AlumniCorps Welcomes Five New Board Members in 2018

Princeton AlumniCorps’ Board of Directors recently elected five new members to the Board: Karen S. Ali, Esq., Princeton class of 1978, of Princeton Junction, NJ; Timothy (Tim) Harr, Princeton class of 1972 of Washington, D.C.; Rishi Jaitly, Princeton class of 2004, of Chicago, IL; Brian Leung, Princeton class of 2012, of New York, NY; and Kristen Smith, Princeton class of 2003, of Chicago, IL. New members attended their first Board meeting in Princeton on September 15, 2018.

Additionally, current Board members re-elected for three-year terms include Liz Duffy, Princeton class of 1988 of Lawrenceville, NJ; David Huebner, Princeton class of 1982 of Los Angeles, CA; and Andrew Protain, Princeton class of 2008 of New York City, NY.

AlumniCorps Board members meet quarterly, and play a vital role in developing policies, procedures and regulations, monitoring financial performance and AlumniCorps’ programs. They also participate actively in at least one program committee and one fundraising committee, attend scheduled board retreats, planning meetings, workshops or other board development activities, and attend, support, and participate in special events. Directors serve for a three-year term that is renewable for one cycle and bring personal/professional expertise to support the mission of AlumniCorps.

Karen Ali is an active Tiger involved in several University and alumni activities. She received the Alumni Service Award from the Association of Black Princeton Alumni on June 2, 2018. For more than 20 years, she has served as an administrator for the Fred Fox Class of 1939 Fund, a program that provides grants to students for academic-related projects. She is also an alumni interviewer for the Alumni Schools Committee.
In 2013 she volunteered through Princeton AlumniCorps ARC Innovators program for Good Grief, Inc. and edited an anthology of children’s essays about their grief journey, The Invisible Tattoo: True Stories about Children Grieving, Living, and Loving After Loss (2014).
Formerly, Karen served as a member of the Sociology Departments Advisory Committee from 2012-2018; vice president of the Class of 1978 and president of the Class of 1978 Foundation from 1998-2003; and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Class of 1978 Foundation for more than 20 years.

Karen is also active in the community, serving as the current president of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey State Museum Foundation. She is General Counsel for the New Jersey Hospital Association, a healthcare trade association in Princeton.

Karen graduated from Princeton in 1978 with a degree in Sociology, magna cum laude and a Certificate of Proficiency in Afro-American Studies. She is a 1981 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and a member of the New York and Virginia bars.

Karen lives in Princeton Junction with her spouse, Deighton Weekes, and their son, Justin, Adelphi University 19.


Timothy ‘Tim’ Harr is familiar with AlumniCorps through doing a couple of ARC Innovator projects. He teaches international negotiation at Georgetown Law and works as an attorney/consultant, after a career in private practice and working at Motorola on a range of antitrust/regulatory/government compliance/international business matters. He has had substantial Board experience in multiple roles, having served on the Board of Green Door Behavioral Health since 2005.

Tim holds a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School and a JD (Order of the Coif recipient) from University of Virginia Law School. A resident of Washington, D.C., Tim has a pet chicken named Ivanka Trump. He also volunteered through AlumniCorps ARC Innovators program in 2015-16 with Sourlands Conservancy in New Jersey. Tims six-month-old granddaughter in Philadelphia will probably be the recipient of visits on weekends when there are Board meetings.


Rishi Jaitly is CEO of Times Bridge, the U.S.s largest venture capital firm bringing the worlds best ideas to India and Asia. The firm’s investment portfolio includes Airbnb, Coursera, Houzz, Mubi, Thrive, Uber and Vice. Jaitly is the former Vice President, Asia Pacific, Middle East & North Africa for Twitter.

Earlier, Jaitly was the Managing Director of Twitter India, the Head of Public/Private Partnerships for Google/YouTube India, a speechwriter for Google CEO Eric Schmidt and a Director of the Knight Foundation in Detroit and College Summit in Washington, D.C.

He’s the co-founder of Michigan Corps (an online service platform for Michiganders everywhere), Kiva Detroit (Americas first peer-to-peer microlending initiative), and the BMe Community (now Americas largest digital storytelling/leadership network by/for black males who lead in their hometowns).

