Once again, the New Pittsburgh Courier has added 40 more young men and women to its distinctive list of Fab 40 honorees.
On March 10, at its 2016 Fab 40 Awards Reception, held at the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh, the historic newspaper celebrated those individuals who are under 40 and some of the region’s emerging African American trailblazers.
This year’s group included a few firsts—a husband and wife team, a Bronze Star Awardee for military service, and a wife and a sister of a former Fab 40 honoree.
“It feels absolutely wonderful and I’m truly blessed and appreciate that someone would nominate me for this beautiful award. It’s always good whenever you’re doing things for the community and passionate about certain things, but to be honored for it is just a whole other level,” said honoree Yasmin Shaheed, chief administrative officer of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.
She went on to say, “It’s good to have events like this because it pushes and motivates individuals to continue to do well in their communities. It’s always good to be acknowledged and it gives you that push to keep moving and to keep going.”
The reception, hosted by former WPXI-TV general assignment reporter and 2013 Fab 40 honoree Brandon Hudson, commenced with a cocktail reception followed by a scrumptious meal, followed by a few “words of encouragement” from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
While the evening was about celebrating young individuals who are building up the community, there was also a mood of shock and sadness in the air because of the six young lives lost the previous day during an ambush at a family picnic in Wilkinsburg. During the program, the almost 200 in attendance observed a moment of silence for the victims and their heartbroken families.
After the tribute, Mayor Peduto addressed the honorees and said that with many in the city talking about its problems, what is now needed are leaders. He encouraged them to be those leaders and charged them to be part of the city’s “progression” and not “regression,” as it continues to change.
“What will be needed are leaders—people who have the smarts, people who have the desire to work, and people who want to get in there and make a change and make it happen. Today you’re being celebrated for where you got to so far in life; I’m here to tell you that we need you to go further. What is really needed is that chance that you will get engaged, that you will stay engaged and that you will help to push (the city) so that it goes the right way,” Mayor Peduto said. “Congratulations, you’re getting the recognition that you earned, but as we start to see how this city starts to change we need you—not to be the ones to point out the problems, but the ones to solve them.”
The event continued with a recognition of a few special guests and heartfelt words of congratulations to the honorees, from Rod Doss, editor and publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier. Then came the moment that many waited for—the presentation of the 2016 Fab 40.
Honoree Devon Lyons, president and founder of Beyond Phenom LLC, said the recognition meant a lot to him. “As an entrepreneur, you don’t always get the recognition that you might feel like you need for the time you put in, and to be honored by the Pittsburgh Courier is a big deal.“
Echoing Lyons’ thoughts, honoree Cheyenne Patterson, compliance coordinator at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, said, “It is an honor and a blessing to be acknowledged by the who’s who in Pittsburgh and to follow in their footsteps; it’s truly a blessing.”
Like Shaheed, Patterson also felt the honor held a special importance. She said awards like the Fab 40 “continue to inspire (young African Americans) to do the great things that we are doing” and that acknowledging the hard work helps to “bring it to the forefront so that we, together, can build a better community that our children can be raised in.”
Among those celebrating the “elite 40” was past Fab 40 honoree Marisa Bartley Williams, the executive director of the PNC YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. Williams said she felt it was important to attend the event because “being a past honoree, I think it’s important to make sure that we continue to show up. This is the next generation of leaders. And while I’m not old, I am older, and I feel it’s important to make sure that you’re reaching back and helping to cultivate this new generation of leaders.”
The reception was sponsored by UPMC, the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business of the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children and Chatham University and Mayor Bill Peduto.
THE NEW PITTSBURGH COURIER’S FAB 40 CLASS OF 2016
Aerion A. Abney
Jessica N. Brown
Nathaniel M. Brown
Brian R. Burley
Teresa Renee Hunt
Regina D. Hutson
Wayman R. Jones Jr.
Devon M. Lyons
Kyshira S. Moffett
Riean K. Norman
Brigette Bethea Patterson
Cheyenne L. Patterson
Olivia T. Payne
Brandon E. Phillips
Leigh Solomon Pugliano
Regina L. Scott
Eric A. Smith
M. Shernell Smith
Michelyn Hood Tinor