Spotlight on a Fellow: Karen Jeng ’08

Name: Karen Jeng ’08

Where are you a fellow? I am a Research and Policy Fellow at Children’s HealthWatch.

Who is your mentor? Rebecca Nemec ’05

Share a memorable experience you have had as a PP55 fellow:
One of my most memorable experiences as a PP55 fellow has been attending conferences centered on health, hunger prevention, or homelessness prevention. At these conferences, I have heard wonderful talks from professionals in the field who effectively demonstrate the positive effect of our advocacy work. I have also been able to interact with both my colleagues at work and other advocates around the state who are very passionate about their work in the public health sector.

PP55 Fellow Karen Jeng '08
PP55 Fellow Karen Jeng '08

Children’s HealthWatch has also been wonderful in catering to many of my future interests. I am interested in medicine, so Debbie Frank has allowed me to shadow her. I have also had the chance to volunteer in the Pediatric ER where I conduct policy interviews. Through this activity, I see first hand the disparities in healthcare and the importance of Children’s HealthWatch in helping close these gaps.

What have you learned during your fellowship?
I think the most important and interesting thing I’ve learned is how passionate people in the nonprofit world, especially Children’s HealthWatch, are about their work. The people I work with are incredibly intelligent, talented, and dedicated to their work. The most rewarding thing about my fellowship is the feeling that I am making a difference through my work. Children’s HealthWatch has involved me in the frontlines of the advocacy work that they do – giving me, essentially, a crash course in public health. The passion people have for their work is compelling and inspiring; interacting with them has given me many ideas for my future. It is a wonderful environment to be exposed to coming right out of college.

Civic Leader Spotlight: Roger Nozaki ’85

By Emily S. Tang,
PP55 Program Coordinator for TAN

The idea of public service has gradually shifted from a quiet rumbling to a loud roar across our nation. Due, in part, to the call to service by the Obama administration, individuals are looking for ways to become more engaged as citizens, uniting with a new level of commitment to address the societal challenges that face our country today.

Roger Nozaki '85
Roger Nozaki '85

While compatriots may be seeking public service with a renewed sense of duty right now more than ever, places like the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University have been preparing students for lives of effective action and socially responsible citizenship for over two decades.

Roger Nozaki ’85 is the current director of the Swearer Center for Public Service, which works to advance the undergraduate education of its students and address inequalities in our society. By offering structured opportunities to students and faculty, the Swearer Center engages and directly impacts communities while creating, applying, and sharing knowledge for the public good.

Under Roger’s leadership, the Swearer Center has worked to focus and deepen its efforts to increase its impact on both student learning and community issues. “The faculty, students and University as a whole have a lot to offer to the community,” Nozaki says. “However, it can never be a paternalistic relationship. It really is a two-way street, with resources, opportunities, and challenges on both sides.”

Roger Nozaki, along with other Brown alumni, students, and staff are working with The Alumni Network to further initiatives with Careers in the Common Good, a program of the Swearer Center and the Career Development Center, for students interested in public interest, nonprofit and social justice careers. Having served in his current position for more than three years, Roger’s path to becoming director of the Swearer Center was by no means accidental. His interest in education and public service was sparked early on.

“For the work to have the greatest amount of impact, you have to start with focusing on the core issues and figuring out the best structure and strategies to have an impact.”

– Roger Nozaki ’85

While pursuing a history degree at Princeton, Roger was active in the Student Volunteers Council, where he worked with adults with disabilities in the Princeton area. This experience would later lead him to serve for two years as a full-time volunteer in Virginia working within a community of adults with developmental disabilities.

Prior to becoming director of the Swearer Center, Roger worked at the Hitachi Foundation and also served as executive director of the GE Foundation, where he managed efforts to improve education for underrepresented students. The several years of corporate experience that Roger had at the GE Foundation gave him the opportunity to utilize his understanding of education to further the impact of GE’s work.

“There is no direct translation from the successes in the corporate world to those of the nonprofit world, but different sets of experiences have provided me with a broad range of approaches to social issues,” Nozaki remarks. “The distinction between for-profit and non-profit was created by the tax code, but that alone shouldn’t be driving our strategies. For the work to have the greatest amount of impact, you have to start with focusing on the core issues and figuring out the best structure and strategies to have an impact.”

His continued interest in education led him to Brown University where he earned his teaching degree while serving on staff at the Swearer Center from 1988-1989, two years after it was originally founded. After completing his degree at Brown in 1989, Roger took a job based out of the University of Chicago to help build a network of nonprofits and aid individuals looking for work in the nonprofit field.

