Top five to watch in 2016: Five leaders figuring to impact Pittsburgh |

Top five to watch in 2016: Five leaders figuring to impact Pittsburgh

Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen celebrates after driving in a first run in the third inning against the Brewers on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, at PNC Park.
Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Pittsburgh Symphony's new CEO Melia Peters Tourangeau at Heinz Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015.
Chris Heinz, stepson of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., smiles after being introduced to the crowd by Kerry during a town hall style meeting on the campus of City College of New York, Wednesday, April 14, 2004.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley listens as speakers present their case during a hearing at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. The state is gathering feedback in regards to the federal Clean Power Plan.
Jasmine Goldband
Aquion Energy founder Jay Whitacre at their Pittsburgh headquarters in Lawrenceville.

One of them is the face of a once-downtrodden, now rejuvenated franchise who must contribute even more if there’s to be any hope this year.

One is an entrepreneur redefining the world’s energy sector; another is an famous philanthropist who remains dedicated to Pittsburgh.

One hopes to usher the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra into a prosperous new era, and the final one is tasked with protecting Pennsylvania’s environment.

They are Andrew McCutchen, Jay Whitacre, Chris Heinz, Melia Peters Tourangeau and John Quigley — five leaders who promise to impact the Pittsburgh region next year and beyond. And they are the Tribune-Review’s Five to Watch in 2016.


He has deep pockets, a high profile and far-reaching network in financial, nonprofit and public sectors.

By fall, Chris Heinz plans to settle into a home in Shadyside. He and wife Sasha want their kids, ages 5 and 2, to grow up in Pittsburgh, not New York.

At 42, the youngest of the three Heinz brothers — whose mother is billionaire ketchup heiress and philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry — will relocate closer to the Downtown headquarters of The Heinz Endowments, where he, his wife and mother are board members.

“He’ll have more intimate contact with strategies put in place in Pittsburgh,” said Kate Dewey, president of The Forbes Funds. “Pittsburgh benefits by the fact that a young leader is coming back to the community who has resources at his disposal.”

The Harvard Business School graduate’s contacts include politicians, real estate and finance moguls, nonprofit leaders and A-list celebrities — he once dated Gwneyth Paltrow and The Washingtonian included his 2008 nuptials in “Wedding of the Rich & Famous.” His stepdad is Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Heinz Endowments is Western Pennsylvania’s second-largest foundation with $1.6 billion in assets. Last year it doled out $75 million in grants.

Heinz has an affinity for veterans issues and chairs the investment committee of the private family foundation’s board.

In 2005, Heinz co-founded the investment firm Rosemont Capital, named for the Fox Chapel family home. He left the firm in late 2014 and does private consulting.


In 2016, the Pirates will need more from Andrew McCutchen than just another MVP-caliber season.

Over the past three years, McCutchen has established himself as one of the top players in baseball. He won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2013. Then in 2014, he led the league in several hitting categories. In 2015, he set a career high with 96 runs batted in and was once again an All-Star.

The Pirates earned a wild-card bid in each of those three seasons, but produced only a 3-5 postseason record. Despite a .321 average, McCutchen has zero homers and zero RBI in the playoffs. McCutchen, who turns 30 this year, is in the prime of his career. He’s under contract for two seasons, plus a team option for 2018. Beyond that, it’s impossible to say how much longer he will wear black and gold.

The NL Central, where the Pirates play, is a rough neighborhood. St. Louis has made the playoffs five straight years, and the Chicago Cubs, who eliminated the Pirates in the 2015 wild-card game, have made significant player acquisitions this winter.

McCutchen already is the face of the franchise, the Pirates’ best player. This summer, they need him to avoid injuries that plagued him over the past two seasons and be more productive than ever on the field.


John Quigley spent much of the past year at the center of the energy industry’s most heated debates in Pennsylvania.

As secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, he is lead regulator of an oil and gas industry that has long clashed with Gov. Tom Wolf, who appointed Quigley, 56, at the beginning of his term.

While working to increase transparency at his agency and taking a tougher stance on environmental violations by energy producers, he has been the face of several initiatives that are expected to conclude with industry showdowns in the first few months of 2016.

A rewrite of environmental rules for drilling that Quigley oversaw and industry groups have threatened to sue over is due in February; so are recommendations from the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force that he chaired. They will come as his boss seeks to increase taxes on gas producers.

