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2019-2020 ELSIE FORUM ANNUAL REPORT


PREPARING STUDENTS TO LEAD LIVES OF ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum celebrated its fourth birthday in 2019-20, and it was a year like no other for many of us, filled with unanticipated challenges. The pandemic has caused a disruption to the way we normally conduct our work, live our lives, and maintain our relationships. The Elsie Forum, its students, community partners, and instructors were up to this challenge and ended the year having learned a great deal and conducted impactful work together.

Activating Future Leaders 43 students practiced their leadership skills, active citizenship, and creativity in one of the Elsie Forum's long-term programs

Adding Capacity to Organizations Elsie Forum provided added capacity and over $60,000 in-kind support to 24 community partner organizations and elected officials district offices

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Recent events, like the pandemic, election, and census, highlight the need for our emerging leaders to foster creativity, flexibility, and community engagement as they produce sustainable solutions for positive change.The Elsie Forum will model these principles as it prepares to embark on an unprecedented 2020-21 year. Hoping to inspire confidence in our future, the following pages highlight the successes of the Elsie Forum, its students, and its partners.

Introducing Active Citizenship

Over 100 students were introduced to community leaders and elected officials to discuss making a difference in the community at the Never a Spectator Civic Engagement Forum

Successful Transition to Remote Programs Successful transition to remote learning with the IOP internship program, Elsie Scholars, and ACE Fellowship after the global pandemic in March of 2020

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ELSIE FORUM LONG-TERM PROGRAMS IOP Internship & Seminar

Elsie Honors Scholars

The Elsie Forum hosts three long-term, experiential programs that place high performing students who are passionate about civic engagement, systems change, and policy work with regional community partners, including elected officials, nonprofits, and other non-government organizations. These programs include the Institute of Politics Internship and Seminar, the Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program, and the Ambassadors for Civic Engagement Fellowship.

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ACE Fellowship

Starting in 2020-21, another long-term program will be added to the Elsie Forum, the Institute of Politics Policy and Civic Engagement Internship. Up to three students will intern at the Institute of Politics as either an IOP policy intern or an Elsie Forum civic engagement intern. These interns will learn more about the unique model of the IOP's core policy work as well as community engagement and service-learning pedagogy of student programming.

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INSTITUTE OF POLITICS INTERNSHIP AND SEMINAR Students interested in local, state, and federal politics work with an elected official's district office for a semester. They also learn about the historical, economic, social, and political factors that contribute to the policy decisions made in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

ELSIE HILLMAN HONORS SCHOLARS PROGRAM Students eager to make social impact join community partners to develop and implement an academic yearlong project that address issues the students care about while advancing the mission of the organization.

AMBASSADORS FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT FELLOWSHIP A team of graduate students take the academic year to work with one regional community organization that addresses public policy and/or supports programming that engages the community with which they work.

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ELSIE FORUM COMMUNITY PARTNERS IOP Internship & Seminar

Elsie Honors Scholars

ACE Fellowship

PROVIDING ELECTED OFFICIALS WITH QUALITY INTERNS SINCE 1990 For thirty years, the IOP has provided bright interns to our region's elected officials. The program was incorporated into the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum with its launch in 2016. This year, 18 elected officials from local, state, and federal government provided impactful experiences in politics and policy to our IOP Internship and Seminar students.