It was during this opportune time, as Nozaki was seeking out the top leaders and connectors in the Chicago area, that he would meet a fellow Princeton alumnus, John Fish ’55, who shared with him the vision and goals that laid the groundwork for Princeton Project 55. Later, when Roger would come to work with Campus Compact, a coalition of colleges focused on strengthening higher education through civic engagement, Nozaki would reconnect with other Princeton alumni and Project 55 founders, including Charlie Bray ’55.

Throughout his career, public service and education have been central to his passion and personal mission. Nozaki bears a deep understanding and sense of imperative when it comes to the role that education plays in heeding the call to service. “To have a President and First Lady who not only see the importance of public service and civic engagement but know the value and impact of this kind of work on a personal level, makes a huge difference,” he comments.

Nozaki offers advice to students and citizens who are exploring the public sector and attempting to follow their own call to service: “Find people you can learn from who can be both mentors and connectors. There is so much that can be learned from people who have laid the foundation for doing this kind of work and who have been making a difference their whole lives,” he says. “Then, think creatively about the unusual paths or connections that can be made and the unique set of experiences that you can bring to your work.”

Roger Nozaki ’85 is the Director of the Swearer Center for Public Service and the Associate Dean of the College at Brown University. To find out more about Roger Nozaki and the Swearer Center, please visit:

Project 55 in Boston: A Transformative Experience

Rebecca Nemec ’05
Former PP55 Fellow, Area Committee Coordinator

When most people think of Boston, they think of the famous Red Sox, the Boston Tea Party, or “Hahvahd Yahd” (okay that’s in Cambridge). Boston, though, is also a cultural and educational Mecca – a place which prides itself on being civically engaged.

With only 600,000 residents, and a relatively small city center, Boston is filled to the brim with a diverse, vibrant and productive public interest sector. In this rich environment, Project 55 fellows can’t help but have a productive, engaging and transformative year!

Rebecca Nemec '05
Rebecca Nemec '05

Princeton Project 55 fellows have a variety of unique placement options addressing environmental, health care, and educational issues throughout the Boston area. Currently we offer six fellowship positions at nonprofit organizations in the Boston metropolitan area.

Gill Pressman ’08 followed in the footsteps of former PP55 fellow Dena Koren ’04 and serves as the Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer at Building Educated Leaders for Life (B.E.L.L). Karen Jeng ’08 works at the Children’s Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program where she is conducting policy research on the effects of food stamps on the nutrition of low income families and children.

The High Meadows Fellowship, an environmental program run by Princeton University, also participates in our program. Laura Smith-Gary ’08 is a development associate at The Food Project, an organization that employs young people to grow healthy food for local residents. Marissa Grossman ’06 also works at The Food Project, organizing college students to change their college food service operations.

Jana Holt ’08 and Margaret Arbuthnot ’07 are fellows at The Environmental Defense Fund, working to protect the environment through public policy initiatives in the Boston area. Ellen Zuckerman ’07 holds a fellowship at The Vermont Community Foundation, and serves the nonprofit sector through grant making to communities all over the state.

Our area committee is full of Princeton alumni, many of whom have been through the fellowship program and had amazing experiences. We are very focused on working with the current fellows in Boston to give them a year that will increase their professional growth, and provide them with a deep knowledge and commitment to the public interest.

The Boston area committee works hard each year to help fellows become acquainted with the city by exposing them to local public interest issues and connecting them to professional development opportunities. To this end, we have developed an important relationship with the Harvard Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC), which provides us with the opportunity to offer a free workshop on negotiation and bargaining at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Together, we plan monthly seminars and bring fellows from both groups to social events. Seminars focus on a specific public interest issue or nonprofit organization working in Boston. Fellows, alumni and others in the Princeton community are invited to these seminars, creating an environment where fellows can deepen their understanding of the public interest sector and build a robust community. Our next seminar will focus on public interest law and will be hosted by the Harvard Law School and the Harvard Children Advocacy Program.

PP55 Happy Hour with the Princeton Association of New England (PANE)
PP55 Happy Hour with the Princeton Association of New England (PANE)

Socially, we keep our fellows engaged as well. In November, CPIC and PP55 fellows met at the Liberty Hotel on the banks of the Charles River for drinks and conversation. Our next social event will be a baking class at Canto 6 Bakery in Jamaica Plain (one of Boston’s twelve neighborhoods) in the early spring.

This September, we hosted our first Boston area orientation breakfast: fellows, mentors and supervisors gathered to meet one another and discuss Project 55’s fellowship program during the upcoming year.

This year, the area committee hopes to forge new connections with other Princeton alumni groups in the region. The Princeton Association of New England (PANE) has an active membership and includes committees that are working to bring young alumni together for happy hours, trivia nights and other social events.

They also organize alumni to work on community service projects and have developed a mentoring program for elementary school students at the Snowden International School in Boston. PANE and Project 55 have a lot to offer one another and we hope to develop this relationship, which will surely add value to the fellowship experience in Boston.

