ShareThis Page

Sewickley-based Fellows program marries integrity, business

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 9:48 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Pittsburgh Fellows founder and director Becca Chapman (first row, third from left) and assistant director Amanda Yarger (first row, fourth from left) pose with current Pittsburgh Fellows and alumni (back from left) Kevin McMillan, Alanna Jantzi, Olivia Forish, John Dellape, Ethan Tuxill, Billy Rogerson and (front from left) Gary Horvath, Kyle O'Keeffe, Matt DeFusco and Chris Seidler on the North Shore on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

Amanda Griffith Yarger said it seems everywhere she goes, she finds a fellow Fellow.

Yarger, 28, of Sewickley, said that since the Pittsburgh Fellows at St. Stephen's Church in Sewickley began 10 years ago, 94 Fellows have graduated from the nine-month Christian leadership development work initiative. Of that number, more than half still are working and volunteering in the Pittsburgh area.

The program recruits and trains college graduates to be values-driven, ethical business leaders who integrate their Christian faith into their jobs and community with hopes that they stay in the Pittsburgh region.

Yarger said one of the goals of the program is to get Fellows to care about people “in the board room and under the bridge.”

Founder and director Becca Chapman, 59, of Sewickley agreed.

“Our hope is that Pittsburgh Fellows fall in love with our city and set down roots with the long-term vision of blessing our region through giving and leading with integrity,” Chapman said.

Pittsburgh Fellows is run through donations from church members, businesses, foundations and individuals, said Yarger, the program's assistant director and a former Fellow.

During the current session, 11 students are staying in Sewickley and seven in Pittsburgh in homes provided through the program.

They have been placed with companies in the area that pay them for nine months to work Monday through Thursday, and many companies donate funds to help with their living expenses. Yarger said many times, the companies hire them on a permanent basis.

Fellows take classes at St. Stephen's and Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, and volunteer and attend church services at St. Stephen's and program partner Church of the Ascension on Ellsworth Avenue in Pittsburgh. They volunteer in the community with alumni and participate in round-table discussions each week with area business leaders.

Chapman said this session marks the largest class, with 18 Fellows, and the incoming class will be the 10th.

To celebrate the 10th class of students, a dinner will be held Nov. 8 in honor of the late Fred Fetterolf, formerly of Sewickley, former chief operating officer of Alcoa and one of Pittsburgh Fellows' founding board advisers.

Leading the event will be board chairman Ralph Martin of Edgeworth, CEO of Trib Total Media, and Leslie Braksick of Bell Acres, co-founder and chairman of Moon-based Continuous Learning Group, or CLG.

Fellow Andrew Edwards, 22, of Hopewell, said the program taught him things he never knew about the city and has made him love Pittsburgh more than ever after visiting and learning about significant city enterprises and historical locations.

He said he believes “that we were placed on this earth to make a difference, and that is what I plan to do one day.”

Fellow Brittany Goodwillie, 22, of South Lyon, Mich., said she has learned the “importance of not just living in a city but understanding where you live and how to invest in the community around you as much as possible to make a difference.”

For Yarger, a former missionary, her experience with Pittsburgh Fellows has been life changing, she said.

“I felt God was calling me to bring that to the business world. I had to figure out how I could get a job that allows me to learn about how the economy works and impact the economy in a good way using my faith,” she said.

“Pittsburgh Fellows matches up beautifully with what I was trying to do with my life.”

The program began in the Washington, D.C., area and now has 21 programs across the United States. Pittsburgh Fellows is the only one in Pennsylvania.

Chapman, who has six grown children, got involved with the program after she saw what an impact it had on her son Timothy 12 years ago when he was a Fellow with the founding program — Falls Church Fellows — based at a church near Washington.

She and Peter Moore, former dean/president of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, began the national Fellows Initiative Program and planted 15 programs across the country, including Pittsburgh Fellows.

Chapman became part-time director for Pittsburgh Fellows while continuing her role as national director. Four years later, she concentrated her efforts on Pittsburgh because of the “incredible promise of growth for business Fellows in the city and region of Pittsburgh,” she said.

“The entire 10 years has been a gift to us, as well as to the Fellows, to many companies and to the wider community and the city,” she said.

“We hoped from the start that it would be a win-win-win, and it seems, by God's grace, to have become just that.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.