Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship


February 15 – Application Deadline

March 18, 19, 22, 23, 24* – Semi-Finalist Interviews

April 1-16* – Finalist Zoom Interviews with Host Agencies & Informational Session with the Cleveland Foundation

Late April to Early May – Fellows Selection

September 1* – Fellowship Begins

*Candidates must be available on these dates 

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.

The program includes:

  • A 12-month, full-time paid placement at a selected public sector agency in Cleveland, providing meaningful career-related work experience. The fellowship includes a $35,000 salary with health benefits
  • Participation in professional development that prepares Fellows for 21st century public service, administered by Cleveland Foundation staff and professionals with expertise in their fields.
  • A small cohort with individualized coaching, supervision and support
  • Immersion in the rich civic and cultural life of Cleveland, with first-hand opportunities to network and connect with a diverse array of senior leaders, organizations, and community members.

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, as we move closer to September, we will be continuing to monitor and adjust the format of the 2021-22 Public Service Fellowship program in accordance with the ongoing guidance of public health experts and agencies. As part of the Leadership Development priority area, we remain committed to this program, but to ensure the safety of fellows and staff, please be aware that fellowship placements may be virtual, in-person, and/or a hybrid and formal sessions as a cohort may be solely virtual.

 How to Apply for the Public Service Fellowship – CLICK HERE   

(For Organizations) How to Host a Public Service Fellow – CLICK HERE 

Sign up for updates regarding the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship here.

Meet the 2020-21 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows

Ala Jalli Head ShotAla JalliEnterprise 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 head shotAveri ClearyNortheast 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 SmithNortheast 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 head shotZuka’a JoudehNortheast 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 head shotDemetria HartCleveland 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 head shotDiona 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 head shotGrace ChuCuyahoga 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 head shotBrandon WaffordCuyahoga 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. 

Cheyenne Jeffries head shotCheyanne JeffriesCuyahoga 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. 

Meet the 2019-20 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows here

In 2019-20, host agencies included the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Invest in Children, MidTown Cleveland, and Say Yes to Education Cleveland. 

Meet the 2018-19 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows here

In 2018-19, host agencies included the City of Cleveland – Mayor’s Office of Communications, Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Council, Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry, Enterprise Community Partners, MetroHealth and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

Meet the 2017-18 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows here.

In 2017-18, host agencies included the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Cuyahoga County.

Meet the 2016-17 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows here

In 2016-17, host agencies included Cleveland City Council, the Cleveland Foundation, Cuyahoga County Office of Innovation and Performance, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), MetroHealth, and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA).


Fellowship host sites

Each Fellow will be matched with a public sector agency with a supportive corporate culture and a commitment to providing opportunities to develop leadership and innovation. In addition to potential placements within local government, selected public service agencies may also include those which provide a range of public goods and services, such as education, healthcare, housing, transportation and water. 2021-22 host sites will be listed once selection is finalized.

Cleveland Foundation’s Commitment to Diversity

The Cleveland Foundation exists to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Greater Cleveland.  The ability to carry out our mission and to foster a commitment to excellence can best be pursued if our workforce, grantees, donors, partners and governing body include individuals of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives.

The foundation, in partnership with its host sites, is committed to ensuring diversity and inclusion across all of Cleveland’s public sector agencies by using this fellowship as a catalyst for developing a pipeline of future leaders for Northeast Ohio.