1:00pm: Opening Remarks

Why an excellent park system could be a competitive advantage for Pittsburgh
Meg Cheever: President & CEO, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy 

Greetings from the University of Pittsburgh
Paul Supowitz: Vice Chancellor for Community and Government Relations

Greetings from the City of Pittsburgh
Kevin Acklin: Chief of Staff to Mayor Bill Peduto

1:25pm: Keynote Speech


Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator

In his 2006 essay, “How To Be Silicon Valley” Paul Graham said, “To spawn startups, your university has to be in a town that has attractions other than the university. It has to be a place where investors want to live and students want to stay after they graduate.” At that time, he wasn’t highlighting Pittsburgh as being that kind of place. Now, the 1981 graduate of Gateway High School will reveal his current thoughts about Pittsburgh. Has our region changed enough and in enough of the right ways---to develop its own unique regional innovation strategy?

2:00pm: Pittsburgh As A Magnet


Andrew Moore: Dean, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University; former head, Google Pittsburgh


Kamal Nigam: Engineering Director, co-site lead and charter member, Google Pittsburgh
Vanessa Jameson: Co–founder & CEO, Covey
Tony Stentz: Engineering Lead, Uber Advanced Technology Center
Hahna Alexander: Co-founder & CTO, SolePower
Yaser Sheikh: Head, Oculus Research Pittsburgh, Facebook

No longer just an incubator for tech startups, Pittsburgh has been attracting a growing array of international companies. What is making Pittsburgh an attractive selection as the site for a corporate presence? Leaders from several of these companies explore the factors that have led to this boom and their plans for growth.

2:35pm: A Competitive City Innovation Burst


Tom Murphy: Senior Resident Fellow with Urban Land Institute; Canizaro/Klingbeil Families Chair for Urban Development; former mayor of the City of Pittsburgh

In the current environment of extremely limited public funds, being competitive means being able to create new economic engines, new marketplace synergies, and new corporate enterprise offshoots. The difference between the winners and losers is a shared goal by both the public and private sector to create a climate for progress. The technology and information economy has created a tempo of quick-speed change and public-private community inter-dependencies so great that they have generated a new paradigm of local economic development and city building, Tom Murphy will give his thoughts on how Pittsburgh met the challenge of the decline of the steel industry and what now needs to happen in the Pittsburgh of today.

2:45pm: Pittsburgh For All


Doug Heuck: Editor & Publisher, Pittsburgh Quarterly


Claire Hosteny: Partner, East End Development Parters, LP
John Wallace: Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, Katz School of Business
Bill Generett: President & CEO, Urban Innovation21
Jeremy Leventhal: Managing Partner, Faros Properties/Alloy 26 co-working space

Melanie Harrington: President & CEO, Vibrant Pittsburgh
Audrey Russo: President & CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Pittsburgh is getting low ranks for diversity — the city is one of the least diverse places in the U.S., according to a recent study of 200-plus cities that considered factors such as the types of jobs and industries as well as race and ethnicity. The city ranked 227th out of 230 in the study released last year by WalletHub. What is needed for us to develop a collective strategy for integrating social, economic and environmental goals?

3:15pm: Refreshments Break

3:25pm: Technology Innovation Burst


Chris Harrison: Director, Future Interfaces Group, Carnegie Mellon University

Interfaces and interactions of the future between humans and computers.

3:35pm: Brews And Bites: What's All The Brew-ha-ha About?


Michelle Wright: Anchor, WTAE


Bill Fuller: Executive Chef, Big Burrito Group 
Quintin Bullock: President, Community College of Allegheny County
Dominic Cincotta: CoStar Brewing
Tracy Certo: Publisher, NEXTpittsburgh
Sonja Finn: Chef & Owner, Dinette; Consulting Chef, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Kate Romane: Chef & Owner, E2; Kate Romane Productions

In December, Pittsburgh nabbed the No. 1 spot in Zagat‘s list of the “Top 17 Food Cities of 2015,” in January, Saveur called Pittsburgh a “beer and spirits destination,” in February, Forbes declared that “it’s an exciting time to eat in Pittsburgh right now and in March the New York Times revealed that “Steeltown” was now “Mealtown.” It’s wonderful to have an exciting food scene and a burgeoning array of craft breweries – what’s driving it, what’s luring talent back and are there any threats to this vibrancy that we need to collectively address?

4:05pm: Lure Of The 'Burgh


Bill Flanagan: Chief Corporate Relations Officer, Allegheny Conference on Community Development


Avi Geller: Founder & CEO, Maven Machine
Jim Russell: Research Fellow, Center for Popultation Dynamics, Cleveland State University
Charlie Batch: Former Steelers quarterback; tech entrepreneur, Impellia
Helen Hanna Casey: President, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services
Don Charlton: Founder & CEO, Jazz (formerly the Resumator)

Marlee Myers: Managing Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Pittsburgh

Entrepreneurs and business leaders have located their companies in Pittsburgh to take advantage of the talent, business climate, and high quality of life found here. This group is diverse in every way – demographics, the type of business sectors, how long they have been in Pittsburgh – but are there any common issues they would highlight as our city's greatest positives and greatest challenges?

4:35pm: Education Innovation Burst


Amy Ogan: Assistant Professor, Human Computer Interaction, Carnegie Mellon University

Can facial recognition sensors improve classroom learning?

4:45pm: Becoming An Entrepreneur: What's Place Got To Do With It?


Jim Morris: Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Luis von Ahn: Founder, Duolingo; Associate Professor of Computer Science, CMU
Ruchi Sanghvi: VP of Operations, Dropbox; Facebook's first female engineer; CMU Alumna
Clara Sieg: Partner, Revolution Partners; Pittsburgh native
Charlie Cheever: Co-founder, Quora; Pittsburgh native

Four innovators with Pittsburgh connections talk about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

5:15pm: Closing Remarks and Networking Hour

Opt412 is produced by:


Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy


 In association with:


University of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Mellon University
City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance






Media Sponsors


Pittsburgh Quarterly


 Community Partners


Pittsburgh Technology Council
Innovation Works
Allegheny Conference on Community Development