This year’s Pittsburgh Power 100 features several GSPIA alumni

January 30, 2023

Seven GSPIA graduates were recognized in City & State Pennsylvania's 2023 Pittsburgh Power 100, an annual list of individuals who are strengthening the City of Pittsburgh in politics, business, and nonprofits: 

  • Diana Bucco, President, Buhl Foundation (MPPM ’15) 
  • Bobbi Watt Geer, President and CEO, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania (PhD ’09) 
  • Marian Lien, President, OCA Pittsburgh (MPPM ’14) 
  • Brandon Mendoza, Executive Director, NAIOP (MPA ’11) 
  • Susheela Nemani-Stanger, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority (MPA ’07) 
  • David K. Roger, President, Hillman Family Foundations (MPIA ’93) 
  • Jake Wheatley, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office (MPA ’00) 

We’re proud, but not surprised, to see so many alumni from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs on the list. Read more about their work in the profiles below, written by City & State PA and Pittsburgh freelance writer Jordan Snowden. 


Diana Bucco, President, Buhl Foundation (MPPM ’15) 

Diana Bucco, the president of the Buhl Foundation, is renowned for her extensive work with nonprofits. She formerly held the position of president of The Forbes Funds and is credited with launching the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, a coalition of 350 nonprofit organizations. Bucco also was the founding director for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership and The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania. As the leader of the Buhl Foundation, she oversees the revising of the company’s strategic and philanthropic approach, with a focus on community-driven neighborhood revitalization. 


Bobbi Watt Geer, President and CEO, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania (PhD ’09) 

Bobbi Watt Geer, the first woman president and CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, brings more than 30 years of nonprofit-sector experience to her role at the organization. Since joining in 2017, Geer has overseen the organization as it provided almost $28 million in grant funds for programs like food banks, domestic violence shelters, job training and more across the five counties it serves. Geer also currently serves on the United Way Worldwide Network Advisory Council and is president of the Franklin Regional Band Fund. 


Marian Lien, President, OCA Pittsburgh (MPPM ’14) 

After 12 years of advocacy, Pittsburgh’s Chinatown finally received a historical marker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2022. Marian Lien, president of Pittsburgh’s Organization of Chinese Americans chapter, was among the celebrants, having tried multiple times in previous years to get the neighborhood its recognition. Lien also led efforts to establish the city’s Lunar New Year Parade and was awarded an Illuminate Award by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh last year for her extensive community work. 


Brandon Mendoza, Executive Director, NAIOP (MPA ’11) 

Leading Pittsburgh’s regional association of developers, owners, and investors is Brandon Mendoza, who has served as the local chapter’s executive director since 2020. He brings with him vast land use policy, advocacy, and nonprofit fundraising understanding. Prior to taking on his current role at NAIOP, Mendoza was the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce’s government affairs manager, where he was in charge of government affairs strategies at both the local and federal levels. 


Susheela Nemani-Stanger, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority (MPA ’07) 

Susheela Nemani-Stanger is on track to make history. Following the resignation of Greg Flisram, the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority’s most recent executive director, Nemani-Stanger was named the economic development arm’s acting executive director. Currently, Urban Redevelopment Authority board members are set to consider Nemani-Stanger for the permanent position. If appointed, she will be both the first woman and the first of Indian descent to serve in the role. Nemani-Stanger worked for the authority from 2007 to 2020, returning as deputy executive director last year. 


David K. Roger, President, Hillman Family Foundations (MPIA ’93) 

At the head of Hillman Family Foundations, a private foundation that administers the 18 philanthropies associated with the Hillman Family, sits David K. Roger, who has worked with the foundation since 2001. In his position as president and director, Roger oversees the Hillman Foundation, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Elsie H. Hillman Foundation, and Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation – whose missions are to improve the quality of life in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. Roger is also a member of multiple boards, including the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, InnovatePGH, and Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Collaborative. 

Jake Wheatley, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office (MPA ’00) 

One of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s first orders of business upon his historic election was naming state Rep. Jake Wheatley as his chief of staff. Prior to starting that role, Wheatley was the longest-serving African American member in the state House of Representatives, having first been sworn into office in 2003. Throughout his career, he has been a champion for minority- and women-owned business inclusion, criminal justice reforms, and affordable health care. He also is one of the state’s largest advocates for adult-use recreational cannabis legalization and the expungement of criminal records of nonviolent drug offenders.