Jay Costa, PA State Senator D-District 43

Anita Kulik, PA State Representative D-District 45

Dan Deasy, PA State Representative D-District 27

Conor Lamb, U.S. Representative D-PA District 17

Mike Doyle, U.S.Representative D-PA District 18

Daniel Lavelle , City Councilman D-District 6

Dan Frankel, PA State Representative D-District 23

Summer Lee, PA State Representative D-District 34

Ed Gainey, PA State Representative D-District 24

Dan Miller, PA State Representative D-District 42

Valerie Gaydos, PA State Representative R-District 44

Corey O'Connor, City Councilman D-District 5

Sara Innamorato, PA State Representative D-District 21

Guy Reschenthaler, U.S. Representative R-PA District 14

Pam Iovino, PA State Senator D-District 37

Erika Straussburger, City Councilperson D-District 8

Bruce Kraus, City Councilman D-District 3

Jake Wheatley, PA State Representative D-District 19

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FUTURE LEADERS WORKED WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TO HELP ADVANCE THEIR MISSIONS In addition to our elected official partners, the Elsie Forum is grateful to partner with organizations working to improve the quality of life in the Southwestern PA region in a variety of ways. The Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program and the Ambassadors for Civic Engagement Fellowship connect dedicated student leaders with organizations that align with the students' passions and want to contribute to the mission of that organization. The 2019-20 partners included: The Buhl Foundation (ACE) Allies for Children (Scholars) Center for Victims (Scholars) Healthy Start, Inc. (Scholars) Literacy Pittsburgh (Scholars) PA Environmental Council (Scholars) Steel Smiling (Scholars) Women for a Healthy Environment (Scholars)

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ELSIE FORUM INTERNS, SCHOLARS, & FELLOWS IOP Interns

Elsie Honors Scholars

100 Over 100 applicants to Elsie Forum's long-term programs

Every year, the Elsie Forum attracts highachieving and passionate students eager to contribute to positive change in our region. The Elsie Forum empowered 43 student changemakers to learn more about the region, its communities, and themselves in its IOP Internship program, Elsie Honors Scholars program, and ACE Fellowship. One of the benefits of the Elsie Forum and the Institute of Politics is that it does not belong to a particular school at Pitt, allowing it to attract students from various disciplines, backgrounds, and experiences. These students learn about how to become a servant leader in policy and governance, philanthropy, and activism from one of our region's best role models: Elsie Hillman.

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ACE Fellows

43 The Elsie Forum empowered 43 student leaders to contribute to positive change

Engaging with the Elsie Forum means that students will connect with regional community leaders and get to work with some of Pittsburgh's most influential people and organizations. They receive the tools, support, and education they need to lead lives as engaged and contributing citizens, and practice transferable skills that promotes innovative and creative evidence-based solutions to some of our most pressing issues. Eager to start or continue their civic engagement path, students get involved with their community and the issues that they are passionate about through the Elsie Forum.

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2019-20 IOP INTERNS

ENGAGING IN POLICY THROUGH WORK WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS Over 60 students from various majors and experiences applied to the Institute of Politics Internship with an elected official, and 33 talented students were selected for the program. Paired with their local, state, or federal elected officials, students spent nine hours per week learning about their districts' issues, assets and strengths, constituency, and elected officials. These experiences were grounded by the accompanying seminar taught by Dennis McManus and Nello Giorgetti,

two of Western PA's most prominent government affairs professionals with over 30 years of experience in politics. The interns learned more of the region's historical context which helped them to better understand Pennsylvania politics. Through the program's hands-on approach to the PA political experience, students learned by doing. Interns assisted their offices through conducting policy research, providing constituent services, and helping to plan and organize community events.

LEARN ABOUT SOME OF THEIR EXPERIENCES

Ethan McPeak

Hannah Reiling Intern with Councilman Corey O'Connor This program gave me an inside look into what it's like to work for elected officials and helped me gain a better idea of what I want to do in the future.

Intern with Rep. Dan Miller To me the most valuable aspect of the program was hearing from instructors who actually know and interact with local politicians. It makes it all seem much more real, and they have insights that most people wouldn't.

Preena Patel Intern with Councilperson Erika Straussburger This internship allowed someone like me who did not believe they had a role in politics to learn that as long as you’re a resident of this city, this country, and this world, then you have a role in politics. This experience was empowering and engaging.

Mackenzie Connors Intern with Senator Pam Iovino I felt like I gained a better understanding of the needs and politics of western Pennsylvania in a very hands-on way that I would not have found from any other program.

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THE ANN M. DYKSTRA SCHOLAR INTERN AWARD In recognition of the late Dr. Ann M. Dykstra's role in creating and implementing the IOP Internship and Seminar program, the Ann M. Dysktra Scholar Intern Award was created. Dr. Dykstra not only created the program, but she also served as the program's instructor for over 15 years. Each semester, the IOP recognizes one intern who exhibits exceptional dedication and effort with both their placement office as well as in the seminar. The finalists are selected by the program instructors, Nello Giorgetti and Dennis McManus, and they use the students' end-ofterm evaluation by their placement supervisor as well as their performance during seminar to make the selection. The Fall 2019 award went to Charles Echard, an intern with Congressman Conor Lamb. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cut the in-person internship experience short, the award was not presented in Spring 2020.

