AlumniCorps’ Celebrates the Emerging Leaders Program’s Inaugural Year

Emerging Leaders Class of 2012

Members of the nonprofit community gathered in Washington, D.C. on March 13th to celebrate the success of the Emerging Leaders program’s first year. AlumniCorps board and staff members, participants’ employers, mentors and family members joined other supporters to congratulate the 2012 class of Emerging Leaders. Within three intimate groups, participants shared the ways that the program has changed their professional lives. Attendees were inspired to hear firsthand the exponential impact this program has achieved in just one year. As one participant said, “This program didn’t just transform eleven individuals. It transformed the workings of at least eleven nonprofit organizations in DC, and it will continue to improve how effectively those different organizations serve their employees and their community moving forward.”

The celebration culminated a series of monthly sessions facilitated by an executive coach and featuring executive-level guest speakers within the nonprofit sector along with skill development activities. The Emerging Leaders implemented these learned skills in their work, and acted as role models for their peers. The program is expanding to New York in its second year, set to begin in June. The nonprofit professionals who recently completed the program are helping to fill a significant leadership gap within the sector as AlumniCorps Board President Kathy Miller ’77 noted: “A recent extensive study by the Meyer Foundation and Compass, Daring to Lead 2011, found that two thirds of nonprofit executives plan to leave their jobs within five years.”

An Emerging Leader summed up her gratitude for the program. “This is a phenomenal experience that is easily worth 10 times what our organizations contributed to support this work. I hope your work is able to expand to support even beyond NY, as I found this immensely helpful to my personal and professional growth. Thank you!”

Emerging Leaders participant and Alumni Liaison Kyndall Parker ’06 announced an alumni fundraising effort with a goal of securing $10,000 by June 30, 2012. If you would like to support Emerging Leaders continued growth please donate now:




Congratulations to the Class of 2012 Emerging Leaders!

Emerging Leaders Program Expands Beyond DC to NYC

Nonprofit professionals working in New York along with their peers in Washington, DC can now take advantage of the hugely successful Emerging Leaders professional development program, thanks to a very generous grant from the Rita Allen Foundation. An expansive network of nonprofit organizations and executives combined with an innovative curriculum, Emerging Leaders uniquely prepares organizations  to address the growing leadership gap in the sector, identified by many in the field, including the Bridgespan Group.

Through highly effective, in-depth knowledge sharing, peer community building, and skills improvement, Emerging Leaders creates a cohort of aspiring nonprofit executives early in their careers while they are still committed to the sector. Current participants are thrilled with the far-reaching impact of the program as it enables them to accelerate their growth and contributions more rigorously and quickly than they otherwise could.

Emerging Leader Kyndall Parker ’06 states, “The lessons I’ve learned from Emerging Leaders have made me a better manager, direct report, and peer and put me in a position to have been recently promoted to Senior Director of Operations.” The program runs for 8 full-day sessions over 8 consecutive months and is open to all university graduates who meet the application criteria. The application deadline is March 15th.

Please note that there is an application fee of $20. This fee is waived for Princeton Project 55 Fellowship Program alumni. The nominal participation fee of $350 for each applicant who is accepted may be covered by employers.


For more information about Emerging Leaders or to apply,


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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!


Raise Your Hand If You Eat Food. Then Take Action!

We all eat food, but few of us care to think about what systems, policies, costs, and risks are associated with bringing that food to our tables. The production and consumption of food affects every aspect of our lives as individuals, as members of a local community and as agents of a global economy.

A former PP55 fellow in Boston slices fruit at a farmer's market.

In September 2010, Gordon Douglas MD ’55 and Sheila Mahoney began a conversation about food.

The Focus on Food initiative was conceived with the goal of cultivating Project 55 fellowship opportunities for recent Princeton graduates at organizations committed to food-related issues in this country. The issues range from obesity to farm factory pollution to food safety regulation to farm worker rights—all of which may be linked to our industrial food system, which is itself a product of government policies and business practices that support the production of vast quantities of low-priced, low-grade food, whatever the costs to the common good. As diverse and numerous as the issues may be, Focus on Food recognizes four broad areas of advocacy in today’s food movement: public health, environmental sustainability, social justice and animal welfare. Alumni have the opportunity to advance the issues in any one of these areas, whether by examining policy, promoting awareness or effecting change on the ground.


Take Action.

–   Are you an experienced professional? Put your principles into practice. Become an AlumniCorps Community Volunteer and donate your expertise to a food-related nonprofit.

–   Look at your own personal and professional networks. What organizations in your community are working on the food problem? Who might take a Project 55 Fellow or a skills-based AlumniCorps Community Volunteer?

–   Are you passionate about sustainable, healthy food? Help us to organize an educational panel or event for alumni in one of our AlumniCorps cities.

–   Are you a professional working in food and public health, social justice, the environment, or animal welfare? Contact us about speaking at an AlumniCorps seminar or panel for Project 55 fellows.

–   Join the conversation. Which of the four food system issues most concern you?  How can we start a dialogue? Click here to apply for membership in the AlumniCorps Focus on Food online discussion.

