Project 55 Mentors: Building Relationships and Careers

By John Shriver,
PP55 Fellowship Program Manager

In the fall of 2007 when Stuart Raynor ’55 became interested in expanding Project 55’s affordable housing fellowship opportunities, he could not have predicted all the year would have in store. After using his contacts at the DC Housing Authority to create a fellowship opening, Stuart was connected with Aaron Buchman ’08, who would fill the new position. So began a fruitful and unlikely relationship spanning generations of experience and idealism.

Every year, new fellows are paired with local Princeton alumni with similar interests to provide support and guidance. Through the Project 55 Mentoring Program, mentors help fellows set career goals, network with professionals, and maybe most importantly, offer guidance from someone who has been in their shoes. For Aaron, this has been especially helpful as he learns to navigate the world of city government.

“Fellows are the primary reason for the strength and growth of Project 55…
Aaron exemplifies that.”

— Stuart Raynor ’55 Project 55 Mentor

Stuart also has learned a lot from Aaron as their relationship developed. “For someone of my generation, there [are] not a lot of opportunities to converse with people from [a] younger generation,” says Stuart. “Aaron has a lot of good ideas.”

Aaron first became interested in affordable housing through his undergraduate coursework. While it was not his primary interest, he was attracted to the complex interactions between real estate markets, financing and social policy. “Public housing is an ambitious social experiment,” Aaron said. So when Project 55 offered him a hands-on opportunity to learn more about affordable housing in Washington, DC, he jumped at the chance.

Though his career began in the private sector, Stuart always had a strong interest in affordable housing. Inspired by the work of his classmates and the spirit of Project 55, he decided to take a job in the public sector at the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) of Montgomery County, Maryland. What he thought would be a brief stint in the public sector became a fifteen-year career. Although he has now retired from HOC, Stuart remains active in the nonprofit sector on the board of the Alternative Housing Solutions and the Arlington County Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission.

Soon after Aaron started at the DC Housing Authority, he learned how complicated and frustrating the housing industry can be, yet how helpful it is to have a mentor with Stuart’s experience. The “field does not explain itself well,” said Aaron, “one year is barely enough time to get up to speed, and it takes time to implement any policy.” Stuart has been able to help by offering a different perspective. “Stuart has said things that give me a longer view,” Aaron said recently, “it helps me have hope for the future”.

A mentoring relationship isn’t all about business though. Aaron and Stuart have frequent meals together, have taken a walking tour of affordable housing projects, and have gone to a Capitals hockey game.

So is mentoring a meaningful way to get involved? Stuart certainly seems to think so. “Fellows are the primary reason for the strength and growth of Project 55,” he said. “Aaron exemplifies that…It has been rewarding to get to know Aaron.” Even after the fellowship year, Stuart and Aaron plan to keep in touch. “I am delighted Aaron will be in Washington,” said Stuart. For these two at least, this fellowship has helped build more than affordable housing.

PP55 is now accepting mentor applications. If you are interested in getting involved and becoming a mentor, please contact John Shriver and Stephanie Mirkin at pip@alumnicorps.org.

PP55 Partner Organization Recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for their Innovative Work

The Center for Neighborhood Technology, a longtime PP55 partner organization, was recently awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. As one of only eight organizations world wide to be recognized with this award, we would like to congratulate them for their important contributions toward developing sustainable communities.

Read what Kathyrn Tholin, CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology has to say:

Dear Friend,

Yesterday, CNT was recognized as one of only eight organizations from around the world to receive the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. CNT has pioneered new approaches to urban problems that use resources more efficiently, reduce costs for households and communities, and improve the environment. The award recognizes organizations that are “highly creative and effective, have made an extraordinary impact in their fields and are helping to address some of the world’s most challenging problems.”

“The MacArthur Foundation has a long history of supporting organizations around the world like these that demonstrate the creativity, drive, and vision to make the world more just and peaceful,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “These organizations may be small but their impact is tremendous. From protecting human rights to improving urban neighborhoods to conserving biodiversity, they are blazing new paths and finding fresh solutions to some of our most difficult challenges.”

For more information about this exciting award, visit CNT’s website at http://www.cnt.org/macarthur-award

Or visit the MacArthur Foundation’s website at: http://http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.5119067/k.77D8/April_2009__Supporting_Creative_amp_Effective_Institutions.htm

 

Kathryn Tholin, CEO

 

Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org at Project 55 reunions panel on May 29

Check out the linked video to see Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org in action.

