News from the Field: ARC Innovator making an impact in Harlem

Brian Leung ’12,  ARC Innovator at Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School)

Brian Leung ’12

Brian Leung is a senior analyst at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. On a daily basis, he uses analytical and statistical methods to lead and evaluate projects that minimize disparities and injustice in the City’s youth population. He volunteered as an ARC Innovator with Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School) in 2016-17.

How did you discover ARC Innovators?
I learned about the program from the Princeton Alumni listserve. I’d been looking for an education-based pro bono project and it seemed to be a great fit given the skills I use in my day job. At work, I frequently deal with underserved populations. I live about ten blocks away from Harlem RBI, so this project hit close to home because it’s in my community. In the Mayor’s Office, my work is mile-high. At Harlem RBI, I was working on the ground and making a tangible difference.

What did you do at Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School)?
They needed help with choosing an e-learning solution for distributing materials to faculty, staff, parents, and students. My final deliverable was a 50-page slide deck ranking each popular solution on the market for the implementation leader and principal. I spent about 80 hours over the course of many weekends for four months.

How did your assistance help Harlem RBI (now DREAM Charter School)?
The person who would implement the chosen tool didn’t have enough hours in the day to do the research himself, so I saved him a lot of time. In addition, I provided an outsider’s perspective and strategic insight.

How did the ARC Innovator project benefit you?
Their feedback helped me develop as a private consultant. While ARC Innovators is usually promoted to seasoned professionals, this AlumniCorps program provides opportunities that should be leveraged by both new and experienced professionals.

Dream Charter School

DREAM Charter School (formerly Harlem RBI) is a model learning community with high expectations, a strong culture of care and a vision of student success and excellence. DREAM was established in 2008 with 100 scholars in kindergarten and first grade. Today, they serve 486 scholars in PreK through eighth grade. They will open their doors to their first ninth grade class in fall 2017.

Princeton AlumniCorps Welcomes New Executive Director, Andrew C. Nurkin

On behalf of the Princeton AlumniCorps Board of Directors, President Kathy Miller ’77 and Chairman John Fish ’55 are thrilled to announce the hiring of Andrew C. Nurkin as the next Executive Director of Princeton AlumniCorps.

Andrew joins Princeton AlumniCorps after four years on the staff of the Pace Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton University, where he developed and managed public leadership and civic action programs that engage undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni. He previously served as the Executive Director of Fine By Me, an organization dedicated to promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people on campuses and in communities across the country. Andrew has also worked as an organizer with national campaigns to end poverty and comes to Princeton AlumniCorps with extensive experience in mobilizing individuals to take shared action on issues of public concern. Originally from Atlanta, Andrew holds a M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, a MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA in English from Duke, where he served a three-year term on the Board of Trustees. He also volunteers as a writing instructor at Garden State prison.

Andrew writes, ” Over the past four years it has become clear to me that Princeton AlumniCorps is not simply another elevation in the civic engagement landscape. AlumniCorps is doing something different and particularly compelling, and if civic engagement has now become a defining feature of Princeton, then AlumniCorps (and its earlier incarnation as Project 55) deserves a heap of the credit. You have built an entire organization devoted to maximizing the positive social impact of that unique network known as Princeton alumni, and in the process you have enriched the ways generations of graduates think about the purpose of their Princeton experience. The methods are as inspirational as the aims: intergenerational mentorship, responsiveness to community-identified needs and broader trends in the nonprofit sector, a collaborative ethic, and a humility that opens the way for energy and good ideas to become visible outcomes. The word catalyst seems apt for this organization that does indeed precipitate and accelerate change.”

AlumniCorps President, Kathy Miller ’77 writes, “Andrew has the skills needed to successfully work with our large cadres of volunteers and board members and relevant to furthering the growth of our programs through expanded alumni engagement. I am personally looking forward to working closely with Andrew in my role as President, and am confident that you will find him to be thoughtful, intelligent, articulate and sincerely passionate about the work of the organization. ”

Andrew begins at the Princeton AlumniCorps offices on Monday,  June 25, 2012. He can be reached at or 609-921-8808 ext. 2.

