Kaitlin Flynn Goodwin

dancer, choreographer, educator, and arts entrepreneur

Kaitlin Flynn Goodwin’s life as a choreographer, dancer and artistic director of Courdance was the definition of a go-go-go life.

Then along came Winnie.

“She was such an easy baby, easy pregnancy — after the initial shock wore off after a couple of months,” Ms. Flynn Goodwin said, smiling. Winnie was born in mid-November.

From the day Ms. Flynn Goodwin, 26, began dancing as a 3-year-old tot in South Park, by design there has been precious little down time.

“I was always choreographing or dressing people up — my brother, my neighbors — just making everybody do things. I am a little bossy, but I like to say, ‘I’m more assertive.’”

No one hands out jobs in the arts; Ms. Flynn Goodwin worked hard to earn her position. After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts from Ohio University, she moved to Chicago and worked with, among others, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, performing and choreographing with project-based companies.

“I really loved it. ... They really valued my artistry. They weren’t just telling me, ‘Oh, do this move, do this; we’ll put it together.’”

But she wasn’t getting the work she’d hoped to find. She moved back to Pittsburgh in June 2017 and created Courdance — the “Cour” is for “courage” — to incorporate inventive, project-based dance that embraces a variety of modern styles.

Among the company’s presentations was an outdoor tour in September, visiting iconic Pittsburgh structures such as the Allegheny County Courthouse and Trinity Cathedral. The dancers reflected the architecture in their movements.

In June, Courdance participated in Global Water Dances — an effort to underscore the world’s need for safe water — at Point State Park.

As if juggling the needs of a new baby, as well as creative demands of her artistic work, weren’t quite hectic enough, Ms. Flynn Goodwin teaches dance at Westinghouse Arts Academy charter school in Wilmerding.

Many of the students in her grades 9-through-12 classes have little dance experience, but they’re eager to learn. “It’s just fun to see how sponge-like they are,” she said.

On the radar for National Choreography Month are a series of challenges for January. And life with husband, Tony, and Winnie, of course.

Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com

Imani Jahaan

vintage clothing collector, seller and stylist

For Imani Jahaan, vintage clothing is a way to connect with the past and to feel empowered for the future.

Sharing this joy for garments from yesteryear is part of her role as the curator and owner of Imani Jahaan Vintage, an e-commerce endeavor (imanijahaan.com) she started nearly four years ago. She’s also a familiar face at local events, including participating in Made + Found Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer with her fashion discoveries in tow. Plus, she’s a rising makeup artist and stylist who’s worked on indie movies and photo shoots.

What sets her apart from other vintage vendors in the city is her focus on offering pieces for a range of body types — something that can be a challenge at times.   

“Being a plus-size woman with a bust, hips and waist — my body type existed back then, so there has to be those pieces out there,” says Ms. Jahaan, 28, a Philadelphia native who resides in East Liberty.

“We want color, we want quality, we want to feel sexy and feminine. I just love bringing those pieces that encompass all of those things to the shop.”

She traces her fashion inspiration to her aunt. “She was well traveled and well versed in different cultures. The way she dressed was a reflection of that,” Ms. Jahaan said. “Sometimes when I have nothing to say, I put an outfit together that says what I want to get across. It’s always been a source of expression for me.”

While studying business at the University of Pittsburgh Bradford, she took up thrifting. When she ran out of room to store things in her small dorm room, she starting hanging her vintage gems on the walls like art. Other students took notice.

“They’d ask, ‘Are you selling that stuff? What’s the deal?’”

She took photos of pieces with her cellphone and posted them for sale on websites like Etsy.

“I started getting sales from all over the country,” she said. “People were looking at my stuff in Hawaii and Los Angeles. That was my first taste of people liking what I was doing.”

She enjoys the challenge of the hunt, which takes her to flea markets and estate sales near and far.

“My heart really stays in the ‘70s,” she said, although she also carries pieces from the ‘80s and more recent decades, with the occasional ‘50s find sprinkled in.

“I just feel like black beauty and black glamour was at its height. Natural hair was really huge and really celebrated at that time, and that’s typically how I wear my hair. I just love their boldness and them being unapologetic.”

Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.  

Casey Droege

arts entrepreneur

Casey Droege, an energetic artist and entrepreneur, recently moved to Stanton Heights and loves the fact that she can walk to work. 

