Phil Cynar
Photo Courtesy Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Oakdale

Meeting Mother Nature on her own turf – the great outdoors – is now easier, even for city dwellers thanks to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Nestled in a corner of Settler’s Cabin Park in Oakdale, less than a half hour from downtown Pittsburgh via the Parkway West, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is “green museum” in the making.

Transforming what once were brownfields — former mine sites — has taken more than a decade of undaunted vision and harder-than-hard work. But the investment is paying off. This summer, the first 60 acres of the 460-acre garden will officially open to the public. But for those who can’t wait – especially as the warmer days of spring lure residents and visitors away from the indoors – there are Peek & Preview tours. One-hour guided tours offer looks at the garden’s progress around its arboretum phase, featuring “The Woodlands of the World.” This area showcases five distinct woodland areas: the Appalachian Plateau Woodlands, a Cove Forest, Eastern European Woodlands and English Woodlands. The tours are free, but online reservations are required.

Read more about the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden and all that it is aiming to become in Green News Update. The garden was recently featured in a three-part series on Green Museums (both the indoor and outdoor kind) in the Pittsburgh region. Word from Editor Roberta Faul-Zeitler is that hundreds of readers from around the country flocked to the story on this unique regional asset under development.

So dust off your walking shoes, maybe grab a camera and head out to experience Pittsburgh’s great outdoors at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden … just as Mother Nature begins to green the region’s unique landscape after a long, hard winter.

Brandon Mendoza

When was the last time you’ve been to an outdoor laser light show? This Saturday, May 17, I hope you’ll attend Bright Night: A Larimer Light Festival, featuring live music, great food and a laser light show – among other offerings.

For the past six months, I have participated in Leadership Development Initiative XXI (LDI), a program of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. This opportunity has afforded me the pleasure of working with 40 emerging leaders in the Pittsburgh region to plan Bright Night. We have had great partners in the community of Larimer, namely the Larimer Consensus Group and the Kingsley Association. Larimer is distinguished by its residents’ strong sense of community and its paradigm-shifting revitalization plan. This plan, which envisions a mixed-income, environmentally friendly community where both newcomers and natives are welcome, has earned a place as a finalist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s competitive $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant. Bright Night will further highlight Larimer’s assets and using the theme of light and renewal to foster a perceptual transformation of the neighborhood for Larimer residents, Pittsburgh neighbors and the civic community.

While the event has been exciting to plan and the community has been a tremendous partner, the best part of the process for me has been learning alongside my fellow LDI classmates. Our class has spent countless hours meeting with community members, elected officials and vendors for the event and the lessons learned along the way are invaluable. Over the past few months, we have learned leadership tools from each other, community leaders and established business/nonprofit leaders, but nothing has taught leadership more than planning Bright Night.

The event features a car cruise, live musical performances, a laser light show, educational exhibit, food trucks and free food samples from the Food Revolution Pittsburgh Cooking Club. I hope to see you there this Saturday, May 17th from 6-10 p.m. on Larimer Avenue between East Liberty Boulevard and Meadow Street. All are welcome to this free community event and if you have not been to an outdoor laser light show, now is your chance. More details, including maps and parking information are available at and You can also follow us at

About Leadership Development Initiative and Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.
The Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) program is a 10-month leadership training program for high-potential young professionals. This creative and innovative program has served as a model for several others around the country. Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a diverse group of leaders to serve southwestern Pennsylvania.

About Larimer
Located in Pittsburgh’s East End, Larimer is bordered by Highland Park, East Liberty, Homewood, Shadyside, Point Breeze and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar. Larimer has recently been selected as a finalist for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Job hunting? There are more than 22,000 jobs across 10 counties open right now at, as well as information about careers, regional industries and employers. Bookmark the page, sign up for our monthly eNewsletter, or follow us by RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our other social media channels.

