Launched in 2016, the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship immerses talented, emerging leaders from across the country in the work of Cleveland’s public sector, providing them an opportunity to develop their skills, enhance their networks, and jumpstart a career in public service. With the goals of attracting and retaining emerging talent in Cleveland and fostering a commitment to public service, national recruitment efforts for the 5th cohort of the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship program drew candidates from 15 states representing 42 colleges and universities. For the 2020-21 program year, a cohort of nine fellows has been selected and will begin in September.
We are pleased to introduce the 2020-21 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows:
Ala Jalli, Enterprise Community Partners, Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition
Ala attended University of California, Los Angeles, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in history. For the last year, she was serving as an AmeriCorps Fellow with Public Allies. She served as a Community Engagement Coordinator at the County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs where she implemented training programs, created resources for the LGBTQ community, and facilitated outreach initiatives. As a fellow, Ala will support the operations, administration, outreach, and public training efforts of the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition.
Averi Cleary, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA)
Cleary is a 2020 graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with bachelor’s degrees in public administration and urban & regional planning. Previous internship experiences with public and nonprofit planning agencies have prepared her for her role as a fellow with NOACA, where Averi will be primarily focused on external engagement and public affairs, helping to provide an essential link between the agency’s 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan and its stakeholders.
Travian Smith, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA)
Smith is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina and a 2020 graduate of Appalachian State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in public administration and a minor in community & regional planning. As a fellow, he will be working at NOACA to develop the 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan. Working closely with members of the community, regional stakeholders, and other public officials, Travian will help to addresses the future of transportation in the region and further planning activities related to equity, water quality and air quality.
Zuka’a Joudeh, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA)
Zuka’a was born and raised in the Chicagoland area where she attended school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2019, she graduated with her BA in political science and Germanic studies. As a strong advocate for social justice, Zuka’a volunteered on and off campus, advancing coalitions and helping teach immigrant and refugee women English. After graduation, Zuka’a was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to work as an English teaching assistant in a diverse school in Germany with migrant and refugee youth. This fall, she is excited to be working with NOACA, where she will focus on environmental justice and engaging the community to better develop the goals and performance for NOACA’s 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan.
Demetria Hart, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Demetria is a Cleveland native and 2020 graduate of Cleveland State University. She recently acquired her bachelor’s degree in Black studies and history. As a fellow, Demetria will be supporting middle-grade students through CMSD’s True2U mentoring program, planning and providing meaningful career development experiences across the district.
Diona James, Cleveland Purpose Built Communities (CLE PBC)
Diona James is a 2020 graduate of Case Western Reserve University with double majors in medical anthropology and international studies with a focus on Africa and public health. As a fellow, she will work under the leadership of CLE PBC Senior Project Director and collaboratively with the Famicos Foundation as the Glenville Circle North Project Manager, assisting with PBC implementation in the Glenville Circle North neighborhood. Diona is a native of Cleveland.
Grace Chu, Cuyahoga County, Office of Innovation & Performance
Grace is a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), earning her Master of Science in social administration. In 2019, she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from CWRU. As a fellow, Grace will support the Cuyahoga County Office of Innovation and Performance in the development and implementation of a digital inclusion program to expand internet access and economic opportunity across the county. Grace is a native of Mount Prospect, Illinois.
Brandon Wafford, Cuyahoga County, Department of Health & Human Services
Wafford, a 2019 sociology and Spanish graduate from Denison University, will be serving at the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services during his time as a fellow. He will be working with the data integration project team to analyze cross-program data to improve agency practices and tools. Ultimately, this data will be used to improve the coordination and quality of services as well as outcomes for the people served. Brandon, a Chicago, Illinois native, is excited to call Cleveland home.
Cheyanne Jeffries, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
Cheyanne Jeffries, a Cleveland native, is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University, earning her master’s in American culture studies. In 2018, Cheyanne earned her bachelor’s degree in arts management. As a fellow, Cheyanne will assess the needs of organizations that align with Cuyahoga Arts & Cultures’ mission of racial equity. She will lead a research project with the goal of strengthening connections and improving outcomes for these organizations.
Congratulations to all of this year’s Fellows!! What an honor it is to be chosen for such meaningful service positions. Stay humble and courageous! YAY DIONA!!!