But since she started a business called Casey Droege Cultural Productions in 2015, she’s often running faster than a regular marathon athlete.

The 37-year-old woman combines her love for tackling projects with serious art credentials, including a 2004 bachelor’s degree in art from the Art Institute of Chicago and a master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. In 2003, she spent a frosty nine months in Reykjavik studying textiles at the Iceland Academy of the Arts.

Last year, her Lawrenceville company expanded into a Wilkinsburg building. Ms. Droege also completed a major project in 2019 when the Tryp Hotel opened last July just off the 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville. While the new hotel — formerly a trade school — was being renovated, she served as a consultant on acquiring artworks by local artists.

“We ended up getting about 35 Pittsburgh-based artists into that space. That was a really large project and we had a lot of creative freedom, which was really nice,” Ms. Droege said.

With a grant from the Opportunity Fund, she plans to maintain her momentum In 2020 by showing two cutting-edge, craft-oriented exhibitions at the Wilkinsburg gallery. Each one will run for six weeks and feature work by a Pittsburgh artist, as well as one from out of town.

Located on South Trenton Avenue, the Wilkinsburg space — formerly a community-run arts center called Percolate — houses an outpost of her Lawrenceville-based Small Mall, which sells local art. Behind that retail space is a 1,200-square-foot gallery. 

Ms. Droege employs seven women at her business, which presents four Six X Ate events, a roving dinner and lecture series that began in 2013. Each fall, her company organizes the annual photo fair at Carnegie Museum of Art.

Then there’s community supported art, or CSA PGH. A twist on the agricultural model, this initiative is part of a nationwide movement driven by artists that commissions artworks that are then grouped and sold to the public as shares.

This year, “Our goal is to do a lot more consulting and help businesses buy art made by local artists,” she said.

To that end, she is organizing a panel discussion and tour in February at the Tryp Hotel in partnership with the city’s Office of Public Art and with Monmade, a trade group that helps artists and crafts people sell their products.

The goal of the gathering, Ms. Droege said, is to demonstrate to architects, developers and interior designers the value of adding artists to the conversation about design and building projects.

Marylynne Pitz at mpitz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1648 or on Twitter:@mpitzpg

Veronica Lieberman

founder of Make It Hapin

Two years ago, when Veronica Lieberman was working for Stitch Fix in Austin, Texas, she decided to buy herself some of the clothes and home decor that she was seeing on Pinterest.

What she found was that translating the pictures into actual purchases wasn’t that easy.

“It takes a really long time, and you have to really know what you’re doing when you’re searching,” she said. “What I realized, if it’s hard for me — someone with a background in e-commerce and a fashion degree — it’s got to be really hard for people who don’t have that knowledge and also don’t have that time.”

The process gave Ms. Lieberman, 31, a business idea. She just needed someone with more tech knowledge to help her launch it.

In the summer of 2018, while living in Portland, Ore., she found that person — Andrea Tucker, a web developer with a background in software product management — and the two decided to make the idea come to life. 

Things accelerated further this summer when their fledgling company, Make it Hapin, was accepted into the AlphaLab tech accelerator in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Lieberman, who graduated from Allegheny College and has friends and family in Pittsburgh, moved to Upper Lawrenceville in September with her husband. Ms. Tucker, meanwhile, moved to San Diego.

The company works by allowing users to submit a photo of an outfit — either something that someone is wearing on the street, or a picture of a celebrity from a magazine, or an online photo from a site like Pinterest or Instagram.

Within 48 hours, Make it Hapin will provide a lookbook with ideas to re-create the outfit, guaranteed to be in-stock in the user’s size. The company makes money through commissions, and is exploring subscription options and sales of trend data, said Ms. Lieberman.

The company re-launched in October and on a recent weekday, Ms. Lieberman was busy responding to users in the AlphaLab offices — more than 180 outfit requests have come in since the relaunch.

“This new model is really taking off,” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”

Anya Sostek: asostek@post-gazette.com

Adriana Ramirez

literary artist and performance poet

The past five years have been ascendant for Adriana Ramirez. After years of subsistence living as a university lecturer, the 36-year-old poet and essayist has a book deal with Scribner’s and a shower of recognition.

