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New mayor salutes Leadership Pittsburgh at annual luncheon

| Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Rich Fitzgerald, Bill Strickland, and Mayor Bill Peduto Tuesday January 14, 2014 at the Leadership Pittsburgh Champagne Lunch at the Fairmont Hotel downtown.

It was a full house in the ballroom of the Fairmont Pittsburgh on Jan. 14 when leaders and shakers of the area raised a glass during Leadership Pittsburgh's annual Champagne Lunch & Connection.

“This is a group that, whether you were in Class One or 30, it continues to be us all working together to continue to do some great things for our region. I think 2014 is going to be a terrific year,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told the 295 in attendance.

Prexy Aradhna Oliphant, board chairman Bob Buzzelli and event chairwoman Dolly Ellenberg were joined byAnne Lewis, Caryn Rubinoff, Anthony Buzzelli, Mike Schneck,Sarah Miele, Kenneth Service, Kate Dewey, Art Stroyd Jr., Jack Lee, James Balouris, Debra Caplan and Doris Carson Williams in welcoming a fashionably late MayorBill Peduto.

“He's only been in (office) a week, so we have to give a little bit,” Fitzgerald jested.

Taking his punches with a good sense of humor, Peduto was quick to emphasize the organization, saying, “It's the building ground of how great things happen. ... It sort of connects the bridges, in the City of Bridges, of all the things that are happening.”

During a lunch that was effortlessly and expertly served by the Fairmont staff, the highlight of the afternoon came via an unscripted “brief note” by Manchester Bidwell Corporation prez Bill Strickland. For decades, his mission of building a better future for the disadvantaged has helped kids and adults harness the power of achievement and success. It's become a national model for community-based social change.

“At the end of the day, we all start off at the same place — it's where we end up that's different. There's no one who's going to tell me that you can't take poor folks and make them an asset in the community. We've been doing it for years,” Strickland said, as the room responded with a standing O.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at kbenz@tribweb.com or 412-380-8515.

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