Quigley also wants to meet a September deadline for writing a proposal to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions, despite challenges from the coal industry, utilities and the General Assembly.

“In 2016, under Gov. Wolf’s leadership, we’ll continue to work to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land, water, and public health, preserve our climate, and to modernize the agency and improve our business processes,” he said.


Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s new chief executive officer Melia Peters Tourangeau, 43, is the youngest person and first woman to hold the position.

The mother of two is expected to bring a fresh perspective as a game changer to the organization.

She came from a position as chief executive officer of the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera, where she increased fundraising and significantly increased ticket and subscription sales. Those skills and experience will be a benefit to the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Tourangeau faces a range of challenges in her new position, including persistent deficits.

She started work in July, near the end of the 2014-15 season, in which attendance for classical concerts fell to 50 percent of the capacity of Heinz Hall, and the organization’s budget deficit remained stubbornly in excess of $1 million.

Tourangeau’s priority “to do” list is lengthy and wide-ranging. She needs to build her senior leadership team, flesh out ways to achieve the board’s strategic plan, and negotiate a new contract with the musicians.

Two of the most important problems she must address are not entirely under her control because they reflect the actions of the public — attendance and donations to the annual fund.

“We’re seeing improvement, but we have ambitious goals,” Tourangeau said. “We’re looking for a significant rebound from last season.”


This could be the year that the world’s energy consumers understand what Bill Gates, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a host of people in the high-tech and energy sectors have said for awhile:

Jay Whitacre is on to something.

The company he founded, Aquion Energy Inc. in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, is poised to take advantage of a global shift in the energy industry.

Aquion manufactures and sells Whitacre’s invention, a battery designed to store energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind so that electricity continues to flow when the sun sets and the wind stops.

His Aqueous Hybrid Ion batteries replace expensive, toxic substances inside traditional batteries with safer, abundant materials such as saltwater and carbon.

Investors, including Microsoft founder Gates, poured tens of millions of dollars into Aquion, helping the company develop products and build a plant in Westmoreland County. In September, Whitacre won the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for his work.

World events seem to be aligning for Aquion. New rules on carbon emissions are shrinking global demand for coal, a multinational consensus on combating climate change emerged in December from talks in Paris, and with 2015 poised to be the hottest year on record, the search for viable renewable energy sources becomes more urgent.


Christina Cassotis: As CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Cassotis is a new major player and the highest paid county employee. Pittsburgh International Airport is undergoing many changes.

Joseph K. Williams III: The Common Pleas Court judge chairs August Wilson Center, which is remaking itself to shed its money troubles. He has a notable retrial of a 1995 arson that killed three Pittsburgh firefighters schedule in 2016.

Henry L. Hillman: The billionaire businessman and civic leader, 96, lost his philanthropist wife Elsie in 2015. How will he position Hillman Family Foundations to survive him?

Stephen A. Zappala Jr.: The Democratic district attorney and son of a former Supreme Court justice wields power among party faithful and could become the frontrunner in the state attorney general race.

Travis Williams: The chief operating officer of the Penguins oversees the team’s Lower Hill District development, and could do more as CEO David Morehouse recovers from heart surgery.


Tom Conway: As the lead negotiator in contract talks with steel producers, the United Steelworkers union vice president is trying to prevent major concessions on health care and other benefits at a time of turmoil in the industry.

Mark McEachen: The decisions of the Education Management Corp. CEO over the next year will determine whether the company can successfully adapt to the changing environment for the struggling for-profit education industry.

Richard Harshman: The CEO of Allegheny Technologies Inc. has stoked tensions between management and labor by locking out union workers at several plants when they refused to accept an agreement with benefit concessions.

Daniel Rice IV: As competitors in the Marcellus and Utica shales dial back drilling because of low prices, the CEO of Cecil-based Rice Energy expects his company to keep growing by focusing on key areas for development.

Klaus Kleinfeld: Kleinfeld is splitting Alcoa Inc. into two in 2016 as the CEO makes aerospace a bigger part of the future with the company’s traditional mining and smelting business facing challenging markets.


Billy Porter: The East Liberty native, Carnegie Mellon University grad and Tony Award winner (“Kinky Boots”) gets another shot at a Tony with a new role in “Shuffle Along” when it opens on Broadway in early 2016.

