Global Citizens Fellowship

Applications for the Second Cohort
Will Go Live in August 2024.



Meet the 2024 Global Citizens Fellowship Cohort:


Courtney Abegunde
Operations Director at Steel Smiling an “Organization in Residence” of Neighborhood Allies

Courtney Abegunde is the Operations Director for Steel Smiling, a Pittsburgh based, Black-led nonprofit whose mission is to bridge the gap between Black folks and mental health support through education, advocacy, and awareness. Steel Smiling’s 10-year vision is to connect every Black person in Allegheny County to a positive mental health experience that improves their quality of life by 2030. As Operations Director, Courtney is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Steel Smiling. Courtney works with the Steel Smiling team to design, implement, evaluate, and sustain high quality community-based programming. She served as Co-Chair to the first ever Western Behavioral Health Diversity Council, and as a facilitator of Café Conversations – a virtual employee engagement activity that provided space for WBH employees to share and listen around topics related to Black Mental Health, Racism, and Employee/Consumer Experience with their peers. 

Courtney holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. in Psychology from Chatham University. She has been recognized as a UPMC Dignity and Respect Champion, and has achieved the Women’s Health and Leadership Award from Chatham University and the Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry.


Annia Aleman
Innovation Director at Ascender

Annia Aleman is an experienced innovation, strategy, and impact design professional with over 10 years of experience driving organizational sustainability and strategic development for local governments, businesses, and nonprofits. Currently, Annia is the Innovation Director at Ascender – a business Incubator located in East Liberty, Pittsburgh. Here, she is in charge of designing and executing educational programming for entrepreneurs, providing them the tools to launch and build their businesses. Working with entrepreneurs is an honor because she can witness first-hand how local innovators launch and build new products or services that impact how people live, work, and play.

Annia also works as an Associate Social Impact Consultant for Common Cause Consultants. Common Cause Consultants helps nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and private companies address issues of equity and justice through strategic planning, community-centered research, and meeting facilitation. At Common Cause, she is a leader in innovation and advises on human-centered design efforts that create long-term sustainability and strategy with cross-sector partners.

Annia holds a Master’s in Public Policy & Management from Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor’s in Global Policy from Chatham University. In November 2023, Annia was featured in the Pittsburgh Business Times’ “2023 Personalities of Pittsburgh”. In 2018, the Pittsburgh Business Times recognized Annia as one of Pittsburgh’s “30 under 30,” and The Incline recognized her as one of the “Who’s Next: Technology.”


Susie Backscheider
Youth Mentoring Coordinator at South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM)

Susie Backscheider is the Youth Mentoring Coordinator at South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM). For more than 10 years, Susie has been instrumental in SHIM mission of mobilizing community resources and implementing sustainable programs. 

In her day-to-day work at SHIM, Susie is surrounded by people from many different countries around the world. She loves to learn about their lives and experiences, and about global issues in order to better understand people around the world. Susie came to Pittsburgh to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer and fell in love with the neighborhood she served in the South Hills – a community filled with families from all over the world including Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Bosnia, Liberia, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, and more. 

After finishing her commitment to AmeriCorps, Susie became the Youth Mentoring Coordinator where she currently oversees mentoring groups, homework help, field trips, college preparation, and other activities aimed at preparing students to become successful, caring, and motivated young adults.

Susie is a graduate of the Miami University of Ohio. As a dedicated community volunteer, Susie has lent her time and energy to local organizations including Wesley Family Services (In Service of Seniors program), Girls Rock Camp, Humane Animal Rescue, Open Field, and Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation.


Chavaysha Chaney
Manager of Advocacy and Health Policy, Women for a Healthy Environment

Chavaysha Chaney is the Manager of Advocacy and Health Policy at Women for a Healthy Environment, where she leverages her extensive local and state experience to drive policy initiatives that advocate for public health among women, children, and families. She is dedicated to increasing awareness of the social determinants of health and economic development within marginalized communities, while advocating for fair access to essential resources. Chavaysha’s expertise spans various areas, including environmental justice, legal reform, and promoting access to healthy food. Her career highlights include collaborating with NGOs in South Africa to conduct comparative research on women’s activism in relation to racial justice movements in the U.S. and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Through her background in constituent services, equitable development, and health advocacy, Chavaysha has worked to ensure government support for affordable housing to prevent displacement in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods. She specializes in advocating for social justice issues, emphasizing equitable access to fundamental necessities. 

