After completing a five-week session at Missouri Foundation for Health earlier in the program, two Coro Fellows opted to return to MFH for the final segment of their fellowship. From April 18 to May 8, Fellows Marina Balleria and Joseph Hassine rejoined the Foundation for their self-assigned individual placements.
MFH has been a supporter of the Coro Fellowship for more than a decade, often hosting fellows on site and providing them with direct experience in a foundation setting. The Foundation also periodically sponsors fellowship placements at other regional nonprofits.
The Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs is a national program with a mission that aligns well with MFH. Housed locally by FOCUS St. Louis, this unique nine-month program is held in five cities. The fellowship allows participants to gain hands-on public affairs experience in five different sectors: non-profit, government, private, public and campaign. Fellows rotate between nine organizations over nine months.
“The Coro Fellowship is about developing well-rounded, well-informed public leaders, so that whatever sector they end up in they understand how the community fits together and how the different sectors can influence and interact,” said MFH Director of Health Policy Thomas McAuliffe, who helped oversee the fellows.
Early in 2015 four fellows, including Balleria and Hassine, worked with the Foundation’s Expanding Coverage initiative for five weeks as part of a group project. “While we were here the first time Marina and I were both very interested in coming back, so we explored different project ideas with the Health Policy department,” said Hassine.
Hassine’s work during his individual placement was primarily focused on creating an advocacy guide for nonprofits that ties into MFH’s LINK Project. The Link Project helps MFH grantees understand the policymaking process in Missouri and assists them in learning when and how they can successfully influence the legislative process. Hassine is proud of the work he accomplished at MFH, stating that he “came in as someone whose opinion was respected and who was given something of value to work on.”
Balleria explained that she requested to return to MFH because she “knew that the Foundation would be supportive of doing something innovative, new and different.” Working with the Health Policy team, they decided that she would expand upon the work from her initial group project. For four weeks Balleria spent the majority of her time traveling to different communities throughout the region, researching where people socialize and where they get their news. Her findings will ultimately help Cover Missouri’s certified application counselors be more effective in their outreach efforts.
“We’re all very thankful for organizations that continue to host fellows. That MFH is invested enough in the program that they were willing to have six fellows over the course of the last five months is something we really appreciate,” said Hassine.
Balleria also looked back on her time at MFH with appreciation, saying that “for a fellow, being at MFH really opens up your eyes to the complexity of health issues, shows what a foundation can do and what it looks like to be inside one. When it comes to preparing people for public affairs, I think these are critical pieces of info that we should have.”