PAST DYKSTRA SCHOLAR INTERNS

TERM AWARDED

PLACEMENT

Charles Echard

Fall 2019

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb

Aaron Hill

Spring 2019

PA State Rep. Ed Gainey

Grace Nelson

Fall 2018

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey

Jan Niec

Spring 2018

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle

Zuri Kent-Smith

Fall 2017

PA State Rep. Ed Gainey

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2019-20 IOP INTERNS

Sarah Ali Political Science, A&S '20 Rep. Dan Deasy

Katie Gingerich Political Science & Economics A&S '20, Congressman Mike Doyle

Preena Patel Early Childhood Ed, EDU '20 Councilperson Erika Strassburger

Matthew Broocke Political Science, A&S '20 Rep. Dan Frankel

Lindsay Harner Political Science & History, A&S '20 Rep. Anita Kulik

John Brophy Political Science, A&S '21 Rep. Valerie Gaydos

Jalissia Haynes Politics & Philosophy; Urban Studies, A&S '20 Rep. Sara Innamorato

Elizabeth Pinto Neuroscience & Political Science, A&S '21 Congressman Mike Doyle

Jenna Bush Political Science, Psychology; History, A&S '20 Rep. Valerie Gaydos Colby Buzzell Urban Studies, A&S '20 Rep. Sara Innamorato Mackenzie Connors Political Science & Anthropology A&S '21 Senator Pam Iovino Sophia Constantine Political Science & Urban Studies, A&S '21 Senator Jay Costa

Zehra Khan Political Science & English Lit A&S '20 Congressman Conor Lamb Eun Jin Kim Politics & Philosophy; Economics, A&S '20 Rep. Ed Gainey Brittny Klinedinst Natural Sciences, CGS '20 Rep. Summer Lee James Luciano Public Service, CGS '21 Congressman Guy Reschenthaler

Hannah Reiling Computer Science & Political Science, A&S '20 Councilman Corey O'Connor Noah Rubin Political Science & History, A&S '20 Rep. Dan Frankel Kayla Scoggin Urban Studies, A&S '21 Senator Pam Iovino Abigael Siecinski Politics & Philosophy & Business A&S/CBA '20 Councilman Bruce Kraus Kelli Slogan Political Science & Sociology A&S '21 Councilman Corey O'Connor Savannah Sowell Political Science & Urban Studies A&S '21 Councilman Dan Lavelle

Jabari Cook Political Science, A&S '21 Councilperson Erika Straussburger

Francesca Manriquez Urban Studies; Sociology, A&S '20 Jennifer Beer, VP Gov. Affairs, Chamber

Jennifer Dowdy Political Science, A&S '20 Councilman Bruce Kraus

Ethan McPeak Math-Economics & History, A&S '20 Rep Dan Miller

Melanie du Bois de Vroylande Political Science, A&S '20 Senator Jay Costa

Khadajah Muhammad Political Science, A&S '21 Councilman Dan Lavelle

Lance Taylor Physics/Astronomy & Politics/Philosophy, A&S '21 Jennifer Beer, Chamber

Charles Echard Political Science, Sociology A&S '21 Congressman Conor Lamb

Annika Nordlof Political Science, A&S '20 Rep. Jake Wheatley

Jacob Waldman Political Science & History A&S '20 Rep. Dan Deasy

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Megan Swaney Economics & English Lit, A&S '20 Rep. Summer Lee

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2019-20 ELSIE SCHOLARS IMPACTING OUR REGION THROUGH COMMUNITY WORK

Committed to improving maternal and child health, making the region lead free, increasing mental health awareness and therapy for Black communities, establishing state clean energy policies, and providing wellness strategies to those living with trauma, this year's Elsie Scholars did amazing work for their community partners. Each Scholar used their talents, strengths, and knowledge to co-create valuable projects with their mentors. Read about the Elsie Scholar's stories and learn more about each of their projects

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that they completed in the 8-month program. Each Scholar produced a deliverable that will continue to add value to their organizations long after the program's end. It is worth mentioning that these Scholars and their community partners overcame great adversity and negotiated uncertainty well when the global pandemic forced us to rethink our work. Each Scholar and mentor showed resiliency, creativity, and compassion during an unprecedented time.

