Institute of Politics

2018 Coleman Award Winners

The Institute of Politics has created the Morton “Moe” Coleman Award for Excellence in Community Service to honor our community’s greatest civic servants and to recognize those who have followed in his path. 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 are outstanding individuals whose leadership and efforts have advanced the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The 2018 Coleman Award winners are:

Laura Ellsworth

Laura Ellsworth is Jones Day's first Partner-in-Charge of Global Community Service Initiatives, spearheading the Firm's rule of law initiatives around the world. In her litigation practice, she has handled landmark public nuisance cases, multijurisdictional product liability matters, the largest health care bankruptcy of its time, and nationwide qui tam cases. Laura's commercial litigation work repeatedly has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America, Chambers, and Super Lawyers, and she was named one of Pennsylvania's top female litigators by the Legal Intelligencer. She served on the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and in 2013-2014 was co-chair of the Federal Judicial Selection Committee for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She served as Partner-in-Charge of the Pittsburgh Office from 2003 to 2015.

Laura has been active in civic and community affairs, serving on the board and executive committee of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Youth Policy Council, vice-chair of the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, and past chair of the United Way Women's Leadership Council. She was named by Governor Rendell as one of the Top Businesswomen in Pennsylvania and was appointed by Governor Corbett to serve on the boards of the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education, the Pennsylvania Council on Privatization and Innovation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She served on the boards of Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation (leading their $100 million global campaign), Imani Christian Academy, the Heinz History Center, F.N.B Corporation, Waynesburg University, The Duquesne Club, the McCune Foundation, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics. She previously served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Economy League, YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, the Pittsburgh Public Theater, and Neighborhood Legal Services. She also served on many advisory boards, including A+ Schools and the Chatham Center for Women in Politics. Laura has taught law classes in inner-city schools and conducted two Lawyers Without Borders programs in Nairobi, Kenya, before lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

Laura's civic contributions have been recognized in the 2013 CCAC Educational Foundation Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2013 ATHENA Award, the 2014 Pittsburgh Business Times BusinessWomen First Award, the 2014 Pennsylvania Diversity Council's Most Powerful & Influential Women Award, the 2016 Carlow University's Women of Spirit Award, the 2016 Legal Intelligencer's Lifetime Achievement Award, and named a 2017 Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America. In 2015, she was named #20 among the 50 Most Powerful People in Pittsburgh.

Saleem Ghubril

Saleem Ghubril is a passionate advocate for children and for the City of Pittsburgh.  An ordained Presbyterian minister, he has devoted his life to serving the people of his community through outreach and education programs.

In 1985, Saleem founded The Pittsburgh Project, a community development organization that provides free home renovations to hundreds of vulnerable seniors each year.  It also mentors, educates, and deploys thousands of youth in meaningful volunteer community service. Saleem led The Pittsburgh Project until 2008, when he assumed the leadership of The Pittsburgh Promise.

The Pittsburgh Promise works for a future where:

  • all urban youth are equipped to reach post-secondary success,
  • all public schools serve all children excellently,
  • Pittsburgh is flourishing in all its neighborhoods,
  • and our workforce is widely diverse and highly skilled to advance a region that is good and just for all. 

In the last 10 years, The Pittsburgh Promise has sent more than 8,100 urban youth to college and provided them with over $120 million in scholarships.

Saleem is the volunteer pastor of the Mosaic Community Church in Pittsburgh.  He also serves on the boards of The Buhl Foundation, Vibrant Pittsburgh, and the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

Aradhna Oliphant

Aradhna is President and CEO of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. (LPI), the premiere resource for community leadership identification, connection and development in Southwestern Pennsylvania. LPI seeks to strengthen regional leadership through programs, partnerships and connections. During its 30 year history, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. has produced over 2,400 informed and engaged leaders and linked them with opportunities to help serve our region.

Prior to joining LPI in December 2004, Aradhna served as the Program Officer of The Forbes Funds, a supporting organization of The Pittsburgh Foundation. There, she led the grant-making and sector-leadership activities of the Funds with a focus on enhancing the management capacity of human service and community development organizations. Aradhna was the Executive Director of The Children’s Festival Chorus (CFC) of Pittsburgh from 2000-2003. Before moving to Pittsburgh in 1999, Aradhna led an arts organization in Princeton, New Jersey, and taught as an adjunct professor of management and psychology at both Rider University and the College of New Jersey.

Deeply committed to community building, Aradhna is actively engaged with the academic, public policy, corporate and nonprofit sectors. She serves on numerous boards and advisory boards including the national Association of Leadership Programs, Chatham University, The Pittsburgh Parking Authority, and Thornburgh Forum at the University of Pittsburgh, among others. She was invited by Pennsylvania’s then Governor-Elect Tom Wolf to serve on the steering committee that oversaw the work of the transition teams, the Chancellor of University of Pittsburgh for The Chancellor’s Committee on City-County Effectiveness and Efficiency, and by the Allegheny Conference on the Pittsburgh 250 Commission. Aradhna is proud to be a member of the National Security Seminar of the U.S. Army War College. In 2015 she was appointed as a Commissioner for the County Government Review Commission that is constituted once every ten years to review Allegheny County’s structure and make recommendations. Aradhna serves as the President of International Women’s Forum of Pittsburgh and is a proud graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XVIII – an experience that truly anchored her in the region. She was recognized as one of our region’s top “40 Under 40” in 2002, honored as a “Fast Tracker” by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2005, received the top 25 Women in Business Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2009, honored as a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania in 2011, and by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation in 2013. In 2015 the Pittsburgh Magazine recognized Aradhna as one of the top 25 most influential people in the region and in 2018 The Pittsburgh Business Times gave her the Outstanding CEOs Award. Also in 2018 she was recognized for her entrepreneurial spirit in support of veterans by the Institute of Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. She was invited to deliver the Commencement address and has received honorary doctorates from two universities: Robert Morris University in 2016 and Waynesburg University in 2017. She has been featured in various print and online publications and her writing for the Pittsburgh Quarterly won the regional Golden Quill in 2009. In recognition of her unwavering commitment to community service the Institute of Politics at University of Pittsburgh awarded her the prestigious Moe Coleman award in 2018. Aradhna is a frequent guest speaker on leadership and regional issues including at a recent TEDxPittsburgh.

Born and raised in India, Aradhna holds an MBA from Rutgers University and an MA in Psychology from Bhopal University. Her family resides in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.