Interview with Princeton AlumniCorps’ New Board Member, Janice Nittoli ’85

Janice Nittoli ’85 is the incoming president of The Century Foundation, a progressive public policy think tank endowed by Edward Filene in 1919 as The Twentieth Century Fund. Until recently, she served as Associate Vice President & Managing Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, which she joined in 2006. There, she provided leadership and strategic direction for select Foundation initiatives with grantmaking and related activities in the areas of domestic policy, economic security, urban innovation and the philanthropic sector. Prior to joining the Rockefeller Foundation, Janice was a senior executive at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to improving the lives of poor children, their families, and communities. Prior to foundation work, she served as President of the National Center for Health Education, a national nonprofit that designs and disseminates school and community based health education programs. Ms.Nittoli has served in several capacities in New York City government. She was the assistant commissioner in the Department of Health, managing the city’s correctional health system, and she also was a senior official in the City’s Human Resources Administration and at the Board of Education, where she ran foster care services and dropout prevention programs, respectively.  Before these appointments, she worked on child welfare, employment and income support issues for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy.

Ms. Nittoli has published book chapters and articles on a variety of issues in human services and public policy and has taught graduate-level classes in research methods and public policy. She is active on several nonprofit boards dedicated to youth and community services and a charter high school dedicated to runaway and homeless youth and young people in foster care.  She is a member of the New York State Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and the New York City Advisory Committee on Youth and Family Justice. Ms. Nittoli received a bachelor’s degree from Marymount Manhattan College and a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Q: How/Why did you get involved with Princeton AlumniCorps? Did it surprise you to learn that Princeton AlumniCorps is a multi-generational organization?

When I was working at Rockefeller, AlumniCorps approached us and asked if we would be interested in working with the Princeton Project55 program. I had the profound pleasure of working with five Fellows through that program and it was a fabulous experience – the Fellows did real work we needed to accomplish and they fit right in with the Rockefeller community. It was not until several years of working with PP55 did I learn  there was such a rich network of people and programming behind it. I had no idea!

Q: What is your background regarding nonprofits/volunteering? How have you demonstrated “Princeton in the Nation’s Service?”

I first volunteered when I was in elementary school.  My parents were always active civically and it never occurred to to me do anything else. I have found that volunteering has always added a rich dimension to my life; it keeps me connected to issues in the world and has helped me refine my own career goals and my sense of how I can contribute to a greater good. When I finished school and as my career progressed, I supplemented my volunteer nonprofit service with working directly for nonprofits.

Q: What’s the most important thing you look for when supporting an organization or serving on a nonprofit board?

I look for three things: an engaged board for whom the organization is a top priority for each director; a clear mission and plan for executing on it; and a capable management team at the helm.

Q: Please discuss the importance of what Princeton AlumniCorps does for the Princeton community and communities across the country.

AlumniCorps brings prepared and proven talent to hundreds of tasks in neighborhoods all over the US. They strengthen communities and tie them together through the AlumniCorps network and make each place bigger, more effective together than each is alone.  To me, AlumniCorps makes realizing community aspirations not only possible, but probable.

Q: For 2011-12, AlumniCorps placed 51 Project 55 fellows. What would your advice be for our newest class of PP55 fellows, and to those Princetonians who are still looking for a job next year?

In my own career I have found that my volunteer service helped both prepare me for my jobs and also helped me get jobs!  It increases knowledge, know-how and networks in a way that you just can’t get without direct experience.  It is also a great way to try on ideas you have about roles or fields of work you’re curious about but are not sure is for you. And for employers, it’s the best way to get to know how someone might perform as potential staffer.

Q: What is your hope for the future of Princeton AlumniCorps?

That we continue to get the word out and bring the benefits of AlumniCorps service to more professionals at all stages of their career – beginning middle and end.  If today’s economy proves one thing, it’s that we all need to stay engaged with a fast-changing marketplace for talent, current with changing practice and motivated through new connections with other civically oriented professionals.



Interview with Princeton AlumniCorps’ New Board Chair, John Fish ’55

John Fish ’55 is a founder of Princeton AlumniCorps and served as the Program Leader of the Project 55 Fellowship Program for 20 years. He developed the PP55 program in Chicago, and after a few years encouraged Northwestern University and the University of Chicago to create similar programs. The three programs work closely together, offering joint programming and a wide like-minded community for fellows.

For nearly 50 years John has been involved in numerous community organizations and associations in Chicago. From 1969 to 1997 he was on the faculty of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Urban Studies Program, an off-campus experiential semester for students from 13 Midwest colleges. John was appointed as the Chair of the Board of Princeton AlumniCorps on October 1.

