Brian Leung ’12, ARC Innovator at Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School)
Brian Leung is a senior analyst at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. On a daily basis, he uses analytical and statistical methods to lead and evaluate projects that minimize disparities and injustice in the City’s youth population. He volunteered as an ARC Innovator with Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School) in 2016-17.
How did you discover ARC Innovators?
I learned about the program from the Princeton Alumni listserve. I’d been looking for an education-based pro bono project and it seemed to be a great fit given the skills I use in my day job. At work, I frequently deal with underserved populations. I live about ten blocks away from Harlem RBI, so this project hit close to home because it’s in my community. In the Mayor’s Office, my work is mile-high. At Harlem RBI, I was working on the ground and making a tangible difference.
What did you do at Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School)?
They needed help with choosing an e-learning solution for distributing materials to faculty, staff, parents, and students. My final deliverable was a 50-page slide deck ranking each popular solution on the market for the implementation leader and principal. I spent about 80 hours over the course of many weekends for four months.
How did your assistance help Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School)?
The person who would implement the chosen tool didn’t have enough hours in the day to do the research himself, so I saved him a lot of time. In addition, I provided an outsider’s perspective and strategic insight.
How did the ARC Innovator project benefit you?
Their feedback helped me develop as a private consultant. While ARC Innovators is usually promoted to seasoned professionals, this AlumniCorps program provides opportunities that should be leveraged by both new and experienced professionals.
DREAM Charter School (formerly Harlem RBI) is a model learning community with high expectations, a strong culture of care and a vision of student success and excellence. DREAM was established in 2008 with 100 scholars in kindergarten and first grade. Today, they serve 486 scholars in PreK through eighth grade. They will open their doors to their first ninth grade class in fall 2017.
On November 3 the area committee hosted a wine and cheese reception with AlumniCorps Executive Director Andrew Nurkin, Board President Kef Kasdin ’85, and Board Member Leesy Taggart ’78. Current and former fellows, mentors, and area committee members had the opportunity to meet one another, learn more about AlumniCorps’ organizational goals and plans for the future, and to engage new volunteers in supporting the fellowship program.
Committee members also hosted a workshop on December 7 for Project 55 Fellows about “managing up,” facilitated by May Mark, a former Emerging Leader and Project Manager at OneUni. In the session attendees defined “managing up,” learned strategies to manage up effectively, and worked through real-life challenges in peer-to-peer consultancies.
Supported by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton University, Breakout Princeton is a student-driven alternative break program that encourages engagement with domestic social issues through immersion in communities. Breakout Princeton students who visited Boston were invited to attend a mixer with Boston Project 55 Fellows on November 3.
The Breakout Princeton students spoke about exploring the impact of the 2008 recession on low-income neighborhoods in Boston. The Project 55 Fellows shared their thoughts on their current positions, and why they chose to do a Project 55 fellowship after graduation.
The Boston Area Committee also hosted a gathering with the fellows in December to celebrate the first half of their fellowship year and the holidays. Current Project 55 fellow Nina Narayanan ’16‘s hard work was featured in AlumniCorps’ December appeal and blog.
The Committee has a very exciting series of seminars coming up at the Boston University School of Public Health. The first is an all-day symposium on how public health can take a leadership role in mitigating social determinants of health including race, class, disability, and gender. The second is a lecture by a Princeton professor, Eldar Shafir, on decision-making in contexts of poverty and on the application of behavioral research to policy.
Recent seminars hosted in Chicago have included the Chicago Area Committee’s annual panel with former fellows, including Chelsea Mayo ’14 and Andrew Kinaci ’10, to help Project 55 fellows navigate life after their fellowship— whether they stay on with their organization, attend graduate school, or transition to another career. At the end of 2016, fellows also attended a dynamic and timely seminar hosted by Sharon Fairley ’82, a Princeton alumna and current chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) in Chicago.
In December, Project 55 Fellows joined fellows from Northwestern’s and University of Chicago’s Public Interest Program for a holiday party at the Galway Arms. Virginia Midkiff ’16, current fellow at National Equity Fund said, “I enjoyed this week’s seminar at the Chicago Legal Clinic. The speaker, Mr. Ed Grossman, was incredibly inspiring. It was clear that he’d made it his life’s work to meet people where they’re at, and to respond to the specific needs of various Chicago neighborhoods and the community as a whole.”
