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Former Steelers Coach Bill Cowher Receives Daniel M. Rooney Ambassador Award



Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher received the Daniel M. Rooney Ambassador Award during Monday night’s Ireland Funds Pittsburgh ‘A Summer Soirée’ event at Heinz Field.

Cowher was the first ever recipient of the award, which is “given to an individual who reflects Rooney’s leadership, love of Pittsburgh and contribution to the community.”

Normally held on St. Patrick’s Day, the event was cancelled in 2020 and postponed earlier this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After a rescheduling and name change, Cowher was finally able to receive his honor.

“He was a visionary, a leader of men. He was a wise man. A lot of wisdom in that man. He had a great perspective in life,” Cowher said of the late Dan Rooney via “Family was first, faith and football. He had a great impact on my life as a coach, a greater impact on my life as a person. He was a guy that instilled core values with that football team that became a way of life for myself and the family I raised in Pittsburgh. To receive the first award in his name, in his honor, it’s pretty special.”

Cowher was not the only honoree Monday night, as Bill Strickland, CEO of the non-profit Manchester Bidwell Corporation, was also recognized with the first-ever Patricia R. Rooney Community Impact Award.

The award will be “given to a leader who has produced successful organizational initiatives in response to a significant contemporary problem.”

Strickland’s organization supplies inner city youth with art education and mentorship opportunities.

“He always wanted to work with diverse communities, underprivileged communities, in ways that helped them prepare for professional opportunities,” said Jim Rooney via “That is where my mom focused at Robert Morris. He has also become a consultant for projects all over the country, exporting his model all over the place. My mom loved Pittsburgh, but the Ireland Fund was something she helped keep going and took the ideas of generosity she learned here in Pittsburgh to a broader world.”

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