Project 55 Across the Nation: Regional Updates

PP55 Fellows are currently serving the public interest in these locations.
PP55 Fellows are currently serving the public interest in these locations.

Bay Area, California

Project 55 is working to energize their base in the Bay Area! John Shriver, PP55’s new Program Manager, visited San Francisco fellows, partner organizations, volunteers, and supporters from Oct. 27th-29th. John was excited to meet with Project 55’s “boots on the ground.”

Boston

Princeton Project 55 and Harvard CPIC are working together to present “On Philanthropy,” a collaborative seminar featuring The Boston Foundation. Come hear from a leader in the field at the Phillips Brooks House on Harvard campus!

Chicago

It was a busy October for our Chicago group. At the Oct. 15th Mixer for current and former fellows, PP55ers had the opportunity to meet and network with professionals in their field and discuss their Project 55 experiences. On Oct. 30, PP55 Fellows were the honored guests (wow!) at the Chicago Aspire and Inspire dinner.

Connecticut

Feel like Connecticut fellows are out of the loop? Think again! On October 30th, fellows were on the front lines of public health as they toured the Fairhaven Community Health Center, where Sita Bushan ’08 is currently a PP55 Fellow.

New Jersey / New York

Nov. 18 was a great opportunity for fellows, mentors and nonprofit professionals to meet, greet and make connections at the second annual PP55 Connections Night!

Washington, D.C.

Think there’s a set curriculum to follow to revamp educational opportunity in the United States? Think again. D.C. area fellows, TAN Affiliates and volunteers heard from three leaders in D.C. education reform who are shaking things up and working relentlessly to provide high quality education for all children. The Education Entrepreneurship seminar on Nov.10 featured accomplished leaders from College Summit, Teach for America and D.C. Preparatory Academy.

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

Project 55 Needs $6,245 to Reach the Starr Challenge

By Natasha Robinson
PP55 Development Officer

Project 55 is pleased to announce that through the active and generous participation of fellowship and internship alumni, volunteers, founders, and other supporters, we have raised approximately $48,755! This will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

Please join Project 55 today in meeting the $55,000 challenge! Gifts from internship and fellowship alumni, new donors, and increased gifts from current donors will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $55,000 from January-December 2008.

PP55 has approximately $6,245 left to raise in our campaign. We urge you to join us as we envision an even greater impact on organizations and communities through the alumni we mobilize in the public interest.

To make your gift, send a check to Princeton Project 55, 12 Stockton Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540. Or, click the “Donate” button. Questions? Contact Natasha Robinson, Development Officer, at 609-921-8808 ext. 7 or nrobinson@alumnicorps.org.

“In good economic times and bad, Princeton Project 55 must stay positive, creative, and keep working hard to fulfill our mission of mobilizing alumni in the public interest. Now more than ever, PP55 and the fellows serving communities across the country are relying on your generous support.”

— William R. Leahy, MD ’66, President

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.”