Obertubbesing ’73: Why Did I Join PP55?

By Carol Obertubbesing ’73
Current PP55 Mentor

I first learned about Princeton Project 55 in 1993 when I attended the first Princeton Community Service Conference organized by John Fish ’55 and Bob Loveman ’69. I was so impressed by the fellows and the dedication of all of those involved that I immediately signed up to become a mentor for one of the summer interns and, later, the year-long fellows.

In Chicago, mentors have helped fellows, most of whom are recent graduates and have not lived in Chicago before, adjust to working life and a new city. I moved to Chicago with some reluctance myself and yet have grown to love its beauty and the vibrancy of its social and cultural communities.

I try to share this love with incoming fellows through a Chicago tip sheet and by introducing my mentee to some favorite places and activities. Having worked in numerous nonprofit organizations, I also try to offer guidance when appropriate. Other mentors have offered career advice and even helped fellows with difficult personal issues such as immigration.

I have served as a PP55 mentor for over 15 years and, besides a strong belief in the mission of the organization, I have also found it personally gratifying. As a transplanted Easterner, I have learned even more about the Chicago community through conversations with my mentees about their work and through the PP55 seminars.

Some of my mentees have shared my interests in theatre or music. Others have taught me about fields, e.g. science and technology, of which I have less knowledge. All of them have stimulated my thinking and each one has been a delight to know personally.

Many of my mentees have been alumnae and it has been encouraging to see how positive their experiences as women at Princeton have been. Serving as a mentor has enabled me to get to know some of these amazing young women and to see that Princeton has been a more welcoming place for them.

I have had a few women in my life who have forever changed it for the better. I hope that the women now graduating from Princeton, particularly with their Princeton Project 55 Fellowship experience, will do this for the next generation, and I hope that in some small way I have been able to do this for the women I have known.

I am glad community service is now a more prominent part of the Princeton experience—on-campus, off-campus, before and after graduation—and that the University and its students, staff, and alumni are more committed to “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” I hope to continue to be part of this effort by serving as a PP55 mentor, and I encourage you to get involved in some way as well.

I encourage all alumni—both men and women—to get involved in Princeton Project 55. Together, we can bridge the generation gap, encourage more Princeton graduates to pursue careers in community and public service, learn about and strengthen our communities, and begin to have the kind of civil discourse and civic engagement that will help us build a better world.

Carol Obertubbesing ’73 is a PP55 mentor, past Chair of Princeton University’s Committee on Academic Programs for Alumni, past President of the Princeton Club of Chicago, VP of Communications for the Princeton Club of Chicago, and recipient of the Club’s Arnold M. Berlin ’46 Award for Service to Princeton.

Spotlight on a Project 55 Fellow: Mandy Mazur ’08

Mandy Mazur ’08, current fellow at Lumity in Chicago, reflects on the early days of her experience as a Project 55 Fellow:


“Lumity is a nonprofit organization that helps hundreds of other nonprofits in the Chicago area operate more efficiently and deepen their community impact through a variety of training and consulting services in the areas of information technology and finance. While my background as a comparative literature major did not directly equip me with the skills and knowledge for my fellowship (you may wonder, how does a command of Dostoevsky’s work relate to the setup of an online donation tool?), I have certainly applied the creativity and critical thinking skills those years of poetry-reading and paper-writing have honed. Plus, navigating entirely new and unfamiliar territory is incredibly rewarding—it forces you to adapt and reinvent your current capacities.”

Mandy has embraced the new skills she is learning in her position at Lumity, “As the Program Associate in External Affairs, I have worked on marketing-related projects, in addition to IT and website work. I have helped set up an online donation tool to enable effortless giving from our donors and facilitated the purchase and configuration of a donor database that is integrated with an email campaigning tool. I also manage relations with various partner organizations and gather client and consultant information to highlight success stories.”

Mandy also reflects on the support she has received through Project 55’s Fellowship Programs:

“The engaged alumni community has made my transition into this new world incredibly smooth. I have already received buckets of advice and encouragement from mentors, through email exchanges, lunch dates and seminars. Invaluable from the start, I cannot wait to see where this yearlong fellowship takes me next!”

