This year’s Project 55 Fellow placements are complete! We received 161 completed applications from students and recent alumni, and 47 Fellows have confirmed acceptance to the 2017-18 Program. We also have four continuing Fellows who are returning to their partner organization and wish to fully participate in the Fellowship program for a second year. Orientation was held for incoming Fellows on May 12, 2017; 34 Fellows were in attendance.
Toni Seaberry Murphy ’05, Former PP55 Intern at the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, Washington, D.C.
Which aspect of your internship was most impactful to you and why?
I enjoyed the different Project 55 gatherings for alumni and folks working in DC. I remember going to one such gathering at the home of a U.S. Senator who was a Princeton alumnus. It was amazing – I was 18 and being exposed to different circles of people with power and influence.
We were in the midst of the tech boom/ bust, and the housing market was severely affected. We were determining which local banks to fund based on their role in the local economy in different parts of the U.S. I loved working for CDFI because it was altruistic, but it helped me understand financial markets. My internship gave me a window into the financial world and set the bar high. Had it not been for my Project 55 Internship, I don’t know if I would have gotten a Bank of America internship the next year and gone into public finance for my sophomore internship.
What advice would you offer a Princetonian who’s considering a PP55 Fellowship?
Working with an organization like the CDFI Fund as a PP55 Intern/ Fellow gives you a great entree into the business world with the safety net and support of your alumni family to ensure your success. You can enter the workforce without all the brokering you usually have to do to get into the system. With PP55 you’re allowed to make mistakes and learn from the ground up.
Why give to Princeton AlumniCorps?
When I give to AlumniCorps, it’s easy to see where my money is going. I find that the mission is clear, the influence is there, it’s giving back and paying it forward. AlumniCorps is a small, nimble organization and I know my dollars are going to go a long way.
Princeton AlumniCorps is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As such, we rely on the generosity of our donors, who provide nearly 80% of our operating budget. Our programs in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, New Jersey, and Washington DC, annually provide mentorship, training, and professional development to approximately 80 talented
passionate university graduates and nonprofit professionals who in turn, directly affect thousands of people served by our partner organizations. Your contribution ensures that the next generation of leaders at nonprofits across the spectrum including community development, social justice, education, the environment, public policy and more, can develop the skills and knowledge they need to effect long-term, systemic social change.
The Keystone Society is comprised of a select group of donors who have chosen to assure the long-term health and sustainability of Princeton AlumniCorps by including AlumniCorps in their estate planning. Society members know that the assets they commit now will continue to aid AlumniCorps for generations to come, as it develops civic leaders, builds an
expansive community, and creates social impact. For more information on how you can ensure your legacy with AlumniCorps, please visit the Keystone Society website.
“Project 55 offers a chance to work ‘In the Nation’s Service and in the Service of Humanity’ in a structured, supportive environment with the freedom and time to reflect on one’s efforts, purpose, and ultimate goals. Fellowships involve high impact projects supervised by leaders in the field who are dedicated to our success.”
“I’m the Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, which bridges the worlds of religion and science…The work I did [as a Fellow at] Facing History, which uses the Holocaust as a lesson in human behavior, still influences me today. I use many of their methodologies in teaching. Their belief that history is a moral enterprise guides my rabbinate.”
“The number of amazing PP55 alumni that are working for systemic change in our country is inspiring! These are smart people who are dedicating themselves to helping solve some of society’s toughest problems.”
On November 3 the area committee hosted a wine and cheese reception with AlumniCorps Executive Director Andrew Nurkin, Board President Kef Kasdin ’85, and Board Member Leesy Taggart ’78. Current and former fellows, mentors, and area committee members had the opportunity to meet one another, learn more about AlumniCorps’ organizational goals and plans for the future, and to engage new volunteers in supporting the fellowship program.
Committee members also hosted a workshop on December 7 for Project 55 Fellows about “managing up,” facilitated by May Mark, a former Emerging Leader and Project Manager at OneUni. In the session attendees defined “managing up,” learned strategies to manage up effectively, and worked through real-life challenges in peer-to-peer consultancies.
Supported by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton University, Breakout Princeton is a student-driven alternative break program that encourages engagement with domestic social issues through immersion in communities. Breakout Princeton students who visited Boston were invited to attend a mixer with Boston Project 55 Fellows on November 3.
