Emerging Leaders Alumni Lunch and Learns

Emerging Leaders alumni from the 2015-16 NYC cohort at an informal gathering last year. Left to right: Caroline Coburn, Yiannis Avramides, David Nelson, Margie Cadet, Benjamin Delikat, and Jess Jardine.

This Fall, Emerging Leaders facilitators Yael Sivi (New York City) and Hilary Joel ’85 (Washington, DC) invited Emerging Leaders alumni in NYC and DC to attend brown bag lunch and learn sessions. The facilitators used these opportunities to host two-hour peer coaching labs. They circulated a leadership article in advance and used the reading as a starting point for discussion.

In New York City, participants read a First Round Review article entitled “The Most Dangerous Leadership Traps — and the 15-Minute Daily Practice That Will Save You” which outlines the work of Chris Holmberg, an executive coach and founder of Middle Path Consulting. The article contained nuggets from Holmberg such as:

Leaders who have never failed are fragile… They see the world divided between winners and losers, and they desperately want to avoid falling into that latter category, so they never try new things. When a manager empathizes with failure, they don’t point fingers or chastise anyone. Instead, they say, ‘I get it. Let’s talk about why this happened.’ 

The article offered an opportunity for lunch attendees to do some peer coaching. Yael reports that everyone had an impactful time. The Emerging Leaders alumni who attended are already looking forward to the next professional development session. One participant said, “I’m appreciative of you all for creating a safe and supportive space. It was well worth the two hours.” Another attendee echoed this sentiment: “Emerging Leaders was incredibly valuable for all of us, and to have the opportunity to re-immerse in the experience, even if only for a couple of hours, was excellent. I do think this is a wonderful way to sustain the growth and learnings of Emerging Leaders. Thank you for arranging this!”

Stay tuned for more information about future lunches!

Emerging Leaders Program Update for Fall 2017

The Emerging Leaders professional development program helps 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 employs experiential learning, speakers, peer coaching, and outside experts to weave together learning modules that include hard nonprofit skills, management training, leadership development, and facilitated peer support. Currently 32 young nonprofit professionals—16 in New York City (NYC) and 16 in Washington, DC (DC)— are participating in the program.

The first session kicked off in June 2017 with a debriefing of each person’s Myers-Briggs Type, an introduction to peer coaching, and a guest speaker on General Nonprofit Leadership Lessons. In DC, participants heard from guest speaker Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of The Children’s Law Center who, according to participant reviews, was “incredible” and shared “so much valuable and inspiring wisdom.” Another participant said Judith was a “great example of what I would like to be as a leader.” In NYC Margaret Crotty ’94, Emerging Leaders Program Leader spoke with “honesty and energy.”

In July, session two featured a Skillscope® 360° assessment feedback debriefing and ‘stretch work’ planning. DC participants heard from Khari Brown, Executive Director of Capital Partners for Education, and Mike McKinley, a local coach and consultant. Participants reported that Mike had “extremely useful anecdotes, quotes, and advice,” and that they enjoyed the self-reflection: “I don’t get much time or space for it at work.” In NYC David Garza, Executive Director of Henry Street Settlement shared resources that participants say they plan to use immediately.

The 2017-18 cohort of Emerging Leaders come from a wide variety of nonprofit organizations.


In September the Emerging Leaders reconvened for session three, where they discussed leadership competencies and management skills. In NYC participants heard from Daniel Oscar, CEO of the Center for Supportive Schools. He received rave reviews for offering “concrete tools and examples,” and “practical advice.” Other highlights of session three included feedback role-playing, and peer coaching, which participants in DC particularly enjoyed. They also found the guest speakers, Elizabeth Lindsey *07, Executive Director of ByteBack (and Emerging Leaders Program Leader), and Pyper Davis ’87, Executive Director of Educare DC to be “powerful” women who provided a “wealth of information and insights.” Elizabeth provided a list of managerial tips so valuable that one participant said she plans to put “every single one into practice immediately.”

In October, session four focused on team dynamics, workplace inclusion, and fundraising fundamentals. In DC Iris Jacob, Founder and Executive Director of Social Justice Synergy, led a conversation on implicit bias which resonated with many participants. AlumniCorps board member and nonprofit consultant Dick Walker ’73 joined with Paul Dahm, Executive Director of Brainfood, to talk about fundraising in DC, while Jethro Miller ’92, Chief Development Officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America addressed Emerging Leaders in NYC.

Stay tuned for an overview of the next four Emerging Leaders sessions!

Learn more about our 2017-18 Emerging Leaders by browsing their bios their 2017-18 participant directory, The Leaders Digest.

