CORO FELLOWS IN ACTION

Meet some Coro Fellows in action and see first hand how these civic entrepreneurs and innovators have used their Coro training to impact our world.

Andrew Butcher

Coro Alum ’05

In 2003 Andrew’s passion for social entrepreneurship led him to apply for the Coro Fellows Program. He was looking for a vehicle to explore the growing renewable energy field.

“Coro had a strong orientation towards group inquiry—inclusive and intentional dialogue—that equipped me to translate ideas into action…to implement and get results.”

After completing the Coro Fellowship in St. Louis in 2005, Andrew moved to Pittsburgh to take advantage of Coro’s partnership with the Heinz College for Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where he completed a project at the Heinz College, which provided the foundation for the launch of GTECH Strategies, where he now serves as co-founder and CEO. GTECH is a social enterprise working at the intersection of community development and the green economy. Among other accomplishments, GTECH has helped reclaim over 1.5 million square feet of vacant land into productive use and mitigated over 200,000 tons of carbon.

Andrew has been awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship by Echoing Green, a Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneur Fellowship by the Hitachi Foundation, and a Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award by the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, Pittsburgh. He serves on the board of directors of GTECH, The Sprout Fund and serves on advisory boards of several organizations and initiatives.

Sophia Tu

Coro Alum ’10

In 2009, Sophia’s interests in city government, corporate social responsibility and cross-sector collaboration led her to the Coro Fellows program. The program gave her many opportunities to explore these interests from diverse perspectives, including meeting Stan Litow, Vice President of IBM Corporate Citizenship, who invited her to conduct her independent placement with his organization, which in turn led to the opportunity for a full-time position following her graduation from Coro. At IBM, Sophia helped launch and currently serves as the global team lead for the Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM’s largest-ever philanthropic initiative, which provides grants of technical and consulting expertise to city leaders around the world to tackle critical urban challenges. Sophia also leads World Community Grid for IBM, which harnesses unused computing power donated by over 670,000 volunteers around the world to enable scientific advances in health, poverty and sustainability.

Under her leadership, World Community Grid was  recognized by the White House in 2013 for advancing solar energy research and in 2014 for investing in climate change adaptation research. Since graduating from Coro, Sophia has stayed closely connected with the Fellows program as a mentor, placement host, and Coro Alumni Advisory Board (CAAB) member.

“As an alum of the Fellows Program myself, I draw on my Coro training every day to more effectively lead, adapt, communicate, and collaborate in both my personal and professional lives. Having supervised seven Coro Fellows to date, my colleagues and I have valued the creativity, industriousness, and adaptability of Fellows. These qualities have made them valuable contributors to the projects they have supported and have prompted IBM to hire multiple Fellows following their program year.”

Safeena Leila Mecklai

Coro Alum ’15

During her time at the University of California, Berkeley, Safeena discovered her passion for increasing representation of underserved populations in government.

After graduating in 2010, Safeena entered the Coro Fellows Program in New York City. Though she loved the work she did in California, Safeena wanted to use New York as a classroom to better understand what drove and motivated her love for cities and their potential for positive impact on their residents.

During her Fellows year, Safeena was placed at Capalino+Company, a full service lobbying and strategic consulting firm in New York City. During her time at the firm, Safeena worked on projects ranging from homeless shelter development, to city contracting with minority and women owned businesses, to developing corporate social responsibility partnerships between for-profit and non-profit organizations. Safeena’s work to expand the firm’s marketing and nonprofit practices led to an opportunity for a full-time position after her Fellows year. Safeena’s cohort empowered her to commit to the position, in which she is able to make the city more effective and responsive to its citizens by working with them to navigate it. At Capalino+Company, Safeena is able to use her Coro training to work with organizations to get them from idea to result. Through her guidance on complicated government processes, her clients are able to create tangible change for their communities.

“The Coro Fellows program is more than six jobs in the course of a year. Coro challenged me to enter a room, ask the right questions, and make the moves necessary to create impactful change. In each of my placements, I was able to focus my vision for what a better New York City could look like, and now I use my Coro learning to get closer to that vision daily. To be a Fellow is to be adaptive: for me, there is no greater feeling than to be faced with an old problem, find a new solution, and redefine the world through action.”

Todd Owens

Coro Alum ’00 

After graduating from Bethany College, Todd was living in Pittsburgh and working as a manager of a rock band, which immersed him in the music and cultural scenes in cities around the country. Through Todd’s travels around Pittsburgh, he met city councilman Bill Peduto and civic leader David Caliguiri, who saw Todd’s potential as a leader and recommended he apply for the Fellows Program. Todd took the plunge, applied and was accepted into the program. In his own words,

“Coro was an opportunity to make sense of all my experiences in life, to find my voice, to understand my behaviors and everything that defines who I am.”

Through Kate Dewey, Chair of the Coro Pittsburgh Board of Directors, Todd made a connection with Dewey & Kaye, a prominent nonprofit consulting agency in Pittsburgh. He began working with them after graduation as a consultant, eventually being promoted to partner, and surviving two mergers. Following which, Todd launched Nonprofit Talent, which is now one of the region’s top providers of executive recruitment, transition management, succession planning, board development and organizational assessment services for nonprofits and philanthropies. Todd is also a highly recognized thought leader on the social sector in Pittsburgh. He was voted a member of “40 Under 40” by Pittsburgh Magazine and was recognized in 2013 by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette as one of 14 “people to know around Pittsburgh in the new year.” He serves on the Boards of Attack Theatre, the Jefferson Awards Foundation, and Venture Outdoors