Over the years, I’ve witnessed it many times. Susan Brownlee speaks and people pay attention. It’s not because she’s the loudest voice. Rather, it is her intellectual elegance and moral clarity that command attention.
Let’s be blunt about it: President Donald Trump is inspiring fascism in America. And it is terribly important that we name it.
What he says, and what he does, is making this evident to most people, especially fascists themselves. This is not just true since the violence in the recent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. It has been increasingly true since the days of Trump’s candidacy, as he has encouraged the forces in America that promote racism, ethnic hatred, violence and white supremacy.
On June 14, Jean Robinson concluded a quarter century of board service to The Buhl Foundation, where she was chair from 2003 to 2013. Jean is famously selfless and self-effacing and refused any attempt by Buhl’s staff and board to thank her publicly for her service. Fortunately, my only affiliation with Buhl is as an admirer and philanthropic partner—Buhl was among the original funders of The Pittsburgh Foundation in the 1940s— so I hope Jean will forgive me for pointing out what an inspiration she has been over the past 25 years.
Pittsburgh has lost yet another larger-than-life business and philanthropic leader. Frank Cahouet, who died at age 85 on Tuesday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, led a decisive turnaround of troubled Mellon Financial Corp. after being imported from the California banking world as its chairman and CEO. But as is the case for so many who land in Pittsburgh from other places, Frank and his wife, Ann, quickly tied their hearts and souls to the city and considered it their hometown.
I got a call recently from an old friend, Tim Weiner, who worked with me years ago at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Tim, who won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for his journalism, is one of the nation's leading experts on national security, intelligence operations and related agencies.
Henry Hillman was adventurous as an entrepreneur and a genius in the development of his business interests and his philanthropy. But he kept a low-key, unpretentious profile – in the same mold as Dan Rooney and Fred Rogers – and often ceded the public spotlight to his wife, Elsie Hillman. The two of them (Elsie died in 2015) provided an extraordinary level of leadership for their community.
When I first moved to Pittsburgh 18 years ago, I was struck immediately by what a distinctive, almost unique community it was. And it wasn’t just the inimitable Pittsburgh landscape, with its rivers and hills and tightly built sloping neighborhoods. It wasn’t just the distinctive architecture and the unique Pittsburgh dialect. It was the character of the place.