REPORT Increasing Social and Economic Mobility in Western Pennsylvania
Also inside: Policy Committee Updates 2019 Elected Officials Retreat Dick Thornburgh Forum Elsie Hillman Civic Forum
ANNUAL REPORT 2019
Cover: Dr. John Friedman, professor of Economics and Public and International Affairs, Brown University; and co-founder, Opportunity Insights, Harvard University; at the 2019 Elected Officials Retreat
Table of Contents Chairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Note
Improving the Quality of Life in Western Pennsylvania: Policy Committee Work
Preventing Demolition-related Lead Exposure in Southwestern Pennsylvania Enhancing Student Success through Increased Access to Postsecondary and Workforce Opportunities Strengthening Partnerships in Innovative Education Policy Transforming Criminal Justice for a Fair, Cost-Effective System and a Safe Community
Repurposing Jails to Meet 21st Century Community Needs IOP@30 13 In the Press
Elected Officials Retreat: Forging Our Future Together: Addressing Rural and Urban Needs to Build a Stronger Region
2019 Coleman Award winner: Fred Thieman
Institute of Politics Board of Fellows
The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy
Elsie Hillman Civic Forum
Ambassadors for Civic Engagement (ACE) Fellowship Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program Institute of Politics Internship and Seminar Never a Spectator Legislator for a Day
Chair’s Note I began writing this letter on April 1, and there was none of the levity typically associated with that date. Instead, the country was in the grip of the coronavirus and the damage it was doing, to our health and to our financial wellbeing. April Fool’s Day itself brought the sobering news that the stock market had experienced the worst quarter in its history. Before week’s end, we learned that nearly 10 million Americans had filed unemployment compensation claims in the two preceding weeks, including 6.6 million in the last week alone. The highest number of claims filed in any single week of the Great Recession was 665,000. Numbers capturing the spread of the contagion rose so fast that it was hard to keep up. Cases world-wide passed the one-million mark, with more than a quarter of them in the U.S. Though little time had passed since the number of U.S. deaths climbed to 1,000, before the end of the week, our death toll had shot past 8,000. Soon, even that number may seem small. To this point, our region has been spared the worst, but it is feared that darker days are yet to come. Many of us have family and friends facing this threat in other places, sometimes in very different conditions. A good friend is hospitalized in New York City. He has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is in intensive care and on a ventilator. It is hard to get timely medical reports, but he clearly is engaged in a terrible struggle. We also have family in South Korea, a country that was among the first to be hit hard when the virus began to spread. That government committed to massive testing and contact tracking and prioritized containing the virus within emerging “hot spots.” Schools and some other facilities are closed, but most businesses remain open, to some extent, blunting the economic impact of the disease. It is too early to assess how successful any policy will have been, but it already is clear that pandemic policies implemented by various governments will have produced very different results. It is equally clear that well-reasoned policies will be critical when the pandemic has passed and all levels of government face massive new needs with significantly constrained resources. One recent bright spot was learning that Allegheny County has been a stand-out among all of Pennsylvania’s counties in quickly implementing processes to thoughtfully review the circumstances of those incarcerated in the County Jail. The goal has been to determine which of those in custody might merit early release because they pose little risk to the community but are at risk themselves of becoming casualties to COVID-19 if held in the close confines of jail. Principal credit belongs to the County’s criminal justice leaders, but their efforts clearly built on the broader incarceration-reform policies pursued through the IOP.
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
When Pennsylvania’s schools were closed, it was quickly apparent that some districts were better positioned, in terms of both resources and planning, to implement effective distance-learning programs. Again, it was gratifying when there was quick outreach to the IOP, asking if we could help develop policies to ensure that the impact of future closings would be more equitable. A widely circulated poem entitled “And the People Stayed Home” includes the following passages: “And people stayed home . . . and people healed . . . and even the earth began to heal, and when the danger ended, and people found each other, grieved for the dead people, and they made new choices, and dreamed of new visions, and created new ways of life, and healed the earth completely, just as they were healed themselves.” As we continue to move through this unfolding tragedy, those words are inspiring. Achieving their aspiration, though, will require determination, hard work and careful thought. It will require a measure of selflessness, and it will require bringing people together to develop, through civil discussion and evidence-based decision-making, policies that can help take us all to the best possible future. That has been the mission of the Institute of Politics since the time of its founding, and it will be the Institute’s mission as we confront the challenge of regional recovery in the months and years ahead. Even while subject to stay-at-home orders, the entire IOP team — including our outstanding director, Samantha Balbier — has been working to prepare for the future. We mourn the terrible losses that have been suffered, but this is our home, and we all look forward to contributing to the process of rebuilding together.
Mark A. Nordenberg Chancellor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh Chair of the Institute of Politics Director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum
Director’s Note The first year of any new job involves overcoming a steep learning curve, a milestone that I am proud to say I reached. I want to thank all my colleagues from across the University for creating such a welcoming and helpful environment. The Institute’s talented team, accomplished members of the IOP Board of Fellows, policy committee members, and IOP’s Chair and Chancellor Emeritus, Mark Nordenberg, all have been incredibly helpful and informative during this transition. Now, we all find ourselves in a global pandemic requiring prolonged social distancing. That learning curve I mentioned earlier just got steeper. Every system that our society relies upon, public and private alike, is under significant strain. Despite mounting economic and societal evidence that would suggest otherwise, I am holding on to the belief that we have an opportunity to come out of this crisis better than we went in. Our region is brimming with some of the nation’s best scientific minds, and we have an indisputable track record of resilience that has been born out of a long-lasting commitment, that spans decades, to collaborative problem-solving in tough financial times. The Institute’s nonpartisan and evidence-based approach to public policy development may never have been more important than it is today. If we want to come out of this crisis stronger, we must examine public policy through the lens of equity. The Covid-19 crisis has tragically magnified the serious consequences of pervasive and deeply rooted inequality across our country. Lack of access to healthcare, record rates of unemployment, extensive food insecurity, and disparities across our K-12 education system are just a handful of the critical issues that must be solved. While it is difficult and almost impossible to imagine now, we will eventually transition into a period of renewal, a time when change will be welcomed and when we can apply the lessons that we learned during this crisis to create policy with a focus on equity and access. This 2019 report offers you a glance at the complex policy work the Institute regularly undertakes. You will observe that the we are already deeply engaged in long-term systems reform work. In partnership with Allegheny County, the IOP is making significant change within the criminal justice field. One element of this work involves creating a path forward to reduce racial disparities across multiple junctures within the system. Knowing that incarceration can disastrously disrupt a person’s livelihood and destroy important relationships, our endeavor to enact change in this arena is an extremely important and a pressing one. Equally important is the Institute’s collaborative research and convening work conducted over this past year by our education and workforce development policy committees. At last year’s retreat entitled Forging Our Future Together: Meeting Urban and Rural Needs to Build a Stronger Region, Dr. John Friedman, co-founder of Opportunity Insights located at Harvard University, demonstrated while using the Opportunity Atlas, that increasing access to quality education and workforce programming at the critical developmental stage of adolescence, a time when mentoring can help shape a person’s future outlook, is perhaps one of the most important approaches to improving social and economic opportunity for all people. This month, the Institute will publish an in-depth analysis of Pennsylvania policy related to dual enrollment and pre-apprenticeship programming. As we rebuild our economy,
might we examine ways to connect industry more closely with our education system to more effectively transition students from secondary to post-secondary opportunities, offering them chances once thought impossible? Understanding that the pandemic has caused significant disruption and a situation that likely can compound disparity in the K-12 education system, the IOP has been asked to analyze the range of policies and practices that have enabled, or deterred from, responsive continuity in education programming during school closures. As we move through this crisis, the IOP will work with its partners to identify policy changes that will support systems and administrative improvements that permanently strengthen all schools throughout our region, for all students. The overarching federal context of many IOP policy committees is provided through the Institute’s Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy Lecture Series. Political leaders and national luminaries address the topics of governance, leadership and politics, as well as disability law and policy. In response to the need for social distancing, we are developing an on-line series to build awareness on the issues and support solutions. Undergraduate and graduate students participating in any of the five civic engagement programs offered through IOP’s Elsie Hillman Civic Forum also can connect with communities, nonprofits, and elected officials to create avenues for positive social change on a range of key topics. Whether in person or remotely, civic engagement at the Institute will continue this year. In a time of financial uncertainty, nonprofits across our region will have an opportunity to support their missions with the creativity, talents, and hard work of Pitt’s students. I am very proud of the work of the Institute of Politics and our committee members, many of whom are heroically meeting the critical needs of our community members at this very moment. Their commitment to collaboration and willingness to examine where our systems succeed and fail, especially throughout this crisis is essential. On behalf of the IOP team, I want to iterate that we are committed to working with you to develop policy solutions that lift all people out of this crisis and into better opportunities. And, we wish that each and every one of you are safe and healthy.
Sincerely and with hope,
Samantha Balbier Director, Institute of Politics Elsie Hillman Civic Forum
Improving the Quality of Life in Western Pennsylvania: Policy Committee Work Health and Human Services Policy Committee
Preventing Demolition-related Lead Exposure in Southwestern Pennsylvania Lead exposure continues to be a critical issue in Southwestern Pennsylvania communities, as evidenced by the blood lead levels of children in the region. The demolition of blighted housing stock, also a public health issue, can exacerbate this problem. The Lead-safe Demolition Working Group, formed by the Instituteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health and Human Services Policy Committee, was tasked with addressing this challenge. In response to a request from Allegheny County, the Institute of Politics Health and Human Services Policy Committee convened a working group that included regional experts on public health, municipal demolition, and local government to form the Lead-safe Demolition Working Group. The working group extended its focus to all of Southwestern Pennsylvania and produced its report, which offers sample language and contents for an ordinance concerning lead-safe demolition as well as recommendations for further actions to reduce lead exposure from municipal demolitions. Based on the recommendations of the working group, the Tri-COG Land Bank and Conservation Consultants, Inc. have created a pilot based on the best practices highlighted in the report. From the results of the pilot, municipalities throughout the region will have a better understanding of the benefits, costs, and challenges of implementing lead-safe demolition in their communities.
