After a national search, PUMP’s Board of Directors has named Josiah Gilliam as the new Executive Director. A 40 Under 40 honoree in 2017, Josiah has known PUMP for many years, including serving on PUMP’s Board of Directors since 2019.
A Pittsburgh native that boomeranged in and out of the city, Josiah now lives in downtown Pittsburgh and, when not working in the community, can often be found hitting the streets and trails of Pittsburgh on his bike or exploring Pittsburgh’s cultural and restaurant scenes.
Josiah graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government and an Associate’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature. After graduating, Josiah came to Pittsburgh and got a job with a county Meals on Wheels provider. This experience allowed Josiah to explore the neighborhoods and communities of Allegheny County. He also was able to get to know the local nonprofit community’s impact in different areas and realize how interconnected the space is.
While working at Meals on Wheels he started making websites for nonprofits, including Homewood Children’s Village. He was soon asked to join their organization as the Web and Digital Communications Manager and Special Assistant to the CEO. It was in this role that he started understanding collective impact work, where networks of nonprofits work together in an impact area or on an initiative.
While at Homewood Children’s Village, he became the Program Manager for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Launched with an initial strong focus on Black men and boys, the initiative is a national network of locally-driven collective impact efforts aimed at improving lived experiences and outcomes. After catalytic grantmaking focused on addressing the digital divide and improving digital literacy, Josiah worked with the Sprout Fund and Heinz Endowments on a County-wide action plan process to articulate a vision, develop a structure, and fundraise to continue this work. This eventually led to an opportunity to work for the City of Pittsburgh and Mayor Bill Peduto as the City’s My Brother’s Keeper Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office. Josiah was asked to stay on with the Gainey administration, where he became the Special Initiatives Coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh, focused on food equity, workforce development, youth in education, and downtown Pittsburgh as a neighborhood.
From Board to Executive Director
In his time on the PUMP board, Josiah served in different roles, most recently as the Board of Directors Vice Chair and chair of the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee.
When asked what made him apply for the Executive Director position, he explained, “PUMP is one of my favorite organizations with an impressive history, a strong network, compelling programs, and lots of potential. We are well-positioned for an exciting new era. After careful consideration, I felt that throwing my hat in the ring to share my perspective was the right thing to do, and I am excited about the possibilities PUMP has in front of it. And I have been inspired by many of my peers that have moved into leadership in different sectors recently and felt it was time to step forward myself. Our region deserves our best efforts, and I am excited to row together with everyone. ” said Josiah. “It’s been my absolute favorite board experience. I have served on [other boards], but I learned so much from [former PUMP CEO Brian Magee] when it comes to board governance and nonprofit leadership.”
The Next Era
With this new leadership transition dovetailing with life post-Covid, PUMP is primed to usher in its next chapter.
“PUMP is doing a lot of amazing work in Pittsburgh. Our priority is to engage our network and the broader Pittsburgh community about the organization’s future and determine how to best position PUMP for an exciting new era. Thanks to the team and board, we survived the tough first years of the pandemic and still made great strides programmatically, in particular, our increased focus on civic engagement and voting. Organizationally, we must continue to take the lessons of Covid seriously and deliver excellent and impactful experiences, build out additional partnerships and programs, invest in organizational resilience, and grow our capacity,” Josiah said.
PUMP will continue to invest in Pittsburgh Sports League (PSL), the premier example of recreation and community building in the city, because of its increased importance coming out of Covid. We will continue supporting over 863 teams, so the over 10,000 PSL athletes have great experiences.
PUMP’s other signature programs, Kickball for a Cause, Steel City World Cup, and 40 Under 40, will also be a continued focus of the future. These are fun, participatory events, but they’re also about the future of the city and of the region in their own ways, and it is important that they become more vibrant over time, including engaging more partners and growing participation and impact.
Josiah’s vision for PUMP is to be a switchboard that connects young professionals, community organizations, and the greater Pittsburgh region through meaningful events, programs, and causes. “That is what fosters a sense of place and community. When folks decide to stay in the region, it often comes down to knowing they’re valuable, plugged in, and making a difference. And that’s where I think PUMP can be a force for good.”
Photo credit: Christopher Sprowls Photography