She was recently awarded the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award (named for the first director of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust); won City of Asylum Pittsburgh’s 2017 residency in Brussels, Belgium; and Pen America’s Pen Fusion award in 2015 for her nonfiction novella “Dead Boys.”

“The Violence” has been five years in the making — a long haul but a fraction of the duration of Colombia’s decades of civil war. On visits to her mother’s native country, she talked with witnesses of incredible violence, she said.

Ms. Ramirez was born in Mexico City and grew up in Houston and McAllen, Texas. Her Mexican Colombian father had bought half an interest in a Texas business and moved the family when Adriana was 3 months old. She became a U.S. citizen at age 12.

In her poetry book “The Swallows” from 2016, she wrote about her citizenship test, being asked to identify the day the Constitution was signed: “I have committed the date to memory, Perfect in my acquired patriotism.”

Sept. 17, 1787, she tells the examiner.

She always wanted to be a writer. In 2013, she co-founded the Aster(iix) Journal with fiction writer Angie Cruz. She is also co-founder of the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective.

During a recent interview in her Sharpsburg studio, she said being a child of immigrants has informed much of what she writes.

Her parents were chagrined when she decided to major in English with the goal of being a writer. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Rice University, she studied for her master’s in nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 2009.

Her parents decided not to support her financially for her choice.

“But we are super close to this day,” she said. “They wanted to teach me the value of figuring out how to be a poet and a writer. Pitt funding allowed me to live.”

She remained at Pitt as a lecturer, living on stipends that rose from $13,000 to $18,000 over almost a decade, sharing a house with four other people.

Five years ago, she married Jesse Welch, whom she met at a poetry slam in Boston. He was on Team Seattle, she was on Team Pittsburgh. They live in Highland Park with their 18-month-old son, Rafael. She is expecting a daughter, Josefina, in February.

Other than a few diversions and her family, she said, “I don’t have to focus on very much but writing.

“I went from subsistence living to having a book deal,” she said, remembering what it felt like to get a check for $10,000. Through a gale of laughter, she said, “I went to the bank and said, ‘Can I deposit this or is it too much?’

“That joy wouldn’t have happened if I had had a safety net.”

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com

Kelsey Ford

creator and director of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Bookish in the 'Burgh

On her website, Kelsey Ford introduces herself as a feminist fangirl, contemporary fantasy author “and firm believer in all things magic.” Her wizardry includes building enthusiasm for reading among young adults in a world of screen teens.

Ms. Ford, 28, of Bellevue, is the creator, senior programming manager and director of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Bookish in the 'Burgh — think of it as fantasyland for teen lovers of YA books. Bookish launched in March with seven authors. In 2020, the festival will bring 32 writers to Pittsburgh.

The avid reader from Cochranton, Crawford County, said that growing up, she was a lot like the teen ambassadors who flock to the festival. These days she reads between 150 and 200 books a year, “partly because I love reading so much and partly to stay current with what’s happening in the publishing industry.”

Among her Bookish duties, Ms. Ford curates the reading list, recruits the authors and gets resources into the hands of Pittsburgh educators, mentors and librarians. The 2020 festival, which is scheduled for March 27-28, includes its first Educators Day.

Book choices come from reading and recommendations from publicists, publishers, bookstores and teens.

“It's a good mix of debut authors and authors who have been at this for a long time, like Siobhan Vivian in Pittsburgh,” Ms. Ford said of her picks, “and making sure the stories are diverse and inclusive and timely.”

Ms. Ford’s journey to the trust came through Florida Southern College and Bath Spa University in the U.K., where she earned her masters degree. She went on to work with the Association of Arts Administration Educators. She also serves on the board of Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade and the steering committee of the Pittsburgh Emerging Arts Leaders Network.

At a September event to kick-start the 2020 festival, a wall in the Trust Arts Education Center was dotted with headshots of the 32 authors coming in March. 

“It shows,” she said, “that there is all this national buzz — publishers want to send authors to Pittsburgh because they are seeing this exciting literary boom in our city and a lot of enthusiasm in our teens.”

Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com

Daniel Nesta Curtis


When it comes to conducting, Daniel Nesta Curtis spends almost as much time thinking about what he’s going to say to introduce the music as he does studying the score.

“My favorite compliment is when people tell me they appreciate me speaking before a performance,” he said.

You won’t find Curtis, 33, at the helm of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra or Pittsburgh Opera.