State Representative Dan Frankel, co-chair, Health and Human Services Policy Committee and Lead-safe Demolition Working Group
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
The report begins by examining lead exposure throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania and provides information on the common sources of lead exposure throughout the state, like lead-based paint, contaminated house dust, contaminated soil, and water. Also detailed are the health effects of lead exposure experienced by individuals and as a community. Sources of funding for demolitions are detailed in an effort to illustrate the feasibility of implementing the working groups recommendations. Next, the report outlines best practices in lead-safe demolition and presents the protocols of three exemplar cities that have implemented lead-safe demolition practices: East Baltimore, Md., Detroit, Mich., and Portland, Ore.
Butler County Chair and Commissioner Leslie Osche, co-chair, Health and Human Services Policy Committee and Lead-safe Demolition Working Group
Finally, the report provides guidance for the development of an ordinance that offers regulatory requirements for lead-safe demolitions adapted from national best practices, as well as recommendations for community education efforts, a pilot project and opportunities to attain additional funding â&#x20AC;&#x201D; considering the potential increase in costs associated with implementing a lead-safe demolition ordinance.
Workforce Development Policy Committee
Enhancing Student Success through Increased Access to Postsecondary and Workforce Opportunities Earning skills and credentials beyond a high school diploma has been increasingly important to future success in the workforce. However, too many students do not have access to programs that would help to smooth the transition between secondary and postsecondary education and careers. In a forthcoming report, the Institute of Politics will examine three programs — dual enrollment, early college high school, and pre-apprenticeships — that are proven to improve equity in and access to postsecondary education and training opportunities.
Jim Denova, co-chair, Workforce Development Policy Committee
Dual Enrollment Rates in Pennsylvania based on Students’ Economic Status* * as identified by school districts 30,000 25,000
Southwestern Pennsylvania is fortunate to be home to a diverse array of K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and employers, who, in collaboration with the area’s rich landscape of nonprofits and foundations, have developed or are in the process of developing programs designed to help students bridge the gap between secondary and postsecondary education and careers. These efforts are taking place in the midst of a major shift in the nature and future of work in Pennsylvania and beyond that necessitates preparing today’s graduates for a lifetime of learning. Employers have jobs that they need to fill, but those seeking employment do not have the skills that employers are looking for. Simultaneously, jobs that have existed for many years that require performance based on a static skill set are disappearing quickly and may not exist in the future. In August 2018, the Institute of Politics Workforce Development Committee sought to address these problems by taking a closer look at three types of programs that serve as connections between secondary and post-secondary education and employers: dual enrollment, early college high school, and pre-apprenticeships. Over the course of the next 18 months, the committee met four times to discuss recommendations for enhancing existing programs, creating new programs, and expanding access to programs, especially for those students who are underrepresented in both postsecondary education settings and registered apprenticeships. Through Ami Gatts, co-chair, Workforce those meetings, extensive Development Policy Committee research, and the contributions of many organizations in the community, a report entitled “Preparing for the Future” was developed.
Expected to be released in April 2020, “Preparing for the Future” examines the current status of dual enrollment, early college high school, and pre-apprenticeships in Pennsylvania, offers best practices from other states, and suggests four recommendations for moving the commonwealth forward. Next steps for the committee following the release of the report are under consideration.
15,000 10,000 5,000 0 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Economically Disadvantaged
Not Economically Disadvantaged
IOP Education Policy Committee
Strengthening Partnerships in Innovative Education Policy
Facilitator Debbie Pixton, Program Director, Consortium for Public Education, works with others at her table to identify the characteristics of the graduates of tomorrow.
In the interest of strengthening relationships between legislators and school administrators, the Institute of Politics embarked on a project to determine barriers to communication. Through a series of focus groups conducted in late 2018 — early 2019, administrators acknowledged several barriers, both experienced and perceived, to positive and meaningful interactions with legislators, which related to: • Administrators’ lack of time for advocacy, and lack of funds to hire professional lobbyists • Perceived attitudes of legislators toward the details of education policy and that efforts to change their opinion on legislation would be not be effective Through these focus groups, administrators and legislators reported that face-to-face interaction in one-on-one or small group settings were the most effective at breaking down barriers and building relationships. As a result, the Institute partnered with Remake Learning and the Consortium for Public Education to host a session designed to pair legislators with administrators in small groups to discuss education policy through the lens of designing a portrait of tomorrow’s graduate. A summary of this event, held on July 19, 2019 at the University Club on the University of Pittsburgh campus, follows.
Welcome and Introductions Briana Mihok, Senior Policy Strategist, University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics offered introductions and thanks to the IOP’s Education Policy Committee and other participants. In the forum’s opening presentation, Dr. Stanley Thompson, Program Director of Education, The Heinz Endowments, remarked that schools and communities are deceptively “complex systems” that include “specific challenges the public may not understand.” Thompson referenced his own observation of “very effective strategies applied in schools” despite school districts sometimes contending with state or federal policies that are “totally disconnected” from those innovations. Thompson then articulated the Education Committee’s stance: “By having dialogue between superintendents and legislators, we have a better opportunity for adopting effective approaches” and avoiding ostensibly separated sectors like education, business, and students/parents themselves, “talking past each other.” In his presentation, Thompson advocated the use of “coordinated systems” and partnerships between invested parties that operate beyond a purely transactional level; instead, he remarked, these parties should operate in tandem based on a real “set of values.” To conclude his presentation, Thompson offered an anecdote on the notion of partnership, emphasizing that true partnership requires “total and ongoing commitment” and embracing challenging conversations with the power to” change the educational landscape.” As co-chair of the Institute’s Education committee, Rodney Ruddock, Commissioner, Indiana County, remarked that although he serves “[…] on many committees, [the Institute’s] is by far is the finest group,” noting that it “brings neutrality and focus” to the
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
complex issue of education reform. Speaking from his perspective as a county commissioner in Indiana County, Ruddock outlined his county’s own three-part mission with regard to educational innovation, highlighting the ongoing challenges — in Indiana County and elsewhere — of “truly coordinating efforts for change.” Ruddock noted that in Indiana County, partnerships don’t exist “unless we make them exist,” primarily because school districts, commissioners, state legislators, and other parties operate with a certain degree of independence, with limited communication, and with their own primary priorities and responsibilities in mind. In his closing remarks, Ruddock stressed that both school administrators and legislators should “build a platform of support with a true partnership ring.” Ruddock called the day’s event an opportunity to “create a portrait of today’s graduate” and “take part as artists and not as engineers.”
Portrait of a Graduate Director of Remake Learning, Sunanna Chand, began her presentation by introducing the tenets of Remake Learning, namely its emphasis on the “urgency for change,” along with its investment in generating and supporting “engaging, relevant, and equitable learning that focuses on doing, building, making, and applying what students have learned” in a “real world way” that appeals to students’ interests, passions, communities, and cultures. Of equal or greater importance, Chand emphasized, Remake Learning is also concerned with addressing and adapting to a “rapidly changing 21st-century workforce” increasingly impacted by automation and advancing technologies. Highlighting the scope of Remake Learning’s existing reach and community involvement, Chand challenged attendees to reflect on the notion of a “good learning environment” that incorporates educational approaches cognizant of a world that is “changing really fast,” and one in which educators and students “need to keep up.” In this world, “communication between educators and legislators is essential.” To emphasize this point, she asked the audience to imagine a hypothetical student learner and then, in a collective effort (table-by-table) complete the following sentence:
A Snapshot of K-12 Competency Education State Policy — 2019
Dr. Ken Bissell, Coordinator of Secondary Education, Greensburg Salem School District
State Representative Jake Wheatley
“To be prepared for a rapidly changing world, a young person graduating high school in southwestern Pennsylvania today should be _________.” After some initial brainstorming, facilitators helped participants formulate a composite image of a potential graduate. In the aftermath of this first breakaway session, Chand noted a “general consensus” across the groups regarding “what’s important” and then asked participants to take five minutes to consider and discuss what kind of “communication is necessary to realize this vision” and ensure ongoing dialogue about which skill sets are truly valuable to students. Following the activity, Chand noted that even schools in the Western Pennsylvania region increasingly look “radically different,” and offered local and regional educators in attendance a chance to share the particulars of changes within their school districts. A number of educators shared unique and forward-thinking approaches already applied or underway within their districts, including but not limited to the following: in-school apprenticeship programs in cooperation with local businesses/industries; STEAM programs that include an arts (‘A’) component amid technologically-focused programming; transformed and student-centered libraries and media centers achieved through grant submissions; CTE programs, and more.
Advanced States Those states with comprehensive policy alignment and/or an active state role to build capacity in local school systems for competency education. Developing States Those states with open state policy flexibility for local school systems to transition to competency education. Emerging States Those states with limited flexibility in state policy—usually requiring authorization from the state—for local school systems to shift to competency education, for exploratory initiatives and task forces, and/or with minimal state activity to build local capacity. No Policies in Competency Education States with no state-level activity and enabling policies for competency education. Significant policy barriers may exist, such as inflexible seat-time restrictions.
