Reunions 2018 Recap

AlumniCorps hosted three well-attended events at Princeton University’s Reunions on Friday, June 1, 2018. All our activities took place at Princeton’s Neuroscience Building, off Poe Field. Our morning workshop, In The Nation’s Service: Mapping Your Network for the Public Good, featured a panel of four Princeton alumni. About 20 attendees learned how Charlie Lucas ’71, Kristen Smith ’03, Brandon White ’09, and Ayana Woods ’98 have all leveraged AlumniCorps’ programs, as well as their own networks, for systemic change.

Charlie has volunteered with AlumniCorps’ ARC Innovators program, which provides nonprofits with pro bono assistance from experienced professionals in the AlumniCorps network. Learn more about Charlie’s work by reading about him on page eight of our 2016-17 Annual Report. Kristen is a Project 55 Fellowship alumna who volunteers on our Chicago Area Committee and recently joined AlumniCorps’ Board of Directors. She reflected on her continuing bond with Fellows from her cohort: “I continue to … reach back to those folks….” As Kristen’s career in housing and economic development has blossomed in Boston, New York, and now back in Chicago, “Princeton AlumniCorps [has provided] even more benefit” in understanding these various nonprofit landscapes. Brandon, who completed our Emerging Leaders program for young nonprofit professionals in Washington, D.C. in 2018, shared that in a new job role he was “…thrown into the deep end [and/but] Emerging Leaders was there to catch me… it was like having a cheat sheet going forward.” Ayana, also an alumna of Emerging Leaders, said, “People have personalities… Emerging Leaders is an opportunity to learn skills to manage people’s personalities, and our own.” After the panelists’ comments, attendees participated in an interactive exercise to discover how their connections, skills, and resources could be leveraged for systemic social change.

Bill Shafer ’55 ends the informal introductions at lunch with a few remarks about the founding of AlumniCorps

We continued the conversation during “In the Nation’s Service Together: A Networking Lunch,” where like-minded Princetonians gathered and shared how they are mobilizing networks for the public good. 

Board Chair Liz Duffy ’88 led an informal round of introductions so attendees could get to know each other. Bill Shafer ’55 brought us full circle by closing out our time with remarks about the founding of Princeton AlumniCorps as Project 55.

As a part of the Bold Idea initiative, AlumniCorps hosted a panel discussion and Q & A session, In the Service of Humanity: Empowering Immigrant Communities. Over 40 people listened to a panel of Princetonians who are working to build capacities and develop skills among immigrants and refugees: Phillip Connor *10, Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center; Maribel Hernández Rivera, Esq. *10, Executive Director of Legal Initiatives at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; José Quiñonez *98, Founder and CEO of Mission Asset Fund; and Maya Wahrman ’16, Former Project 55 Fellow and Program Assistant (Forced Migration) at Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life. Learn more about our panelists by reading their bios here.

Phillip laid the groundwork for understanding patterns of immigration and how they have changed in the United States by presenting data from the Pew Research Center. In particular, he noted that the number of refugees in the U.S. was reflective of the refugee population around the world until 2017, when the number of refugees in the U.S. plummeted disproportionately. Watch all of Phillip’s talk here.

The audience was riveted as Maribel, who was born in Mexico City and moved to the U.S. when she was 13 years old, shared how her father’s sudden and mysterious death acted as a catalyst for her career in immigrant rights. She explained why she went to law school at NYU after getting her Masters at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School: “Understanding the law was almost harder than learning English! But not understanding the law is disempowering for undocumented communities.” Maribel also shared her personal stake in the debate over immigration policy: Her husband, who is from Honduras, may have to leave the U.S. in January 2020 based on current regulations. She admitted, “My husband and I are in a very lucky position because we have a network. Not everyone is so lucky. We want to advocate and speak for them.” Watch all of Maribel’s talk here.

José, who has been awarded the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship, the Ashoka Fellowship, and the Aspen Institute Fellowship for his work at the Mission Asset Fund (MAF), described how the MAF had to quickly pivot from being primarily a lending institution to launching the largest Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal campaign in the days after the Trump Administration ended DACA on September 5, 2017.  In the fall of 2017, MAF provided over $2.5M to fund over 5,000 DACA renewal applications in 46 states. Read more about the details of the process in an article José wrote here, and watch all of José’s talk here.

Maya closed out the panel by describing how she has helped Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life (ORL) think out their theological approach to refugee work through their Interfaith Program in Refugees and Forced Migration. She humanized the challenges refugees are facing by speaking about Ashar, a refugee from Pakistan with whom she has forged a friendship. She described the international interdisciplinary conference of over 300 participants, Seeking Refuge: Faith-Based Approaches to Forced Migration, that she co-curated while a Project 55 Fellow with the ORL, stating “Religion is a way to respond to the issues in the world.” Watch all of Maya’s talk here.

Reunions Recap 2017

Reunions Panel on Moving the Needle:
Princeton AlumniCorps and Systemic Social Change

Reunions Panelists: Arthur McKee ’90, Director of Research, CityBridge Education; Sodiqa Williams ’05, VP External Affairs, Safer Foundation; James Burgess ’09, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OpenBiome

AlumniCorps hosted a panel discussion entitled Moving the Needle: Princeton AlumniCorps and Systemic Social Change on Friday, June 2 during the 2017 Princeton University Reunions weekend. The discussion was moderated by AlumniCorps’ Director of Programs and Strategy, Caryn Tomljanovich and it focused on three AlumniCorps partner organizations that work to create systemic social change through philanthropy, policy, and research. The panelists were Arthur McKee ’90, Director of Research, CityBridge Education; Sodiqa Williams ’05, VP External Affairs, Safer Foundation; and James Burgess ’09, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OpenBiome. They spoke about their organizations and the contributions AlumniCorps programs–especially Project 55 Fellows–have made to their work.

Panelists Sodiqa, Arthur, and James field questions from the audience.

James said that OpenBiome in Boston is lucky this year because many of their PP55 Fellows are staying at the organization. “By the end of the first year they’re really doing a lot.” He commented to a laughing audience, “The main problem with the Project 55 program is that they’re all really good at getting into medical school… We feel so lucky to be able to have these types of folks coming on.”

Sodiqa spoke about the impact that their Project 55 Fellow, Aswari Sodhi ’15, had on Chicago’s Safer Foundation’s efforts to support clients with criminal records and facilitate their re-entry into the workforce. When it comes to funding advocacy for those with arrested convictions, Sodiqa asserted:”We need to invest in people, not property.” Aswari was vital to helping the organization draft and defend legislation that enables re-entry in Illinois.

Arthur sang the praises of the eight Fellows that CityBridge has had in Washington, D.C. Former Project 55 Fellow, Caitlin Sullivan ’07, was in the audience and asked how a sense of civic duty and public service can be encouraged in students while they’re still enrolled at Princeton. This question sparked great dialogue between audience members and panelists.


Farewell to Andrew Nurkin: A Luncheon

About forty people attended a luncheon on June 2 during Princeton Reunions to say farewell to outgoing Executive Director, Andrew Nurkin. Andrew is now serving as the Deputy Director for Enrichment and Civic Engagement at the ‎Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. See below for photos of the event!