VISTA Spotlight: Introducing Ashley!

13 Mar

For the next few months, we will be introducing the PCRG community to our latest AmeriCorps VISTAs. Get to know our cohort as each member will be featured on our blog and in our newsletter!


Equity & Capacity VISTA: Ashley Pinamonti

Pictured: Ashley counting votes for community priority areas at the third Allentown Equity Cafe held at Academy Pittsburgh. (former NSR VISTA Jorinda Bullitt is to my right) Photo by Will Halim, Storyburgh.



New Sun Rising


Tell us a little about yourself

I have lived in Pennsylvania pretty much my whole life and grew up in a small town called Spring Mills that probably has nearly as many cows as people. My coworker and I recently tried to find my house on google maps and it’s not there so that gives you an idea of how rural it is. I love traveling and studied abroad in Gambia, Brussels, Belgium, and Sevilla, Spain during my time at Juniata College. At college, I studied International Politics and Conflict Resolution. I also enjoy hiking and just being outside in general, so I’m exited for the warm weather to get here (and stay)!


Why did you decide to serve with AmeriCorps VISTA?

I really like the way that VISTA goes about its mission of fighting poverty by having VISTAs focus on building capacity of the organization they serve in. As a VISTA, I feel that I am able to create sustainable and impactful change through the work that I am doing because instead of personally reaching a few people I am helping New Sun Rising to expand their reach and impact to many people. Being offered a position with NSR sealed the deal because I could tell right away that they had a very community-minded focus and were concerned with supporting not just economic development, but also equitable development.


What goals do you have for your service term?

My goals are to build New Sun Rising’s capacity so that they can deepen their impact in the Pittsburgh region while also building my own capacity by developing skills and experience in areas like grantwriting, program monitoring and evaluation, reporting, and mentoring, which will be useful in any future position I take on. I also want to learn more about the nonprofit world in general and how an organization can operate sustainably and effectively.


What projects are you currently working on with VISTA?

Right now, I am helping to support our Launch Wilkinsburg business incubation program which just started last month. I am also planning three Wilkinsburg Equity Cafe workshops, which are our adaptation of the World Cafe model – a process of collaborative dialogue designed to bring people together to focus on specific issues faced by their community. The goal is to help community members to construct a more equitable Wilkinsburg by discovering Wilkinsburg’s strengths, dreaming of what could be in the future, and figuring out how to put those dreams into action. We also just finished up a pilot of Welcome Mart, which is a business incubation program for immigrants and refugees. I am currently working on the budget and program outline and researching funding opportunities so that Welcome Mart can become an established program.


What are your plans after VISTA?

After VISTA I will have a couple of weeks to hang out with my parents and two younger sisters and then I will be off to the Dominican Republic for two years to serve as a Youth Development Volunteer in the Peace Corps. (If I manage to get all of the medical clearance paperwork filled out in time!)


Global Pgh (2)


Pictured: Ashley and Scot Wolovich, the Executive Director of New Sun Rising, meeting with visitors from the Middle East through Global Pittsburgh and the US State Dept.’s International Visitor Leadership Program to discuss the impact of social entrepreneurship and NSR’s model for community incubation.