State Policy Workshop: Transforming K-12 Education So Every Student Can Succeed In her presentation, Maria Worthen, Vice President, Federal and State Policy, iNACOL, emphasized iNACOL’s goal to “provide national perspective” on the issue of education policy innovation, and to provide educators and lawmakers with technical assistance to aid policy work. According to Worthen, policy is a “lagging indicator” of what’s actually happening in schools and often fails to address what is needed within school systems. Nonetheless, there are cases in which “policy can make a significant difference,” and coordinated efforts hold the most promise. Worthen’s presentation highlighted the benefits of competencybased education, namely the use of “measurable, transferable, explicit learning objectives that empower students,” individualized learning supports, and the “development of important skills and dispositions.” In Worthen’s own words, “If we truly believe that all students can succeed with the same support, we can’t base our education system on a bell curve.” With this statement in mind, Worthen asked participants to reflect on the flaws of the traditional education system, create a composite sketch of a potential student, and review the five-part definition of competency-based education to inform their conversations. In response to this prompt, one participant State Representative George Dunbar highlighted the benefits of regular diagnostic testing over summative assessment. Another mentioned the benefits of report card alternatives (Kindergarteners earning badges instead of grades) and upper-level high school students formulating portfolios prior to graduation to showcase the skills they’ve cultivated. One attendee noted the high cost and potential pitfalls of individualized or personalized learning. Worthen characterized the increased implementation of personalized learning methods as a “total reframing” of the United States’ educational model, showing a progress map to demonstrate that “states have always had a great deal of ability to do things to advance personalized and competency-based learning.” Presenting a slide to the audience entitled “Continuum of Promising State Policies for Personalized Learning,” Worthen outlined the “three stages” of implementation on a continuum ranging from “States Getting Started,” “States Moving Forward,” to “States Taking a Comprehensive Approach.”
State Senator Pam Iovino and Dr. Denise Sedlacek, formerly the assistant superintendent of Baldwin-Whitehall School District
Following the presentation of this continuum, a short discussion unfolded regarding levels of state involvement within Pennsylvania. One attendee noted that Pennsylvania stands as an example in which, thus far, districts themselves have catalyzed meaningful change outside statewide intervention. Attendees discussed other states’ perceived successes and failures with regard to the implementation of pilot programs and task forces in West Virginia, Nevada, Idaho, and elsewhere. One participant advocated the creation of a forum dedicated to sharing innovations among superintendents. Another participant stressed the importance of taking inventory of state law while collaboratively rethinking how to use state tools (money, assessments, etc.) to advance education innovations.
Closing Remarks In her closing remarks, Mary Kay Babyak, Executive Director, Consortium for Public Education, reemphasized that “strong partnerships begin with collaboration and what’s missing is that we don’t have employers at the table with legislators and educational administrators. This is an important next step.” Babyak next demonstrated the multiple ways that the Consortium for Public Education has organized “Future Ready Partnerships” in conjunction with PNC to engage approximately150 employers and educators. Additionally, in collaboration with the Consortium, Duquesne Light Company has offered Student Boot Camps (three-week, out-of-school programs designed to offer intensive academic and technical work experience) and sponsors an Educator in the Workforce program (two-week internships for educators) as well as two programs designed to assist with workforce development (Career Awareness and Skill Development). Acknowledging the forum’s overriding purpose, Babyak ended her presentation by informing attendees that each of the forum’s sponsoring organizations has promised to fulfill next steps in an effort to encourage and assure increased dialogue between state legislators and educators. State Representative Austin Davis
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
Special Project: Criminal Justice Reform
Transforming Criminal Justice for a Fair, Cost-Effective System and a Safe Community In 2019, the Institute of Politics continued to facilitate progress in criminal justice reform through its ongoing partnership with Allegheny County and criminal justice system leadership.
Over the past year, the Institute and its Criminal Justice Progress Panel, which was charged by the County Executive with monitoring progress in implementing recommended changes and reporting to the public on that progress, engaged in a series of initiatives. In December 2019, the Institute sponsored “Repurposing Jails to Meet 21st Century Needs,” a conference devoted to promoting national best practices in jail use and programming. The conference featured national experts who examined the best practices of New York City and other jurisdictions in repurposing the use of jails, redesigning reentry programming, and addressing racial disparities. More information on this forum can be found in the summary in the next section of the annual report. In September 2019, the Progress Panel released its latest report highlighting local criminal justice reform advances. The report outlines the impact of the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge initiative in Allegheny County. Through the Challenge, the county has committed to achieving a 20 percent reduction in its jail population by September 2020 and a reduction in racial and ethnic disparities throughout the system. Also described is the Heinz Endowment’s generous commitment to criminal justice reform through $10 million in grantmaking, including generous support of the work of the Institute in this area. Finally, the report examines a local initiative funded by the Buhl Foundation and launched in Pittsburgh’s Northside neighborhoods, which approaches criminal justice through a community lens by means of relationship-based policing, public safety partnerships, and the establishment of neighborhood safety centers.
In the coming months, the Institute will continue to foster reform through three projects aimed at creating a more equitable and efficient criminal justice system, without compromising public safety. The first of these efforts will be to develop a credible plan in partnership with county and court leadership that provides a roadmap for making significant reductions in the population of the Allegheny County Jail based on local and national best practices. The second project will examine policies, practices, and outcomes at key decision-making points that may contribute to racial disparities, using both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The third initiative will analyze approaches to expanding and enhancing diversionary programming in Allegheny County, particularly for persons suffering from mental illness or substance use disorders. Through the efforts of the Institute and its community partners, Allegheny County has made significant progress in its jail population reduction goals. During its first year in the Safety and Justice Challenge initiative, Allegheny County achieved a seven percent reduction in the population of the Allegheny County Jail.1 Furthermore, through the expansion of the public defender’s pilot program of providing representation during preliminary arrangements, the use of monetary bond by magisterial district judges dropped 39 percent from 2018.2 Additional reforms from criminal justice leadership have resulted in 213 early terminations of probation, as well as 64 early probation violation hearings with the Common Pleas Court.3 These reforms and other efforts are designed to help expedite court processing in order to make further reductions in the jail population. The Institute and leadership within Allegheny County continue to be committed to sustain the progress that Allegheny County has already made and push for greater improvements to the county’s criminal justice system.
Allegheny County, Safety and Justice Challenge: Year One Report October 2018-October 2019 (Allegheny County, 2019), https://www.alleghenycounty.us/safety-justice-challenge/index.aspx.
Repurposing Jails to Meet 21st Century Community Needs
The Repurposing Jails to Meet 21st Century Community Needs forum was held on December 5, 2019 at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics.
In their opening remarks, Mark Nordenberg, Chair, Institute of Politics and Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, Allegheny County, first acknowledged the contributions of the Institute of Politics’ Criminal Justice Task Force and Allegheny County’s Criminal Justice Progress Panel over the past four years. They likewise commended the MacArthur Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and Buhl Foundation for their indispensable financial support and partnership in what Fitzgerald called Allegheny County’s unified goal to “preserve public safety while enhancing fairness, improving outcomes, and reducing costs.”
Chief Deputy Warden Laura Williams and Warden Orlando Harper, Allegheny County Jail
From L to R: Mark Nordenberg, Stanley Richards, Michael Jacobson, Jonathan Lippman, Elizabeth Glaser, Danyelle Solomon, Fred Thieman, Samantha Balbier and Aaron Lauer
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
One key dimension of the program was an examination of dramatic jail population reductions achieved in New York City, including the closing of the Rikers Island Jail. The first of the forum’s speakers from New York City, Jonathan Lippman, former Chief Judge, New York Court of Appeals and chair of the NYC Commission, offered an inspiring account of the “Close Rikers” movement, sharing his own set of operational principles related to grassroots organizing, Judge Jonathan Lippman advocacy, “credible planning” for long-term solutions, and practicing patience in the face of adversity. Relating the experiences and victories in New York City to Allegheny County, Lippman encouraged attendees to make “the ideal of equal justice a reality now, not in the future.” Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President, The Fortune Society, Inc. voiced his organization’s foundational values, as well as its “holistic, one-stop model” designed to provide comprehensive care and support for all those reentering society out of the criminal justice system. Emphasizing the need to “believe in the power of individuals to change,” Richards commented that reentry programs must make a “lifetime commitment” to public safety and those they serve while diversely staffing their facilities with those who can relate to the experiences of their clients.
In a presentation focused on “structural and systemic reform,” Danyelle Solomon, Vice President, Race and Ethnicity Policy, Center for American Progress, discussed opportunities to reduce racial disparities in Allegheny County and elsewhere by employing “targeted universalism,” eliminating “perverse incentives,” and using diversion programs and bail reform to reduce the prison population, particularly among the mentally ill and those accused or convicted of low-level, non-violent crimes. Michael Jacobson, Founder and Director, CUNY Institute for State and Local Governments, followed Solomon’s presentation by highlighting the need to implement “big system changes,” particularly by reducing arrests, expediting processing times, and creating legislation to reform probation policies on a national scale. Jacobson, expressing admiration for what Pittsburgh has already accomplished, urged attendees to continue to “remain aggressive and take on issues like probation” and budget management.
From L to R: Katy Collins, Chief Analytics Officer, Allegheny County Department of Human Services; Janice Dean, Director of Pretrial Services, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania; Erin Dalton, Deputy Director, Office of Data Analysis, Research, and Evaluation, Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Angharad Stock, Deputy Administrator – Special Courts, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
In the day’s final full-length presentation, Elizabeth Glaser, Director, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New York City, spoke on the subject of “Jails as Civic Assets.” Glaser emphasized the role of widespread “behavior change” as a driver in jail population reduction, Elizabeth Glaser along with concerted efforts to design jails that support the “dignity and reintegration” of individual inmates while functioning as accessible spaces for community activities and programming. In the forum’s closing remarks, Frederick Thieman, Henry Buhl, Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership, The Buhl Foundation, commented that the forum served to encourage attendees to “think big” about ongoing and potential changes to Allegheny County’s criminal justice system, characterizing the forum as yet another opportunity to continue to work towards “improv[ing] equity and fairness, and form[ing] true partnerships with the courts and criminal justice system to reduce costs, reinvest in the system, and enhance public safety.”
From L to R: Thomas McCaffrey, Administrator, Criminal Division, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania; Fredrick Hill, Child and Family Engagement Specialist, Amachi Pittsburgh; and Janice Dean, Director of Pretrial Services, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
ITIVE POL T FOR POS
: 30th ANNIV
TION RY PUBLICA
ERS 30T H AN NIV
IOP@30 IOP@30 is a retrospective report offering highlights from the Institute’s founding, its growth and development under former directors Moe Coleman, Dennis McManus, Randy Juhl, and Terry Miller, and its vision for the future under director Samantha Balbier and chair Mark Nordenberg. A downloadable version is available at iop.pitt.edu
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
In the Press Partnerships aim to make Allegheny safe from lead hazards Jill Daly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Summary The series of articles discusses the wide-ranging efforts of groups seeking to address lead in all forms in Allegheny County. The Institute’s Lead-safe Demolition Working Group, led by State Representative Dan Frankel and Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche, was contacted and is highlighted as a result of its work on a model demolition ordinance designed for use by municipalities to minimize contamination of soil, water, and air before, during, and after the demolition of older housing stock and other buildings that may contain lead.
