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Meet the Athena Young Professional finalists




The Allegheny Conference ATHENA Award Program announced ATHENA winner Kim Berkeley Clark and ATHENA Young Professional Award winner Christy Uffelman on Monday, September 24, 2012 in an energizing luncheon at the Westin Convention Center Hotel.
 
Pop City caught up with the three finalists for the ATHENA Young Professionals to discover how the nomination process impacted them and what they hope for the future. And don't miss the previous Pop City feature on the Athena finalists here.
 
Mary McGinley, Of Counsel, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP, Of Counsel
 
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid I wanted to be a farmer and I did take a few horticulture courses at Penn State and found them to be really, really difficult! I think it was the idea of working around animals and riding a tractor sounded like fun. I grew up in Mt Lebanon so a farm did have mystique. But I come from a long line of lawyers and the truth is we’re not good at anything else.  
 
What book do you wish you wrote?  I’m a fan of books about horse racing. There are a lot of horse races that could be books. One of the things I find so neat about horse racing is the tradition, the colors, the excitement - you have to watch from beginning to end, you never know what’s going to happen even when you think you do.
 
What’s your favorite part of Pittsburgh? Mount Washington. When my husband and I were first married we lived up there, it is a special place for me. I took the incline to work every day and thought it was convenient and neat place to live. Now my favorite place day to day is Squirrel Hill where I live. It’s got an eclectic mix of people that all are really able to live in a community and care about the community from different backgrounds.
 
What are your dreams for your community? I see my community as beyond the city of Pittsburgh and into Allegheny County. I think this region is an incredible region with a lot of unrealized potential. I think my vision would be that everybody that needs a job has a job, everybody that is hungry has a meal, everybody that needs help gets help. I’d like to see our community really thrive at making sure that nobody’s left behind. 
 
What was it like to be a finalist? I really thought the whole process was absolutely fantastic. I think the host committee did an excellent job, everything was first class. It’s really an honor to have been considered and then to be a finalist. When I look at the other finalists, I was so pleased to be in their company. The entire process did push me well beyond my comfort zone - like making a video! I’d rather ask questions than answer them.
 
Christy Uffelman, Vice President of Employee and Organization Development, Mascaro Construction
 
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was about 9, I wanted to be a business superhero. I would wear a business suit and high heels and a cape and carry a briefcase and swoop into board rooms and swoop back out after saving executives.
 
What was your wildest vacation? I never did a spring break or anything like that, I’ve always worked every break from school! I don’t do wild. My most memorable vacation was when my husband and I honeymooned in Key West, Florida. We went there without a plan, very spontaneous. That’s now how i am in real life! We woke when we wanted, ate when we wanted, went to reggae concerts on pier, and stayed up late.
 
What’s your favorite part of Pittsburgh? For me it’s the sense of connection. Whether you’re in the communities or Downtown or subway or airport, you’re always running into people you know. It’s a small big city. You always feel connected to what’s going on and who people are.
 
What are your dreams for your community? The dreams I have for us, the emerging female leaders in Pittsburgh, is to not have to feel alone. That we create and participate in vehicles to share best practices and hold one another up. I have no doubt we’re the next regional leaders in this city. How truly beautiful it is we can be a part of building one another’s careers now and sharing in success!
 
What are your individual dreams? To be a yoga instructor. As a coach, we are most effective when we are fully present with our clients. To do that you have to get out of your head and just be with someone. It’s about asking thoughtful questions and get them to generate their own solutions. To me yoga is a physical reminder of creating and holding a space for a client.
 
What was it like to be a finalist? I can’t think of two finer women to be sitting next to. I continue to be impressed with the Allegheny Conference with how they walk the talk about engaging emerging leaders. By creating the award, it’s one more way of living that commitment and specifically recognizing high potential young women. It was humbling to be a nominee and it’s overwhelming and quite an honor to be selected, now I need to work really hard to earn the title!

Latasha Batch, Executive Director, Best of the Batch Foundation
 
What did you want to be when you grew up -  I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I had a cat named Sniffles who brought home a baby bunny, basically decapitated. My mom helped me put in a shoebox and we drove all the way to the animal emergency. I realized then I wasn’t cut out for it.
 
What was your wildest vacation? -  I’m not sure they were vacation, my trips to Africa were humbling. I never realized how much i took running water and lights for granted. Walking 2 miles for water is something that’s real. I met a woman, the same age as my grandmother, walking 2 miles for water, my grandmother couldn’t walk up the stairs.
 
What’s your favorite part of Pittsburgh?  One of my favorite places to take the deep breath is the walk along the riverfront by PNC Park or Heinz Field. When I’m built up with anxiety, I’ll run, run and cry, run and laugh, just walk- I’ll take the deep breath and realize OK I’m here. I appreciate Pittsburgh for those moments.
 
What are your dreams for your community? Out of all the kids I come in contact daily, annually, as they go away - because I always encourage them to go away and explore - when they come back they still have the passion in their heart to give back to the community that raised them. I just took an 18 year old to college in August, she sent me a letter and said it was so nice to grow up and know someone cares for you even with no family affiliations. If she comes home and does a little bit, mentors or tutors, it will keep the community growing strong.
 
What was it like to be finalist? It was a surprise. It was an honor. When I found out, I was so touched. I was Costco getting Batchpacks supplies, I was overwhelmed with joy and I started crying. I was in the meat section. I wish I could’ve brought more people to the luncheon because I don’t do any of this by myself. I am a behind the scenes person. You can be who you are behind the scenes.
 
Photos: Top, Christy Uffelman and Kim Berkeley Clark; top left: Mary McGinley, Latasha Batch, Christy Uffelman; bottom: Barbara McNees of the Chamber of Commerce, Kim Berkeley Clark and Maris Bondi, chair
 
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