Elected Officials Retreat - 2019

The 23rd annual University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Elected Officials Retreat was held on September 19 – 20, 2019 at the University Club on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland.

This year's 23rd annual Elected Officials Retreat featured a diverse range of presentations and panel discussions centered around the theme of “Forging Our Future Together: Addressing Rural and Urban Needs to Build a Stronger Region.” Dr. Allan Parnell, Vice President, Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities, opened the retreat and outlined disruptive demographic trends across the United States and migratory patterns specific to western Pennsylvania. Following his presentation, panels comprised of elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and members from Pittsburgh's business community articulated the perspectives of urban and rural residents in order to identify common values, aspirations, and opportunities for collaboration and collective growth. As these conversations unfolded, attendees and panelists praised the unique features of their home districts while gaining insights about daily life across western Pennsylvania and identifying place-specific economic, educational, and social challenges. At the completion of the panels, Dr. Jay Shambaugh, Director of The Hamilton Project, presented the Vitality Index, which helped to identify opportunities for place-based economic growth and social mobility policies at a local level. The day concluded with an inspiring Coleman Award ceremony, which included heartfelt remarks from Coleman Award recipient, Fred Thieman, as well as an introduction from Institute of Politics' Chair, Mark Nordenberg, who offered thoughtful, memorializing remarks regarding former Institute Director, Moe Coleman.

The Retreat's second day of programming opened with a presentation from Dr. John Friedman, the founding Co-Director of Opportunity Insights, who spoke on economic and social mobility within communities using the Opportunity Atlas. After his presentation, a panel of community leaders discussed how the region can best invest in its people and neighborhoods. To close the retreat Purvi Patel, Savannah Barrett, and Ada Smith presented on urban-rural exchange programs in Illinois and Kentucky. Their discussion offered exciting and dynamic stories of urban-rural collaboration and leadership training, particularly focused on galvanizing artistic, communal, and political participation among young leaders. In his closing remarks, Institute Chair, Mark Nordenberg, commented that the Retreat's two days of discussion served to “build the foundation for change on the basis of new knowledge” across demographic and political lines, and also represented a meaningful step towards “preserving the kind of lives we want to see for our children and grandchildren.”

Coleman Award Winner

Please note that the titles and organizations listed reflect the position held by the awardee when he received the award.

  • Frederick W. Thieman, Henry Buhl, Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership, The Buhl Foundation 

Retreat Presentations

2019 Retreat presentations and videos can be viewed and downloaded below. The 2019 briefing book can be downloaded here.

Additional presentation materials, including speaker presentation slides, can be downloaded below.

Allan Parnell

Additional Resources

Jay Shambaugh

Additional Resources

John Friedman

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Savannah Barrett and Ada Smith

Additional Resources

  • Kentucky Urban Rural Exchange - (Download Here)
  • Kentucky Urban/Rural Exchange - (View Here)
  • University of Chicago - Institute of Politics - Briding the Divide: A Public Service Leadership Program - (View Here)