Meet the 2018 Inclusive Innovation Week Ambassadors

Will Allen, Gisele Fetterman, Sharon Steed, Natalie Bencivenga, and Majestic Lane

With Inclusive Innovation Week a few days away, we would like to introduce our Ambassadors! These are people who come from all walks of life and different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. They are agents of change within the city and champions of equity, access, and innovation. We are proud to have them representing Inclusive Innovation Week and be sure to keep an out for them during the event week! Introducing…

Will Allen

Will Allen, Founder of the Will Allen Foundation

Pittsburgh Steelers veteran Will Allen is giving back to his community through philanthropy and education. His life’s mission is to Educate + Influence + Empower those in his surrounding community. He created the Will Allen Foundation to provide programs and resources in an effort to instill hope, remove barriers, promote education, advocate civic responsibility, and change lives in the community. Off the field, Allen is constantly attending community events, mentoring youth, and inspiring his teammates to give back.

What does Inclusive Innovation Week mean to Will:

“Inclusive Innovation helps provide a level playing field for all, creating a city where every individual can achieve their greatest success”

Gisele Fetterman

Gisele Fetterman, Founder of The Freestore and Co-fouonder of 412 Food Rescue

One of the most compassionate people you will ever meet, Gisele is spreading her love and empathy beyond Braddock to the greater Pittsburgh area. After becoming First Lady of Braddock, she founded The Braddock Free Store, a non-profit that helps Braddock families create comfortable homes, regardless of their socio-economic status. Having grown up as an undocumented immigrant in New York City, Gisele understands the importance of household items to struggling families in need. She also co-founded 412 Food Rescue and is involved in several initiatives in Braddock and the surrounding areas to empower residents and make change.

What does Inclusive Innovation Week mean to Gisele:

“My work has been entirely inspired by my immigrant experience and I am thrilled to be an ambassador of Inclusive Innovation Week and to highlight the diverse voices and their immense contributions to our region.”

Sharon Steed

Sharon Steed, Principal of Communilogue

You may have seen Sharon’s course on empathy on Lynda, TEDx, or LinkedIn Learning. She is the principal of Communilogue, an empathy consulting firm. She teaches individuals and organizations around the world about communicating with empathy and the difference it can make on team collaboration and the larger community. Sharon uses her own speech impediment to convey the power of empathy and the importance of empathy in and out of the workplace.

What does Inclusive Innovation Week mean to Sharon:

“Inclusive Innovation means and requires perspective, and that’s so valuable because you can’t have innovation without inclusion”

Natalie Bencivenga

Natalie Bencivenga, Editor of SEEN at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Natalie chronicles the social scene in Pittsburgh in all its diversity. Her SEEN column in Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette portrays the way we live today and the people who are engaged in making this community a vibrant place to live. Her background in social work helps her connect with individuals across neighborhoods as she broadens the reach of SEEN and the Post-Gazette.

What does Inclusive Innovation Week mean to Natalie:

“After working in the communities of Pittsburgh as both a social worker and now a journalist, I recognize that it is imperative for us to consider how inequities drive wedges between us and create unnecessary hardships for many. When we begin to challenge the social constructs that separate us, we can move towards a space that invites, includes, and celebrates all of the people of our communities. Pittsburghers are resilient in spirit and Pittsburgh can enact meaningful change that uplifts and benefits us all.”

Majestic Lane

Majestic Lane, Deputy Cheif of Neighborhood Empowerment in the Mayor’s Office

Majestic Lane is the Deputy Chief of Neighborhood Empowerment in the office of Mayor William Peduto. You will often see him moving from event to event speaking on behalf of the Mayor. He champions neighborhood equity efforts through community driven development, affordable housing, and engaging with Community Development Corporations, neighborhood groups, and other stakeholders. In all of his endeavors, Lane’s aim is “to create processes, programs, practices, and policies that are sensitive to people.” He is passionate about making and inspiring change within the community with a particular focus on youth in Pittsburgh.

What does Inclusive Innovation Week mean to Majestic:

“Inclusive Innovation Week is important to me because it connects all of Pittsburgh to the vision and economy of the future”

You are invited too!

Keep an eye out for these ambassadors during the week while attending events, engaging in important conversations, and meeting new people. They might even be wearing the Inclusive Innovation inspired Knotzland bowties! Look at their Inclusive Innovation Week schedules and make your own while you’re at it. We can’t wait to see you there!

Inclusive Innovation Week is an event week and platform spearheaded by the City of Pittsburgh and URA to amplify opportunity for all and encourage cross-sector collaboration. Inclusive Innovation Week 2018 will be April 2nd to April 8th with events held all over the city! Keep up to date with our calendar for more information.