Instead, he has built a career leading the city’s smaller ensembles, particularly those that specialize in new music — organizations such as NAT 28, the Kassia Ensemble, Kamraton, Resonance Works Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, Quantum Theater and many others. Curtis has also taught conducting at the graduate level at Carnegie Mellon University since 2012 and directs the school’s contemporary music ensemble.

“I have carte blanche in programming, and it’s hard to find that anywhere else,” he said.

The traditional path for a conductor is to win an audition to be an assistant at an orchestra and then move to a directing position at a small orchestra before working up to larger, better known organizations.

Curtis says he’s “healthfully skeptical” of what major orchestras are doing, and while he didn’t plan on working with so many small ensembles, he loves every moment of his patchwork career.

Just one example of the types of productions he’s directing — in 2019, Curtis served as music director and narrator in a post-apocalyptic production titled “Her Holiness the Winter Dog,” in which some humans act as pets in a new religious world order.

“When things feel weird or like they might not work, that’s when I get really excited,” Curtis said. “It’s a bit strange, now that I think about it.”

A Key West, Fla., native and bassoonist by training, Curtis lives with his husband in Troy Hill.

Jeremy Reynolds: jreynolds@post-gazette.com

Pete Spynda

event producer and promoter

What is great about Pittsburgh is that if you don’t see something that you want to see happening, you can actually create a space for it and watch it grow. An example of someone who has done this? Pete Spynda.

A fan of world music since age 15, he began Pandemic in 2005 as a dance party that snowballed into booking live bands at Brillobox in Bloomfield.

“It has just grown organically into what I do now,” Spynda said.

In October, for example, Pandemic hosted a neighborhood block party in East Liberty that featured groups like Ram from Haiti and the Cumbia River Band. Participants were asked to “pay what makes you happy.” On Carrick Avenue, Les Filles de Illighadad were playing with admission fees from $15 to $20. 

But why world music? “At first, I was introduced to the sounds of the Romany people. The music was unclassifiable, and then a friend reached out to me about Eastern Europe's Balkan brass bands,” Spynda recalled.

The research became even more compelling as he learned of the trials and tribulations of the Romany people.

“It resonated with me. No one was really producing these types of shows or bands. They became popular and started traveling, so I began booking them. The same thing with Latin music, and I’m been obsessing over it for 15 years,” Spynda said.

The music hooked him with its rhythmic structures. And new musicians are showcasing themselves in different ways, using technology to fuse the traditional cultural music and dance music to create something unique.

“I think that is why, for me, the focus is on this: Currently we live with homophobia, racism, xenophobia and misogyny. To deal with these issues, it’s important to embrace other cultures and stay open-minded,” Spynda said. “The way we portray immigrants in media and through policy is derogatory, and I want to present all cultures in a celebratory way.

“This is important that we bring people together through celebration, not just times of injustice. Music can do that.”

When Spynda began, he was overwhelmed by the support that he received.

“I expected 20 to 30 people to show up for live shows, but we would have 200 people,” he said.

Pandemic has been able to provide a place for emerging artists to showcase their music from all over the world, but he works multiple jobs to be able to continue the work.

“Sometimes I just break even. Sometimes you lose money, too. It can be hard. But I do it because artists need a spot and no one has really stepped up to this space,” Spynda said.

To stay afloat, he works in digital media consulting, paints houses, cuts grass and even sells sausage at a Polish deli. “I have 10 jobs at all times,” he said with a laugh.

He explains that it isn’t easy for these artists either. Spynda helps them obtain tourist visas and contracts.

“The Trump administration is not making this any easier,” he adds. “But it is worth it. We have a lot of immigrants and refugees living here, and their experiences aren’t really represented through our culture or art and they should be celebrated.

“We are all Americans, but we all come from somewhere. It’s important to have new artists from all over the world come through the city. It has become my mission.”

Natalie Bencivenga: nbencivenga@post-gazette.com

Keith Parish and Joe Leachko

co-founders of StudioME

Keith Parish and Joe Leachko want to make media easy — for everyone.

With combined backgrounds in marketing, management and video creation, the two friends recognized early on that media content would become an important strategy for businesses.

They were right. A social media page is now a requirement. Educational videos are standard practice. Almost everyone has a podcast out about something. If that’s not enough, now some people are moving ahead to video podcasts.

