Institute of Politics

Coleman Award

The University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics recognizes that the collective identity of any region is largely demonstrated by the overall values and priorities embraced by the people who live there. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, we place significant value on individuals who have a strong commitment to serve the region. To honor one of our community’s greatest civic servants and to recognize those who have followed in his path, the Institute of Politics created the Morton “Moe” Coleman Award for Excellence in Community Service.

The purpose of the Coleman Award is twofold. It creates a lasting tribute to the Institute’s founding director, Moe Coleman, for the substantial and enduring contributions he has made to the Southwestern Pennsylvania region in the areas of public policy and governance, education, health and human services, and human equity. The award also recognizes elected and nonelected community leaders who, by personal example and sustained generosity, have made a significant impact in the region. Nominees for this award should be outstanding individuals whose leadership and efforts have advanced the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Award Criteria

The award recognizes and honors an exceptional individual who makes community service a way of life. This individual must exemplify the best in community service through a sense of caring and responsibility for others and must do so in a way that connects citizens and solves community problems.

Specifically, the honoree is an individual who, over a sustained period of time:

  • Gives freely and unselfishly of his or her time to community activities;
  • Inspires others to serve and acts as a role model;
  • Creates connections in the community that enhance coordination and collaboration in solving our region’s challenges;
  • Has a positive impact upon the direction and success of community projects, programs or individuals; and
  • Improves the lives of others.

To be eligible for the award, an individual must demonstrate significant and lasting contributions to the community beyond what is expected as a part of his or her professional life and/or demonstrate service to the community through participation on boards, volunteerism, and other activities that lie outside the scope of his or her current career.

2019 Coleman Award Recipient 

Frederick W. Thieman currently serves as the Henry Buhl, Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership.  In this capacity, he works to bring people together to address Western Pennsylvania priorities, and advance designated regional initiatives.  Prior to his appointment to the Chair, he served for nearly a decade (2007-2016) as President of the Buhl Foundation, Pittsburgh’s oldest multi-purpose foundation.  As President of Buhl, Mr. Thieman was recognized for his leadership on important community initiatives in education, youth development and human services, while also guiding the Foundation to a place-based focus on the Northside of Pittsburgh.  A former United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Mr. Thieman arrived at Buhl with an impressive civic and professional background.

Appointed by President Clinton, Mr. Thieman served as the United States Attorney from 1993 to 1997, where he headed an office of 42 attorneys who both prosecuted criminal violations throughout Western Pennsylvania and handled voluminous civil litigation ranging from health care issues and tort liability to employment rights and environmental impact.  While serving as the U. S. Attorney, Mr. Thieman was instrumental in establishing a youth crime prevention effort in Allegheny County that garnered national attention.

Over the course of his 30 year legal career, Mr. Thieman practiced as a trial attorney with a specialty in complex business related litigation. He began his career in 1977 as a law clerk to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas W. Pomeroy, Jr.  While practicing law, Mr. Thieman was recognized in professional journals as one of the leading attorneys in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Thieman was admitted to practice in 1977 after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and served as Assistant Editor of the Law Review.  A 1973 honors graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Thieman is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Academy of Trial Lawyers, the Pennsylvania Bar, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Mr. Thieman has served on numerous non-profit boards and foundation boards, including the Heinz Endowments and the Buhl Foundation, and is the recipient of numerous civic leadership awards from organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh, Urban League, Community College of Allegheny County, League of Women Voters and the Mentoring Partnership.