President Esther L. Bush:

Dedicated to the Movement

In 1994, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh gained Pittsburgh native and National Urban League veteran, President Esther L. Bush. She continues to transform the Pittsburgh community as an advocate of social and economic equality. Under her leadership, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh has become a top performing affiliate for two consecutive rating periods, receiving a 5 out of 5 rating from the National Urban League. Esther has been instrumental in the development of many programs to benefit African American youth, including the ULPGH Charter School, the African American Achievement Trust and the Black Male Leadership Development Institute. In February 2013, Ms. Bush was recognized at the White House as a Champion of Change in the Educational Excellence for African Americans program. She is one of ten Americans to receive this award.


As the President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Esther L. Bush has established herself as a voice of reason, a coalition builder and a force for positive change in the Greater Pittsburgh community and throughout the United States. Under her leadership, the Pittsburgh Urban League recently ranked as one of the nation’s top performing affiliates– for the second time in succession; a feat accomplished by only two affiliates. In February 2013, Esther was one of ten Americans recognized at the White House as a Champion of Change in the Educational Excellence for African Americans program.

Ms. Bush is nationally recognized as a strong and very vocal advocate for economic and social equality initiatives that benefit African Americans and thereby the whole community. This advocacy impacts the traditional education, employment and housing programs of the League, as well as more contemporary programs such as helping formerly incarcerated parents find jobs, encouraging African American adolescent men to set high standards and challenging goals for themselves, developing a charter school, overseeing community-based family support centers, offering classes on preparing for home ownership, facilitating early childhood services and youth development activities, and more. Her community service goes far beyond what professional obligations would require. She is a frequently sought after motivational speaker.

A graduate of Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse High School, Ms. Bush began her career as a high school teacher. She also worked as a college administrator and corporate consultant. She has moved progressively up the ladder of the Urban League movement, starting in 1980 with the position of Assistant Director of the Labor Education Advancement Program for the National Urban League in New York City. From there, she served first as Director of the New York Urban League Staten Island Branch, then as Director of its Manhattan Branch. Before returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh in December 1994, Ms. Bush was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Greater Hartford. She is the first female to serve in each of her last four positions in the Urban League movement.

Ms. Bush was appointed by Governors to serve on the: Pennsylvania State Board of Education, PA Commission for Crime and Delinquency, Law Enforcement and Community Relations Task Force, the Governor’s Commission on Academic Standards, and the Voting Modernization Task Force. She served on several committees to establish the new Home Rule Charter form of government for Allegheny County. She served on the Executive Committee of the National Urban League Association of Executives and is Chairman of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School Board of Trustees. She is a current member of the International Women’s Forum, Pittsburgh Chapter and formerly on the International Women’s Forum Board of Directors. In addition, Ms. Bush has served as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee and serves on the boards of UPMC, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, United Way, Duquesne University, and on many other boards and committees.

She is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh and is a member of several advisory committees at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

Ms. Bush holds a BS degree in Education from Morgan State University and an MA in Guidance and Counseling from The Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Bush has also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Hartford in 1997, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Carlow College in 2004, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Allegheny College in 2009.

Esther Reflects

From Westinghouse High School to Pittsburgh Urban League President

“I am very much committed to the mission of the Urban League. The Urban League is a part of my spirit and a part of my value base as a person.”

“I always thought Pittsburgh was home, so you grow up, you go off and see the world, and then you come back home. I always assumed that I would come back to Pittsburgh.”

“All Urban League affiliates help people find jobs. This affiliate will always help people find jobs, but we are also recognized as an affiliate that provides excellent outreach in the area of education.”

“I hope that one hundred years from now, the world, America and Pittsburgh would be 100% different, and the issues that I have dealt with my entire life wouldn’t even be a conversation. It would truly just be history.”

“I ask people to look at the statistics and no matter which way they turn them, they will see that there is still a very long way to go when we look at the status of African Americans throughout the United States. I am pleased that Pittsburgh, as a community, is starting to consider these things as shortcomings in our city.”

“I believe what I’m doing is helpful to the African American community and thereby the whole community. “I want to make everyone see that we are all Americans. We are all working together and we should treat each other equally.”

“In my thirty-three years with the Urban League movement, I understand the value of patience and persistence. You can work for what is right, you can win, and then you still have to continue to work for what is right.”

“We are living up to our mission, so I am extremely proud to work here.”

“Pittsburgh will only be a better place if each one of us puts our best foot forward. For me, that is the goal of equality, so that’s what I am interested in: everybody giving everybody a chance.”

“I think that each of us must take personal responsibility for our social environment and move to change what isn’t right.”