Hillary Brown

Hilary Brown, senior philanthropic relations officer with The Pittsburgh Foundation, is the creator of the GrownAss People Party, a wildly popular party series with a diverse crowd and “good music, good people and good vibrations.” Hilary also works as an adjunct professor for the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Brighton Heights, surrounded by her childhood friends who live next door and across the street. (Only in Pittsburgh, we swear.) 

Monday, December 21

An early rise to exercise at home with my bestie, one of the many perks of living between two childhood best friends. Today is a stellar work day for me. My job is to engage people in meaningful philanthropy, and today I will facilitate a family conversation about giving with two fantastic families. It’s pretty amazing to see the generosity of my community, and incredible to see it passed on to the next generation.

Tonight is my Heritage Community Initiatives board meeting. Heritage humbly, but very effectively, serves the people of the Mon Valley by providing an excellent preschool and k-8 after-school program for some of the lowest income children in the county, along with a program to help adults get to work, appropriately called WorkLink. 

Tuesday, December 22

It’s time to make the donuts and to make miracles happen. After work, I have to crush the remainder of my holiday shopping. I am keeping it local because I love Pittsburgh, but even if I didn’t, the stuff we are cranking out these days is bananas. So many local and amazing options – Pavement, Divertido, Page Boy, Umajaa . . .

After shopping, I head to James Street Gastopub to put the finishing touches on G.A.P.P (GrownAss People Party) New Year’s Eve Edition.

I helped start this party years ago because honestly, I just wanted to go out, dance to great music, and hang with people who weren’t rookies in the party game. I had zero idea that two years later we’d be selling out parties at 350+ people. The party is held in the fab ballroom at James Street. Add DJ Selecta – aka the best DJ in Pittsburgh – a consistent good vibrations crowd, and sparkle for days, and you get a NYE party that makes this girl’s dreams come true.  

Wednesday, December 23 

My parents and I are leaving my fair city to spend the holiday with my siblings and their partners. Today, I’m in San Francisco where the food and coffee culture are definitely worth writing home about. Which, I suppose, I’m doing right now:

Dear Pittsburgh,

You’re bringing it in both those areas, and without a gaggle of 20-something tech zillionaires ready to spend a mint on artisan anything. What Pittsburgh DIY folks have done requires love of craft and man, and it’s downright heartwarming. Put some of our food and coffee artisans to the test, and they would come out smelling like a rose. Frankly, our gluten-free scene puts SF to shame. Gluten Free Goat’s apple cider donuts and Glutteny’s pizza crusts confirm that my celiac disease isn’t a punishment from God. And cuisine – it is basically beating a dead horse to say we are making some noise in that arena. But we don’t just have great chefs, we have people who are committed to giving back to the city. Take my dear 10+ year friend Kate Romane – owner of E2. She has created space and food that feels so, so damn good AND is an incredible community advocate who trailblazed the farm-to-table movement in Pittsburgh. She is magic – we are lucky.

Hilary Brown, center, with the TABLE team, Christina French and Adam Milliron.

Thursday, December 24

Today I head north with my brother David and his wife Alexandra to gorgeous Sonoma County, home of my sister Trish and her partner Kerry. Sonoma is small, earnest, and well, delicious. So often, the wine you are drinking is being poured by the winemaker himself. Vacation for me should be pretty, with good food and drink, and conversation with the people I love.  This trip is an embarrassment of riches in all of the above.

Friday, December 25

Christmas Day with the Browns means bagels and lox, amazing coffee, Papa Brown on Bloody Mary duty, and a gift exchange. I had the pleasure of buying for my amazing new sister-in-law, which took me to Lawrenceville where I found a perfect compass crafted by a local artist, along with a gorgeous bracelet from another trailblazer, Pavement. Everyone is getting a subscription to the work of art that is TABLE magazine. So proud to say that comes from my hometown and couldn’t love the crew there more. 

Saturday, December 26

Today starts with a hike through the redwoods at Armstrong Woods, and then we’re taking the coast by storm. Bodega Bay, Occidental and Forestville with libations, live music and fresh seafood along the way. As Gram would say, it would take a lot of this to kill me.

Sunday, December 27

Today is the worst day of vacation. The day when you get the notice that you can check in for your flight. I happen to like these people who I am related to and their chosen partners, and I am determined to get them back to the ‘Burgh. I am really grateful that the sell should be an easy one. Wish me luck.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.