The Breakout Princeton students spoke about exploring the impact of the 2008 recession on low-income neighborhoods in Boston. The Project 55 Fellows shared their thoughts on their current positions, and why they chose to do a Project 55 fellowship after graduation.
The Boston Area Committee also hosted a gathering with the fellows in December to celebrate the first half of their fellowship year and the holidays. Current Project 55 fellow Nina Narayanan ’16‘s hard work was featured in AlumniCorps’ December appeal and blog.
The Committee has a very exciting series of seminars coming up at the Boston University School of Public Health. The first is an all-day symposium on how public health can take a leadership role in mitigating social determinants of health including race, class, disability, and gender. The second is a lecture by a Princeton professor, Eldar Shafir, on decision-making in contexts of poverty and on the application of behavioral research to policy.
Recent seminars hosted in Chicago have included the Chicago Area Committee’s annual panel with former fellows, including Chelsea Mayo ’14 and Andrew Kinaci ’10, to help Project 55 fellows navigate life after their fellowship— whether they stay on with their organization, attend graduate school, or transition to another career. At the end of 2016, fellows also attended a dynamic and timely seminar hosted by Sharon Fairley ’82, a Princeton alumna and current chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) in Chicago.
In December, Project 55 Fellows joined fellows from Northwestern’s and University of Chicago’s Public Interest Program for a holiday party at the Galway Arms. Virginia Midkiff ’16, current fellow at National Equity Fund said, “I enjoyed this week’s seminar at the Chicago Legal Clinic. The speaker, Mr. Ed Grossman, was incredibly inspiring. It was clear that he’d made it his life’s work to meet people where they’re at, and to respond to the specific needs of various Chicago neighborhoods and the community as a whole.”
On January 28, 2017 the NJ Fellows, Kelsey Jane-Ritsch ’16, Aliisa Lee ’16, and Maya Wahrman ’16 drove to Philadelphia to visit Sahana Jayaraman ’16, who is serving her fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. They explored Penn Treaty Park and Fishtown where they took in some beautiful views, fun hipster shops and streets, cute bakeries, and delicious Mexican food. These young women have proclaimed themselves “the tightest Project 55 corps around!”
On February 2 the NJ Area Committee hosted a gathering at the residence of a Committee member in Jersey City. Fourteen attendees learned about AlumniCorps’ new strategic vision from Kef Kasdin ’85, President of AlumniCorps. Area Committee volunteer Marsha Rosenthal ’76 commented, “The conversation was lively, and Kef’s talk was right on target.”
New York City
On November 3, the NYC Area Committee hosted a Press and Politics seminar. In the days leading up to the election, Judith Hole Suratt s’55 moderated a panel discussion with journalists to discuss the role and responsibilities of media in politics. The three panelists were: Kathleen McCleery (award-winning broadcast journalist who has worked for PBS and NBC, currently a visiting professor at Princeton, teaching a course on “Politics and the Media”); Jack Holmes (assistant editor at Esquire.com, experienced in digital writing); and Bill Plante (retired reporter who has been a White House correspondent and State Department correspondent for CBS)
On January 19, the Committee hosted a seminar at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. The seminar’s key speakers were the Center’s executive director, Dr. Angela Diaz and Dr. Matt Oransky. They focused on the work that the Center does to address mental health.
On November 13, Committee members and current fellows went ice skating in Bryant Park. Then, on December 15, Victoria Lee ’16 hosted a holiday party for current Project 55 fellows, mentors, and Emerging Leaders. In addition, AlumniCorps president Kef Kasdin ’85 and Ry Beck from 12 Stockton staff, were in attendance.
On January 27, the social committee organized a group of Project 55 fellows to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and take advantage of Free Admission Fridays.
The Washington, DC Area Committee hosted two panels for Project 55 fellows: Anne Goldstein ’79, AlumniCorps board member and Human Rights Education Director for the International Association of Women Judges, spoke about women’s rights. Retired Ambassador Tom Graham ’55 spoke about careers in government. The Project 55 fellows were joined by University of Chicago Public Interest Program fellows. The committee also hosted a holiday happy hour at a local restaurant for the Project 55 fellows and their mentors.
