Mark Thomas.

As the newly appointed president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance — an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development — Mark Anthony Thomas oversees the 10-county region’s economic development strategy and advances partnerships that drive job creation and business investment. An Atlanta native, Mark has also worked in New York City and Los Angeles, and now lives in Shadyside.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

This will be my first New Year’s Eve in Pittsburgh. I’m very curious to see how the city celebrates it. I’m planning a season of events, with the winter months focused on visiting all the museums, theaters and art galleries.

What is the best part of your job?

I get to be myself. Economic development has to be 100-percent passion-driven. It’s not a field you stumble into and find success in unless you’re willing to give yourself, authentically, to it. The people in the field that I’ve always admired truly believed in job creation, innovation and building an inclusive future.

Mark on the bike trails in Pittsburgh.

What’s your big idea for Pittsburgh?

For the region to no longer believe in a single “big idea.” For our region to be one of the places that thrives in the next few decades, we must be a place where a diversity of ideas and moon shots find support and talent.

What book would you highly recommend?

Measure What Matters” by John Doerr.

What’s been bugging you lately?

The coverage on the challenges faced in Pittsburgh’s African American communities. Additionally, I want to personally contribute — as a citizen and neighbor — to supporting the economic vitality and livability of the region. It’s important to me to not have my career be my sole contribution to my hometown or the places I’ve lived.

Mark and his dog Knuckles in Shadyside.
Mark and his dog Knuckles in Shadyside.

Write three words to describe Pittsburgh:

To be continued …

What song is your playlist is on endless repeat?

Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” Thirty-plus years later. From cassette tape to streaming app.

Your not so secret Pittsburgh spot?

Frick Park. This will be my place — an urban oasis — to take people to fall in love with the city.

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?

I once had a southern accent.

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Jennifer BaronEvents & Jobs Editor

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.