Public Invited to Hear Regional, National Thought Leaders Present Vision for Pittsburgh’s Future at OPT412

APR 8, 2016

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in association with The University of PittsburghCarnegie Mellon University, and The City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovtion and Performance presents OPT412, a one-afternoon gathering of leading faculty, technology, innovation and venture capital visionaries and entrepreneurs - along with students and local residents - who envision an even better Pittsburgh.  Featuring national and regional thought-leaders who aim to optimize Pittsburgh’s future, OPT412 takes place Saturday, April 9 at The University of Pittsburgh, David Lawrence Hall, Room 121 from 1 – 6PM.  Free and open to everyone, OPT412 registration is at

“The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been at the forefront of Pittsburgh's revitalization during the past two decades and has a keen eye on the shining future of our city,” said Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Founder and CEO Meg Cheever.  “We are thrilled to present nearly 40 of the region's and the nation's most innovative thinkers and leaders to focus their insights, expertise and vision on how to optimize Pittsburgh's future.”

OPT412 keynote presenter Paul Graham is a programmer, writer and investor who grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and early 80s. Graham has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and has studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In 1995, Graham and Robert Morris started Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998 and became Yahoo Store.

In 2001 Graham began publishing essays on, earning 34 million page views in 2015. In 2005 he and Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris and Trevor Blackwell started Y Combinator, a startup accelerator that Fast Company has called "the world's most powerful start-up incubator." Since 2005 Y Combinator has funded over 1000 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit. Graham is the author of On LispANSI Common Lisp, and Hackers & Painters, and an accomplished painter.

Graham – and featured speakers including first female engineer at Facebook Ruchi Sanghvi, Quora Co-Founder Charlie Cheever, Forbes Top 30 under 30 venture capitalist Clara Sieg, and one of Popular Science’s 10 Most Brilliant Scientists Luis Von Ahn – will address topics that include how we can ensure that Pittsburgh’s future is open to all genders and races, the components necessary to make our city a magnet for businesses and students, and technology’s role in our city’s progress.  OPT412 will have an open discussion about the essential role of food, the arts, and greenspace in making Pittsburgh a best place to live and invest, and why Pittsburgh may be the most desirable city in the country for entrepreneurs.

In addition to Graham, Cheever, Sanghvi, Sieg, and Von Ahn, OPT412 confirmed speakers and panelists include:

Meg Cheever - CEO Pittburgh Parks Conservancy

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

Bill Generett - Urban Innovation 21

Barbara Granito – Chair, National Academy of Sciences Advisory Board

Chris Harrison – Assistant Professor, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Douglas Heuck – Editor & Publisher, Pittsburgh Quarterly

Claire Hosteny - ELDI Real Estate, LLC Ace Hotel project developer

Rich Lunak – President & CEO, Innovation Works

Andrew Moore – Dean, School of Computer Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University

Jim Morris – Lead Creator, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Tom Murphy - former Pittsburgh mayor, now with Urban Land Institute

Amy Ogan - Assistant Professor, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Audrey Russo – President & CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Paul Supowitz - Vice Chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations at the University of Pittsburgh

“The spirited exchange of creative ideas by forward-thinking visionaries at OPT412 is where the next great idea for our city may come from,” said City of Pittsburgh Chief Innovation & Performance Officer Debra Lam.  “Pittsburgh’s future lies at the intersection of technology, sustainability, creativity and perfomance, and gathering the top minds in these fields to talk about how our city can be the absolute best it can be is a wonderful thing.”

The public is invited to register for this free event at

For Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and OPT412 media inquiries, contact Scott Roller, Senior Manager Communications and Creative at 412-725-0023

About the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy:

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was founded in December 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh's historic city parks. A nonprofit organization, the Parks Conservancy works closely with the City of Pittsburgh under an official public-private partnership agreement to restore and improve the city’s park system to its full potential. Originally including Highland, Schenley, Frick, and Riverview Parks, the scope of the Park Conservancy’s work now includes a focus on community parks including Allegheny Commons, Arsenal Park, Cliffside Park, McKinley Park, and Mellon Park. To date, the Parks Conservancy has raised nearly $92 million toward park improvements.