Rudiak, Natalia A

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Natalia Rudiak attended Concord Elementary School, Sterrett Classical Academy and Carrick High School. In 1997 she was named Carrick High School's Senior of the year.

In 1997, Natalia was awarded the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) International [1].

TUESDAY, APRIL 08, 1997 Washington, D.C. — Ten winners have been chosen to receive $2,000 college scholarships by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO. The winners are:

Raymond Franklin Yorktown Heights, NY Erica Gamble Detroit, MI Nathan Graumenz Vandalia, IL Irene Ledee Brooklyn, NY Amanda Nobel Eugene, OR Natalia Rudiak Pittsburgh, PA John Thomas West Hartford, CT Lindsey Tuominen Duluth, MN Julie Vasuthasawat Los Angeles, CA Manuel Williams Houston Texas

The winners were selected from over 1,500 applicants nationwide. Candidates competed by submitting their high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and a 1,500-word essay on the topic "What AFSCME membership has meant to our family." They will receive a grant of $2,000 annually, which can be renewed for up to four years for full-time degree course work at an accredited college or university. AFSCME, the nation's largest public employee and health care workers union, has long been committed to advancing higher education, from sponsoring scholarships to supporting federal legislation that would improve access to and affordability of higher education. At the local level, AFSCME affiliates continue this mission of trying to improve the lives of America's youth.

After graduating from Carrick High School in 1997 she attended George Washington University and in her Junior year (2000) attended the London School of Economics in London, England. Natalia graduated with a George Washington University BS degree in International Studies in 2001.

During her Senior year she interned for Senator Joseph Lieberman:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Aug 8, 2001

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After her Coro Fellowship she spent a year organizing a symposium for an international womens group in Malasia and spent several months in Dakar, Senegal teaching English.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article

The Gap Year: More students broaden their experience of the world Sunday, June 03, 2007

By Mackenzie Carpenter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Go sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, picking up leadership skills along the way. Explore historic villages on the Germany-Poland border while becoming fluent in German. Soak up Japanese traditions for a year while teaching English as a second language, or live in Senegal, West Africa, learning about Muslim culture.

We're not parroting a travel brochure here, just listing how several recent Pittsburgh-area high school graduates spent the year between high school and college -- or, in one case, the year after graduating from college and plunging into the job market -- as a way of figuring out what to do with their lives.

The British call it the "gap year," and while it's been a staple of upper-class life in that country -- Prince William spent a year in the Army in Belize and volunteering in southern Chile; Prince Harry spent his in Australia and then in Africa, where he worked in an orphanage. And within the Jewish community, Israel is a frequent destination after high school and before college.

Today, though, more and more students in the United States across the socio-economic spectrum are opting to take a break from the competitive treadmill of their high school years to travel, volunteer or work before entering college. Some of them use the time to burnish their resumes so they can reapply to a college that might have rejected them previously, while others want to immerse themselves in another culture altogether. Others need to make money, and still others just want time to think.

While no statistics are available, colleges are seeing signs of a definite trend.

"Are there more students taking a year off first today than a decade ago? Yes," said Betsy Porter, director of admissions at the University of Pittsburgh. Students today "have more acceptable options, places to go, things to do that provide real value, and in some ways, the world has opened up even to 17- and 18-year-olds."

Ben Schweers, 22, explored the Mexican wilderness for three months in a program run by the National Outdoor Leadership School, which uses outdoor activities to teach leadership skills. After graduating at the top of his class at Mt. Lebanon High School, Mr. Schweers had found himself spending the first two or three days at Ohio's College of Wooster in the fall of 2002 "wondering why I was there. It wasn't that Wooster wasn't the place for me, but college wasn't where I thought I should be."

Luckily, his parents were understanding, so after returning home, getting a job in a clothing store and volunteer coaching at his old high school, he enrolled in the outdoor leadership program, which was "life-changing" for him, said his mother, Merrily Schweers.

Besides fueling his interest in the environment, the rigorous but structured program, which included hiking, kayaking and sailing in Mexico's wilderness, allowed Mr. Schweers to hone his ability to lead small groups of people -- skills he'd never really had a chance to show in a classroom.

Another local student, Jacob Bryant of Highland Park, spent a summer in Japan before his senior year at Schenley High School and, then, after being accepted at Harvard, realized he wasn't ready to go to college.

Harvard didn't necessarily expect him to be ready, either: It sent him a response card that asked if he wanted to matriculate in fall of 2002 or the fall of 2003. Mr. Bryant returned to Japan for a year to teach English as a second language at a church-based school before heading to Cambridge, Mass.

It was an experience he wouldn't have traded for anything. Besides learning Japanese, which he'd studied since his middle school days at Frick International Studies Academy, "Personally,it made me more able to handle strange situations. I think if more college students had a broader perspective on the world and an eagerness to connect, that might be a healthy thing."

Gap years can be expensive, running as much as $10,000 to $12,000, along with extras like health insurance, immunizations and other medical costs.

But it's not an option only for the affluent. Mr. Bryant financed the trip himself by sending out fund-raising letters to members of his church, Bellefield Presbyterian, and raised $5,500 -- of which he spent only $3,500 by sharing living quarters in Yokohama (he donated the remainder of his money to the Japanese church). "It was not a glamorous life," he laughed. "I worked really hard, and I was kind of writing my own curriculum and teaching it at the same time."

Sometimes, the gap year comes after graduating from college and before choosing a career, as in the case of Natalia Rudiak, 27. A graduate of Carrick High School, Ms. Rudiak hit the ground running as a freshman at George Washington University, but after graduating in 2001, "I couldn't decide what I wanted to do."

After a nine-month public policy fellowship with the Coro Center for Civic Leadership in its Pittsburgh office, she went to New York City for a year to work for an international women's health organization.

Then, she went to live in Senegal for eight months.

"It was always something I wanted to do," Ms. Rudiak said. "When I was in college, I was around a lot of people who had lived in other countries, and I wanted to try it but wasn't sure what the focus should be."

After doing some research, she discovered a program that placed Americans as English teachers overseas and, after raising $2,500 from family and friends, soon found herself in West Africa as a teacher's assistant in a Senegalese American bilingual school.

"I wanted to work in international development, but while I was there, shortly after 9/11, I had an epiphany. I realized that if I wanted to make changes in the world, I'd have to contribute to making changes at home first," said Ms. Rudiak, who went on to get her graduate degree from the Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University and is currently working at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

She also noted that while studying abroad her junior year at the London School of Economics, "almost everyone had done a gap year or something like that. Even my roommate, who came from a blue-collar background, managed to scrape some money together and travel around India before going back to school."

Still, taking time off has its pitfalls, Mr. Bryant noted. After a year spent in the real world, that "made it harder to go back into academia. At Harvard, I felt like I was out of the rhythm of studying, so maybe, for some people, there is something valuable about going right into college."

Indeed, noted Ms. Porter, a "gap year" is "not a universal answer for every student. Some kids are just emotionally ready to move from high school to college, and like to move in lockstep with the friends they make their freshman year."

There haven't been a lot of studies on the impact of delaying entry into college, but in the 1990s, researchers at the National Center for Education Statistics found it can decrease a student's chances of completing a degree.

But Holly Bull, who heads the Center for Interim Programs, a consulting service that helped place Mr. Schweers and other students in "gap year" programs, said that there are just as many studies showing that recent high school graduates need more time to mature.

"It's a feverish process getting into college and when they do get in, they often don't have a sense of what to focus on," she said, adding that often "what you see the first year in college are kids floundering around, changing majors, trying to fit in, drinking. Freshman year can be an expensive party."

