A Founding Bonner Leader Now Supports Innovation Around the World


Learning Opportunities Await Around Every Corner

As a member of the first Bonner Leader cohort, Tara Hill has come a long way. She’s transitioned from spreading the Bonner Leader model nationally to supporting innovative science focused on addressing inequities in developing countries. Along the way, Tara has found that each of her experiences have taught her something about the workforce the community, or herself. She cites this mindset as one of the most important values she has gleaned from the Bonner Program.

The Learning Curve

Fortunately for Tara, Allegheny College piloted the inaugural Bonner Leader program during her time as an undergraduate student. Working to launch the program allowed her the opportunity to volunteer with at-risk youth, giving her time to learn the lessons of Bonner. 

“You learn more from it than you give. It taught me how to work with others and how to work with communities I never had the opportunity to work with before. I met individuals who taught me to be brave.”

With her passion for Bonner emboldened, Tara served a fellowship with the Bonner Foundation to expand the Bonner Leaders program across the country. Tara remembers Bobby Hackett, who is now President of the Foundation, teaching her many of the technical  skills she had not yet acquired in an educational setting, inspiring her to pursue a her Master’s in Public Administration at George Washington University with a focus in international non-profit management.

Becoming an Expert

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Following graduation from GWU, Tara was accepted into the Presidential Management Fellowship, a program for postgraduates interested in working with the federal government. She was placed with the Department of Education to support grants that prepared schools for emergencies such as hurricanes or on-campus shooters. From there, she landed her first position with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) working with grant management. She then moved on to her current position as the Senior Program Manager of the Global Development Lab at the Higher Education Solutions Network. Here, she supports universities across the world to develop and improve technologies and innovations to address development challenges globally.

As one example of the innovations USAID supports, Tara shares, “Some developing countries lack adequate facilities and supplies to safely deliver babies. So one of the projects we support has developed a solar suitcase to support mobile deliveries, which helps to decrease the mortality rate for babies and mothers. My job is to provide the program support to enable these projects to do the good work that they do.”

Spreading the Love for Learning

Tara is excited about the opportunity she has to make an impact through the Higher Education Solutions Network and thanks Bonner for instilling her drive for learning that has gotten her to where she is today. 

“It’s really a mindset about service leadership and service learning. There is just so much to learn from participating in service, and that’s really how we should approach life. Every opportunity is an opportunity to learn something new about people, about yourself, and about our world.”

Tara encourages Bonner Scholars and Leaders to open their minds and hearts even to the opportunities they least expect, because they may never know when that opportunity may launch a career path. By opening herself to service as an undergraduate, a fellow for the Foundation, and then a professional in the government, Tara has learned the knowledge and skills that have led her to where she belongs: an advocate for international development work.


To learn more about Tara Hill, check out some of the projects she’s worked with:


Written by Ashlee Renich-Malek, Bonner Alumna of Stetson University, '18

Read Tara's job profile here

Or click here for a downloadable version of this profile