How do you take a twenty-six year record of program impact, a national network of passionate leaders and effective organizations, an intergenerational community of volunteers, and an inclusive commitment to the public good and… do even more?
Building on the success of our first twenty-six years, the Board of Directors is in the midst of a planning process that seeks to answer this question and set strategic priorities for the future of Princeton AlumniCorps. Since March, six working groups of the Board have explored core questions of how to deepen consistency and community across our programs, how to extend the reach of our programming and better mobilize our national network of alumni and partner organizations, and how to ensure the longevity of the organization. These working groups developed a long list of recommendations for the next phase of AlumniCorps, which the Board discussed in depth during its two-day strategic planning retreat on September 9-10. With considerable enthusiasm for what lies ahead, the Board will spend the next few months gathering input on key ideas before its December meeting and expects to finalize the strategic plan in early 2017.
Kimme Carlos joined Princeton AlumniCorps as Office Administrator in August, 2016. Prior to joining Princeton AlumniCorps, Kimme founded the NJ nonprofit, Urban Mental Health Alliance, where she continues to contribute her time as the volunteer Executive Director. She has also held several positions in nonprofit leadership as Association Manager with Creative Marketing Alliance and Program Manager, Annual Meetings with the African Studies Association.
Kimme is a strong advocate for urban community and social issues and has served on several boards in and across Mercer County, NJ, including Children’s Futures, NAMI Mercer and Oaks Integrated (formerly Greater Trenton Behavioral Health). Kimme was honored in 2009 as New Jersey’s Woman of the Year by the Garden State Woman Education Foundation for her dedicated volunteer work and she is a graduate of Regent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Psychology. She has two children, five grandchildren and lives in New Jersey. She brings to AlumniCorps a passion for and experience in nonprofit administration and operations.
Mikaela Levons ’04 is a native of Jamaica who has been passionate about civic engagement since high school. She has worked in the charitable sector since receiving a B.A. from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School in 2004. Mikaela served as the grant writer for New Jersey After 3 and The Martin House in Trenton. Most recently, she was the Membership and Communications Coordinator for the Center for Non-Profits. She received her M.Sc. in Non-Profit and NGO Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, and currently serves on the board of a non-profit operating in rural Jamaica. She and her husband live in Ewing with their three young daughters. She is excited to return to ‘Old Nassau’ as AlumniCorps’ Development and Communications Associate.
The Emerging Leaders professional development program is designed to help aspiring leaders in the nonprofit and public sectors develop the leadership capabilities, management skills, and confidence to advance their professional contributions and accelerate their careers. The program is intended to yield tangible, near-term value to participants (and their employers) and support their longer term leadership development. Emerging Leaders is currently offered in New York City and Washington, DC. The program is designed to accommodate those with full-time jobs and requires employer cooperation as well. The program runs for a total of 8 full-day, monthly sessions from June 2016-February 2017 (skipping August).
This year’s sessions kicked off on June 23 in NYC and Washington, DC. Both sessions focused on the 32 participants’ understanding their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) profile and its implications. In NYC, participants used the tool to reflect on their strengths, with a few discovering that their professional weaknesses don’t have to be a “source of shame.” Leaders also appreciated the peer coaching process, which helped them to define their emotional intelligence. Yael Sivi, the facilitator in NYC, used personal examples and learnings from her time as a therapist, while Executive Director of Partnership with Children, Margaret Crotty’s talk on Leadership Lessons left participants wishing that they had even more time with her.
In Washington, DC, Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of The Children’s Law Center, gave a talk on Leadership Lessons which provided concrete examples from the real world. Facilitator Hilary Joel explained that the MBTI assessment allows you to understand your own preferences, which positions you to practice adapting and expand your comfort zone.
Session 2, held on July 19 in both NYC and Washington DC, focused on 360 degree feedback reports. In NYC, guest speakers Daniel Oscar, Executive Director, Center for Supportive Schools, and Shena Elrington’04, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice Policy at the Center for Popular Democracy spoke about evolving and growing as a leader. Participants reported enjoying the process and the community of people they’re sharing it with. In DC George Jones, CEO of Bread for the City, discussed evolving and growing as a leader, while Hilary coached participants on receiving feedback constructively: “We forget our power of choice: which feedback to accept, discard, appreciate, explore…”
Session 3 on September 13 could be called “Peer work day,” as participants spent a lot of time peer coaching each other on their stretch goals. They also discussed the difference between leading and managing, concluding that the best leaders are also effective managers, and top managers demonstrate good leadership. In Washington, DC, Pyper Davis, Executive Director of Educare DC, and Elizabeth Lindsey, Executive Director of Byte Back, spoke about managing people and delegating effectively. In NYC, David Garza, Executive Director of Henry Street Settlement spoke about management 101. There was lively discussion around how to give feedback effectively, with an emphasis on creating a safe climate in the work place.