Profile from our Network: Jim Gregoire ’69

Jane & Jim Gregoire at Princeton Reunions

Jim Gregoire ’69 has been an avid, long-time supporter of Princeton AlumniCorps, sitting on our board from 1996 to 2008. In 2006 he attained the distinction of being the first non-’55er AlumniCorps Board President. During his tenure on the board the finance committee managed AlumniCorps’ endowment, helping to ensure the stability and long-term health of the organization. Jim is also committed to Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS), where he’s a current board member and past board chair. However, in addition to mobilizing Princetonians for the public good, Jim has another passion: hiking. He walked the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail over the course of 11 years. “When my wife Jane and I got together, I was finishing the Trail, but I told her I wanted to do something bigger and more grand. I said, ‘I think I want to walk across the country!’ ” Fortunately for Jim, Jane said yes both to marrying him and to his hiking aspirations. Jane has been a true partner in Jim’s endeavors. She keeps their network of friends and family abreast of his adventures via blog posts which she writes based on their daily conversations (jim-fall2017.blogspot.com). She also meets Jim at different points on the hike route to give moral support and provide transportation. On his trek across the U.S., Jim would fly or drive to his starting point, then complete a portion of the hike over the course of several weeks. True to his declaration to Jane, Jim walked across the country, from Portland, ME to Washington State. That feat took 300+ days over the course of eight years and was completed in 14 segments. More recently, in October Jim completed his third major milestone: He walked 2,490 miles over 156 days from Key West, FL to Lubec, ME. He started this hike in 2014, hiking from the southernmost point of the East Coast to the easternmost part of the country on the Canadian border.

Why hiking? After reluctantly abandoning long-distance running in the late 1990s due to worn-out knees, Jim took up long-distance hiking because “every day on a trail is an adventure. Anything can happen, from skies opening up and soaking me, to wildlife like otters frolicking by.” Some sections of a given route are risky, forcing him to hyper-vigilantly watch each oncoming car and truck. It’s all worth the risk to him: “I see parts of the country I’m not familiar with. I got to walk across over 70 bridges in the Florida Keys, an area now devastated by this September’s Hurricane Irma.

Jim in Lubec, ME in October 2017, at the end of his third major milestone hike.

Perspective on humanity: Jim has gotten insights into human nature while on his hikes.

“I met people who were so generous. I’d wander into a town late in the afternoon, and I’d go into the local bar & grill and order a beer. I’d start talking to the bartender and soon everyone would engage and give me advice about where to put up my tent. Not a single person has done me ill. You get such a different perspective on people when you’re talking one on one about the basic necessities of life. One couple in upstate New York even allowed me to stay in their little cabin for three days to rest my blisters. They’d pick me up and bring me to their house so I could take a break from carrying my backpack.”

Appreciating nature: Jim saw pieces of America that aren’t easily accessible by car. “I did the Lewis and Clark trail, and I could just see the history. I finished the trip along the Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border, which is where Lewis and Clark terminated their exploration of the Louisiana Territory.”

Jim says he has been blessed with extraordinary good fortune on his hikes, “I was never sick, and I was never depressed [conditions that can hamper a long-distance hiker]. I never had a problem with animals, despite tenting out most nights. My closest call was crossing Glacier National Park in Montana. I saw a bush wiggling and I knew it was hiding a grizzly bear. After I deliberately made a noise, the bear came out of the bushes and stood on his hind legs, 10 feet tall!” Luckily for Jim, the bear eventually moved enough off the trail so Jim could continue his hike unharmed.

After Jim got to the Canadian border in Downeast Maine, Jane posted on Facebook: “I am blown away by my husband’s dogged determination when he sets a goal.” Jim’s determination blows us away too. We are honored that he chooses to expend some of it on Princeton AlumniCorps!

The Princeton AlumniCorps Bold Idea

Back row (right to left): Bob Kettle (Connecticut Appleseed), Stephanie Beaugh (Louisiana Appleseed), Dee Flaherty (Appleseed Network), Annette LoVoi (Appleseed Network), Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06 (Princeton University, Princeton AlumniCorps), Debra Erenberg (Consultant), Kef Kasdin ’85 (Princeton AlumniCorps), Renee Steinhagen *81 (New Jersey Appleseed), Caryn Tomljanovich (Princeton AlumniCorps), David Tipson ’96 (New York Appleseed), Christy Kane (Louisiana Appleseed).
Front row (right to left): Adriana Abizadeh (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Rocío Villalobos (Texas Appleseed), John Heilner ’63 (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar ’17 (Princeton AlumniCorps), Shaina Ward, Maru Cortazar (Mexico Appleseed), Malcolm Rich (Chicago Appleseed).

On October 16 and 17, Princeton AlumniCorps hosted a convening at Princeton University enabling dialogue and promoting action on immigration and refugee issues.  The meeting, a launch of AlumniCorps’ new Bold Idea initiative, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, brought together nonprofit and public interest organizations, practitioners, academics, policymakers, and funders.