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WENDELINE FREDERIC Healthy Start, Inc. A senior health services major and passionate about addressing the leading health concerns in her community and ensuring health equity, Wendeline worked with Healthy Start, Inc., an organization on a mission to improve maternal and child health and to reduce poor birth outcomes and infant mortality in Allegheny County. Since funding is critical to maternal and child health programs, Wendeline focused her efforts on developing a maternal and child health (MCH) funding analysis for Allegheny County that showed local grantmakers and the types of organizations they fund. Additionally, she worked on a legislator report, which provided details about Allegheny County legislators and their position on MCH bills. These reports will help Healthy Start better identify areas of support, as well as potential allies.

MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH FUNDING IN PITTSBURGH Project Problem Statement

Project Objectives

The infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate for the black community is significantly higher than other races. Systemic racism is at the root of this disparity. Resources are not being equally allocated to MCH programs and initiatives that are trying to make a difference.

The overall goal of the project is to highlight and bring attention to the inequities MCH programs experience and how this impacts the population in need of their services. Furthermore, the project will assist in identifying allies.

Deliverables

MCH funding analysis Legislator report Symposium planning document

While at Healthy Start, I observed the impact of collaborative team efforts. Healthy Start works to reduce poor birth outcomes for black infants. This collaborative effort allowed me to broaden my horizon and understand that addressing issues in MCH effectively requires looking at multiple sectors outside of immediate health because several external factors play a role with several community organizations in multiple sectors to help achieve a common.

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MAUREEN HARTWELL Women for a Healthy Environment Maureen joined the Elsie Scholars as a sophomore political science and history major. She believes that Pittsburgh can and should become an environmental example in the nation, and set down this path with her partner, Women for a Healthy Environment. Clean water free from toxic chemicals and lead is central to life. Maureen's work with the Women for a Health Environment tried to draw attention to how water authorities perform on the dimensions of toxicity and transparency. Her report aims to provide context to why certain authorities may perform more poorly than others and, as it stands, this seems to be attributable to an unequal distribution of resources or a mere lack of resources in some cases.

THE QUALITY AND TRANSPARENCY OF WATER AUTHORITIES IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY Project Problem Statement

Project Objectives

The project seeks to determine how contaminated each water authority is in the county and what each is predominantly contaminated with. Further, it seeks to address whether or not consumers of Allegheny county can easily gain this information or easily contact their local water distributor.

The project will hopefully serve as a resource for local environmental nonprofits and water authorities. Nonprofits will be able to easily gather information about the county’s performance at large as well as individual water authorities to see which need to be monitored or need additional resources.

Deliverables

Tenant Rights Document Lead Report Card

The Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program allowed me to dive into an issue which particularly impacts the City of Pittsburgh. Through this experience, I was able to gain expertise on environmental health, on how lead and radon impact public health, and how to create policy to mitigate these hazards. Beyond this, WHE has also offered to keep me on part-time this summer, which is a huge honor and relief in the current economic crisis. I am incredibly thankful that the Elsie program allowed me to gain this knowledge and this network.

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RACHEL HOPKINS Steel Smiling Rachel utilized her psychology and sociology background during her work with Steel Smiling, an organization seeking to bridge the gap between Black people and mental health support through education, advocacy, and awareness. The issue of Black mental health is a complex one because without thoughtful and intentional initiatives, mental health services and advocacy can still neglect the particular needs of African American communities. The Beams to Bridges program prioritizes Black voices, Black experiences, and Black capacity to effect meaningful change in addressing these challenges. Rachel's evaluation work with Steel Smiling wanted to ensure that the program does just that.

BEAMS TO BRIDGES PROGRAM EVALUATION Project Problem Statement

Project Objectives

Despite Pennsylvania’s nearly top 10 rank for mental health access according to Mental Health America’s national report, many African American community members in Allegheny County voice concerns surrounding significant gaps in our mental health advancement. Beams to Bridges seeks to fill those gaps.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the Beams to Bridges Program against the outlined short-term goals using various data sources including interviews, field notes, and three rounds of the Mental Health Literacy Assessment throughout the program.