Community Volunteers Launches Turning Point Series

Jim Farrin '58, Walter Fortson, and Natasha Japanwala '14

On April 26th, Princeton AlumniCorps welcomed more than 30 guests to its inaugural Turning Point panel entitled “From Princeton to Prison to Purpose: The Story of Walter Fortson, Jim Farrin ’58, Natasha Japanwala ’14 and the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program.” Turning Point, a Community Volunteers initiative, brings together speakers with inspiring stories about what drives their passion for service. Each panel highlights a specific issue or need in the community.

Walter Fortson discussed his incarceration in a New Jersey state prison, and what sparked his desire to turn   his life around. Rutgers University Professor Donald Roden started a program to help inmates enroll as university students and took an interest in Walter.  “That was the first time in a long time that anybody had looked at me as a human being,” Walter said. “The compassion in his eyes for me really let me know that I had a second chance. That’s something I [will] never forget.”

Since his release, Walter has been admitted to Rutgers University, where he received the 2010 Rutgers Academic Excellence award, and was recently named a Truman Scholar. He has dedicated himself not only to improving his life, but also to helping others in similar situations turn their lives around.

Charlie Puttkammer ’58 founded the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance   Program which is dedicated to bringing Princeton students and community members to local prisons to tutor inmates. Charlie reached out to his classmate, Jim Farrin ‘58, to help run the program. While Jim was hesitant at first, a fortuitous encounter between his wife and a prison chaplain at Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility made Jim realize this was an opportunity to give back in a very significant way. Jim met with Al Kandell, Administrator at A.C. Wagner.  Jim recalls Al saying to him, “We need Princeton volunteers, and I can tell by looking at you, Jim, that you’re going to bring them.”

The next fall, volunteers from Princeton University began tutoring at the prison. Of the volunteers he has worked with, Jim said, “These young Princeton students… have such a wonderful sense of mission.” Now, as Jim looks to expand the Petey Greene Program to other universities and prisons, he and Walter have teamed up to start a program at Rutgers. AlumniCorps is seeking a community volunteer to help with this expansion plan.

Natasha Japanwala ’14 is a current volunteer with the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance program. She discussed her experience as a tutor with the program, as well as leading a Breakout Princeton trip to a women’s correctional facility in Oklahoma. “I feel like every time I go to a prison, I help someone in a small way,” Natasha said. “And to be very honest, I think they help me more than I help them. . . It’s been such a huge part of my education.”

Check out a video of the panel discussion or view a slideshow of the event.

For more information on the Community Volunteers program and to see current opportunities, please visit the program website at, or contact Rachel Benevento, Community Volunteers Program Manager at and keep an eye out for our next Turning Points program in the early Fall.


Princeton AlumniCorps’ 2011-12 Annual Report is Here!

Princeton AlumniCorps is pleased to announce the release of our 2011-12 Annual Report.

We are conducting four programs to provide  a continuum of opportunities for alumni to engage in meaningful civic service throughout their lives. The report showcases these programs and  highlights our recent accomplishments, including:

– Launching Emerging Leaders, a program designed to propel aspiring nonprofit professionals forward in their careers and address the growing leadership deficit that the nonprofit sector faces.

– Placing 51 young graduates in fellowships at public interest organizations around the country through our flagship Princeton Project 55 Program, whose alumni now number more than 1,300.

– Channeling the activist spirit in alumni from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s by finding them skills-based Community Volunteers opportunities in Washington, DC, Chicago, and the Princeton area.

– Helping college students and alumni around the country organize initiatives inspired by the PP55 example through The Alumni Network, which welcomed two new affiliates this year.

