors are individuals from around the corner and around the world who have chosen our 10-county region as the place to call home. They’ve agreed to share their stories on our website as a way to welcome newcomers and help those considering a move here to imagine themselves in Pittsburgh to live, work, play and learn. Neighbors who turned up on this year’s 40 Under 40 list are entrepreneurs Anne Marie Toccket, Don Charlton and Cindy Fernandez-Nixon (Cindy’s also an engineer by day when not running a bilingual radio show) and our own Meredith Fahey, who skippered the SS ImaginePittsburgh.com through the rocky shoals of its 2013 re-engineering and redesign.

Meet more of the Neighbors here, or take our quiz and see what Neighbor types you might have most in common with. And if you’re looking for a job or just surveying the market, our job search aggregator allows you to access open jobs — more than 26,000 as of today — from more than 900 sources in one place.

You read all more about the 40 Under 40 and check out Dave DiCellos’ beautiful portraits at PitttsburghMagazine.com/2014-40-Under-40-Awards.

 

Zersha Munir

In recent years, zombies have crawled their way to top rung of horror movie monsters and now run amok through television, videogames, cinema and literature. With Call of Duty’s zombie mode and AMC’s The Walking Dead, fright fanatics hold horror in their hands. At any minute they can hit play on comedy thriller Zombieland and be immersed in a world overrun with the living dead. But there’s only one place that gets to the roots of zombie culture…

A number of horror movie legends have risen up and out of Pittsburgh’s institutions. George A. Romero, director of The Night of the Living Dead, attended Carnegie Mellon University. Apparently his time in Pittsburgh served as inspirational, as he later filmed numerous horror flicks in local areas. Night of the Living Dead was set in Butler County, just an hour outside of Pittsburgh, and Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall. Pittsburgh native Tom Savini launched his career by running the make-up effects for Dawn of the Dead. Romero and Savini are now known as the “Godfather of Zombies” and “Godfather of Gore,” respectively. Another native and make-up artist, Greg Nicotero, acted and started his career with Day of the Dead before moving on to do makeup for several other films. He is now the co-executive producer and makeup artist for AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Pittsburgh’s zombie-heavy cinematic history lends itself to pop culture references abound. Videogame Left 4 Dead’s in-game locations include Mercy Hospital and Allegheny National Forest. My Chemical Romance also wrote a zombie-themed song, “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville,” as a nod to Dawn of the Dead.

How have native Pittsburghers reacted to their hometown being assigned to the undead? They’ve taken it in limp and zombies have become a common facet of the city’s Halloween culture. Zombie-themed events run rampant throughout October, including Zombiefest, a costume party complete with bands, vendors, activities, food, a dance contest and, to help you win that, alcohol. Pittsburgh also has an abundance of haunted houses but the most popular attraction by far is the Pittsburgh Zombie Outbreak interactive paintball hayride. People line up in the masses to hop in the Zombie Extermination Vehicles and shoot zombies on the infested hospital grounds. Well, what are you waiting for? Call now and book your seats… it’s a real no-brainer.

Zersha Munir

Where can you find 24,886 job listings for the Pittsburgh region — all in one place? ImaginePittsburgh.com, that’s where! Each night our powerful job aggregator scrapes more than 900 corporate websites and job search engines for listings across the 10-county Pittsburgh region. So it’s no longer necessary to go to Monster, then Career Builder, then US Jobs and on and on. We bring it all to you in one convenient place.

Here are few of the jobs you’ll find on the site right now:

Assembly Technician at Mitsubishi Electric Powet Products

Workers Compensation/Disability Claims Manager at Duquesne University

Financial Planning Manager at Highmark

Senior Director of America Sales at Industrial Scientific

Mobile and Interactive Designer at Howard Hanna Realty

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly ImaginePittsburgh.com eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

Zersha Munir

Where can you find 25,915 job listings for the Pittsburgh region — all in one place? ImaginePittsburgh.com, that’s where! Each night our powerful job aggregator scrapes more than 900 corporate websites and job search engines for listings across the 10-county Pittsburgh region. So it’s no longer necessary to go to Monster, then Career Builder, then US Jobs and on and on. We bring it all to you in one convenient place.

Here are few of the jobs you’ll find on the site right now:

Unit Manager at BNY Mellon

Director of Workforce Management at Highmark

Instrumentation Technician at EQT

Global Logistics Manager at RTI International Metals

Veterinary Technician at the University of Pittsburgh

Bookmark our Work page to check back regularly for more career opportunities. You can also sign up for our monthly ImaginePittsburgh.com eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

Zersha Munir

Each year, Carnegie Science Center honors a select number of deserving organizations and individuals in our region – researchers, entrepreneurs, educators, and innovators. Their stories showcase our region’s excellence and inspire tomorrow’s science and technology leaders. Please consider nominating those around you to be recognized in categories such as Start-Up Entrepreneur, Corporate Innovation, Information Technology, Science Communicator, and Science Educator.