TAN Affiliates Play Key Roles in Local Programs’ Success

By Stephanie Mirkin
PP55 Program Manager

TAN affiliates engage in workshop discussions at the 2007 TAN Conference in Princeton, NJ.
TAN affiliates engage in workshop discussions at the 2007 TAN Conference in Princeton, NJ.

At 9:00 every Wednesday morning, fellows in Chicago enter their weekly seminar eager to learn about important social issues affecting the communities they are working to improve.

As the discussion gets underway, fellows draw on their past experiences to provide insights. Some talk about volunteering at the local soup kitchen through Northwestern University, others mention organizing a fundraiser for a community center through the University of Chicago, and others talk about mentoring elementary school students through Princeton University.

While this may seem unusual, it has actually become ordinary in Chicago for Princeton Project 55, Northwestern University Public Interest Program, and the University of Chicago Public Interest Program to work together to design a seminar series for all the fellows at these institutions.

With 33 fellows among the three programs this year, greater opportunities exist for sharing insights and perspectives on social issues. Aiala Levy ’07, former Project 55 Fellow at Mikva Challenge, said of collaborative seminars, “One of my favorite aspects of the Project 55 program in Chicago was being able to interact with and get to know fellows from Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Having fellows from local universities meant, in seminars, a broader range of perspectives and, outside of seminars, a fun guide to the city. In fact, some of the best friends I made as a Project 55 Fellow were graduates of Northwestern and University of Chicago.

Chicago is not the only PP55 location that benefits from collaborating with The Alumni Network affiliates. Collaboration is increasingly playing a key role in the success of local seminar series and fellowship communities in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Combining efforts with TAN affiliate programs in fellowship locations increases local connections to offer a broader array of seminars, provides greater man-power to organize events, and allows fellows to build a larger network and learn from a diverse group of people.

In Washington D.C, Washington and Lee University’s Elrod Fellowship and Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers work very closely with the Project 55 area committee to plan seminars for fellows. John Nolan, alumni volunteer for the Elrod Fellowship, participates on monthly conference calls with local affiliates and is instrumental in planning programming for fellows. With the small size of the Elrod Fellowship, Nolan comments that “without collaboration, the ability for robust seminars does not exist.”

In addition, with more volunteers on the committee, the “number of local contacts increases along with the ability to generate great ideas.” Nolan has also found it an enriching experience to work with alumni from other universities, commenting that the work “has been absolutely seamless.”

Alumni from TAN affiliate programs all over the country rally behind the common goal of exposing young alumni to the public interest and collaborate to expand the educational offerings for these future civic leaders.

The Alumni Network: 2008-2009 Placement Numbers

The success of TAN affiliates can be seen through the increased number of internship and fellowship placements made each year. We’ve included the impressive 2008-2009 internship and fellowship placement numbers for 16 of our TAN affiliates below. For a complete breakdown by program and geographic region, please log into Project 55 Connect.

•Total Interns: 290

•Total Fellows: 303

•Total Placements: 593

•Total Alumni Engaged: 887

Questions? Contact Emily Tang, Program Coordinator, at ETang@alumnicorps.org or 609-921-8808 ext. 6

Project 55 Alumna Produces Acclaimed Documentary

By Natasha Robinson 04
PP55 Development Officer

At age 28 while in seminary, Katrina Browne ’89 received a booklet from her grandmother detailing the history of her forefathers, the DeWolf family. That booklet would send Browne on a nine-year journey to tell the story of her DeWolf ancestors’ role as the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history in a documentary called Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North.

Katrina joined the Project 55 family in 1990 as a member of Project 55’s inaugural fellowship class at The Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. Katrina’s PP55 Fellowship experience launched her into a career in public service, an interest that has continued to grow and strengthen with time.

After her Project 55 Fellowship, Browne co-founded Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that seeks to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. The fact that Public Allies’ mission is closely aligned with that of Project 55 is no mistake. “What Project 55 had done for me was what Vanessa [Kirsch, co-founder of Public Allies] and I had in mind for an organization; assisting young people into becoming civic leaders who were experts on the needs of their community to make social change.

