Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship
March 3 – 14* – Semi-Finalist Interviews
March 24 – April 11* – Finalist Zoom Interviews with Host Agencies & Informational Session with the Cleveland Foundation and alumni
Through May 5 – Fellows Selection
August 1* – 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.
The program includes:
- A 12-month, full-time paid placement at a selected public sector agency or a nonprofit partner in Cleveland, providing meaningful career-related work experience. The fellowship includes a $44,000 salary with health benefits and a $1,000 signing bonus (which is taxable).
- 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.
Sign up for updates regarding the Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship here.
What is a fellowship?
The role of a fellow is multi-faceted. In working within a host organization for a year, fellows are full-time employees that add capacity, perspectives, and skills to teams and meaningful projects. At the same time, a fellowship also offers unique opportunities to balance experiential learning, exposure, and professional development with work products and networking – both as an individual and together with a cohort of peers. In 2023, the one-year fellowship program begins on Aug. 1.
What benefits and opportunities are generally included as part of the fellowship?
Over the course of their program year, Public Service Fellows receive compensation and access to insurance, retirement, and PTO/sick days as aligned with full-time employment at their host organization. Training and professional development days are coordinated for the entire cohort an average of 14 hours per month. These sessions have focused on topics such as communications, network management, racial equity and inclusion, leadership, and more. Fellows select and then work individually with an executive coach for 5 sessions. Informally, there are also opportunities to network, attend local forums and events, meet with alumni, and conduct informational interviews. It is important to note that, while general compensation, benefits, and professional development opportunities will be coordinated across fellows, there may be some differences based upon an individual’s host organization, project, and scope of work for the year.
Are the host agencies different every year? How are they selected?
Yes, the host agencies vary every year following an application, screening, and selection process. Organizations need to have a meaningful and robust project that a fellow would be able to move forward over the course of a year well as the capacity to offer ongoing supervision, mentoring, and access to leadership. Beyond this, the timeliness or urgency of a project, skills required of a fellow, and geography or population(s) served may also be considered holistically.
What is the selection process for fellows?
There are three general steps in the selection process for applicants:
- Interested candidates complete a general application for the program. Applications are screened with a focus on alignment with eligibility requirements, commitment to public service, indicated skills, and writing.
- Semi-finalist interviews are conducted with candidates to learn more about their individual goals, prior experiences, and the host organizations that they believe are best aligned with their skills and interests. These interviews are facilitated by Cleveland Foundation staff, alumni of the program, and/or community leaders with time reserved at the end of questions. Full position descriptions and the names of interviewers will be shared in advance of this stage.
- Finalist interviews are coordinated directly by host organizations. This stage provides an opportunity for candidates to meet directly with organization staff that they may be working with, to learn more about the project(s) for the year, and to ask specific questions related to the position and workplace. Each finalist candidate is guaranteed an interview with at least one host organization.
What generally characterizes the most successful fellowship experiences?
We encourage participants to continue to reflect upon their individual goals and objectives as they “carve out” their own fellowship experience. Generally, fellows tend to maximize their engagement with the program when they are open to new opportunities – even those that are slightly outside their comfort zone, invest in meeting and building relationships with new people, and remain committed to learning and growth.
What are some examples of fellows’ transitions at the end of their program year?
Please reach out to alumni on LinkedIn to ask this question directly as paths vary widely! Most years, at least 50% of fellows transition to full-time employment either at their host organization or within another agency in Cleveland. Fellows may also pursue graduate studies or law school, move on to other fellowship programs, remain based in Cleveland but work remotely (or vice versa), or pursue career opportunities in other cities across the U.S. (still largely with a focus on public service).
2022-23 Cohort Announcements
For the most recent program year, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Foundation announced a partnership to place a cohort of the Public Service Fellows within City Hall to assist with Mayor Justin M. Bibb’s administration. Learn more.
Additionally, The George Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and Cleveland Metropolitan School District announced a grant from the Gund Foundation to support a cohort of Public Service Fellows at the district for the 2022-23 academic year. This funding has supported opportunities for fellows to make an impact across district operations including finance, IT, marketing & communications, community engagement, human resources & talent recruitment, and more.
