Fellows in Public Affairs

The Fellows Program in Public Affairs is a talent development program for next generation leaders who have a passion to make a positive impact in their communities. It requires a great deal of experience and time for individuals to develop the skills and social networks to become leaders that are effective at crossing boundaries to enact change. The goal of the fellowship is to accelerate the development of cross-boundary leadership skills and build networks in young adults so that they can take advantage of opportunities to catalyze positive change sooner in their careers.

Coro selects early career individuals (21-35 yrs old) from all sectors and socio-economic backgrounds who have high potential to become the next generation of leaders. These high potential leaders have four basic characteristics:

  1. Passion for impact – a burning desire to make a difference in the world, a personal sense of mission, and a willingness to commit to a set of ethical values.
  2. Genuine curiosity – a deep desire to think and behave in new ways.
  3. Courage – a high tolerance for emotional and intellectual discomfort, a willingness to be vulnerable for the sake of genuine learning and growth
  4. Intellectual thread – An interest in a particular topic, theme or problem of relevance to their community, the region, or the world.
  5. Postsecondary degree – Each year, sixty-four graduates from colleges and universities around the world are chosen to become Coro Fellows. Selection includes a day-long assessment at each center’s city. Coro Pittsburgh admits twelve Fellows.


2014-2015 Cohort of Coro Fellows

Berenise Bermudez

Hometown: Highland, California

Education: Bachelor of Art in Political Science and Bachelor’s of Art in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego

Leadership Bio: Berenise Bermudez is a first generation Mexican American who was born in Anaheim, CA and raised in Highland, CA. Growing up and witnessing her community faced many hardships such as mass incarceration, high deportation rate, and low high school graduation rates, Berenise became passionate and determined to learn about social justice and how create change in poor communities of color. As an undergraduate, Berenise served as an investigative assistant at the San Diego Primary Public Defenders Office, as an intern for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH), and as the Know Your Rights Coordinator at ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. Berenise plans to pursue a law degree and become a civil rights attorney.

What excites Berenise about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: To have the unique opportunity to working with a diverse and talented group of Fellows who like myself are all very passionate about improving their communities and societal inequalities. I am excited to be challenged and gain the various skills and knowledge that will help me grow as a leader and person overall. In particular, I look forward to gaining a better understanding of how society works, to collaborate across sectors and to learn how and where I can best help improve society.

Berenise’s leadership in three words or less” Energetic, Passionate, and Empathetic.


Flavia A. Bleahu

Hometown: Canfield, Ohio

Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh

Leadership Bio: After graduating with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010, Flavia Bleahu shifted her attention to nonprofits. For the past four years, she has devoted herself to public service including serving two terms with KEYS Service Corps, an AmeriCorps State and National Program. Throughout this time, Flavia has mentored and tutored dozens of youth, led several community-based service projects, including a volunteer urban gardening project in Granada, Nicaragua, as well as successfully securing funding for several grant proposals. Flavia’s future aspirations lie in pursuing a degree in Public Policy after her completion of the Coro program.

What excites Flavia about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: Being a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs for the city of Pittsburgh offers me the rare opportunity to participate in a multi-sector, experience-based learning environment that promotes positive change in my community.

Flavia’s leadership in three words or less: Confidence, conversation, and catalysis.


Kenny Chen

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Education: Bachelor of Arts Psychology University of California, Berkeley

Leadership Bio: A “brain enthusiast” and humbly aspiring polymath, Kenny holds life-long passions in problem-solving and well-rounded self-education. He’s spent the last two years applying his background in social psychology toward improving educational environments throughout the US and China. He has been actively engaged with international communities involved in social innovation, nonprofits, research, and civic leadership. His goal is to effectively facilitate cross-sector collaboration in high-impact organizations by developing relevant skills and networks in a variety of fields. Kenny relishes the opportunity to learn anything new, or exercise his existing interests in music, martial arts, physics, gastronomy, chess, history, and recently, dance.

What excites Kenny about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: Throughout the Coro process, Pittsburgh has always been my top choice. Besides personally wanting to engage with a part of the country I’ve never been to, I’ve been drawn to the city’s rich history, culture, and economic transition from its industrial roots. Talking to people about my hopes and plans to work in Pittsburgh has made it clear to me that it’s one of the most underrated cities in the US, thoughtlessly dismissed by those who have not been there, and resoundingly praised by those who have. I come to Pittsburgh after a transformational year of working in Hong Kong, and look forward to the prospect of gaining one more place I’m proud to call home. I hope to do as much for the city as I know it will do for me.

Kenny’s  leadership in three words or less: Adaptable, Cooperative, Excellence.