On January 28, 2017 the NJ Fellows, Kelsey Jane-Ritsch ’16, Aliisa Lee ’16, and Maya Wahrman ’16 drove to Philadelphia to visit Sahana Jayaraman ’16, who is serving her fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. They explored Penn Treaty Park and Fishtown where they took in some beautiful views, fun hipster shops and streets, cute bakeries, and delicious Mexican food. These young women have proclaimed themselves “the tightest Project 55 corps around!”
On February 2 the NJ Area Committee hosted a gathering at the residence of a Committee member in Jersey City. Fourteen attendees learned about AlumniCorps’ new strategic vision from Kef Kasdin ’85, President of AlumniCorps. Area Committee volunteer Marsha Rosenthal ’76 commented, “The conversation was lively, and Kef’s talk was right on target.”
New York City
On November 3, the NYC Area Committee hosted a Press and Politics seminar. In the days leading up to the election, Judith Hole Suratt s’55 moderated a panel discussion with journalists to discuss the role and responsibilities of media in politics. The three panelists were: Kathleen McCleery (award-winning broadcast journalist who has worked for PBS and NBC, currently a visiting professor at Princeton, teaching a course on “Politics and the Media”); Jack Holmes (assistant editor at Esquire.com, experienced in digital writing); and Bill Plante (retired reporter who has been a White House correspondent and State Department correspondent for CBS)
On January 19, the Committee hosted a seminar at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. The seminar’s key speakers were the Center’s executive director, Dr. Angela Diaz and Dr. Matt Oransky. They focused on the work that the Center does to address mental health.
On November 13, Committee members and current fellows went ice skating in Bryant Park. Then, on December 15, Victoria Lee ’16 hosted a holiday party for current Project 55 fellows, mentors, and Emerging Leaders. In addition, AlumniCorps president Kef Kasdin ’85 and Ry Beck from 12 Stockton staff, were in attendance.
On January 27, the social committee organized a group of Project 55 fellows to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and take advantage of Free Admission Fridays.
The Washington, DC Area Committee hosted two panels for Project 55 fellows: Anne Goldstein ’79, AlumniCorps board member and Human Rights Education Director for the International Association of Women Judges, spoke about women’s rights. Retired Ambassador Tom Graham ’55 spoke about careers in government. The Project 55 fellows were joined by University of Chicago Public Interest Program fellows. The committee also hosted a holiday happy hour at a local restaurant for the Project 55 fellows and their mentors.
AlumniCorps currently operates in seven regions across the country. Our local area committees recruit and match mentors, organize social events and seminars, and serve as guides to fellows navigating a new city. If you are interested in volunteering, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area: We had an orientation and welcome dinner for fellows in August, in which former fellows Amantia Muhedini and Abigail Kelly lead a workshop session to brainstorm and discuss their overall goals and hopes for the year. All fellows attended and it was a great way to kick off the year. This month, we are hosting a behind-the-scenes experience at the San Francisco Opera. Fellows and mentors have been invited to a dress rehearsal of the opera, “Don Pasquale,” and will have a Q&A session with SF Opera Artistic Planning Manager, Sean Waugh.
Boston: We welcomed the new fellows to city by hosting a happy hour with the Princeton regional association. It was a success and many of our former and current fellows attended. We’ll have a welcome event for the fellows on Cape Cod, hosted generously by committee member Tom Flynn. There’ll be an informal BBQ where we’ll talk about the expectations for the year, followed by some fun activities around the Cape.
Chicago: On Sunday, August 28th, we hosted an orientation retreat for our incoming fellows. PP55 Mentor Carol Obertubbesing ‘73 introduced the fellows to the city’s history from the vantage point of the Chicago River on a Chicago Architecture Foundation boat cruise! Sherry Holland led the mentors through their own orientation program, sharing tips for connecting to their mentees. Afterwards, fellows and mentors met up for dinner at the home of Sally and Vince Anderson ‘65.
On August 31st, fellows from PP55 and the University of Chicago and Northwestern Public Interest Programs (PIP) came together for a “PIP-nic” in Millennium Park. Our seminar series kicked off on Wednesday, September 8th, covering topics like public interest, asset-based community development, and workforce development.
Washington, DC: We recently hosted a kick-off event to introduce our new committee members and determine participants’ interest in topics/ideas for this year’s programming. This event was hosted by our area committee advisor, Tonya Miles and was attended my P55 fellows, Emerging Leaders, mentors, and alums. While at CityBridge, Joelle Deleveaux is exploring potential solutions for the charter school facilities crunch in D.C. For his part, Michael Moorin has begun to do intensive research into the education marketplace in DC and school incubation.
