A celebration of African American success—all under one roof
It felt like the world had stopped.
With a crowd of 400 people standing, K. Chase Patterson, master of ceremonies, called for the massive double-doors of the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square to open, and into the ballroom came 40 of the Pittsburgh region’s most successful, impactful African Americans age 40 and under.
THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES—K. CHASE PATTERSON
From Abraxis Blackwell, to Iesha Nicole Hearn, to Justin Binion, to the black-and-gold-fitted Godfrey R. McCray Jr., the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 “Class of 2022” was dressed to impress.
The Courier’s Fab 40 celebration was held, Wednesday, June 1, an evening affair that couldn’t be dampened by the heavy thunderstorms outside.
“Tonight was about being in a space where you’re surrounded by other like-minded people, people who just know what it takes to really pour into the community,” expressed Fab 40 honoree Caree Stevens. Stevens is special assistant to the CEO at the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh charter school. She’s also director of The State of Black Learning summer conference.
Stevens, who was born and raised in Rankin, said she was honored to be included alongside the others who collectively are impacting Pittsburgh’s Black communities. And with social media as paramount as it is, she knows that younger African Americans would see the Fab 40 celebration online.
“Representation matters, and I think for our babies, they need to be able to see more people that look like them, successful and being supported by people that look like them,” she told the Courier. “I think that’s critical…it shows them that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”
REV. A. MARIE WALKER
The Courier’s Rev. A. Marie Walker, who also is servant pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Wilmerding, opened the event with prayer. DJ Nate “Da Barber” Mitchell played various R&B music during the dinner and dessert, then it was on with the show.
Courier Sales Director Ashley Johnson acknowledged the event’s sponsors, Duquesne Light Company and Vibrant Pittsburgh, and Courier Editor and Publisher Rod Doss urged the Fab 40 Class to soar to the highest of heights. He mentioned that many doors weren’t open for him and others in his age classification decades ago. But this generation of young people have the chance to attain any type of occupation.
Patterson, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh charter school and the only two-time Courier Fab 40 honoree, called each honoree to the stage by name, as Doss presented the honoree with their award.
That award is going right in Soliel Meade’s room, she told the Courier. “It reminds me to keep going, don’t take your foot off the gas, that people are watching, people are being influenced.”
Meade, CEO of Soliel Branding Essentials, a branding and design agency, brought the entire family with her to the Fab 40 celebration. Meade’s mother, father, stepmother, godmother (both of them) and even spiritual mother made it to the big event. “It meant everything to have my family and friends there to support and cheer me on,” Meade said. She said being honored “felt like all of the hard work that I put into my business, into my community, has paid off.”
For Shani—ahem, Dr. Shani Yeldell, she told the Courier she was surprised to get the call that she was a Fab 40 honoree. “I didn’t know I was even nominated,” she said. “Once I figured out who did it, I had to thank her because I’m always trying to reach the very high expectations she sets for me. So the fact that she deemed me worthy of such an honor” was a blessing to Dr. Yeldell.
Dr. Yeldell is a critical incident education liaison at A Second Chance Inc., in Homewood. She earned her Doctor of Psychology from Duquesne University. She, too, had an cavalcade of supporters at the Fab 40 event. “It was amazing, I felt very loved. Sometimes you just kind of get caught up with the day-to-day, and you forget (to realize) everyone who is behind you.”
Former Wilkinsburg Councilman Andre L. Scott was a Fab 40 honoree. He’s the owner and lead therapist at Able Vision Counseling and Consulting Services, but many people know Scott from his more than 25 years fighting for the betterment of Wilkinsburg.
“A lot of community work, marches, stop-the-violence rallies, going to Washington, D.C., to advocate for wrongful deaths, working in state Reps. offices…being in the community, not just talking about it,” Scott told the Courier. “Somebody finally saw me, so it was cool to get recognized.”
Scott said Black men being classified in a negative light as a majority by people or the media is just wrong. “We’re not the minority, as people think. There are active fathers, active business people, active community members that don’t really seek money and credit. It was cool to be in the room (with other like-minded men) and put our fancies on.”
Also in his “Fab 40 Best” was Justin M. Binion, vice president and wealth advisor for Clarfeld-Citizens Private Wealth. With fiancee’ Natasha Morris by his side, Binion called it an “amazing honor to be on stage with all those talented young professionals from around the City of Pittsburgh. There’s nothing better.”
Binion told the Courier he was speaking with another honoree about how “there’s very few times in the City of Pittsburgh where you get to see this many African Americans congregate and celebrate each other’s successes. That, to me, was the absolute epitome of the night. Everyone underneath one roof. Nobody other than the New Pittsburgh Courier could put this on, and do it the way they did it.”