Maylin Meisenheimer grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. She majored in the Woodrow Wilson School with a focus on international institutions and global governance. She also received a certificate in East Asian Studies, and is fluent in Mandarin. She is very excited to be living in New York City and serving as the Community Manager at All in Together, empowering women in political and civic life.
What motivated you to apply for a PP55 fellowship instead of heading straight to law school?: Although I was interested in law school during my senior year, I was not entirely sure about it. I wanted to work for at least a year in order to figure out whether or not going to law school would help me achieve my future goals. I was really excited about PP55 because it gave me the opportunity to work for an organization that I was passionate about while connecting me with a mentor who could guide me.
What aspect of the fellowship appealed to you most?: I was most interested in working at one of the partner organizations, but I was also really excited about being mentored by an alumni. All of the organizations that partner with PP55 seemed really interesting, and I knew that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector for the year.
What drew you to All In Together?: I am very passionate about All In Together’s mission since gender equality is something that has a direct effect on my life. I also really like that it’s a non-partisan organization because I think that real change is brought about by bipartisan discussion and compromise.
What does your job look like, day-to-day?: We have a few forums coming up in the fall, and I’ve been able to work directly with vendors, venues, and speakers to organize the events. I’ve really enjoyed helping to plan the events, and it’s been interesting to see first-hand how the organization operates. I’ve also been working on a campus outreach program that we hope to start in the fall. I’ve been given a lot of freedom in my role, which I really appreciate since I feel like I’ve learned a lot that way.
In your role as Community Manager, do you interact with Courtney (Emerson ’10, COO & Co-founder)?: Our organization is very small, and we all share an office space, so I interact with Courtney very frequently. It’s been really nice to have her nearby since I’m able to ask questions and learn about how she works with AIT’s partners and sponsors. She is always really helpful and happy to answer my questions, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot! She often lets me participate in conference calls, and she has given me tips on how to communicate more effectively and interact with the organization’s sponsors. Working in the same environment with her and Lauren [CEO & co-founder] has shown me how to conduct myself in a professional setting, which is something that I had never really been exposed to before.
What do you hope to learn from AIT that you’ll utilize in the future?: Working at AIT has shown me which issues I am most passionate about, which will direct my studies in the future. I have seen first-hand how gender inequality continues to impact our society, and I am even more passionate about working for women’s rights.
How do you think the PP55 Fellowship experience (including mentorship & seminars) will help you in your future career?: The skills that I’ve learned will definitely help me in my future career. Also, speaking with my mentor, Brett Dakin, has been very helpful since he has similar interests and has told me more about his career path. Although he is a lawyer, he has worked as the General Counsel at several non-profits, which is a path that I’m very interested in pursuing.
AlumniCorps asked Courtney Emerson ’10 (AIT COO & Co-founder) if she sees herself in Maylin: Absolutely! Funnily enough, Maylin and I share a number of things in common—both former varsity athletes (she was a swimmer, I was a rower), both studied/worked abroad (she in China, me in Morocco), and we’re both passionate about politics. I only wish I had been as smart as her and applied to be a PP55 Fellow!
What motivated AIT to become a PP55 partner organization?: First, we have so much respect for the work of AlumniCorps and the value it provides to students. There are many, many college students who have tremendous passion for public service and want to serve the public good, but aren’t sure how to break into that industry or to turn that into a career—PP55 provides a clear path towards doing that. It was important for us to support that work through our partnership. Second, the students who are P55 Fellows are incredible—smart, passionate, talented. Hiring is challenging for every company but for a small non-profit, every hire is critical and getting connected to P55’s pool of talent is invaluable. Third, my co-founders and I are strongly committed to professional development of our employees—something that, unfortunately, non-profits are often not able to offer their employees due to limited resources and budget. The fact that P55 provides not only professional placement (which is great for us!), but also 1:1 mentorship and access to learning and development workshops and webinars is truly invaluable to the Fellow, especially as a recent college graduate.
What have you found makes PP55 fellows valuable?: Not only are the P55 fellows incredibly talented (after all, becoming a Fellow is a competitive process), they’re also mission-drive and motivated by the idea of creating a better world and having a positive impact in their communities. Their energy and enthusiasm in working to achieve that goal is contagious and shows up every day in the work they do.
