T H E P I T T S B U R G H F O U N D AT I O N 4 F O R U M RECOGNIZING EXCELLENCE The work of three Foundation staff members is honored Empowering Girls and Young Women M ICHAEL YONAS, senior program officer, Research and Special Initiatives, was recognized with this year’s “See the Best in Me” award from Gwen’s Girls. The organization works to empower girls and young women to become self-sufficient, confident, strong adults. “Michael has been a committed, steadfast partner who is always ready to champion the needs of others. Without hesitation,” says Gwen’s Girls Executive Director Kathi Elliott. “He has been a resource to our organization, the Black Girls Equity Alliance and many other community organizations.” In his work and research, Yonas utilizes traditional and non-traditional approaches to understand factors influencing community violence, chronic disease and persistent dispari- ties impacting children, youth and families. “He has played a vital role in ensuring that the voices of young people who are system- involved are heard and used to transform practice and policy,” says Elliott. The See the Best in Me initiative is focused on developing healthy self-esteem, critical thinking and advocacy skills that will enable girls to better understand and express themselves and address the issues that affect them daily. Lifetime Achievement Award J ANE DOWNING, the senior program officer in Economic and Community Development, has more than 40 years’ experience in philanthropy and other sectors developing solutions to housing insecurity throughout the Pittsburgh region. Regional Housing Legal Services honored her with a lifetime achieve ment award at its 45th anniversary luncheon in October. The organization provides legal help and policy solutions for community development and affordable housing throughout Pennsylvania. Jane Downing, center, chats with attendees at the Regional Housing Legal Services at the event in Harrisburg honoring Downing with a lifetime achievement award for her work with housing issues. Accepting his award from Gwen’s Girls, The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Michael Yonas applauds the organization’s “See the Best in Me” program.