Bonnie Pfister

Pittsburgh’s got jobs — 24,269 open as of today across the 10-county region. You can find them on the job search engine, a one-stop aggregator of career postings updated daily from nearly 900 corporate and government websites and job search engines, including Monster, Career Builder, LinkedIn and Craigslist. Why go there when you can find it all in one place?

Here are a few positions on offer right now:

Construction Cost/Billing Accountant at PJ Dick

Demolition Laborers at i+iconUSA (Joseph P. Fay)

Senior Mortgage Analyst at PNC Financial Services Group

Support Services Technician at Development Dimensions International

Real Estate Agent at Howard Hanna

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.

Bonnie Pfister
Athena is often depicted holding both a shield and a spear with an owl flying nearby representing her reliance on force tempered by wisdom and strategy.
Athena is often depicted holding both a shield and a spear with an owl flying nearby representing her reliance on force tempered by wisdom and strategy.

Do you know a woman in the Pittsburgh region who goes above and beyond in her work and mentorship of other women? Or a younger woman who is emerging as a leader? Nominate them here by June 27, 2014 for the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards.

The ATHENA Award recognizes women who demonstrate excellence in their profession, contribute to their community and help other women to succeed. Former recipients include Laura Ellsworth, Judge Kim Berkeley Clark and the late M.J. Tocci. Beginning in 2011, the local ATHENA committee has also recognize an emerging leader age 35 or younger with the ATHENA Young Professional Award. Previous recipient are Amiena Mahsoob, Christy Uffelman and Jennifer Cairns. (Click here to watch all videos from previous ATHENA events.)

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of strength and wisdom, the Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon is one of the largest gatherings among the hundreds of ATHENA International-affiliated events presented around the world each year. More than 900 women and men attended the Pittsburgh event in 2013.

Learn more and submit nominations here by 5 p.m. on June 27, 2014. (Nominations will only be accepted online.) Please also mark your calendar for the awards luncheon on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. UPMC Health Plan and Citizens Bank are this year’s presenting sponsors.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development — of which is an initiative — organizes the annual ATHENA awards ceremony. The Conference and its affiliates – the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh – work with public and private sector partners to stimulate economic growth and enhance the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Conference is a private sector leadership organization with more than 300 Regional Investors, employers who provide the time, talent and resources to advance this agenda.

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

Phil Cynar

Paris3013blogspotcomMaybe your bucket list of the places you’ll go just got larger thanks to the return of nonstop air service from Pittsburgh to Paris. Back from its annual winter hiatus, nonstop service on Delta Air Lines from Pittsburgh International to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) is crossing The Pond five days per week to the advantage of both business and leisure travelers.

Because of successful bookings and peak summer vacation travel to Europe in 2013, Delta has resumed its nonstop service from Pittsburgh for the sixth consecutive year.

Flying nonstop from Pittsburgh to Paris and beyond on Delta allows travelers to avoid the busiest and most congested east coast hubs while providing ease of use of Pittsburgh International-based customs and border protection.

Nonstop from Pittsburgh to Paris is the considered the fastest way to get to Europe and beyond. From Paris CGD, travelers can get to 100-plus destinations in Europe, Asia, India and the Middle East on Delta and its partners Air France, KLM and Alitalia. Top destinations for travelers from Pittsburgh International connecting through Paris CDG include Rome, Amsterdam, Budapest, Berlin, Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Munich, Frankfurt, Prague, Bombay/Mumbai, Istanbul and London.

It’s an impressive list of destinations – one that emphasizes that “oh, the places you’ll go” (a tip of the hat to Dr. Seuss) are more convenient and comfortable to get to via Pittsburgh International.

Stay planning your next trip abroad at

Meredith Fahey

There’s been lots of talk – both nationally and in the Pittsburgh region – about the skills gap. There are abundant jobs that require two years (or less) of training or a certificate or associates’ degree, but too few people in the workforce have the correct skills. In the case of jobs related to the to the Marcellus Shale natural gas play, that’s meant employers have sometimes relied on workers from such traditional markets as Texas and Oklahoma.