Her company, based in Cambridge, Mass., and Princeton, N.J., has access to thousands of unusual programs all over the world, from the healing arts to social services, from volunteering at a Mexican orphanage to construction projects in Tibet.

In Mr. Schweers' case, after coming home to Mt. Lebanon and working a summer job as a landscape assistant, he applied to Skidmore College, where he graduated with a degree in environmental studies several weeks ago. He was recently selected from among more than 1,000 applicants to be one of 25 paid interns with GreenCorps, the nationally acclaimed Field School for Environmental Organizing.

Both he and his parents believe that his experience at an outdoor leadership school played a significant role in determining where he is today.

"It made me more comfortable with that transition into college, which is often very rocky, and made me more comfortable with myself."

First published on June 1, 2007 at 1:04 pm Mackenzie Carpenter can be reached at or 412-263-1949.

As published in the South Pittsburgh Reporter, Sunday, JUL 06, 2008:

Carrick resident wins Heinz School award


Natalia A. Rudiak

On May 21, 2006, the Carnegie Mellon University H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management held the 34th commencement ceremony in Oakland, where Natalia A. Rudiak of Carrick received a Master of Science Degree, with Distinction, in Public Policy and Management (MSPPM).

Ms. Rudiak was nominated by her colleagues to receive the 2006 Barbara Jenkins Award. The award is given in memory of Barbara Jenkins (MS 1987) to a graduating student who has demonstrated service to the Heinz School and made significant contributions to the quality of life for the residents in Pittsburgh.

Her colleagues and professors noted Ms. Rudiak’s involvement in “Run Baby Run,” a campaign to recruit female political candidates in Southwestern Pennsylvania. (According to the DC-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Pennsylvania ranks 47th in female political participation among the United States, and until May 2006, the Southwestern Pennsylvania region had no female state representatives.)

She has organized youth-oriented voting initiatives for “Everyone Vote” and the League of Young Voters, as well as several social events and political forums at Carnegie Mellon University. She is also is co-creator of the Website In the May 2006 primary election, Ms. Rudiak was elected to the 29th Ward Democratic Committee.

The Heinz School is known internationally for its educational curriculum and research. According to their Website, the school’s purpose is to “understand the causes of critical social problems and to train men and women through masters and doctoral programs to use new knowledge and technology to bring about positive change.”

The program emphasizes economics, statistics, information science, and organizational behavior to study how public policies affect society. Heinz strives to support “intelligent action” in non-profit, public, and private organizations, and counts 5,000 graduates from all over the United States and the world.

In the fall, Ms. Rudiak will begin employment with Deloitte Consulting, where she will work to improve the efficacy and efficiency of public institutions and governments.

She is the daughter of John and Helena Rudiak of Carrick, and the granddaughter of the late Joseph and Regina Rudiak of the South Side, and Lucyna and the late Dionizy Kusiolek of Przyjma, Poland. She plans to stay in Carrick.

Franco Harris and Natalia at a recent 2008 Generation Obama event

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Natalia announces her campaign for District 4 City Council

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Natalia addresses issues in District 4

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Natalia's campaign video for City Council District 4

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Pittsburgh Post Gazette Endorsement

Rudiak in District 4: She's the Democrats' strongest choice for council

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As grudge matches go, the one between Pittsburgh Councilman Jim Motznik and former state Rep. Michael Diven over the district judge seat in the South Hills is a doozy. It is also distracting. Consequently, Mr. Motznik, a two-term incumbent, is not seeking re-election to council.

This means that the race to find a Democratic nominee for the District 4 council seat serving Bon Air, Overbrook, Carrick, Brookline, Beechview and parts of Banksville and Mount Washington is wide open for the first time in years. The three men and one woman competing in the May 19 primary (there is no Republican on the ballot) have qualities that reflect the best of the communities they're striving to represent.

Patrick Reilly, 27, the community outreach coordinator for state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, has the backing of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. The Overbrook resident is a graduate of Seton-La Salle High School and the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in communications. He's energetic, smart and understands the value of networking. Like his rivals, Mr. Reilly promises that economic development in the struggling business districts of the South Hills will be his top priority.

Anthony Coghill, 42, a Beechview roofing contractor, is no stranger to the race. This is his third run for the District 4 council seat. He says neighborhood businesses have deteriorated during Mr. Motznik's tenure. An active member of the Beechview Merchants' Association, Mr. Coghill is the founder of one of the largest roofing businesses in Pittsburgh.

At 66, Richard Weaver, a Brookline resident, has seen many council members come and go over the years. He is a city demolition officer who used to do code enforcement for Pittsburgh's building inspection department. Like his colleagues, Mr. Weaver believes reviving business districts and lowering crime are the keys to turning District 4 around.

Natalia Rudiak, 29, of Carrick is well-known as someone who can be found at community meetings throughout the district on any given night. She is active in a half-dozen neighborhood organizations committed to improving the local quality of life.

The self-employed consultant was a Coro leadership fellow and an employee of Deloitte Consulting. Ms. Rudiak is a graduate of Carrick High School and George Washington University. She has a master's in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and has studied at the London School of Economics.

Ms. Rudiak's candidacy is timely because her academic background is integral to both her community activism and political aspirations. She's combined a natural bent toward public policy with a compassion that keeps her rooted in the community where she grew up.

Because of her background with nonprofits and community groups, Ms. Rudiak is poised to bring about much-needed revival of the business districts. She's comfortable with complexity and understands that District 4 is part of a larger city mosaic. She's progressive, hard-working and temperamentally ready for the rigors of the office.

Thanks to her hard work in District 4, she's won the endorsements of diverse groups representing teachers, environmentalists, government employees and food workers. Add to this list the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. For District 4 Democrats on May 19, Natalia Rudiak is the best choice hands down.

First published on May 6, 2009 at 12:00 am

Read more Click Here

Natalia's Victory Speech, May 19, 2009. Natalia Rudiak becomes the first female City Councilwoman of District 4 and the first Councilperson from Carrick.

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John Fournier, Campaign Manager, and Natalia on Primary Election Victory Night

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Natalia thanks all who contributed their time and efforts.

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The Victory Room Crowd

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The Victory Room Crowd

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Neighbors, friends and relatives join in the Victory

Natalia and Pete Schmidt, Campaign Assistant Staff

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Political newcomer Rudiak brings fresh voice to Pittsburgh council

By Jeremy Boren


Monday, June 15, 2009

Pittsburgh Tribune Review Article

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Natalia Rudiak has old-school Pittsburgh roots, but supporters say her politics are nothing of the sort.

"There were a lot of people that said I couldn't do it," said Rudiak, 29, of Carrick, who won a primary race for City Council last month. "I don't know what it was, if it was my age or if it was my gender, but they just kind of looked at me and didn't take me seriously."

Rudiak defeated three other Democrats to replace District 4 City Councilman Jim Motznik, who has been in office since 2001 and is leaving to run for district judge. With no Republican candidate on the November ballot, Rudiak, a graduate of George Washington and Carnegie Mellon universities, is set to become council's youngest member.

Rudiak has worked as a business strategy and operations consultant for Deloitte Consulting in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg; a campaign organizer for the nonprofit Everybody VOTE; a communications assistant for Family Care International in New York; and an English teacher in Dakar, Senegal.

She lives in a three-bedroom, 100-year-old former convent that she spent two years renovating on Brownsville Road.

"I like to think that I actually saved this house from being carved up into different apartments," she said.

