By Martha Cecilia Ovadia, Senior Program Associate for Equity and Communications

Who are the funders that make up the Funders’ Network? Know Your Network is an occasional Q&A series featuring our members. This month, we chat informally with Mac Howison, a PLACES alum and the new Program Officer for Creative Learning at Heinz Endowments. (This originally ran in the May newsletter for TFN’s  Older Industrial Cities (OIC) working group.)

7 Questions for the Heinz Endowments’ Mac Howison

1. We know you are new to Heinz as a program officer for Creative Learning—how has your transition been and what would you describe as your own personal learning style?

My transition has been exciting and challenging! The team of program staff, leadership, admin and finance at Heinz is incredible. They have made me feel so welcome and valued – I have a lot to learn and their wealth of experience has been immeasurable in helping me adjust to life and work inside of a major family Endowment. My personal learning style is hands-on and in-person: I learn best by listening in person, and sharing experiences with colleagues and grantees that build our personal relationships and our relationship to community.

2. We have a challenge for you: Could you describe your work at Heinz in haiku form?

Heinz Endowments
is creative learning
may someday learn

3. As a PLACES alum—what was your favorite memory as a fellow?

My favorite memories are too numerous to pick just one, but I loved the Clarendon Hotel we stayed in on our site visit to Phoenix, the exploration of civil rights histories in Jackson, Mississippi, and raucous late evening word games in Hartford with other fellows.

4. As a local—what is your favorite lunch spot in Pittsburgh? Oh, and is it really a thing to put fries on hotdogs and sandwiches in Pittsburgh?

My favorite lunch is People’s Indian Buffet in the Garfield neighborhood. And yes, we put fries on almost everything -sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, and more.

5. With films like “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman” having such a huge year—what superhero do you identify with the most and why? Bonus question—capes or no capes?

I never gravitated towards superheroes, but I did love the comic book misadventures of Sergio Aragones’ “Groo the Wanderer”. I’m nothing like that Groo guy, in real life, though. Oh, and definitely no cape.

6. What is something you think would surprise people about Pittsburgh?

Despite the extreme topography, Pittsburghers love to ride bicycles!

7. Tell me about your own hometown—is there a special business or shop you would say is a “can’t miss”? What makes it special?

Jerry’s Records in Squirrel Hill is a unique, vinyl-only record store that has the best prices and biggest, most eclectic selection of music anywhere. It’s almost as much a cultural museum as it is a record store. Definitely worth a few hours and a few (cash only) dollars if you’re in Pittsburgh.


About the Author

Martha Cecilia Ovadia is TFN’s senior program associate for equity and communications. Contact her at