Andrea Elcock

Hometown: Murrysville, PA

Education: Bachelor of Science in Management, B.S. in Community, Environment and Development from Pennsylvania State University

Leadership Bio: A passionate advocate for stronger communities and better results, Andrea Elcock studied community development and management at Penn State – preparing herself to be a social leader. In 2013, Andrea employed her skills as a Team Leader for AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps. After a year serving in neighborhoods throughout the country, Andrea developed the desire to serve her own community. She is now excited to utilize her experiences in Pittsburgh, including all she learned from studying in Tanzania, leading students through the Penn State Dance Marathon, managing campus organizations, and overseeing the first year of a summer program for Pittsburgh’s teens.

What excites Andrea about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: Although originally from Indiana, I now view Pittsburgh as home and yet there is much I do not know about the city and its people. I am thrilled to be a part of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. It not only provides me the opportunity to experience the different sectors of a growing, changing and strengthening Pittsburgh but it also gives me the opportunity to learn where my interests, passion and strengths can be utilize to make the city better by learning from those already engaged in the community.

Andrea’s leadership in three words or less: Engage, Motivate, Excel.


Alex Wallach Hanson

Hometown: Arlington, MA

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Tufts University

Leadership Bio: Alex Wallach Hanson is a community and political organizer from Boston, MA. Prior to the CORO Fellows Program, he worked on issues of transit equity and affordability while at Community Labor United. He wrote an honors thesis on the race and class divisions in Boston’s urban development policies and the negative impact transit and housing policies have had on communities of color in the metro-region. Beyond transit and housing, his work includes a focus on labor unions and environmental justice. In his spare time, Alex enjoys reading and being outdoors.

What excites Alex about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: The ability to work in a new city, with a group of engaged fellows on challenging issues that matter.

Alex’s leadership in three words or less: Listening, bringing together


Aaron King

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Education: Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Arizona and a Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh

Leadership Bio: Aaron has come to Pittsburgh by way of Arizona. Spending time in Washington DC and Pittsburgh, he has worked with the US Department of State and the University of Pittsburgh. Growing up in Detroit and Phoenix, he devoted and continues to devote his time to the Jewish and special-needs communities. At the University of Arizona, he received his bachelors in International Studies at and at the University of Pittsburgh he received his masters in Public and International Affairs. Aaron is interested in furthering his career either with the US Foreign Service or US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

What excites Aaron about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is a city that defines itself as a leader in many aspects. It has a restless nature and its citizens are innovative, driven, and hard-working. What excites me the most is the opportunity to work with the intrepid individuals and organizations who dedicate themselves in making a change in their city, nation, and world.

Aaron’s leadership in three words or less: Empathetic, Inclusive, Driven.


Patrice L. McKenzie

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Morgan State University,

Leadership Bio: At Morgan State University, Patrice served as a Resident Assistant (2009-2012) and managed forty residents. She created a bi-annual program to help residents with their résumés and career development. She interned summers at Highmark (2009-2010) and at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (2011-2012). Upon graduation Patrice obtained positions with the FDIC and AT&T. Currently she resides in Pittsburgh and is involved in her community, church and is a member of the Urban League for Young Professionals. Patrice’s college and professional experiences inspired her to be a leader in urban communities educating people on employment opportunities and career readiness.

What excites Patrice about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: The core value- Nurture Leadership excites me the most because I believe it will awaken a sense of purpose and help me become an better leader.

Patrice’s leadership in three words or less: Results Driven, Motivational and Positive.


John Chilton McAuliff

Hometown: Warrenton, VA

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies at the Jepson School of Leadership at the University of Richmond

Leadership Bio: John McAuliff seeks to build communities wherever he goes. In his entrepreneurial ventures, both successful and unsuccessful, he aimed to strengthen the communities he targeted. Combining a background in communications with a strong technical knowledge and a passion for improving communities, John intends to help restore the trust between Americans and their government required for us all to work together. He works with undying optimism for the belief that, in time, we can build a nation and a world where gender does not impact income, no one gets left behind by the evolving economy, and measured understanding trumps rash violence.

What excites John about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh:

Being a part of the youthful, entrepreneurial spirit of a growing, vibrant city.

John’s leadership in three words or less: Connecting potential partners.


Prisca Akello Ohito

Hometown: Shoreview, Minnesota

Education: Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in Public Policy and Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University

Leadership Bio: Prisca Ohito is inspired to work in public affairs: her diverse upbringing, community work, and academic experiences led her to question, expand, and reconsider how she interacts with public affairs. Her interests in urban policy and design led her to attend Carnegie Mellon University for her undergraduate degree. As a student, her work on homelessness was at the intersection of how access, dignity, and individual choices are impacted by regional policymaking. Today, Prisca seeks opportunities to improve the quality of life of individuals and communities through policymaking.