“The industry was becoming very dynamic and there wasn’t really anybody servicing all these new media creators that were coming out and all these new types of media,” said Mr. Parish, 34, of Regent Square.

To fill that gap, Mr. Parish and Mr. Leachko, 31, of East Liberty, opened StudioMe to offer equipment, training and professional help to anyone who wanted to create content. That could look like renting space in their East Liberty studio to film an interview using a green screen and a teleprompter, or working with one of their studio managers to edit photos and video footage, or recording a podcast in a virtually soundproof room.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for media creators, no matter what their skill level, to go from point A to point B,” Mr. Parish said.

When they first opened StudioMe in 2017, the concept was hard for customers to understand. Anticipating some confusion at first, the founders made sure to create a storefront that was inviting, hoping to get customers in the door because “all the magic happens behind those walls,” Mr. Leachko said.

The two friends got a grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to get up and running and then self-funded the rest of the expenses.

As content creation became a ubiquitous term, business picked up fast.

The company has two studio managers, who help with everything from vacuuming the floors to producing content and leading training sessions for clients, as well as two media professionals who split time between StudioMe and another video production company Mr. Parish started before he co-founded the studio.

StudioMe has worked with about 500 clients, including organizations like Dick’s Sporting Goods, UPMC, The Discovery Channel and Dance Moms. But the staff also works with “solo-preneurs,” as they like to call them — people who might be real estate agents, bloggers or launching startups.

The studio has helped the Jazz Fest “spice up” its marketing content, shot a horror movie in its office space and action-filled demo-reels for actors’ auditions, helped produce fashion blogs and even created a show about one woman’s bunny.

“Whatever the demand is, we just shift ourselves to stay relevant,” Mr. Leachko said.

The company brings in about $25,000 annually. Customers can pay for just the space and equipment or request help with their project, from start to finish or for last-minute edits. In the future, Mr. Leachko and Mr. Parish would like to offer a membership package for repeat customers.

Both transplants who originally came for college, the founders said Pittsburgh is the right market for this kind of business. It’s a creative city, they said, and the institutional businesses here are starting to look for ways to keep up with the new digital world.

“We’re definitely becoming one of the more innovative cities, but we’re still a bit behind,” Mr. Parish said. “The thought is if it works here, it’ll work in other cities across the country.”

Lauren Rosenblatt: lrosenblatt@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1565.

Cameron Barnett

poet and educator

It’s a crisp, sunny morning in his Garfield neighborhood but Cameron Barnett is going places, as usual — so much so that the barista at “his” Commonplace Voluto is set to make that green tea and chocolate chip cookie to go. 

Instead, the 30-year-old narrative poet and middle school teacher, who’s also a runner and history/space nerd, sits and chats about what’s next now that he’s won a 2019 Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award from The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

He likes everything about it — including that the $15,000 comes with no strings — but he loves that it’s for the artist that is “emerging.”

“That’s exactly the word I would choose for myself,” says the author of 2017’s acclaimed “The Drowning Boys Guide to Water.”

He’s using the foundations’ money, including $8,500 they awarded him earlier last year, to work on his second book. In it, he aims to more fully and broadly — historically and geographically — examine his and his family’s black experience in North America. That’s why he has just returned from Las Vegas, one of the places where he’s interviewing older relatives to capture their voices as they tell their stories relating to the civil rights movement and later struggles.

He knows he’s a product of their experiences, with his own story including being born in Los Angeles but raised in Pittsburgh, attending Duquesne University and then getting his master’s in fine arts in poetry at the University of Pittsburgh before winding up teaching sixth and seventh graders (to whom he’s “Mr. B”) at his mom’s and his alma mater of Falk Laboratory School.

His avenue of service and activism is telling stories, which he believes is “the thing that binds all of us.” So especially once summer hits, he needs to get writing and keep moving toward being a Poet with a capital P.   

“It’s really humbling and flattering and at the same time, a sort of kick in the butt,” he says with an easy smile of his recent recognition. “‘You’re going in the right direction. Keep going.’”  

Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com

Brittney Chantele

rapper, artist and activist

Brittney Chantele is a mighty force with a bullhorn, as she demonstrated while co-leading the charge during the Antwon Rose II protest marches.

