Updated, 10:32 a.m.
With the 2017 municipal election barely in the rearview mirror and the 2018 primary just six months away, politics never stops.
Today, meet Who’s Next: Politics, The Incline’s second class of up-and-coming political leaders. Members include a mayor-elect, 2018 candidates, party leaders and those working behind the scenes answering phones and researching policy.
Who’s Next is sponsored by S&T Bank and celebrates rising under-40 leaders in different fields. The Incline’s editorial staff vetted dozens of nominees to select this class. And you’re invited to celebrate with them at a happy hour in their honor. Get your tickets now.
Join us as we recognize stellar under-40 political leaders working to make Pittsburgh better. Your ticket includes appetizers, beer, wine and spirits, as well as your chance to meet The Incline's Who's Next: Politics class, presented by S&T Bank and C Shoemaker Custom Clothier. (Please bring ID to present to PPG Place security.)
Where: Industrious at One PPG Place, 31st Floor (Downtown)
When: November 29, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
How much: $20 for public | Free for Who's Next: Politics honorees
A lifelong resident of South Fayette, Aaron Bonnaure moved to Harrisburg to be chief of staff for Republican Pa. Sen. Guy Reschenthaler in 2015. In his role, Bonnaure advises Reschenthaler on policy, communications, economic development and more. He also oversees the senator’s schedule and leads a team of eight staffers. Previously, he worked at ColdSpark, a political consulting and public relations firm in Pittsburgh and told The Incline that his experience there, especially learning about campaigning of all sizes, prepared him for his role in Reschenthaler’s office. Bonnaure was also previously a field representative for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s campaign in 2010. Formerly of South Fayette Township, Bonnaure, a University of Pittsburgh graduate, lives in Harrisburg.
Corey Buckner is the manager of the City Of Pittsburgh’s Office of Community Affairs and coordinator of the mayor's LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council. “Corey has been a consistent advocate for his communities, whether it be the African-American community, the LGBTQIA+ community, his neighborhood, or the city has a whole,” his nominator wrote. Buckner started in politics in 2012 while he was volunteering and later working as an organizer for with Organizing For Action, Barack Obama’s campaign. The next year, he worked as a deputy director of field operations for People for Peduto and later worked as special assistant to the mayor before moving to community affairs in 2015. As council coordinator, Buckner helped Pittsburgh score 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Index Scorecard. He’s a board member of the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation, co-coordinator of the Garfield Community Land Trust, and a Democratic committeeman in Garfield. Buckner was recently appointed as one of the youngest members of the UPMC Board of Inclusion and Diversity Committee, a group that includes community and UPMC board members. He is a graduate of Community College of Allegheny County and attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Buckner lives in Garfield.
Bethani Cameron has been the communications and community relations manager for Democratic City Council Member Natalia Rudiak since 2014. In her role, Cameron writes all communications, including press releases, social media posts, speeches and newsletters, works with community groups, and has represented Rudiak at events and meetings. “She's brilliant, in tune with the city, and unbelievable devoted to her constituents with a passion that is unmatched,” her nominator wrote. As a staff member of an outgoing council member, Cameron told The Incline she’s wrapping up ongoing projects and issues while she looks for new opportunities. Cameron previously worked as the owner and founder of B2B marketing firm in Lawrenceville and served as president of the Overbrook Community Council. “As a single mom, I feel an even greater responsibility and desire to do what I can to improve our city. That's what I find so appealing about working in government and politics; the opportunity to dig into incredibly complicated issues and work your ass off to innovate. Not for innovation's sake, but to solve real problems as they are uncovered,” she told The Incline. Cameron attended the University of Pittsburgh and lives in Overbrook.