As a former PP55 fellow at The Food Project, I am constantly grateful for the experience I had in Boston. I attended the occasional Red Sox game and headed to Harvard – begrudgingly, of course – to watch Princeton battle Harvard. But what really made my fellowship unique and exciting was the community of fellows and alumni who engaged me on issues related to work, life and the future.

“We are very focused on working with the current fellows in Boston to give them a year that will increase their professional growth, and provide them with a deep knowledge and commitment to the public interest.”
– Rebecca Nemec ’05

Obertubbesing ’73: Why Did I Join PP55?

By Carol Obertubbesing ’73
Current PP55 Mentor

I first learned about Princeton Project 55 in 1993 when I attended the first Princeton Community Service Conference organized by John Fish ’55 and Bob Loveman ’69. I was so impressed by the fellows and the dedication of all of those involved that I immediately signed up to become a mentor for one of the summer interns and, later, the year-long fellows.

In Chicago, mentors have helped fellows, most of whom are recent graduates and have not lived in Chicago before, adjust to working life and a new city. I moved to Chicago with some reluctance myself and yet have grown to love its beauty and the vibrancy of its social and cultural communities.

I try to share this love with incoming fellows through a Chicago tip sheet and by introducing my mentee to some favorite places and activities. Having worked in numerous nonprofit organizations, I also try to offer guidance when appropriate. Other mentors have offered career advice and even helped fellows with difficult personal issues such as immigration.

I have served as a PP55 mentor for over 15 years and, besides a strong belief in the mission of the organization, I have also found it personally gratifying. As a transplanted Easterner, I have learned even more about the Chicago community through conversations with my mentees about their work and through the PP55 seminars.

Some of my mentees have shared my interests in theatre or music. Others have taught me about fields, e.g. science and technology, of which I have less knowledge. All of them have stimulated my thinking and each one has been a delight to know personally.

Many of my mentees have been alumnae and it has been encouraging to see how positive their experiences as women at Princeton have been. Serving as a mentor has enabled me to get to know some of these amazing young women and to see that Princeton has been a more welcoming place for them.

I have had a few women in my life who have forever changed it for the better. I hope that the women now graduating from Princeton, particularly with their Princeton Project 55 Fellowship experience, will do this for the next generation, and I hope that in some small way I have been able to do this for the women I have known.

I am glad community service is now a more prominent part of the Princeton experience—on-campus, off-campus, before and after graduation—and that the University and its students, staff, and alumni are more committed to “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” I hope to continue to be part of this effort by serving as a PP55 mentor, and I encourage you to get involved in some way as well.

I encourage all alumni—both men and women—to get involved in Princeton Project 55. Together, we can bridge the generation gap, encourage more Princeton graduates to pursue careers in community and public service, learn about and strengthen our communities, and begin to have the kind of civil discourse and civic engagement that will help us build a better world.

Carol Obertubbesing ’73 is a PP55 mentor, past Chair of Princeton University’s Committee on Academic Programs for Alumni, past President of the Princeton Club of Chicago, VP of Communications for the Princeton Club of Chicago, and recipient of the Club’s Arnold M. Berlin ’46 Award for Service to Princeton.

Spotlight on a Project 55 Fellow: Mandy Mazur ’08

Mandy Mazur ’08, current fellow at Lumity in Chicago, reflects on the early days of her experience as a Project 55 Fellow:


“Lumity is a nonprofit organization that helps hundreds of other nonprofits in the Chicago area operate more efficiently and deepen their community impact through a variety of training and consulting services in the areas of information technology and finance. While my background as a comparative literature major did not directly equip me with the skills and knowledge for my fellowship (you may wonder, how does a command of Dostoevsky’s work relate to the setup of an online donation tool?), I have certainly applied the creativity and critical thinking skills those years of poetry-reading and paper-writing have honed. Plus, navigating entirely new and unfamiliar territory is incredibly rewarding—it forces you to adapt and reinvent your current capacities.”

Mandy has embraced the new skills she is learning in her position at Lumity, “As the Program Associate in External Affairs, I have worked on marketing-related projects, in addition to IT and website work. I have helped set up an online donation tool to enable effortless giving from our donors and facilitated the purchase and configuration of a donor database that is integrated with an email campaigning tool. I also manage relations with various partner organizations and gather client and consultant information to highlight success stories.”

Mandy also reflects on the support she has received through Project 55’s Fellowship Programs:

“The engaged alumni community has made my transition into this new world incredibly smooth. I have already received buckets of advice and encouragement from mentors, through email exchanges, lunch dates and seminars. Invaluable from the start, I cannot wait to see where this yearlong fellowship takes me next!”