The agenda included presentations on the current federal landscape of immigration policy and the local impact of these policies on vulnerable communities and the direct service organizations that work with them. The convening also provided opportunities for the 29 participants to engage with one another and brainstorm potential avenues of collaboration. The discussions culminated in a series of immediate project priorities for further engagement, with the aim of consolidating the budding partnerships between the different attendees while expanding the circle of participation as the initiative moves forward.

As President and Executive Director of AlumniCorps Kef Kasdin noted, “This meeting and our Bold Idea represent the heart of what Princeton AlumniCorps is all about: mobilizing people, organizations, and networks for the public good. We are grateful that the Hewlett Foundation has catalyzed this effort through their generous support.”

Emerging from the most recent AlumniCorps strategic plan, the Bold Idea endeavors to leverage the resources, strengths, and experiences of AlumniCorps’ considerable network of 600 partner organizations, 200+ volunteers, and 2,000 program alumni to make a palpable impact on an issue of public interest. The Bold Idea concept was inspired partly by previous endeavors undertaken by AlumniCorps in its early years, like the Tuberculosis Initiative (1997-2002). This first iteration of the Bold Idea, with a focus on immigration, is a two-year pilot that will extend into 2019. AlumniCorps will use the network-building insights gleaned from this pilot to select a new Bold Idea topic every three years.

To bolster the collective impact of this initial pilot project, AlumniCorps has partnered with Appleseed, a network of public interest legal centers throughout the United States and Mexico with a successful track record of developing bi-partisan solutions to persistent and challenging social issues. “Our commitment to network building and collaboration strongly aligns with the mission of AlumniCorps” said Deirdre Flaherty, President of Appleseed, “We are excited to harness the power of our combined networks on this key and timely issue.”


Regional Updates – Fall 2017


Boston Project 55 Fellows for 2017-18

The Boston Area Committee hosted a kickoff event for Fellows and volunteers on September 26, 2017. AlumniCorps President & Executive Director Kef Kasdin ’85, and Caryn Tomljanovich, AlumniCorps Director of Programs & Strategy were both able to attend the event, which was hosted by Area Committee member Hardy Watts ’96 and the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation (where Hardy serves as Board President). Pictured are this year’s Fellows (all from the class of 2017) are Audrey Abend, Cassandra Crifase, Kelly Hatfield, Daniel Rounds, and Monica Seng. Not pictured: Kelsey Loman.

Bay Area

Bay Area mentors, volunteers, and Fellows met at New Schools Venture Fund for a relaxed night of connecting and socializing. Kef Kasdin ’85, President & Executive Director, spoke briefly about AlumniCorps’ strategic plan and the early stages of implementation for the Bold Idea.

Front row, left to right: Kristina Philpots Brown ’17 (Fellow at Greater Oakland Public Schools), Anu Pattabiraman ’10 (mentor and Area Committee volunteer), Clare Herceg ’11 (mentor).
Second row, left to right: May Mark (mentor), Michele Arader Fort ’10 (volunteer), Caryn Tomljanovich, Director of Programs & Strategy, Kef, Julie Rubinger ’09 (volunteer), Meredith Bock ’10 (volunteer) and Hannah Kraus’17 (Fellow at Aspire Public Schools).


The Chicago Area Committee hosted a kickoff event at the home of Lindsay Wall ’02. Fellows from the class of 2017 were joined by Chicago Area Committee volunteers and mentors (and a few little Tigers too!).
Back row: Carol Obertubbesing ‘73, Kirsten Hull ‘99, Stacy McAuliffe ‘98, Virginia Midkiff ‘16, Andrew Hahm ‘17, Rebecca Deaton ‘91, Whitney Spalding Spencer ‘07, and Zena Kesselman ’17.
Front row: Adjoa Mante ‘17, Rebecca Knisley ‘15, Kristen Smith ‘03, Lindsay Wall ‘02, Marlyse Vieira ‘17, and Briana Payton ‘17.

New Jersey

Three Fellows from the class of 2017 have been placed in New Jersey this year: Justine Hamilton, Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar, and Trust Kupupika. Thanks to Investor’s Foundation for their support of New Jersey Project 55 Fellows!

New York

The New York Area Committee hosted an ice cream social picnic in July for the incoming Project 55 Fellows. They had a great turnout, and attendees even got to take leftovers home!

In the group photo, left to right: Evan Delgado ’17, Julie Chen ’17, Juli Lopez ’17, Piyapat Sinsub ’17, Ellie DeGarmo ’17, Karenna Martin ‘15 (Project 55 Fellowship alumna & NYC Area Committee Member), Amy Olivero ’13 (volunteer and AlumniCorps board member), Durva Trivedi ’17, and Molly O’Neill ‘14 (Project 55 Fellowship alumna & NYC Area Committee Member).

