What Do I Know?

Ahmad Jamal, Jazz Master

I’ll bet that I’m the only musician ever to record a CD simply titled “Pittsburgh,” which is a tribute to my beloved hometown. It’s a “miracle city,” really. When it comes to industry, culture and the arts, Pittsburgh has contributed more to the world than most people can begin to…

Christina Cassotis, Allegheny County Airport Authority

I grew up in Southern New Hampshire in essentially a suburb of Boston. My mother was a homemaker, as many women were back then, and my father was a commercial airline pilot for Pan American World Airways, having been a U.S. Marine fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.

Elsie Hillman, Political and Civic Leader

My husband, Henry Lea Hillman, is seven years older than me. He is the son, of course, of Pittsburgh steel mogul John H. Hillman, Jr., an industrialist who built Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical. Anyway, Henry was a friend of my older sister, and I knew his younger sister, so we…

Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive

I was born and raised in the Bloomfield-​Garfield section of Pittsburgh, which is now called “Friendship.” I attended St. Lawrence O’Toole Grade School in Garfield, Central Catholic High and then Carnegie Mellon University in nearby Oakland, and have lived and raised my family in Squirrel Hill for the past 33

Jim Withers, M.D., Street Doctor

My father was a country doctor; my mom, a nurse. Their relationship was grounded in the values of service and compassion, and they included their children — me, for sure — in that vision. So I made house calls with my dad and, among other things, got to practice parallel parking while delivering Meals…

Vivien Li, River Keeper

My parents came from educated families in China and Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States. My mother arrived in the early ’50s as an undergraduate while my father, who was 10 years her senior, was studying for a Ph.D. Back then, it was difficult for Asians to come…

Clint Hurdle, Baseball Impresario

I believe that all people inherently have at least one passion. And if that passion can be turned into a livelihood, life becomes special. I’ve had a passion for the game of baseball since I was 5 years old. And now, at the age of 58, instead of running to…

Words of Wisdom

“Reviewing the following excerpts from some of the 40 first – person profiles I created for the magazine over the past 10 years was an emotional experience for me. How many people get to choose from among the most prominent individuals in their hometown and spend time with them learning their life…

Esther L. Barazzone, Educator & Administrator

I grew up in Bluefield, W.Va., a town of about 16,000, which had no “wrong side” of the tracks — because it was all tracks, for trains moving coal out of southern West Virginia. I lived there with my mother, stepfather and three brothers. Three out of four of my grandparents were…

J. Kevin McMahon, Arts & Culture Executive

It’s not a secret, but I actually was born in Pittsburgh. I don’t talk about it, not because I’m not proud of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh is great. But in Pittsburgh, if you say you were born here, everybody expects you to know everything about it. When I was a little kid,…

Maxwell King, Philanthropy Executive

I am Maxwell Evarts Perkins King, named after Maxwell Evarts Perkins, my grandfather, who was the editor at Scribner’s for Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, among other authors. Even though my mother always told me, “Go to law school, Max” (many of her family members were lawyers),…

Patrick D. Gallagher, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor

I don’t recollect ever wanting to manage a large organization. But I’ve always enjoyed managing things. In fact, my management experience started when I was very young.

Allan H. Meltzer, Economist, professor, author

As a kid, I moved a lot around Boston, where I was born. My mother died when I was 5, after which I lived with my grandmother. When I was 9, my father remarried and we became suburbanites, moving to Westwood, Mass. Practically no Jews lived there other than me,…

Ted Pappas, Impresario

How did I find myself in Pittsburgh? That’s a complicated question. I was born in Tampa to Greek immigrant parents, so my first few years were spent in Florida surrounded by a very Greek community. (There are more Greeks there than you might think.) Then we moved to Gary, Ind.,…

William E. Strickland Jr., Educator and Activist

I’m a North Side kid. I grew up in the Manchester section of Pittsburgh and graduated from Oliver High School, where I was lucky enough to meet a person named Frank Ross, who was my art teacher. In several important ways, Frank turned my life around dramatically.
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