Coleman Award for Excellence in Community Service

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Nominations for the 2022 Coleman Award for Excellence in Community Service are now open. Get started today on your submission to give your nominee a chance to the impressive list of past honorees. Submissions are due by Monday, September 19. Download the application.


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.

History of the Coleman Award

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. Learn more.

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.

2021 Awardees

Lisa A. Scales, J.D.

Lisa Scales photo

Lisa Scales has been President and CEO of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank since 2012, leading the organization in distributing food for nearly 40 million meals annually through a network of 600 community partners in 11 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania.

“She leads by example. A face of the community, Lisa exemplifies the definition of unselfish.”
- Brian Gulish

John M. Wilds, Ph.D., SPHR

John Wilds photo

Dr. Wilds served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community Relations at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to this assignment, Dr. Wilds managed the University's Office of Human Resources for almost ten years.

“His legacy stretches across our teaching, research, and service missions of the University of Pittsburgh.”
- Jamilah Ducar

Past Coleman Award Honorees

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

 Year Honorees
2006 Moe Coleman, director emeritus, Institute of Politics
2007 Maxwell King, executive director, Fred Rogers Center, Saint Vincent College
2008 Marc Cherna, director, Allegheny County Department of Human Services;
Jim Rohr, president and CEO, PNC Financial Services Group
2009 Karen Wolk Feinstein, president and CEO, Jewish Healthcare Foundation;
David J. Malone, president and CEO, Gateway Financial Services
2010 David E. Epperson, dean emeritus and professor emeritus, University of Pittsburgh
2011 Helen S. Faison, former teacher, principal, and superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and community leader in education
2012 Henry S. Beukema, executive director, McCune Foundation;
Morgan K. O’Brien, president and CEO, Peoples Natural Gas
2013 Philip B. Hallen, president emeritus, Falk Foundation;
Linda McKenna Boxx, chairman, Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation
2014 Edie Shapira, president, board of directors, The Pittsburgh Foundation;
Rick Stafford, distinguished service professor of public policy, Carnegie Mellon University
2015 Bill Isler, former president and CEO, The Fred Rogers Center;
Charles Queenan, chairman emeritus, K&L Gates LLP
2016 Linda Lane, former superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools;
Bill Strickland, president and CEO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation
2017 Terry Miller, director, Institute of Politics, University of Pittsburgh
Laurie Mulvey, former director of service demonstrations, Office of Child Development, University of Pittsburgh
Tracy Soska, assistant professor and director of COSA, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh
2018 Laura Ellsworth, partner-in-charge of global community service initiatives, Jones Day
Saleem Ghubril, executive director, The Pittsburgh Promise
Aradhna Oliphant, president and CEO, Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. 
2019 Fredrick W. Thieman, Henry Buhl, Jr. Chair for Civic Leadership, The Buhl Foundation 
2020 Larry Swanson, executive director, ACTION Housing
Linda Dickerson, CEO, The Dickerson Group

Lisa A. Scales, president & CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
John M. Wilds, former vice chancellor for community relations, University of Pittsburgh