Through two roles, Arielle Cohen’s focus is “economic justice through collective liberation.” Cohen is the operations manager for One Pennsylvania, an advocacy organization that tackles economic justice and political participation issues, and she’s the co-chair of Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America. “I wanted to help grow [DSA’s] movement to support the most vulnerable under capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy, systems that no single elected person can dismantle alone. We must demand what we deserve at school, at work, at home, and in all aspects of our lives,” she told The Incline. Cohen also was involved in bringing the International Women’s Strike to Pittsburgh in March. She started in activism by drafting a sexual assault policy for State University of New York College at Purchase while she was a student there. That policy was adopted by the SUNY system in 2014. She also was active in Occupy Wall Street and Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in New Hampshire. Cohen told The Incline she learned through those experiences that while campaign work is important, there’s also important work to do outside of the election cycle. Cohen attended Nassau Community College and State University of New York College at Purchase. She lives in Lawrenceville.
As chief of staff to Democratic City Council Member Corey O’Connor, Curt Conrad works with staff to create and implement legislative and policy initiatives, works with community organizations and oversees interns. Conrad grew up in rural West Virginia in a family of coal miners and farmers, demonstrating “his unique ability and willingness to bridge the urban-rural divide,” according to his nominator who added, “he is remarkably consistent and empathetic and uses his platforms to amplify under-served and underprivileged communities.” Conrad moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 and become an organizer with the Hill District Consensus Group, where he got involved with local activism, government and politics. Before becoming O’Connor’s chief of staff in 2015, Conrad was the council member’s constituent services coordinator. He’s active with the New Leaders Council at both the local and national level. He’s a member of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and the the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. Conrad, a graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh, lives in Mount Washington.
Mike DeVanney is a founding partner of ColdSpark, a political consulting and public relations firm in Pittsburgh. In his role, DeVanney gives strategic and communications advice to elected officials, political candidates, trade associations, advocacy groups, non-profits and Fortune 500 companies. In the 2016 election, his company served as consultants to candidates in more than 20 races, and DeVanney’s clients included U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy and Pennsylvania Speaker Mike Turzai, all Republicans. DeVanney was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. Previously, he was campaign manager for Republican Bill Scranton’s bid for Pa. governor in 2006 and executive director of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County from 2002 to 2004. DeVanney’s also a board member for the AMD3 Foundation and an executive committee member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees, as well as chair of the symphony’s Jack Heinz Society. He’s a graduate of Penn State University and lives in Shadyside with his wife, Angela, and their 2-year-old daughter, Eleanore.
Michelle L. Gapsky is the advisor of the College Republicans at Robert Morris University, where she’s also a senior admissions counselor. After working in higher education for five years, Gapsky said she wanted to tackle politics. So in 2015, she became more involved with the Young Republicans of Allegheny County and started her role as College Republicans advisor, where she aims to push students “to think and act critically around issues in politics,” she said. Gapsky also gives students advice on their academic careers and political goals, and she plans events on campus that “support the Republican agenda and conservative movement,” per her resume. She won RMU’s “Excellence in Advising” award for the 2016-2017 school year. Gapsky also worked on Councilman Tom Baker’s campaign in the latest election and is a staff mentor for RMU’s Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program. She is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Argosy University and lives in Ross Township.
Sara Innamorato describes herself as someone who has “always been in the business of helping people and organizations do good work, and do more of it.” In February 2016, she founded Innamo Co., a marketing and communications agency for social good. Some of its projects have included helping PWSA’s green infrastructure department rethink community engagement and working with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council to organize a dinner for 500 residents and policymakers to talk about food access in the city. Also nominated for Who’s Next: Communications, a nominator wrote, “Sara is an outstanding and motivated person working to make Pittsburgh a better place to live, work, and play.” Also in 2016, she co-founded She Runs, an organization that encourages women to run for public office. Then, she decided to do it herself and is now a 2018 Democratic candidate for Pa. State Representative in District 21, against Rep. Dom Costa. She told The Incline that there’s a movement of people who are standing up to the status quo for “economic, social, racial, reproductive and environmental justice.” Innamorato is a graduate of University of Pittsburgh and lives in Upper Lawrenceville.