When she's not working on the house, Rudiak, a dog-lover, occasionally baby-sits pets for friends. She also plays piano, flute and sax, calling on musical abilities she says came from her grandfather, who played drums in The Seven Rudiak Brothers Orchestra.

A black-and-white photo of drummer Joseph Rudiak sits in the sun room of her home, which is 300 feet from Concord Elementary, where she went to school. Her parents, John and Helena, live a few blocks away.

"It's about time that somebody from this side of Route 51 wins an election and gives us some representation," said Carol Anthony, 67, acting president of the Overbrook Community Council who campaigned for Rudiak. "I wasn't sure someone so independent and fresh-faced could win."

That independence could make for an uneasy political relationship with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who said he doesn't know Rudiak well. He supported Anthony Coghill, one of her opponents in the primary. Kevin Acklin, an independent running against Ravenstahl in the November election, supported her campaign.

"I see her as less a politician and more as a young person from the city who wants to give back," said Acklin, who donated $600 to Rudiak's campaign and hired her campaign manager to help direct his mayoral bid.

Judy Demma, 56, of Brookline said she always votes but doesn't get involved in political campaigns. She made an exception for Rudiak, a family friend.

Demma believes Rudiak will work to fill empty storefronts in Brookline and Beechview with businesses and bring a beat cop to patrol Brookline. Her lack of political baggage is an asset, Demma said.

"She doesn't owe anybody anything."

Coghill said he thinks voters saw Rudiak as a political outsider, which helped her in an area tired of partisan bickering. District 4 includes Brookline, Beechview, Overbrook, Carrick and Bon Air.

"She kind of came out of nowhere," said Coghill, who narrowly lost to Motznik in 2005.

Rudiak said she will focus on fulfilling basic constituent services: fixing streets, clearing vacant lots and demolishing condemned buildings. She plans to take a ride in a city plow truck. Her biggest challenge, she said, will be reversing population decline.

"I grew up in this community. A lot of my high school friends have moved away. A lot of family friends have moved away. I see almost a hollowing out of our city," Rudiak said.

November 3, 2009 General Election vote - 5,209

40 Under 40

Pittsburgh Magazine Article November 2009

By Jonathan Wander

Photography by Laura Petrilla

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They come from all walks of life, with a diversity of backgrounds, professions and community-service passions that speak to the richness that is young, professional Pittsburgh. This is our 11th annual 40 Under 40, a celebration of 40 inspirational, successful, generous men and women from our region, all under age 40, who represent the best in Pittsburgh's present and future.

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Natalia Rudiak » 29 » Management consultant, Civic Capital Consulting Collaborative » Natalia Rudiak is a management consultant with Civic Capital Consulting Collaborative, a group that helps nonprofit organizations and community groups create and implement concrete plans for growth and collaboration. Rudiak, who is a candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, is an active member of South Pittsburgh Neighborhood Forum and has helped individuals and groups share information and work together using technology. She is also a member of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, vice president of Carrick Community Council, co-founder of the Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society and co-founder of the popular blog (regularly featured on the WDVE "Friday Morning Show").

This is the official Proclamation by the City of Pittsburgh City Council honoring the recipients of the 2009 award.

Click here for City of Pittsburgh Legislation link.

WHEREAS, on November 6, 2009, the 40 Under 40 Awards will be presented by the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) and Pittsburgh Magazine; and WHEREAS, PUMP was founded in September 1995 to advance issues affecting young and young-thinking people in the City, and strives to engage the young professional in issues involving attraction and retention of youth in Pittsburgh; and WHEREAS, Pittsburgh Magazine, which began as a local program guide and arts and culture magazine, is now the leading city and regional magazine, focusing on the Pittsburgh region’s lifestyles, arts and culture, fashion, and growth and development; and WHEREAS, for the eleventh year, PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine will honor the following forty people under the age of forty who are making this region a better place to live:

Khalif Ali Regina Anderson Armen Arevian, Ph.D. Danielle Baco Erin Baker Kelly A. Barcic Charlie Batch Mary C. Burke, Ph.D. Carlos T. Carter Robert Chambers, II Dana Davis Jennifer DeFazio Victor Dozzi, Jr. Matthew Erb Cara Erskine Rachel Filippini Marissa Gallagher Dennis Geary Deborah Gilboa, M.D. Tyra Good Bob Grayson Justin Gunther Daisy Klaber Robert Daniel Lavelle Felix Brandon Lloyd Allyson Lowe, Ph.D. Mayada Mansour Sylvia McCoy Piyush Seth Jason W. Ross Natalia Rudiak Luke Skurman Janera Solomon Heather Starr Fiedler, Ph.D. Melissa Swauger, Ph.D. Steven M. Toprani Kristy Trautmann Stephanie P. Walker Robert Wilson Barrett Ivory Wood, M.D.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh hereby commends and thanks PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine and congratulates the recipients of the 40 under 40 awards; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh hereby declares November 6, 2009 “40 Under 40 Day” in the City of Pittsburgh.



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John (Father), Natalia, and Helena (mother)

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Natalia and Matt Merriman-Preston, Campaign Manager

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Dr. Barbara Rudiak, Aunt, and Natalia

Natalia Takes Office!

January 4, 2010, City Council Chambers, Natalia becomes the first female Counciperson of District 4

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Pittsburgh City Councilmember Natalia Rudiak was officially sworn in today at a ceremony in Council Chambers. In an uplifting inaugural address, she called for a civic re-awakening in Pittsburgh to aide revitalization in the neighborhoods.

Citing the tough economic times that have gripped the nation and her campaign commitment to bring more investments to Pittsburgh’s Southern neighborhoods, Rudiak asked her fellow Councilmembers to, “tackle these issues with a zeal that is unmatched and a vigor that is unparalleled.”

Councilmember Rudiak, drawing on her own experience as a community leader in district 4, also called on Pittsburghers to get more involved by “[interfacing] with City government, so we all can take ownership of it and start organizing for our communities.”

She continued:

All across this country, big cities are hurting too, just like Pittsburgh. Cuts in state revenue, crumbling infrastructure, neighborhood de-stabilization—these are national problems. But the City who solves them first will become America’s next great urban center—our nation’s next great story of renewal, of change, and of hope. And so, we must tackle these issues with a zeal that is unmatched and a vigor that is unparalleled.

Councilmember Rudiak was elected after capturing more than 98% of the vote in the November general election. In May, the Carrick Democrat won a three way primary to secure her party’s nomination. A graduate of George Washington University, Councilmember Rudiak holds a masters degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to her election, she was an active community leader and business owner in the Pittsburgh’s southern neighborhoods.

Full Text of Inaugural Remarks:

A Call to Action: Councilmember Natalia Rudiak Inaugural Remarks

Today, the City of Pittsburgh, as it does every two years, begins a new journey with new leadership on deck and a new course for our future. For me, this journey began more than a year and a half ago, with an empty campaign account, a few volunteers, and a lot of determination.

But it really began with my family. My parents, Helena and John, my Aunt Barbara Rudiak and my Uncle Mike Rudiak. You have always supported me, but your commitment to me, to the campaign, and to the City of Pittsburgh blew everyone away and I cannot imagine having done this without you. Thank you so much.

I also want to thank the members of my family who couldn’t be here today. For those of you who don’t know, my mother is from Poland, she was born there. My grandmother, who is 79 years old today, barely finished second grade before our family’s village was occupied by the Nazis and she was forced to drop out of school. She could never imagine, and still cannot fathom, that her granddaughter is standing here, as the first woman elected to represent Pittsburgh City Council District 4. And although my family is an ocean away, I know that they are with us in spirit.

