Interview with Princeton AlumniCorps’ New Board Member, Janice Nittoli ’85

Janice Nittoli ’85 is the incoming president of The Century Foundation, a progressive public policy think tank endowed by Edward Filene in 1919 as The Twentieth Century Fund. Until recently, she served as Associate Vice President & Managing Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, which she joined in 2006. There, she provided leadership and strategic direction for select Foundation initiatives with grantmaking and related activities in the areas of domestic policy, economic security, urban innovation and the philanthropic sector. Prior to joining the Rockefeller Foundation, Janice was a senior executive at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to improving the lives of poor children, their families, and communities. Prior to foundation work, she served as President of the National Center for Health Education, a national nonprofit that designs and disseminates school and community based health education programs. Ms.Nittoli has served in several capacities in New York City government. She was the assistant commissioner in the Department of Health, managing the city’s correctional health system, and she also was a senior official in the City’s Human Resources Administration and at the Board of Education, where she ran foster care services and dropout prevention programs, respectively.  Before these appointments, she worked on child welfare, employment and income support issues for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy.

Ms. Nittoli has published book chapters and articles on a variety of issues in human services and public policy and has taught graduate-level classes in research methods and public policy. She is active on several nonprofit boards dedicated to youth and community services and a charter high school dedicated to runaway and homeless youth and young people in foster care.  She is a member of the New York State Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and the New York City Advisory Committee on Youth and Family Justice. Ms. Nittoli received a bachelor’s degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Q: How/Why did you get involved with Princeton AlumniCorps? Did it surprise you to learn that Princeton AlumniCorps is a multi-generational organization?

When I was working at Rockefeller, AlumniCorps approached us and asked if we would be interested in working with the Princeton Project55 program. I had the profound pleasure of working with five Fellows through that program and it was a fabulous experience – the Fellows did real work we needed to accomplish and they fit right in with the Rockefeller community. It was not until several years of working with PP55 did I learn  there was such a rich network of people and programming behind it. I had no idea!

Q: What is your background regarding nonprofits/volunteering? How have you demonstrated “Princeton in the Nation’s Service?”

I first volunteered when I was in elementary school.  My parents were always active civically and it never occurred to to me do anything else. I have found that volunteering has always added a rich dimension to my life; it keeps me connected to issues in the world and has helped me refine my own career goals and my sense of how I can contribute to a greater good. When I finished school and as my career progressed, I supplemented my volunteer nonprofit service with working directly for nonprofits.

Q: What’s the most important thing you look for when supporting an organization or serving on a nonprofit board?

I look for three things: an engaged board for whom the organization is a top priority for each director; a clear mission and plan for executing on it; and a capable management team at the helm.

Q: Please discuss the importance of what Princeton AlumniCorps does for the Princeton community and communities across the country.

AlumniCorps brings prepared and proven talent to hundreds of tasks in neighborhoods all over the US. They strengthen communities and tie them together through the AlumniCorps network and make each place bigger, more effective together than each is alone.  To me, AlumniCorps makes realizing community aspirations not only possible, but probable.

Q: For 2011-12, AlumniCorps placed 51 Project 55 fellows. What would your advice be for our newest class of PP55 fellows, and to those Princetonians who are still looking for a job next year?

In my own career I have found that my volunteer service helped both prepare me for my jobs and also helped me get jobs!  It increases knowledge, know-how and networks in a way that you just can’t get without direct experience.  It is also a great way to try on ideas you have about roles or fields of work you’re curious about but are not sure is for you. And for employers, it’s the best way to get to know how someone might perform as potential staffer.

Q: What is your hope for the future of Princeton AlumniCorps?

That we continue to get the word out and bring the benefits of AlumniCorps service to more professionals at all stages of their career – beginning middle and end.  If today’s economy proves one thing, it’s that we all need to stay engaged with a fast-changing marketplace for talent, current with changing practice and motivated through new connections with other civically oriented professionals.

 

 

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