Moira B. Kaleida worked on Democrat Anthony Coghill’s campaign for City Council in 2009 and served as campaign chair during his successful run this November for the District 4 seat. She led a team of 20 during the primary, created a strategy for canvassing, oversaw campaign communications and worked on fundraising. When Coghill takes office in 2018, Kaleida will be his chief of staff, she told The Incline. She will also stay a member of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board of directors, representing District 6, a position she’s had since 2015. Kaleida is currently the chair of the government relations committee and a co-chair of the policy committee. She’s focused on initiatives including an early childhood education partnership with Pittsburgh City Council, sanctuary schools and more. “As a school board member, Moira has been instrumental in making change in Pittsburgh schools by sponsoring the transgender policy, sponsoring the Community Schools policy and working for implementation of that model, as well as working on the issue of implementing restorative justice discipline practices in the schools as opposed to punitive discipline,” her nominator wrote. A lifelong Pittsburgher, Penn State graduate and mother of two, Kaledia lives in Beechview.
For five years, Katelyn K Lamm has worked for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey as his regional manager for Southwestern Pennsylvania. In her role, Lamm coordinates events and meetings for Toomey when he’s in the region, works with stakeholders and community leaders, and speaks on behalf of Toomey to constituent groups and at public forums. She also oversees the staff in the Pittsburgh office and advocates in the Southwest Pa. region for national legislation. She was previously a staff assistant for Toomey, overseeing interns and addressing constituent concerns. In 2010, Lamm also was a victory field staff for the Pennsylvania GOP in the Northern Allegheny County Region. She’s a member of the executive board of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the housing committee advisor for Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority. Lamm was previously chair of the Young Republicans of Allegheny County and won Young Republican of the Year in 2015 from the Republican Committee of Allegheny County. Lamm, a graduate of Duquesne University and a new mom, lives in McMurray.
For seven years, Jaren Love has been a constituent advocate for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat. Love works with constituents who are having problems with a variety of government agencies, is the lead advocate for veteran’s affairs issues, and specializes in immigration and social security/medicare concerns. He spends his days answering phones, handling mail and working with interns — as well as finding solutions to the concerns of hundreds of constituents. “Often, when folks think about how the federal government solves issues related to immigration, social security benefits, VA benefits, and Medicare, they do not always see the person behind the scenes who is tirelessly navigating bureaucracies to find a solution. In Western Pennsylvania, that person is undeniably Jaren Love,” his nominator wrote. Love interned for Casey; Democratic GAIN, a membership organization for those working in progressive politics; and at Center for American Progress. He was a New Leaders Council Pittsburgh fellow this year. Love is a graduate of University of Maryland and lives in Millvale.
As the government affairs manager for the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Brandon Mendoza leads federal and local advocacy for the chamber. He’s been in his role since 2012 and focuses on issues from immigration reform to transportation to energy policy and trade and exports. In 2016, Mendoza managed a more-than-20-member stakeholder group to secure a $6 billion investment from Shell Chemicals Company into the Pittsburgh region. He also served on the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council and is currently leading a report on immigration in the Great Lakes region with New American Economy. Growing up in Brooklyn, Mendoza told The Incline that he is a proud of his participation in The Fresh Air Fund’s summer program that sent New York City children from low-income communities on summer vacation. Mendoza gave the keynote speech at the fund’s “Salute to American Heroes” Celebrity Benefit in 2009. He is a graduate of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh. Mendoza lives in the North Hills.
As executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and the Pa. regional director for Emgage, Wasiullah Mohamed combines his faith with civic engagement. Emgage is a national organization focused on political awareness and engagement for Muslim Americans. As the regional director for the state, Mohamed creates events and initiatives to inform and educate voters and advocates for legislation that promotes social justice and equity. As leader of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, he creates programming centered on education, outreach, social services and more. “What makes him truly unique is his ability to not only serve as a leader from a faith and service perspective, but from a political perspective, as well. At only 25, Wasi is one of the strongest advocates of the Muslim Community in the state and is a clear rising star,” his nominator wrote. He’s also a member of Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations and the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council. Mohamed is a coordinator at the Free Clinic in Braddock. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Mohamed lives in East Liberty.