He is a former Trustee of Princeton University, a former Commissioner of Higher Education in New Jersey, a member of the Princeton Technology Advisory Council, and a Board Member of the Princeton Club of Chicago & the Chicago Humanities Festival. Rishi was a Project 55 Fellow at College Summit from 2004 to 2005.


Brian Leung came to AlumniCorps in 2016-17 as an ARC Innovator with Harlem RBI in New York City (now DREAM Charter School) to continue his commitment to civic engagement after moving to private sector employment, working first for Fresh Direct and now as Special Operations Manager for Hellofresh USA. Since leaving Princeton in 2012, Brian has worked for the CIA as a Graduate Researcher while getting his Master of Public Affairs at University of Wisconsin Madison. He worked at the New York City Office of the Mayor, where he served as the Mayor’s juvenile justice subject matter expert and oversaw the Mayors Leadership Team on School Safety. In both of those roles, Brians work showed tangible results.

At Princeton, Brian majored in Politics and received a Certificate in Economics. He was captain of the Mens Varsity Cross Country and Track Teams, where his talent was awarded with being a two time All American and a three-time winner of the Rosengarten Award for Most Valuable Student.


Kristen N. Smith is an attorney in Holland & Knights Chicago office and focuses her practice on multifamily affordable housing finance matters. She represents institutional lenders providing debt financing and investors providing equity financing in the construction and preservation of affordable housing developments eligible for the low-income housing tax credits. Kristen also represents lenders in transactions utilizing the credit enhancement programs of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

As a former Affordable Housing Fellow at New York Citys Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and a former Assistant General Counsel at the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Kristen has a wealth of experience working with city, state and federal agencies on affordable housing transactions involving tax credits, tax-exempt bonds and multiples sources of subsidy funds in New York City and throughout the United States.

Kristen also works with HPD to coordinate its Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBEs) Building Opportunities Workshops. Kristen graduated from Princeton in 2003 with a BA in Anthropology with Certificates in Latin American Studies and Spanish Language and Culture. She followed that by receiving a JD from Boston University School of Law in 2007 and was President of the Black Law Students Association in 2006. Kristen is also a former Project 55 Fellow and has been an active member of the AlumniCorps community in each city she has lived in – Boston, New York, and Chicago – serving on Area Committees, supporting the Fellowship Programs and acting as a mentor.

Our Strategic Plan in Action

Our strategic initiatives continue to gain traction! Plans for the inaugural Project 55 Fellows Retreat— one strategy for strengthening our existing leadership programs as described in our current Strategic Plan are well underway.

Chauncey Conference Center in Princeton, NJ

Thanks to our generous donors, all expenses for our 57 Project 55 Fellows will be covered by AlumniCorps! The dates for the retreat are April 5 – 7, 2019 and the event will be held at the Chauncey Conference Center in Princeton. Staff members are working on surveying new Fellows to assess what they want to gain from a retreat, developing content, and working on finding speakers and facilitators. Get to know our Fellows by reading their bios and seeing their headshots in the On the Path directory.

AlumniCorps staff are also collaborating with our Emerging Leaders facilitators to strengthen that program by offering “Booster Shots”— full-day professional development opportunities offered to over 200 Emerging Leaders alumni. Read more about our current Emerging Leaders in the update here.

Yet another outgrowth of our strategic plan—our Bold Idea initiative co-hosted a regional gathering in downtown Chicago on June 7, 2018, with Appleseed titled From Learning to Action: Working with Chicago’s Immigrant Communities. The event included a morning panel featuring speakers Seemi Choudry, the director of the Office of New Americans at the Chicago Mayor’s Office, and Meg Benson, the executive director of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, as well as an afternoon session dedicated to brainstorming and networking among the participants. View more photos from the event, taken by 1871 photographer Gregory Rothstein during a brief portion of the afternoon brainstorming.

Also under the umbrella of the Bold Idea initiative, AlumniCorps hosted a Reunions panel discussion and Q & A session, In the Service of Humanity: Empowering Immigrant Communities. Over 40 people listened to a panel of Princetonians who are working to build capacities and develop skills among immigrants and refugees. Read details in our Reunions 2018 Update.

