Haydn Thomas is The King -- the undisputed dean of Pittsburgh tour guides. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dubbed him one of Pittsburgh's ambassadors, because he is.
Haydn is an historian, a storyteller, a teacher, a doting father and grandfather, a world traveler, and above all else, a Western Pennsylvania original. He's trekked across America and traversed the world--he spends his winters in places like Abu Dhabi--but he always finds his way home to the mill town of Munhall where he was born, raised, and has lived his entire life. The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, he says, is "the most magnificent building I've ever seen--after the Munhall Borough Building."
Haydn got his masters degree in history from Thiel College, served a stint as a teacher in the Bahamas, then went to work for General Motors in West Mifflin. After enough adventures to fill several lifetimes, this spellbinder found Haunted Pittsburgh and immediately became a fan-favorite.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette nailed it: "Mr. Thomas didn't get this job by being frightening. On the contrary, he came to it through his talkativeness, his passion for history and his love for the city of Pittsburgh."
For Haydn, every tour is opening night at the Benedum. Every story, the grand finale at a Zambelli's firework show. Guests use words like "awesome" and "rousing" to describe him. A chaperone for a high school group told us the "kids hung on his every word and stuck to his heels like he was the Pied Piper." Even life-long Pittsburghers find themselves picking up their dropped jaws and wondering, who is this master showman who knows so much more about our hometown than we do?
It's no surprise that Haydn gets a hearty ovation when he's finished -- they often line up to shake his hand, even hug him, like they're backstage congratulating Sinatra or Springsteen after a show. And he gets tips. (Oh, my, does he get tips.) What may be unprecedented is that some folks actually start clapping in the middle of the tour.
It's little surprise that for a lot of people, Haydn is their favorite joke teller. Rest assured, you won't be hearing any of those jokes on the Historic Pittsburgh tour. We are a family-friendly outfit.
When the charismatic and accomplished Kathi Finch expressed interest in being one of the pioneer tour guides for our history tour, we were ecstatic. She did a story for us -- and blew us away. Little surprise because people are naturally drawn to her.
Aside from being a trained actor and winner of 11 Toastmasters speech competitions (2014-2016), Kathi spends most of her time teaching people how to bring out the best in themselves. She's a corporate trainer, consultant, and coach who works with clients to improve leadership, team building, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Prior to hanging out her own shingle, she worked for non-profits in various program, development, marketing, and management roles.
Kathi has a penchant for community service. Among other things, she serves on the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Western PA
She grew up in Beaver County but somehow found her way to Boston and Wellington, New Zealand before boomeranging back to Pittsburgh in 2003.
Kathi was named one of Pittsburgh's "40 Under 40" in 2007. She is a graduate of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership's Women in Leadership program.
But don't mess with her -- she's on her way to earning her first degree black belt in taekwondo.