W&J Honors Entrepreneurs of the Year at 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Leadership Dinner

Created: April 10, 2014
Last Updated: January 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 22, 2013)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) honored David A. Ross ’78, president and co-founder of Atlantic Realty Companies with more than 30 years of experience in the commercial real estate business, and Dennis Yablonsky, chief executive officer of the Allegheny Conference, as Entrepreneurs of the Year at its 27th annual Entrepreneurial Leadership Dinner Nov. 21 at The Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh.

An expert in acquisitions, land use, development and leasing, Ross has been responsible for the development of approximately ten million square feet of commercial, industrial and retail property throughout the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., metropolitan areas.

Ross offered words of wisdom to attendees, particularly the W&J Hardy scholars.

“First, make the most out of your W&J education,” Ross said. “The world is at your fingertips. Be diligent about building your resume. Be disciplined about achieving goals while not being afraid to reach beyond what you think you are capable of doing. Finally, you gotta have fun. Enjoy it!”

In addition to his founding role in Atlantic Realty, Ross maintains a very active presence in the community and local organizations. He currently serves on the board of directors of Easter Seals Greater Baltimore-Washington Region and is the founding co-chair of the Easter Seals Bright Stars and VIP Program. Ross was honored with The Clarence Donohoe Award, an award presented to an Easter Seals board member who exemplifies excellence in leadership and volunteerism.

Ross, who also serves on the W&J Board of Trustees and chairs the Property, Building and Grounds Committee, serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, and the Steering Committee for Reston Interfaith. He also is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks, and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

Dedicated to his local community, Ross was selected as Reston’s Citizen of the Year by the Times Community Newspapers. He has served on the board of directors of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Celebrate Fairfax, the Child Development Center of Northern Virginia, the Reston Teen Center, the Reston Community Center, the Committee for Dulles, the Fairfax County Health Care Advisory Board, Fairfax County Long Term Care Council, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.

Ross holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from W&J and a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton Business School.  Ross and his family reside in Great Falls, Va.

Yablonsky is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its affiliates, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

He is the founding CEO of the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, revolutionary models for the focused growth of innovative companies in the Pittsburgh region. With these entities and in the private sector, he has grown companies from the ground up to a greater profitability and success.

He discussed the importance of entrepreneurship to the renaissance in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh, at the turn of the 20th century, was the most entrepreneurial place in the country. This is where all the innovations that drove the industrial revolution occurred. The richest people in the country, the biggest corporations, the most innovative technology, was all being created here in Pittsburgh,” Yablonsky said. “This was Silicon Valley in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, we lost it, we got a little complacent, and the entrepreneurial spirit went way. The entrepreneurial spirit is what recovered this place.”

Yablonsky served as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, where he played a lead role in the development and implementation of an economic stimulus program that featured more than $3 billion of investment in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure, core communities and job-producing businesses. He also helped develop the Governor’s $650 million energy fund designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil and grow the energy economy in Pennsylvania.

Under his leadership, the Allegheny Conference and Innovation Works united to create the Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh in 2010. This unprecedented partnership, which includes traditional and alternative energy companies; global leaders in materials science and intelligent building technologies; and academic and government researchers and supply chain providers, aims to increase the scale of the region’s energy industry, creating and retaining jobs and attracting investment across a portfolio of energy-related as¬sets, while continuing to advance the Pittsburgh region’s global leadership in improving the environment.

Yablonsky serves on the board of directors of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation, the Strategic Investment Fund, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Vibrant Pittsburgh, the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Pittsburgh Public Theater.

A member of the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Board of Fellows, Yablonsky received his bachelor’s degree in industrial management from the University of Cincinnati and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Point Park University for his leadership in the Pittsburgh region.

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