Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship


March 28 – April 1* – Semi-Finalist Interviews

April 11-20* – Finalist Zoom Interviews with Host Agencies & Informational Session with the Cleveland Foundation

Late April to Early May – Fellows Selection

July 14, 15 and 22* – Fellow Orientation

July 18* Fellowship Begins

*Candidates must be available on these dates 

Creating Pathways to Careers in Public Service

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.

2022-23 cohort update:

The City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Foundation have announced a partnership that will place a cohort of the foundation’s 2022-23 Public Service Fellows at City Hall to assist with Mayor Justin M. Bibb’s administration. Learn more.

The George Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and Cleveland Metropolitan School District have also announced a grant from the Gund Foundation that will support a cohort of Public Service Fellows at the district for the 2022-23 academic year. Opportunities will be available to make an impact across district operations, including finance, IT, marketing & communications, community engagement, human resources & talent recruitment, and more.  

In addition to placements within City Hall and CMSD, there may be some Public Service Fellowship opportunities available at other host agencies. Candidates will review position descriptions ahead of interviews.

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 $40,000 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 the start of the program, we will be continuing to monitor and adjust the format of the 2022-23 Public Service Fellowship program in accordance with the ongoing guidance of public health experts and agencies. 

 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 2021-22 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows

Elizabeth Bagley, Cleveland Metroparks

Bagley is a 2020 graduate of Xavier University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics, & the Public and Computer Science. After graduating, Elizabeth spent a year as an AmeriCorps Member serving with City Year Cleveland. As a Fellow, she will be working with the Cleveland Metroparks to analyze and validate requirements for a variety of projects related to virtual reality, augmented reality, and virtual education. Elizabeth is a NE Ohio native, originally from Chagrin Falls.

Melinda Dang, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

Melinda, a native Clevelander, graduated from The Ohio State University with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Public Health in 2020 and 2021. Melinda will support Cleveland Neighborhood Progress in working with Cleveland’s 26 community development corporations and neighborhood ambassadors to advance digital access and racial equity. She is excited for the opportunities to build relationships and communities.

Hannah Downing, Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland

Hannah is a 2020 graduate of the Dual BA Program between Columbia University and Sciences Po with a joint bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. She recently completed a year-long AmeriCorps program in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and is excited to begin her fellowship year. As a fellow, Hannah will be joining the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland in their commitment to increasing high school graduation, college enrollment and college completion rates among Cleveland students.

Aliah Lawson, College Now Greater Cleveland

Aliah Lawson is a Cleveland native and a 2021 graduate of Case Western Reserve University. She acquired bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Political Science with a minor in Sociology. As a fellow, Aliah will be working under the Chief Program Officer of College Now Greater Cleveland and the Director of the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, assisting in college access and readiness initiatives for residents of Greater Cleveland through programming and legislative advocacy.

Lidia Garcia, Fatima Family Center

Lidia is a 2021 graduate of The Ohio State University, earning two bachelor’s degrees in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Public Management, Leadership and Policy with a minor in Latino/a/x Studies. As a fellow, Lidia will be working directly with the community – furthering the implementation of technology including the accessibility of technology for seniors, creating a database of residents who visit, and expanding the variety of technology resources available through Fatima Family Center. Lidia has resided in Columbus, Ohio since her family moved to the U.S.

Sinegugu Gasa, Cleveland Foundation – Marketing and Communications

Sinegugu Gasa is a 2021 graduate of Hiram college with a Bachelors in Business Management. Sne will work with the Cleveland Foundation as a community narrative and engagement fellow. In her role, she will collaborate and play an essential role in the planning and execution of all 6th annual Common Ground events. Sne was born and raised in Durban, South Africa and is proud to call Cleveland home.

Mary Halm, Cleveland Municipal School District Cleveland Transformation Alliance

Mary Halm is a Cleveland native and recent graduate of the University of Rochester, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health with a focus on Health, Behavior, and Society. As a fellow, Mary will work with the Cleveland Transformation Alliance (CTA), individual schools, and local partners. A key priority of her fellowship will focus on 2020 survey results from parents and caregivers that capture the resources they wish they had when considering schools. Halm will work with CTA staff to develop new survey tools to get more in-depth information for families, allowing CTA to be as responsive as possible.

Samantha Montañez, Cleveland Foundation – Strategic Planning

Samantha Montañez is a current graduate student at Ohio University and will be graduating with a Master of Arts in Law, Justice & Culture in May 2022. She will be serving as a fellow with the Cleveland Foundation to help further and facilitate the implementation of the new strategic plan.

Ngoc Nguyen, Cleveland Public Library

Ngoc is a 2021 graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, earning bachelor’s degrees in Asian American Studies, Sociology, & International Development Studies. During her undergraduate career, she was heavily involved in legal advocacy and grassroots organizing to support low-income immigrant communities of color. As a fellow, Ngoc will support Cleveland Public Library with advancing its new strategic plan to streamline equity efforts and heighten community impacts in Cleveland.  

Fatima Rahman, Global Cleveland

Fatima is a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University where she completed a Bachelor’s in International Studies & a Master’s in Nonprofit Management. Her previous experience serving and advocating for the immigrant and refugee community both in New Orleans and Cleveland, combined with her education, has prepared her for her role as a Fellow with Global Cleveland. Through work with local institutional partners, Fatima will be responsible for applying immigrant integration policy to practice within institutions in Greater Cleveland.

Paul Rochford, Cleveland DocumentersNeighborhood Connections

Paul is a native of Frederick, Maryland and a 2020 graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he studied history with a focus on human rights & collective memory of human rights violations. He recently worked in Cleveland schools with AmeriCorps’ City Year and has done some freelance journalism locally. As a fellow, Paul will be working with the Cleveland Documenters team to bring community-based journalism to communities not being served by traditional news outlets.

Ava Schmidt, Famicos Foundation

Ava Schmidt, a Cleveland native, graduated from Ohio University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in urban planning & sustainability and a certificate in environmental studies. She previously studied urban planning abroad at the University of Edinburgh and served as an AmeriCorps member with the Cleveland City Planning Department. As a fellow, Ava will work with the Famicos Foundation to serve the Glenville, Hough, and St. Clair-Superior neighborhoods. She will analyze the impact of the organization’s many programs and strategize ways to increase efficiency and better serve the community.

Asia Smith, MyCom

Asia attended Kalamazoo College where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Sociology. Born and raised in South Florida, Asia has worked closely with various youth organizations throughout her undergraduate years, promoting sustainable pathways for students to achieve their goals. As a fellow, Asia will act as communication coordinator with MyCom Cleveland, providing informational support across MyCom’s neighborhoods and assisting in reporting the organization’s mission to the larger Cleveland community.

Raghav Rao, Cleveland Foundation – Digital Equity

Raghav is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Computer Engineering program at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), having also acquired a B.A. in Psychology in 2018. Raghav’s recent work has focused on Smart Cities and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) with the Institute of Smart Secure and Connected Systems (ISSACS) at CWRU. This has included a variety of projects, including developing an IoT workshop with the Great Lakes Science Center and working on sensors to monitor road quality in the city of Lakewood. As a Digital Innovation Fellow, Raghav will work to help improve digital equity in Cleveland.

Meet the 2020-21 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows here

In 2020-21, host agencies included Enterprise Community Partners, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cleveland Purpose Built Communities, the Cuyahoga County Office of Innovation and Performance, the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services, and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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 and nonprofit organizations may also include those which provide a range of public goods and services, such as education, healthcare, housing, transportation and water. 2022-23 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.