14 Returning Citizens Graduate from the Georgetown Pivot Program

Posted in News

On June 13, Cohort 6 of the Georgetown Pivot Program celebrated their graduation after nine months of intensive classroom and workplace instruction. This year, 14 returning citizens marked this significant milestone, reinforcing the program’s mission to destigmatize and empower returning citizens as they transition into the workforce.

The ceremony highlighted the tight-knit Pivot community, with family members, program alumni, and supporters gathered to celebrate the Fellows’ achievements. Tariq Gaston, a standout graduate who won first place at this year’s Pitch Competition, shared his story.

“Pivot is more than a program. It’s a culture. It’s a way of life. It’s a family,” Gaston said. “This program changed my life and put me in a position where I can succeed in many different ways.”

Pivot graduate Damon Donelson-Bey acknowledged his mother in his speech, who was celebrating her first birthday with him in nine years.

Damon Donelson-Bey at the graduation ceremony

“She is my strongest champion, my advocate, my lawyer, my nurse,” Donelson-Bey said. “I promise I am not missing any more birthdays.”

The Pivot Fellow family continues to grow larger and stronger. Now, 80 returning citizens in the D.C. area have completed the program. Alumni have gone on to secure meaningful employment, start their own businesses, and contribute to their communities.

“Six years on, we are seeing the emergence of a real community around Pivot. Our alumni are helping us with recruitment, creating internship opportunities, and acting as advocates within the community for people experiencing the challenges of reentry,” said Dr. Alyssa Lovegrove, Pivot’s Executive and Academic Director. “We are really proud of them and excited to see what the future holds.”

This year’s graduates are now seeking employment in a variety of industries, including transportation, hospitality, real estate, IT, and justice advocacy. Five Fellows were offered full-time employment with their intern hosts, and four others are working on growing their businesses.

Pietra Rivoli, who co-founded the program in 2018, received the Founder’s Award for her dedication and contributions. As she prepares to retire at the end of June, Rivoli reflected on her involvement with Pivot as the pinnacle of her career at Georgetown.

“In my 40 years at Georgetown, this is what I’m most proud of leaving behind,” she said.

The application for Cohort 7 of the Pivot Program opens July 1.