Q: Your recent appointment as Board Chair is your third time serving on the Board. Why did you initially get involved with the organization and what has kept you engaged for all these years?

After the Washington meeting, my classmate Steve Boyd ’55 came out and told me about the original idea for Princeton Project 55. I immediately got excited about it. I hadn’t known Princeton University to do anything like this before, and it sounded great. My enthusiasm carried me through the first meetings, and into helping to put together the founding document. In that first year, we had three fellows in Chicago and three in Washington.

My reasons for remaining engaged with Princeton AlumniCorps are the same as the reasons for starting my connection. I love working with young people, and love staying in touch with so many interesting organizations. It helps to keep me involved in the city (Chicago) and is very inspiring.

Q: Why do you think the goals and programs of Princeton AlumniCorps still resonate with people some 22 years on?

The first year out of college is so important for young people. It’s an opportunity for recent graduates to explore different possibilities and interests. Once you get involved with a permanent job, you don’t often get the opportunity to do that again. Giving young people early exposure to public service careers through Princeton AlumniCorps will always be really valuable. I continue to be interested when a young person finds a goal or project that they find exciting.

The opportunities the Project 55 Fellowship Program provides are really exciting. Over 22 years conducting this program, Princeton AlumniCorps has developed a large community of alumni and organizations interested in the public interest. Community Volunteers, one of our new programs, leverages our dynamic network to connect alumni from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s with innovative volunteer opportunities in the nonprofit sector. Emerging Leaders, our program for aspiring nonprofit leaders, continues to develop our alumni and their impact. Our programs connect alumni with the many rewarding career and volunteer opportunities that exist in the nonprofit sector.

Q: You have often talked about how the PP55 program puts young Princetonians into challenging situations outside of the classroom. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

The first year I was involved with Princeton AlumniCorps, a fellow called Sarah was working for an organization called Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, headed up by Quentin Young. It was a great organization, but at that stage only just starting up. There was only one other staff member – the Executive Director, and Sarah. During the first year, Sarah came up to me and said John, “the Executive Director has left and I’m the only staff person, I need help.” To Sarah’s credit, she ended up keeping the organization alive, and raising money until they found a new Executive Director. It was such an experience for someone straight out of college and to this day, Quentin still speaks of her highly. 

 A lot of other interesting stories came from fellows working in North Lawndale in Chicago, where many of the organizations had a large African American membership. For fellows from very different backgrounds it was such a valuable learning experience, and so exciting to work with such an effective community group. I remember one woman who did a fellowship at an African American faith-based community organization in Chicago. She was Jewish and she asked me, “John, do you think I’ll fit in?” The first week she was there, they had a big retreat. It was so different to her existing experience, but she was accepted straight away and became immediately involved in the community.

Q: What role do you think the organization plays in the broader Princeton community and in communities around the country?

I think the greatest role we play is as brokers between nonprofit organizations and alumni. We help nonprofit organizations to find talented people, as well as helping alumni to get into something really challenging. It has a great impact on the community, because we can help these talented, smart, Princeton graduates to use their skills in important areas.

Q: What do you see as some of the challenges and opportunities you will encounter in your upcoming term as Board Chair? And what is your hope for the future of Princeton AlumniCorps?

One of the things that I’d like to focus on is to find new ways to energize Princeton alumni across the year groups. With only four or five staff members, we are limited in capacity, and I’d like to see our programming flourish – managed and led by alumni. Our board, and our wide network of volunteers, is multigenerational. Our two newest programs, Community Volunteers and Emerging Leaders, embody Princeton AlumniCorps’ recent growth, and the involvement of alumni of all ages with the organization. Our aim is to encourage and develop alumni who have the capacity and passionate leadership to deliver and manage their own innovative programs. I think the fundamental goal of AlumniCorps should be to continue thriving as an organization run by alumni for alumni, across the generations.



Dick Turner ’55, former Board Member and Officer, dies


Dick Turner, 79, of Cape May, New Jersey, died peacefully on Friday, September 9, following a battle with cancer. For the many staff members, Board members, classmates, and alums who have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Dick, he will be remembered as a gifted writer (our Board scribe for many years), an art historian,  and an avid environmentalist, with a wry sense of humor and a warm heart.

Mr. Turner was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1932, and received bachelor’s, master of fine arts, and PhD degrees from Princeton University.  He was a Fulbright scholar, and held a number of academic appointments during his career.  He was an instructor in fine arts at the University of Michigan, professor of art and archaeology at Princeton University, dean of the faculty and professor of fine arts at Middlebury College, and president of Grinnell College.  He finished his career at New York University, where he held a number of positions, including director of the Institute of Fine Arts, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences, professor of fine arts, director of the New York Institute of Humanities, and the Paulette Goddard professor chair in arts and humanities.