She’s also a rapper-singer from the 1Hood crew who can show a tender side, as she did last year on her debut album, “A Fire on Venus,” a departure from her activist leanings.

“I had a lot of songs relating to love and queerness and even abuse within relationships,” she said. “I was a little bit hesitant if I wanted to put that out there, because a lot of people see me as an activist and an artist and I was like, ‘Is this album in the realm of activism? Are people going to think I’m done talking about real [stuff]?’

“It was sort of like a push and pull for me, but I’m happy that I did it.”

What people might not know about the 26-year-old Ms. Chantele — who was born in Erie, raised in Oakdale and now lives in Garfield — is that she spent seven years in the Army National Guard, after signing up when she was 18.

She’ll be addressing some of the hardships she encountered there, notably sexual assault, on what promises to be a potent second album, “The Golden Opportunity.”

Ms. Chantele — citing her early influences as Michael Jackson, Nas, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley and Destiny's Child — began working on her own music in early 2016. After releasing an EP, she hooked up with Jasiri X and the gang at 1Hood Media, a nonprofit that supports young artists with a socially conscious outlook.

“1Hood has helped me in so many ways, not just musically but also helping me with validating me in my identity as a person of color,” she said.

“I know my privilege in my skin being white and me being white-presenting, but it’s been difficult to really dig down into my black ethnicity and also be accepted by the black community. Jasiri and 1Hood has really affirmed me and validated me as a person of color and they pushed me to tell my story.”

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com

Jasmine Cho

baker, art therapist, and founder of the online bakery Yummyholic

Known as the stress hormone, cortisol in the body at chronic elevated levels can wreak all sorts of havoc — from anxiety and depression to headaches and heart disease. It’s even associated with higher risk of cancer. Particularly susceptible are those who have endured some type of physical or emotional trauma.

Jasmine Cho knows a way to reduce cortisol levels: through baking. And she has the data to prove it.

The newly minted 35-year-old Carlow University summa cum laude graduate — with a 3.99 GPA and a degree in art therapy — has already completed a pilot study in partnership with the Center for Victims on the South Side and plans to expand her programs later this year. Part of her research has included measuring cortisol levels through saliva before and after baking.

“Their saliva results corroborated with our anxiety survey results,” Ms. Cho explained. “Both of our results showed a significant decrease in anxiety and stress from the survey and cortisol levels in the saliva. It’s very exciting.”

“Baking, because it’s such a sensory experience — all five of your senses are engaged — could take the visual art experience to another level, especially to help treat populations that face trauma. ... Trauma healing is all about rewiring and restructuring the brain. I think the best way to do that is through tactile healing type of experiences.”

The Southern California native and Squirrel Hill resident is a dynamic polymath. A self-taught baker and taekwondo expert who dubs herself a “creative ninja,” she is the founder of Yummyholic, an online bakery that she’s used to elevate awareness on social justice issues.

Her work has been featured on “CBS This Morning,” NPR and Huffington Post. She hosted a TED Talk in Pittsburgh last year about using baking to tell stories of Asian-American history. In November, she won $10,000 on the Food Network’s “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”

She’ll likely pursue a master’s degree in art therapy and creativity development from the Pratt Institute in New York City through a “low residency program.” That will allow her to stay in Pittsburgh where she can continue her research with the Center for Victims and with a new project with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, while endeavoring to create an entirely new discipline — bake therapy.

“I’m hoping this field of study can help me to build out a real research-based bake therapy program,” she said. 

“I’m being very ambitious. I’m really trying to pioneer something. My big picture vision is to make baking something that counselors and helping professionals can utilize.”

Dan Gigler: dgigler@post-gazette.com; Twitter @gigs412.

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13 luminaries to meet in 2020

They are dancing, reading, writing poetry, making music and videos, and even helping spread fashion. As 2020 begins, we introduce you to people who are illuminating new corners of the Pittsburgh community and bringing in new voices and ideas to enrich our region.

From a Pittsburgher giving teenage book lovers a community they never would have had otherwise, to a couple of guys who set up a studio in East Liberty where companies and regular folks can make a podcast and more, to a promoter working with lesser known groups to get Pittsburgh dancing and appreciating the world’s music, these are people who are working to bring vibrancy to the region.

Maybe these folks can offer inspiration as we launch the new decade.

Click/tap on an image to open a profile.