Deliverables

Evaluation report of the 2019-20 Beams to Bridges program

Through my work with Steel Smiling, I gained a lot of experience interviewing people about mental health, which will be useful for me as a clinical research assistant during my gap year. Being a part of an eight month program was very meaningful to me as I watched the Beams to Bridges Program unfold and was able to interview our participants in the first and last months of the program to see how their perspectives changed.

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SAMUEL RESSIN Pennsylvania Environmental Council An advocate for environmental policy change and an activist eager to work across differences, Sam worked with the PA Environmental Council to help improve PA's clean energy standards. He studied Washington state's clean energy standard legislation passed in 2019 and analyzed how Pennsylvania could pass a similar piece of legislation. He identified how Washington's law solved four key challenges preventing states like Pennsylvania from passing clean energy standard legislation. The PA Environmental Council will refer to his policy analysis as they draft legislation and will share it with stakeholders.

WASHINGTON'S CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD: LESSONS FOR PENNSYLVANIA Project Problem Statement

Pennsylvania currently lacks a clean energy standard, and there is no plan of how to achieve one.

Project Objectives

Identify the key components of legislation establishing a Clean Energy Standard (CES) for Pennsylvania

Deliverables A white paper that identified why Washington's CES was successful and what PA can learn from WA's success.

I liked having the opportunity to hear the behind the scenes discussions among stakeholders in environmental and energy policy. My mentor shared updates on what types of legislation various groups were trying to secure. I found those insights most useful as a rising change maker in energy and environmental policy.

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CHINMAYI VENKATRAM Center for Victims Chinmayi's passion for public health and previous research experience with intimate partner violence helped her work with Center for Victims on the development of a wellness booklet to complement its Healing Rivers Project, an educational and informative exhibit on trauma and wellness. Her wellness booklet will inform the organization's wellness curriculum and be something that individuals can take with them after the exhibit to help them create their own indvidiual wellness plan.

INCORPORATING WELLNESS STRATEGIES INTO THE HEALING RIVERS PROJECT Project Problem Statement

Project Objectives

Individuals who are victims of any crime or work within victims' services can experience long-lasting trauma. Healing Rivers Project helps people heal from past trauma. This project pulls from evidence-based wellness strategies for individuals to continue healing with their own wellness plan.

My project focuses on increasing Center for Victim's access to scholarly information and to inform educating regarding wellness strategies.

Deliverables Research briefs on evidence-based wellness strategies Wellness booklet for the Healing Rivers exhibit

The Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program helped me make an impact on the issues I was passionate about. The program helped me continue to learn about important social justice issues and gave me the skillset I needed for future job opportunities. Because of the program, I was qualified enough to apply to the National Health Corps in Pittsburgh. My project at the Center for Victims gave me the knowledge and skillset I needed to serve as a Depression Care Coordinator at Shadyside Family Health Center next year.

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2019-20 ACE FELLOWS

ENGAGING IN POLICY CHANGE THROUGH PHILANTHROPY An interdisciplinary team of graduate students passionate about making a difference worked with the Buhl Foundation in 2019-20. Throughout the experience, the team worked to learn more about policy, systems change, community engagement, and how they intersect with philanthropy. The team hailing from Pitt's Graduate School of International and Public Affairs, the Graduate School of Public Health, the Katz School of Business, and the Swanson School of Engineering, began their work in October gathering important context of Buhl's One Northside initiative. The team toured all 18 neighborhoods of the Northside, interviewed the community members, conducted independent research of place-based philanthropy, interviewed Buhl staff members, spoke with other regional philanthropic institutions, and talked with other various stakeholders and organizational partners of the initiative to create the Internal Analysis of the One Northside Initiative. This report will help the Buhl Foundation better understand its methods and processes in order to evaluate its impact and produce a model for other philanthropic institutions wishing to employ an effective place-based strategy. Meet the team and their hopes for the future.

ARTURO AMADEO MHA/MBA '21, HEALTH POLICY & MANAGEMENT AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Arturo is passionate about public health issues and addressing Latino health disparities. His long-term goal is to return to Puerto Rico and use his professional and academic experience to improve community health. For the past five years, Pittsburgh has given me a home, an outstanding education, and great connections. I want to give back to the city by going out in the community and giving my all to help whichever way I can.

