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Good work: Pittsburgh owes a debt to its citizen leaders

Saturday, October 20, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

They are some of Pittsburgh’s unsung heroes. They do the work they choose — work that either they volunteer for or work that goes beyond the normal scope of their employment. For love of the challenge, they make their community a better place.

They receive no glory or riches, but Thursday night they got some well-deserved attention as honorees at the Good Government Awards Dinner sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh. This year the league celebrated the good works of Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce President Barbara McNees; preservationist Arthur Ziegler Jr.; the Allegheny County Library Association; Joseph Lagana, founder of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund; and Heather Harr, head of Greater Pittsburgh Student Voices.

From business to neighborhoods to reading to education to civic engagement, each awardee embodied a cause and a passion. For Ms. McNees, it’s been a more business-friendly region and state, not to mention a self-sustaining Pittsburgh (she’s also chair of one of the city’s fiscal oversight bodies). For Mr. Ziegler, co-founder of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, it’s saving those structures and neighborhoods that speak to our heritage.

For the library association and its executive director, Marilyn Jenkins, it’s been moving a community resource from the dark ages to the 21st century, in terms of access, funding and value. For Mr. Lagana, it’s finding a way to deliver education to that most elusive group of children, those living with parents in homeless shelters. For Ms. Harr, it’s engaging high school students in the political process and ensuring a new generation of informed, responsible citizens.

All five of these groups or individuals make daily contributions to civic improvement and a more vibrant democracy. They earned the accolades of everyone present at the League of Women Voters dinner, and they deserve the same from their fellow Pittsburghers.

First published on October 20, 2007 at 12:00 am

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633