The good news: our region has a program that is closing that gap, a program so successful that it has been expanded to other locations. Through ShaleNET, designed in 2010 to train individuals for careers in the oil and natural gas industry, nearly 5,500 people have completed training, and more than 3,500 are employed.

Daniel Schweitzer, director of the ShaleNET hub at Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio, explains how ShaleNET is closing the skills gap in the article below. The article first appeared in the April ShaleNET newsletter. Sign up here to receive future newsletters about this innovative program.

INSIGHTS: Stark State College, North Canton, Ohio

Edwin Drake’s Well, Titusville, Pa. 1859

It has been more than three generations since the oil fields in Bremen and Titusville established Ohio and Pennsylvania as the leading oil producers in the United States. A century ago, this region was the key player in the oil and natural gas industry. A century ago, the ubiquity of skilled trades was a result of indigenous factors. They were bred by families whose livelihood was the oil and natural gas, manufacturing and transportation industries.

Why then, are so many employers hiring from outside of the region? It’s the skills gap. It’s in the news. Politicians like Ohio Senator Rob Portman are talking about it. Stark State College and ShaleNET are doing something about it.

Belying the region’s rich history in oil and natural gas, the skills gap comprises three generations of atrophy to our skilled labor force. It’s been a long time since the heyday of manufacturing in the Ohio Valley. The digital age has undervalued the vocational and skilled labor populations for some time now and there is a dearth of skilled labor at this critical juncture.

There may be only 40 active unconventional drilling rigs in Ohio’s Utica Shale, but there are hundreds of Utica wells “seasoning” as you read this. Seasoning is a euphemism for “waiting to be put into production” and midstream gathering, take-away, and processing capacities are being developed at a furious pace. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines in the forecast queue for the next decade alone. Someone has to build, monitor and maintain this infrastructure and now is the time to rebuild the economic muscle of the Ohio Valley.

The first ShaleNET grant funded short-term trainings for entry-level jobs into the oil and natural gas industry. The second ShaleNET grant, which we are 18 months into, is a capacity building grant. It was designed to ramp up higher education offerings with multiple avenues of access and outlets to skilled trade jobs with a focus on the oil and natural gas industry. The backbone of ShaleNET is the stackable credential model, which starts with a three-week non-credit class wherein the student gains IADC Rig Pass, first aid, and equipment operating certifications. This is enough for many to get industry jobs and counts as college credit if a student continues into a credit-based program such as Process Operation. From there, a student can complete a one-year certificate which is largely technically focused, and proceed to an Associate’s and then to a Bachelor’s degree. Stark State College currently offers one-year certificates and two-year degrees in four ShaleNET career pathways: Instrumentation and Electronic Technician, Process Technician, Pipeline Technician, and Industrial Mechanics Technician. A fifth pathway, Production Technician is under development.

The ShaleNET grant has been instrumental in allowing Stark State College to develop its oil and natural gas programs. ShaleNET funding is used for staffing (administrative and instructors), curriculum development, and equipment procurement. The Well-Site Trainer Lab and Simtronics Simulator Software, both of which would be cost prohibitive without ShaleNET funds, are fundamental parts of our curriculum. Both Simtronics and the well-site trainer are key components that allow us to develop class exercises and hands-on activities that have value to potential employers.

We are in just our second semester of these new ShaleNET based degree offerings, and we already have over 70 declared majors with over 100 participants in our credit-based classes. In fall 2014, we are extending ShaleNET into the secondary education classroom, by offering our PET101 class in a 100% web-based format. This delivery modality was developed to allow vocational schools, high schools and career centers to incorporate PET101 into any distance learning classroom since it needs only a proctor to mediate student activities. As of now, there are several post-secondary institutions planning to offer PET101 in the fall with over 20 students registered. Students who complete the class with a passing grade will also receive college credit for the class if they enroll in a ShaleNET degree program at Stark State College.

With ShaleNET, we are off to a great start to closing the skills gap!

– Daniel Schweitzer, ShaleNET Hub Director, Stark State College