– Engaging more than 200 volunteers and more than 450 donors in supporting and driving all facets of our work.

All of this is possible because of the support and shared effort of our donors, volunteers, board, and staff, who ensure that our programs and impact continue to grow.  We thank you for your continued belief in our work!

Click here to view the full report.

Community Volunteers Launches Exciting Partnerships with Local Nonprofits

Community Volunteers is excited to be partnering with several local nonprofits to offer five new substantive volunteer opportunities for Princeton alumni. Westminster Community Life Center, featured below, serves neighborhood families in the greater Trenton area through supplemental educational services and proves nutritious, hot meals to children who may not otherwise have a substantial dinner.  The Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program organizes Princeton students to help prison inmates learn basic academic skills, and SPLASH, a steamboat operated on the Delaware River, provides school children and other groups with environmental education and historical appreciation. We are excited to be working with these incredible organizations moving forward!

If you are an alum interested in using your professional skills and talents to help these great organizations, visit to view the latest opportunities and to learn more.


Spotlight on a Community Volunteers Partner Organization:

Westminster Community Life Center

Westminster Community Life Center serves to enrich the lives of neighborhood families in the greater Trenton area through supplemental educational services such as after school programming and early literacy intervention. Dana Dreibelbis ’78 (above), has been volunteering with the Center for several months. Dana shares with us below why he chose to get involved with this inspiring organization and how he plans to use his professional publishing skills to expand the capacity of the Center.

What motivated you to get involved with the Westminster Community Life Center?

With the youngest of my children in college, it was time for me to allocate my time in new ways. My goal was to put my Christian faith into action in a local service program. Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC), home of the Westminster Community Life Center, appealed to me with its longstanding record of leadership and outreach. Westminster is in an area of Trenton which faces a variety of challenges, including high crime rates, drug dealing, a low number of two-parent home settings, and extremely high drop-out rates in schools.

Can you describe the Center and your responsibilities there?

My work at Westminster Community Life Center has a variety of aspects. Being self-employed, I am able to carve out time to volunteer there after school on Wednesdays to provide homework assistance, reading enrichment activities, and assist with a food service. Kids who may not otherwise have a substantial dinner are fed a nutritious, hot meal.  The Center also has teen-level outreach programs, which offer a safe environment, coaching in life-skills, and SAT college preparation.

How are you using your career experience in publishing to help meet key needs of the organization?

The Center’s students produce writings and artwork that is collected as a bound package. The middle school students are producing a multimedia CD to promote constructive living and discourage drug use and gang membership, and the high school students are working on an HIV prevention project.
I am planning to help expand the scope of their publishing efforts through a new initiative. The current state of digital publishing (high quality production with very low costs to produce and distribute) enables us to produce small books and multimedia products of professional quality. Many if not all of these can be sold via channels such as Amazon. Irrespective of what may happen on the ‘sales’ front, all of the participants in this process will be honing skills that could lead to jobs in the publishing/media marketplace, and career paths that are important for the long-term health of Trenton.

Why should Princetonians take action through Community Volunteers?

Many people talk about wanting to make a difference but do not know where to go or what to do. By aligning with a reputable organization with a proven track record, one has the chance to be of service and learn more about various issues. In my case that has meant a greater understanding of the direct and indirect effects of urban problems, including the complexities and impact of racism, and the difficulties faced by youth in building positive lives while being confronted with obstacles such as joblessness and gangs.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer work?

For me, the best part about this kind of volunteering is that I have the opportunity to serve in both concrete and personal ways. I have been able to live out my faith in a positive, meaningful way while interacting with others. The relationships I am building with the staff, students, and parents, along with the supportive schools and community—all these relationships and interactions make my volunteer experience worthwhile.


 Interested in Becoming a Community Volunteer?

Westminster Community Life Center is looking for the following:

Fiscal Support Specialist: Assist with documenting in-house procedures and developing a procedures manual.

