Institute of Politics

Samantha Balbier

  • Director

Samantha became the Director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) and the Elsie Hillman Civic Forum in early 2019. Prior to joining the IOP, she worked on a range of public policy issues facing the nonprofit sector as the Executive Director of the Forbes Funds’ Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP), a coalition of over 450 organizations from Southwestern Pennsylvania. There, she worked with regional leaders to advocate on behalf of the sector to address federal and state issues such as charitable tax status, healthcare reform, overtime rules, tax reform, behavioral health, state performance-based budgeting, and the upcoming 2020 US Census. She has a breadth of knowledge in issue-based policy, especially in the fields of pediatric environmental health, green building design, early childhood education, and human services. Over the past twenty years, she has filled a range of roles including working in philanthropy as program staff at the Heinz Endowments, as an Executive Director of an environmental health nonprofit, and as a special consultant to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning, where she launched a statewide initiative that engaged five state departments. 

Her policy analysis and program development activities reflect the importance of strategically engaging content experts with elected and government officials and have resulted in Pennsylvania being awarded the Excellence in Environmental Protection of Children from the Children’s Environmental Health Network in 2014, as well as the Innovation in Education Award for the 2016 GPNP Behavioral Health Public Policy Cohort awarded by Mental Health America.

Samantha holds Bachelor’s degrees in Business and Social Work from Mercyhurst University. She received her Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis in public policy and community organizing from Pitt in 1998. Samantha received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work in 2018. She is incredibly grateful to the University and her former graduate school advisor, the late Dr. Morton Coleman, Founder of the Institute of Politics, who guided her towards this career in public policy.