In many ways, my family embodies the essential Pittsburgh story—we came from far away, looking for a new life and new opportunities. We struggled to work and save and make ends meet, toiled in the steel mills and the coal mines of Pennsylvania, and built this city from the ground up, always thinking of our children, and our children’s children.

My loved ones, and the experiences and values they have instilled in me are my compass, they are my guide through tough times, and they have given me the incredible foundation and support that have brought me here today.

I love you all, and I thank you so very much. I am blessed.

I also want to thank my staff for their hard work over the last year, and all of those who supported me including the SEIU, UFCW, Laborers, PFT, the Sierra Club, Stonewall Democrats, Young Democrats and many more…you know who you are and I thank you!

I want to thank all of the members of Council for your gracious advice and support during my transition. I have spoken with each one of you, and your guidance has been invaluable to me and my staff during this time. It has been support that I will not soon forget, and I thank you.

To Mayor Ravenstahl, the local delegation to the Pennsylvania Legislature, our County wide elected officials, and the invaluable City workers—from department directors all the way to road crews—I have enjoyed working with you through my time as a community leader and councilmember in transition and I look forward to working closely with you in the future.

On the campaign, we started small, but dreamt big. From our tiny office in Brookline, we knocked on doors for hours every day, through the bitter Pittsburgh winter and into the rainy spring. I met thousands of my neighbors, and I learned so much about the communities where I grew up, and where I call home.

The gift that my neighbors gave me was the peace of mind and clarity of purpose to help lead Pittsburgh into a new future, filled with opportunities for every Pittsburgher to grow and succeed.

I will carry this gift with me every day as your District 4 Council Member. And in return, I promise to continue the conversations that begin on the front porch to the Fifth Floor here on Grant Street. I will try to inspire YOU. I will ask you to be involved—to pick up a broom and work in your neighborhood, to organize your neighbors, and come down to this very chamber and hold our feet to the fire.

I ask you to BE INSPIRED and to build a better Pittsburgh with me!

There are countless stories from the campaign of people who stepped up and decided to make a difference for our communities. But one in particular stands out. One day, a man walked in to the campaign office and just wanted some information on my candidacy. His name was Jack. I talked to him for a little while, and he told me that while he no longer lives in Pittsburgh, he ran a community-oriented non-profit. So I asked if he wanted to volunteer with us—and after talking to me, he did. And he came back, again and again, especially in the closing weeks of the campaign.

What I said to Jack is what I have said to so many of my friends and neighbors over the last two years: I asked him to be a partner with our City, to be a Pittsburgher once again, and to be inspired to ask more of our political leadership and of our community.

I had coffee with Jack a few weeks ago, and I was surprised to learn that he was so inspired by that message, and by our campaign, that he mounted a grassroots campaign of his own. And I am pleased to say that on November 5th, the Borough of Carnegie elected a great new Mayor in Jack Kobistek, and the City of Pittsburgh gained a great new partner in the effort for regional cooperation.

I am asking people like Mayor Kobistek to be inspired to ask more of our leadership and our communities. And now is the time to step up and be heard—we are coming off of elections where only a small fraction of Pittsburghers showed up to vote. It’s unfortunate, but we have no one to blame but ourselves. By keeping their votes in their pockets, the people of Pittsburgh have sent us a powerful message—that we must do better.

We must do a better job of attracting new businesses and new opportunities. We must do a better job of tearing down abandoned housing and protecting our neighborhoods from crime and neglect. We must do a better job of showing people how to interface with City government, so we all can take ownership of it and start organizing for our communities.

This is our challenge: To build a better Pittsburgh house by house, street by street, and block by block. It will not be easy…this hard work will not be done in one week, or one year, or one term in office, but it must be done for our City and for our future.

We have received lavish praise from the national media for the progress we have made, there is no doubt about it. But people are still voting with their feet and moving out of our City, and we must fight this epidemic with every ounce of our spirit. We must be a city that is not just praised by Forbes Magazine, but is cherished by the sons and daughters of the great men and women who built this city with their bare hands and wrought determination.

All across this nation, Americans are struggling. The job losses have been staggering, and foreclosures unbearable. It’s important to remember that this economic climate has beat down so many American workers. How many families have been displaced? How many parents have lost their jobs? What were the holidays like this year for our neighbors … or even ourselves?

All across this country, big cities are hurting too, just like Pittsburgh. Cuts in state revenue, crumbling infrastructure, neighborhood de-stabilization—these are national problems. But the City who solves them first will become America’s next great urban center—our nation’s next great story of renewal, of change, and of hope. And so, we must tackle these issues with a zeal that is unmatched and a vigor that is unparalleled.

Pittsburgh needs a re-awakening—and all of us here today must lead it!

So when we talk about bringing investment to our neighborhoods, let us not forget the Pittsburgh families who will benefit. Because it’s Pittsburghers who will build the buildings and pave the roads — it’s Pittsburghers who will clean the offices and provide service to our guests – it’s Pittsburghers who will come home from a hard days’ work with food to put on the table and a heated house in which to tuck their children in at night.

When we talk about public safety, we aren’t just talking about abstract statistics and pie charts. We are talking about building healthy and attractive neighborhoods where families can settle and grow. Places that will offer stability and safety so children can navigate the challenging adolescent worlds of school and social life without also having to navigate the cultures of gang violence and drugs.

When we talk about our parks, we aren’t just talking about patches of grass, but real investments that make our neighborhoods fun destinations for young families. These are investments that will increase our tax revenue and give children a safe place to play.

When we talk about transparency, it’s not some pawn in a gotcha game of politics. It’s a way to give Pittsburghers information about how our government works, so we can take ownership of our communities and work to bring investments and change on our own.

Let us move forward with this new council, with this charge to build a better Pittsburgh house by house, street by street, and block by block. Let us work to inspire our friends and our neighbors to build this City up and make it America’s next great story of renewal and hope. But above all, let us work together, as a united council, to bring the investments to our neighborhoods that we deserve.

Thank you.

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Showing off the South Hills

New councilwoman pledges to be an advocate for often-overlooked city neighborhoods

Monday, January 04, 2010

By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Natalia and Mother's statue.jpg Bill Wade/Post-Gazette Natalia Rudiak, 30, in her Carrick neighborhood, joins Pittsburgh City Council in January. The mother and child sculpture "L'Enfant" by Roger Bloche is landmark at Overbrook Boulevard and Ravilla Street.

When Natalia Rudiak tells people which neighborhoods she will represent on City Council, they sometimes express surprise that Carrick, Overbrook, Brookline, Beechview and Bon Air are parts of Pittsburgh.

One of the top priorities of the 30-year-old Carrick resident, who joins council today, is getting this message across: The South Hills neighborhoods are part of the city; they have needs; and they deserve attention.

"In order for us to get more resources from the city, or foundations, or nonprofits, these organizations need to know that we exist," Ms. Rudiak said last week. "Every single time I sit down and meet with someone, I'm acting as an ambassador to those organizations from our neighborhoods."

She replaces Jim Motznik, who focused on constituent services during his nine years on council, and has moved on to the district judge seat in Brookline. She, too, intends to concentrate on helping residents but also intends to pick up the pace in terms of development in a district that is largely southwest of Route 51.

Route 51, she said, "is a mess, and there have been so many studies done on that." Since her victory in the May primary, she's been collecting and reading those studies in an effort to figure out what the city can do along the dowdy four-lane road, as well as in the Brookline, Beechview and Carrick business districts that sit on the hills above it.