Another strategic plan priority is addressing deferred maintenance and performing essential upgrades to our building at 12 Stockton Street in Princeton, NJ. We are pleased to announce that in June 2018 we were one of 25 organizations to receive a historic preservation grant from The 1772 Foundation in cooperation with the New Jersey Historic Trust to repair the exterior of the building. AlumniCorps was one of 12 organizations to receive the maximum grant amount of $15,000. Princeton Town Topics interviewed President and Executive Director Kef Kasdin ’85, highlighting the historical significance of the Charles Steadman-designed building.

Staff Update at 12 Stockton

Kimme Carlos & Brielle Blackshear
Kimme Carlos, newly promoted Operations Manager, and Brielle Blackshear, newly promoted Project Assistant

We’re pleased to announce that Kimme Carlos has been promoted to Operations Manager as of July 1, 2018, formally recognizing the excellent contribution she has made since she joined our staff in August 2016 as Office Administrator. Prior to joining Princeton AlumniCorps, Kimme founded the New Jersey nonprofit Urban Mental Health Alliance, where she continues to contribute her time as the volunteer Executive Director. Since joining our team, Kimme has gone above and beyond to professionalize our operations. In addition to managing our human resources and facilities, she developed systems and procedures to streamline administration across the staff team.

In particular, Kimme leveraged her experience as an event coordinator to handle logistics for a myriad of AlumniCorps events, including our Board meetings, staff retreats, Emerging Leaders sessions, Project 55 Fellowship interviews, and annual Project 55 Fellowship Orientation. Kimme is responsible for overseeing maintenance and renovation work on 12 Stockton, which is one of the priorities outlined in our current strategic plan. She also manages an administrative team and coordinates their support of the AlumniCorps staff. As AlumniCorps expands our programs and impact, we will rely on Kimme to manage our operations at headquarters and support the events we host across the country.

Brielle Blackshear joined AlumniCorps as our Administrative Intern in 2017. Her work ethic and team spirit made her the perfect candidate for a long-term role at 12 Stockton; we are pleased to announce that as of June 1, 2018 Brielle was promoted to the role of full-time Project Assistant, supporting all of our strategic initiatives. Brielle is a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a BA in Labor Studies and Employment Relations and a minor in Public Health. She brings a passion for nonprofit work and advocacy to Princeton AlumniCorps and hope to one day start a nonprofit of her own.

Learn more about Kimme and Brielle on our staff team page.

Regional Updates, Summer 2018

Bay Area

Project 55 Fellow Nick Dreher ’17 spent the past year at the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center working on various clinical and epidemiological research projects. As a culmination of his year-long Fellowship, he was invited to present at one of the largest educational and scientific events in the oncology community. Read more about his experience, including several last-minute changes, on his blog post.

Project 55 Fellow Hannah Kraus ’17 has been working at Aspire Public Schools, one of the first public K-12 charter systems in the country. Her year has been an enormous learning experience with regards to education policy, nonprofit organizations, program design, survey administration, and equity/inclusion. She shares her learnings about evaluating teacher effectiveness and her experience at Aspire on her blog post.

Boston

Project 55 Fellow Monica Seng ’17 has been working to promote safe access to fecal transplants at OpenBiome. Her role as a Clinical Outreach Associate gives her the opportunity to support OpenBiome’s ever-growing clinical partner network to help treat patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection, which is the number one hospital-acquired infection in the country. Read more about Monica’s experience in her blog post here.

Chicago

On May 20, 2018, the Chicago Area Committee held a year-end event generously hosted by Vince Anderson ’65 and his wife. Project 55 Fellows, mentors, and Area Committee members shared the highs and lows of their time in Chicago.

New Jersey

On July 7, 2018, our New Jersey Area Committee welcomed the 2018-19 NJ cohort of Project 55 Fellows with a meet and greet at 12 Stockton

On July 7, 2018, our New Jersey Area Committee welcomed the 2018-19 NJ cohort of Project 55 Fellows with a meet and greet at 12 Stockton. Fellows, volunteers, mentors, and Area Committee members were able to enjoy some refreshments and great conversations about Princeton Project 55. See photos of the Fellows, mentors, and other volunteers here.