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ADRIANA BOWMAN MPID '21, INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY From Lexington, SC, Adriana came to Pitt to learn more about international development and social policy. She wanted to be an ACE Fellow to gain more experience in community engagement and make a lasting impact on the community. I want to make a difference in my community, to empower others to empower themselves and pursue their own dreams.

ELIZABETH HERNANDEZ MPA '21, POLICY RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS Elizabeth believes in the concept of improving the quality of life for an individual, group, and society. Working with Buhl helped her realize the importance of engaging and empowering communities to utilize its dreams, innovation, and action to create a better community. Making a difference in my community has always been a goal of mine. Even the smallest contributions make a difference: attending school board meetings, city council meetings, volunteering on community cleanup days, helping people to register to vote. These are all things I have always participated in, and I believe community development is the core to progressing the greater population.

PREM RAJGOPAL MS '20, CIVIL ENGINEERING Prem has always been interested in building community, and has done so through volunteering with various climate policy and political organizations. He joined the ACE Fellows to learn more about community engagement and grassroots organizing-something he believes is especially important for structural changes. A fellow engineer and good friend of mine once told me that a good lens to view the world is that of systems thinking. Whether the system is your university, your community, or even your whole planet, one has to think about how action can actually change the system for the better.

AARON SIMS MPA '21, PUBLIC AND NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT No stranger to community work, Aaron utilized his field organizing and canvassing talents while with Buhl when he helped interview Northside residents about OneNorthside. Elsie believed in working at the ground level to engage everyone in the community regardless of background or status in order to be an agent for positive change. I believe we all need to take part in the process to make a difference. 2019-2020 ELSIE FORUM ANNUAL REPORT

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2019-20 INTRODUCTORY PROGRAMS Never a Spectator: Civic Engagement Forum

Legislator for a Day

The Elsie Forum's one-day programs: the Never a Spectator Civic Engagement Forum and Legislator for a Day, introduce students to a wide spectrum of ways to get involved with their community including through policy and governance, networking with leaders from the nonprofit, government, and business sectors, and connecting with peers interested in making a difference.

NEVER A SPECTATOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT FORUM Undergraduates, graduates, and professional students join the Elsie Forum for a night of discussing what they can do now to make a difference in their communities. Students talk with regional leaders from the government, nonprofit, and business sectors to gain their insights.

LEGISLATOR FOR A DAY Eager to learn more about Pennsylvania state politics, students travel to Harrisburg with the Elsie Forum to experience the day in the life of a state legislator.

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NEVER A SPECTATOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT FORUM: STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE THROUGH ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP

The Never a Spectator program was a success, and on February 27, 2020, over 100 students connected with community leaders making a difference in their communities. In addition to lively conversation on issues impacting all of Western Pennsylvania, the keynote speech by Wasi Mohamed added a particularly relatable dimension to the 2020 forum, allowing students to witness a relatively recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh showcase his experiences, leadership, and contributions (post-graduation) as a humble but valued member of Pittsburgh’s civic leadership community. The evening’s conversations, roundtables, and presentations all memorialized the legacy of Elsie Hillman while demonstrating that her spirited belief in civic engagement remains intact and energized by the programming provided by the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum. After the IOP and Elsie Forum Director, Samantha Balbier welcomed everyone, they were introduced to Elsie Hillman through a video. Interviewees characterized Elsie Hillman as a “rare gift to Western PA”: an activist who “engaged everyone” in meaningful partnerships and collaborations that enacted change, particularly for women and minorities. Of note was the interviewees’ insistence that in the midst of pursuing reform, Elsie Hillman remained “powerful but warm,” and capable of “getting things done in a collegial and fun way.” Further testimonials in the video (from regional figures ranging from Doris Carson Williams to former Elsie scholars), all attested to Elsie’s role in “diversifying civic engagement.” As the video concluded with an archival clip of Elsie remarking that “politics brought me an opportunity,” viewers were reminded of the ongoing value and efficacy of the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum’s programming, which continues to generate opportunities for students to engage and collaborate with leaders and organizations in Western Pennsylvania in the interests of advancing impactful civic engagement.

