Bonnie Pfister

Helping women to become better negotiators for themselves is something of a calling for MJ Tocci. A prosecutor for the Alameda County (Calif.) district attorney’s office for 15 years, Tocci early on became intrigued by the way gender issues can play out in a courtroom. In 1994 she 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 also founded Fulcrum Advisors, which helps organizations recruit, retain and promote talented women. Through another start-up, Trial Run, she coaches clients ranging from the U.S. Navy to international law firms on effective persuasion, negotiation and litigation skills.

Tocci is now turning her attention full-time to directing the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women at Carnegie Mellon University, which will offer its first executive education classes in January. Along with academy co-founder Linda Babcock — a CMU professor, co-author of the ground-breaking book Women Don’t Ask and creator of PROGRESS (Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society) — Tocci will offer a by-invitation preview of the academy on July 20. (Check out photos here.)  She spoke with about her plans.

MJ Tocci

How was the idea launched? Why is a negotiation academy for women needed?
Since moving to Pittsburgh I have been teaching in women’s leadership programs all over the country. There are many wonderful programs, but none look at things specifically through a negotiation lens. That’s what brought me in contact with Linda Babcock and Ayana Ledford (executive director at PROGRESS). We all decided that this academy filled a critical need and it was up to us to start it.

Having adept negotiation skills is the single most important intervention to change women’s progress in the workplace. Research shows that failing to negotiate your first salary – which many women don’t do – means that by age 60, you’ve taken home $500,000 less than you might otherwise have earned.

But it’s not just about asking for a raise. Negotiation is a high-level skill that you can – and should — use every day. It’s about reframing your interactions and more accurately evaluating – and taking advantage of – the opportunities around you. It’s about negotiating for resources to do your job to the best of your abilities and to help you be a better manager.

Explain a bit more about what the academy will offer.
When you teach women to negotiate, you’re asking them to break stereotypes. There’s documented backlash: when women negotiate for themselves, especially around money, they are perceived to be less likeable – by both men and other women. It’s uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We need to do it smartly and strategically. Part of that is having someone in your organization who will have your back. Women don’t have as many of these as men do.

A Catalyst study found that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. A mentor gives you advice; a sponsor exercises social capital on your behalf and says “I endorse her. I will go bat for her, and risk my reputation and social capital because I believe in her.” Sponsors don’t come under the Christmas tree. You have to cultivate them and ask them to do things for you; it’s all a negotiation.

That’s part of what we’ll be teaching through the academy. Our students will be paired with an outside coach as well as someone significant in her own organization. We will work with that sponsor as well as with the student, so that she can grow her networking ties, and that the sponsor will learn alongside the student.

What’s going to happen on July 20?
We are seeking participants, people who will send participants and financial sponsors for the academy, and will offer a preview of what kind of things we’ll be doing. Everyone will get an exercise describing a dilemma. The faculty will lead a discussion and participants will explore it from multiple perspectives, decide what a woman would need to do to negotiate through it, and determine how she should prepare. Denise Rousseau and David Krackhardt, (professors of organizational behavior and management at CMU’s Tepper School of Business) will be among the faculty weighing in. Attendees will get to be academy students for a few hours and, I hope, walk out saying, “I just learned something important today.”

Who will be your students? What kind of investment of time and money is involved?
Organizations tell us there are three types of employees who need this training: the women just below C-level; women just a few years on the job who need these skills as soon as possible; and women who have been in an organization for a decade or so, and are most prone to leave when they can’t – or don’t – negotiate to expand their professional scope. (Many women find it easier to negotiate externally.) So it’s up to each organization to make the best decision about who to send.

Optimal class size will be between 29 and 34 students, meeting two days a month (one on weekends) for five months. Tuition is $15,000, which is standard for executive education programs, although I’m working hard to get sponsorships that might offset cost for participants from nonprofits.

Any final thoughts?
Many of us think that if we just do really, really good work, it’s all going to work out. People will recognize our skills and our value, and reward us with opportunities. As I tell my daughter, “Not in my lifetime, and not in yours.”

I really think this is going to change the world. The Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women will be the only program of its kind in the country, and I’m thrilled that it’s in Pittsburgh. CMU is an incredible school, and Pittsburgh is ready for something like this.

To learn more about the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women, contact Rachel Koch at 412-925-6741 or You can also check out’s Flickr photostream from the July 20 preview below.

