Sara Gaal
MJ Tocci teaching at the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women at Carnegie Mellon University, January 2013
MJ Tocci teaching at the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women at Carnegie Mellon University, January 2013

UPDATE: An educational fund has been established for MJ’s children, Sam and Zoe Rest. Learn more here.

MJ Tocci, the co-founder of the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women at Carnegie Mellon University and recipient of the 2011 ATHENA Award of Greater Pittsburgh, died on Feb. 15 of ovarian cancer.

In receiving the ATHENA Award, Tocci was recognized for the excellence of her work, her contributions to the community and her tireless efforts to mentor other women.

“On behalf of the entire ATHENA Pittsburgh community, we mourn the loss of MJ,” said Beth Marcello, chair of the 2014 ATHENA Host Committee. “MJ was an indefatigable champion for female leadership, an ardent believer in the power of mentorship and a true pioneer as the co-founder of the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women. She will be missed by all who knew her and we will keep her memory alive as we continue our work to empower women in the region.”

Formerly a state prosecutor in California’s Bay Area, MJ designed the nation’s first training program to address gender in persuasion and advocacy for lawyers, going on to create specialized in-house training for leading firms and government agencies. Upon moving to Pittsburgh in 1996, she taught at Duquesne University’s School of Law and founded Fulcrum Advisors, which helped organizations recruit, retain and promote talented women. Through another start-up, Trial Run, she coached clients ranging from the U.S. Navy to international law firms on effective persuasion, negotiation and litigation skills.

In 2013, Tocci launched the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women at CMU with economics professor Linda Babcock, co-author of the ground-breaking book Women Don’t Ask.

As a new hire to the Allegheny Conference, in 2011 I organized the ATHENA Awards for the first time. As luck would have it, it was the same year MJ was a finalist, and I had the opportunity to watch her being interviewed for the video seen below. MJ was a dynamic combination of strength and kindness.

She went on to win the award and to see her dream of the negotiation academy become a reality.

There are no adequate words to describe the personal loss I feel, as someone who merely had the fortune of crossing her path. She was the friend we all wished we had, the mentor few of us ever do and the woman we all hope to be. There’s a Jewish saying: “May her memory be a blessing.”

I know it will be to me and countless others.

You can watch a 2011 video of MJ discussing her work below, as well as her ATHENA Award acceptance speech and her remarks at the 2012 call for nominations breakfast (from 6:30-8:12). A feature obituary from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is here.

Bonnie Pfister

Did you know there are 24,707 jobs open right now in the 10-county Pittsburgh region? You can find them on the powerful job search engine of, which scrapes thousands of corporate websites and search engines nightly to help you advance your career in Pittsburgh.

Here’s a recent sampling:

Design Engineer at Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc.

Mechanical Drafter – 3D Modeling at Elliott Group

Copywriter at MARC USA

 Workbench Client Support Consultant at BNY Mellon

 Senior Systems Application Analyst/Programmer – Java at Federated Investments

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

Tina and Bob Norris have been married for 22 years. They met at the Allegheny Valley School. Photo by Martha Rial / PublicSource

As an early Valentine’s Day treat, check out this story by PublicSource’s Halle Stockton, with a photo-plus-audio slide show by award-winning photojournalist Martha Rial.

Bob and Tina Norris of Millvale have been married for 22 years, each trying “to fill the gaps where the other one falls short, doing their best, not always succeeding — just like any other couple.” You can read the full story and watch the slide show here.

PublicSource is an independent investigative news organization that focuses on subjects of long-term impact on communities in the region and the state. A program of the nonprofit media arts organization Pittsburgh Filmmakers, it is supported by several regional foundations.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love:

Phil Cynar

BlogRelaxingOur region has made yet another list of “top destinations” – this one compiled by Travel + Leisure magazine, which has pinpointed eight of the “Best Vacation Spots to Unplug,” and we are one of the top eight destinations. When vacationing, it’s getting harder to get away from it all – particularly when today’s travelers feel compelled to take along all the devices that keep them wired to the real world of their daily lives.

As a remedy, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh offers The Family Digital-Detox package. Those who elect this package are expected – upon check-in – to ditch all computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. The hotel will put them in safekeeping and return them upon departure. Taking it a step further, the Renaissance will also remove the room’s TV, phone and iPod docking station and replace them with board games and playing cards to encourage old-fashioned, interpersonal interaction. The hotel reports the package is one of its most popular.

Another “Best Vacation Spot to Unplug” lies just south of our region in Pocahontas County, W. Va., home to the U.S. Quiet Radio Zone – a 13,000-square-mile expanse wherein wireless technology is banned by law to avoid interference with government radio telescopes.

Rounding out the list are:

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park, Canada
  • Concordia Eco-Resort, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Camp Grounded, Anderson Valley, California
  • Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, New York
  • Ultima Thule Lodge, Alaska

Looking for new gig in the new year? Find a job, advance your career in the Pittsburgh region at

Bonnie Pfister

There are nearly 24,000 jobs open right now in the 10-county region on, your one-stop-shop for news and information about career opportunities and live-work-play options. We’ve designed a powerful career search aggregator that each night scrapes job postings from thousands of corporate websites and search engines, and puts them all in one convenient place.

Here are a few of the postings on the site right now. Click on the company name to learn more about what it’s like to work there.

Business Systems Consultant at BNY Mellon

Electronics Technician at Industrial Scientific

Senior Analyst-Survey at CONSOL Energy Inc.

Integrated Marketing Specialist at MSA

Payroll Associate at University of Pittsburgh

Bookmark to check back regularly for more career opportunities and news about the region. You can also sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

iPad for rotator



Jim Futrell
Photo by by Mark Peterson / Redux
Photo by by Mark Peterson / Redux

I love the great press we’re getting this week from POLITCO magazine. The Robots That Saved Pittsburgh highlights a region “that has developed into one of the country’s most vibrant tech centers, a hotbed of innovation that can no longer be ignored by the industry’s titans.” The piece is accompanied by a terrific photo essay of several key robotic spinoffs from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a second gallery that captures the Pittsburgh region in all its gritty winter beauty.

I have to point out, however, that robotics is a relatively small part of our economy – probably employing no more than 5,000 people. Yet this recognition by a serious journalistic outfit reflects a deeper truth: the Pittsburgh region has capitalized on the unique way that advanced manufacturing, technology and innovation can elevate a place.

There are other such convergences of our key sectors that are allowing Pittsburgh to have a big impact. A lot of it can be seen in energy — think Aquatech, Holtec, Hammill and the number of IT companies that support financial services and healthcare applications. With a company like Aesynt (formerly McKesson Automated Healthcare) or Aethon, you hit the trifecta for converging sectors: IT, advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

It’s innovation that’s driving the 10-county economy, as well as R&D that goes back decades. The boost in energy-sector jobs that we’ve seen in the past five years (35 percent growth — or 12,000 jobs — compared to an overall employment increase of just 1.5 percent) can be traced back to investment starting in 1970s. The National Energy Technology Laboratory, a federal entity based in South Park for more than a century, did the research into deep, horizontal drilling techniques that have made today’s shale gas boom possible.

So while robots are cool, the real wow is in the way that technological innovation plus the region’s historic industrial strengths have created advances that would no doubt turn the head of the Jetson’s Rosie.Rosie the Robot / Copyright Hanna-Barbera


 Find a job, advance your career in the Pittsburgh region at