FAB 40 HONOREES JENNIFER BARNES, RYAN HOUSTON (ALL PHOTOS BY J.L. MARTELLO)
FAB 40 HONOREES CALISTA TUCKER, JA’LISA BROWN, ERRICKA HAGER
FAB 40 HONOREES Johnnie Geathers, Jessica Gurley
FAB 40 HONOREES ABRAXIS BLACKWELL, MONICA MALIK, CUE PERRY, SHAMIAH COULVERSON, TILO JORDAN
FAB 40 HONOREES SAMATHA HARTZMAN, CYDNEY NUNN, PAIGE KENDRA MITCHELL
FAB 40 HONOREES DEANDRE TIMBERS, AUDIE CHAPMAN, II, THOMAS MCCLELLAN, ANDRE TURNER, GARY J. COLEMAN, CHARLES DAYMAR PITTS-BONNER
THE DOCTORS—FAB 40 HONOREES Dr. Rikell Ford, Dr. Darla Timbo
THE HIGHMARK HEALTH TABLE. ALSO PICTURED IS FAB 40 HONOREE LAUREN DEDOMENIC, SEATED, FAR RIGHT.
THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS TABLE. ALSO PICTURED IS FAB 40 HONOREE DELVINA MORROW, SEATED, FAR LEFT.
SABRINA SAUNDERS MOSBY, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF VIBRANT PITTSBURGH, SEATED, SECOND FROM LEFT. ALSO PICTURED ARE MEMBERS OF THE VIBRANT PITTSBURGH FAMILY.
THE NEW PITTSBURGH COURIER TABLE (ALL PHOTOS BY J.L. MARTELLO)
JENNIFER C. BARNES
Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Coordinator
University of Pittsburgh
JUSTIN M. BINION
Vice President, Wealth Advisor
Clarfeld|Citizens Private Wealth
Citizens Pay Partnership Manager, AVP
JA’LISA L. BROWN, MBA
Benefits and HRIS Manager
Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh
Zuri Beads, LLC
AUDIE L. CHAPMAN, II
President & Executive Director, Northside Youth Athletic Association
Northside Hub On-Site Director, Youth Places
GARY J. COLEMAN
Owner & Funeral Director
House of Paradise Cremation and Funeral Services
DR. ARMANI A. DAVIS
Chief Talent Recruitment and Development Officer
Shady Side Academy
Community Affairs Analyst
Certified Nurse Midwife
The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health
DR. RIKELL S. FORD
Allegheny County Department of Human
Services-Children Youth and Families
JOHNNIE GEATHERS, MSW, LSW
Mental Health Therapist
Familylinks, Inc. and Hand in Hand
Counseling Services, LLC
Senior Sales Consultant
#1 Cochran Automotive
Owner & Lead Therapist
Social Work Consulting & Counseling, LLC
Community Research Coordinator
University of Pittsburgh
Manager of Community Relations
Duquesne Light Company
IESHIA NICOLE HEARN
AVP, Senior Process Improvement Specialist, PNC Financial Services
Founder & CEO, Divah’s in Training
News Anchor & Reporter
Associate Director of the Family First Center
Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh
Program Manager of the Department of Innovations, Allegheny Health Network
Executive Director, #ATU (Athletic Trauma Unit)
Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship
GODFREY R. MCCRAY JR.
Let’s Inspire Co.
CEO, Soleil Branding Essentials
Founder, I Am Handpicked
PAIGE KENDRA MITCHELL
FrontPaigeMe Public Relations Agency
DR. CHANNING L. MORELAND
Co-Owner, Sanant Counseling & Wellness Services, LLC
Sr. Director of Strategic Programs & Services and SHRS Wellness Pavilion Director
University of Pittsburgh School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
DELVINA L. MORROW
Senior Director of Strategic Community
Initiatives and DEI
Director of Communications
August Wilson African American
CHARLES DAYMAR PITTS-BONNER
Thelma Lovette YMCA
Associate Attorney, Burns White Attorneys at Law
Council member, Borough of Swissvale
ANDRE L. SCOTT, MSP
Owner and Lead Therapist at Able Vision Counseling and Consulting Services LLC
CEO & Artist, Grown Men Entertainment
Special Assistant to the CEO, Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School
Director, The State of Black Learning
Timbers Mowers & Brushes
DR. DARLA TIMBO
Psychologist/Owner, Atlas Counseling Services
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Pennsylvania Western University-California University Campus
Talent Fairy Godmother
Calista Phair, LLC
Brothers and Sisters Emerging
JENNIFER LYNN WHITLEY
Executive Special Projects Manager
Allegheny County Housing Authority
Assistant Vice President of Membership
Development & External Relations,
Vice President, Women in Tech PGH
DR. SHANI YELDELL
Critical Incident Education Liaison
A Second Chance, Inc.