New York

On June 28, 2018, the New York Area Committee had a farewell party for the 2017-18 cohort of Project 55 Fellows in the city. The event took place at the home of AlumniCorps Board member and Area Committee member Judy Hole Suratt s’55. See lots of photos in the Facebook album here.

In April 2018, the Area Committee also gathered Fellows and volunteers at Seward Park NY Public Library on 4/28/18. They discussed the role of public libraries in modern times and got a tour of the Seward Park Branch of the New York Public Library. The group even got to peek in on a library program and some classes, then afterward they enjoyed some dim sum. See photos of their tour of the library here.

Piyapat “Poupae” Sinsub’ 17, Project 55 Fellow at the Housing Development Fund, wrote about her experience as a Development Assistant based in Stamford, CT. She shared how questions like “What can we do to make nonprofits operate as efficiently as corporates when there are not enough incentives?” led her to the discovery of social enterprises—a field she plans to pursue at the graduate level. Read more in her blog post.

Washington, D.C.

Furman Haynes ’17 just completed his Fellowship at CityBridge Education and has been hired to work full time at the organization with the former D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education, Jennie Niles, to create pathways for the city’s young people into STEM-related careers. Congratulations, Furman! Read about his experience as a Fellow there in his blog post. Former AlumniCorps Emerging Leader Brandon White ’09 has stepped up into leading the development of a great seminar series for the Project 55 Fellows in Washington, D.C. in the upcoming program year. Brandon also sat on one of our panels at Reunions 2018; see our Reunions update for details.

Reunions 2018 Recap

AlumniCorps hosted three well-attended events at Princeton University’s Reunions on Friday, June 1, 2018. All our activities took place at Princeton’s Neuroscience Building, off Poe Field. Our morning workshop, In The Nation’s Service: Mapping Your Network for the Public Good, featured a panel of four Princeton alumni. About 20 attendees learned how Charlie Lucas ’71, Kristen Smith ’03, Brandon White ’09, and Ayana Woods ’98 have all leveraged AlumniCorps’ programs, as well as their own networks, for systemic change.

Charlie has volunteered with AlumniCorps’ ARC Innovators program, which provides nonprofits with pro bono assistance from experienced professionals in the AlumniCorps network. Learn more about Charlie’s work by reading about him on page eight of our 2016-17 Annual Report. Kristen is a Project 55 Fellowship alumna who volunteers on our Chicago Area Committee and recently joined AlumniCorps’ Board of Directors. She reflected on her continuing bond with Fellows from her cohort: “I continue to … reach back to those folks….” As Kristen’s career in housing and economic development has blossomed in Boston, New York, and now back in Chicago, “Princeton AlumniCorps [has provided] even more benefit” in understanding these various nonprofit landscapes. Brandon, who completed our Emerging Leaders program for young nonprofit professionals in Washington, D.C. in 2018, shared that in a new job role he was “…thrown into the deep end [and/but] Emerging Leaders was there to catch me… it was like having a cheat sheet going forward.” Ayana, also an alumna of Emerging Leaders, said, “People have personalities… Emerging Leaders is an opportunity to learn skills to manage people’s personalities, and our own.” After the panelists’ comments, attendees participated in an interactive exercise to discover how their connections, skills, and resources could be leveraged for systemic social change.

Bill Shafer ’55 ends the informal introductions at lunch with a few remarks about the founding of AlumniCorps

We continued the conversation during “In the Nation’s Service Together: A Networking Lunch,” where like-minded Princetonians gathered and shared how they are mobilizing networks for the public good. 

Board Chair Liz Duffy ’88 led an informal round of introductions so attendees could get to know each other. Bill Shafer ’55 brought us full circle by closing out our time with remarks about the founding of Princeton AlumniCorps as Project 55.

As a part of the Bold Idea initiative, AlumniCorps hosted a panel discussion and Q & A session, In the Service of Humanity: Empowering Immigrant Communities. Over 40 people listened to a panel of Princetonians who are working to build capacities and develop skills among immigrants and refugees: Phillip Connor *10, Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center; Maribel Hernández Rivera, Esq. *10, Executive Director of Legal Initiatives at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; José Quiñonez *98, Founder and CEO of Mission Asset Fund; and Maya Wahrman ’16, Former Project 55 Fellow and Program Assistant (Forced Migration) at Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life. Learn more about our panelists by reading their bios here.