Chavaysha currently serves on the board for PUMP Pittsburgh and participates in the PA House of Representatives House of Environmental Resources and Energy Committee to provide recommendations on bills due for an upcoming vote. She has also completed Leadership Pittsburgh, LDI.


Catherine (Caty) Coleman
Teacher/International Student Counselor (Advocate) at The Linsly School

Catherine (Caty) Haning Coleman, M.A.Ed., is an English/English as a Second Language and Spanish teacher from Wheeling, West Virginia. In her 13th year of teaching at The Linsly School, a private college preparatory school in Wheeling, Caty has been passionate about the advocacy and education of all students, in particular the international boarding student population. She has served in official capacity as International Student Counselor for the past 5 years, with focus on development and a voice for the international student population’s needs on campus and in academia.

Caty received her undergraduate degree in Spanish Language and Literature with double minors in Studio Art and Art History from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and her Master of Arts in Teaching for Secondary Education from University of Southern California. Caty also serves her community by volunteering with the City of Wheeling Police Department Neighborhood Assistant Volunteer program.




Clare Drobot
Co-Artistic Director at City Theatre

A dramaturg, playwright, and producer, Clare Drobot is currently the Co-Artistic Director at City Theatre in Pittsburgh working alongside fellow Co-ADs Marc Masterson and Monteze Freeland. As an arts leader, Clare recognizes the importance of possessing a deep understanding of the factors shaping our world and their impact on the Pittsburgh community, as well as within the national arts conversation. She has worked in various capacities at Premiere Stages at Kean University, Laura Stanczyk Casting, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The McCarter Theatre, The BE Company, Play Penn, and New Dramatists. Her work as a writer has been seen in Ars Nova’s ANT FEST and the New Hazlett Theatre’s CSA Series among others. 

Clare serves on the boards of the National New Play Network and Brew House Association, is a member of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s Generations Group and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh (LP XXXVIII). BA/BFA Carnegie Mellon University, member of LMDA.



Jocelyn Duffy
Executive Director of Global Communications at University of Pittsburgh

Jocelyn Duffy is the Executive Director of Global Communications for the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies. In this role she is responsible for setting the strategic communications priorities for the center and helping to tell the story of the University’s global initiatives to audiences around the world. As a communications leader within a university, Jocelyn ensures that the university’s constituents are communicating the institution’s priorities in a thoughtful and impactful way. She also mentors, supports, and manages an interdisciplinary team of communicators.

Prior to arriving at Pitt, Jocelyn worked at Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon College of Science for 16 years, most recently serving as associate dean for communications and marketing. At Carnegie Mellon, she promoted numerous high-profile projects, including the Future of Science Initiative and the Carnegie Mellon University Cloud Lab.

Jocelyn has helped to organize a number of service activities, including a virtual food drive; a day of service for university students, faculty and staff; and an annual fundraising campaign benefitting the Special Olympics. She also volunteers for Golden Retrievers in Need, an animal rescue organization, doing phone interviews and home visits. 


Jordyn Gilliard
Constituent Services Coordinator at the City of Pittsburgh

Jordyn Gilliard currently serves as the Constituent Services Coordinator for Councilman Bobby Wilson in District 1 of the City of Pittsburgh. She is responsible for engaging with constituents and works to address the needs of Northside residents, with the goal to make the Northside and the City of Pittsburgh more livable for everyone. 

Prior to her current position, Jordyn worked as a paralegal for one of the city’s top law firms and a research assistant at Carnegie Mellon University. Jordyn is an alumnus of Chatham University and Carnegie Mellon University, with an undergraduate degree in Communications and a graduate degree in International Relations and Politics.  

She volunteers at the Light of Life Rescue Mission and is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Jordyn is passionate about foreign policy, human rights, and global migration.



Danielle R. Mehlman-Brightwell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Public Policy & Communication and Director of Office of Community Outreach

Dr. Danielle R. Mehlman-Brightwell is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Communication and director of the Office of Community Outreach at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. She is a seasoned academic professional, combining over 15 years of experience in public policy education, community engagement, and interdisciplinary research. She is leading a quarter-million-dollar initiative through developing leadership on economic mobility and educational attainment in underserved communities in Westmoreland and Allegheny Counties. 

