September 18, 2007
by Bradley Center
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Transcript Now Available - Click Here! (PDF format, 47 pages, 220 KB)
A complete, edited transcript is now available of the Bradley Center's September 18, 2007 panel discussion entitled
Leaders for Every Sector: National Service as a Strategy for Leadership and Workforce Development
Co-Sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Comcast, Voices for National Service, and Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service
Special thanks to Comcast for its generous support of the luncheon.
Two-Part Panel Discussion
September 18, 2007
11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
at the Center for American Progress, 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC
Program and Panels
Welcome: Shirley Sagawa, Visiting Fellow, Center for American Progress
Panel Discussion: National Service Alumni Tell Their Stories
Moderator: AnnMaura Connolly, Senior Vice President, City Year and Steering Committee Member, Voices for National Service
Panelists: Kellie Bentz, Director, Hands On New Orleans
Kaya Henderson, Deputy Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools
Jason Phillips, Crispus Attucks, YouthBuild
Tondalaya Shepard-Turner, Director of Volunteer Services, Mount Sinai Health System
Panel Discussion: National Service as a Strategy for Workforce Development
Moderator: William Schambra, Director, Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, Hudson Institute
Panelists: Cheryl L. Dorsey, President, Echoing Green
Rob Hollister, Dean, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University
Sally Prouty, President and CEO, the Corps Network
Paul Schmitz, President and CEO, Public Allies
Art Block, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Comcast Corporation
Center for American Progress (CAP) visiting fellow Shirley Sagawa organized and introduced the two-part discussion on national service as a strategy for leadership and workforce development, held before a standing-room-only audience in CAP's state-of-the-art conference room on September 18, 2007. Bradley Center director William Schambra moderated the second panel, on workforce development.
According to the consulting firm Bridgespan, Sagawa began, the nonprofit sector will need to recruit 80,000 new leaders in the next decade to replace retiring staff, and lower-paying fields such as health care are going to need an influx of young staff as well. National service has already helped fill the gap with service-minded young people, and in so doing has proven a powerful way to expose youth to potential careers, motivate teenagers to achieve, help disadvantaged youths find an upward path, inspire college students to choose careers in under-resourced fields. Furthermore, the movement has already produced its share of leaders, as the expert panels gathered on September 18 showed. The first panel of this two-part discussion was moderated by City Year senior vice president AnnMaura Connolly, and featured stories of national service alumni who shared how their service experience played a role in their professional development and career choices. The second panel featured executives from every sector, who gave their perspective on the role national service can play in developing leaders and a strong workforce.
After a brief introduction by City Year's AnnMaura Connolly, Kellie Bentz kicked off the first panel discussion with the story of how she came to join the Hands On Atlanta school-based program and worked as a teacher there with nothing more than a desire to help people. She was hooked. After her year concluded, she decided to help start up the AmeriCorps Alums national effort with Hands On Network, but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina found herself instead helping to launch the Hands On disaster response effort in New Orleans. What began as a six-week commitment has now become a nearly two-year stay; Bentz continues volunteering to help Katrina victims. She concluded by described the skills she has developed, stating, "That's a lot of what national service teaches you – being able to roll with the punches, being extremely flexible and resourceful, adapting to changes, and really learning how to deal with people and work with people in a way that otherwise you wouldn't know how to."
Kaya Henderson, the current deputy chancellor for the District of Columbia Public Schools, told the audience how she chose to enroll in Teach for America despite the resistance of her otherwise very service-minded parents, and what a transformative experience it was for her. She also chose to stay in service, and became a recruiter for Teach for America and then a founder – along with several other Teach for America alumni – of The New Teacher Project. This opportunity brought Henderson to her current position as deputy chancellor for D.C. Public Schools. She concluded, "I am who I am because of national service."
As a teenager, while Jason Phillips was incarcerated in Pennsylvania's adult prison system, he came across an AmeriCorps brochure about YouthBuild, and decided, "This is my ticket." He began to attend, eventually graduated from, and now works at Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter School in York, PA. Five years later, through AmeriCorps, he is going to college and has reached his goal of home ownership – twice. (He rents one to tenants.) "The reality is, there are many others like me," Phillips told the audience. "They're just looking for the opportunity." He continues to work with the YouthBuild Program. "We're going to transform lives, and transform communities one step, one brick at a time," he said in closing.
Tondalaya Shepard-Turner found City Year when she was seventeen and supposed to be on fast track to college. "Whatever I tell you about City Year in the next minute and a half, I can't tell you enough," she gushed. "It is a life-changing, mind-altering, career-focusing experience." Shepard-Turner began with City Year Columbia in South Carolina, and also spent time with City Year Boston. When she began college, she discovered a dying volunteer program, and through hard work turned it completely around. More important, Shepard-Turner, were "the lives that I saw change." After college, she returned to her native Chicago and worked with the Chicago Abused Women's Coalition, the Women's Business Development Center, and Chicago Lawyers for a Better Chicago. As the current director of Volunteer and Community Service for Mt. Sinai Health System in Chicago, she feels her life has come full-circle. "There is something to be said about a community's ability to make their own change, to create their own change," she commented, and then quoted George Santayana: "The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas." "Service does that," she said in closing.
During the question-and-answer session, panelists were asked to describe a recent experience where they had to call on a skill or leadership ability that they learned during their national service experience. Phillips said that during his course of national service, he learned that behind every individual there's a circumstance; that is, leadership taught him to interact with people and determine what lies behind their observed behavior. Henderson shared that community service taught her that all people are passionate about their children's education. Service also taught her how to deal and manage with even the most impossible of situations, including the District's Public Schools. Shepard-Turner stated that community service taught her the value of teamwork in every aspect.