AlumniCorps currently operates in seven regions across the country. Our local area committees recruit and match mentors, organize social events and seminars, and serve as guides to fellows navigating a new city. If you are interested in volunteering, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area: We had an orientation and welcome dinner for fellows in August, in which former fellows Amantia Muhedini and Abigail Kelly lead a workshop session to brainstorm and discuss their overall goals and hopes for the year. All fellows attended and it was a great way to kick off the year. This month, we are hosting a behind-the-scenes experience at the San Francisco Opera. Fellows and mentors have been invited to a dress rehearsal of the opera, “Don Pasquale,” and will have a Q&A session with SF Opera Artistic Planning Manager, Sean Waugh.
Boston: We welcomed the new fellows to city by hosting a happy hour with the Princeton regional association. It was a success and many of our former and current fellows attended. We’ll have a welcome event for the fellows on Cape Cod, hosted generously by committee member Tom Flynn. There’ll be an informal BBQ where we’ll talk about the expectations for the year, followed by some fun activities around the Cape.
Chicago: On Sunday, August 28th, we hosted an orientation retreat for our incoming fellows. PP55 Mentor Carol Obertubbesing ‘73 introduced the fellows to the city’s history from the vantage point of the Chicago River on a Chicago Architecture Foundation boat cruise! Sherry Holland led the mentors through their own orientation program, sharing tips for connecting to their mentees. Afterwards, fellows and mentors met up for dinner at the home of Sally and Vince Anderson ‘65.
On August 31st, fellows from PP55 and the University of Chicago and Northwestern Public Interest Programs (PIP) came together for a “PIP-nic” in Millennium Park. Our seminar series kicked off on Wednesday, September 8th, covering topics like public interest, asset-based community development, and workforce development.
Washington, DC: We recently hosted a kick-off event to introduce our new committee members and determine participants’ interest in topics/ideas for this year’s programming. This event was hosted by our area committee advisor, Tonya Miles and was attended my P55 fellows, Emerging Leaders, mentors, and alums. While at CityBridge, Joelle Deleveaux is exploring potential solutions for the charter school facilities crunch in D.C. For his part, Michael Moorin has begun to do intensive research into the education marketplace in DC and school incubation.
To see more photos from the 2016 PP55 Welcome events, visit our Facebook album
Here are just a few of the many reflections that Princetonians have shared with us.
“Project ’55 has played an important role in offering our students remarkable volunteer civic engagement opportunities that clearly have a lasting impact on their personal lives and careers.PP55 has truly been a source of inspiration and guidance for young alumni who want to make a positive difference at a local, national, or global level”
Shirley Tilghman, President Emeritus, Princeton University
“Project 55 has been the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. “I think we’ve demonstrated that we’ve had a meaningful impact on communities around the country, on alumni at Princeton, on the student body and on the institution itself.”
Chet Safian ’55
“I’ve served as a mentor since 1993. I moved to Chicago in late 1992 and attended the Community Service Conference held here in Spring 1993. I was so excited by the PP55 program and the fellows I met at the conference that I immediately spoke to John Fish about becoming a mentor and have been one ever since. I really enjoy getting to know a recent graduate each year. Depending on the interests of my mentee, I try to balance fun things to do (theatre, music, Chicago touring) with conversation about their experiences at work and living in Chicago.”
Carol Obertubbesing ’73
“Mentoring for PP55 has been an exhilarating experience. The opportunity to be involved with the program and the mentees of pp55 add an entire dimension to my life. They are truly the best and brightest…and we have a chance to be wired in to the future World’s leaders. What more may one ask?”
Harry Berkowitz ’55
“PP55 has given me the opportunity to make a difference. This has an impact on students, on agencies and the populations they serve, and on a broader group in society.”
Anne-Marie Maman ’84
“My time with Princeton Project 55 helped me to understand that having access to and encouragement toward service can have a profound effect not only on the arc of a career, but also on the strength of our communities. . . . Organizations like this prove once again that each of us can shape a better future for ourselves, our communities, and our country.”
Michelle Obama ’85
“I am very encouraged by the steps being taken by Princeton AlumniCorps to involve new leaders not only in sustaining the PP55 program, but also in developing new programs whereby Princetonians of all generations can have a meaningful, positive impact on society.”
Scott Taylor ’75
“I hope that you will convey to the participants both my sincere regard for their efforts and my gratitude for the way in which their active service not only benefits the communities in which they work but also makes Princeton a better place. The Project 55 program has been a wonderful concept; it is one of the aspects of this University that make so many of us proud to be members of the Princeton family.”
Harold Shapiro, President Emeritus, Princeton University