Danielle was selected for the Community Engaged Scholarship Project Development cohort at the University of Pittsburgh, where they developed programming for youth on career readiness and leadership training. She is committed to advancing public policy discourse and nurturing the next generation of leaders. 

Danielle received a Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Currently, she is a Board Member of the Entrepreneurship Leadership Council; the Director of Community Outreach which establishes a dual enrollment program for underserved communities and leadership training; an Advisory Board member for Lexington Books’ series on “Contemporary Perspectives on Social Inequalities in the United States”; and a Faculty Liaison at The Washington Center in Washington, D.C.


Raina Rippel
Executive Director of Communitopia

Raina Rippel is the Executive Director of Communitopia, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to provide transformative climate change education that develops today’s climate leaders and advances equitable solutions. As a career Executive Director, Rania has participated for over 20 years with 5 organizations on a variety of issues, primarily focused on environmental public health. She maintains a strong commitment to community development, environmental justice, and environmental protection, particularly as it relates to the health of front-line community members.

After nine years as the Founding Director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, she spent a year working on the front lines of public health as a Case Investigator contracted with the PA Department of Health for the COVID pandemic. While at the Environmental Health Project, she was the recipient of the 2016 Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award, and the 2020 PennFuture Woman of Environmental Justice Award.  

Rania currently serves as Secretary of the Washington County League of Women Voters, and Treasurer of the Earthkeeper organization, which was created to conduct research and take protective action on air pollution related to unconventional gas development.


Ameeta Schmitt, EdD
World Languages Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor at Pittsburgh Public Schools

Dr. Ameeta Schmitt, EdD is the World Languages Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for Pittsburgh Public Schools. Ammeta’s life experiences abroad and in Pittsburgh led her to a career in Education within Pittsburgh Public Schools. Upon completion of her undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh, Ameeta went on to complete her master’s in teaching (MAT) of Foreign Languages and joined the team at Pittsburgh Public Schools. 

Over the last decade, Ameeta taught as a world languages instructor of French and Italian, pursued her Doctorate in Education with a focus in Language, Literacy, and Culture while concurrently completing her certificate in Administration, and became an Assistant Principal. However, Ameeta’s passion for world language instruction continued to grow and led her to her current position as the World Languages Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction. Ameeta has also served as a mentor within Pittsburgh Public Schools for the past eight years. She speaks annually to university classrooms about her area of expertise, Funds of Knowledge, and its impact on classrooms. She is on the Healthy Schools Advisory Board and has worked with the Green Building Alliance. 


Natalee Smith, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist (R&D Chemist) at Covestro LLC

Dr. Natalee Smith has over nine years of experience in working with global, cross functional teams in the fields of research and development, product quality assurance and innovation at Covestro, a leading global chemical company. Throughout her professional career, Natalee has also made active participation in helping to shape corporate Equity and Inclusion efforts a priority. She has been a member of the African American and Diaspora focused Employee Resource Group since starting her career with Covestro in 2015 and has served various capacities on the group’s leadership team. 

Natalee is a Bryn Mawr College graduate and received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware. She is currently a member of the Attack Theater and Pearl Arts Studios Board of Directors. For Natalee, it has never been an either-or situation with the sciences and the arts and she has found both to be necessary for balance. Natalee is committed to helping to provide similar access to persons for whom such experiences are often out of reach.


About the Global Citizens Fellowship

The Global Citizens Fellowship program is designed for leaders from all backgrounds–no matter where you are in your understanding of global issues. Whether you already consider yourself a global citizen or are not yet sure what that means, through the deliberate, intensive, and immersive experiences that define our curriculum, you will walk away with new skills, knowledge, and insight into the global economy, civil society, and foreign policy implications shaping Pittsburgh today.


Over the past year, our team has been working with partners across the U.S. to create a unique curriculum that takes the professional development strengths of recognized leadership programs and infuses them with trainings and knowledge-building workshops focused on key global issues – global migration, climate, artificial intelligence, mis/disinformation, and gender equity – and their impact on our region.


Learn more about our Global Citizens Fellowship program below.



