Spotlight on a Fellow: Logan West

By Logan West ’07, Current Fellow

Logan West ’07 graduated with a major in Geosciences and a minor in Italian. Originally from Little Rock, AR, he is a Project 55 Fellow working at Bethel New Life in Chicago.

Princeton Project 55 is often spoken of as a “year off”, but this really casts a false impression and needs clarification. PP55 is a year off in the sense that it is a year away from the constant grind of academia and away from a job where the norm is a 60 hour week. This is a year off from having your life decided for you. PP55 is not a year of stagnation; it is a year of opportunity.

PP55 provides an endless opportunity to learn. I learn at work what it is that makes a business (not-for-profits are just businesses where the profits go towards the clients) run effectively and what can make it operate inefficiently. I learn through conversations with coworkers, mentors, and other fellows, the wealth of knowledge they possess, the shared life experiences, and the issues they confront in work and at home. Above all, I learn from exposure; the exposure to the issues facing underserved communities, exposure to the innovative types of solutions, and exposure to people of all walks of life. My PP55 Fellowship has allowed me to gain new perspectives and a broader, more meaningful sense of the “real” world.

I am spending my fellowship year working at Bethel New Life in Chicago. Bethel is a model organization for asset-based community building and has been instrumental in redeveloping and revitalizing the Westside of Chicago—an area rich in history and character. As a fellow, the best aspect is the exposure. With over 300 employees, the organization is so diverse that there are few interests that are not covered by Bethel services.

Logan West '07 working with high school students on an urban planning & development program.
Logan West '07 working with high school students on an urban planning & development program.

One of my assignments for the year is to develop the policy stances for the organization through meeting with the various department directors. This is an opportunity to learn about the finance issues affecting our community savings and employment centers such as the current sub-prime mortgage crisis and the potential “green” market jobs as a source of employment. The task also requires being on top of issues affecting our senior services such as prescription drug policy. Finally, I also handle issues concerning real estate and land management including transit-oriented development and green buildings.

Beyond the variety of fields at Bethel, I have also been exposed to a host of other people, organizations, and issues facing the city as a whole. So far, I have been in meetings with the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, the superintendent of the Police department, and a variety of governmental and community leaders. Even more rewarding has been the opportunity to work with community residents, local high school students, and an extraordinary group of inspiring coworkers who work well beyond their pay grade because they want to see and make a difference in the community.

One of the signs in front of Bethel New Life in Chicago, where PP55 Fellow Logan West '07 spends his time.
One of the signs in front of Bethel New Life in Chicago, where PP55 Fellow Logan West '07 spends his time.

If this is not enough, Bethel is also flexible enough to allow for me to create my own projects such as starting an office recycling program as well as an oral history project amongst our senior residents living in our subsidized housing. While there are some aspects of Bethel that are inefficient and can be frustrating, the great thing is that they’re open to criticism and advice which they do respond to especially when you want to take action towards fixing the problem. Bethel is absolutely wonderful, and I will be sad to see the year end.

Remembering Duncan “Terry” Sutphen

By Melinda Hall, PP55 Intern

Duncan “Terry” Sutphen, a founding member of Project 55, passed away 1 February 2008. After his graduation from Princeton University, Mr. Sutphen worked as a ship’s engineer in the Navy, then for 31 years at Drusser Industries. Upon retirement, Mr. Sutphen applied himself to a new mission, resolving to “Use my experience and talent to work on projects with individuals and organizations to help family, friends, and others develop meaningful lives, while supporting community needs and Christian values.” To reach this goal, Mr. Sutphen worked with graduate students and others, teaching about finance, productivity, and manufacturing techniques.

Mr. Sutphen was deeply involved with Project 55. His work with the organization led him to not only run the office for several years and serve on the board, but also to work with the fellows. “The experience of working with the Princeton students and mentoring young people has been a unique and rewarding experience.”

Outside of his civic action and career, Mr. Sutphen was a fix-it Man, “I love projects that involve fixing things to make them useful again. Enjoyment comes from figuring out how things work…To my friends, I’m known as Mr. Fix-It, which gives me the joy of helping others, while practicing my mechanical skills.”

Terry SutphenTerry Sutphen, one of the original founders of Princeton Project 55 and deeply involved in the Princeton Community, passed away in early February 2008.

Even in his leisure time, Mr. Sutphen helped others. Mr. Sutphen will be missed not only by his family and friends, but also by those at Project 55 and all the others who knew of his diligence and service, and who benefited from his willingness to work in his community for its betterment.

Project 55 Benefits from Pension Protection Act

Princeton Project 55 received nearly $50,000 in 2006 through charitable donations from IRA funds. Six members of the Class of 1955 chose to take advantage of the opportunity generated through the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA).

For the first time ever, individuals age 701⁄2 or older may make gifts directly from an IRA account to qualified organizations without being subject to Federal income tax on the IRA withdrawal. This is a limited time offer, available through December 31, 2007, with a maximum gift level of $100,000.

