In Memoriam: Dr. Robert (Bob) Myrl Amick ’55

Dear AlumniCorps Community,

We were deeply saddened to learn last week of the death of Dr. Robert (Bob) Myrl Amick ’55 on Saturday, January 13, 2018, in Brookline, Massachusetts. Bob died peacefully in his sleep after persevering through myriad health issues over the years. Bob and his wife Carol Ruth Jockers Amick were true friends of AlumniCorps; Bob served on the Princeton Project 55 Board from 1999 to 2005 and, as late as 2014, generously donated his time to mentor Fellows in the Boston area. AlumniCorps is truly grateful for his years of service and very generous support of Princeton AlumniCorps.

Bob had an accomplished career in medicine and medical administration. He received his MD from Yale Medical School in 1959, which is also where he met Carol. He interned at Cincinnati General Hospital and after a residency served in the Army at the Fort Chaffee, Arkansas station hospital. He completed his military service in June 1965 and moved with his family to Boston, where he worked in cancer chemotherapy at the adult clinic of the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation, a division of Boston Children’s Hospital. Bob moved to Veteran’s Hospital in Jamaica Plain, MA in 1967, where he was promoted to staff physician and then appointed Chief of Staff in 1974. He received a Master’s Degree in Management Science from MIT’s Sloan School of Management as a Sloan Fellow in 1979. He returned to Veteran’s Hospital as the Associate Chief of Staff for Education, which he held until his retirement in 1998. He also held an academic post at Boston University School of Medicine as well as membership in various regional and national VA advisory groups. Bob exemplifies the contributions the members of the Class of ’55 have made to society themselves and, through Project 55, now AlumniCorps, through succeeding generations of Princetonians.

Bob’s classmates and colleagues described him as generous, quiet, and solid. Mike Lee ’55 had the privilege of attending Yale Medical School with Bob – Mike fondly remembers their experiences as lab partners. George Hackl ’55 said, “Bob was admired by his classmates for his integrity, his intelligence, his wit, and the fundamental goodness of his heart.” Kenly Webster ’55 noted he has “never known a more genuine person, dedicated to fairness and the highest ethical principles.” Steve Boyd ’55 remembered that while Bob did not attend the founding meeting of Princeton Project 55, Steve traveled soon thereafter to Boston and successfully recruited Bob to sign on to the nascent organization’s cause. Pete Milano ’55 remarked, “Bob was a person of the highest ethical and moral standards imaginable, always with a caring and insightful demeanor in his approach to people and in addressing issues of consequence. We will sorely miss him.” Anne-Marie Maman ’84 credits Bob for making her feel welcome when she was first introduced to AlumniCorps through the Boston Area Committee.

Bob is survived by his wife, Carol, of Brookline, MA; son Robert (Charlie) Amick and his wife, Tamra, of Sunnyvale, CA; daughter Helen Amick of Sunnyvale, CA; daughter Joan Kelly and her husband, Steve, of Newton, MA; daughter Lisa DiAdamo and her husband, Rob, of Brookline, MA; brother James Amick of Princeton, NJ; eleven grandchildren; and two nieces and two nephews. He was predeceased by his brother Donald Amick of Warren, NJ; his sister-in-law Helen Bradley of Center Tuftonboro, NH, and a niece.

A memorial service in celebration of Bob’s life will be held on Saturday, February 3rd at 10:30 am at the Union Church in Waban – 14 Collins Road, Waban, MA 02468. There will be a luncheon to follow at The Country Club – 191 Clyde Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.

Bob’s quiet leadership and dedication are a model for us all.

In Community,

Liz Duffy ’88, Board Chair
Debra Kushma ’80, Vice President
Kef Kasdin ’85, President & Executive Director

A Note from the President & Executive Director – Winter 2018

Princeton University in the winter

As a board member and volunteer in the Princeton area for the past several years, I had always looked forward to January and the opportunity to interview applicants for the Project 55 Fellowship. This year, I had the privilege of conducting the interviews as a staff member and it gave me a deeper appreciation not only for the countless hours the staff and our volunteer alumni interviewers spend reviewing applications materials and asking thought-provoking questions, but also for the potential impact of this, our flagship program, to transform the applicants and our partner organizations. As I marked the nine-month anniversary of assuming the Executive Director role, I told every applicant I interviewed that it is (still) one of my favorite parts of the job. This year we invited about 120 Princeton University seniors to interview for over 70 placements with many longstanding partner organizations as well as several new exciting opportunities. Students took time from their busy Reading Period and exam schedules to trek in the cold and snow to our office at 12 Stockton Street. Our staff is joined by AlumniCorps volunteers as we assess which placement might best fit each candidate’s skills, passions, career goals, and specific interests. The energy of these young people is palpable and contagious, not only in our interview rooms but throughout the office. In the midst of tumultuous domestic and international news, the earnest determination of these students gives us a sense of hope for the future.

One applicant I met with is a Dreamer who has already had a profound impact on her communities. Incredibly smart, caring, and capable, she is passionate about college access and is already an accomplished poet and artist. Another demonstrated great empathy and sensitivity while reflecting on the impacts of the Swim Team scandal last year and lit up when describing his thesis research. He met with successful asylum seekers to the US who are here because of persecutions for gender identity. We met a young woman determined to be a pediatrician who remained resilient and positive despite losing her mother to breast cancer while our applicant was a Princeton undergraduate. I spoke at length with another applicant about arts as cultural narrative, storytelling, and personal expression.  This brilliant senior from a family of educators believes strongly in the ability of theater to develop empathy. As I listened to the students share their passions and future plans, I was reminded of why we do what we do and why we seek to mobilize these soon-to-be-Princeton graduates for the public good.

AumniCorps ED Kef Kasdin ’85 (center, in blue with sunglasses) and other members of Rachel’s Network near the current Mexico-US border wall, November 2017.

I thrive on the personal interactions with our community and January was just the icing on the cake of a busy fall making connections in our network. In keeping with our Bold Idea Initiative’s focus on immigration issues, in November I traveled to the Mexico-US border with Rachel’s Network. As the Board Chair of Rachel’s Network, I liaised with grassroots leaders working for fairer outcomes for immigrant populations and safer, healthier environments for border communities. You can learn more about the trip on Rachel’s Network blog, here:

In October I traveled to the Bay Area with our Director of Programs and Strategy, Caryn Tomljanovich. We met with current and prospective partner organizations, and the Area Committee hosted a get together with volunteers and Fellows in Oakland, CA at NewSchools Venture Fund.

As February approaches and our Fellowship candidates interview with the partner organizations to which we will have referred them, we switch focus to our Emerging Leaders program, which concludes with Closing Celebrations in New York City (February 13) and Washington, DC (February 15).  It’s amazing how time has flown since we selected these 32 high potential young managers last spring and kicked off the program in June.  The Closing Day and Celebration allows for reflection on and sharing of their experiences with each other, supervisors, family, and the broader AlumniCorps community, which welcomes them to continued learning, impact, and transformation. The Program builds capacity for these dedicated and self-aware leaders, both in themselves and for the nonprofits they are preparing to run.

Each opportunity to engage with our program participants and committed volunteers brings a renewed sense of purpose and energy to the work that we do at 12 Stockton. If you are reading this Shared Effort newsletter/ blog, then you are considered a part of the great ‘fishnet’ that is the AlumniCorps family. Here’s to another year of mobilizing people, organizations, and networks for the public good.

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 ( 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

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 or 609-921-8808 x2.