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Man honored for advancing women's rights

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

This weekend marks the Women and Girls Foundation's first year of recognizing the men who are helping to advance women's rights and opportunities in the Pittsburgh area, and Gregg Dietz said he is honored to be included in the celebration.

Dietz, who has worked in the Shaler Area School District since 1983 through the University of Pittsburgh's Maximizing Adolescent Potentials (MAPS) program, is one of 14 men to be honored at the Women and Girls Foundation's annual gala on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

“Usually we've been honoring women in different sectors to showcase how they are impacting this region, but this year we thought it would be really nice to honor men because it is a partnership to get this done,” said Jui Joshi, director of philanthropic engagement at the Women and Girls Foundation, based in Station Square.

“The main decision is because we cannot do the work we do without partnerships, whether with men or elected officials or organizations. It's not a women's issue only.”

Dietz works with the Shaler Area students through the Youth Advocacy League, and together they develop clubs, programs and conferences that focus on issues from dating violence or social inequality to drug and alcohol problems or conflict resolution.

“I was aware at an early age of the injustices,” Dietz said. “It was natural, inherent to get involved in this work. It really does speak to me.

“It's rewarding on so many different levels … That's the other thing that keeps me going.”

The Women and Girls Foundation learned of Dietz' efforts through Amie Hackimer, a junior at Point Park University, who nominated him.

Hackimer was a member of Shaler Area's M-Powerment, a women's group dedicated to creating awareness of injustices and crimes against women as well as providing the tools for students to become empowered women. The program, under Dietz' guidance, hosted an annual Women's Conference and Take Back the Night events and past events have included 1:4 Arm Band Awareness assemblies, Praise Leis Days, all-girl lock-ins and Love is a Movement awareness campaigns.

“Gregg does a lot of work with young women's rights and social justice issues young women face,” Hackimer said. “He got me involved and led me to now want to go into the nonprofit world for the rest of my career.

“A lot of his passion is helping young women, so I think he is an extraordinary example of that, a man who fights for women's equality.”

Dietz said while he is humbled by the foundation's award, he is most proud when he sees former students continuing the work they started in high school, and he hopes he can encourage future generations of students to do the same.

“Too many people that would rather write a check or give money rather than really being with the people,” Dietz said of advocacy. “I think I do that with all my groups, changing one person at a time …

“I think my long term goal is to have more young people realize how important the work is. We are getting more awareness.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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