Dr. Michael Skirpan

Executive Director, Community Forge and Special Faculty of Computing Ethics

Carnegie Mellon University


Dr. Michael Skirpan is a community organizer, entrepreneur, artist, and technologist based in Pittsburgh, PA. He serves as the executive director of Community Forge and Special Faculty of Computing Ethics at Carnegie Mellon University. At Community Forge, he has overseen the rehabilitation of the once-vacant Johnston Elementary School in Wilkinsburg, PA, which after two years is home to over 45 local entrepreneurs and organizations. Community Forge has recognized for its inclusive community development work nationally and internationally including a placemaking award by the Urban Land Institute and recognition from the Brookings Institute for its excellence in community engagement. His play, Project Amelia, brought audiences together to discuss the ethics of our future with technology and garnered national support from the Alfred P. Sloan, John L. and James S. Knight Foundation.

Community Forge is a community center and incubator based out of the former Johnston Elementary School in Wilkinsburg, PA. Started in 2017 as an effort to restore the vacant elementary school into a community asset and a resource hub for youth, families, and local businesses. Their primary mission is to serve under-resourced entrepreneurs, empower youth to become leaders of their community, and contribute positively to neighborhood well-being. They do this by offering affordable space to local organizations, incubating first-time entrepreneurs and minority business owners, offering a variety of education programs, and operating a youth leadership council. They partner closely with Pittsburgh Learning Commons, a co-located non-profit dedicated to developing youth voice who runs their daily after-school program and together they were awarded a placemaking award from the Urban Land Institute for their participatory re-design of their community playground.

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