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!

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.

Reunions Recap 2017

Reunions Panel on Moving the Needle:
Princeton AlumniCorps and Systemic Social Change

Reunions Panelists: Arthur McKee ’90, Director of Research, CityBridge Education; Sodiqa Williams ’05, VP External Affairs, Safer Foundation; James Burgess ’09, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OpenBiome

AlumniCorps hosted a panel discussion entitled Moving the Needle: Princeton AlumniCorps and Systemic Social Change on Friday, June 2 during the 2017 Princeton University Reunions weekend. The discussion was moderated by AlumniCorps’ Director of Programs and Strategy, Caryn Tomljanovich and it focused on three AlumniCorps partner organizations that work to create systemic social change through philanthropy, policy, and research. The panelists were Arthur McKee ’90, Director of Research, CityBridge Education; Sodiqa Williams ’05, VP External Affairs, Safer Foundation; and James Burgess ’09, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OpenBiome. They spoke about their organizations and the contributions AlumniCorps programs–especially Project 55 Fellows–have made to their work.

Panelists Sodiqa, Arthur, and James field questions from the audience.

James said that OpenBiome in Boston is lucky this year because many of their PP55 Fellows are staying at the organization. “By the end of the first year they’re really doing a lot.” He commented to a laughing audience, “The main problem with the Project 55 program is that they’re all really good at getting into medical school… We feel so lucky to be able to have these types of folks coming on.”

Sodiqa spoke about the impact that their Project 55 Fellow, Aswari Sodhi ’15, had on Chicago’s Safer Foundation’s efforts to support clients with criminal records and facilitate their re-entry into the workforce. When it comes to funding advocacy for those with arrested convictions, Sodiqa asserted:”We need to invest in people, not property.” Aswari was vital to helping the organization draft and defend legislation that enables re-entry in Illinois.

Arthur sang the praises of the eight Fellows that CityBridge has had in Washington, D.C. Former Project 55 Fellow, Caitlin Sullivan ’07, was in the audience and asked how a sense of civic duty and public service can be encouraged in students while they’re still enrolled at Princeton. This question sparked great dialogue between audience members and panelists.


Farewell to Andrew Nurkin: A Luncheon

About forty people attended a luncheon on June 2 during Princeton Reunions to say farewell to outgoing Executive Director, Andrew Nurkin. Andrew is now serving as the Deputy Director for Enrichment and Civic Engagement at the ‎Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. See below for photos of the event!

AlumniCorps Welcomes New Executive Director, Kef Kasdin ’85!

On behalf of the Princeton AlumniCorps Board of Directors, Board Chair Liz Duffy ’88 and the Executive Director search committee are excited to announce that Kef Kasdin ’85 has been hired as the next Executive Director of Princeton AlumniCorps.  Kef has immediately transitioned from serving as Interim Executive Director to this new role. 

Kef began working with AlumniCorps as a volunteer in 2010 after reading about the organization in the Princeton Alumni Weekly.  She piloted and led the expansion of AlumniCorps’ ARC Innovators program, which provides opportunities for experienced professionals to do meaningful pro bono projects in the nonprofit sector.  She oversaw the expansion of the program from a pilot in New Jersey to full-fledged operations in New Jersey, New York, and Washington, DC, as well as a doubling of the number of ARC Innovator annual projects.  Kef joined AlumniCorps’ Board in 2012 and became active in all of AlumniCorps’ programming. She was instrumental in developing two strategic plans for the organization, including the most recent plan approved in February 2017, as well as a campaign plan approved in June 2017. Kef was elected Board President in May 2016 and has served as Interim Executive Director of AlumniCorps since the departure of former Executive Director Andrew Nurkin in mid-April 2017.  

Kef has a breadth of nonprofit board leadership experience.  She is currently Board Chair at Rachel’s Network, a vibrant community of women at the intersection of environmental advocacy, philanthropy, and women’s leadership, and she has previously served on other nonprofit boards including Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Kef also created and has taught the introductory course, “Foundations of Entrepreneurship” at Princeton University, where she has mentored 50 Princeton undergraduates each semester, inspiring them to launch innovations that can create value and make a difference in the world. Earlier in her career, Kef held senior leadership roles at 3Com Corporation (a data networking company) including a term as general manager of a $1B division. She became a technology-startup consultant in the late 1990s, a venture capitalist in 2000, and a founding general partner of Battelle Ventures, where from 2003 to 2015 she led the firm’s investments in clean energy and started several companies based on U.S. Department of Energy Lab technologies.

Originally from Israel, Kef grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.S.E degree in operations research from Princeton University, with a certificate in science and policy from the Woodrow Wilson School, and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.  Kef’s husband Jeremy, also Class of ’85, is a Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton and their twin daughters, who both graduated from Princeton in 2014, are pursuing careers in the nonprofit and government sectors.