NETWORKING SESSIONS Following the presentation on Elise Hillman’s legacy of service, as well as the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum’s student- and community-centered programs, students and mentors spent the next hour networking with each other. During one session with community mentor and Butler County Commissioner, Leslie Osche, University of Pittsburgh students from a variety of disciplines ranging from political science to social work, gathered to discuss issues related to local government, municipal funding, transit issues, cross-county collaboration, governmental vs. nonprofit work, and more. Attending students were generous and forthcoming as they shared their personal backgrounds and interests, revealing that among the group were volunteer firefighters, Army Reserve officers, and existing community activists. As this particular group introduced themselves to Osche and each other, it became clear that a notable portion of the students, though dedicated to their academic work, had already begun the process of tangibly contributing to their local and/or regional communities. Perhaps even more inspiring was the degree to which early undergraduate students in attendance listened thoughtfully and respectfully to these more experienced peers, who themselves displayed great humility and receptivity as they conversed with Osche.

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Answering a student question regarding how local governments can work collaboratively and effectively with nonprofits, Osche highlighted successful examples from Butler County. She outlined how nonprofits as well as the faith-based community have rallied in an effort to address the opioid epidemic, opening conversation with the local government to expand recovery housing and other resources for those in the community impacted by addiction.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS Wasi Mohamed, Community Advocate for Diversity & Inclusion, began his keynote address by voicing his conviction that a “nation is a reflection of our communities, households, and then ourselves.” Urging attendees to remain self-reflective about their contributions to their communities (as represented through their daily actions), Mohamed invoked the words of a former mentor who drew a powerful distinction between “sacred knowledge and information.” Sacred knowledge, Mohamed argued, “is something you have to earn” – through self-appraisal, conversation and engagement with others, and sometimes-disheartening trials that inspire humility and clarity regarding one’s true priorities in the realm of community service. With the notion of “sacred knowledge” in mind, Mohamed reflected on his early participation in a food pantry . program organized and facilitated in partnership with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and the PittServes program. In most cases, Mohamed claimed, “those seeking food also needed something else”: financial advice, links to other community resources, or even counsel and support as a result of long-term “spiritual depletion.” Recounting an initially heated exchange with a food pantry visitor, Mohamed emphasized the importance of practicing equanimity and empathy even during charged interactions. Emphasizing the goal of providing humane community service, Mohamed highlighted the value of “trying to consider and relate to what they’re upset about,” discussing how he used this early encounter as a student volunteer to reflect on “who I want to be” and how “not to repeat the mistake” of defensiveness or reactivity. Often, Mohamed conceded, a pantry visitor’s anger “came from somewhere real,” valid, and relatable. “Building a relationship” through trust and consistency, even when “their problem couldn’t be immediately fixed,” improved visitors’ sense that the pantry was a place where they could be consistently heard, valued, and granted tangible and moral support. Above all, Mohamed argued, the pantry’s success was built upon his and other volunteers’ willingness to listen, as well as their passion, which he described as a “paramount” quality.

STUDENT-LED SESSION Concluding his address, Mohamed posed a question for students as they broke into a student-led networking session: “What is one thing that you’re going to commit to change between now and this event next year?” After approximately twenty minutes of reflection and discussion, one table surveyed towards the end of its conversation described a kind of “consensus answer”: the shared desire to use the University of Pittsburgh itself (including the Institute of Politics) as an ongoing resource and channel through which to become involved in conversation, networking, and concrete involvement in regional issues. Other students shared their more personalized self-reflection that their increased involvement in advocacy work simply related to the challenge of overcoming personal anxieties, initiating potential collaborations, and “opening up” to one of the challenges Mohamed suggested: practicing empathy and “active listening” while simultaneously sustaining passion and drive for a particular issue or set of issues. One student, in response to Mohamed’s prompt, remarked that “I think it’s just a matter of figuring out where I can be most useful, and most effective.” 2019-2020 ELSIE FORUM ANNUAL REPORT

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GOVERNMENT & POLITICS MENTORS Feyisola Alabi Special Initiatives Manager Office of Mayor William Peduto: Office of Equity Erin Dalton Deputy Director, Office of Data Analysis, Research, & Evaluation Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services Melvin Hubbard El Chief of Staff, PA Representative Edward Gainey Elisa Long Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender, PA Western District