“To help the county’s towns, finishing touches are being made on a model demolition ordinance being drafted for the coalition by the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh, according to Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche, co-chair of the institute’s lead-safe demolition working group. At the same time, she said, coalition members are considering a more cautious move: the introduction of options in demolition bid specifications. Options might control the higher cost of demolition under new rules, that otherwise might reduce the number of projects possible.”
Karen Pearlman: Lemon Grove faces calls to return to county rule to address mounting financial problems The San Diego Union Tribune Summary In trying to add a national context to its local examination of disincorporation, the San Diego Union Tribune turned to researchers at the Stanford Law School and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics to better understand the potential impacts of disincorporation on Lemon Grove, Calif. In 2017, the Voluntary Municipal Disincorporation Task Force, chaired by former Allegheny County Executives James C. Roddey and Dan A. Onorato, issued a report that provides a clear and concise roadmap for allowing for voluntary municipal disincorporation in Allegheny County. It is one of only a few resources available in the country for municipalities considering disincorporation. Lemon Grove is a small municipality in the suburbs of San Diego. Its growing financial struggles caused by rising pension and public safety costs and declining revenues have resulted in Lemon Grove officials and residents considering the first disincorporation in California in almost 50 years. As Lemon Grove decides its future, local and county leadership have begun researching and discussing what a potential disincorporation would mean for the Lemon Grove community.
Michelle Wilde Anderson, a professor of law at Stanford University and scholar of local and state government, said “disincorporation is not ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It’s not a solution for all kinds of problems, and it’s not right for all kinds of cities. It is just one option. Just like forming a city in first place, there is no set answer.”
Former Pennsylvania Governors Talk Politics, Civility and Leadership at Pitt Lecture Sharon Blake, 2019 Pittwire Summary As part of the American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series, former Pennsylvania governors Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell met in Carnegie Music Hall for a conversation on current political topics, compromise, and the importance of getting things done. Audrey Murrell, dean of the University Honors College, introduced the two governors by highlighting the importance of bipartisanship and focusing on the “common good.” Chancellor Gallagher also spoke, saying that the night was an incredible experience for all attendees to hear from such strong and experienced leaders. Moderator and WHYY-FM reporter Dave Davies asked questions about impeachment, leadership, and compromise. On the question of leadership, Governor Rendell said that it is important to compromise and get something done in Congress, to which Ridge agreed, highlighting his time as Pennsylvania governor working with Rendell, Philadelphia’s mayor at the time. Both governors emphasized the importance of civility and focusing on the needs of American citizens.
“Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher set the tone for the evening when he told the 600 or so attendees that the three former governors are “statesmen who represent sound, principled and ethical leadership” of the Commonwealth for 22 of the past 40 years. He said of the Lecture Series’ nearly 50 years of distinguished speakers: “I believe that tonight tops them all.””
Elected Officials Retreat
Forging Our Future Together: Addressing Rural and Urban Needs to Build a Stronger Region The 23rd annual Elected Officials Retreat, held September 20-21, 2019, featured a diverse range of presentations and panel discussions centered around the theme of “Forging Our Future Together: Addressing Rural and Urban Needs to Build a Stronger Region.” Over 150 elected and civic leaders from Western and Central Pennsylvania convened in the University of Pittsburgh’s University Club to discuss pressing policy-oriented concerns and launch much-needed dialogue regarding the discrete and shared predicaments affecting urban, rural, and suburban communities in Pennsylvania. Panels comprised of elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and members of Pittsburgh’s business community, articulated the perspectives of urban and rural citizens with the aim of identifying common values, aspirations, and opportunities for collaborative growth. As conversation unfolded, attendees and panelists praised the unique, idiosyncratic features of their home districts while gaining insights about daily life across Western Pennsylvania and identifying place-specific economic, educational, and social challenges.
Welcome, Program Overview, and Introduction
Pennsylvania: Current Outlook & Disruptive Demographic Trends
Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh, began his introduction by noting that the “validity and effectiveness of the Elected Officials Retreat” is demonstrated by the fact that it has successfully reached its 23rd year, continuing to offer a “safe space for public-private collaboration.” After congratulating the 2019 Moe Coleman award winner, Fred Thieman, noting his distinguished career in law, philanthropy, and public service and current role as the Chair of the Buhl Foundation, Gallagher offered earnest thanks to attendees for their “presence and willingness to engage together to tackle challenges” facing both urban and rural areas of Western Pennsylvania.
The retreat’s first presenter, Dr. Allan Parnell, Vice President, Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities, opened the day by outlining disruptive demographic trends across the United States and migratory patterns specific to western Pennsylvania, reflecting on attendant logistical challenges as well as potential opportunities for future positive trends.
Following Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s welcome, Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor Emeritus and Chair, Institute of Politics, University of Pittsburgh, extended his own thanks to those present at the retreat, noting the “quality” and scope of registrants. Thanking and remembering the legacy of IOP founder, Moe Coleman, Nordenberg also offered introductions and thanks to the new Director of the Institute, Samantha Balbier, as well as the Institute’s staff. Shifting focus, Nordenberg remarked that the urban vs. rural dichotomy is unproductive and divisive. Relating the 2019 theme to the 2016 Elected Officials Retreat (concerned with poverty), Nordenberg emphasized that “poverty is debilitating no matter where you are.” In her introduction of the first speaker, Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier emphasized that the structure of the 2019 retreat would depend on each presentation effectively leading into the next to create a more complete perspective and foster a “mutual understanding of the life experiences of residents across the region.”
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
In his initial discussion of disruptive demographic trends, Dr. Allan Parnell indicated that migration flows to the southern states account for over half of the population growth in the United States from 2010-2017. In contrast, Parnell highlighted that, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, rural areas in particular are losing young adults (a partial byproduct of economic recession), which contributes to a disproportionately older population. Discussing demographic phenomena more broadly, Parnell described via data the gradual “Browning” and “Graying” of America while also highlighted the advancement of women in American society, particularly through the pursuit and attainment of advanced degrees. The upside of all of these trends, according to Parnell, lies in the opportunity for “more inclusive and equitable economic development,” ensuring stronger, more competitive cities and greater per capita income. Rochelle McCain, Director of Public Interest & Government Relations, University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Sister Linda Yankoski, President & CEO, Holy Family Institute
Elected Officials Retreat PANEL DISCUSSION:
Urban Perspectives in Pennsylvania In her remarks prior to the start of the panel discussion, Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier asked panelists and attendees to reflect on the distinct challenges present in communities as well as “what can be done to unify urban and rural regions by identifying commonalities.” Moderator Lisa Schroeder introduced the panelists and discussed The Pittsburgh Foundation’s dedication to serving “urban, rural, and suburban areas,” and to developing a region in which “everyone shares in a revitalized economy.”
Urban Perspectives in Pennsylvania Panel Moderator: Lisa Schroeder, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation Participants: • Jay Costa, Democratic Leader, PA Senate • Majestic Lane, Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Equity Officer, Office of Mayor William Peduto, City of Pittsburgh
Panelists Majestic Lane, Diana Bucco, and Presley Gillespie
Jay Costa emphasized the importance of addressing barriers to employment, including public transit and transportation, as well as improved access to child care, and advocated for an increase in the minimum wage.
• Diana Bucco, President, The Buhl Foundation • Presley Gillespie, President, Neighborhood Allies
Themes addressed by the panel included: • Gentrification, rising rents and property taxes, and other housing issues • The opioid epidemic
Majestic Lane commented that parts of the city (in the south and west) are not receiving equitable levels of investment — whether public, private, or philanthropic — and noted that the mayor’s office is working to discover ways to catalyze growth in those areas. Diana Bucco recommended “starting from an asset base” when addressing community needs, and commented on the One North Side initiative’s priority on letting “people who live it every day” provide ideas for resolving pressing issues.
• Transportation and access to transit • Policies that benefit families
Continuing in that vein, Presley Gillespie spoke about “reducing the opportunity gap” and embracing a “people-centric” approach that builds community capacity and trust.
Open Discussion Responding to the issue of the outmigration of young people of color, one panelist remarked that creating and sustaining “ professional and social networks” for those young people, especially recent university or college graduates, is crucial. In discussing ways to stimulate a “sense of hope” in economically challenged communities, panelists reiterated the need to “allow solutions to rise up from neighborhoods and constituents themselves,” with outside organizations functioning as genuine “partners” helping to build a shared vision of community.
Rural Perspectives in Pennsylvania Moderator Jen Giovannitti began the panel discussion with a summary of her own work in the areas of post-secondary education, health, and poverty. Giovannitti asked the panel and audience to consider “how we can best create flow between urban and rural areas.”
Rural Perspectives in Pennsylvania Panel Moderator: Jen Giovannitti, President, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation Participants: • Albert “Chip” Abramovic, Commissioner, Venango County • Jem Spectar, President, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown • Camera Bartolotta, Member, Pennsylvania Senate • Joseph Scarnati, President Pro Tempore, Pennsylvania Senate
Themes addressed by the panel included: • The need for reliable broadband infrastructure • The opioid epidemic • The importance of criminal justice reform • Access to primary care and mental health treatment • Increasing postsecondary education opportunities
Albert “Chip” Abramovic discussed the value of the “getting to know your neighbor” culture present within his own county. He used a volunteer-based Allegheny River cleanup effort to illustrate his point, demonstrating how an ostensibly “negative” occurrence — pollution of a portion of a local river — generated a sense of unity in the community. Jem Spectar commented that certain essential institutions that seem to be in national decline (family, friends, churches, patriotism) remain strong in rural communities, but noted that the lack of internet connectivity exacerbates “the urban-rural divide,” making it difficult to retain millennials in rural areas and contributing to the “political fragmentation that threatens our democracy.” Camera Bartolotta discussed legislation that would give nurse practitioners the chance to work more autonomously, which “could most benefit those who are immobile in rural and urban areas,” but also gives nurse practitioners who specialize in child psychology and mental health issues the opportunity to work effectively in rural areas. She also mentioned the proposed “Mental Health Bed Registry” Bill; its aim is to create a registry to assist providers in finding available beds. Joe Scarnati addressed the issue of equitable education, asking “Why should rural students not have the same opportunities as urban and suburban residents?” He used the new Northern Pennsylvania Regional College as a template and example of a new opportunity for traditional and nontraditional students in the area.