Moderator AnnMaura Connolly then asked if those experiences were intentional on the part of the service program, or "just learning on your feet, learning in the moment?" Benz had difficulty drawing a line between the two, while Phillips argued that what he learned was intentional on the part of the program. Shepard-Turner stated that some of her trainings and experiences were intentional and built-in to the program, but there were others that were unintentional. Henderson agreed with Shepard-Turner that her learning during her national service was a combination of intentional and unintentional features of the program.
Connolly then opened the floor to questions from the audience. Please see the edited transcript for details on the remainder of the first panel's discussion.
Bill Schambra introduced the second panel, on workforce development, by pointing out that the topic of national service is "one of those rare issues in American politics today… where political adversaries might actually be able to come together" as Hudson Institute and the Center for American Progress have come together to organize this discussion. "If service is indeed to secure its long-term future as a federally funded program, this is a development to be nurtured and encouraged," he continued. Moreover, conservatives can take heart in the possibility that service can actually prepare young people for roles in the private sector and in the marketplace, for jobs and professions. He then introduced the panel: Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green; Rob Hollister, dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University; Sally Prouty, president of the Corps Network; Paul Schmitz, president of Public Allies; and Arthur Block, senior vice president at Comcast.
Dorsey began with a brief description of the work of Echoing Green, a global social venture fund that provides seed capital and technical support to some of the world's best emerging social entrepreneurs. They've invested in Teach for America, Public Allies, City Year, Citizen Schools, and College Summit. But this relationship has been a two-way street, Dorsey went on to explain, because it turns out that many of the recent recipients of the highly competitive Echoing Green Fellowships have gone through national service programs, where they became aware of social inequities and developed entrepreneurial ideas for combating them. Therefore, Dorsey encouraged educating those in service about the definitions, principles, and practices of social entrepreneurship. She also advised leveraging the stories of social entrepreneurs to further inspire and catalyze those engaged in national service. She called for more risk-taking, innovation, experimentation, and larger education awards to further encourage the next generation into national service.
Tufts University has a uniquely comprehensive approach to service, Hollister began. Service is emphasized in all courses of study, and a service commitment is expected of all graduates. This recent policy shift came about in part because of student demand, Hollister noted; the alumni of City Year, Public Allies, Teach for America, and Hands On arriving at Tufts as students brought with them their service commitment, and this had a dramatic influence upon the university. And it's working; it is attracting more students and more funding. In conclusion, Hollister stated that he sees two big roles at Tufts and other schools in the area of workforce development through service. One is the direct workforce preparation universities offer. The second is the workforce preparation Tufts students offer to K-12 students through service with school-based programs.
The majority of the membership of Corps Network, president Sally Prouty began, is made up of programs that focus on highly disadvantaged young people. Prouty argued that a services strategy can make a dramatic impact on the lives of just those people by engaging them in the workforce via service. Already foundations have funded a corps-to-career five-year model. Prouty cited a few other demonstration projects in various stages. "With the service world and workforce development coming together," she concluded, we can provide at-risk young people with a sense of direction – toward service, growth, and development.
Paul Schmitz, president of Public Allies, described the AmeriCorps program his organization runs. Public Allies recruits young adults from backgrounds that are underrepresented in leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. Through its rigorous leadership development program including full-time apprenticeships in nonprofit organizations, Public Allies offers workforce development for a critical population in the particularly leadership-starved nonprofit sector.
Finally, Comcast senior vice president Arthur Block described the thought processes that led to an interest at Comcast in supporting youth service, and how those decisions have come to transform their workforce development efforts. He commented that those coming from service backgrounds are a great deal more qualified as potential new employees because of their motivation, real-world experience, work ethic, problem solving experience, and people skills. Comcast now offers career planning services and incentives to City Year members, as well as preferential treatment in the Comcast hiring process.
To begin the question-and-answer session, Bill Schambra echoed AnnMaura Connolly's question to the first panel: What specific values or traits do service program alumni bring that others do not? Schambra also used his role as moderator to reinforce a note of caution against the push toward measurable outcomes. "If you're going to rigorously scientific about it, you have to show how this intervention was the precise thing that brought this about…. It's always a challenge to be scientific," he added.
After a few exchanges between the audience and panel, Schambra also took the opportunity to call for more conversation about national service as a way of reinforcing local communities. "There are, I think, in the world of conservatives people who could be much more friendly to national service if it could be shown and shown decisively that national service doesn't undercut local, naturally occurring, neighborhood voluntary activity, but that it in fact reinforces, augments, and in many cases helps to plan and coordinate and stimulate that local, voluntary sort of activity." For Hudson's part, he offered, "we're trying to develop that idea, that aspect of the argument, as a way of bridging some of these traditional differences that we've had."
Please see the edited transcript for the details of the remaining question-and-answer exchanges.
POLITICO, OCTOBER 2, 2007
"Satisfying America's Hunger to Serve" by Ben Adler
"William Schambra, director of Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, who helped organize the recent Washington event, says that while conservatives once worried that government-funded volunteerism would replace private charity, research has shown that it usually bolsters existing volunteer efforts.
"'Often the sole full-time person at a local nonprofit is from AmeriCorps,' Schambra said. 'They keep track of volunteer efforts.' He also noted that faith-based organizations can receive volunteers through national service programs, which appeals to social conservatives."
For Further Information
To request further information on this event or the Bradley Center, please contact Kristen at (202) 974-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Center for American Progress web page for the event, online at http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2007/09/service.html.
Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal aims to explore the usually unexamined intellectual assumptions underlying the grantmaking practices of America’s foundations and provide practical advice and guidance to grantmakers who seek to support smaller, grassroots institutions in the name of civic renewal.
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