Never A Spectator: A Civic Engagement Forum

Never a Spectator 2022

Date: Friday, November 11
Time: 4:00-7:00 PM
Location: University Club
Keynote: Taking Big Leaps One Step at a Time with Leah Lizarondo, CEO and Co-Founder of 412 Food Rescue

Check back soon for additional details and our list of confirmed mentors.

Why Attend

The Never a Spectator Civic Engagement Forum is a unique opportunity for Pitt students to network with some of the region’s most prominent leaders, including leaders from government and politics, foundation executives, and nonprofit and business leaders. Students join these visionaries and mentors for an evening and dinner reception devoted to sharing a vision for public service, inspiring action, and developing the pipeline of leadership needed to foster sustainable growth and regional transformation as Pittsburgh continues to evolve as one of America’s premier cities. 
During the event, students learn about the incredible legacy of Elsie Hillman and engage in small group discussions with their community mentors from the nonprofit, business, and government sectors to learn how they can jumpstart their own community involvement and make a positive impact. 


  • Connect and grow relationships with established regional leaders
  • Learn how you can make a difference by getting involved with civic engagement programs at Pitt
  • Earn Outside the Classroom Curriculum (OCC) credit - Leadership Development


All University of Pittsburgh students pursuing any major or degree are welcome to register and attend. 

Keynote Speaker

photo of Leah Lizarondo, CEO and Co-Founder, 412 Food RescueLeah Lizarondo is the CEO and Co-Founder of 412 Food Rescue, a social enterprise with a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that aims to fight hunger and promote sustainability by preventing perfectly good food from entering the waste stream and directly distributing to organizations that benefit those who are food insecure. Founded in 2015, 412 Food Rescue is one of the fastest-growing food recovery organizations in the U.S. Creating the infrastructure for national retailers, 412 Food Rescue has prevented over 7 million pounds of food from going to waste via technology that mobilizes over 8,000 drivers in 5 cities --food rescue heroes--the largest volunteer food transport network. 412 Food Rescue's innovative distribution model bridges the last mile and significantly impacts access and food security as well as mitigates food waste’s impact on the environment. By redirecting surplus food about to go to waste, 412 Food Rescue responds to SDG Target 12.3 - to halve per capita food waste by 2030, as well as redirects perfectly good food to organizations that serve those who are food insecure, responding to SDG 2. Food waste is one of the major sources of carbon emissions and wastes significant natural resources. By redirecting food from going to landfill, the organization also helps mitigate climate change, responding to SDG 13.
Set to expand globally, Leah’s work at 412 Food Rescue has been featured in national media including NPR, Fast Company, FoodTank, Martha Stewart Living, Food & Wine, Saveur, Organic Life, Bust Magazine, Redbook, Success Magazine and Civil Eats. In April 2014, she gave the TEDx Talk “Why the Farm Is Not Getting to the Table.” Leah was named in FoodTank‘s “17 Food Heroes to Inspire Us in 2017" and in 2018 she was named "Pittsburgher of the Year" by Pittsburgh City Paper. Additionally, 412 Food Rescue was recognized as Pittsburgh Tech 50's "StartUp of the Year" in 2018 and received the Carnegie Science Award for Information Technology in 2019 - making it the first social enterprise to receive both awards.
Leah received her graduate degree in Public Policy & Technology from Carnegie Mellon University. She serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at the Block Center for Technology & Society at Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She was born and raised in the Philippines and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sustainable Development Goals 2 (zero hunger), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13 (climate action).

2022 Community Mentors

Check back soon for our list of confirmed mentors.

Graduating from being a spectator to being spectacular.

On March 11, 2021, over 100 students and mentors joined the Elsie Forum to talk with each other about advocacy and activism. Our keynote speaker, Emmai Alaquiva, talked about graduating from being a spectator to being spectacular.

These were his five steps on how to go from being a spectator to being spectacular:

  1. Knowledge of Self
  2. Establish your Attributes
  3. Discover the Possibility
  4. Allyship & Advocacy
  5. Activate your Actions

In case you missed the event, check out Emmai's powerful keynote below.