"If there's one thing I hate in life, it's reinventing the wheel," she said. So she's studying existing multi-neighborhood groups like the Baum-Centre Planning Initiative, and trying to plug more of her constituents into citywide organizations like the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and A+ Schools.

A big part of her job will be addressing the perception that the south gets the shaft from the city.

"Your city hall has to have a sense of urgency about what you want, and I just don't think that the southern neighborhoods really have been on their radar," said Keith Knecht, vice president of the South Pittsburgh Development Corp. "She's a bright person. She's very sincere. I don't know how she'll fare in the morass that we call City Council, but I hope that she can maintain her integrity and bring us some higher profile in terms of our contribution to the city."

She has built a good relationship with state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, who just got state funding for a community developer who will split time between Brookline and Beechview. Ms. Wagner believes the southern communities have suffered from being in-between neighborhoods -- not troubled enough to qualify for federal funds and other intensive care, and not well-off enough to throw their weight around.

Ms. Rudiak was a self-employed consultant working with nonprofit groups before winning a four-candidate Democratic primary and an uncontested general election. After the primary she phased out her work and has focused on studying everything from bike racks to tax policy.

She campaigned against "soap opera politics" while besting two South Hills political factions in the primary. Now she enters a council whose recent meetings have been daytime dramas, especially in the run-up to today's vote for the body's presidency.

She wouldn't say how she'll vote in that contest, which has pitted Councilmen William Peduto and Ricky Burgess against each other, but could easily have a surprise ending that would put Theresa Smith, Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus, Patrick Dowd or incumbent Doug Shields in the big chair.

"It's just like any other new job -- you have to learn different peoples' personalities," she said. "I hope that I can bring a tone of rationality to any situation."

Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.

Pittsburgh councilwoman to meet Friday with Obama

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak will meet with President Barack Obama and other administration officials Friday in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Rudiak, who's in her first term, was invited as part of a delegation from the American Way Foundation's Young Elected Officials Network.

She said she plans to speak about federal funding cuts, public safety and community development issues.

"The president has been a steadfast ally of cities in America, but our main streets need help and Republicans in Congress have done nothing but force cut after cut to cities like Pittsburgh," Ms. Rudiak said in a statement. "We've seen cuts to programs that help Pittsburgh with our police protection, street paving, building demolition, youth job programs, economic development, the capital budget and much more, and I'm looking forward to speaking with the president about how we can restore these programs."

First published on June 15, 2011 at 11:50 am

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Rudiak in District 4: City Dems have no need to change on council

May 8, 2013 12:00 AM

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Johnny Lee, who is challenging Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak for the District 4 Democratic nomination in the May 21 primary, has what is considered the trifecta of endorsements for a city election -- the Fraternal Order of Police, the Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Local 1 and the city Democratic committee.

What Mr. Lee did not articulate during a meeting with Post-Gazette editors was a good reason to replace Ms. Rudiak as the party's choice to run for the seat, which represents Beechview, Brookline, Bon Air, Carrick, Overbrook and a small part of Mount Washington. The Democratic nominee will face Republican Samuel J. Hurst, who is unopposed in the primary.

Mr. Lee barely criticized Councilwoman Rudiak, calling her a competent opponent. A difference between them is Mr. Lee supports getting the city out from the state oversight of Act 47 "sooner than later," while Ms. Rudiak believes, as the Post-Gazette does, that, although the city has made improvements, major elements of its recovery plan remain undone, making continued oversight important.

Mr. Lee, 52, of Brookline, recently retired as a U.S. Postal Service supervisor but he is best known for his 18 years as a high school basketball coach and as a broadcaster for the local MSA Sports radio network. He describes himself as a people person who would be better able than Ms. Rudiak to reach out to the district's elderly residents and who would concentrate on community quality-of-life concerns rather than broad, citywide issues.

During her four years on the job, Ms. Rudiak, 33, of Carrick, seems to have tackled both.

The South Hills district, which long has believed it's been neglected compared to services provided in the city's East End communities, is seeing a lot of neighborhood attention right now. A new, $3 million Beechview community center is being planned. Brookline's commercial core, Brookline Boulevard, is undergoing a complete reconstruction. Carrick and Overbrook have joined Economic Development South, a group that works along the Route 51 corridor that those neighborhoods share with nearby suburbs.

Citywide, Ms. Rudiak has not been afraid to confront the status quo, leading a task force that was set up to review emergency response plans for weather emergencies after a 2010 blizzard crippled Pittsburgh.

Like Mr. Lee, we can't articulate a good reason for him to replace her as the Democratic nominee. The Post-Gazette endorses Natalia Rudiak -- a smart and effective hard worker.

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Pittsburgh Councilwoman Rudiak plans bill mandating baby-changing stations in all city-owned restrooms

By Moriah Balingit Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak plans to introduce legislation today requiring baby-changing stations in the bathrooms of city-owned buildings, including senior centers, pools, recreation centers and the City-County Building.

Ms. Rudiak's bill would require the stations in both men and women's restrooms.

In a press release, Ms. Rudiak said that while the stations are common in women's restrooms, they're often absent from men's restrooms, making it difficult for fathers and male guardians to care for their children.

"Modern families require modern amenities," she said int he release. "Parenting responsibilities are more equally shared than ever before, and it's time that our public buildings catch up to that trend."

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Rudiak and Gilman: Two Pittsburgh city council pros deserve the voters' support

October 15, 2013 12:00 AM

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This is the first in a series of candidate endorsements in contested races on the Nov. 5 ballot. These editorials will culminate in a recap of the Post-Gazette's recommendations that will appear on Sunday, Nov. 3.

Vigorous contests in two Pittsburgh council districts during the Democratic primary have given way to quieter fall campaigns for next month's general election. The choices should be easy ones for voters, with two council veterans -- one an incumbent and the other a longtime staff member -- having ideas and experience that are superior to that of their challengers.

Natalia Rudiak, who joined council in 2010, is seeking her second term in District 4, and her active tenure recommends her for it. After defeating a candidate who had powerful union backing and the Democratic committee's endorsement in the primary, she squares off against an energetic but less-prepared Republican challenger.

Ms. Rudiak, 33, of Carrick, holds degrees from George Washington and Carnegie Mellon universities. She has actively solicited business owners, developers and philanthropic leaders to invest in the communities that make up District 4 -- Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, Overbrook and part of Mount Washington.

She has tackled projects both big and small in her district at the same time that she has been an advocate on important citywide issues. An ally of mayor-apparent Bill Peduto, she said she is looking forward to tackling some of the city's problems working in tandem with his administration.

The Post-Gazette endorses Natalia Rudiak for re-election.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Endorses Natalia Rudiak Second City Council Term read more

Natalia Rudiak Sworn in for second term as District 4 Councilwoman

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City of Pittsburgh District 4 Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak is sworn in at a ceremony in City Council Chamber by Judge Eleanor Bush. Holding the Bible for Ms. Rudiak were her parents, John and Helena Rudiak. Joining her for the ceremony were Michael Rudiak, Barbara Rudiak and Raymond Garries.

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Open city: Rudiak’s ordinance promises a wealth of data

January 15, 2014 8:11 PM

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has proposed the digital equivalent of opening all the doors and windows of city government offices.

Her breath of fresh air is a proposed ordinance that would transform promises of transparency in government into a practice giving citizens easy access to information. If approved by council and signed by Mayor Bill Peduto, who favors it, the “open data” ordinance would lead to a new city website containing a wealth of data.

Laura Meixell, appointed by Mr. Peduto as Pittsburgh’s first data and analytics manager, would create the site, and every city department would have a coordinator responsible for producing an inventory of information for display.

