The Impact of the Emerging Leaders Program

What is the impact of the Emerging Leaders program?

Princeton AlumniCorps, through the Project 55 Fellowship, Emerging Leaders, and ARC Innovators programs, provides ways for people to engage at every age. Here are just a few of the many experiences this year’s Emerging Leaders shared in their year-end evaluations.

This program is such a unique opportunity. I haven’t seen other spaces offering this level of support for people in this stage of their careers. I learned a lot about myself which in turn helped me understand myself as a colleague, supervisee, and leader. I learned so much in this program and I feel like I’ll continue to unpack information or have things “click” months from now.

Emerging Leaders is an outstanding program and I would definitely recommend it for nonprofit managers who have a direct-reports and are in clear leadership positions.

I would tell prospective Emerging Leaders that they are about to embark on a life-changing journey in which they will look deeply inward and learn that they possess the qualities to become a successful leader.

I so appreciated the investment in time and space for me to view my work and my organization more objectively.

I loved this program, and feel very fortunate that I had the chance to participate and to meet this amazing community.

In the back of my mind I had always assumed that the people who were the most knowledgeable and technically skilled in a particular field were the best leaders. I no longer think that. This course was key in helping me to recognize the value of emotional and social intelligence, vision, and empathy – skills which I had undervalued in myself and now take pride in and hope to cultivate further.

Great program. I can’t thank you all enough!

Hilary is amazing!

Yael is amazing!

Emerging Leaders Closing Celebrations in New York and Washington, DC

On February 18 and 25, members of the Princeton AlumniCorps community, along with friends and colleagues, gathered in Washington, DC, and New York City to celebrate the newly-graduated cohort of Emerging Leaders. This year’s thirty-two program graduates represent a range of nonprofit organizations addressing issues from educational equity to environmental justice locally, nationally, and internationally. As Program Leader Margaret Crotty ’94 noted at the New York closing, “Emerging Leaders fills an important gap in the nonprofit sector by helping very talented young nonprofit managers grow into confident, skillful, and resilient leaders with more support, tools, and practical knowledge than is available on the job, and with access to insights and connections they couldn’t easily reach.”

The receptions marked the completion of the program’s fifth year. In June 2015, the 2015-16 cohort began meeting for monthly sessions to engage with a curriculum that pushed their understanding of leadership. Through skill-based activities, mentorship, and discussions with subject experts, participants were coached in nonprofit finance, public speaking, fundraising, and board relations and governance. For other topics, such as emotional intelligence, team dynamics, and self-awareness, participants were encouraged to engage with their peers through individual and group coaching, monthly readings, and stretch goals. Emerging Leaders are guided through the custom-designed curriculum by facilitators Hilary Joel ’85 in Washington and Yael Sivi in New York.

Like other AlumniCorps programs, Emerging Leaders builds the capacity of individuals and the organizations they serve to tackle pressing systemic challenges. During the celebrations guests heard directly from Emerging Leaders about the impact of the program on their careers and organizations. Testimonials emphasized the power of peer coaching, the guided application of new skills through stretch projects, and the importance of learning from guest speakers who have spent their lives working to address public issues. Emerging Leader Jimmy Kelly, who directs the PrepNext program at DC Prep, summarized the value of the program in this way: “Emerging Leaders elevates the brilliance of everyone in the room.”

For more photos from the closing celebrations, visit the AlumniCorps Facebook page.

Emerging Leaders is made possible by a lead grant from American Express, the Harris Finch Foundation, and generous individual donations. We are grateful to Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman CPAs, Covington & Burling LLP, Margaret Crotty and Rory Riggs, and Locus Analytics for sponsoring and hosting this year’s closing celebrations.

Emerging Leaders Spotlight: May Mark

May Mark (3)“Emerging Leaders gave me the opportunity to take a step back from my day-to-day work on the ground and have space to really think about who I am and who I want to be. Emerging Leaders developed my skills as a visionary leader.”

As the Program Manager at New Leaders, a nonprofit that provides leadership training and resources to public school leaders, May Mark successfully completed the Emerging Leaders program in NYC last year. She has recently moved to Oakland, CA to begin work at a global education technology startup, One University Network.

Originally from the New York City area, May Mark found herself back there after graduating from Brown University in 2008. She began working at New Leaders, a nonprofit in ten cities throughout the U.S aimed at providing resources and training to promising principals and assistant principals for public schools in low-income and under-resourced areas. Most recently, May was the Program Manager for the flagship Aspiring Principals Program, where she coordinated the operation of the program running in multiple cities. May skillfully balanced program fidelity and flexibility to ensure success for the school leaders and ultimately students.

Andrew Protain ’08, a childhood friend and recent Emerging Leader, referred May to the Emerging Leaders program given where she was in her career. “There are not a lot of resources for folks in the nonprofit space. Emerging Leaders provided an opportunity for young professionals passionate about their work in NYC to enter into a community. It helped to see the whole web of nonprofit work happening in the city,” said May.

It was this community built among her Emerging Leaders cohort that May found so valuable. They acted as each other’s accountability partners and sounding boards. The program’s use of peer coaching was particularly helpful to practice hard conversations that pushed May’s professional growth and to hear feedback. “After Emerging Leaders, coworkers at my job commented that they could see my growth as a leader. I already had the content knowledge, but my confidence in my skills and leadership capability really grew,” said May. The program requires support from both the participants and the nonprofits they represent. May reflects that her experience was amplified by how much support she received from New Leaders and its time and financial commitment to her personal development.

