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Pittsburgh Profile: Seattle native Cathy Wissink leads Microsoft’s civic engagement in the Steel City

Cathy Wissink moved to Pittsburgh solely 4 months in the past however she’s already skilled the collaborative nature of the Steel City.

That’s vital for Wissink, a director of expertise and civic engagement for Microsoft who’s main the firm’s outreach in Pittsburgh.

“Shifting to Pittsburgh and realizing subsequent to nobody, it meant loads that folks have been very prepared to take a gathering, and go me on to another person in their community,” she stated. “Inside two weeks of touchdown right here, I had met with leaders in the enterprise and civic neighborhood, and been invited to take part in key initiatives.”

Wissink labored on Home windows for 9 years at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. She turned director of world authorities affairs in 2011 earlier than beginning her present function in 2013. Microsoft’s civic engagement staff expanded from six to 13 cities final yr; Pittsburgh is considered one of the new cities.

GeekWire interviewed Wissink for this Pittsburgh Profile, a sequence of Q&As with influential individuals and fascinating characters we meet throughout our month-long “HQ2” project.

Proceed studying for her solutions to our questions, and take a look at all of our Pittsburgh protection here.

Pittsburgh Profile: Seattle native Cathy Wissink leads Microsoft’s civic engagement in the Steel CityWhat do you like about Pittsburgh and what would you modify?

Wissink: “Persons are tremendous useful. After I was home looking, I’d cease on the avenue to lookup a list on my cellphone, and nearly with out fail, somebody would cease and ask me if I used to be misplaced and if they may assist. After which we’d chat for some time.

The neighborhoods are charming. The homes have unbelievable character, whether or not it’s ornate brick chimneys, candy little porches out entrance, or intricate woodwork. Then you definately stumble throughout a little bit bakery or restaurant or park that you’re compelled to go to. From the North Facet to Level Breeze and all factors in between, there’s good exploring in the neighborhoods.

Each week, yow will discover an fascinating occasion to attend. I’ve seen a Brazilian dance troupe, listened to a vacation ‘hootenanny’ placed on by native musicians, and frolicked at a ‘spooky’ civic information consumer group.

Most of what I’d change focuses on mobility. At the macro stage, it’s at the moment approach too laborious to get to Seattle from Pittsburgh! Fortunately that’s altering in September with Alaska’s new nonstop flight. I’m nonetheless scuffling with the way to navigate the ‘Pittsburgh left,’ each as a driver and a pedestrian. And at the micro stage, it’s a disgrace how inconsistently individuals clear their sidewalks after snow and ice storms, particularly in comparison with what I skilled over 4 winters in New England.”

Favourite Pittsburgh spot?

Wissink: “I like the view heading into city as you exit the Fort Pitt tunnel (although that’s greatest skilled as a passenger and never a driver). A detailed second could be the Strip District, particularly earlier in the morning when the retailers are simply opening up. It’s like going to Pike Place, however with simpler parking!”

Favourite Pittsburgh movie star?

Wissink: “Mr. Rogers was formative for me as a small little one, and I used to be thrilled to be taught he was from Pittsburgh.”

Greatest meals in Pittsburgh?

Wissink: “In Seattle, you will have entry to unbelievable Asian meals and you may be fairly choosy about it consequently. It’s improbable which you could get tremendous genuine and spicy SE Asian meals in Pittsburgh. Strive Noodlehead in Shadyside or Nicky’s Thai on the North Facet (and tread flippantly with the spice)!

Extra genuine to Pittsburgh, however extra DIY: Strip District Meats is the quintessential butcher’s store — yow will discover absolutely anything there. It’s in all probability heresy for me to say this, however I’m a fan of the espresso from Prestogeorge Espresso Roasting Firm, additionally in the Strip District.”

Greatest insider tip for transplants?

Wissink: “Pittsburgh may be very a lot a metropolis of neighborhoods. It’s just about considered one of the first questions you get if you meet somebody: which neighborhood you reside in?”

Favourite Pittsburgh phrase or phrase?

Wissink: “I haven’t come throughout a favourite phrase or phrase but, however I smile each time I hear the audible crosswalk notifications which can be accomplished in a feminine voice. It seems like a neighborhood accent to me?”

Nice to see my hometown tech journalists from @geekwire doing a deep dive with @PittsTechAudrey @duolingo and CMU on the secret sauce of the #Pittsburgh tech scene pic.twitter.com/piuazadT22

— Cathy Wissink (@cathywissink) February 14, 2018

Pittsburgh’s most vital innovation or invention.

Wissink: “It’s a toss-up between the Mr. Yuk sticker and the emoticon. Each have been huge improvements in graphic communication.”

How would you describe the tech, innovation and startup exercise happening in Pittsburgh to an outsider who hasn’t skilled it?

Wissink: “Tremendous networked, open to new concepts and other people, and agile. Specializing in making issues that matter, particularly in the social influence house.”

Are you able to inform us about any memorable experiences you had in Pittsburgh that illustrate the character and nature of the metropolis and its tech/startup/engineering neighborhood?

Wissink: “Shifting to Pittsburgh and realizing subsequent to nobody, it meant loads that folks have been very prepared to take a gathering, and go me on to another person in their community. Inside two weeks of touchdown right here, I had met with leaders in the enterprise and civic neighborhood, and been invited to take part in key initiatives. An excellent instance of that is the CoLab 18 innovation space – somebody I had met with early on related me with the leaders heading up that venture, and invited Microsoft to brainstorm how we may associate to offer coaching and programming in this house.

When you have been parachuting into Pittsburgh as a tech/enterprise reporter, what’s the first story you’d wish to cowl? Who’s the first individual you’d wish to sit down with?

Wissink: “I’d wish to give attention to innovation in the civic house, the place expertise and information are making authorities work higher for constituents. For instance, the metropolis is partnering with the Western Pennsylvania Regional Knowledge Heart on functions like Burgh’s Eye View, which offers present insights into crime incidents, 311 information, capital enhancements, and different information in an interactive vogue. Or the data-driven expertise work that Allegheny County is doing to guard kids liable to neglect and abuse.”

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