Mr. Turner was a Leonardo da Vinci scholar, an expert on the Florentine Renaissance, and the author of a number of books, including Vision of Landscape in Renaissance Italy; Art of Florence; Inventing Leonardo; Renaissance Florence: The Invention of a New Art; and, La Pietra:  Florence, a Family, and a Villa.

He was very active in a number of organizations, serving on the board of directors of New Jersey Audubon and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.  He was a member of the College Art Association, the Century Association, Phi Beta Kappa, and Princeton Project 55.

Photography and birding were two of Mr. Turner’s greatest passions.   He honed his skills as an amateur photographer over the years, and was an avid bird watcher and devoted to the Cape May Bird Observatory, where he volunteered countless hours and made many friends.
In addition to his wife Jane of 56 years, Mr. Turner is survived by sons Louis (Barb) of Minneapolis, MN, and David (Robin) of Sarasota, FL; a sister Betsy Turner of Newfoundland, PA; grandchildren Chase, Mills, Melley, Lark, Alexander, and Garrett; and step-grandchildren Emma and Alex.

His kind and generous spirit will be missed by everyone who knew him.

In lieu of flowers , donations may be made in Mr. Turner’s name to New Jersey Audubon, 9 Hardscrabble Road, Bernardsville, NJ, 07924, or at

A memorial for family and friends will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at the Cape May Bird Observatory, 600 Route 47 North (Delsea Drive), Cape May Courthouse, NJ.


An Interview with AlumniCorps Board Chair Kenly Webster ’55 and President Bill Leahy ’66

Princeton AlumniCorps Board Chair Kenly Webster ’55 and President Bill Leahy ’66 were interviewed for Shared Effort by Jim Lynn ’55. Plans are underway for Kenly’s replacement as Chair after his three year tenure expires this June.

AlumniCorps President Bill Leahy '66 and Board Chair Kenly Webster '55

Q: Kenly, you’re finishing up your second hitch as Chair. How did the problems you had to deal with change between the first hitch and the second?

KW: Roughly three years ago we [then Princeton Project 55] adopted a new mission statement that was the product of a Board no longer dominated by Class of ’55 members, with the assistance of a PP55 President from another class. Transition was a major new challenge. With transition came a strengthening of the responsibility of the Executive Director and much more centralized control, which took patience to accomplish.

Q: What was your biggest challenge as chairman?

KW: The biggest challenge clearly was to implement, without contention, the transition. Smooth transition was critical.

BL: I think that as President in this transition, my role was to assist in expanding the board, looking for individuals from the younger classes.

Q: Was there ever a time when you worried that this really might not work out well?

KW: The doubt came about nine years ago when we were experimenting with other forms of succession that did not materialize.  Mainly, we sought to identify another class to pick up the management of PP55, and that turned out to be a concept that other classes were not willing to undertake as a class.

Q: What’s the next big challenge facing the organization?

BL: All of us were affected profoundly by the economic downturn. Regardless of how the transition was going, the reality was that finances were going to potentially affect what we could do to sustain and expand the program. This was all beyond our control, and it’s been heartening to shore up last year – a year that could have been a profound deficit – by establishing the [20th anniversary] gala, which made it a profitable year instead. This financial challenge, of course, will continue into the future.

      The other challenge which we have worked with over the last couple years has been integrating individual classes with Princeton AlumniCorps. It has been difficult because this organization began with a camaraderie of a group within a class. This is the kind of spirit the University kind of instills in each class, and when you bring institutions together and try to merge them and their interests, sometimes you end up not being able to do it because of individual spirits – “we should be in charge” or “it has to be a class number.” The name change allowed for other generations to feel engaged with our organization.

      We’ve initiated two new programs: the Community Volunteers program, which I think is going to be another way of engaging people who have had no true relationship with the original organization, and secondly the Emerging Leaders program, which should allow us to sustain many of our PIP alumni into the nonprofit world – which I hope in turn will bring them back for Board positions with our organization.

Q: Is there any danger now that Princeton AlumniCorps might be spreading itself too thin with two new programs at once along with a very well-seasoned and successful Princeton Project 55 Fellowship Program (formerly the PIP)?

KW: I do not think so. Financially, we have, for 20 years, raised the money to do what we wanted to do. There are many supporters of the organization to draw upon. From the standpoint of staffing there are ways to ensure that projects have less demand on staff and that staff has efficient participation in the projects. In sum, you have two safety belts: one is strong staff organization (and hiring outside people to help), and the other is a wide network to attract funding.

Q: Now’s your chance to answer any questions we should have asked but didn’t.