Phil Cynar

“These folks [Pittsburghers] are inspiring. Check it out, ya’ll,” wrote Charleston, S.C.-based travel journalist Sharon Spence Lieb to end her article, “Pittsburgh Power,” published in the July 4 edition of the weekly Moultrie News. This full-page article – complete with five color photos of Pittsburgh – is yet another piece about Pittsburgh that resulted from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/VisitPittsburgh “Green Pittsburgh” media study tour in May. Spence Lieb was one of the journalists recruited by VisitPittsburgh to participate in the tour.

She recounts highlights of Pittsburgh’s rich history, its story of transformation and the region’s commitment to green business and sustainability – as captured in her paragraphs about the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes “Living Building” at Phipps Conservatory – a highlight of the May media tour and a structure that’s been called an example of “green Pittsburgh under one roof.”

Charleston, S.C.-based travel writer Sharon Spence Lieb at May 2012 green media tour reception, Reed Smith terrace, 3 PNC Plaza

It’s often said that a relocation of an individual or a family, college or university choice or a business investment decision begin with a visit. For individuals from the not-so-far-away East Coast lowcountry considering any of the above – or simply a summertime getaway – Spence Lieb makes a compelling case for Pittsburgh. She summarizes the region well in these lines, “the city’s recipe for success: mix determination, resilience and down to earth friendliness. That’s Pittsburgh Power.”

Yes, indeed, “check it out, ya’ll” – for a summer sojourn or maybe something longer.

Read the complete “Pittsburgh Power” article here. And click here to see more coverage from the green media tour, and here or below to see more photos of the opening reception for the tour at the Reed Smith terrace, Three PNC Plaza, downtown.


Bill Flanagan

Thought you’d be interested in a commentary out of New Orleans citing our region as a best practice. Greg LaRose of Dolan Media, which operates the New Orleans Publishing Group, caught the Pittsburgh feature in Delta Air Lines’ Sky magazine. In his piece, Dolan notes lessons Louisiana can learn from us, especially given our reemergence as a center of American energy. LaRose conveys pretty well the “power of Pittsburgh” to innovate and collaborate. is also highlighting our region in a travel piece that resulted from the recent media study tour hosted by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and VisitPittsburgh. “Green Living in America’s Steel City” focuses on our region’s transformation from an economy based on muscle to one based on mind, including our growing thought leadership in green building and sustainability.

Finally, The Atlantic notes that a number of core cities including Pittsburgh are growing faster than their suburbs. An Atlantic Cities blog post focuses on younger people who are selecting a more urban lifestyle — in part because they’ve witnessed the toll long commutes have taken on their parents. The observation is consistent with something the Allegheny Conference heard loud and clear last year from nearly 200 of our region’s “emerging leaders” during our agenda-setting process. They noted transit as their number one concern about the region’s future because they want to be able to live “car-free,” an even bigger issue today given the uncertainty over the finances of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. If you’re interested in what’s happening regarding transit in our region, click here.

There’s more to come. Later this month the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance is hosting a correspondent from Site Selection magazine, the industry publication for those who influence business location decisions. The magazine will be profiling our region in its September issue. A correspondent from fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) magazine will be here later in the fall. fDi is planning a special section on the Pittsburgh region as well.

And, also later this month Pittsburgh will welcome county officials from across the United States to the National Association of Counties conference. In October, we play host to another global summit, when hundreds of delegates arrive for One Young World. Given Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state, we’ll be in the spotlight as well during the Presidential election campaign.

I’d like to thank everyone who works with us to make projects like Sky possible, especially the companies that bought advertising, and also those who pitch in to host reporters for our various media tours and activities. It’s critical to telling our story and continuing to spread the good word about our region.

Bonnie Pfister

Former President Bill Clinton has signed on to be a keynote speaker at the One Young World summit, which comes to Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Oct. 18-22.

Clinton, who works to improve global health, strengthen economies and protect the environment through his William J. Clinton Foundation, will join an expected 1,500 delegates in their 20s. Participants will hear from speakers on subjects including education, sustainable development, global health, social business and youth unemployment. Pittsburgh corporations Alcoa, Bayer, Google, Heinz and PNC are among those sending delegates.

