Posted by | sponsorchange | June 4, 2012 | No Comments
Yes, in case you were wondering, the Karate Kid is not the only person to learn how to use Chopsticks albeit to catch flies and not sushi, but yea… One thing we value at SponsorChange are projects that are diverse, experiential, non-boring, and offer Change Agents an intellectual adventure that involves sushi (seriously considering adding sushi as a core value). Here is our latest Change Agent Whitney Hinds-Coble speaking about the kick-off of her transportation project experience and SUSHI!
In mid-April, Justine Kasznica, the Executive Director of the Innovation Practice Institute at Pitt Law, told me about an amazing opportunity to assist with Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s Transportation Vision Team. I applied for the position and soon I was part of the project. Cliff Levine, an attorney at Cohen & Grigsby, is the chairperson of the Transportation Vision Team. He had reached out to SponsorChange to find a public policy student to help the team both administratively and with research. As a joint-degree student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Public Policy and Management and Pitt Law, this project felt like a perfect fit for me.
Our first meeting took place in the most interesting environment imaginable. CBS Sunday Morning show filmed Cliff, Chelle Buffone, and I discussing the project at Project Olympus. The show was filming a larger segment on student loan debt and featured SponsorChange as an innovative way to combat the problem! Since this unique first meeting, the project has been moving at lightning speed.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the project for me has been the interesting people with whom I get to work. An impressive team of 38 civic and business leaders has been assembled to provide the County Executive with a report that outlines recommendations for how to improve regional land use, public transit, and the airport. While attending meetings, I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with area contractors, economic development experts, lawyers, etc.
Plus, I have the privilege of working with Chelle Buffone, SponsorChange’s Director of Community Relations, and Cliff, the committee chairperson. Chelle, who is personally interested in transportation policy, has been with me every step of the way providing support, research assistance, and acting as a sounding board. Cliff is a fantastic person to work with – he’s enabled me to see and be involved with the organizational efforts involved with steering a large committee. He’s also careful to ensure that the skills I have developed in my public policy masters program are being utilized for the benefit of the committee. For example, this week, I made a twelve-minute presentation to the Transportation Vision Team on the current situation and potential next steps for improving Pittsburgh International Airport.
Not inconsequentially, Cliff also taught me how to eat sushi with chopsticks. As you can see from this picture, I still have room for improvement!
In conclusion, SponsorChange has enabled me to be part of an important process for the community that I would not have had the chance to be part of otherwise. As someone who solely uses the public bus system for transportation and frequently uses the airport, I have a personal interest in working towards these systems’ improvement. Plus, as a citizen vested in this city, I care deeply that all of my neighbors for whom driving is not an option have a way to get to work, school, church, the grocery store, etc. I am privileged to have the educational opportunities I am receiving, and SponsorChange has provided me with an opportunity to share my skills with the community.
**Stay tuned for more twist and turns as this transportation project kicks into high gear! Pun intended, sadly.