What excites Prisca about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: I am thrilled to return to Pittsburgh as a Coro Fellow; I enjoyed exploring many neighborhoods when I was an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University. Now, I see the fellowship as an opportunity to give back to the places that have helped me grow as a student and as a person.

Prisca’s leadership in three words or less: Purposeful, inquisitive, inspired.


Ruth Spurlock Kim

Hometown: Greensburg, PA

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Smith College

Leadership Bio: Ruth Spurlock, a native of the Pittsburgh area, graduated from Smith College in 2011. She accepted a Fulbright grant to teach English at Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Arkhangelsk, Russia, for one year following graduation. In addition to teaching there, she facilitated conversation about the differences in Russian and American culture through events and talks at the local library and at the university. She brought new communication skills back to Pittsburgh, where she worked for two years in non-profits organizations, focusing on multi-cultural programs, language teaching, and community development with refugees and with at-risk teens.

What excites Ruth about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh: I am excited by all the potential in Pittsburgh. There are so many resources, and incredible start-ups and organizations are doing great things here. I want to be a part of that, and a part of spreading those resources and initiatives to under-served populations

Ruth’s leadership in three words or less: Compassionate communication.


Ryann Tanap

Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA

Education: Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, minor in Middle Eastern Studies from the College of William and Mary

Leadership Bio: Ryann Tanap is an avid writer; her work has been published by various publications in the US, the Philippines and Indonesia. Her blog sheds light on personal health and wellness in American society. She volunteers her time to youth in underserved communities, most recently for thirteen months in rural Thailand with Global Playground. She now serves on their board of directors. Ryann is an advocate of multicultural/diversity issues and the arts as an alternative form of therapy. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from the College of William and Mary and aspires to be a mental health professional.

What excites Ryann about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh:

When people think of Pittsburgh, they think of a blue-collar steel city. However, I’ve found Pittsburgh to have an up-and-coming community of young professionals. It’s rich in culture and arts, plus there are a lot of parks and outdoor things to do in the area. I’m looking forward to working in a city that has so much potential for growth and opportunity.

Ryann’s leadership in three words or less: Respect, Empower, Engage.


Nenha Young

Hometown: Englewood, NJ

Education: Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies, with a minor Architecture from Cornell University

Leadership Bio: Nenha Young aspires to tangibly solve complex social problems through using urban planning, policy, and design as a tool for positive change. She holds a bachelor of science degree in urban and regional studies with a minor in architecture from Cornell University and recently completed a fellowship in urban design from Carnegie Mellon University. She is also an active member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and Women in Design Pittsburgh in which she volunteers her time to make a national and regional impact on the built environment.

What excites Nenha about doing the fellowship in Pittsburgh:

I’m excited to participate in the fellowship in Pittsburgh because I look forward to learning from my cohort and working in a progressively transforming city.

Nenha’s leadership in three words or less: Positive change agent.

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Jun 25: 2014 Public Allies Pittsburgh Leadership Conference ‹more›
Jun 27: Public Allies Class of 2014 Graduation ‹more›
Jun 18: New partnership with Case Western Reserve University ‹more›
Jun 10: Women in Leadership Host Project Opening to Collect Innovative Voices and Experiences ‹more›
Jun 9: Coro Alumnus and Staff Member Mary Parker Receives Dignity & Respect Award ‹more›
Jun 6: My Burmese Days: Reflections on Developing Civic Leaders in Myanmar ‹more›
May 30: Kashif Henderson Honored by United Way ‹more›
May 1: Public Allies Pittsburgh is Looking for the Next Generation of Leaders ‹more›
May 2: Coro Fellows Program Selection Day Recap ‹more›
May 1: Coro’s Michael Sider-Rose to participte in Burmese learning exchange ‹more›
May 1: Coro Fellow Gianina Olivera Writes Op Ed on Gender Pay Gap in the U.S. ‹more›
Mar 19: Coro Fellows Aim to Go to DC as Ambassadors of Pittsburgh ‹more›
Mar 31: Coro Fellows Learn About State Affairs in Harrisburg ‹more›
Feb 14: Participate Now in Inclusive Leadership in Action Survey ‹more›
Mar 20: NEXT Leaders Use Community Input Tool to Build Momentum in South Pittsburgh ‹more›
Feb 13: Open Letter to Bill Peduto ‹more›
Feb 14: Part-Time Programs Update ‹more›
Feb 14: Coro alumnus Michael Sriprasert leads successful neighborhood development strategy ‹more›
Feb 14: Alumna Melissa Wilf lands new position at SIGAR ‹more›

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