Open Discussion During the panel’s open discussion, several attendees and panelists noted that broader policy initiatives could unfold to move these emerging local and regional strategies along on a national basis. The issue, one attendee claimed, is the “enormous costs involved,” and a lack of political support. Nevertheless, attendees agreed that internet access should be considered a “public good” and right. With regard to job training and placement, the Brockway Center (for Arts and Technology), a replication of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, was cited by multiple attendees as a model solution to the issue.
Camera Bartolotta, Jem Spectar, and Chip Abramovic
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
Elected Officials Retreat Place-Based Policies for Shared Economic Growth Jay Shambaugh, Director, The Hamilton Project; Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution; and Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, noted that massive gaps in outcomes exist across places (“best-” and “worst-” performing counties), and there remains a “huge amount of variance” even within ostensibly successful counties. The goal then, according to Shambaugh, remains “to make sure people have the opportunity to get jobs in places with lower amounts of opportunity.” In examining distinctions between urban and rural vitality, Shambaugh noted that rural counties lag (generally speaking) in resources and job opportunities, which is reflected in lower economic index scores. The biggest predictor of how a county is faring, according to Shambaugh, is education. In his own words, “The lack of a high school degree is the ultimate barrier to any type of opportunity for advancement.” Importantly, the least educated places surveyed in 1980 saw an impressive increase in high school education, but the current most educated places “extended their gains” in college education. In the next part of his presentation, Shambaugh focused on the intersection of (and “striking correlation” between) racial and regional inequality. Cataloging the ways that historical policies and developments like Jim Crow, residential segregation, and outright violence, disadvantaged African Americans in the 19th century and beyond, Shambaugh argued that the repercussions have carried into the present, manifesting as “unequal access to a safety net,” as well as unequal public education and criminal justice outcomes.
Shambaugh offered a number of research-based strategies as potential solutions. Suggestions included: • targeting existing grants on the basis of poverty and need (Shambaugh used the example of Medicaid and major education funding focused on poverty and employment rates); • matching universities with firms in struggling regions; and • applying comprehensive research from developing countries to struggling regions of the United States with the aim of increasing high school completion, health and nutrition outcomes, and improved connectivity amid gaps in infrastructure.
Open Discussion In the open discussion that followed, attendees raised concerns about the need for “family-sustaining jobs” as technological trends and the national economy shift. According to Shambaugh, in urban and non-urban areas, payment is fundamentally the same for those with only high school diplomas, whereas urban areas consistently pay more for those with college degrees. Additionally, conversation ensued indicating that patent activity is a strong indicator of how places are faring economically over time.
Karina Chavez, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Coalition for Higher Education and Mekael Teshome, Vice President and Senior Regional Officer, Pittsburgh Branch of the Federal Reserve Branch of Cleveland
Friday, September 20, 2019 Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier offered opening remarks on Friday, expressing the Institute’s determination to remain regional and committed to an ongoing investment in “understanding what’s really happening in the lives of those in rural and urban regions,” with the aim of “promoting dialogue about what communities have in common,” and what can be done to link and strengthen them further.
Developing Community Economic and Social Mobility John Friedman, Professor of Economics and International and Political Affairs, Brown University and Co-Founder, Opportunity Insights, focused his talk on shifting notions of “upward mobility” and the “Fading American Dream.” According to Friedman’s first graph, “the percentage of children earning more than their parents by year of birth” fell by 1980 to “no better than a coin flip.” Friedman emphasized that this discouraging data “lies at the heart of a lot of discontent in America,” leading to our present predicament: the need to “reverse this trend” and regard it as “one of the seminal policy changes of this era.” In an effort to address the question “What makes outcomes so different city to city?” Friedman endorsed the strategy of examining neighborhoods within cities, primarily using a tool called the “Opportunity Atlas.” According to Friedman, the fundamental discovery is that “in some places, children who grow up a quarter of a mile one way versus the other have dramatically different outcomes than other adults.” Seeking to demonstrate this point, Friedman played a clip from a National Public Radio segment discussing two adjacent neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York with wide disparities in family incomes. Friedman asked attendees to take “three lessons” from this case study: a) the significant causal effects of neighborhoods b) the ages at which it becomes very important to live in a community that supports upward mobility, and c) the significant changes made possible by “literally moving across the street.”
Quintin Bullock, President, Community College of Allegheny County
During the next part of Friedman’s presentation, he discussed experiments conducted in Chicago to test the efficacy of offering families a chance to “move to opportunity” via experimental housing vouchers. Although adults who moved to higher-opportunity neighborhoods saw essentially zero positive benefits, children (especially those under the age of 13) experienced steady gains as a result of their relocation; this manifested in increased earnings and college attendance rates. Friedman pointed out that those Chicago families who chose to relocate to neighboring, low-opportunity neighborhoods instead did so in part because 19
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
of a desire to be near family and friends, but also because of informational or logistical “barriers and constraints.” In conclusion, Friedman advocated “creating moves to opportunity” through three principal “treatment interventions”: offering families customized search assistance (five hours with a rental broker to assist in finding an apartment); direct landlord engagement; and offering short-term financial assistance to families (approximately $1,000). In Friedman’s work with Opportunity Insights, these measures have produced “dramatic changes” — a transition from 14% to 54% in families who were able and willing to move to higher opportunity neighborhoods. Qualitatively, feedback from participating families, Friedman shared, has been “universally positive.” In addition to these approaches, Friedman advocated place-based investments and improved higher education opportunities. Citing the University of Pittsburgh as an example of the latter, he showed a graph indicating that Pitt students from a wide range of parent income quintiles acquired very similar mean incomes beyond graduation, pointing to Pitt and other universities as important and necessary “equalizers.”
Open Discussion In the course of the subsequent open discussion and Q&A session, attendees asked Friedman questions regarding challenges or impediments to implementing his organization’s “moving to opportunity” strategy. Although some landlords voiced “unreasonable fears” along with “reasonable skepticism of bureaucratic processes,” he claimed that establishing an “insurance fund” for landlords, and working to educate them on the process, was highly effective. Other questions related to the impact of four- and two-year degrees. According to Friedman, on average, community colleges tend to produce slightly lower income outcomes than four-year colleges, but still considerably better than those who have not attended college at all.
Elected Officials Retreat PANEL DISCUSSION:
Investing in the People and Neighborhoods of Southwestern Pennsylvania In moderator Kenya Boswell’s introduction to the panel discussion on regional investment, she emphasized the necessity of transitioning out of the mindset that “all investments are good,” towards a more careful deliberation of which investments “provide family-sustaining jobs that people actually want.”
Investing in the People and Neighborhoods of Southwestern Pennsylvania Panel Moderator: Kenya Boswell, President, BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania Panelists: • Stefani Pashman, CEO, Allegheny Conference on Community Development • The Honorable Jake Wheatley, Member, Pennsylvania House of Representatives • Michael Kane, President and Executive Director, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies • The Honorable Dave Reed, Regional President, First Commonwealth Bank • The Honorable Jake Corman, Majority Leader, Pennsylvania Senate
Themes addressed by the panel included: • Equity and inclusion in the region • Corporate tax incentives and subsidies • Small business/entrepreneurial support • Education and training • Strategies to increase local investment Stefani Pashman spoke about the role of her organization in working to address issues of equality and inclusion, particularly by “building wealth in communities” and supporting black-owned businesses. Jake Wheatley remarked that after nearly twenty years of discourse, “we’re still struggling with the same issues” regarding the fair implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Wheatley asked attendees to Jake Corman and Jake Wheatley imagine being the resident of a neighborhood where a developing company resides, but remaining unable to reap the benefits of its presence and job opportunities due to economic or educational limitations.
Moderator Kenya Boswell
Michael Kane emphasized that his foundation is “taking a hard look at what our assets, strengths and needs are as a community” in an effort to “find a realistic but aspirational vision” and cited the foundation’s ongoing work to create more job coaching opportunities and startups (62 emerging startups in the county). Dave Reed emphasized the need to build and share knowledge between apparently disparate communities, noting that, “in Pennsylvania, we sometimes take a short-term approach to long-term, generational concerns. To do the opposite, we must implement the policies that have a long-term effect on the budget.” Jake Corman highlighted the “incredible diversity” of Pennsylvania; as a result, he claimed, it’s of paramount importance to develop strategies locally – ones that determine and offer what specific communities need. He also noted that since “private capital tends to flow like water towards the place of least resistance,” the goal is to use effective and innovative government policy to “knock down barriers” to allow capital to flow more freely.
Open Discussion During the robust discussion that followed, almost all who spoke emphasized the need for a “diversified portfolio,” beyond merely “huge plants and manufacturing.” Further comments from attendees included: • Pittsburgh ranks last in small business growth. • Pittsburgh needs to embrace a “creative mentality to create more vibrancy.” • Investing in “stable industries like food production,” especially ones that connect small farmers to local communities, restaurants, and food service companies, holds promise. • The city has “untapped people who have not been integrated into the economy” and who should be given an opportunity to help stimulate economic growth.