LaToya Ruby Frazier: The photographer and video artist from Braddock received recognition as a 2015 MacArthur Fellow with a $625,000 grant and a simple directive: Continue to produce good work. Her hometown serves as a backdrop for her work.

Eric Dorfman: The new director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History began his job Aug. 31. With a terrific track record at his former posts in New Zealand and Australia, he plans to work to “cross-pollinate” science and art across the Carnegie institutions.

Daya (Grace Tandon): The 17-year-old from Mt. Lebanon became a nationally known teen pop artist with her debut single, “Hide Away,” which earned more than 2 million hits on YouTube. She made Spotify’s Artists to Watch 2015 playlist and Entertainment Weekly’s “hot new artists to watch now,” following her self-titled EP.

Yves Carreau: The chef/restaurateur helped develop Downtown into a hopping dining-driven destination with his Big Y group of distinct restaurants, including Sonoma Grille, Seviche, NOLA on the Square, Perle and the new Poros, an upscale Greek spot.


Antonio Brown: The Steelers’ All-Pro wide receiver, Brown, 27, will look to build on another superlative season. Signed for two more seasons, Brown wanted his contract renegotiated this past summer, and the team didn’t budge. It could set the stage for a potential holdout in 2016.

James Conner: Pitt’s star running back, Conner, 20, will try to get healthy before he can get back on the field after missing most of the 2015 season with injury. He is fighting Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a diagnosis he received on Thanksgiving.

Meghan Klingenberg: Coming off a Women’s World Cup title with the U.S. National Team, Klingenberg, 27, will try to win a gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Brazil. The Pine-Richland graduate is a sturdy defender for the national squad.

Jamie Dixon: In his 13th season as Pitt’s basketball coach, Dixon, 50, will try to guide the Panthers back to the NCAA Tournament. He is trying to improve on one of his worst seasons, as Pitt went 19-15 and lost in the first round of the NIT.

Sidney Crosby: A decade after he joined the Penguins, Crosby, 28, is at the crossroads of his career. Instead of playing at his peak, Crosby is mired in his worst season as a goal scorer.


Dr. Amesh Adalja: Appeared on national and international news outlets weekly, talking about infectious diseases. He authored a major medical paper on bioterrorism, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. The Infectious Diseases Society of America elected him as a fellow and he will continue to be one of its national spokespeople. On a lighter note, he developed a podcast with an infectious-disease theme with a former Daily Show comedian for Midroll Media. He’s also working on a book on infectious diseases entitled “Extinction Event.”

Nick Deluliis: The CEO of Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc., watched the company’s stock tumble 80 percent in 2015 as the price of both of its products — coal and natural gas — were battered by weak markets and oversupply. DeIuliis shut down Consol’s shale drilling program until 2017 and laid off several hundred employees as the company looked for opportunities to sell some assets. He said the painful cuts in gas activity, combined with earlier investments in coal mines, will position Consol well for when markets improve.

Pat Narduzzi: Pitt’s first-year football coach, at his introductory news conference less than a week before the start of 2015, stood at a podium and rocked back and forth, trying hard to show some decorum while bottling up his energy. Finally unleashed upon his team, prospective recruits and a fan base thirsting for victories, Narduzzi turned Pitt from an ACC afterthought into a championship contender in his first year. Pitt won more games than its fans had grown accustomed to winning, but the challenge next is to transfer that success onto the recruiting trail.

Jo Ellen Parker: In August 2014, became the 10th president and first woman to lead the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. She’s made “social inclusion” — getting the wonder of the arts and sciences to all people — a core value for the museums. To that end, she established and hired Cecile Shellman for the new position of “diversity catalyst.” And the museums are undergoing a major audit to determine how well they comply with best practices and ADA standards.

Gov. Tom Wolf: Took office and quickly learned a rookie can’t make changes easily. His $30 billion tax-and-spend plan led to a six-month budget impasse. He could not secure a tax on shale gas to provide millions of dollars for public education because GOP lawmakers wanted to reform public pensions and sell liquor stores in exchange. Wolf lost a court fight to fire the open records chief, withdrew his choice for state police commissioner, and could not appoint two Supreme Court nominees. By year’s end, his popularity dipped.

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