Pittsburgh Business Times: Editorial: How the 2024 30 Under 30 innovate and inspire

When you survey a group of 30 young professionals about what it is that they do and the aspects that make each individual unique, there are bound to be some trends that appear.

But what is interesting about the trends that emerged among this year’s group of 30 Under 30 honorees is that they are not necessarily what you’d expect them to be.

While this year’s group of honorees is not made up entirely of members of Gen Z — there are still some young millennials born before 1997 — these honorees represent a new generation of business and community leaders. And with the reputation of younger generations lie some stereotypes.

Those stereotypes include, but are not limited to: Being addicted to the internet and social media, being lazy and being unproductive.

In other words, it’s simply an age-old tale of how the generational divide perpetuates the reputations of the up-and-comers. As a 24-year-old member of Gen Z myself, I’m no stranger to being the subject of some of this ire.

But upon taking a look at our impressive 30 Under 30 honorees, I am confident that any water those stereotypes may hold will disappear.

For one, our honorees this year come from an array of places, both across the country and the world. Jones Day’s Kaavya Ramesh, who’s from Bangalore, India, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Maria Jose Rodriguez, who’s from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, are prime examples. It was encouraging to see such a mix of both Pittsburgh natives and transplants, a true demonstration of the fact that while Pittsburgh may be facing ongoing population loss, especially among young professionals, there are still plenty of draws in this region attracting young talent, chief among them being job opportunities. Leaders in the region should take this as a sign that supporting the growth of companies and prime employers in Pittsburgh should be a top priority as we look to grow the population.

Another trend I noticed may affirm the idea that the younger generations are often on the forefront of new technology. Many of our honorees this year, in one way or another, utilize artificial intelligence in their work or are leading the way in bringing AI tools to their workplaces — Marlon Brown from Infosys and Jonathan Dencker from the Army Artificial Intelligence Integration Center come to mind. Notably, two of our honorees’ work has to do with space travel — Andrea Davis at Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Anna Voelker at AstroAccess. There’s also Lisa Carter from Motional, who conducts work on autonomous vehicles, another technology frontier, and Duquesne Light Co.’s Matt McDonald, who is working to prepare the region’s electrical grid for the growing use of electric vehicles. In the health care space, Lauren Grice from Respair Inc. is developing new devices that will better protect patients who are put on ventilators from infection, and Madison Campbell of Leda Health is exploring how blockchain technology could make at-home rape testing kits more feasible.

You’ll notice as you read through each profile that we chose to photograph this year’s honorees at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and its MuseumLab on the North Side. No, this was not done in an effort to further highlight their youth. Rather, we wanted to celebrate the cultural attractions in the region that many of us Pittsburgh natives have grown up with. The Children’s Museum first opened in 1983 and grew significantly in the decades that followed, serving as a staple children’s attraction to young Pittsburghers who are now young adults. Last year, it celebrated its 40th anniversary, and it continues to serve our region’s kids today.

Lillian Gabreski, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the region’s federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization, was directly responsible for obtaining nearly $144 million in federal funds in 2023 for planning and infrastructure projects in the Pittsburgh area, and Lillian Gabreski had a big role to play in that work. Gabreski is the manager of sponsored programs development for the SPC, and in her role she helps drive these planning and infrastructure projects forward, work that in some cases involves obtaining funding for the projects as she leads SPC in developing grant applications. She also drives SPC’s efforts in adhering to federal environmental justice guidelines and advises the organization on how to best adhere to federal and state laws and regulations. Gabreski is a Jamestown, New York, native. She joined the SPC in 2018 after earning her undergraduate degree in political science from Penn State and her master’s degree in public administration from Cornell University. She sits on the board of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh and is on the Zoning Hearing Board for the Dormont neighborhood where she lives.

Age: 29

What inspired your career? I was inspired by the way people utilize the built world and wanted to improve its beauty, functionality and accessibility.

What was your favorite cultural attraction to visit as a kid? My mom is an English professor and spent her summers working at Chautauqua Institution — I spent most of my summers “on the grounds” growing up.

What’s one change you would make to improve Pittsburgh? Enhance and protect public transportation infrastructure to improve accessibility for all, fostering a more sustainable and connected urban environment that people can enjoy.

What’s one thing about you that would surprise people? My husband and I got married in Stellenbosch, South Africa. We met during my study abroad in Cape Town and frequently travel back to visit family.

What would be your walk-up song? “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga


Favorite book: “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

Favorite movie: “Charade” 1963

Favorite local restaurant: Driftwood Oven

Dream vacation destination: New Zealand

View the full article at bizjournals.com.