Human Resource Strategist: Work to initiate, develop and finalize an employee handbook for the Center

Grant Research Specialist: Research and identify applicable grants to support program objectives and general operating costs

To view the above opportunities and more, click here.

AlumniCorps Regional Updates


Boston hopes to grow its Princeton AlumniCorps base next year and recruited five organizations to submit positions this fall, reports Lizzie Harvey ’06. Many thanks are due to Tom Flynn p’10 and the rest of the Boston Steering Committee for their continued recruitment efforts. Current and past fellows joined with Harvard Center for the Public Interest Fellows to celebrate the holidays at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square in December. This past January, the Boston program held a seminar on sustainability and is looking forward to upcoming seminars on medicine and education.



The Chicago PP55 fellows continue to collaborate with fellows from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in their weekly seminar series. Recent seminars included a conversation with Mildred Wiley and Howard “Nat” Piggee ’96 at Bethel New Life, a community development organization on Chicago’s West Side, where Kathleen Connor ’11 is currently a fellow. Another seminar was led by David Kay at METROsquash, an organization that uses squash to draw Chicago public school students into experiences that broaden their educational, cultural, and community service horizons.

METROsquash has hosted many PP55 fellows, including current fellow Jackie Moss ’11. PP55 fellows were joined by Northwestern and University of Chicago fellows for a holiday gathering in December, and are looking forward to more gatherings in the coming months.

Board members Paula Morency ’77 and Tom Allison ’66 are leading the effort to build out Community Volunteers in Chicago.  Stay tuned!



“The Connecticut branch of AlumniCorps and the PP55 Fellowship Program has been blessed with outstanding fellows again this year,” writes Harry Berkowitz ’55. Julia Kearney ’11 and Michael Belmont ’11 are at the Norwalk Community Health Center, where they have been immersed in every aspect of the Center and are playing an integral role in its functioning. Tiffany Lee ’11, at Housing Development Fund, has likewise reported she is deeply involved in the organization, and is enjoying her fellowship. The fellows continue to travel to New York to join the New York AlumniCorps family in their monthly seminars. Fellows have enjoyed meals with Harry, who continues to support the Connecticut AlumniCorps community with his good spirit and great energy. Connecticut is looking forward to hosting fellows again at the Norwalk Community Health Center and the Housing Development Fund in the coming year, in addition to other new partnerships with local organizations.


New York

Kristen Smith ’03 reports that the year continues to go well for the New York AlumniCorps family. The annual Career/Networking Night took place at the home of Laurie & Arthur Malman ’64 on Wednesday, December 7th. Facilitators included Paul Nehring ’10, Jess Jardine ’10 and Andrew Goldstein ’06Chet Safian ’55 & Jenny Safian s’55 hosted a holiday celebration at their beautiful home on December 13th.

The NY program kicked off the New Year on January 12th with a trek uptown to the Hispanic Society of America for a seminar on the arts. Distinguished panelists included Marcus Burke ’69, Mark Rossier and James Martin (former Princeton dance teacher). Marcus Burke, the Senior Curator at the Hispanic Society of America, also gave a tour of this hidden gem in Washington Heights. This seminar was organized with the help of Judy Hole Suratt s’55.

PP55 fellows at the New York holiday party in December

On Wednesday, February 29th, Prep for Prep will host a seminar on ‘Sustainable Food and Public Health’ featuring Dr. Gordon Douglas ’55, Mia McDonald and Matt Rice. On March 27th, at the Whitney Museum, fellows will be receiving a behind the scenes look at the museum and its Biennial Exhibition due to the hard work and planning of Scott Taylor ’75 and NY Seminar Committee Co-Chairs Katie Ko ’09 and Reilly Kiernan ’10.

Emerging Leaders will host its first cohort in New York this year! Applications are now available online.