Who? This inaugural cohort is reserved for women leaders of all backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences. Whether you are in a c-suite role or act as a community leader, have a deep understanding of global perspectives or are looking to better connect with the global community here in Pittsburgh – we look forward to seeing a wide range of women leaders across generations, cultures, race, and identity.


  1. – Why women? Data shows that, on average, women invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men; lifting up one woman or girl means lifting up her entire community. By focusing our inaugural cohort on supporting women leaders, we will amplify economic and community impact across the Pittsburgh region.


What? Through this 7-month multidisciplinary program, leaders from Pittsburgh across various sectors will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of global perspectives, forge meaningful connections, and embark on a journey of transformative leadership.


Through interactive in-person sessions with subject matter experts, site visits, and deliberate time spent understanding challenges and opportunities, session topics will be explored using a global framework that is grounded in local relevance and economic and social impact. Fellows will be able to better serve clients, connect with colleagues, and operate in an increasingly interconnected world. 


Fellows will…


  • – Learn about timely global issues – both challenges and solutions – that impact economic and community development in Pittsburgh and around the world. Topics will include climate impact, women and girls, global migration, advocacy, social justice and equity, mis/disinformation, artificial intelligence, and global arts.
  • – Understand implications of global issues for their organization.
  • – Design an action project to operationalize global mindedness in their work.
  • – Grow their network of like-minded leaders across sectors and industries.
  • – Foster leadership-building skills through 1:1 mentorship and long-lasting support by being paired with executives who embody global mindedness in daily life – from their organization’s boardroom to community spaces.
  • – Attend DEI and wellness trainings by Ciera Young, a leader in DEI who has facilitated workshops for organizations ranging from small nonprofits to Fortune 100 companies.
  • – Be part of a new professional global community for years to come.


The program will culminate in an enriching international travel experience as a cohort.


When? Applications are due by April 11, 2024. We’ll make our selections by the week of April 15 and kick off on April 25 and April 26. The program runs for 7 months, April–November 2024, with a culminating international trip to bring to life the global issues and opportunities the Fellows will have been grappling with throughout the program. 


Why? Expanding our awareness of global issues means we’re
better equipped to create global solutions. Our region, institutions, and leaders need to understand the intersection between Pittsburgh and the world to support their growth – from talent acquisition to business strategy. And, if employers want to hire and retain the brightest minds, they need to invest in building global minds. This is fundamental to becoming a vibrant, competitive, and inclusive place. You and your
organization will be stronger for it.




What is your Fellowship commitment? 


Financial Commitment:

  • – Program cost ranges up to $7,500, which includes an international immersive cohort experience and all local accommodations throughout the Fellowship such as meals and trainings (parking and local travel is not covered). The total fee will vary depending on your sponsoring organization’s budget and barriers to participate. Limited scholarships are available.



  • – In-person attendance at all in-person sessions held one (1) business day per month.
  • – The cohort will also meet on select evenings/Saturdays for a total commitment of approximately 10-15 hours each month for the duration of the program between the April kickoff through November 2024. 
  • – Commitment from your supervisor/sponsoring organization is essential, unless you are Senior Leadership without a senior report, do not require board leadership approval, or are the owner of your organization or business.



  • Multi-day international trip (Nov 2024) is integral and part of the total program fee.



  • – We will kick off on April 25 and April 26 with a multi-day gathering that will include immersive experiences and grounding activities to begin to build community across the cohort and dive into the complex economic, societal, and policy decisions that directly impact organizations of all sizes, across all sectors, right here in Pittsburgh.  
  • – Active participation in all trainings, workshops, cohort communication, and activities (e.g., mentor meetings, virtual meetings, cohort breakout group assignments).
  • – Opportunities to participate in additional enrichment and immersive Pittsburgh events happening during the Fellowship with an international changemaker focus.
  • – Willingness to stretch beyond your comfort zone and challenge your perceptions about the world with your deepest level of professionalism and authenticity.
  • – Curiosity and openness to learn, including through trainings on global issues and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.


Deadline to submit your application is Thursday, April 11, 2024 by 11:59PM. Please know that space is limited. Notifications of the status of your application will be sent the week of April 15. 


Applications are now closed.


If you have any questions or issues with the form, please email