Two women in fields traditionally dominated by men build a powerful philanthropic legacy. By Ellen Mazo SYLVIA SACHS RBC WEALTH MANAGEMENT SISTERS PLACE WOMEN’S CENTER AND SHELTER OF GREATER PITTSBURGH N E W S PA P E R R E P O R T E R S ’ D E S K S always have been indistinguishably messy, but that was especially so in the early 1980s, long before emails and social media replaced paper press releases and empty envelopes, notebooks, dried-up ballpoint pens, agency reports and ragged newspaper clippings. There was one desk at The Pittsburgh Press that stood out with cluttered appeal — and that was the desk of the afternoon newspaper’s longtime book editor, Sylvia Sachs. Stacks of books sent by publishers and authors competedforspaceamongherscatteredpapers,withstillmorebookspiled on the floor in mysterious groupings, not unlike Stonehenge. Whennotatherkeyboardpoundingout(literally)afeaturestoryorbook review,oronthetelephonenegotiatingwithpublishersfortheirauthorsto speakatthePress’squarterlyBookandAuthordinner,Sylviawoulddoleout books to hovering reporters with the express purpose of an expected book review in return. The payoff? Keep the book and maybe, just maybe, meet the author. That is, of course, if there was an available seat at the popular speaking event at Kaufmann’s Department Store. It’s not that she made this all look easy (she didn’t), but Sachs — born onlytwoyearsafterpassageofthe19thAmendmentgivingwomentheright to vote — had already set a course in Pittsburgh for women, like me, who could now break into journalism outside the traditional society coverage. Her accomplishments came through sheer determination. Yet, Sachs was so surprisingly self-deprecating that you had to peel back the pages to appreciate her trailblazing journey. Sachs was named book editor 15 years before I arrived at the Press in 1983.Shejokedthatshewastappedfortheprestigiouspositionbecausethe topeditorsknew“Ilikedtoread.”Andthatshedid.Shedevourednewspapers as much as biographies, histories and mysteries that had been her escape from a tumultuous childhood. Her first job after graduating from Taylor AllderdiceHigh SchoolwassellingbooksatKaufmann’s,Downtown.Inher BARRIER BREAKER JOURNALIST MEETS BARRIER BREAKER FINANCIAL ADVISOR WOMEN OFMEANS 15 RE PO RT TO TH E CO MMU N ITY THE PITTSBURGH FOUNDATION