Meet the 2022-23 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows
Brianna Beck, Cleveland Metropolitan School District – Talent
Brianna is a 2022 graduate of Louisiana State University, where she studied English Literature and Spanish. During her undergraduate career she worked with Power Pump Girls, Inc. as a Content Writer and self-published a collection of personal poetry, Wayward Nomad, last year. Brianna will work as a fellow in the Talent Division for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Gretchen Blackwell, City of Cleveland – Community Development
Gretchen is a 2021 graduate of Miami University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in history and Italian studies, and a minor in political science. Throughout college, she completed three internships in government, at both the local and federal levels. After graduation, she spent a year living in France in order to study the language and culture. As a fellow, Gretchen will be working with the City of Cleveland Department of Community Development. In her role, she will be responsible for data visualization to better inform policy makers and the public about the department’s projects and goals
Thao Dinh, Cleveland Metropolitan School District – IT
Thao graduated from Denison University with bachelor’s degrees in Education and Economics in May 2022. Born and raised in Vietnam until college, Thao is thrilled to be a part of the cohort where she can bring in her perspectives as an international fellow and learn from future colleagues with different backgrounds and experiences. Thao will work with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as a fellow within the IT Division – Learning Technology and Training Services. To enhance the K-12 public education experience in Cleveland, some of her responsibilities in this role include assisting with the development and rollout of educational programs for schools, collaborating to implement the IT Internship Program and the district’s IT Learning portal, and helping design and deliver the Technology Festival.
Okiemute Eyemaro, Cleveland Metropolitan School District – Talent
Okiemute Eyemaro, a New Orleans native, is a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she completed Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Anthropology while obtaining a Master’s in Nonprofit Organizations. During Okiemute’s undergraduate career they were an advocate for the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities with goals of diversifying both higher ed and corporate America. As a fellow, Okiemute will support Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Talent Division in their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts.
Abby Henry, City of Cleveland – Strategy
Abby Henry, originally from Toledo, graduated from Denison University in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She spent her first year after undergrad as a Colet Fellow in London, England, where she taught American Politics to British high school students and served as a college counselor for British students seeking a US college education. As a Public Service Fellow, Abby will join the Office of Strategy in City Hall, contributing to programs and processes that advance the Bibb administration’s top priorities.
Cheikh Higgs “CJ,” Cleveland Metropolitan School District – Community Engagement
Cheikh is a 2021 graduate of Oberlin College with a bachelor’s degree in English and a concentration in Africana Studies. He recently finished his year after graduating serving as an Americorps member with City Year Cleveland. As a fellow, he will be working with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in the community engagement division. He is excited to continue building relationships within Cleveland neighborhoods and work to advance educational equity within the city.
Kevin Jones, City of Cleveland – Capital Projects
Kevin Jones is a 2022 Case Western Reserve University graduate earning his bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in conflict resolution and peace studies. As a fellow, Kevin will be working in the Capital Projects Department at Cleveland City Hall under the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects and the Acting Commissioner of Real Estate for the City of Cleveland. He will contribute to restorative change in this role through the planning, designing and preservation of Cleveland’s parks, facilities and infrastructure in order to provide residents with more equitable greenspace and neighborhood revitalization through the Capital Improvement Plan. As a Cleveland native, Kevin is passionate about giving back through producing direct restorative change for the city he calls home.
Alyssa Kapasi, Cleveland Metropolitan School District – Finance
Alyssa is a 2022 graduate of Oberlin College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Education Studies, and Law & Society. She will be working to support the Cleveland Municipal School District in their finance department. She will be aiding in the implementation of the district’s pandemic relief grants and other program strategies. She is excited for the opportunity to be of service to the Cleveland community.
Michele King, City of Cleveland – Planning
Michele King is a 2021 graduate of Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a certificate in sustainable development. She is currently an urban affairs grad student at the Levin College seeking an M.A. in environmental studies. She will be serving as a fellow in Cleveland City Hall’s Planning Department assisting with research for the city’s new master plan.
