This year, City Year joined dozens of private sector, nonprofit, and government organizations as part of the new Employers of National Service initiative. President Obama launched Employers of National Service on Sept. 12, 2014 as part of the White House ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps. This growing list of employers recognizes the talents, commitment, and perseverance that young adults bring to their workplace after serving for a year in communities of need.
Here at City Year, of our 775 staff members, nearly 300 of them are City Year alumni. As well as City Year’s President, Jim Balfanz, several of the 26 City Year Executive Directors across the country began their careers as life-long leaders after serving in an AmeriCorps program. We asked three Executive Directors one question. Here’s what they had to say and what they’ve accomplished since serving as AmeriCorps members:
What one lesson or skill did you learn during your year of service that you utilize in your current role as a City Year Executive Director?
"The lesson that I have learned during my service year that I still carry with me today is that leading as a servant leader truly means being willing to do things both big and small. This allows your team’s work to be more enjoyable, fulfilling, and impactful. Our communities are best served by leaders who are able to be the example of excellence at doing the work while serving alongside of those who follow them."
Dan began his career with City Year as a corps member in New York, and later joined City Year Los Angeles as program manager and senior program manager where he oversaw 70 City Year AmeriCorps members who served in seven schools in the South Los Angeles and Watts communities. Dan is currently City Year Jacksonville’s Executive Director where 74 highly skilled corps members serve in 8 local public schools. Dan is also Vice President of City Year Inc. and a member of City Year Inc.'s National Executive Leadership group.
"I learned that preparation is vital to the success of a project, a hard conversation or a task that feels too big to complete. Highly effective workers are not good at winging it; they are diligent about the preparation."
After graduating from Louisiana State University, Laura moved to New York City to serve as a corps member with City Year. After spending the year serving on a diverse team, Laura knew that she wanted to build a life and a career working towards ensuring that all students have access to an excellent education regardless of the zip code in which they were born. At City Year New York, Laura served as the Development Director and Chief of Staff before moving back to Louisiana in 2011 to run the City Year site in Baton Rouge. As the Executive Director of City Year Baton Rouge, Laura is leading the organization through its strategic growth plan with the goal of providing more tutors and mentors to the students in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. Laura is also a member of the Baton Rouge Junior League and the Rotary of Baton Rouge and attends the Chapel On Campus.
"Serving full-time on a diverse team of peers taught me a great deal, but perhaps more than anything else, I learned the importance of flexibility during my time as an AmeriCorps member. My current role is fast-paced and priorities change so quickly that flexibility comes into play all of the time. It makes me particularly grateful to the team and partners around me that demonstrate that same flexibility in our work together."
Jordan Plante is a two-time AmeriCorps alumna, having served with National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and National Preparedness & Response Corps (NPRC) with the American Red Cross. Jordan joined City Year in the fall of 2006. Over the years she has served in many roles, including Admissions Manager, Recruitment Director, Deputy Director of Site Operations, and Interim Executive Director in Rhode Island, Interim Deputy Director of Development & External Affairs in Miami, and Start-up Director in Orlando. Jordan is a LEAD City Year Executive Class alumna, and a University of Florida graduate. She now proudly serves as the Executive Director for City Year Orlando.
In addition to Dan and Laura, Sarah Roberson, City Year Little Rock Executive Director and Alex Enriquez, the interim Executive Director for City Year Dallas got their start as City Year AmeriCorps members.