Katrina Browne '89 on location of her documentary on the slave trade.
Katrina Browne '89 on location of her documentary on the slave trade.

Katrina credits John Fish ’55 and Charlie Bray ’55, co-founders of Project 55, as instrumental in assisting her and Kirsch to start the program. Public Allies had its founding conference at Wingspread Conference Center housed at the Johnson Foundation, where Bray was on the board of directors. It was there that Browne and Kirsch met a charismatic community organizer from Chicago, Barack Obama, who suggested his wife, Michelle, become the Chicago Executive Director of Public Allies, a position she held from 1993-1996.

Public Allies currently operates in 15 U.S. cities across the nation and is led by CEO Paul Schmitz, who expanded the program to Milwaukee, Wisconsin soon after its founding. “The founding of Public Allies was an amazing ripple effect of Project 55 and an example of how Project 55 believes in young people,” Browne states.

Browne says that her experience in fundraising to start a nonprofit organization from the ground gave her the valuable skills she needed to produce her first film, Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North, which had its national broadcast premiere on June 24, 2008 on PBS’s documentary series P.O.V. Browne reflects, “This film epitomizes the course of my thinking after Project 55 and Public Allies. It is all about internal and external transformation. What are the attitudes that getin the way of social justice and social policy? what are the emotional blocks for Americans?”

The film follows Browne and nine other DeWolf descendants as they retrace the steps of the Triangle Trade, visiting the DeWolf hometown of Bristol, Rhode Island, slave forts on the coast of Ghana, and the ruins of a family plantation in Cuba. “There were so many moving parts—logistics, post-production, 10 family members, 3 countries, one of which America has embargoed. It was a lot to take on,” Browne reflects.

In the film, Browne pushes her family forward as they struggle through the minefield of race politics. With growing calls for reparations for slavery, Browne’s family struggles to make sense of their history and contribute to “repair.”

When asked how the film is relevant for today’s society, Browne states, “For white Americans, it’s not part of our legacy and everyday experience to think of race, which is one of the hallmarks of privilege. The legacy of slavery has so many permutations: homeownership rates among African Americans, rates of incarceration, lack of college education and the lack of healthcare. It’s important that a national conversation on race is brought out and discussed openly.”

The film has received critical acclaim from Stephen Holden of The New York Times, who wrote, “A far-reaching personal documentary examination of the slave trade…the implications of the film are devastating.”

Throughout the years, Princeton Project 55’s alumni volunteers, partner organizations, supervisors and mentors provide opportunities to expose fellows and each other to systemic issues and solutions and leadership development. Browne’s work on the film Traces of the Trade exemplifies Project 55’s goal to encourage fellows to remain civically engaged and bring about social change—whatever the medium.

To learn more about the film Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North, visit http://www.tracesofthetrade.org

Alumni Spotlight: Jana Rumminger

Former Fellow Fights for Human Rights in Asia

By Julie Saksa, PP55 Intern

“I currently live in Singapore and am now working with several organizations in South and Southeast Asia on issues of women’s rights, primarily on reform of Muslim family laws and the implementation of CEDAW (the UN “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”) at the national level.” This is how former Fellow Jana Rumminger ’97 describes her work right now.

At Princeton, Jana Rumminger made a name for herself as an English major, focusing her independent work in African American and South African literature. During her junior year, Jana took advantage of an opportunity to spend a spring/summer term abroad at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. During this “turning point in my Princeton experience,” Jana began to re-orient herself toward public service and issues of justice.

Jana Rumminger '97, with a child from the Child Care Centre of the organization she worked with during her year as a Luce Scholar in Malaysia.
Jana Rumminger '97, with a child from the Child Care Centre of the organization she worked with during her year as a Luce Scholar in Malaysia.

Jana became a PP55 Fellow at Leake & Watts Services in Yonkers, NY. Other fellowships took her to a food bank in Texas and to policy-related work in Washington, D.C.

In 2004 Jana graduated from Northeastern University School of Law with a law degree and a master’s degree in Law, Policy and Society.

