By: Andrea Klick, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Longtime Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh leader Esther Bush was honored this week with a Women of Power award at the annual National Urban League Conference in Indianapolis.
Since 1994, Ms. Bush has served as president of the local organization, which pushes for economic equality and civil rights for African Americans.
“For me it really is support and an acknowledgement for all of the work that we’ve done in Pittsburgh not just during the last 25 years during my tenure but during the last 100 years,” Ms. Bush said. “While I was proud to receive the award, I’m even prouder of the workers at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh over the last 100 years and my board of directors.”
As president of the Pittsburgh branch, Ms. Bush has developed various programs to support African American youth like the ULPGH Charter School, which she chaired for over a decade before the school transitioned to independent leadership. Ms. Bush said the school focused on black history and taught African American children to take pride in their heritage.
A former high school teacher and college administrator, Ms. Bush also brings together about 70 black youths each year for monthly meetings and a program at Robert Morris University to discuss black leadership and success in America.
And in February 2013 she became one of 10 Americans ever honored as a Champion for Change in the Educational Excellence for African Americans program.
The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh also offers programs in areas like financial literacy, food, family growth and development and housing. Ms. Bush said the organization tries to help people who cannot afford rent payments and teaches them to budget money to eventually buy a home.
“We try to meet people where they are without judging them and show them where they could be if they continue working with us,” Ms. Bush said.
The organization also has partnerships with the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC to encourage more African Americans to take part in medical research
Ms. Bush joined the National Urban League system in 1980, when she took a position as assistant director of the labor education advancement program at the New York City branch.
Over the years, she moved up the ranks to direct the Staten Island and later Manhattan branches of the New York Urban League and served as president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Greater Hartford, in Connecticut, before accepting her current position.
Ms. Bush was the first woman to hold the last four positions she has had in New York City, Hartford and Pittsburgh.