To see more photos from the 2016 PP55 Welcome events, visit our Facebook album
Five years ago, Project 55 Fellowship alumna and former AlumniCorps Board member Lindsay Wall ’02 helped start Longhouse Capital Advisors, a Chicago-based independent financial advisory firm serving nonprofit and educational clients. To mark their fifth anniversary, Longhouse hosted a birthday celebration and fundraiser, with Princeton AlumniCorps as the designated charity. On February 25, nearly a hundred people turned out to toast Longhouse and raised more than $3600 for Princeton AlumniCorps’ Project 55 Fellowships in Chicago. Executive Director Andrew Nurkin spoke about the AlumniCorps mission and impact in Chicago, and Project 55 Fellow Kristina Ali ’14 talked about her fellowship at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning. Thank you to Lindsay Wall ’02, Longhouse Founder and President Michael Boisvert *84, and the entire Longhouse team for supporting Princeton AlumniCorps!
Malena Attar is the Development Associate at Good Grief and a participant in this year’s Emerging Leaders program in New York. Good Grief’s mission is to provide unlimited and free support to children, teens, young adults, and families after the death of a mother, father, sister, or brother through peer support programs, education, and advocacy. Malena’s role combines her passion for community engagement and the advocacy needed to ensure that no child ever has to grieve alone. This is an excerpt from the post she wrote for The Leading Edge, the AlumniCorps blog.
I had high expectations for my experience with the Emerging Leaders program, but I can honestly say that I had no idea how life-changing it would be.
Before our first session, we were asked to obtain feedback on our strengths. Only our strengths. Before our first day together, Emerging Leaders was al- ready sending us a message that would be made very clear: “You are already a leader. You already possess the unique strengths that you bring to the environments around you.” We have gotten this far because we already are leaders, we are just simply unaware of how to position ourselves so that we can best show our strengths and succeed.
The beauty of this program is that it meets once a month over the span of nine months. As we explored forms of communication, leadership styles, managing up, networking, fundraising, and public speaking, we always looped back to what kind of leader we were. It is a lot of work to undo the notion that a leader speaks, leads, works, looks a specific way. As each of the leaders in the program slowly emerged into their better-defined selves, everyone benefited. Everyone in the program shared the struggles, rethinking, perseverance, and successes of each peer. In learning to work with our varied professional teams, we were evolving into our own diverse and powerful team.
This would have been impossible without the exceptional work of the AlumniCorps staff and board, and most importantly of our facilitator, Yael Sivi. We all knew Yael would be encouraging us to stretch further than we thought we could, and that we would grow. We did. The announcement of a number of promotions, new opportunities, and workplace improvements filled the air as we met each month.
I am so grateful for this opportunity, for Princeton AlumniCorps, and for our facilitator Yael. In being accepted into this program, each leader started on a journey they didn’t know was possible. A journey with a network of hundreds of accomplished professionals, a wealth of knowledge, a family of peers that will continue to grow alongside us, and as the leaders we didn’t realize we could be.
Why did you join the Princeton AlumniCorps community and the Emerging Leaders program? We posed that question to Scott Welfel ’06, a Staff Attorney at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and 2014-15 Emerging Leader.
I applied to Emerging Leaders because I wanted to learn how to play a more active role in the operation, organization, and direction of my organization even from my current role as staff attorney, to position myself to become one of the leaders in prisoner reentry policy in New Jersey, and to improve my ability to effectively and efficiently manage my direct reports. I was inspired by the example of Emerging Leaders alumni, such as Shena Elrington, who have risen to become incredibly effective leaders in their organizations and their respective fields.
I have learned an enormous amount from my colleagues – the other Emerging Leaders currently in the program. It is really inspiring to be connected with such passionate, driven advocates for social justice, and to learn different management techniques from their collective experience and wisdom. Additionally, Yael Sivi, Program Facilitator for New York, is hands-down a master teacher. Her knowledge of what makes us and others tick, and how to harness that knowledge to realize the full potential of our organizations, is absolutely unparalleled. If given the option of choosing one person to send to end the gridlock in Washington, I would send Yael.
The skills and tools I am learning at Emerging Leaders are particularly crucial in the social justice sphere of legal advocacy, where organizations are dependent on law student interns. Effective and efficient management of interns is particularly difficult given the transient and unpaid nature of their positions. Through mastering the skill of effective management, I hope to markedly increase the capacity and productivity of the Institute for Social Justice as well as any organizations I land at in the future.
I support AlumniCorps because I believe effective leadership, and the level of self-reflection that is required for effective leadership, must be taught. No other organization currently offers this level of high-caliber professional development for leaders in the public interest sector.