Current fellow Joseph Sengoba ’10 is working to organize a forum focusing on Philadelphia’s criminal justice system in the Spring, inspired by the New York seminar at District Attorney’s Office of New York, which he attended. According to Carol Rosenfeld ’05, the Philadelphia fellows attended an amazing forum on education reform at the beginning of November, which was organized by former PP55 fellow and Philadelphia area committee member Katie Thaeder ’09. February’s seminar will focus on using social media for social change, and the group is also looking forward to attending the Princeton Global NetNight in March to practice  networking skills.

The Philadelphia area is thrilled that they’re on track to once again double the fellowship program for the coming 2012 – 2013 fellowship year. They are continuing to recruit partner organizations through the Spring round – please email Carol Rosenfeld ’05 at if you know of any organizations in Philadelphia that would benefit from hosting a fellow.



Community Volunteers has launched in Mercer County, and now offers five new substantive volunteer opportunities for Princeton alumni looking to lend their talents and skills to local nonprofits. To read more about our new partners and available volunteer opportunities, click here.

There are two exciting upcoming events in the Princeton area. On March 2nd the Princeton Senior Resource Center will be hosting an exciting panel and discussion about channeling your talents in meaningful ways. The event is entitled “Living with Purpose”. To learn more about this exciting event, visit On March 14th, from 7-9pm, Princeton AlumniCorps will be hosting the Princeton Global Net Night 2012: Developing Your Personal Brand. In addition, learn about volunteer opportunities for alumni to use their professional skills to help nonprofits address critical needs. Hope to see you there! To learn more visit



San Francisco Bay Area

Julie Rubinger ’09 writes that the Bay Area fellows are doing well. After a career mixer hosted by the Harvard CPIC program in October, Julie reached out to members of the local AlumniCorps community to participate in a November seminar on education. Entitled “The Future of K-12 Education in America”, panelists included April Chou ’96 of KIPP Bay Area, Andrew Garland ’01 of The New Teacher Project, Derek Mitchell of Partners in School Innovation, and Kit Tollerson ’08 of Rocketship Education. The panelists discussed the challenges of closing the achievement gap, and how individuals and organizations are developing innovative solutions to improve public education.

In early December, Chet Safian ’55 visited the Bay Area and met with all of the fellows in the Marina district. Chet recounted some wonderful stories about the history of Project 55 and the importance of public service. The fellows celebrated the holidays with other fellows from Stanford and Harvard, at Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco.


Washington, DC

Emily Silk ’10 and Sara Twardock ’11 report that the seminar series is well under way in Washington, DC.  After taking part in an interactive office dynamics seminar led by Charity Fesler ’01  and Lisa Lazarus ’02 in December, fellows enjoyed a January seminar about post-fellowship plans: “Planning Your Next Move”, led by professional career coach and talent recruiter Katie McNerney and DC Area Committee Chair Ari Altman ’97. Next up? A highly anticipated discussion of environmental policy, hosted by Justin Smith ’90 at the Department of Justice!

PP55 fellows attend a seminar in Washington, DC

The DC region has also hosted a number of more informal events: December saw fellows, committee members, and mentors gathered at the home of Kathleen McCleery ’75 & Bob Martinez ’75 for a holiday dinner featuring delicious homemade soups and equally enjoyable conversation. Fellows also recently convened at happy hour event planned by the three newest additions to the DC area committee: current fellows Carol Dreibelbis ’11, Rachel Sverdlove ’11, and Sarah Twardock ’11.  They are now looking forward to a busy spring—beginning in February, when Kathleen McCleery ’75 will host fellows at PBS NewsHour, where she is Deputy Executive Producer.

AlumniCorps looks forward to celebrating the inaugural year of Emerging Leaders following the final session on March 13th. We are grateful to all of the individuals and organizations whose ongoing support has contributed to the great success of the program. Nonprofit professionals in Washington, DC who meet the application criteria are encouraged to apply now for the second year of the program which will begin this June.


Hear PP55 Fellows’ Stories from Around the Nation!