For the last 12 years, Forbes has recognized what it calls "trailblazing innovators across North America" with its annual Under 30 list. Today, the media giant announced its 30 Under 30 list for 2023
, and among them is Leon Ford, a local anti-violence advocate.
Ford is among 600 people across 20 different categories, who, according to a press release, have "turned to entrepreneurship to solve the world’s most complex challenges – from global warming to reproductive health."
Ford, 29, was named in the list's Social Impact category
for his work to positively change relations between the community and law enforcement.
"In 2012, Leon Ford was shot five times by a Pittsburgh police officer
and paralyzed during a traffic stop that ultimately arose from a mistaken identity," reads the Forbes profile. "Ford has since grown into an internationally-recognized voice for social change, police reform and reconciliation between law enforcement and communities."
The profile also highlights how, in 2020, Ford "forged a friendship" with Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, and, together, they founded The Hear Foundation
to "convene programs addressing gun violence reduction, trauma, and workforce development."
Collectively, Forbes claims, the awardees have raised over $5.3 billion in venture funding, nearly five times more than the $1 billion raised by the class of 2022. Ford contributed to that amount with $1.27 million in grants and individual giving in November 2022, with The Hear Foundation giving away $150,000 in mini-grants to "local leaders committed to gun violence prevention and mental health."
The announcement puts a national spotlight on a figure who has been continually recognized for his work in Pittsburgh. In 2017, Ford was named Pittsburgh City Paper’s Pittsburgher of the year
for speaking out against police brutality, advocating for affordable housing, and decrying the displacement of residents in East Liberty.
More recently, Ford donated the clothes
he wore on the night he was shot to the Heinz History Center as a way to "showcase his pain while reminding the public of the need for more reform and healing."
Ford reacted to the news on his Facebook page
, posting, "Ten years ago I was fighting for my life in the ICU. Today I made Forbes 30 under 30. This is what faith, love, redemption, and unspeakable hope looks like. God is good! Congratulations to all of the leaders making an impact. I am very proud of you all @forbesunder30."