Nominate at www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/Awards before Oct. 31.

NEXTpittsburgh

Powered by Margaret Krauss for NEXTpittsburgh.

Steve Sokol and Melanie Harrington moved to Pittsburgh at about the same time; they both relocated for work: both taking the helm at nonprofits, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh, respectively; and they both lived downtown. They got to be friends. And as new friends often do, they talked about their situation—new city, new jobs, far-flung friends and families. So they hatched a social plan: a way to meet people without having to wear a nametag or utter those five dirty words.

You know the ones. “So…what do you do?”

The process of settling in to a new city can be confusing and lonely, but with a few friends, it’s less of a chore. Sokol and Harrington aimed to get brand new Pittsburghers and old hands together over food and drink to fast-track creating personal networks.

“It was a way of helping newcomers meet other people beyond people they were meeting through their jobs,” says Sokol.

Thus was born the Dine Around, of which the third installment returning Saturday, Oct. 25. Guests may sign up here.

The first dine around was held in Sokol’s apartment in the fall of 2010. The concept was a hit, but its existence was sustained, in part, by a surprising realization: many of those first Dine Around participants found Pittsburgh to be friendly, but not particularly welcoming.

Now, if you’ve been keeping track of the city’s seemingly inexhaustible list of accolades, it may be news to you that Pittsburgh isn’t welcoming: we’re livable, we’re beautiful, we’re happy. Don’t we throw our arms open to one and all?

Demeshia Seals, Executive Vice President, COO of the Massaro Construction Group and a former Dine Around attendee, says the disconnect between friendly and welcoming is due in part to the rooted nature of Pittsburghers.

“In other cities that I’ve lived, Baltimore or D.C., there are very large transient populations, no one’s really from there,” she says. “Here, everybody is from here. So it’s hard to appreciate that people who aren’t from here don’t have an extended network of people they can take for granted.”

Sokol agrees. Many Pittsburghers have a personal network built over a lifetime that makes them feel happy and fulfilled, so they don’t necessarily need to make new friends.

“It’s not a negative,” he says. “It’s just that that new person has a hard time eking out a little bit of space in a Pittsburgher’s life.”

To help newcomers find a foothold is important on an individual level, but is also crucial to the city’s well being. Pittsburgh’s demographics are shifting. While we used to be the second oldest places in the United States, in 10 to 15 years we’re on track to be one of the youngest. We’re going to need to build our workforce and Sokol says Dine Arounds could be one piece of attracting and retaining that talent.

“There are other great places to live or stay, so maybe we need to do something a little bit extra as a city to say ‘Come here and stay,’” he says. “Here is a community-led initiative that is trying to make Pittsburgh present itself in the best possible way, and it could really change the way you view the city that’s now home.”

So the concept of the Dine Around was expanded, with the help of others including the publisher of NEXTpittsburgh, Tracy Certo, who helped to organize the new iteration. This version would be based on the home dinners done during One Young World, when all the attendees to the international conference were welcomed into homes of Pittsburghers for dinner.

Last year’s two citywide Dine Around events (also known as welcome dinners in some circles) welcomed more than 200 people to 20 separate dinners. Hosts, who pay their own costs, can structure dinner in any way they like, keeping in mind that the idea is to foster good conversation and an atmosphere that sets people of all different backgrounds at ease.

If that sounds daunting, Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Welcome Center and Outreach Assistant says not to worry.

“It’s just people coming together and sharing food,” says Emily Ferri. “It’s a dinner party where you might not know anyone.” In a post-event survey, 100% of the hosts said they would do it again and 100% of the guests said they would attend another.

Brianna and Nathan Ivey took the plunge into a blind dinner party during the first citywide event in April 2013, a month after they’d moved to Pittsburgh from Orlando, Florida. Brianna says their Dine Around experience made them excited to be in the city.

“People can’t tell you enough good about Pittsburgh. It was so fun to feel immediately a part of it.”

Nathan agreed.

“You could see the pride the hosts took in their city and that kicked it off for us. We wanted to make sure we became invested, too.”

This year, all guests are invited to convene after dinner for a dessert reception sponsored by the Dignity and Respect Campaign of Greater Pittsburgh.

Guests can sign up here.