Washington, DC

Six Fellows from the class of 2017 have been placed in Washington, DC this year: Salwa Ahmad, Tess Bissell, Richard Haynes, Alexandra Mairone, Hayley Roth, and Anna Walker.

Learn more about the Project 55 Fellows by browsing their bios in On the Path, the Fellowship Directory. Be sure to follow AlumniCorps at Facebook.com/AlumniCorps to see more photos from regional events!

AlumniCorps Welcomes Five New Board Members

Princeton AlumniCorps is pleased to announce the addition of five new members to its Board of Directors. Chaired by Liz Duffy, President of International Schools Services, the Board now includes 27 members from around the country.  New Board members are Harold Colton-Max; Claire Fowler; Lisa Swedenborg Getson; Dan-El Padilla Peralta; and Marcos Vigil. New members attended their first Board meeting in Princeton on September 16, 2017.

Additionally, two current Board members were re-elected for a second three-year term. These are Margaret “Peggy” Russell, Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law in Santa Clara, CA and Judy Hole Surratt, long-standing AlumniCorps volunteer, of New York City.

AlumniCorps regularly seeks new Board members who represent the diversity of the communities AlumniCorps serves. “Our new Board members bring such a wide variety of talents and accomplishments,” noted Ms. Duffy. “Dan-el’s personal experience and research interests speak to key issues today; Lisa brings her volunteer experience as well as her first-hand knowledge of the early days of our Princeton Project 55 Fellowship Program. Marcos provides the perspective of state and local public service; Harold is a nonprofit executive director with deep experience with housing issues; and Claire is not only the parent of a former Project 55 Fellow but also sees first-hand the trends in undergraduate student interest in civic engagement. As we work to mobilize people, organizations, and networks for the public good, we know these experienced leaders will help advance our mission, bring AlumniCorps programs to the next generation of nonprofit leaders, and help nonprofit and public service organizations build capacity.” Board members, many of whom are active volunteers and advisors to the organization, can serve up to two consecutive three-year terms.

Harold Colton-Max, Princeton class of 1991, has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey (JCHC) since 2004. Before that he served for seven years as Executive Director of the Fairmount Housing Corporation in Hudson County, NJ. Harold lives in South Orange Village, NJ with his family, where he has served as the Chairman of the South Orange Planning Board since 2014.

Claire Fowler, Ph.D. from Columbia, currently serves as Senior Associate Dean of the College at Princeton University, where her responsibilities include oversight of the residential college program and academic advising. Her eldest daughter was an AlumniCorps Princeton Project 55 Fellow in New York City from 2015-2017. Claire also served as Director of Studies at Wilson residential college and as Dean at Butler residential college, both at Princeton University.

Lisa Swedenborg Getson, Princeton class of 1993, is an active volunteer with her children’s school; Kids in Crisis— a nonprofit that assists Fairfield County, CT children dealing with crisis; and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern New England.  From 2004 until early 2017, she worked as a litigator with the firm Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman, LLP in New York. Lisa served as an AlumniCorps Princeton Project 55 Intern in Stamford, CT with St. Luke’s Family Services (n/k/a Inspirica). She was also a Project 55 Fellow at the Women Employed Institute in Chicago, where she worked until 1997. Lisa lives in Riverside, CT with her husband and their two children.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Princeton class of 2006, is an Assistant Professor of Classics at Princeton University, where he teaches and writes about Roman cultural history and classical reception. His 2015 memoir Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to Ivy League (Penguin) received an Alex Award from the American Library Association. In the spring of 2017, Dan-el taught a new course on “Citizenships, ancient and modern” out of the Classics Department that was cross-listed with Politics, African-American Studies, and the University Center for Human Values.

Marcos D. Vigil, Princeton class of 1997, serves in Mayor Steven Fulop’s administration as Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, overseeing economic development and real estate, and developing strategies for sustainable development and affordable housing in Jersey City, NJ. Prior to his current role, Marcos served four years as Deputy Secretary of State for New York in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, leading and managing the operations for its Divisions of Consumer Protection, Licensing Services, Corporations, Cemeteries and the NYS Athletic Commission.

About Princeton AlumniCorps

Princeton AlumniCorps mobilizes people, organizations, and networks for the public good.  The organization was founded in 1989 as an independent 501(c)3 entity called Princeton Project 55. AlumniCorps has grown into a dynamic multi-generational network of alumni of all ages and collegiate affiliation and nonprofit organizations working to build communities and deepen social impact. AlumniCorps’ core leadership programs help nonprofits further their goals while engaging participants in significant public service activities throughout their lives, from the moment they graduate college to their encore careers. With nearly 2,000 program alumni, 200 volunteers, and a network of nearly 600 nonprofit partner organizations, Princeton AlumniCorps is a unique catalyst of dynamic engagement of people and organizations committed to building not just a new generation of civic leaders, but civic leadership across generations.

For a full list of board members, visit www.alumnicorps.org/board.