Under the Emerging Leader programming, May also undertook a “stretch project” of creating an online community on social media for 15 years of alumni and staff involved with the Aspiring Principals Program at New Leaders. The online community has a current membership of over 500 members, which surpassed the original goal by 75 percent.

Although May is no longer with her nonprofit in NYC, there is a sense of fulfillment in knowing that the people she served have a tool and vehicle to continue to work together past her involvement; her project for Emerging Leaders left a legacy in connecting and engaging program alumni at New Leaders.

May continues to utilize the skills and confidence she developed through Emerging Leaders at her new role as Project Manager at One University Network based in Oakland, CA. One University Network partners with universities and employers to enable college curriculum on mobile devices, opening opportunities for students in other countries to earn college credentials and degrees at their own pace and with affordable fees. Moving from a national nonprofit to a global education technology startup poses a new set of challenges, but the goal of providing access to high-quality education remains the same. May is confident that the skills and relationships she has built in the Emerging Leaders program will continue to help her grow professionally.

Emerging Leaders Spotlight: Malena Attar

Malena Attar is the Development Associate at Good Grief and a participant in this year’s Emerging Leaders program in New York. Good Grief’s mission is to provide unlimited and free support to children, teens, young adults, and families after the death of a mother, father, sister, or brother through peer support programs, education, and advocacy. Malena’s role combines her passion for community engagement and the advocacy needed to ensure that no child ever has to grieve alone. This is an excerpt from the post she wrote for The Leading Edge, the AlumniCorps blog.

Malena Attar
Malena Attar

I had high expectations for my experience with the Emerging Leaders program, but I can honestly say that I had no idea how life-changing it would be.

Before our first session, we were asked to obtain feedback on our strengths. Only our strengths. Before our first day together, Emerging Leaders was al- ready sending us a message that would be made very clear: “You are already a leader. You already possess the unique strengths that you bring to the environments around you.” We have gotten this far because we already are leaders, we are just simply unaware of how to position ourselves so that we can best show our strengths and succeed.

The beauty of this program is that it meets once a month over the span of nine months. As we explored forms of communication, leadership styles, managing up, networking, fundraising, and public speaking, we always looped back to what kind of leader we were. It is a lot of work to undo the notion that a leader speaks, leads, works, looks a specific way. As each of the leaders in the program slowly emerged into their better-defined selves, everyone benefited. Everyone in the program shared the struggles, rethinking, perseverance, and successes of each peer. In learning to work with our varied professional teams, we were evolving into our own diverse and powerful team.

This would have been impossible without the exceptional work of the AlumniCorps staff and board, and most importantly of our facilitator, Yael Sivi. We all knew Yael would be encouraging us to stretch further than we thought we could, and that we would grow. We did. The announcement of a number of promotions, new opportunities, and workplace improvements filled the air as we met each month.

I am so grateful for this opportunity, for Princeton AlumniCorps, and for our facilitator Yael. In being accepted into this program, each leader started on a journey they didn’t know was possible. A journey with a network of hundreds of accomplished professionals, a wealth of knowledge, a family of peers that will continue to grow alongside us, and as the leaders we didn’t realize we could be.

Emerging Leaders Spotlight: Scott Welfel

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.

Scott Welfel '06
Scott Welfel ’06

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.

Emerging Leaders Has Continued Success

Upon leaving each session, I feel empowered, effective, and enlightened as I head back to my vocation. The tools gained serve as catalysts to my leadership awareness and promote growth along this path to being a complete leader.

-Julian Forde, 2014 Emerging Leader

In February, members of the AlumniCorps community,  along with our supporters in the nonprofit and public sectors, gathered in New York City and Washington, DC, to celebrate the newly-graduated Emerging Leaders class of 2014. AlumniCorps Board and staff members, Emerging Leaders program alumni, employers, advisers, family members, and other supporters helped to honor the participants’ accomplishments and the program’s success.

The receptions on February 20th in Washington, DC, and February 27th in New York marked the completion of the program’s third year. Last June, the new group of participants began gathering for monthly sessions to develop their skills in the nonprofit and public sectors. Participants were coached in such areas as nonprofit financial reporting, presentation skills, and fundraising fundamentals through skill-based activities and discussions with subject experts. For other topics that relate to emotional intelligence and team dynamics, presentations and best practices were combined with experiential learning and peer group collaboration. The goal of the program is to build the capacity of the participants, and the nonprofit and public sectors as a whole, as well as to address complex public issues by equipping talented young managers with the skills to launch them into leadership roles.

Addressing the attendees in New York, AlumniCorps President Kathy Miller ’77 spoke about the value and uniqueness of the program: “Emerging Leaders provides participants with a framework for developing the innate leadership talent of our participants and how they can use it effectively… In addition to hard skills like how to fundraise or pitch an idea, what makes the Emerging Leaders program unique is that it gives participants a space to learn the interpersonal perspective needed to be a leader.”

Many employers were in attendance at the celebrations. Rachael Peters, New York City Executive Director of Peer Health Exchange, Inc., described the significance of the program to her organization. “There aren’t resources for professional development for leaders at this level, so Emerging Leaders was a comprehensive, affordable, and thoughtful option that made sense. This program has been great in that we recognized our employee as a leader and she has already brought lessons from Emerging Leaders back to our team,” Rachael said.