Elected Officials Retreat Building Connections to Reinvigorate Civil Discourse Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier expressed her desire to “shift gears” by moving from a more technical discussion to exploring “what is truly at stake if the urban-rural divide continues.” Balbier stressed that the fundamental goal of the Building Connections to Reinvigorate Civil Discourse panel is to highlight “tangible paths to overcoming some of that separation and isolation.” Purvi Patel, Director, Civic and Campus Engagement, University of Chicago Institute of Politics, spoke first regarding her experiences working to get students involved in their communities. Noting that the majority of student participants Purvi Patel were urbanites, she urged students to weigh sources of “media input” with the “lived experiences of those” different than them. One project for the students included observing a political focus group in which certain tropes repeatedly appeared. After discussing their observations with fellow students, a consensus formed that multiple constituencies felt “left behind” by virtue of race, faltering industries, and other factors. As a result, Patel emphasized to her students the value of simply listening to (and attempting to understand) a demographically “broad range of voices.” Savannah Barrett, Program Director, The Art of the Rural, and Co-founder, Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange, discussed the role of the tobacco, coal, auto manufacturing industries as drivers of significant out-migration in Kentucky. Barrett realized Savannah Barrett that this change “created an opportunity for communities to reinvent themselves” and to engage in meaningful cross-state collaboration, which manifested, in part, in the creation of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange. Barrett remarked that bias between urban and rural areas is primarily built on “lack of context” and understanding. Ada Smith, Institutional Development Ada Smith Director, Appalshop, and Co-facilitator, Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange, relayed that she was born in a “classic company town.” According to Smith, rural communities have been connected to large companies for many years, but after the mechanization of coal mines and subsequent job loss, many locals left. Citing the federally-funded “Community Film Workshop,” Smith relayed
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
how she formed Appalshop in an effort to encourage these new filmmakers to document Appalachian life; 22 full-time artists & cultural workers are currently a part of the program. The initial aim of Appalshop was to create relationships outside of the filmmakers’ immediate communities to “understand other communities better” and help them “understand us.” Initially skeptical of cross-state collaboration, the organization and its members eventually embraced the notion of “experiential relationship building.” In discussing the structure of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange, Barrett noted that the program accepts 75 members across the disciplines of arts, agriculture, community development, health, and other fields. According to Barrett, members hone “leadership and professional skills” and work to develop inter-cultural competency by “getting to know people in their own places.” Leaders in the program must value “diverse regions, people, and cultures and who can collaborate to achieve statewide prosperity.” According to feedback received thus far, members describe a “heightened sense of belonging and confidence they have the skills and resources necessary to enact change in their own communities.” In sum, Barrett remarked, the Exchange has coached 240 Kentuckyians from 42 counties so far and is receiving funding for the creation of case studies written for and submitted to the National Endowment for the Arts. The end goal, according to Barrett, has been to “level the playing field by investing in people in place,” and combat the “crisis of isolation by more urgently seeking social cohesion.”
Open Discussion During the open discussion that followed the panel, panelists fielded questions regarding how the Exchange’s leadership chooses its “intensives.” Barrett and Smith responded that, in some cases, it boils down to willingness: “Who wants to host us? Who is open to that exchange?” In terms of the process of the “intensives,” Smith emphasized that “first they become friends, share an experience, a meal and then build with stories” and a “story circle” methodology, discussing “traditions we’re proud of” within each respective community.
Closing Remarks Institute of Politics Chair, Mark Nordenberg, commented that the panel on “Building Connections to Reinvigorate Civil Discourse” was “the perfect way to end our two days together,” highlighting that the first day’s programming offered separate rural and urban panels whereas the second day appropriately “brought them together.” Nordenberg expressed an “upbeat feeling” in response to the retreat’s emphasis on “getting to know each other and thinking of how we can collaborate” without “leaving anyone behind.”
2019 Coleman Award winner
A confluence of knowledge and insight Thieman’s involvement in and commitment to the community at large, combined with his knowledge and experience from his time as the U.S. Attorney and as a board member at the Heinz Endowments, made him a natural choice in 2007 for the Buhl F oundation presidency, where he served until 2016. He appreciates the opportunity he has had at Buhl to examine tough issues through a community-wide lens, and continues those efforts today as the Henry J Buhl, Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership. Thieman credits his father with instilling in him the ability and the willingness to take on complex challenges. Growing up, he watched his father deal “consistently and gracefully” with serious health and financial issues, and says that those he admires most are like his father – and like Moe Coleman – in that they don’t shy away from difficult problems. He remarks, “Most problems don’t appear overnight, so it requires patience and persistence to solve them.”
As a young partner in the law firm Hilner, Thieman and Fraas, Frederick Thieman was involved in his community, and served on numerous boards; however, he was not active politically. As a result, he could not have been more surprised when he was nominated by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania in 1993. “It was like getting struck by lightning,” says Thieman, although, having served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and chief of the White Collar Crime Unit earlier in his career, he had experience that prepared him well. While the position hadn’t originally been a realistic career goal of Thieman’s, he was energized by the immense opportunity that it provided. “It was a real honor that opened a lot of doors.”
‘An irresistible ratio of effort to impact’ Thieman took advantage of the bully pulpit that his position provided and became an early advocate for reforms in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to juveniles. While he had appreciated the influence that the position would carry with those involved in law enforcement, he had not realized the weight it would carry with others in the community. “People returned my phone calls,” he said, and he could see how lives could be impacted if the broader community was more organized in providing opportunities for young people as alternatives to crime. As a result, he felt compelled to use his ‘bully pulpit’ to organize the Youth Crime Prevention Council, the first of its kind in the U.S. and his leadership in this area became a model for other U.S. attorneys. He continues to this day to advocate prevention as a key component in reforming the criminal justice system. As he continued to explore juvenile justice, he developed a greater awareness of the issues surrounding youth involved in the justice system — issues that could be addressed through education and human services. He also became familiar with the foundation community and, after he stepped down as U.S. Attorney in 1997, he was invited to serve on the board of the Heinz Endowments. He spent 10 years on that board, and notes that it was a tremendous opportunity to learn about both community issues and solutions from a broad perspective. He credits that Heinz service with providing him the perspective to understand the wide array of options available to address policy issues facing communities and organizations.
It was this lens that allowed him to explore another issue close to his heart: the barriers that immigrants and refugees face in the region. According to Thieman, not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also vital to the economic success of the region. In 2009, Thieman was one of the founding directors of Vibrant Pittsburgh, an organization dedicated to growing a diverse workforce and also serves as Chair of All for All, an initiative to make the region more welcoming for immigrants and refugees.
The importance of mentorship One of the most impressive pieces of Thieman’s public service is his commitment to mentoring the next generation of leaders. He notes that “probably more so than other regions, this region is open to young people getting involved.” Right now, it is particularly crucial for leaders to encourage and mentor young talent, as community elders of the boomer generation are retiring at a faster and faster pace. This is creating a void for new leaders, but they will need support. “Current leaders need to be willing to share the stage”, says Thieman, in order to help set up the new leaders for success in the future. He says he is seeing a lot of it now, but more can and should be done. And Thieman is certainly doing his fair share. This year alone, he is serving as the Hesselbein Leader in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Simultaneously, he is serving as the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum Ambassadors for Civic Engagement (ACE) Community Mentor, as the ACE fellows complete a project documenting the Buhl Foundation’s One Northside initiative, a place-based philanthropy model. In addition, he continues to mentor and advise a variety of nonprofit leaders and organizations.
A legacy of community-based first responders Reflecting on Moe’s legacy in the community, Thieman invokes the concept of a first responder. He notes, “Many people run from or try to ignore problems, but leaders like Moe, they run to the problems.” He also credits Moe with a unique willingness to commit to finding a long-term solution to the policy issues facing the region, rather than seek short-term solutions that don’t have a lasting impact. It is this legacy that Thieman hopes to carry through to the region’s next generation of civic leaders. 22
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
Board of Fellows
The Institute of Politics Board of Fellows comprises leaders from a cross-section of the community served by the Institute of Politics — elected officials from all levels of government; business, community, and foundation executives; and academics. It includes the cochairs of the Institute’s eight policy committees, members of the leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, as well as the University of Pittsburgh. The Board meets formally every spring but provides guidance on Institute projects throughout the year. Albert “Chip” Abramovic
Commissioner Venango County
Member Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Executive Director Allegheny County Parks Foundation
Member Pennsylvania Senate
Vice President Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
Council Member City of Pittsburgh
Kenyon Bonner Vice Provost and Dean of Students University of Pittsburgh
Frank Dermody Democratic Leader Pennsylvania House of Representatives
President BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania
President The Buhl Foundation
Member U.S. House of Representatives
Professor School of Law University of Pittsburgh
Dean and Distinguished Service Professor School of Nursing University of Pittsburgh
Senior Advisor Cohen & Grigsby P.C.
Director Allegheny County Department of Human Services
Partner-in-Charge of Global Community Service Initiatives Jones Day
G. Reynolds Clark Former Chief of Staff Office of the Chancellor University of Pittsburgh
Elizabeth Farmer* Dean School of Social Work University of Pittsburgh
Sylvia Fields Executive Director Eden Hall Foundation
Sheila Fine Chair Fine Foundation
Commissioner Rod Ruddock
Jake Corman Majority Leader Pennsylvania Senate
President and Chief Executive Officer Manchester Bidwell Corporation
Kevin Kearns Professor Graduate School of Public and International Affairs University of Pittsburgh
Chair Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
Matthew Smith President Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
Emeritus Professor of Health Policy and Management School of Public Health University of Pittsburgh
Member Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Morgan O’Brien President and Chief Executive Officer Peoples Natural Gas
Richard Taylor Chief Executive Officer Imbue Technology Solutions, Inc.
