When Briana White learned she had been named a Fab 40 Class of 2018 honoree, it was like winning the lottery—only better.
“The money, I can spend that in a (matter of) days and it would be gone.”
As for the distinction of being a member of the Fab 40?
“That’s something that lasts a lifetime,” she said.
The New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 spotlights African Americans in the Pittsburgh region under the age of 40 who are impacting the city with their professional careers, along with making a positive difference in the community.
White, a Pittsburgh native who graduated from Carlow University in 2006, will join 39 other honorees at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel, Downtown, for the June 7 ceremony.
In the audience will be White’s mother and grandparents, who have been proud of White since Day 1.
“Most things that I do, I try to do it with thoughts of making my family prouder,” White told the Courier. “I came from a good family and I don’t want to do anything that would embarrass them.”
Obviously, being a Fab 40 honoree is no embarrassment. In a region that boasts two million people, just 250 or so people have the distinction of garnering a Fab 40 honor.
White is a budget analyst for Pittsburgh Public Schools, the treasurer of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, and, in 2015, began Breelicious Bites, in which White reviews food and treats from area restaurants, and participates in food-related events.
White told the Courier she’s anticipating the moment her name will be called to receive her award on June 7. She’s not quite sure how the moment will feel.
But K. Chase Patterson knows all too well about that moment. He was a college student at Pitt when he won the first of two Fab 40 distinctions. “I think I was the youngest person ever to receive a Fab 40 award,” Patterson told the Courier from his office at Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh charter school, of which he is the CEO.
That’s right, the chief executive officer.
“And I think I’m the only person to win the award twice,” Patterson added.
Come June 7, it will be Patterson taking center stage as the event’s celebrity host, the third time he’s held that honor.
Patterson, 34, became Urban Academy’s CEO in January 2017, after being recommended for the position by the school’s board of directors. Patterson, who also was the school’s business manager at the time of the recommendation, began his tenure at Urban Academy as a member of the board of trustees.
Patterson is a proud Pittsburgher who attended Schenley High School and the University of Pittsburgh, like his father and grandfather. In 2006, after college, Patterson began his career at the Urban League in 2006 where he established the Black Male Leadership Development Summit, now known as BMLDI. He’s used his academic, business and political experience to boast a loud voice in matters affecting Pittsburgh’s African American community and the region as a whole. He employs local African Americans, not just at Urban Academy, but at Society Men’s Grooming Lounge in the Hill District, as the barber/beauty salon’s owner.
Never one to mince words, Patterson is calling on Pittsburgh’s corporations to increase their hiring of African Americans, especially in key positions.
“Corporations are the folks that have to agree that hiring top-caliber Black talent is a priority, set it as policy, then get it done,” he said. Patterson gives corporations as a whole in Pittsburgh a grade of “D” when it comes to acquiring and retaining African Americans. “They’ve done just enough,” he said. “And they’re ‘just enough’ isn’t even average. If every corporation could demonstrate that they had an equal percentage of minority executives as per the minority population in the city, then you got me.”
And in Pittsburgh, a city with a 25 percent Black population, Patterson knows local companies aren’t hitting that mark. “None of them are performing the way it should be,” he said.
The Courier’s Fab 40 highlights those Black professionals who are beating the odds, fighting through barriers, and making a name for themselves. Akemi Harrison, an executive producer at WPXI-TV, calls the shots of what you watch during the 11 p.m. newscast. Andrea Barber, of My Three Sons Vending, has set up vending machines that you buy snacks from at many locations around Pittsburgh. Then there’s people on the Fab 40 list that Patterson knows personally, like Kenya Matthews of PNC Bank, Sharnay Hearn Davis of Sisters Lifting as We Climb, and Angelique Drakeford, who just happens to be the principal of Urban Academy.
“She epitomizes what the award recognizes—top talent that honors the legacy and tradition of strong, Black leadership in our region,” Patterson said of Drakeford.
For Patterson, today’s African American professional shouldn’t stop working when the clock strikes five. Being a community asset is important. Giving back is important. Speaking for the voiceless is important. That’s what Patterson sees as the one constant with the Fab 40 Class of 2018 honorees he knows.
“Even in their professional-sphere, they are committed socially to seeing the advancement and success of Black folks in our region, in our country, and across the globe.”