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Pittsburgh’s ability to reinvent itself from a manufacturing powerhouse to a world-renowned education, start-up and healthcare center is the inspiration for Aging Gracefully, Point Park University’s second annual TEDx event.

Aging Gracefully features a lineup of six exceptional speakers, including educators, creative thinkers and community activists who have found meaning, growth and fulfillment as their professional and personal lives have evolved. 

“Long-time Pittsburghers, and even newcomers, know how hard the city, nonprofit and corporate leaders worked to overcome the collapse of the steel industry and to identify and nurture new ways to keep the region vibrant and growing,” said Heather Starr Fiedler, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Community Engagement at Point Park University. “This TEDx event celebrates that spirit of reinvention, of staying meaningful and continuing to be a vibrant, engaged member of the community.”  

Event Details

Friday, October 18
9 a.m. to noon
Highmark Theatre, Pittsburgh Playhouse

Visit for additional information or to purchase tickets.

Meet the Speakers

Laura Poskin, director, Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging

Reimagining Aging Communities

Aging isn't something older people do. It’s something we all do. And everyone can benefit from improvements in design. A sidewalk that’s better for an 86-year-old neighbor, for example, is better for a six-year-old and – as this gerontologist knows firsthand - better for a new mom at 36. Poskin shares how the age-friendly movement is inspiring action and changing the narrative. By 2035, for the first time in U.S. history, older adults are projected to outnumber children. This new demographic reality is an opportunity to reimagine communities, so everyone can participate in life for their entire life. 

Martha Rial, photographer and educator

Beyond the Ceiling

Beyond the Ceiling is a temporary public art project that features photographs of ordinary women who are role models in their communities. Rial will show examples of her portraits, talk about how the women who participated in the project were impacted and the response from the community where the photography murals are displayed. In sharing her motivations for this project, she will share how stories of ordinary people are disappearing from mainstream media and why it is important for artists and journalists to be creative about how they can share stories in the future. Many of the subjects in Rial's photographs are older women who want people to know they are still engaged, and they want to be taken seriously by a society that is obsessed with youth. After nearly 40 years as a working photographer, she says her subjects continue to inspire her and are often her best teachers and have motivated her to take a more community-based approach to her work.  

Megan Fahey, assistant director of strategic programs, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University  

Learning Happens Everywhere

Moore’s law tells us that the capability of computers can be expected to double every two years, which can be scary if you’re afraid of robots. But it is also exciting. Today’s students are happy to keep this pace, so, how do we? As the next generation of students ages gracefully into college, what can institutions do to age with them? Fahey will highlight the ways colleges and universities in Greater Pittsburgh are aging: by expanding, not abandoning, traditional teaching methods, encouraging students to work together to solve real community issues and embracing a model of learning by doing.

C. Raymond Werner, writer, baker, music maker 

Reawakening the Moments that Change Our Lives and Make Us Who We Are

Werner encourages us to find the moments that have helped shape our lives as those moments will help them age more gracefully. These moments fall out of nowhere, right onto our laps. And, too often, fall by the wayside. These moments in life just get fogged over with living. We worry about what we haven’t done, what we have to do and what we will never do. In his talk, Werner will help you turn the fog lights on and spin a web of these refining moments. He will leave you with one idea that may help you create a moment that could change a life. Maybe even your own.

Richard Piacentini, president and CEO, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Innovating, Evolving and Learning in a Green World

After 126 years, Phipps Conservatory continues to connect people to nature while reinventing itself to inspire the future. One of America’s first public gardens is now a leader in addressing human and environmental health through breakthrough programming, operations and construction of some of the world’s greenest buildings. By staying true to the essence of what makes us who we are, Piacentini demonstrates how values-based leadership provides continuity between the past and present and how Phipps’ transformative journey parallels our lives, calling on us to age gracefully by continuously innovating, evolving and learning.

Ron Baraff, director of historic resources and facilities, Rivers of Steel 

Forward into the Past: The Carrie Furnaces and a Sense of Place 

The lessons of the region’s industrial past and its people set a framework for better understanding the current climate, invention and discovery of southwestern Pennsylvania. In this presentation, Baraff takes a close look at how art, nature, preservation and aesthetics interplay in the historic context of the iconic Carrie Furnaces. Rivers of Steel is using the area’s industrial past to help define its present and future. By undertaking preservation and heritage tourism initiatives throughout the region, and specifically at the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark site, the goal is to create an economic revitalization tool for the surrounding communities. Baraff will share how efforts to preserve the past, its lessons and its stories are all part of the healing and growth processes that are allowing the region to move forward in a responsible, expressive and progressive nature. Such actions allow for a re-envisioning of these stories of an aging past with a contemporary context and relevancy.

More About: Pittsburgh Playhouse, conference, community engagement, Downtown Pittsburgh