Empowered in Pittsburgh

It can be a lonely life if you’re someone with big dreams.  People with lofty goals for themselves or for their community are often met with skepticism and pessimism from well-meaning individuals who just don’t share the same vision.  A new book project with roots in the greater Pittsburgh area hopes to help ambitious individuals shatter this barrier and extend their handprint into the community with the help of others who hold similar goals.

Empowered in Pittsburgh is the third book released by Tom Baker, who is an author, speaker, and founder/Chief Program Officer of Get Involved! Inc.  Baker’s previous books, Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s (2008) and Give Our Passion (2010), share a similar focus on civic engagement and personal growth.  

This book differs from the others, as Baker chose eleven “standout community leaders,” including Uniontown resident Matthew Dowling, to share their perspectives by serving as co-authors. 

 “The eleven co-authors have woven terrific best practices and strategies within their personal stories,” Baker said. “Readers will be inspired by the unique ways they have made a difference and are making our area a better place to live and work. The co-authors have experienced tremendous success in the business, non-profit, government, and arts sectors.”

Each story will present authentic situations experienced by the co-authors, and many will discuss obstacles they have overcome, including poverty, eating disorders, and family tragedies. 

•Emmai Alaquiva rose above homelessness to become an Emmy-award winning music producer and founder of Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., which immerses disadvantaged youth in every aspect of the music business. 

•Ashley Boynes-Shuck’s struggle with rheumatoid arthritis prompted her to be a health advocate who has been recognized by the Dr. Oz website, ShareCare Now, as a Top 10 Online Rheumatoid Arthritis Expert; she has also been voted “Best Blogger” by Network Pittsburgh for her ever-expanding website, Glitzburgh. 

•Uniontown native Matthew Dowling, a rising executive with the Boy Scouts of America, having served the Westmoreland-Fayette Council as District Executive, Senior District Executive, and Development Director, has been recognized by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce as its young citizen of the year; Matthew is also founder and co-chair of the Share the Spirit charity event, a holiday party that generates funds for five non-profit organizations. 

•Daniel Giovannelli, Executive Director of Global Solutions Pittsburgh, has exercised his passion for student outreach and alternative learning methods by working to develop model United Nations programs across Western Pennsylvania. 

•Holly McIntosh, a Director for Zola Design, has developed a community incubator project to assist non-profits, small businesses, and community members with development of ideas and projects.

•Penny Semaia, a four time letter-winner in his years as a University of Pittsburgh student athlete, currently serves his alma mater as a top-level administrator. 

•Doug Smith, Volunteer Coordinator for the Light of Life Rescue Mission, has devoted his life to helping people of all ages apply their talents— ranging from Kung Fu to gardening— to help individuals in need.

•Lindsey Smith overcame a dangerous cycle of compulsive binge eating and transformed her life to become a Certified Health Coach, speaker, and author with a focus on helping others pursue personal wellness. 

•Kate Stoltzfus has made it her mission to spotlight creativity and innovation in Pittsburgh; she has challenged herself to interview 100 Pittsburgh residents in their 20s and 30s in the hopes of marketing the Steel City to young adults. 

•Steve Topriani is a law school graduate who became the youngest elected District Attorney in Washington County. 

•Tom Baker has spoken with over 30,000 students and civic leaders about getting involved in their communities, finding a passion to lead and serve, and making a lasting impact. He serves on the North Hills School Board, is the current President of National Speakers Association Pittsburgh, and holds the position of Chief Community Affairs Officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. 

Order a copy of the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Empowered-Pittsburgh-Emmai-Alaquiva-others/dp/0986020605

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