Two years ago we profiled May Mark, an alumna of the ’14 – ’15 Emerging Leaders cohort in NYC. May had just relocated to the Bay Area from New York City. When May decided to move on from the tech startup that she joined, she turned to the AlumniCorps network to help her learn more about opportunities in the Bay Area.
May enrolled in Duke University’s intensive 17-month Cross Continent MBA program and she found that the degree complemented the skills she had acquired in Emerging Leaders. “EL helped me to focus on who I am as a leader and how I see myself in the context of others. It was a very safe space with a master facilitator and many opportunities to practice what we were learning… I had already done self-reflection, so I had a strong sense of who I was and where I need to grow.” Like many Emerging Leaders alumni, May credits her program facilitator in NYC with the program’s success: “Yael was an amazing facilitator. I spend a lot of time in the professional development space for adult learning and she’s definitely masterful at what she does.”
Thanks to the global MBA program, May now has classmates around the world. Because of her MBA cohort and other communities May is part of, she says, “I feel very comfortable reaching out to others in a new environment.” Thus, it comes as no surprise that when May got an email from AlumniCorps describing the vibrant Bay Area Steering Committee, she reached out to Steering Committee member Julie Rubinger Doupé ’09. “This new AlumniCorps community was an extension of the one I’d joined in NYC during the Emerging Leaders program. Even though the Bay Area is different, both communities have shared values.”
Indeed, the Bay Area Steering Committee wasted no time in asking May to lead a seminar that December on Managing Up (see photo). She taught Fellows how to be proactive with their managers by using tactics like anticipating managers’ needs and being crystal clear with deliverables. “I really enjoy working with adult learners. My seminar included brainstorming, role-playing, and lots of discussion.” The experience differed from sessions with Emerging Leaders because the Fellows are much earlier in their careers. “The way I crafted the seminar was definitely informed by my reflections on my early work experience. I wish someone would have shared this information with me when I first entered the workforce!”
“I started to proactively build out my network, and Julie really helped me get to know people in the Bay Area.” May was able to secure a position as the Deputy School Support Lead at XQ, an organization that sparked a cultural conversation last fall to rethink high school nationwide. The organization began with XQ: The Super School Project, a competition inviting America to reimagine high school. Currently, May is focused on cultivating communities of practice among the XQ Schools, methodically encouraging school leaders and teachers to connect and learn from each other.
As May finishes her first year at XQ, the current cohort of Emerging Leaders participants are getting ready for their final sessions and closing celebrations. She reflects, “I didn’t see the Emerging Leaders Closing Celebration as the end of my experience… it was the start. I’d encourage the current cohort to continue to take the content you’ve learned and work with it… use it to reach out to others.” We’re happy to report that Project 55 Fellows in the Bay Area are benefiting from May taking her own advice.