Event Honoree

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The 2024 Easterseals Partner in Equity Award will be presented to John Vento and Ron 'Moondog' Esser for their work in founding Band Together Pittsburgh.
John Vento
John is a loving father of three, a successful Pittsburgh businessman, an introspective musician, and a gracious philanthropist. He helps to create many small businesses by supporting and mentoring young entrepreneurs, in addition to offering encouragement to new and veteran musicians. The front man for the high-energy Nied’s Hotel Band is also known for his brooding solo recordings. His passion for autism awareness is quite personal; his Godson and other family members are on the spectrum. This led to Ron ‘Moondog’ Esser, and Vento co-founding Band Together Pittsburgh. He features autism-friendly “open mic nights” at his Gibsonia-based event venue, Steamworks Creative. “We want folks to see how beautiful and talented those on the spectrum really are,” he says. “You would have to come to one of our Autism Friendly Open Mic events to see first-hand what I’m trying to say. It’s amazing on every level.”

Ron 'Moondog' Esser
Ron has been a huge part of the Pittsburgh music scene for 30+ years. Ron owns Moondog’s and the Starlite Lounge in Blawnox, and he produced the Pittsburgh Blues Festival for more than 20 years. The Festival, during that period, netted over $2 million for charity. Moondog has also been awarded Volunteer Philanthropist of the Year by the Western PA Fundraising Professionals and he is a board member of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.

Band Together Pittsburgh
Band Together Pittsburgh uses music as an instrument for change. They provide innovative programming, experiences, and vocational opportunities to enhance the lives of those on the autism spectrum.

Past Partner in Equity Award Recipients
2023 - Chris Fennimore, QED Cooks