We are thrilled to announce that Charles will be speaking at our Reunions Panel  entitled “Serving the Public Interest: Moments of Obligation” Friday, May 29 at 10 AM in East Pyne. He will be joined by moderator Elizabeth Duffy ’88, Headmaster of the Lawrenceville School, and panelists Margaret Crotty ’94, Executive Director at AFS, Jim Floyd ’69, founding Vice President of Princeton in Africa, Rishi Jaitly ’04 Senior Policy Analyst, Google India and founder of IndiaVoices.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on a PP55 TAN Affiliate: Harvard CPIC

By Emily S. Tang,
PP55 Program Coordinator

Through the Alumni Network, PP55 has helped to start and support similar alumni-driven public interest organizations across the country. We sat down with Travis Lovett of Harvard CPIC to learn more about the successful collaboration between Harvard CPIC and PP55 in the Boston area.

Name: Travis Lovett, Assistant Coordinator

Organization Name: Center for Public Interest Careers at Harvard College (CPIC)

What does the Center for Public Interest Careers at Harvard College do?
We place Harvard College students and recent graduates in fellowships and internships at nonprofit and public interest organizations around the country. We also provide fellows and interns with professional development opportunities.

Travis Lovett Relays Program Success in Boston:
Many of us this year are facing the prospects of stretched budgets during difficult economic times, but these challenges also present opportunities. Resourcefulness can build fruitful relationships, and collaboration has played a vital role in our success up to this point.

For our program in Boston, Princeton Project 55 and the Harvard CPIC program have teamed together to organize eight fellowship seminars which address topics such as social entrepreneurship, community arts programs, and environmental activism. Our last seminar on public interest law brought together a panel of three guests from different legal realms and they engaged fellows in meaningful conversation about the relevance of education and public service.

cpic-crew-nick-beilenson-amanda-sonis-glynn-travis-lovett-2

Harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers is critical in our ability to create opportunities for students and recent alumni. PP55 volunteers Bob Amick ’55 and Anh-Thu Ngo ’06 have played an integral role in our seminar planning, and Anh-Thu has also been working on organizing an additional seminar on negotiations and bargaining skills. Our fellows and interns have benefited from meeting one another and sharing their experiences, as many of us have benefited from sharing best practices.

This year, the CPIC program is in the process of launching an area committee in Boston to explore ways we can continue to grow and offer more opportunities for program participants. We also have put together area committees in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Alumni can be involved in all sorts of ways, ranging from reaching out to host organizations to mentoring students or planning seminars.

As students, alumni, and administrators, our charge is to build as many connections as possible for the benefit of our students and our communities as a whole. Our most successful ventures have bridged generations, sectors and experiences, drawing upon the diversity of our alumni and the skills of our friends. Project 55 inspired our launch at Harvard eight years ago and we hope to inspire others to carry on the mission of our work.

Travis Lovett is the Assistant Director of the Harvard Public Service Network and Assistant Coordinator of the Center for Public Interest Careers at Harvard College. He has previously worked for the New England Press Association and Earth Day Network, and has freelanced for the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. He is a founding member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Boston chapter.

Across the Nation: Regional Updates

 

PP55 fellows currently serve in the above locations.
PP55 fellows currently serve in the above locations.

Bay Area, California

Project 55, Harvard CPIC, and SPIN (Stanford Public Interest Network) are excited to announce we will be working together to host seminars and social events for our fellows in the Bay Area. PP55 and CPIC have partnered in the past, but by adding SPIN to our dynamic partnership, we hope to develop a more vibrant fellowship experience for all three programs in the Bay Area.

Boston

Project 55 organized a baking class at Canto 6 bakery to raise money for Project 55; students learned how to make sweet and savory pastries. Twenty-three local Princeton alumni and fellows attended the class, way to go Boston!

Chicago

The Center for Neighborhood Technology, one of our longtime Chicago partner organizations, was recently awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. To learn more about CNT and the award, please visit thier website, www.cnt.org.  

Connecticut

Both Norwalk Community Health Center and Fair Haven Community Health Center, two PP55 partner organizations have received grants to renovate their buildings and expand their ability the serve Connecticut’s must vulnerable.

New York

Dana Warren ’03 and Pete Milano ’55 organized a discussion about the current financial crisis and it’s impact on the nation, the nonprofit sector and fellows’ career paths. Featured speakers include a financial journalist from NPR, a program officer from the Surdna foundation, as well as alumni who have worked in the financial services sector.

Washington, DC

Fellows in DC had the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments at a recent fellow’s forum. Keynote speakers included PP55’s President Bill Leahy, Executive Director Kathleen Reilly and CityBridge President Katherine Bradley. It was a great culmination of the year’s work!

 

To learn more about exciting PP55 regional activities taking place across the nation, contact John Shriver at jshriver@alumnicorps.org.