All records considered public under the state’s Right to Know Law could be available online, eliminating red tape. Once it is in operation, citizens and businesses would be able to find everything from the location of reported potholes to paving schedules, from building permit applications to budgets.

This proactive approach is more than a tool for residents. Mr. Peduto wants the city to better utilize the data in-house to measure how departments are performing and to figure out new ways to efficiently get jobs done. Proponents also hope that outside technology developers eventually will create tools like one devised for Chicago, which allows residents to track snowplows during a storm so they can pick clear routes for driving.

All of that potential starts with the ordinance’s underlying premise that citizens have a right to “prompt, efficient service” and that “it should be easy to do business with the City of Pittsburgh.”

City council should not waste any time approving this forward-thinking measure.

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Pittsburgh's pre-K promise

Give all the city’s kids access to high-quality early-childhood education, urges city councilwoman NATALIA RUDIAK

February 23, 2014 12:00 AM

A Pittsburgh child’s access to high-quality early-childhood education should not be an accident of birth. It should be available and affordable for all Pittsburgh children.

The biggest hurdles facing our region — from high school dropout rates to violent crime to the rising cost of health care — can be addressed by expanding voluntary, high-quality pre-K education. Investing in children before kindergarten is much more cost-effective than spending tax dollars to address problems later in their lives.

That is why I am proposing what may be the most ambitious economic development project with the highest return on investment our city has ever seen — a Pittsburgh Promise for preschoolers.

There are approximately 5,700 three- and four-year-olds living in our city. If we want to see our children and our city thrive, we can’t wait for Washington or Harrisburg to act. We must work together to give every one of those children access to a free, high-quality preschool education.

Investing in high-quality early education yields higher returns than any other public investment. At-risk children who don’t receive a high-quality early-childhood education are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education, 60 percent more likely to never attend college and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

According to a recent study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Pennsylvania taxpayers hand over almost $2 billion a year to house, feed and provide 24-hour supervision for state prisoners — more than $35,000 per inmate. We spend only a fraction as much — $340 million annually — on early-childhood education. We do not put prisoners on waiting lists, yet thousands of children are placed on waiting lists each year in Pennsylvania, simply because their families cannot afford high-quality pre-K programs. This is unjust and unacceptable.

I’ve heard from many of my constituents about the daunting obstacles they face to afford a preschool education for their children.

In Beechview, Michele and her husband struggle to pay down their own student loans, the $7,000 debt from her eldest child's preschool tuition, and monthly preschool fees for her second son, who has autism and requires socialization.

Kara was lucky to find financial assistance so her daughter could attend a great public preschool program, one of her main reasons for staying in the city. Once her husband’s income increased slightly, however, they no longer qualified for assistance and were hit with a $600-a-month bill. As Kara said, “$600 a month is a mortgage payment for a lot of houses in the city. I don’t know anyone who could afford that.”

Christy has a similar story. She bought a house within the feeder pattern of the Bon Air Early Childhood Program Education Center specifically so her daughter could attend school there. Due to budgetary constraints, the center was closed the year her daughter was ready to enroll. Christy applied for Head Start but didn’t qualify. The public and private schools she contacted started out at $650 per month for part-time pre-K. Due to the enormous expense, Christy and her husband could not afford preschool for their three-year-old.

As many of my constituents have found, accessing affordable pre-K programs can be a game of chance and circumstance. Some qualify for Head Start, which is funded by the federal and state governments. If your child is disabled, an English-language learner or otherwise at-risk, you also may qualify for aid. Your local school district might cover the cost if you live in the right ZIP code. Don’t qualify for any of these programs or live on the wrong side of the municipal border? You are on your own. It is clear that this patchwork of programming is not working.

Cities and states across the country, including Boston, San Francisco, Oklahoma, West Virginia and large parts of New Jersey, have opened high-quality preschool to all their children. The Seattle city council is considering a proposal to make voluntary high-quality preschool available and affordable citywide.

According to independent studies, the children participating in these programs are achieving the intended results. A Rutgers University study showed that kids enrolled in New Jersey’s programs showed 30 percent higher gains in vocabulary and 80 percent higher gains in math skills than those who did not participate.

Because of the proven success of quality pre-K programs, I am happy to stand with the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children and other advocacy organizations across the state to support the Pre-K for PA Campaign. It is time that we raise the awareness of those in or running for office that it makes sense to invest in young children.

Gov. Tom Corbett is asking the state Legislature to provide $10 million more for pre-K programs in Pennsylvania this year. There is no guarantee our state legislators will go for it, but, even if they do, it is not enough. Over the last three years, the Legislature has gutted so-called accountability grants to local school districts, 75 percent of which went for early childhood programs. To close its widening budget gap, Pittsburgh Public Schools has increased monthly pre-K tuition for middle-class families.

We need to take our city’s destiny into our own hands. That’s why I propose a Pittsburgh Pre-K Promise to ensure that people in the middle who can neither afford full pre-K tuition nor qualify for supplemental programs can get their children started on the right foot.

To make this proposal a reality in Pittsburgh, a coalition of business, labor, governmental, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders must work together. As we envision the next chapter of our city’s prosperity, let’s work together on high-quality early-childhood investments that will help all children realize their full potential while providing enormous long-term benefits to society.

Let’s educate our children. Let’s invest in our future. Let’s get to work.

Natalia Rudiak represents Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick, Overbrook and part of Mount Washington on Pittsburgh City Council.

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The Baby Pittsburgh Promise: Rudiak wants to give all Pittsburghers access to pre-K education

Published by Moriah Balingit on Monday, 24 February 2014 7:19 pm.

In a forum piece in Sunday's paper, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak made a bold proposal: what if we gave all tiny Pittsburgher's a better shot at education -- and a better shot at life -- by ensuring that all of them had access to quality, affordable preschool?

I spoke to Ms. Rudiak today to get more concrete details on this proposal. She said the first step is figuring out how many kids are falling through the gaps. There are a variety of funding streams that help families send young children to preschool, so it's a difficult thing to determine. Another thing she is trying to figure out: how many slots are there in high-quality preschools?

So Ms. Rudiak, who holds a master's in public policy, wants to perform "quantitative analysis to try and figure out how many kids are being covered."

"We have to figure out our facts first before we talk about funding," she said.

Another thing she wanted to emphasize: she wants to ensure that kids have more than just access to daycare. She wants them to have the opportunity to be in high-quality preschools, those which are rated three or four stars under the state's Keystone STARS evaluation system. So that may mean helping current facilities upgrade by providing qualified preschool teachers or teacher training.

If this seems like it's out of reach, there are actually a number of places that are working on universal pre-K. Among them: Mayor Bill deBlasio of New York City is pushing hard in his nascent term to make it happen. And he's mimicking efforts in neighboring New Jersey and our neighbors to the south, West Virginia.

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Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak receives leadership award

June 3, 2014 | Vol. 74 No. 46

The Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network honored Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak with their prestigious Leadership Award for her work engaging young elected officials across Pennsylvania on May 18.

Since being appointed as the Network’s Pennsylvania State Director in 2013, Ms. Rudiak has recruited 60 Pennsylvania electeds under the age of 35 to share ideas and build power.

Ms. Rudiak received the award in Los Angeles at the YEO Network’s ninth convening. Joined by more than 100 fellow elected officials and national leaders from across the country, she explored policy initiatives, participated in issue-based training sessions, and talked about her own work opening city data to the public and expanding access to early childhood education.

