How do you take a twenty-six year record of program impact, a national network of passionate leaders and effective organizations, an intergenerational community of volunteers, and an inclusive commitment to the public good and… do even more?
Building on the success of our first twenty-six years, the Board of Directors is in the midst of a planning process that seeks to answer this question and set strategic priorities for the future of Princeton AlumniCorps. Since March, six working groups of the Board have explored core questions of how to deepen consistency and community across our programs, how to extend the reach of our programming and better mobilize our national network of alumni and partner organizations, and how to ensure the longevity of the organization. These working groups developed a long list of recommendations for the next phase of AlumniCorps, which the Board discussed in depth during its two-day strategic planning retreat on September 9-10. With considerable enthusiasm for what lies ahead, the Board will spend the next few months gathering input on key ideas before its December meeting and expects to finalize the strategic plan in early 2017.
Kimme Carlos joined Princeton AlumniCorps as Office Administrator in August, 2016. Prior to joining Princeton AlumniCorps, Kimme founded the NJ nonprofit, Urban Mental Health Alliance, where she continues to contribute her time as the volunteer Executive Director. She has also held several positions in nonprofit leadership as Association Manager with Creative Marketing Alliance and Program Manager, Annual Meetings with the African Studies Association.
Kimme is a strong advocate for urban community and social issues and has served on several boards in and across Mercer County, NJ, including Children’s Futures, NAMI Mercer and Oaks Integrated (formerly Greater Trenton Behavioral Health). Kimme was honored in 2009 as New Jersey’s Woman of the Year by the Garden State Woman Education Foundation for her dedicated volunteer work and she is a graduate of Regent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Psychology. She has two children, five grandchildren and lives in New Jersey. She brings to AlumniCorps a passion for and experience in nonprofit administration and operations.
Mikaela Levons ’04 is a native of Jamaica who has been passionate about civic engagement since high school. She has worked in the charitable sector since receiving a B.A. from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School in 2004. Mikaela served as the grant writer for New Jersey After 3 and The Martin House in Trenton. Most recently, she was the Membership and Communications Coordinator for the Center for Non-Profits. She received her M.Sc. in Non-Profit and NGO Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, and currently serves on the board of a non-profit operating in rural Jamaica. She and her husband live in Ewing with their three young daughters. She is excited to return to ‘Old Nassau’ as AlumniCorps’ Development and Communications Associate.
Ambassador (r.) David Huebner is a partner in Arnold & Porter LLP’s international arbitration and public international law practices. Previously he held senior positions in the Asia Pacific region, including as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, chairman & CEO of an international law firm, founding chief representative of a firm in Shanghai, and special policy adviser to a member of Japan’s Diet. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School. He joined the Princeton AlumniCorps Board of Directors in 2015.
What is it about the mission of AlumniCorps that you find compelling? The laser-focus on creating opportunities for impactful service. I am particularly drawn to AlumniCorps’ work to generate service opportunities for recent graduates, to mentor and empower future service leaders, and to create an inclusive service culture in which folks of different generations work closely together. AlumniCorps is not just a catalyst but an active provider. The work it does resonates with, actualizes, and reinforces Princeton’s legacy of public service.
What is your hope for the future of AlumniCorps?
I am too new to the Board to presume to have specific hopes for the organization’s future. I will say, though, that I am quite focused on the importance of training and empowering future leaders, and creating, supporting, and expanding communities of volunteers and service organizations. I think the greatest impact comes from collaborating, networking (in the technical sense), and crowd-sourcing.
What advice would you give to alumni interested in civic service work?
Just do it. Don’t think SERVICE, as though it is something big, formal, or listed on an approved registry somewhere. Look for a need in your community and do something to start filling it. Or think about what inflames your passions and google for local groups involved in the issue. And then step away from the computer and volunteer. The little things are addictive, and they add up. A strong, equitable society is built from ubiquitous micro-service. Internalize the imperative attributed (erroneously, it appears) to John Wesley: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can. That sounds right to me.
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.
“I was introduced to Princeton AlumniCorps by my daughter, Aria Miles ’14, who was a 2014-2015 Princeton Project 55 fellow in Washington, D.C. I marveled at Aria’s growth and development as a civic-minded young adult under this fellowship. I recognized that AlumniCorps was a natural fit for Aria after Princeton, since she began her civic engagement and public service journey during Princeton’s Inaugural Bridge Year Program in 2009. As one of five Princeton students to spend nine months in Ghana prior to her freshman year, Aria gained invaluable experiences and insights on what it means to be of service to other people. In fact, I believe that AlumniCorps’ mission paved the way for Princeton’s Bridge Year Program, as I believe AlumniCorps personifies Princeton’s motto – Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.
Project 55 fellows are impressive! They are selected each year from a competitive applicant pool of Princeton University seniors and recent graduates. In recent years, approximately 12% of the Princeton senior class has applied for a Project 55 Fellowship. Each year we place between 40 and 50 fellows. I am impressed by our talented fellows, who have a desire to work for social change in our various geographic locations: Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, DC. The fellows, whom we place with our partner organizations, are well-received by staff and in many instances are invited to extend their stay with our partner organizations. Our fellows and their work are making a difference!
AlumniCorps’ slogan, Engage at Every Age, appealed to me. Though my professional career was already rooted in public service, I first sought direct involvement in AlumniCorps through its ARC Innovators Program. It was a way for me to use my transferable professional skills and experiences to voluntarily support a non-profit organization with unique needs. Later, I was elected to the AlumniCorps Board of Directors.
I enthusiastically embrace my role as an AlumniCorps Board member. It is an honor to set policy and develop action-oriented strategies for our AlumniCorps programs. My service as a Board member is a unique extension of my undergraduate Big Sister Program experience with middle-school students in the Princeton community and my undergraduate leadership roles in Princeton student organizations. My primary base is the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where my board service enables me to view unique community needs and identify how AlumniCorps can help meet those needs.”
In early November, AlumniCorps Executive Director Andrew Nurkin, Partnership Manager Caryn Tomjlanovich, and Development Director Sharon Keld ’80 spent two and a half packed days in Chicago, visiting partner organizations and longtime supporters. Among the partner organizations they met with were the Steans Family Foundation, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Better Boys Foundation, and North Lawndale Employment Network. They also sat in on a strategy session with the Chicago Area Committee, met with Chicago supporters and Board members, and caught up with counterparts at the University of Chicago Public Interest Program and Northwestern’s fellowship program.
Andrew, Caryn, and Sharon joined current fellows, mentors, and other Area Committee members for a pizza party at the offices of Jeff Sharp ’80. There’s nothing like Chicago pizza to bring the AlumniCorps community together! The next morning, the staff and Area Committee volunteers attended the weekly seminar that is held for the Princeton Project 55, University of Chicago PIP, and Northwestern fellows, about 50 in all. Hosted by Princeton Project 55 fellow Calvin Gross ’15, employees of Lawndale Christian Health Center talked about their challenges and successes providing access to health care in the North Lawndale neighborhood.