Ambassadors for Civic Engagement (ACE) Fellowship 2019-20

Unique opportunity to work at the intersection of place-based philanthropy, community engagement, and public sector systems change

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. 

Five 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.

2019-2020 Community Partner

This year, we partnered with The Buhl Foundation.

Project Deliverables 

The ACE Fellows worked with the The Buhl Foundation, and in particular Buhl’s One Northside initiative, to develop formal documentation of their innovative “place-based philanthropy” model. It was their hope that this model can be more clearly documented and articulated through a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics and the Elsie Hillman ACE Fellows Program.

Project Mentor

Frederick W. Thieman, Esq., - The Henry Buhl, Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership and former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of PA

When was this fellowship offered?

It's offered every academic year, and in 2019-20, the fellowship ran from January 2020 through June 30, 2020.

Meet the 2019-2020 ACE Fellows

Arturo AmadeoArturo Amadeo
School: Graduate School of Public Health & Katz School of Business
Degrees: Master of Health Administration & Master of Business Administration

I am known for being persistent in achieving my goals, lending a helping hand, and my genuine passion for the healthcare industry. For the past three years I have enhanced my skills by working various sectors of the industry such as insurance, inpatient and outpatient hospitals. Ultimately, I look to apply my public health knowledge and experience to improve the overall healthcare system.
I graduated from Duquesne University with a major in Health Management Systems. Currently, I am pursuing a joint degree from the University of Pittsburgh with a Master of Health Administration from the Graduate School of Public Health and a Master of Business Administration from the Katz School of Business. My passion for healthcare, as well as my educational background and professional experience, are all critical components of my mission to develop a more effective health system.


Adriana BowmanAdriana Bowman
School: Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
Degree: Master of International Development with concentration in social policy

I am originally for Lexington, SC. I graduated with a Bachelor of Economics from the University of South Carolina’s Honors College. I like to volunteer in whatever community I am in, especially when I am abroad. I have travelled and lived extensively abroad in countries including China, Japan, and India. I have volunteered a community gardens, recycling plants, English language schools, math departments, etc. My ultimate goal is to utilize my commitment to public service and community engagement in a career in international development. 


Elizabeth Hernandez Elizabeth Hernandez 
School: Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
Degree: Master in Public Administration with a major in policy research and analysis (Pitt School of Law applicant) 

I am Elizabeth Hernandez-Pease. I am originally from Grove City, Pennsylvania, which is a super small town about an hour away from Pittsburgh. Growing up in a small area I always knew there was much bigger things out in the world. So, I did a lot of traveling. I have been to places all the way from Dimboola, Australia to Vienna, Austria. When I am home, I spend my time going to my favorite musical theater performances like Les Misérables or watching Oscar nominated films!  After graduating high school, I attended Slippery Rock University, which is practically in the backyard of my hometown. I got heavily involved in the community during my undergraduate career. I always believed even the smallest contributions make a difference in your community. Attending school board meetings, city council meetings, volunteering on community clean-up days, helping people to register to vote are all small things I have participated in through the years. My biggest community accomplishment is when I facilitated and created the first student-run food pantry for our campus. This pantry helps alleviate food insecurity for many students. In a larger sense, I believe community development is the core to progressing the greater population. Therefore, in any community I would like to contribute to decreasing food insecurity, increasing voter turnout, and provide more cultural events. 

Currently, I am a student in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) and I am pursing a Master of Public Administration with a major in policy research and analysis. I love for all things law, politics, and public affairs. I hope to get a law degree on top of my master’s degree. With my degrees I would like to get involved in immigration law. I want to help change the system of immigration and the pathway to citizenship for the United States. One of the amazing things Elsie Hillman accomplished during her time as social activist was helping propel women and minorities into elected offices. I find myself relating to Elsie on a personal level because I am a very proud Mexican American citizen and in a few years down the road I plan to run for some level of public office to contribute to the representation of minority women. While I am furthering my academic and professional goals, I strive to follow the incredible path and elegance Elsie Hillman had. 


Prem RajgopalPrem Rajgopal
School: Swanson School of Engineering
Degree: Civil Engineering with a sustainable focus

Hello, my name is Prem (think of a window frame but with a p instead of an f) and I am a Masters student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Civil (Sustainable focus) Engineering.

I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and proudly call myself a Yinzer (GO STILLERS). I have family all across the world, but here in Pittsburgh, my household consisted of my older brother, my mother, and my father. My brother works for the Department of Defense, my mother is a school district’s business administrator, and my father is a professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. With such an achieving family, I’m eager to leave my own mark in making the world a better place.

From a young age, I have always been interested in a wide intersection of subjects. Whether math and physics or economics and writing, I often struggled with finding out what I wanted to do. 

I eventually decided to study Mechanical Engineering as I wanted to apply my love for math and physics to create tangible solutions to human problems. For my undergraduate degree, I went to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 

Studying mechanical engineering taught me a lot. Although I had initially been enthralled by the science and it’s direct applications, I soon learned through work experience that I wanted to do more than solve technical engineering problems. I wanted to help solve societal problems at every level possible. 

A fellow engineer and good friend of mine once told me that a good lens to view the world through is that of systems thinking. Whether the system is your university, your community, or even your whole planet, one has to think about how action can actually change the system for the better.

With all of this in mind, I decided to continue my education by going for a Masters in Civil (Sustainable focus) engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. I’ve loved my classes so far but I’ve also tried to do what I can outside of the classroom to better improve these systems I interact with on a daily basis.

Some things I have plugged into are the University of Pittsburgh Graduate Student Union campaign, the community garden in Wilkinsburg, and the Sunrise Movement. I view these as ways to directly improve my university, community, and planet respectively.

When I’m not at work, I love to play basketball, play bullet chess, and listen to lots of music. I’m an introvert by nature but I derive a lot of pleasure from meeting new people and interacting with my friends and family.

Overall I’d like to consider myself a well rounded individual whose perspective contains intersections of various lenses and I look forward to applying myself to serve the common good.


Aaron SimsAaron Sims
School: Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
Degree: Master in Public Administration with a major in public and nonprofit management

My hometown is New Philadelphia, Ohio, and I moved to the Pittsburgh area five years ago for my undergraduate work at Robert Morris University. At Robert Morris University, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in legal studies. Currently, I am in my first year of graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA). I am working towards a Master of Public Administration with a major concentration in public and nonprofit management. At Pitt, I am involved with the Center for Metropolitan Studies. Within my community, I have been elected as Inspector of Elections, serving from 2017-2018. I also served as a Regional Field Director for a national political party in the Pittsburgh area that also included Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer counties in 2018. I am active with expansion of voter rights through voter registration drives, as well as voter education. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling to new places, often times practicing my photography skills. 

Past ACE Placements