Community Volunteer Spotlight: Grif Johnson ’72

Grif Johnson ’72 retired from a 33-year career in the practice of law in January 2010. After attending a Princeton AlumniCorps Board meeting and subsequent local Community Volunteers events, Grif was connected to Wilderness Leadership and Learning (WILL) in Washington, DC. He recently spoke with us about his Community Volunteers experience.

Q: How did you hear about Wilderness Leadership and Learning (WILL)?

In the fall of 2010, I received an e-mail from the newly renamed Princeton AlumniCorps, introducing the Community Volunteers program. By then I was retired – a major milestone for me – and I was looking for ways to get involved with the community. On its face, the Community Volunteers program sounded interesting, so I went to a panel here in Washington, DC. The panel laid out the concept of Community Volunteers, which was very much in line with my personal interest in finding a place to spend my time that would be rewarding to me, and that I thought would be useful. The next session held in DC was a “speed dating” event where alumni interested in Community Volunteers could meet with representatives from nonprofits who were looking for volunteers. I was unable to attend that session, but a staff member followed up with information about a number of nonprofits I might be interested in. That is how I first heard about WILL, and the more I read and learned, the more I thought “this is something that really interests me.”

Q: Can you tell us about WILL?

The organization was founded 7 years ago by a then trial attorney here in DC, Steve Abraham, who had a life-changing experience while he was hiking out west. He had a moment where he realized that a lot of kids in inner cities never have the opportunity to experience nature in this way. He wanted to find a way to marry the enormous potential of underprivileged young people with the opportunity to literally expand their vision, to stand on top of a mountain and look 360 degrees around and say, “Wow, I never knew there was such a thing.” That is how WILL was born.

The program works with 9th, 10th and 11th graders in several of DC’s public schools. Steve works with guidance counselors and other staff in these schools to identify promising young students, who, for want of resources, are not able to enjoy opportunities to be outdoors, learn about the world, and challenge themselves in unfamiliar environments.

We start with a class of between 20 and 30 students each fall. We take the young people out in rural Virginia, where a professional outdoor training organization takes them through an exercise building a rope bridge and other things, which they use to accomplish tasks as a team that they would not be able to accomplish on their own. It teaches the kids to be careful, to be trusting, and to work in a team. Through the fall, we take the young people on trips – out on the Anacostia River and to the Chesapeake Bay, for example – where they interact with and learn about the ecosystem and the stresses it suffers. For the 11th graders, we bring in college counselors from local universities so these students, whose families do not historically have a record of attending college, can learn about the importance of college and the process of applying. We also take kids on local field trips to cultural and national institutions in DC. The whole process culminates in the summer, at the end of the academic year. We break the youth into two smaller groups and take them out for a week on the Appalachian Trail, in conjunction with the Outward Bound program.

It’s really remarkable what these young adults are capable of doing. My wife and I joined a scavenger hunt that WILL organized last May. Students were divided into groups of four, and each group was given a series of obscure questions that could only be answered by visiting specific locations on the National Mall. For example, one of the questions was: “How many columns are in the Lincoln Memorial, and what does each one represent?” Watching these young people tackle the task as a group, watching how they divide responsibilities and marshal their collective skills, was just remarkable. These young people are so inspirational to be with. It’s been a great, great experience for me to be on the board of WILL. I am so happy that I found them through the auspices of the Community Volunteers program.

Q: What is your involvement with the organization? How do you use your legal expertise?

Because WILL is currently a very small organization, as a board member, you have a choice of going to the quarterly meetings and making that the extent of your involvement, or you can also get involved in the programmatic activities. I would say that involvement in the programmatic functions of the organization and in more traditional board member service have both been deeply rewarding aspects that I have enjoyed spending time on.

Of course my legal training is always there, and there are times in the discussion at the board level where my knowledge of the law has been particularly helpful, but what I was really looking for was a different rhythm, a different environment. I wanted to walk at the pace and in the company of people who are involved in the life all around us. I am not in any way trying to suggest that I was running away from my law career, or that I needed a mental antidote, I was just really interested in spending my time in a different kind of setting while using the skills I have. I’ve found that my work with WILL has been especially rewarding because of the people involved, particularly the students.

Q: What do you think is most important for people, especially recent retirees, to think about as they consider Community Volunteers and the nonprofit sector?

You want to do something that you will look forward to doing, which interests you and motivates you. For me it was really the relationships that I have been able to develop at WILL. I did a fair amount of diligence before I offered to become a board member. I would say that’s a very important aspect. A person in my position potentially has a lot to offer from the point of view of experience, wisdom and skills that you accumulate – it’s worth something, and you don’t want to waste it. I think it’s very important that anybody contemplating retirement or volunteering do a great deal of preparation and investigation to learn about the organization and exactly what you would be doing. For me, getting involved with WILL has really been an ongoing commitment rather than something I do once every 2 or 3 months. Once you get involved, it really takes you over and you get so passionate that you spend your days and nights thinking about it, even between board meetings.


“Once you get involved, it really takes you over and you get so passionate that you spend your days and nights thinking about it, even between board meetings.” – Grif Johnson ’72

Visit to learn more about WILL.
Princeton AlumniCorps’ Community Volunteers program connects alumni who have significant career experience with impactful civic engagement opportunities.