#FellowFriday: Christopher Hoey

Christopher and a woman stand outside a building in Cleveland

The Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship offers emerging young leaders the skills and networks needed to create the community they envision and jumpstart a career in public service. In this #FellowFriday blog, 2018-19 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellow Christopher Hoey talks about his year-long experience working and living in Cleveland. We’re currently accepting applications for the 2020-2021 fellowship. Learn more and apply here.

Chris Hooey portrait

Name: Christopher Hoey

College: Manhattan College

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Fellowship Host Site: Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry

How did you first hear about the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship?

As a Jesuit Volunteer working for Global Cleveland, I was able to meet and network with some fantastic people – including Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship alumni!

Why did you initially decide to participate in this fellowship?

This fellowship gave me a second chance. I wanted to switch gears from my Electrical Engineering background and delve deeper into my passion for serving others.

What has been the most valuable aspect of your fellowship experience?

The most valuable aspect of this fellowship has been the civic immersion within Cleveland and Cuyahoga County’s public institutions. Even in an extremely privileged position, it is hard to understand the partnerships and connections between resources available to the public and how the public would navigate those institutions.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?

Stonewall Sports! I have found my best friends and the most wonderful queer community through this organization of fun, welcoming, inclusive, and loving people. Physical activity is also said to be healthy every now and then!

What’s your favorite Cleveland restaurant, and what dish do you recommend there?

Go to Barocco. You can do no wrong with the menu there, but the Pupusas (Maduro and black beans for the vegetarians out there!) and the Llanera Arepa are my go-to orders.

What’s your favorite public space in Cleveland? 

My favorite public space in Cleveland has to be Public Square. I’m a city boy at heart, and the buildings, bustling foot (and auto) traffic, and easy access to public transportation make my heart happy.

Where would you take a friend who is visiting Cleveland for the first time?

The morning begins at Cleveland Bagel – a staple. We venture over to Edgewater Park for some afternoon breezes (and wonderful photo-ops), followed by lunch on the east bank of the Flats (with the necessary “This river caught on fire 13 times but inspired the Clean Water Act and continues to act as a catalyst for many equitable environmental conversations across the country” shpeal). A nice walking tour of downtown rounds out the afternoon, crossing the beautiful Hope Memorial Bridge with the “Guardians of Traffic” sculptures, to West 25th for dinner and a few cocktails. A perfect west-side-of-Cleveland day.

How has this fellowship affected your career plans?

My career plans are still largely uncertain; however, this fellowship has definitely helped me realize that I thrive in a mission-based setting that fights for the people – so I assume I’ll end up as some sort of activist/organizer, policy analyst, or even politician? Who knows!

Why would you recommend this fellowship program to others?

I would recommend this fellowship because it’s significantly impacted the method by which I go about advocating for social justice. As a public servant, you are a steward to the community and I think it truly allows you to bring the empowerment of others to the forefront of every decision you make.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship?

Be open and flexible. Regardless of what subject matter you may work in this year, your opportunity to engage with public service and equity is not to be missed!