“Emerging Leaders gave me the opportunity to take a step back from my day-to-day work on the ground and have space to really think about who I am and who I want to be. Emerging Leaders developed my skills as a visionary leader.”
As the Program Manager at New Leaders, a nonprofit that provides leadership training and resources to public school leaders, May Mark successfully completed the Emerging Leaders program in NYC last year. She has recently moved to Oakland, CA to begin work at a global education technology startup, One University Network.
Originally from the New York City area, May Mark found herself back there after graduating from Brown University in 2008. She began working at New Leaders, a nonprofit in ten cities throughout the U.S aimed at providing resources and training to promising principals and assistant principals for public schools in low-income and under-resourced areas. Most recently, May was the Program Manager for the flagship Aspiring Principals Program, where she coordinated the operation of the program running in multiple cities. May skillfully balanced program fidelity and flexibility to ensure success for the school leaders and ultimately students.
Andrew Protain ’08, a childhood friend and recent Emerging Leader, referred May to the Emerging Leaders program given where she was in her career. “There are not a lot of resources for folks in the nonprofit space. Emerging Leaders provided an opportunity for young professionals passionate about their work in NYC to enter into a community. It helped to see the whole web of nonprofit work happening in the city,” said May.
It was this community built among her Emerging Leaders cohort that May found so valuable. They acted as each other’s accountability partners and sounding boards. The program’s use of peer coaching was particularly helpful to practice hard conversations that pushed May’s professional growth and to hear feedback. “After Emerging Leaders, coworkers at my job commented that they could see my growth as a leader. I already had the content knowledge, but my confidence in my skills and leadership capability really grew,” said May. The program requires support from both the participants and the nonprofits they represent. May reflects that her experience was amplified by how much support she received from New Leaders and its time and financial commitment to her personal development.
Under the Emerging Leader programming, May also undertook a “stretch project” of creating an online community on social media for 15 years of alumni and staff involved with the Aspiring Principals Program at New Leaders. The online community has a current membership of over 500 members, which surpassed the original goal by 75 percent.
Although May is no longer with her nonprofit in NYC, there is a sense of fulfillment in knowing that the people she served have a tool and vehicle to continue to work together past her involvement; her project for Emerging Leaders left a legacy in connecting and engaging program alumni at New Leaders.
May continues to utilize the skills and confidence she developed through Emerging Leaders at her new role as Project Manager at One University Network based in Oakland, CA. One University Network partners with universities and employers to enable college curriculum on mobile devices, opening opportunities for students in other countries to earn college credentials and degrees at their own pace and with affordable fees. Moving from a national nonprofit to a global education technology startup poses a new set of challenges, but the goal of providing access to high-quality education remains the same. May is confident that the skills and relationships she has built in the Emerging Leaders program will continue to help her grow professionally.