Hannah Macias, City of Cleveland Department of Law – Police Reform
Hannah is a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and cognitive science with a minor in ethics. As a fellow, Hannah will be working under the chief ethics officer for Cleveland City Hall, assisting with police reform initiatives for the city of Cleveland and furthering the implementation of the city charter section 115.
Abigail McFarren, Cleveland Metropolitan School District – Organizational Learning
McFarren graduated this past spring (’22) from the College of Wooster with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and a History minor. Originally from Canton, Ohio, she will be working in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s department of Organizational Learning. She will be assisting the department in building their career development programming for the district’s non-teaching staff.
Ibukunoluwa Ode-Martins, Cleveland City Council
Ibukun is a 2022 graduate of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, where she obtained her Master’s degrees in Social Work and Nonprofit Organizations. She also graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2020 with her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Ibukun will be a Research and Policy Fellow with Cleveland City Council, where she will be researching pertinent legislation and policy issues, providing briefings and reports to Council Committees, and planning and observing Committee hearings.
Brett Parsons, City of Cleveland – Building & Housing
Brett Parsons grew up in Cleveland and is returning after graduating from Franklin and Marshall College with a degree in History. She is excited to be working as a fellow in the Cleveland Department of Building and Housing. Through this fellowship she will be aiding in implementing the Lead Safe Cleveland Initiative and working to help the department implement a proactive and systemic approach to code enforcement.
Sian Payne, Cleveland City Council
Sian is originally from England, U.K., but has spent the past 5 years in Cleveland. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Urban Studies program at Cleveland State University, having also acquired a B.A. double major in Political Science and International Relations in 2020. During her college career, Sian was a member of the women’s tennis team at Cleveland State and served as a Refugee and resettlement intern for US Together. As a fellow, Sian will join the Policy and Research team at Cleveland City Council to assist with legislative activities that affect both Cleveland and Ohio.
Skyler is a 2022 graduate of Walsh University earning two bachelor’s degrees in Government and Foreign Affairs and Criminal Justice. As a fellow, Skyler will be working with the city of Cleveland in the Department of Law: Housing and Code Enforcement by aiding on important projects that will impact quality of life issues and improve the health and well-being of the City’s residents and its neighborhoods. She is excited for this opportunity to connect, build relationships, and learn more about the community!
Peighton Taylor, City of Cleveland – Chief of Integrated Development Office
Peighton is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in International Economics and African American and African Studies. She is excited to return to her hometown as a fellow under Mayor Bibb and the City of Cleveland. She will serve as a fellow to the Chief of Integrated Development and will assist the CID in more fully integrating the work of the departments of planning, community development, economic development, and building & housing.
Carter Van Fossen, City of Cleveland – Finance
Carter graduated from Case Western Reserve University here in Cleveland, Ohio in May of 2022 with a B.A. in political science. During his undergraduate tenure he also pursued secondary fields of study in business management and public policy. This year, as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s 2022-23 cohort, Carter will be working for the City of Cleveland’s Finance Department where he will provide key research and public policy support in order to help tackle some of the city’s most pressing fiscal challenges of the upcoming years.
Kaniece Williams, City of Cleveland – Youth & Family Services
Kaniece is an Ohio native, who is also a graduate of CUNY-Bernard M. Baruch college with a Bachelors in Psychology, and a minor in Theatre. She relocated to Cleveland from New York City to serve with City Year Cleveland, a year-long AmeriCorps program. Upon completing her first-year, she served a second year as a Team Leader with the same program. As a fellow, Kaniece will be working with the Education and Youth & Family Success branch in the City of Cleveland’s Mayor Office. She looks forward to continuing her work providing resources to Cleveland’s youth.
Meet the 2021-22 Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellows here.
In 2021-22, host agencies included Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, College Now Greater Cleveland, Fatima Family Center, Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Transformation Alliance, Cleveland Public Library, Global Cleveland, Cleveland Documenters – Neighborhood Connections, Famicos Foundation, and MyCom.
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.