Women of Influence: Meet Pamela Austin, Burns Scalo Real Estate
May 11, 2023 | Pittsburgh Business Times
Pittsburgh’s center city has been remaking itself for decades, and areas like the Strip District have enticed developers, professionals and others to join that boom.
A brand ambassador for Burns Scalo Real Estate, Pamela Austin has been actively involved in this transformation for several years now.
Originally from outside the region, she has made an indelible mark on the city through the work she’s done on various real estate projects.
The recently renovated Terminal building project in the formerly light-industrial Strip District (once the home of produce distributors and little more) is just one of those jobs. It was undertaken with her vision and guidance while she was a senior project manager for McCaffery Interests Inc.
Austin said she enjoyed the work, though it was a tough project due to its complexity. She said that consensus had to be reached between all interested parties, and there were a lot of factors at play.
“It was just a challenging project,” she said.
In her current role at Burns Scalo, Austin travels to properties around the region, hosts events to attract people to Pittsburgh, supports local companies and serves as point person for the firm.
Her colleagues at Burns Scalo say her market savvy, congeniality and ability to envision projects and move them forward set her apart from others.
“Pamela has been a great addition to the BSRE team since her arrival. She brings an element of flair and smartness of style that is positioning our organization as an amenity-driven luxury brand,” said CEO Jim Scalo.
Living in the Strip District, Austin is also president of Strip District Neighbors, a nonprofit that promotes economic development in the corridor while also maintaining its identity, a role she has served in for the past two years.
She advocates for her home community by fundraising, meeting with developers and politicians and marketing the neighborhood as one of the best places in Pittsburgh to live and work.
She likes the accessibility to nature that Pittsburgh and her neighborhood offer, as well as the wilder nature preserves outside Pittsburgh.
“Nature has always inspired me. Whenever I feel the need to clear my head, nature does it for me,” said Austin, who studied biology in college.
The evolution of the area has been instructional to her, in a way.
“The Cork Factory was the catalyst for the redevelopment of the Strip District. It’s been interesting to see the impact of that one project — it shows what a cooperative effort can accomplish,” she said.
Austin’s community involvement has included raising money for UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Susan G. Komen through the Rush to Crush Cancer event and the More Than Pink walk. Recently, she was picked as one of the “BigWig” fundraisers for Susan G. Komen, where she raised $9,000 in one month.
She achieved this while undergoing treatment for her own breast cancer diagnosis.
“I am cancer-free right now,” Austin said. “My company was incredibly supportive. My colleagues and friends supported me as I was openly sharing this. … I had a lot of women who thanked me for reminding them [to get a checkup]. And of course I had the support of my boyfriend.”
Title: Brand ambassador, Burns Scalo Real Estate
Family: Boyfriend of 11 years, 18-year-old cat Layla and new puppy Josey
Education: B.S., biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; M.S., biology, University of Illinois Chicago
First job: Clerk at an IGA (a union job)
Hobbies: Cooking, entertaining friends, international travel, hiking
Community involvement: President, Strip District Neighbors; served as a “‘Burgh BigWig” for Susan G. Komen
Book: Historic fiction or nonfiction books
Movie/TV show/podcast: “This is Us,” “Jack Ryan,” “Emily in Paris” (TV shows)
Music artist: Allman Brothers Band, Bill Withers, Gordon Lightfoot, Andrea Bocelli and Prince
Local restaurant: Spork
Motivational quote: “Look into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — Albert Einstein