Six Rising African American Leaders Recognized at 2019 Sankofa Homecoming Farewell Brunch

Panther statue

As part of the annual Sankofa farewell fellowship brunch at Homecoming, Pitt’s African American Alumni Council is honoring six recent graduates with Rising African American Leader (RAAL) awards. Six outstanding leaders of Black Greek organizations will also be recognized. Since 2013, the RAAL awards have honored young professionals who excel in their careers and community contributions. The 2019 awardees are:

  • Brian Burley (BUS ’13G): Director of economic inclusion at Allegheny Conference and author of YNGBLKPGH, Burley is an entrepreneur, speaker and one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 and Under 40 in 2017. He was also recognized for his efforts with diversity and inclusion by Whirl magazine.
  • Rodney Kizito (ENGR ’15): A doctoral student in industrial engineering at the University of Tennessee and research and development engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy, Kizito is actively involved with under-represented middle and high school students and Pitt Excel students and mentoring programs.
  • Emiola Oriola (A&S ’13): Founding program manager of the Pitt Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement and founder of My Father’s Business International, Oriola is an itinerant minister, spoken word artist/poet and PhD student. He is also a 2016 One Young World U.S. Ambassador and a recipient of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 award.
  • Jade Richardson (A&S ’14): Founder and CEO of Totally Screwed Up, Inc., a company that supports people affected by scoliosis and spinal fusions, Richardson was Miss Black Pennsylvania USA 2018 and a devoted member of the Pitt Alumni Association Young Alumni advisory team.
  • Lauren Wallace (BUS ’12, EDUC ’14G): Director of recruitment in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Wallace was named an honoree to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40 list by the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project. Wallace holds multiple leadership positions with Urban League of Young Professionals. Wallace also established and implemented the Pittsburgh Admissions Collaboration, a partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools, Community College of Allegheny County and Pitt. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education Program in the School of Education.
  • Christina Whittaker (BUS ’10): Founder, transition strategist and career planning coach with pivotandprofit.org, Whittaker for 10 years worked as a marketing executive with Fortune 100 companies. She is a community advocate dedicated to transforming K-12 urban education.

photos of each of the winners