In 1987, the University of Pittsburgh formed the Advisory Council on Regional Development (ACORD)—a diverse group of community leaders—to advise the University on how to more effectively respond to public need in six areas of concern: cultural and recreational resources, economic development, education, federal and state relations, regional governance, and societal response to economic change.

One major outgrowth of the council’s recommendations was the founding of the Institute of Politics, an independent, community-supported, nonprofit organization operating under the University’s auspices. From its start, the Institute has drawn participation from leaders in both the public and private sectors and—according to their continuing testimony—has helped these leaders arrive at more enlightened policy decisions.

At the Ninth Annual Elected Officials Retreat in 2005, the Institute underwent significant restructuring, culminating in a complete reorganization of the Institute’s infrastructure that now includes a Board of Fellows, an Executive Committee, and the following eight policy committees:

During the 2005 restructuring, the Institute reemphasized its commitment to including elected officials in the development, design, and implementation of all program activities. This regular dialogue between leaders at every level of policy development creates momentum for policy actions that positively affect the region.

In an effort to further engage with the local and university community, the Institute launched the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum in 2015, an initiative designed to bring University of Pittsburgh students together with community leaders to increase civic engagement and advance the legacy of Elsie Hillman’s work.