Under the new law, IRA gifts are most appropriate for individuals who do not need the income from their Minimum Required Distribution, have a taxable estate and wish to avoid the “double taxation” of inherited IRAs, do not itemize their deductions on tax returns, are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax, or have been phased out of other deductions and exemptions because of high income.

For more information about the PPA or other gift planning strategies, please contact Kim Hendler, at (609) 921-8808, x5 or khendler@alumnicorps.org.

Pace introduces Public Interest Career Exposure Program

The Public Interest Career Exposure (PICE) program is an externship program that offers Princeton undergraduates the opportunity to start investigating a career field of interest and make professional connections by spending time with alumni in their workplaces. In its first year, the Public Interest Career Exposure program is scheduled during the Intersession break (January 28-February 1, 2008) and again during the Spring break (March 17-21, 2008).

Externships offer no pay and are 1-5 consecutive days, with the length of the placement predetermined by the alumni sponsor. This is a new initiative developed by the Pace Center, Princeton’s advocate and resource for civic engagement and public service. Pace is seeking alumni who are willing to host an extern at their nonprofit/public interest workplace. For information about hosting an extern, please contact Elsie Sheidler, sheidler@princeton.edu or 609-258-7783 by October 31.

Class of 1955 Reunites and Visits PP55 Fellows in Chicago

By Kim Hendler
Executive Director, Princeton Project 55
November 6, 2007

At a well-attended June 2007 Class of 1955 Chicago mini-reunion, 35 members of the Class of 1955 met with current Princeton Project 55 Public Interest Program fellows and toured a few of the organizations that are hosting Project 55 fellows this year. The group also met with Harrison Steans ’57, a long time supporter of Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, including providing funding to several organizations to host Project 55 fellows.

John Fish, Project 55’s Public Interest Program Founder and Leader, reflected to his classmates after the trip, “At our marvelous Chicago reunion, I am glad you all could get an ‘on the ground’ glimpse of the PP55 Public Interest Program, hearing from some of our outstanding current Fellows, Rebecca (Mt. Sinai Hospital), Erica (National Association of Charter School Authorizers) and Chioma (Access Community Health Network) as well as the inspiring comments from leaders of North Lawndale College Prep, Free Spirit Media, and North Lawndale Employment Network, all of whom have PP55 Fellows, and, not least of all, Harrison Steans ’57.

“If we had more time we could have had equally moving experiences at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Umoja Youth Development Corporation or the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. We could also have met with those who are taking the lead in making Chicago a “Green City,” The Delta Institute and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, all placements for our Fellows.

“In short, PP55 is enabling some of our most outstanding graduates to have an inspiring year in challenging and exciting placements in Chicago and in 6 other cities. I am pleased that you all were able to get a first hand look at what our class has accomplished and the legacy we are leaving.”

Project 55 Publishes Book Based on the Legacy of our Founders

By Kim Hendler
Executive Director, Princeton Project 55
November 6, 2007

“What are YOU going to do with the rest of your life?”

That was the challenge Ralph Nader ’55 posed to his Princeton classmates at a 1989 mini-reunion in Washington, D.C. For dozens of those who heard him, an important part of their answer turned out to be an organization that didn’t exist until they got it up and running — and fully incorporated as a nonprofit — before the year was out. They called it Princeton Project 55.

The story of PP55’s early years is told in Shared Effort, Shared Values: Princeton Project 55 — The Founders, a new collection of reminiscences by its founders, to be published next month.

The book was proposed by an Ad Hoc Memorials Committee formed to consider what should be done to recognize the founders’ varied and vital roles in PP55. Committee members Charlie Bray ’55, Pete Milano ’55, Chet Safian ’55, Liz Duffy ’88, and Elizabeth Perriello Rice ’90 agreed that such a publication could capture the spirit of the Project’s early days and convey the founders’ intentions to future generations. They believed, “the fruits of this effort would be both inspirational and instructive to future Board members and others involved in PP55.”

Thirty-four individuals involved in the formative years of the Project — as Board members, program leaders, other volunteers, and paid staff members — contributed to Shared Effort, Shared Values. They were urged to describe the “distinct ideas about the Project, significant contributions, philosophical debates, and discussions of mission” which were key to the successful formation of PP55.

A committee of volunteers including Milano, Perriello Rice, Jim Lynn ’55, Caroline Moseley s’55, and Dick Turner ’55 collected and edited the essays, drafted accompanying text, and oversaw the selection of photos and layout. Princeton Project 55’s CBLI Derian summer intern, Katie Fallon ’09, completed the layout and final editing of the book.

Princeton Project 55 is self-publishing Shared Effort, Shared Values with the help of generous donors. Each contributor will receive a book, and additional copies will be available at the Project 55 offices in Princeton. Those wishing to purchase a copy can do so at cost, estimated to be under $20. To reserve your copy, please email Kim Hendler at khendler@alumnicorps.org.

Stay tuned for word on the publication date.