Of her outreach work, Councilwoman Rudiak says, “I wanted to reach out to those young elected officials in Pennsylvania who are blazing new trails and have overcome great odds to be elected. These are the folks doing the work on the ground, and the more we can coordinate, the more influence we can have over state and federal issues that impact us all.”

The Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, a nonpartisan organization, is the first and only national initiative to provide a network of support to federal, state, and elected officials ages 18 to 35 from all 50 states. The Network, which is committed to being “of, by, and for” young electeds, is unique in developing young leaders who share the values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity for all.

Ms. Rudiak, 34, was elected to Pittsburgh City Council in 2009 and has been a member of the Young Elected Officials Network since June 2011.

‘Off the Record XIV’ solves ‘Mysteries of Pittsburgh!’

October 5, 2014 12:00 AM

Off the Record.jpg Photo by Hugh McGough

Off the Record director Gregory Lehane (right), confers with the show's "City Council": Chris Rawson (left, standing in for David Shribman, who plays Dan Gilman), Natalia Rudiak, Bruce Kraus, Jan Glick (who plays Deb Gross) and Corey O'Connor.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Some of the great detectives of page and screen are on the case for “Off the Record XIV: Mysteries of Pittsburgh!” a detective story with clues ripped from the local headlines and dedicated to laughter for a good cause.

The silly songfest satirizing Pittsburgh skewers local politics, businesses, sports teams and more, but it’s also serious business for the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh/CWA and the local actors union SAG-AFTRA. The annual show written by Post-Gazette’s Guild members and performed by members of the two unions has raised more than $347,000 for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and more than $100,000 for the unions’ scholarships and local charities and nonprofits.

For the Food Bank, the show raises funds and awareness of the organization, which purchases more than 25 percent of the food it distributes and estimates that every dollar raised represents up to $5 of purchasing power.

“When speaking about ‘Off the Record,’ I am more than happy to go on the record to say how much we appreciate this event, which has become an annual tradition, and the benefits it provides the Food Bank,” said Lisa Scales, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “We are grateful to the Pittsburgh Newspaper Guild/CWA and Pittsburgh SAG-AFTRA for lending their incredible talents to create such a fun, uplifting and entertaining evening, all for a good cause. It’s no mystery why ‘Off the Record’ is in its 14th year and going strong — it’s one of the most original productions in town, put on by people with a real passion for helping others.”

“Off the Record,” patterned after Gridiron Club political satires put on by media members, is the brainchild of PG reporter Gary Rotstein, who early on enlisted PG senior theater critic Chris Rawson as producer.

This year’s show is co-written by PG colleagues Bill Toland and Dan Majors and directed by Gregory Lehane, with music director Camille Villalpando Rolla and Christine Laitta as assistant director, choreographer and performer. The cast includes Kim El, Billy Hepfinger, Jeff Pollock, Michael E. Moats, Tressa Glover, Don DiGiulio, Dereck Walton, Brian Corey and more, plus a few surprises from the realm of elected officials.

The theme changes from year to year, and there’s no shortage of juicy material on the pages of the Post-Gazette and the 6 o’clock news that lend themselves to satire. Finding a theme this year was elementary, said Mr. Toland, a PG business writer.

“In 13 years, we hadn’t done a mystery caper,” he said. “But when the new mayoral administration began with stories of missing computers and Super Bowl crystals, it seemed like a natural plot line.”

Mr. Toland has been involved in “Off the Record” for eight years, “writing, song-writing and even ‘acting’ one year,” he said. Mr. Majors has been a part of “Off the Record” for a decade, as a writer and a performer.

“The thing that stands out for me is what a kick it is poking fun at authority and power,” Mr. Majors said. “Especially with the targets — ranging from politicians to health care giants to shale drillers — laughing with us.”

Last year’s “Off the Record” marked the final public appearance of former mayor Sophie Masloff, and this year’s performance will be dedicated to the late PG columnist Sally Kalson, a longtime force for the Guild and the show.

KDKA-TV’s Ken Rice returns as the emcee, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will be the prebuttalist, getting in his licks before the media get their turn, safe in the knowledge that it’s all off the record.

On October 14, 2014, Councilwoman Smith honored Natalia with proclamation for being named Polonian of the Year by the Polish American Congress, Western PA Division.

Natalia proclamation.jpg

WHEREAS, Councilmember Natalia Rudiak represents Pittsburgh’s fourth district on City Council, currently serving as the Finance and Law Committee Chair; and,

WHEREAS, Natalia was born to John Rudiak and Helena Kusiolek, who married John in Poland in April of 1977 and later immigrated from Poland in November to be with her husband who resided in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and,

WHEREAS, born and raised in South Pittsburgh, Natalia graduated from Carrick High School; earned a bachelor’s degree in international development studies from George Washington University; during her undergraduate career, she studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as the Jagiellonian University in Poland and she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University; and,

WHEREAS, Ms. Rudiak has been presented with numerous awards over the years including being named one of the 40 Under 40 by PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine, was voted Young Democrat of the Year, named Outstanding Elected Democratic Woman by the Federation of Democratic Women , and this year, The Young Elected Officials Network awarded Natalia the prestigious Leadership Award for her work engaging young elected officials in the State of Pennsylvania; and,

WHEREAS, in April of 2013, Natalia was named Pennsylvania State Director of the Young Elected Officials Network; and she is currently a Board Member of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Economic & Industrial Development Corporation; and,

WHEREAS, Ms. Rudiak has made numerous trips to Poland, is fluent in Polish and has recently been named Polonian of the Year by the Polish American Congress, Western PA Division and will be honored at a dinner on Sunday, October 19 , 2014; and,

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh does hereby commend our colleague who serves as an inspiration to young women in Pittsburgh and personifies a true Polonian; and, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh does hereby declare Tuesday, October 14, 2014, to be “Natalia Rudiak Day” in the City of Pittsburgh.

Natalia Rudiak honored as "A Woman Who Makes A Difference" by ZONTA Pittsburgh [2] & EWC!

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Natalia Rudiak on being honored as "A Woman Who Makes A Difference" by ZONTA Pittsburgh & EWC!

Natalia, a two-term City Council member, was born and raised in South Pittsburgh, where she is a proud graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools' Carrick High School. She went on to earn her Bachelor's Degree from George Washington University and the London School of Economics through scholarships awarded from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and International AFSCME union before completing her graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon University. Natalia's professional background is in fiscal management and technology. She previously worked at Deloitte Consulting, where she implemented a statewide information technology system. On Council, she serves as the Chair of the Committee on Finance and Law, which deals with the Department of Finance, Ethics, the Equal Opportunity Review Commission, the Law Department, the Treasurer, and related matters. Natalia has worked to balance the city's books in the face of state financial oversight, has improved the city's credit outlook, and has built best financial practices into the city code. Natalia has been a trailblazing legislator who advocates tirelessly for quality early childhood education for all children. She is steadfast in her commitment to families, introducing and passing family-friendly legislation for the workplace, and advocating for livable wages. Natalia was named one of the 40 Under 40 by PUMP and Pittsburgh Magazine in 2009, and was voted Young Democrat of the Year in 2011 by the Young Democrats of Allegheny County. Natalia was a 2010 Women of Achievement Awards Honoree and won the Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women Outstanding Elected Democratic Woman Award in 2012. Additionally, she was a Pittsburgh Business Times Fast Track award winner in 2014, and a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh Class 28. Natalia was formerly an Executive Board Member of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority of Pittsburgh and is currently a Board Member of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Economic and Industrial Development Corporation. She is also the head of the Pennsylvania Young Elected Officials Network.