Phillip laid the groundwork for understanding patterns of immigration and how they have changed in the United States by presenting data from the Pew Research Center. In particular, he noted that the number of refugees in the U.S. was reflective of the refugee population around the world until 2017, when the number of refugees in the U.S. plummeted disproportionately. Watch all of Phillip’s talk here.

The audience was riveted as Maribel, who was born in Mexico City and moved to the U.S. when she was 13 years old, shared how her father’s sudden and mysterious death acted as a catalyst for her career in immigrant rights. She explained why she went to law school at NYU after getting her Masters at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School: “Understanding the law was almost harder than learning English! But not understanding the law is disempowering for undocumented communities.” Maribel also shared her personal stake in the debate over immigration policy: Her husband, who is from Honduras, may have to leave the U.S. in January 2020 based on current regulations. She admitted, “My husband and I are in a very lucky position because we have a network. Not everyone is so lucky. We want to advocate and speak for them.” Watch all of Maribel’s talk here.

José, who has been awarded the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship, the Ashoka Fellowship, and the Aspen Institute Fellowship for his work at the Mission Asset Fund (MAF), described how the MAF had to quickly pivot from being primarily a lending institution to launching the largest Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal campaign in the days after the Trump Administration ended DACA on September 5, 2017.  In the fall of 2017, MAF provided over $2.5M to fund over 5,000 DACA renewal applications in 46 states. Read more about the details of the process in an article José wrote here, and watch all of José’s talk here.

Maya closed out the panel by describing how she has helped Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life (ORL) think out their theological approach to refugee work through their Interfaith Program in Refugees and Forced Migration. She humanized the challenges refugees are facing by speaking about Ashar, a refugee from Pakistan with whom she has forged a friendship. She described the international interdisciplinary conference of over 300 participants, Seeking Refuge: Faith-Based Approaches to Forced Migration, that she co-curated while a Project 55 Fellow with the ORL, stating “Religion is a way to respond to the issues in the world.” Watch all of Maya’s talk here.

Emerging Leaders Update: Summer 2018

We now have the evaluation results from the 2017-18 cohort of Emerging Leaders that completed our professional development program this past February. 100% of the cohort would recommend the program to others, and they all agreed that the program increased their access to a community of peers that they can learn from and contact as needed. AlumniCorps will continue to offer alumni engagement opportunities to these “Emerged” Leaders through structured lunches hosted by our program facilitators, Hilary Joel ’85 and Yael Sivi. AlumniCorps staff are also working with the facilitators to develop and offer “Booster Shots” which will be full day professional development opportunities offered to over 200 Emerging Leaders alumni.

Meanwhile, our current 2018-19 cohort of 32 Emerging Leaders (ELs) in New York and Washington, DC are 25% through the program, having completed their June and July sessions.  Learn more about this cohort in The Leaders Digest program directory. The first session focused on the results of the participants’ Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessments. One EL in Washington, D.C. said, “My test was a manifestation of my recent struggle in my position and the resulting self-doubt I felt…now I see that I need to be operating with my [extroverted personality] in mind in order to re-charge, operate effectively, and bring the most to the organization.” In New York City, the cohort also heard from Princeton AlumniCorps’ President and Executive Director, Kef Kasdin ’85. One participant wrote, “Kef shared openly about her professional journey and about the importance of social intelligence and emotional intelligence in leadership.”

During the second session in July Emerging Leaders (ELs) debriefed their Skillscope 360 assessments, discussed how to cope with their stress patterns and instead play to their strengths, and heard from guest speakers. The New York City cohort heard from Cecilia Clarke, President & CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation, and EL alumnus Chimere Stephens, Director of NYC Men Teach, a collaboration with the NYC Department of Education, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Young Men’s Initiative, and the City University of New York. ELs in Washington, D.C. heard from EL alumna Felicia Jones, Director of Healthy Start at Martha’s Table, and Kevin Hinton, Executive Director of Beacon House.