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!

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!

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!

New Staff at 12 Stockton for Summer 2017!

Hema Lochan ’17, Program Associate

Hema Lochan ’16 joined Princeton AlumniCorps as Program Associate in July 2017. Hema left the orange bubble with a BA in Anthropology and a Certificate in Environmental Studies in 2016, but her love for Princeton and its dedication to service has brought her back to join AlumniCorps! In her short post-grad experience, she has worked with government organizations, start-ups, and nonprofits, and everything in between. She hopes to use her experiences (stemming from both Princeton and the “real world”) to help students find their path and to learn along the way. She is pursuing an Executive Education Certificate in Sustainability from Columbia University. In her free time, she can be found running marathons, doing stand-up comedy, or just watching Disney movies!

Sahand Rahbar 17, Princeton AlumniCorps Project 55 Fellow for 2017-18

Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar ’17 is from Boise, Idaho. He was born in Iran and raised in Idaho, an arrangement that has invested him with an appreciation for migration, intercultural understanding, and potatoes. A history major, he has been deeply involved in the work of the Religious Life Council and the Writing Center at Princeton. Through these endeavors, he has volunteered as a tutor at two New Jersey detention centers, has served as a language teacher and translator at a refugee camp in Greece, and has mobilized interfaith coalitions on campus to address issues related to incarceration and immigration. He is eager to continue developing his knowledge of the intersection between immigration, public awareness, and legal advocacy as the Bold Idea Fellow at Princeton AlumniCorps in Princeton, NJ. In his free time, Sahand enjoys learning new languages and encouraging his friends to read George Eliot’s MIDDLEMARCH.

Catherine Dillingham, summer intern at Princeton AlumniCorps for 2017

Catherine Dillingham is interning at Princeton AlumniCorps for the summer. She was born and raised in Hopewell, New Jersey. She recently graduated from Gettysburg College with a BA in Psychology. Along with Psychology, she double-minored in Political Science and Women’s Gender and Sexuality studies. Before joining Princeton AlumniCorps as an intern, Catherine worked in the non-profit sphere with HiTOPs in Princeton, the Women’s Law Project of Philadelphia, and at a local women’s shelter in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2017 she is also working for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, where she is doing political organizing. She has a strong passion for social justice work. In her free time, Catherine enjoys keeping active, spending time with family and friends, and vacationing down at the Jersey shore!