Leslie Osche Butler County Commissioner

NONPROFIT MENTORS Jenna Baron Executive Director, ARYSE Stacy Bodow Outreach and Engagement Manager, Global Links Mark A. Nordenberg Chancellor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh & Chair, IOP Sabrina Saunders Mosby President & CEO, Vibrant Pittsburgh Jada Shirriel CEO, Healthy Start, Inc. Michael Yonas Director of Research and Special Initiatives, The Pittsburgh Foundation

BUSINESS MENTORS Doris Carson Williams President & CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce Bridget Daley Associate, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney John Denny Principal, Denny Civic Solutions Victoria Snyder Executive Vice President, Ya Momz House, Inc. 2019-2020 ELSIE FORUM ANNUAL REPORT

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PITT MENTORS Jamie Ducar Director, Community Engagement Community and Governmental Relations Aliya Durham Assistant Professor and Director, Community Engagement School of Social Work Michael Giazzoni Director, College in High School Shenay Jeffrey Assistant Director, PittServes Emiola Oriola Program Manager, Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement Alka Singh Director, Experiential Learning School of Computing and Information Science

2019-2020 ELSIE FORUM ANNUAL REPORT

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LEGISLATOR FOR A DAY STUDENTS EXPERIENCING A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A STATE ELECTED OFFICIAL Fourteen graduate and undergraduate students eager to learn more about state politics and PA elected officials, joined the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum to experience ea day in the life of an elected official at our state capitol. Just a few days short of leaving for Harrisburg on March 17, 2020, the Elsie Forum was forced to cancel our Legislator for a Day program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, students were still able to engage with each other and learn more about their legislators in the pre-departure meeting. Although the Elsie Forum could not proceed with the program this year, the following pages highlight the students and their state legislator who they learned more about if not formally met.


L4D STUDENTS AND THEIR SHADOW PLACEMENTS HELENA COLBERT

KAYLA PIERRE

A&S '21, POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY REPRESENTATIVE NATALIE MIHALEK

A&S '23, POLITICAL SCIENCE & ECONOMICS SENATOR JAY COSTA

JESSICA FARRELL

ASHLEY PRIORE

MSW '21, COMMUNITY ORGANIZING AND SOCIAL ADMINISTRATION REPRESENTATIVE ED GAINEY

A&S '22, ENGLISH & POLITICS/ECONOMICS REPRESENTATIVE JAKE WHEATLEY

KATIE GINGERICH

ERIC RAABE

A&S '20, POLITICAL SCIENCE & ECONOMICS SENATOR PAM IOVINO

JALISSIA HAYNES A&S '20, POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY URBAN STUDIES  REPRESENTATIVE AUSTIN DAVIS

MPA'21, ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT SENATOR PAT STEFANO

CAMILLE RODRIGUEZ A&S '21, POLITICAL SCIENCE & SPANISH REPRESENTATIVE DAN MILLER

OLIVIA KRUGER

MEIMEI SANTUCCI

A&S '21, POLITICAL SCIENCE & ANTHROPOLOGY REPRESENTATIVE JAMES STRUZZI

A&S '20, COMMUNICATION & RHETORIC & ITALIAN REPRESENTATIVE DAN FRANKEL

GREGORY OSGOOD

JOSH SOULLIERE

MS '21, CIVIL ENGINEERING REPRESENTATIVE GEORGE DUNBAR

A&S '21, ECONOMICS REPRESENTATIVE SARA INNAMORATO

PREENA PATEL

ETHAN THOMAS

EDU '21, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION REPRESENTATIVE NATALIE MIHALEK

A&S '21, POLITICAL SCIENCE & ECONOMICS REPRESENTATIVE LORI MIZGORSKI

2019-2020 ELSIE FORUM ANNUAL REPORT

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2019-2020 Elsie Forum Annual Report  

The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum celebrated its fourth birthday in 2019-20, and it was a year like no other for many of us, filled with unantic...

2019-2020 Elsie Forum Annual Report  

The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum celebrated its fourth birthday in 2019-20, and it was a year like no other for many of us, filled with unantic...

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