AlumniCorps currently operates in seven regions across the country. Our local area committees recruit and match mentors, organize social events and seminars, and serve as guides to fellows navigating a new city. If you are interested in volunteering, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area: We had an orientation and welcome dinner for fellows in August, in which former fellows Amantia Muhedini and Abigail Kelly lead a workshop session to brainstorm and discuss their overall goals and hopes for the year. All fellows attended and it was a great way to kick off the year. This month, we are hosting a behind-the-scenes experience at the San Francisco Opera. Fellows and mentors have been invited to a dress rehearsal of the opera, “Don Pasquale,” and will have a Q&A session with SF Opera Artistic Planning Manager, Sean Waugh.
Boston: We welcomed the new fellows to city by hosting a happy hour with the Princeton regional association. It was a success and many of our former and current fellows attended. We’ll have a welcome event for the fellows on Cape Cod, hosted generously by committee member Tom Flynn. There’ll be an informal BBQ where we’ll talk about the expectations for the year, followed by some fun activities around the Cape.
Chicago: On Sunday, August 28th, we hosted an orientation retreat for our incoming fellows. PP55 Mentor Carol Obertubbesing ‘73 introduced the fellows to the city’s history from the vantage point of the Chicago River on a Chicago Architecture Foundation boat cruise! Sherry Holland led the mentors through their own orientation program, sharing tips for connecting to their mentees. Afterwards, fellows and mentors met up for dinner at the home of Sally and Vince Anderson ‘65.
On August 31st, fellows from PP55 and the University of Chicago and Northwestern Public Interest Programs (PIP) came together for a “PIP-nic” in Millennium Park. Our seminar series kicked off on Wednesday, September 8th, covering topics like public interest, asset-based community development, and workforce development.
Washington, DC: We recently hosted a kick-off event to introduce our new committee members and determine participants’ interest in topics/ideas for this year’s programming. This event was hosted by our area committee advisor, Tonya Miles and was attended my P55 fellows, Emerging Leaders, mentors, and alums. While at CityBridge, Joelle Deleveaux is exploring potential solutions for the charter school facilities crunch in D.C. For his part, Michael Moorin has begun to do intensive research into the education marketplace in DC and school incubation.
To see more photos from the 2016 PP55 Welcome events, visit our Facebook album
Here are just a few of the many reflections that Princetonians have shared with us.
“Project ’55 has played an important role in offering our students remarkable volunteer civic engagement opportunities that clearly have a lasting impact on their personal lives and careers.PP55 has truly been a source of inspiration and guidance for young alumni who want to make a positive difference at a local, national, or global level”
Shirley Tilghman, President Emeritus, Princeton University
“Project 55 has been the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. “I think we’ve demonstrated that we’ve had a meaningful impact on communities around the country, on alumni at Princeton, on the student body and on the institution itself.”
Chet Safian ’55
“I’ve served as a mentor since 1993. I moved to Chicago in late 1992 and attended the Community Service Conference held here in Spring 1993. I was so excited by the PP55 program and the fellows I met at the conference that I immediately spoke to John Fish about becoming a mentor and have been one ever since. I really enjoy getting to know a recent graduate each year. Depending on the interests of my mentee, I try to balance fun things to do (theatre, music, Chicago touring) with conversation about their experiences at work and living in Chicago.”
Carol Obertubbesing ’73
“Mentoring for PP55 has been an exhilarating experience. The opportunity to be involved with the program and the mentees of pp55 add an entire dimension to my life. They are truly the best and brightest…and we have a chance to be wired in to the future World’s leaders. What more may one ask?”
Harry Berkowitz ’55
“PP55 has given me the opportunity to make a difference. This has an impact on students, on agencies and the populations they serve, and on a broader group in society.”
Anne-Marie Maman ’84
“My time with Princeton Project 55 helped me to understand that having access to and encouragement toward service can have a profound effect not only on the arc of a career, but also on the strength of our communities. . . . Organizations like this prove once again that each of us can shape a better future for ourselves, our communities, and our country.”
Michelle Obama ’85
“I am very encouraged by the steps being taken by Princeton AlumniCorps to involve new leaders not only in sustaining the PP55 program, but also in developing new programs whereby Princetonians of all generations can have a meaningful, positive impact on society.”
Scott Taylor ’75
“I hope that you will convey to the participants both my sincere regard for their efforts and my gratitude for the way in which their active service not only benefits the communities in which they work but also makes Princeton a better place. The Project 55 program has been a wonderful concept; it is one of the aspects of this University that make so many of us proud to be members of the Princeton family.”
Harold Shapiro, President Emeritus, Princeton University