Two years ago, we discovered the work of photographer Tom M. Johnson and learned about The Pittsburgh Project, his ongoing series of portraits of Pittsburghers inspired by a speech Mayor Bill Peduto gave.
The mayor had spoken “about the ‘Pittsburgh Story,’ anecdotes of how Pittsburgh and its people turned the city around from its low in the late ’70s to what it has become today.” That inspired Johnson to use his formidable photography skills to document the Pittsburgh Stories he saw all around him.
In 2016, we featured his first 16 portraits here. We’re excited to bring you a new installment of 16 stunning photos capturing people who help make our city the vibrant, thriving place that it is.
Since December 2014, Ing Kalchthaler has lost 217 pounds. Her concern for health was secondary. Ing’s primary motivation for shedding the weight was to have more stamina in order to better care for her mother, serve the children she works with at Shaler North Hills Library in Glenshaw, and, as an Ordained American Baptist Minister, tend to the adults in her ministry.
In 1990, not long after being diagnosed with AIDS, Dennis Bergevin moved here because physicians in Pittsburgh’s medical community conducted some of the most advanced AIDS research. He had already fallen in love with Pittsburgh while making wigs for the Pittsburgh Opera. Besides receiving the best medical attention, Dennis believes and agrees with an old Indian tenet that the convergence of the three rivers has mystical healing powers.
When Ann takes a break from the rigors of being the co-director of the Carnegie Science Center, she likes to stroll around the Science Center’s exhibit floors seeing young people excitedly engage in science, or to walk out onto the outdoor terrace, take in the view of the point and marvel at what Pittsburgh has become.
From working to increase minority participation at the Central Blood Bank, to working with women who were the victims of domestic violence at the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, to creating the African Healing Garden where people can find refuge from the day-to-day struggles of life, Betty Lane’s life goal has always been to make things better.
Don has been a Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket holder for more than 20 years and was one of the first to come to the ballpark clad in pirate garb. Through thick and even the thinnest of years, Don will always be a passionate Buccaneer fan; as he claims, “the true test of a Pirate is his loyalty!”
Dr. Andre Samuel
As director of the Citizen Science Lab, Dr. Samuel’s goal is to create greater opportunity for his students and have the Lab be an employment conduit into Pittsburgh’s vast, growing and avant-garde tech and healthcare industries. When Dr. Samuel is not teaching, there’s a good chance you’ll find him navigating his drone.
Earl A. Faust
World War II vet, one-time Pennsylvania State Champion in Men’s Slalom Water Skiing, and former owner and operator of a marina near the 62nd Street Bridge in Lawrenceville, Earl now keeps himself busy buying and selling boats, conducting business at the Washington’s Landing Marina. I asked his lovely wife Eddy, “If a man has lived a life at sea he’s called an Old Salt. So what do you call him if he’s lived a life on the river?” She replied, “an Old Worm!”
Gisele is very busy these days in multiple roles serving her community. She is the founder of The Free Store in Braddock and more recently the co-founder of the Hollander Project, helping other women launch businesses. She jokes that if her husband is successful in being elected Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, she will no longer be FLOB, or first lady of Braddock; she will become SLOP, second lady of Pennsylvania. Just perhaps, one day she’ll have the title FLOTUS. Or better yet, POTUS.
Seven years ago in her native Uganda, Hanifa Nakiryowa was the victim of an acid attack. Rather than retreating in shame, the attack has liberated and empowered Hanifa. Aided by an H.J. Heinz Fellowship in 2015, Hanifa moved to Pittsburgh to attend the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. And she brought along her two young daughters. Hanifa works with the advocacy group Women’s Health Activist Movement, an organization that advances human rights and heals those who have suffered from violence. Hanifa happily lives and works in Squirrel Hill, and has become an inspiration for many Pittsburghers.
Under the span of the Bloomfield Bridge is a terrace designed and arranged for a mid-summer night’s party, where there is a potpourri of colorful and artfully crafted metal chairs, tables, ornamental lamps and fixtures. It’s on the terrace of John Walter’s metal shop, Iron Eden, where you’ll discover that John is much more than a blacksmith; he is truly an artist.
Knowledge Build Hudson
I asked Knowledge how his name came to be, and he told me that he has always been a positive mentor and connector for young people; hence, he adopted Knowledge Build for himself. When not mentoring, you’ll likely find him at one of his favorite Eastside vegan restaurants.
An Army Veteran and now an engineer at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at Bakery Square, Matt has such a long list of accomplishments it’s impossible to list them all here. I’ll just say that Google was inspired enough by him and his work that they made a movie about him.
Meredith Meyer Grelli
When Meredith is not consumed with running Wigle Whiskey or Threadbare Cider House & Meadery, she loves to relax with friends and sip an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Yet, her next entrepreneurial venture is never far from her thoughts. She and her co-owners have dreams of opening up a whiskey museum at the same trailhead that, back in the day, brought whiskey from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.
Pat & Alice
Sisters Patricia Fogle and Alice Halterlein of Sisters of St Francis of the Neumann Communities share their Franciscan hospitality and bring a little sweetness into the lives of people in need: They visit Starbucks at Ross Park Mall to pick up unsold baked goods, then deliver those goods to food pantries, homeless shelters and the Evergreen Assisted Living Center in Millvale.
Scott is the executive director of KidsVoice, an organization that represents nearly 3,000 children involved in the child welfare system in Allegheny County. Scott’s brother, David, a TV producer in Hollywood, based the TV show “The Guardian” on Scott’s work with children and KidsVoice.
Victoria Bechtold Kush
Victoria Kush delivers a compelling voice of influence to the fabric of Pittsburgh as a civil litigation attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC and is a classically trained soprano, in addition to her prolific community involvement. Named one of the 2018 Women of Influence by the Pittsburgh Business Times and the 2016 Woman of Distinction in Government & Law by the Girl Scouts, Victoria’s legal prowess is fused with her ability to captivate, compel and communicate with others.