Frederick Thieman Henry Buhl Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership The Buhl Foundation
President The Heinz Endowments
Program Director of Education The Heinz Endowments
A. Samuel Reiman*
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
Mayor’s Chief of Staff City of Pittsburgh
Chair, Board of Directors The Pittsburgh Foundation
Former President Greensburg Campus University of Pittsburgh
Regional President First Commonwealth Bank
Member Pennsylvania House of Representatives
President Pro Tempore Pennsylvania Senate
Past President The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation
President Washington Greene County Job Training Agency
Senior Rabbi Temple Sinai
Commissioner Butler County
Democratic Leader Pennsylvania Senate
Former Commissioner Lawrence County
Director National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
County Executive Allegheny County
State Representative Austin Davis, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Craig talk with Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier
President Richard King Mellon Foundation
Rodney Ruddock Former Commissioner Indiana County
Lisa Scales President and Chief Executive Officer Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Michael Turzai Speaker Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Randy Vulakovich Former Member Pennsylvania Senate
Linda Yankoski* President and Chief Executive Officer Holy Family Institute
* New members as of 2019
The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy The American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series The American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series was created over 50 years ago to offer Pittsburgh’s mid-to-high-level managers the opportunity to gain insight into political and economic thought with the intent of enlightening the public’s political discourse.
October 1, 2019
The Honorable Thomas Ridge, 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania The Honorable Edward Rendell, 45th Governor of Pennsylvania Dave Davies, former senior reporter, WHYY radio (moderator)
“Reflections on Leadership, Governance, and Politics” In a conversation skillfully moderated by Davies, Governors Ridge and Rendell offered thoughts on leadership in an era of hyper-partisanship, shared stories from their experiences in state government, commented on a variety of current events, and presented suggestions for attendees looking to stay informed. For example, they recommended relying on a variety of media sources in order to better understand diverse viewpoints. They also stressed the importance of working together productively, both now and in future generations. This lecture was hosted by the Honorable Dick Thornburgh, 41st Governor of Pennsylvania, and sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Office of the Chancellor, the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy, and the University Honors College.
February 25, 2019 The Honorable Charles Dent, former member of Congress; political analyst and senior policy advisor, DLA Piper
“American Politics in the New World Order” During this evening lecture, Congressman Dent addressed his time in Congress and the various roles that he held while serving, including the difficult position of Chair of the Ethics Committee. He also discussed working with colleagues across the aisle and the challenges he faced as Congress and the country became increasingly partisan. Earlier in the day, Dent met with a group of Honors College students during lunch for candid conversation, which included a question-and-answer segment. This lecture was sponsored by the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy and co-sponsored by the University Honors College.
Governors Ed Rendell and Tom Ridge with moderator Dave Davies
The Thornburgh Family Lecture Series on Disability Law & Policy This lecture series was created through the generosity of Dick and Ginny Thornburgh as 2003 recipients of the $50,000 Henry B. Betts Award. No mission of Dick and Ginny Thornburgh’s is more important than expanding public understanding, institutional services and protections, and political voice of people with disabilities.
October 15, 2019 Ted Kennedy, Jr., Chair of the Board, American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
“The Future of Disability Rights” In his lecture, Mr. Kennedy took the audience for a walk down memory lane, honoring Dick Thornburgh for his crucial role as Attorney General and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990. Mr. Kennedy discussed the status of the ADA today, the progress that has been made, and the work that still needs to be done. Mr. Kennedy stated that one of the most significant products of the passage of the ADA is that it helped spark some change in perspectives. “Often it is not a person’s physical or mental condition that creates the disability,” he said, “but rather society’s attitude about that condition that is the largest barrier we face.”
The Discussions on Governance Lecture Series Established in 2013, the Discussions on Governance lecture series brings an array of speakers to the University of Pittsburgh campus to share their expertise on a variety of governance, public service, and disability-related matters.
March 19, 2019 David Shribman, Emeritus Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The Press, the Truth, and other Endangered Species” In his lecture, Shribman discussed the role of truth in journalism and the recent downturn of public trust in media reporting. He noted the responsibility that journalists have to conduct factual and accurate reporting, and distinguished between simply reporting facts and portraying an honest picture of news. “What is left for us to show, as journalists, as historians, as scholars in the world, is that the truth still matters,” Shribman said. The presentation was followed by numerous questions from the audience. This lecture was sponsored by the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy and co-sponsored by the University Honors College.
January 8, 2019 The Honorable D. Michael Fisher, Senior Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
“Separation of Powers: Who Should Decide What the Law Means?”
(From L to R) The Honorable Dick Thornburgh; Ted Kennedy, Jr.; and Ginny Thornburgh
Mr. Kennedy also provided suggestions for creating a more inclusive economy for individuals with disabilities. This lecture was sponsored by the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy and co-sponsored by Pitt Law, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the University Honors College and assisted by the University of Pittsburgh Office of the Chancellor.
In his lecture, Judge Fisher discussed the separation of powers and the rule of law, and provided descriptive examples of the role of each branch of government in the interpretation and enactment of the law. He described historical bills that were passed and added a quote that he has shared with his colleagues — “If you are a scrivener writing law, make sure you write the law the way you want the law interpreted. It must be written very clearly and exactly. If you don’t do that, someone else is going to interpret the law and that probably is the courts.” This lecture was sponsored by the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy and co-sponsored by Pitt Law and the University Honors College.
To learn more about the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Policy, and to view available lecture videos, visit www.thornburghforum.pitt.edu. 25
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
From L to R: Mark Nordenberg, Dave Davies, Samantha Balbier, Ed Rendell, Dick Thornburgh, Ginny Thornburgh, Tom Ridge, Audrey Murrell, and Pat Gallagher
Governor Thornburgh receives Elsie Hilliard Hillman Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Public Service The Elsie Hilliard Hillman Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Public Service is a tribute to noteworthy individuals who uphold Elsie’s legacy of meaningful public service — individuals like Governor Dick Thornburgh. As a lifetime friend and political ally of Elsie’s, Governor Thornburgh was present when Elsie Hillman herself received the first award, making this reception even more meaningful. In presenting the Governor with the award, Chancellor Emeritus and Chair of the Institute of Politics, Mark Nordenberg, praised the Governor’s integrity and his unwavering, “uncompromising commitment” to enacting positive change to the benefit of greater society.
Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Pat Gallagher present Governor Dick Thornburgh with the Elsie Hilliard Hillman Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Public Service at the October 1, 2019 American Experience lecture featuring former PA Governors Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell.
Chancellor Nordenberg highlighted some of Governor Thornburgh’s greatest roles, including his positions as Pennsylvania Governor, U.S. Attorney General, and Under-Secretary of the United Nations. Nordenberg elaborated on distinct accomplishments of the Governor, specifically his large, and personal, role in the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the conclusion of his presentation, Nordenberg described Governor Thornburgh as a “humble public servant” who always takes “his work seriously without taking himself too seriously.” Following Nordenberg’s remarks, Institute of Politics Director Samantha Balbier was joined by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Pat Gallagher and, to the sounds of deafening applause from the audience, presented Governor Thornburgh with the Elsie Hilliard Hillman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elsie Hillman Civic Forum Four Years of Preparing Future Citizen Leaders The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum connects students to the Institute’s network of elected officials and community leaders for meaningful, co-curricular and leadership opportunities that allow them to contribute to the betterment of the Southwestern Pennsylvania region while shaping leaders sculpted in Elsie Hillman’s image of servant leadership and courage of conviction for doing what is right. It also serves to add capacity to our region’s nonprofits and public offices as well as connect mentors doing good work in the community with each other, leading to new collaboration possibilities. The Forum hosts five student programs; three long-term experiential programs including the Ambassadors for Civic Engagement Fellowship, an academic yearlong graduate fellowship working as a team with one community partner; the Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program, an academic yearlong undergraduate program with a regional nonprofit; and the Institute of Politics Internship and Seminar Program, in which students spend a semester working in an elected official’s district office. The other two programs are one-day, introductory experiences for students to learn more about and connect with those who are involved in community engagement and public service. These include Never a Spectator, where students learn what they can do now to make a difference in their community and learn about the Elsie Forum programs, and the Legislator for a Day program, where students travel to Harrisburg to shadow a member of the PA General Assembly. Since the Elsie Forum provides student programming, it operates on an academic year, which means the Institute’s annual report straddles two academic years, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. For a more detailed report of the last academic year, please visit the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum website’s publications section.
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
Looking Back and Forging Ahead The Elsie Forum concluded its third year in April 2019, and by the academic year’s end, the Elsie Forum had engaged 170 students, 27 elected officials, and 35 community leaders in its programs. Students in the Elsie Scholars program contributed to areas such as increasing immigrant and refugee inclusion, affordable housing, LGBTQ resources, and sustainability and transportation, while the Elsie ACEs helped the Allegheny County Department of Human Services address treatment of those living with substance use disorders. Internship and Seminar students spent a semester interning with elected officials and engaging with constituent services, event planning, and policy research. A group of students interested in the political process saw it in action in Harrisburg, and over one hundred students were introduced to leaders from government, nonprofit and business world to discuss how to become and remain active citizens no matter your career or passion. Launching into the 2019-2020 academic year with lots of energy and great partnerships, the Elsie Forum has its new cohort of ACE Fellows and Elsie Scholars. The first semester of the Internship and Seminar has concluded, and the second semester ‘s placements have begun. The annual Never a Spectator event and Legislator for a Day experience will also take place in the spring 2020 semester.
Ambassadors for Civic Engagement Fellowship In 2018-2019, the ACE team got to work with Allegheny County Department of Human Services and its Office of Behavioral Health to develop a marketing strategy for the statewide “Get Help Now” initiative, a centralized resource that helps people living with substance use disorder know their treatment options and connects them to those services. The graduate team boasted talents from the public health, medicine, and research fields focusing specifically on addiction, and featured Gina Edwards, GSPIA student with a focus on public administration and public health; Amy Kennedy, a Master of Science in Clinical Research student and an addiction physician; and Allison Reed, another GSPIA student with a focus in International public affairs and human security who had substantial undergraduate research with the opioid epidemic. After conducting market research and surveying both healthcare providers and the community, the team developed a communication advisory plan that recommended a campaign design, target audiences
as well as media examples that ACDHS will use to inform their communication strategy and marketing campaign in the next year. Looking forward to this year’s class of Elsie ACEs, the Elsie Forum partnered with The Buhl Foundation. The program started in October 2019, and the team will help Buhl define their place-based philanthropy strategy, known as One Northside, in the 18 neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s Northside. While investigating the methods Buhl used, students are learning more about community organizing, systems policy change, and philanthropy. We’ve selected five students to pursue this work from a variety of backgrounds including civil engineering, social policy, business administration, health policy, and public and nonprofit management. Students are expected to develop a report that will allow Buhl to understand their own strategies and methods as well as communicate the progress made so far to the Northside community.
Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program Each year, Elsie Scholar applicants tell the Elsie Forum which social issues that they care about and want to help address within the region, and then the Forum places finalists with organizations that address that issue to join them in developing a project over the academic year. Last year, seven Elsie Scholars worked to help their organizational partners address issues such as financial inclusion in underrepresented communities, affordable housing, immigrant and refugee inclusion, environmental issues, sustainability and transportation, mental health funding, and LGBTQ resources. This year’s Elsie Scholars have gained a solid understanding of their organizations and each one’s mission, stakeholders, and the community it serves in the first few months. They’ve also begun work on defining their project, which they will implement in spring 2020. As it does every year, the Forum has partnered with impactful organizations to give students the amazing opportunity to contribute to their missions and the community.
Elsie Hillman Civic Forum Manager of Student Programs Meredith Mavero (center) with the 2018-2019 Elsie Scholars (L to R: Saket Rajprohat, Zuri Kent-Smith, Courtney Davenport, Scott Glaser, Kathryn Fleisher, Teresa Leatherow)
Elsie Scholar Partners 2018-2019 ACTION-Housing, Inc.
“I feel like I learned so much about not only myself, but also the City of Pittsburgh, immigrant and refugee issues in the country/region, community organizations, and more. This was hands down one fo the best and most influential experiences I have ever had.” — Kathryn Fleisher, Politics & Philosophy and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies
Denny Civic Solutions Pennsylvania Environmental Council PERSAD Center Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office: Welcoming Pittsburgh Feyisola Alabi, mentor, Welcoming Pittsburgh (left), Kathryn Fleisher, Elsie Scholar (right )
“I strongly believe in education, whether formal or informal, because I see it as the foundation to becoming great. The more knowledge we gain, the more we can share with others. Elsie was strong in her beliefs, and she worked hard for what she believed in. In this way, I believe I am very much like her. I believe that the lack of financial resources shouldn’t stand in the way of people accomplishing great things, and I want to change that.” — Courtney Davenport, Health Services Courtney Davenport, Elsie Scholar (left) and Victoria Goins, her mentor (right)
Traffic21, Carnegie Mellon University Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh 2019-2020 Allies for Children Center for Victims Healthy Start, Inc. Literacy Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Environmental Council Steel Smiling Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) 28
Never A Spectator: A Civic Engagement Forum
Spring 2019 Internship and Seminar students
Institute of Politics Internship and Seminar Program For 30 years, the IOP has offered undergraduate students the opportunity to work in an office of an elected official. The program has over 750 alumni, and 34 additional students joined that group last academic year. In addition to interning at an office, students learn the historical, social, and economic context of Western PA politics during a weekly seminar taught by two experienced government affairs professionals. The program also awards the most outstanding intern each term with the Ann M. Dykstra Scholar Intern Award, which is determined by placement evaluations and the seminar performance. In 2018-2019, this award was presented to Grace Nelson, a junior political science and English Literature major, and Aaron Hill, a senior majoring in urban studies Dykstra award winner Aaron Hill with instructor and political science. In recent years, Nello Giorgetti the IOP internship program has focused on increasing its number of female legislator placements, and it has been successful, adding five new placements with elected officials who are women. 2018-2019 IOP Internship Placements U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) PA State Representative Ed Gainey (D-District 24) U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle (D-District 14) PA State Representative Dan Miller (D-District 42) U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb (D-District 17) PA State Representative Jake Wheatley (D-District 19) U.S. Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (R-District 14) Pittsburgh Councilwoman Debra Gross (D-District 7) U.S. Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-District 12) Pittsburgh Councilman Bruce Kraus (D-District 3) PA State Senator Jay Costa, Jr. (D-District 43) Pittsburgh Councilman Daniel Lavelle (D-District 6) PA State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-District 42) Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor (D-District 5) PA State Representative Austin Davis (D-District 35) Pittsburgh Councilperson Erika Strassburger (D-District 8) PA State Representative Dan Deasy (D-District 27) Jennifer Beer, Vice President, Government Relations, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce PA State Representative Dan Frankel (D-District 23)
University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics
On February 28, 2019, over 100 students took a break from their mid-term studies to attend the fourth annual Never a Spectator Civic Engagement Forum and connected with 25 of our region’s most prominent leaders, including city and state leadership, award-winning journalists, representatives from Pittsburgh’s booming start-up community, as well as leaders within the University of Pittsburgh. Students engaged in small group discussions to learn about the leaders’ civic journey and gain insights on how they, too, can shape their own path of lifelong service and contribution to the community. The 2019 keynote speaker, Shawn Robinson, Founder and President of Orange Arrow and former Pitt football player, delivered an engaging speech on embracing the detours that happen in life and remaining motivated and flexible to make a difference in your community. “Failure isn’t a denial, it’s Mentor Daryn Ellerbee (R) talks with a a delay,” he said. Often times student at Never a Spectator 2019 failure just means you need to recalibrate. To illustrate this point, Shawn gave the analogy of failing to make a turn while driving with a GPS. Instead of ceasing to work, it would recalculate to get you where you need to go. He also mentioned that you have to work for what you want and believe in. “We all have the same amount of time in a day, and it’s up to you choose between spending time and wasting time.” After his talk, many students expressed how inspired they felt to continue with their passions and this message was particularly welcome during mid-terms. In addition to Shawn’s motivational speech, students were inspired by the incredible legacy of Elsie Hillman and how the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum programs empower students to make significant contributions to the region just as Elsie did. Mark Nordenberg with State Representative Valerie Gaydos
Following the keynote, the room buzzed with conversation as discussions between students and the region’s leaders, also known as community mentors, began. As in past years, each student talked with a mentor from the government, nonprofit, and private sector about their path to leadership. New this year, students also connected with a Pitt mentor who represents Pitt’s
“This was my third year attending the Never A Spectator event, and I continue to be impressed. I like how the event allows me to network with Pittsburgh’s elite, and it makes city leaders accessible. My most memorable conversation was with Mila Sanina, the Executive Director of PublicSource. She shared how advocates should think about their personal connection to an issue, which she described as your “why” story. As someone who wants to have a career in environmental policy, Mila told me to share with others how my great-grandfather worked in the coal mines of West Virginia for 36 years. Her advice showed me how I can become a stronger advocate as I seek to become a policymaker and implement sustainable practices in state government.” — Sam Ressin, Economics and Statistics
Mentor Richard Taylor and student Zuri Kent-Smith
growing civic and community engagement initiatives. Mentors felt re-energized by their discussions with students, and many of them commented on how impressive the students were and how many of them had the same hopes and dreams that they had at their age. It was heartening to see so many young leaders pursuing their dreams and gain momentum in success faster than they did. As the evening concluded, students and mentors left the event with the spirit of Elsie flowing through them, and the motivation to continue chasing their dreams with the confidence that if roadblocks present themselves, they can re-calculate and achieve their goals for the community.
Never a Spectator keynote speaker Shawn Robinson
Student and IOP Intern Kelly Tarnovski with Jeaneen Zappa, community mentor
2019 Legislator for a Day participants pose with Roc in the Capitol Rotunda
Legislator for a Day Eleven students had the opportunity to travel to Harrisburg and shadow members of the PA General Assembly on March 26, 2019. From the moment the students entered the Capitol building, they gained important insight into the roles of state representatives and senators. Students were struck with the fast pace of a Session-day schedule as the morning found most of them running with their legislator from meeting to meeting. They also saw the operations of the Capitol and were introduced to those who work there, including other elected officials. Building such connections in Harrisburg was often cited as the students’ favorite part of the experience. The opportunity to meet and speak with various members of the PA General Assembly, watch lawmaking in real time while seated in the House and Senate chambers, and view the inner workings of the General Assembly through various committee meetings allowed students to truly get a sense of what working in the Capitol entails. They can use these experiences to get more involved and operate more effectively within the political system. “During the University of Pittsburgh’s Legislator for a Day Program 2019, I had the privilege to shadow Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Frankel (PA-23rd Legislative District). Throughout my day at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, I was able to witness, firsthand, the myriad of tasks a legislator must juggle at one time. From the very moment I arrived, I encountered Representative Frankel, and his staff, already hard at work. In fact, I had only spoken to Representative Frankel for a little while, when the first group of students from Pitt Day in Harrisburg arrived. As I observed his interaction with these students, who all reside within his constituency, I saw his genuine care for what they had to say. I witnessed how many important aspects are involved under the umbrella of the legislative process; the most Legislator for a Day participant Noah Rubin (R) meets Governor fundamentally paramount of which is Tom Wolf (L) while shadowing that everything is about people. Seeing State Representative Dan Frankel this one, small exchange, Representative (center) Frankel embodied everything I needed to know about the political world. Being able to spend the day shadowing someone who is currently doing what I want to do one day was incredibly rewarding. That, combined with the opportunity to see such places as the House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chamber, and meet such people as other State Representatives and Senators, and the Governor, made the Legislator for a Day Program a constructive and worthwhile experience.” — Noah Rubin, Political Science & History 30
710 Alumni Hall 4227 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15260 Tel 412-624-1837 Fax 412-624-1141 iop.pitt.edu
Samantha Balbier Director Briana Mihok Senior Policy Strategist Aaron Lauer Senior Policy Analyst Meredith Mavero Manager of Student Programs and Community Outreach David Ruvolo Office Manager Stephen Jarrett Literary Researcher and Writer Brittny Klinedinst Undergraduate Intern Olivia Kruger Undergraduate Intern Mark Nordenberg Chair and Chancellor Emeritus
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