Ambassadors for Civic Engagement (ACE) Fellowship 2018-19

Unique opportunity to work on a targeted marketing campaign

The Ambassadors for Civic Engagement (ACE) Fellowship provides an opportunity for graduate students to apply their education and skills to contribute to and improve the quality of life of people living in the Pittsburgh region through a long-term experiential fellowship with a community partner that works in public policy, governance, community organizing and activism, or philanthropy. 

Two diverse and highly competitive graduate-level ACE Fellows from a wide-range of backgrounds will work as a team with a community partner to address a specific organizational, policy, or community issue while increasing their social responsibility, heightening their understanding of human diversity, and learning from their peers.

2018-2019 Community Partner

This year, we partnered with the DHS Office of Behavioral Health.

Project Deliverables 

The ACE Fellows worked with the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services in the DHS Office of Behavioral Health. They developed a marketing campaign around the “PA Get Help Now” phone number for people seeking drug and alcohol substance abuse users to call to receive treatment. 

Project Mentor

Denija DuCasse - Drug and Alcohol Community Outreach Coordinator

When was this fellowship offered?

It's offered every academic year, and in 2018-19, the fellowship ran from January 2019 through June 30, 2019.

Meet the 2018-2019 ACE Fellows

Gina EdwardsGina Nicole Edwards
School: Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
Degree: Masters of Public Health

Over the last decade, restless feet and a longing for new experiences propelled Gina from her small-town life in rural Ohio to various US, European, and South American temporary homes in search of her professional mission.

Starting out as a journalism and Spanish undergraduate student in the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University, Gina bore witness to others’ lives and relayed their stories to the world. She managed, wrote, and edited online and print magazines covering a range of culture and lifestyle topics in Southeast Ohio and beyond. Studying abroad in Toledo, Spain ignited her thirst for adventure (and red wine), leading to a travel writing excursion across Western Europe the following summer. Though all signs at the time pointed to a career in communications, something was missing: the chance to directly impact others’ lives.

An opportunity to do national service changed Gina’s professional trajectory. After graduation Gina entered the AmeriCorps program, and completed two terms of service as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor –– one in South Florida and another in Boston, Massachusetts. There she worked with students from around the world, and developed a renewed passion for Latin American culture as well as a deeper understanding of the issues faced by immigrants to the United States.

With some survival Spanish in her pocket, an ESL teaching certificate in hand, and a desire to connect more intimately with Latin American culture, Gina booked a one-way ticket to Santiago, Chile. There she worked at an education social enterprise, spending two years combing the urban landscape on a rickety bicycle and teaching English to both corporate clients and opportunity youth. Her students’ diverse experiences and life stories continued to fuel Gina’s desire to work in public service. But the question of how exactly she could make her mark remained.

The fast-paced nature of a startup with a social mission intrigued Gina, who started to wonder how these seemingly disparate sectors of business, government, nonprofits, and community organizations could better work together to solve social issues. Gina’s love of human connection, creative problem solving, and a desire to work on social justice issues from a new perspective inspired her decision to attend graduate school for public and nonprofit management.

In the spring of 2018, Gina entered the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. As a student in the Master of Public Administration program, Gina’s interests in specifically affecting public health practice and policy emerged. Gina’s lived experiences with mental health challenges inspired further study into those of marginalized communities, underscoring persistent issues of stigma, discrimination, and insufficient services and education.

Now, as an Ambassador for Civic Engagement Gina aims to work with current public health practitioners and community members to better support those facing mental and behavioral health challenges in innovative ways. Gina hopes to incorporate her passion for creative arts and literary expression into future work for a healthcare or nonprofit organization focused on mental health and wellness for all.


Allison ReedAllison Reed
School: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs  
Degrees: Master of Public & International Affairs, Human Security Major 

Allison Reed is a second year MPIA Human Security major at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Allison is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, where she received her Bachelor of Science majoring in Public Policy.

As a lover of travel and history, she has an intellectual curiosity that knows no bounds and drives most of her academic pursuits. The majority of her study has been focused on policy and programming in relation to civilians in fragile and failing states; specifically, focusing on those conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Allison has exhibited a commitment to human rights and reduction of human suffering both domestically and internationally. This passion lead her to interning for the United States Department of State at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Office of Multilateral Coordination and External Relations (MCE). This experience has driven her to bring the skills acquired at the State Department back home to address one of the most pervasive and pressing issues in Pittsburgh today.  

She is Pittsburgh native who is the middle child of two siblings; unless you count the family dog, who is most certainly the baby of the family. As a Pittsburgher, she is a Pens fan by blood and pierogi lover by taste buds.  

Past ACE Placements