Why did you decide to get your Executive MPA at the Marxe School?
I had become familiar with the Marxe School and some of its stellar instructional staff through my participation in the inaugural cohort of the United Neighborhood Houses Emerging Leaders Program. UNH is the umbrella organization of all 38 Settlement Houses in NYC and offers really meaningful professional development opportunities, including the Emerging Leaders Program at Baruch. After getting a taste of what the school had to offer in the way of leadership development and technical education I decided I needed to take the my nonprofit career to the next level; I decided to apply to the Executive MPA program and was fortunate enough to be accepted. Even though the Executive MPA (Saturday only) option was almost a necessity because my busy work scheduled precluded evening classes, I was also really drawn to the cohort model and the teamwork and camaraderie that come with it.
What do you do at Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement? What have you been able to accomplish from the executive level?
One of the things I truly love about my job is that I literally do a little bit of everything. I work with my senior team and Board to determine and implement the organization’s strategic future, but on stormy winter days when staff can’t make it in, I may be out in front of our Queensbridge facility shoveling snow alongside other members of staff. I like to think of myself of a facilitator, a bridge-builder, and a connector. Reopening and reacquainting the Riis Settlement with the community with which we work has been the greatest accomplishment in four years as executive director and over eight at the organization.
How did the aforementioned milestones feed into one another?
The decision to pursue my Executive MPA was made just a couple of years before my predecessor and mentor, Riis’s long-time Executive Director Bill Newlin, decided to step down. Without the degree, I would have never been able to step into his very big shoes and take the organization to the next level of growth, not only from the perspective of credentials, but in terms of leadership development, management skills, and technical know-how as well.