Bob Geldof and Desmond Tutu at One Young World Summit, Zurich 2011 / Photo by Amanda Sennert

Founded by Kate Robertson and David Jones, heads of (respectively) marketing firm Euro RSCG’s UK office and French advertising agency Havas, the summit aims to “give delegates the kind of media platform and forum afforded ordinarily only to those who lead countries and corporations… tell(ing) the world what the leaders of tomorrow think and feel — and what they demand of the leaders of today.”

Other speakers include online media mogul Arianna Huffington, Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto, Indian parliamentarian Rahul Gandhi, British singer Joss Stone and Russian model/philanthropist Natalia Vodianova.

Also on hand will be speakers from the 2011 summit in Zurich: anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Irish rocker and anti-poverty activist Bob Geldof; celebrity chef Jamie Oliver; and Mohammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist whose work in micro-lending earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Click here to read previous coverage of One Young World, and here to check out photos by IPN correspondent Amanda Sennert from last year’s summit in Zurch.

Cassie Buseck

Reports on steroids. Websites on steroids.

These specialties have helped business services firm Plus Consulting to grow briskly in recent years, necessitating an expansion from its Bridgeville offices to an “edgy, urban” space in Carnegie craved by its dynamic workforce.

Founded in 1999, Plus Consulting provides technology guidance, implementation services, training and support to clients across a spectrum of industries. Headquartered in the Pittsburgh region, it also has offices in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Scottsdale, Ariz. and Westbrook, Maine.

Plus has been recognized as a Pittsburgh Impact Company, a unique subset of firms that through their strong growth are creating 74 percent of jobs throughout Pennsylvania. The Impact Company initiative is a project of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, a 10-county coalition that markets the benefits of doing business in southwestern Pennsylvania, and assists companies looking to relocate or expand here.

Plus Consulting was recognized on “Wins Day,” an annual event in which the PRA totals up all the announced investment and development projects, or “wins,” of the previous year.  (You can read more about that here.)

At Wins Day, Plus Co-founder and Managing Partner Steven Smith said that the company’s Pittsburgh location has been vital to its 35 percent top-line revenue growth in 2011. That’s been thanks to a kind of “locavore” trend among local Fortune 1000 companies to use homegrown business services, rather than those out of town or off-shore. Within the past six months, Plus Consulting has closed three or four deals primarily because of its local roots, a marked departure from the practices of Pittsburgh companies a decade ago.

Along with expansion in revenues and workforce, Plus Consulting has been named among the Top 10 Firms to Work For by Consulting Magazine, Top New Partner in North America by SugarCRM, a leading global provider of commercial open source customer relationship management (CRM) software, and Ninth Best Place to Work in Western PA by Pittsburgh Business Times.

Click on the video link below to hear directly from Smith about how why he sees a bright future in Pittsburgh for Plus Consulting.

Pittsburgh Impact is an initiative by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance [link again] to help high-growth businesses continue to thrive by communicating with them, connecting them with resources, talent and opportunities, and championing their successes. Learn more at

Jim Futrell

The Census Bureau recently released city population estimates for 2011, which indicate that the population in the city of Pittsburgh increased by 528 people between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011.

This continues the broader story of the renewed growth of the regional population since 2009 after decades of losses. As seen in the following table, the population in the 10-county region increased by 930 people between 2010 and 2011.

Interestingly, while Butler and Washington counties have continued to grow, Allegheny County is also registering population growth. But again, that pesky “natural loss” (when deaths outnumber births) has offset much of the positive migration in the region.  I also think it’s interesting that Pennsylvania experienced net domestic out-migration, while the region experienced positive domestic in-migration.

Geographic Area

Pop. Estimates (as of July 1)

Total Population Change1

Natural Increase

Vital Events

Net Migration





















.Allegheny County











.Armstrong County











.Beaver County











.Butler County











.Fayette County











.Greene County











.Indiana County











.Lawrence County











.Washington County











.Westmoreland County











Ten County Region











City of Pittsburgh











1 Total population change includes a residual. This residual represents the change in population that cannot be attributed to any specific demographic component. See Population Estimates Terms and Definitions at
2 Net international migration includes the international migration of both native and foreign-born populations.  Specifically, it includes: (a) the net international migration of the foreign born, (b) the net migration between the United States and Puerto Rico, (c) the net migration of natives to and from the United States, and (d) the net movement of the Armed Forces population between the United States and overseas.