The search committee included AlumniCorps Chair Liz Duffy ’88 and board members Dale Caldwell ‘82, Kirk Davidson ’55, Debra Kushma ‘80, and Andrew Protain ‘08. According to Duffy, “Even though Kef served as interim executive director, she went through the application process along with several other highly qualified candidates. Kef not only had the deepest understanding of Princeton AlumniCorps and Princeton among the finalists, but she also had the broadest leadership experience and very savvy insights about what it will take to move the organization to the next level of impact and sustainability. We are confident that under Kef’s leadership, we will both realize the aspirations of the strategic plan and have a successful capital campaign.”

Kef commented, “I firmly believe AlumniCorps has an important part to play in expanding our society’s collective capacity to address the world’s most pressing challenges. I look forward to helping us fulfill our new mission: to mobilize people, organizations, and networks for the public good; and to helping to secure the resources to ensure Princeton AlumniCorps’ next quarter century is as impactful as its first 27 years have been.” Kef can be reached at kkasdin@alumnicorps.org or 609-921-8808 x2.

A message from Interim Executive Director, Kef Kasdin ’85

Kef Kasdin ’85, Interim Executive Director of Princeton AlumniCorps

Princeton AlumniCorps’ Network is in the midst of a busy spring, as you will read in this Shared Effort. Though I have served as ARC Innovators Program Leader since late 2010, as a member of the AlumniCorps Board of Directors since 2012, and as its President for the past year, I am struck by how much more I have learned about AlumniCorps in the past several weeks since stepping into the shoes of our previous Executive Director, Andrew Nurkin. For one thing, I learned that our home at 12 Stockton was built in 1824 by a famous Princeton architect and builder, Charles Steadman. I have also learned of the professionalism and dedication of not only our small, hardworking staff at 12 Stockton, but also of our multitude of volunteers across the country, and it is awe-inspiring. Over the last month, I had the opportunity to visit with some of our partner organizations, Fellows, and Area Committee members in Chicago; I am repeatedly struck by the variety of work our partner organizations do and the significant contributions of our Fellows to those efforts. We have concluded our pilot year of Seminars from Stockton and have received many of our Fellows’ capstone projects – both firsts for the program. We are about to welcome our newest class of Fellows (at least 46 this year) from the class of 2017 and have completed the selection of our next Emerging Leaders cohort. In both cases, we have seen record numbers of extremely well-qualified applicants.

I also want to thank the Board for their support during my transition, and most importantly for the hard work they have done to create a bold vision for the next several years of Princeton AlumniCorps with our Common Purpose: A Plan for Princeton AlumniCorps 2017-2021. We firmly believe AlumniCorps has an important part to play in expanding our society’s collective capacity to address the world’s most pressing challenges.
Our new mission, which was formally adopted by the board in December, is to mobilize people, organizations, and networks for the public good.

A new strategic plan was recently approved. Here is a brief summary:

AlumniCorps Values:

  • Thoughtful Engagement
  • Systemic Solutions
  • Empathic Partnerships
  • Intergenerational Insights
  • Vigorous Dialogue
  • Reciprocal Mentorship
  • Longevity

Five key strategic goals:

  • Mobilize our network
  • Strengthen existing leadership programs
  • Expand existing leadership programs
  • Launch new “Bold Idea” initiative
  • Ensure long-term organizational strength

You can take a look at the full strategic plan below:

You can also download a printable copy here. We look forward to working with all of you in the coming months and years to realize this vision.

In Community,

 

 

 

New Staff at 12 Stockton!

Lorraine Goodman’83, our new Development Officer

Lorraine Goodman ’83 joined AlumniCorps in November 2016 as Development Officer. Since graduating from Princeton, she has been involved with Princeton Annual Giving, served as the Director of Development and Alumni Communications for the Friends of Theatre Intime, and was recently named Co-Chair of Princeton Women’s Network of NYC.

Her professional fundraising experience includes two years working for The Red Hot Organization, which produces record albums and then donates the proceeds to AIDS-related charities. Subsequent development positions included Corporate Membership Manager at the Paley Center for Media, Grants Manager at Theatre for a New Audience, and Director of Development at both The New York Musical Festival and Roulette Intermedium.

Lorraine also has a wealth of volunteer experience with organizations ranging from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, InTouch Radio Network for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Hearts & Voices. Prior to her career in fundraising, Lorraine appeared on Broadway and overseas in first class productions of Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Master Class, Les Miserables, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and more. Goodman has a Masters of Arts Administration from NYU’s Steinhardt.