City may launch task force to examine affordable preschool [3]

MOLLY BORN Pittsburgh Post-Gazette FEB 24, 2017

Natalia pg resized.jpg Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak will introduce legislation Tuesday creating an early childhood task force charged with crafting a plan to expand affordable preschool.

The group will include members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, the foundation community and Mayor Bill Peduto, who has called early childhood education one of his two main focus areas this year. The announcement also included the release of a new study on the topic from the City of Pittsburgh.

“The report is a good start to quantify the need, but it is a call to action for a plan on how we reach our goals — and this piece of legislation will create the plan,” said Ms. Rudiak. She is not seeking re-election.

About 1,500 children in Pittsburgh don’t have access to full-day, high-quality preschool programming, according to a 2016 report from the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. Only 16 percent of center-based preschool providers here are considered “high-quality,” Ms. Rudiak said.

Pittsburgh Public Schools provides free, full-day preschool to children age 3 to 5, funded through a combination of funding sources, including the state’s Head Start and Pre-K Counts initiatives. The Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center also provides free pre-K and Head Start to low-income children in four city neighborhoods.

The city’s report estimated $15 million would cover enrollment for all city youngsters not currently enrolled in a pre-K program — and $4 million would scoop up the 400 students on Pittsburgh Public’s wait-list.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2017-18 would include $75 million in added support for early childhood education. It it is approved, that would ​mean another 8,400 preschool-age children could begin such a program next fall.

“We’ve got a bit of a road to go, but it’s another great step forward,” said Joan Benso, CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in a recent interview.

The group will develop a initial plan based on recommendations in the mayor’s 2014 blue ribbon panel on early childhood education, and a key aspect members will consider is how such an effort would be paid for. The city’s report recommended city leaders “boldly pursue unique and innovative funding streams” despite rules saying the city can’t “create new subjects for taxation.”

Erin Kramer, executive director of activist group One Pennsylvania, said families across the region routinely spend 25 to 30 percent of their base income for child care. Carrying that full cost, or not having child care option altogether, causes “immense” economic stress for families, she said.

“We do not believe there should be an economic test for being a good mother, so an investment in pre-K is [also] an investment in parents.”

Molly Born: or 412-263-1944.

Natalia Rudiak reflects on her eight years on Pittsburgh City Council

Adam Smeltz Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Jan 13, 2018 11:44 PM


Natalia Rudiak never talks about this. She doesn’t want it to seem exploitative.

But the fact is, the spark that led her to Pittsburgh City Council — where she just finished eight high-profile years — was a deadly shooting in Mount Oliver. Before a teen-age robber claimed his life, she got to know Jamal Mouzaffar, 28, in the corner store where he worked with his uncle. Ms. Rudiak, then a consultant at Deloitte, stopped and talked the night before violence struck in August 2007.

Mr. Mouzaffar, from Syria, was visiting Pittsburgh for an adjustment to a prosthetic leg.

“It was just crazy to me that someone would come to the United States and then be shot to death by a 16-year-old boy,” said Ms. Rudiak, 38, of Carrick. She said it “really woke me up from the spreadsheets and the airport travel and the dreary office park that I was working in.

“I realized that there are things happening in my backyard that I needed to be part of, and conversations that I needed to start having,” she said.

Ten years, two elections and two terms later, Ms. Rudiak left City Council last month having forged Pittsburgh history. The first woman elected to represent District 4, she was among four members of the Women’s Caucus — the first time so many women served together on the nine-member council.

“Being young and single was not a detriment. It was actually an asset. She gave us a perspective that many of us didn’t have,” Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said. Mrs. Kail-Smith said the caucus “collectively showed folks how they can build a consensus.” Including council members Deborah Gross and Darlene Harris, the group drove a $2 million allocation for 2018 to strengthen early childhood education, a top priority for Ms. Rudiak. She has underscored research showing the programs reduce crime, drop-out rates and drug use.

Relaxed in a Brookline coffee shop last week, Ms. Rudiak ticked off a cross-section of other achievements: a rehabilitated senior center in Beechview, a business district in Carrick, the reconstruction of Brookline Boulevard. She fought efforts to privatize city parking operations, pushed to open city-owned data for easier public review and helped manage budgets as council’s finance and law chairwoman. The senior center on Broadway Avenue especially is a boon to Beechview, which “always seems to be a forgotten neighborhood,” said Clint Burton, 56, of nearby Brookline. The community facility had a grand reopening in September. “There was never a time I met her that she wasn’t happy to see me and asked what she could do to help me out,” said Mr. Burton, who manages the Brookline Connection website.

Not that her job was all bliss. At first, council proved “the most unprofessional environment I’d ever worked in,” rife with grudges, the silent treatment, backstabbing and two-faced antics, Ms. Rudiak said. She also found herself at odds with the administration of former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, in part over whether the private sector should manage city parking. [She maintains the move would have cost Pittsburghers a lot more to park.] Ms. Rudiak gave high marks to Mr. Ravenstahl’s successor, Mayor Bill Bill Peduto, on “big-picture issues” like overall policy.

Still, “I think more visibility in south and west Pittsburgh would be certainly really helpful,” she said, “I know that maybe it doesn’t make sense — I know that the political calculus means that he’s pulled most of his votes from the East End. But the fact of the matter is, he’s south Pittsburgh’s mayor. And I think people really want to see him and hear from him out here.” Mr. Peduto allowed that “more time could be spent in neighborhoods, and I do spend a lot.” The mayoral role is a juggling act across local, national and global stages, and “there will never be enough hours in a day,” he said. He called Ms. Rudiak a leader on women’s rights and gender equity who upheld “very strict fiscal discipline with City Council.”

Her successor in District 4, Anthony Coghill, wasn’t so flattering. He ran last year on a “Back to Basics” platform targeting litter, infrastructure and paving, in part because he felt Ms. Rudiak’s office “wasn’t taking care of the basic needs.” “I would say our style is different because I feel like Natalia was more about the big picture, meaning more national issues,” said Mr. Coghill, who took office this month. He defeated Ms. Rudiak’s chief of staff, Ashleigh Deemer, in the Democratic primary last May and Republican Cletus Cibrone-Abate in the November general election.

Ms. Rudiak, who declined to seek a third four-year term, rejected the criticism. She dubbed Mr. Coghill “not the most informed person,” noting the city has fallen under state budgetary oversight for more than a decade. “I’ll be the first to say many of our services been understaffed and underfunded,” Ms. Rudiak said. “I think every council person and every department is doing the best with the resources that we have.” She announced in December 2016 that she would not run again, saying she wanted time to rebuild some family bonds. Last week, she said the deterioration of public discourse played a part, too. Sexist comments on social media targeted both her and her staff.

“I think it poisons the well for a lot of well-meaning people who want to get into politics,” Ms. Rudiak said. “It’s a lot to bear.” She’s still figuring out next steps, although she wants to remain in what she called “the helping sector.” She’s also helping lead Women for the Future Pittsburgh, a political action committee aimed at helping progressive women run for office in Western Pennsylvania.

Back at city hall, council may soon have four women again. Two of three candidates to fill the District 8 seat in a March 6 special election are women. Dan Gilman vacated the slot this month when he joined Mr. Peduto’s administration as chief of staff.

As the Women’s Caucus illustrated how to reach agreements, Mrs. Kail-Smith said, Ms. Rudiak displayed a human side to City Council. “I think she showed something that was rare: vulnerability and intelligence at the same time,” Mrs. Kail-Smith said.

Adam Smeltz: 412-263-2625,, @asmeltz.