Looking back on her Princeton Project 55 fellowship at a Residential Treatment Center (Leake & Watts) for troubled and abused teenage foster kids, Jana is grateful for “the opportunity to merge the theory I had learned at Princeton with real-life experience.”

Jana’s fellowship experience led her to other fellowships and ultimately to a law school and the human rights work she currently does in Malaysia. Her advice for future or current PP55 fellows: “I would stress the importance of gaining experience at the grassroots level and in a variety of organizational settings. This will give you exposure and insight into the lived realities of people and the issues they grapple with, as well as insight into how organizations function.”

At a training on women's rights that Jana organized in Bangkok, Thailand, while working with International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (she is third from the left in the front row).
At a training on women's rights that Jana organized in Bangkok, Thailand, while working with International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (she is third from the left in the front row).

Jana Rumminger’s example provides an inspiring model of the impact and good that former fellows are doing in the world. The good news is, Jana is just one of many stellar Project 55 alumni who are using the skills and gifts they honed at Princeton, through fellowships, and in later graduate school work, to work for justice and human rights around the world.

Dr. Evangeline Franklin Visits Princeton

Dr. Evangeline Franklin ’76

“The City of New Orleans: In Disaster and Recovery.”

by Kim Hendler, Executive Director

Proudly wearing a black Princeton sweatshirt stained dramatically by the flooding to her home during Hurricane Katrina and her class of 1976 baseball cap, Dr. Evangeline Franklin ’76, MD, MPH, Director, Clinical Services & Employee Health and Emergency Preparedness Manager for the City of New Orleans, shared her harrowing experience as a victim of Katrina with students and alumni on Friday, February 22, 2008.

Dr. Franklin began by surveying the room to hear students’ hometowns and raised awareness about danger preparedness in each location, making the point that the entire country needs to be better prepared for major disasters. She told the room she hoped she would inspire in Princeton students an interest in disaster management and preparedness careers and volunteerism.

She then shared her personal experience during Katrina. Originally out of town for business, Franklin was called back to New Orleans by the director of the health department as Katrina approached the city. She spent several days after the storm in the Superdome, working with teams sent to the gulf region from around the country to provide healthcare to the storms victims. Eventually, with growing unrest among refugees housed in the Superdome, she and her colleagues had to escape to safer locations.

Franklin mixed personal anecdotes with general lessons in public health. She started by demonstrating that the areas of the city worst hit by Katrina were those where public health predictors (education, race, income level, and health) were already the lowest – exacerbating escape and rescue efforts.

Dr. Evangeline Franklin with a student at her lecture, "The City of New Orleans: In Disaster and Recovery."
Dr. Evangeline Franklin with a student at her lecture, "The City of New Orleans: In Disaster and Recovery."

Moving on to disaster response, she explained that while the rest of the country was growing impatient watching CNN, response teams from around the continent were gearing up to care for the sick and injured in New Orleans. The seeming delay in their arrival was necessary to ensure safety for workers and victims and adequate and appropriate coordination, information, and supplies. Franklin showed great admiration for the firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency response teams that supported her department’s efforts during the aftermath of Katrina.

Dr. Evangeline Franklin delivers a lecture on "The City of New Orleans: In Disaster and Recovery."
Dr. Evangeline Franklin delivers a lecture on "The City of New Orleans: In Disaster and Recovery."

One silver lining of the devastation of Katrina is improved and increased response coordination and emergency preparation in Louisiana and raised awareness across the country. At one point during her lecture, Dr. Franklin used members of the audience to demonstrate the number of key players who have to work together to handle such a disaster and the strict organization needed to maintain control and to manage limited resources.

Dr. Franklin bravely shared some of her personal story as well. She lost her home, her pets, and her parents’ home in Katrina. She works every day to help the city to recover from Katrina’s effects. As her colleague, Robert Gillio, said about Dr. Franklin, “She did the heroic. She stayed and continues to stay, everyday facing the human tragedy of the nations worst natural disaster and brings to the recovery a vision and drive to surpass recovery and create what was never there before.”