BL: Any organization goes through its adolescence and into its early adulthood, and this organization was doing that as they approached their 20th year. What happened was the development of discipline within the Board – some very individual subcommittees, with designated rules and procedures, which are going to be very important as we go forward, because an organization really can’t survive when it meets on an ad-hoc basis and without any kind of internal discipline. This is very important for the issue of perpetuity.

KW: How is transition going to ensure perpetuity?  I think we have put in place a very strong organization comprised of the Board, board committees and staff. Although we have the transition in place, we’re going to have to fight each year to keep it permanent. To do this we have targeted programs that are designed to attract leadership and financial contributions from alumni classes from all decades after the ’50s.

       A second force in perpetuity may well be attracting leaders from graduates of the PIP program. Almost all of the current leadership comes from graduates of Princeton, who as such have a common bond. But there is a second common bond among the PIP graduates who have all vastly benefited from the program. Therefore there is an additional fertile leadership source from these program graduates.  But I would not expect a president of the organization to come from the PIP alumni for yet a number of years.

Board Member Spotlight: Margarita Rosa ’74

Margarita Rosa '74

Margarita Rosa, Esq. ’74 has dedicated much of her life to the pursuit and promotion of social justice. As an undergraduate she joined other students in advocating, and planning for, the creation of the Third World Culture Center (now the Carl Fields Center) at Princeton University. As a student, and later as a member of Princeton’s Alumni Schools Committee, Margarita recruited students to college from inner city schools in NYC, her hometown. Since 1995, Margarita has led a community-based, human service organization the Grand Street Settlement (GSS), located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Margarita has taught public policy/public administration and law to graduate students and has spoken extensively on subjects related to human rights, justice and equality, and inclusive diversity.

How/Why did you get involved with Princeton AlumniCorps? Did it surprise you to learn that Princeton AlumniCorps is a multigenerational organization?

Some years ago, I hosted a visit of Princeton Project 55 participants, including Board members, to the Grand Street Settlement, where I have served as the Executive Director since 1995. I have known of the work of PP55 and have interacted with a number of PP55 fellows over the years and have been impressed with their dedication and their service.

Last year, two members of the Board of Directors of AlumniCorps who are familiar with my work as a nonprofit professional and former government official, asked me to consider serving on the Board. AlumniCorps seemed to be a place where I, as a Princeton alumna, could work with other like-minded individuals to encourage and support members of the Princeton University community interested in participating in public service and in affecting social change. In the summer of 2010, I was elected to the Board of AlumniCorps.

What is your background regarding nonprofits/volunteering? How have you demonstrated “Princeton in the Nation’s Service?”

My engagement in volunteer activities began in elementary school where I tutored young children from my own, and other, underserved communities. While in high school I worked as a Red Cross volunteer and also served as an after-school program volunteer working with school-aged children at a school for the deaf and hearing impaired.  During summer vacations I served as a summer day camp counselor in a camp for deaf children.

While at the Harvard Law School I had summer internships at the Office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund – a civil rights organization – where I subsequently worked as a staff attorney.  I also had the privilege of serving as the NYS Commissioner of Human Rights in the administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo. I began my work in government as General Counsel of the NYS Division of Human Rights and served as Executive Deputy Commissioner before being appointed Commissioner.  My work at the Division of Human Rights solidified my commitment to public service, advocacy, civic engagement and the pursuit of social justice.  When the Cuomo administration ended, in 1995, I joined the Grand Street Settlement as its Executive Director.

What’s the most important thing you look for when supporting an organization or serving on a nonprofit board?

Understanding and believing in the mission of the organization is of paramount importance to me.  I also want to know who the professional (staff) and lay (Board) leaders are and how they carry out their leadership roles. I want to know whether the leaders are well-informed, inclusive, open to new ideas and to new people. Are their interactions with each other, and with the organization’s constituents, respectful? Is there transparency in the organization’s financial and programmatic transactions? Are the organization’s resources – including its human resources (i.e. staff and Board) – used wisely and in service of the mission?

Please discuss the importance of what Princeton AlumniCorps does for the Princeton community and communities across the country.

AlumniCorps gives alumnae/i the opportunity to share their professional and personal experiences and expertise with individuals and organizations that can use their help and support. Volunteers also have the opportunity to learn from the organizations in which they serve and from the individuals whose lives they touch.

For 2010-11, AlumniCorps placed 51 Project 55 fellows. What would your advice be for our newest class of PP55 fellows, and to those Princetonians who are still looking for a job next year?

Whether you’re employed or looking for a job, don’t hesitate to use your formal and informal networks, including classmates, professors, and alumni. Remember that demonstrating that you can “work and play well with others” makes you a valuable and respected member of a team and can lead to new opportunities and lasting relationships.