Before coming to Pittsburgh, Lindsay Alexandra Powell worked in New York politics on both the local and national level. She’s now a policy analyst in Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto’s office, researching legislative proposals around the issues of equity, housing and community development. Powell told The Incline that she’s passionate about social justice and addressing inequality both at home and abroad. She spent multiple summers abroad in South Africa, Vietnam and Nicaragua as a college student. After graduation, she worked for New York City Council Member Jessica Lappin as a constituent liaison. Powell then spent 2014 as a Fulbright Scholar teaching English to secondary school students in Malaysia. When she returned, she worked for two national Democratic lawmakers from New York — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries — and was an intern for the Office of Legislative Affairs for President Barack Obama and for U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand. “Despite only being 26 years old, Lindsay has exhibited a lifelong dedication to advancing progressive public policy with a breadth of legitimate experience to back her passion,” her nominator wrote. Powell is a member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the New Leaders Council Leadership Board and a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. A graduate of Wheaton College and Carnegie Mellon University, Powell lives in Bloomfield.
Matthew T. Shorraw is the mayor-elect of Monessen, which he said makes him the youngest mayor in the city’s history. In May, Shorraw won the Democratic nomination over incumbent first-term mayor Lou Mavrakis, who helped bring then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to town. A lifelong Monessen resident, Shorraw is the assistant band director at Monessen High School where he teaches music, organizes the band program, and directs the Monessen A Cappella Ensemble. Also nominated for Who’s Next: Music, supporters praised Shorraw’s passion for historic preservation in Monessen and his dedication to students. He’s vice president of Monessen Communities That Care, an organization that combats youth delinquency. Through that organization, Shorraw founded the Raise Your Voice Campaign to connect community through art and music, including a festival of musicians, vendors and artists. In 2016, he won the community partner of the year award from the Mon Valley Initiative and the Young Preservationist of the Year from the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh. Shorraw is also a member of the Monessen Community Development Corporation and the city’s Vacant Property Review Board Property Maintenance Board. He is currently pursuing a masters of education in technology education with STEM Certification from the California University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He lives in Monessen.
Sally Stadelman started in politics during Mayor Bill Peduto’s 2013 campaign. Since then, she’s had multiple roles in his administration. Stadelman is current the transitional coordinator of homeless initiatives, where she represents Peduto’s office on the Technology Taskforce for the Homeless and addresses concerns from constituents and community members about homelessness. Stadelman previously served as deputy manager of the Office of Community Affairs and assistant to Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa. In all positions, Stadelman said her work has focused on solving problems by connecting city departments and authorities with residents. “Sally is the ‘go-to’ person who takes the time to listen to constituent concerns via 311, helps to connect individuals, and most importantly, works for all residents of Pittsburgh,” her nominator wrote. Stadelman also is a Democratic committee member in Duquesne Heights and the volunteer coordinator for TEDxPittsburgh. She earned her degree from the University of Pittsburgh and lives in Duquesne Heights.
A Democratic candidate for Pa. Senate in District 38, Lindsey M. Williams is also the communications and political director for the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. As a candidate for state senate, Williams told The Incline that she is “running to fight for working families, support small businesses and invest in public education” and stressed her commitment to fighting for workers. At PFT, Williams works on both internal and external communications, leads PFT political action committee meetings, created a fundraising plan and leads the candidate endorsement process. She previously worked for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of the Emerge Pa. program, a training program that helps Democratic women run for office. Williams is a member of the Young Democrats of Allegheny County and a state committee member for the Pa. Democratic party. In 2016, she won Allegheny County Young Democrat of the Year. Williams, a graduate of Dickinson College and Duquesne University School of Law, lives in West View.
A previous version incorrectly listed the year Williams won Allegheny County Young Democrat of the Year.
Megan Winters is the data, western region and grassroots director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. In her role, she is responsible for planning rallies and press conferences, as well as working with local grassroots organizations and organized labor groups across the state. Winters also oversees statewide mailings, facilitates online workshops and trainings and leads direct outreach to elected officials, political leaders, stakeholders and committee members in Western Pa. “Her strong work ethic and political savvy garnered strong relationships throughout the Allegheny and surrounding counties,” her nominator wrote. Before taking on this role in 2015, she was the executive director of the Allegheny County Democratic Party for a little more than a year and the president of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats from 2014 to 2017. Winters is a native of Punxsutawney, Pa., and a graduate of Duquesne University. She lives in Windgap.