Recently, City Year welcomed several new leaders onto its Senior Leadership Team.
Jessica Greenfield, a 14-year City Year veteran, is the organization’s new Chief Financial and Administrative Officer (CFAO), responsible for leading the finance, IT, government relations, administration and legal teams.
Kanna Kunchala returned to City Year after 20 years in the private sector to serve as City Year’s new Senior Vice President for Major Gifts, with the goal of partnering with City Year’s champions across the country to build a pipeline of new major gift donors.
In his new role as City Year’s Senior Vice President, Team Leadership, Stephen Spaloss will build upon his more than 27 years of City Year experience to focus on developing and strengthening the leadership of our front-line impact staff.
Learn more about these senior leaders below.
Role: Chief Financial and Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President
Previously held City Year roles: Jessica was most recently City Year’s Vice President of Operations Transformation. Prior to that, she served as Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis and held leadership roles on the service team.
Describe your leadership style. How has your style evolved during your time at City Year?
My personal leadership values are respect, trust, responsibility and then proximity. I believe that leadership is more about building a strong team than about my own individual experiences. Respect involves truly understanding who each member of your team is—where they're coming from, what are the experiences they bring to the larger group, where do they feel strong or weak, and ultimately, where do they want to go. As a leader, it’s critical to identify those learning and growing opportunities, and create space for people to feel comfortable being transparent.
One of the things I'm most looking forward to in my role is maintaining the strong foundation City Year has built over the past three decades. Part of that job is making sure we support the growth we need to achieve our long-term impact goals and scale the work we do in high-need schools. Using financial information for that purpose can be intimidating to some, but it’s critical that we tell the right stories and we use our performance data to collectively share what we aim to achieve.
You were integral to the development of City Year's Headquarters of Idealism in Boston. How does the physical space here inspire your work? What’s your favorite space at HQ?
Everything at City Year headquarters is intentional, from the carpet, to the color of the walls, to the open office setting. My favorite space is the Civic Forum. From the student hands you see etched into the glass doors, to the City Year logo at the center of the room which is kept lit at all times, everything is a reflection of our unique culture. We've held very somber but meaningful events in that space; we've also had fun and lively events there. That room sums up everything that we seek to achieve as an organization. Walking by the Forum each morning keeps me inspired.
You've lived much of your life in the Boston area. What's your favorite thing to do in the Boston community?
As anyone who works here will tell you, City Year’s core values are rooted in the belief that healthy communities are a foundation for positive change. I enjoy exploring different areas in Boston and New England with my family and taking advantage of all the neighborhood-driven events that go on throughout the year. I have lived here all my life, but I constantly discover new parts, including new people. Place or person, I feel the more you explore, the more you understand about others, and yourself.
Kanna Kunchala (City Year Boston ’95)
Role: Senior Vice President for Major Gifts
Previously held City Year roles: Kanna has a unique perspective on City Year, having served as a City Year AmeriCorps member, staff member, individual donor, corporate sponsor, and board member.
Your City Year journey started in the early days of the organization as a City Year Boston AmeriCorps member. How did your year of service shape your career path?
I proudly served at Manning Elementary School in Jamaica Plain, Boston, and was considering medical school after my year of service. I realized after working in high-need communities, I wanted to do something more service-oriented. I stayed on City Year’s staff for two years as a communications manager, and I view all of my “City Years” like service years, because I continued to grow and understand that magic happens when leaders come together to build healthy communities.
My decision to go to business school came from the realization that I had done community and public service and wanted some experience in the private sector. It was always my plan to bring back that energy to the nonprofit world.
How did City Year’s shift in focus—from general community service to education—shape your decision to rejoin the organization? What are most looking forward to in your new role?
This pivot to education is a big deal. I want to be involved with helping kids have equal access to opportunity and a good education—particularly because of my own background. I was born in India and moved to the U.S. with my parents later in my childhood. My parents grew up in a very small town in the middle of India, and due to their effort (and maybe a bit of luck), they were able to move us to the States. For them, coming from their humble backgrounds, they wanted to provide me and my brother with the best in life. With that, they instilled in us this sense of “if you've been given much, you have to give back much,” or as much as you can.
That’s what I aim to do here in my new role. Multi-generational concentrated poverty is something that has, unfortunately, meant some students do not have a fair hand at reaching success. If I can work to help make it fair again, I can't imagine better work.
You lived in the UK for many years. What's your favorite food from the region?
Authentic Indian food in London is amazing, because many who live there grew up in India and immigrated to the UK. I remember City Year’s new site development team visited when I lived there, and I took them to a local Indian restaurant that happened to be a couple of blocks away from my office. It’s not world famous; it's just a local haunt. But the comments were unanimous: It was the best Indian food they had ever tasted. Now, I wouldn't go to the UK expecting the best Mexican or Chinese food, but trust me, the Indian selections are out of this world. If you’re travelling there any time soon and want a recommendation, you know where to find me!
Stephen Spaloss (City Year Boston ‘91)
Role: Senior Vice President, Team Leadership
Previously held City Year roles: Stephen was most recently Regional Vice President for the Central Region and helped found City Year Providence, San Jose, Philadelphia and the organization’s first international affiliate in Johannesburg, South Africa.
You were part of City Year's Boston's second cohort of corps members over 27 years ago. How has your time spent serving the organization shaped you as a leader within the organization?
I am proud to have served so early in City Year’s inspiring history. Throughout my 27 years and counting with City Year, I’ve had countless opportunities to absorb the great leadership of those around me. I learned how to be the kind of leader and role model I wanted to be, and I continue to refine and expand my approach. But I think for me, everything always boils down to understanding what others’ motivations are and to build trust. True leadership is something that happens when both parties are engaged in working toward something better, with mutual respect always at the forefront.
In your role, you will focus on developing and training City Year’s impact managers, who are critical to City Year’s work as they lead and support teams of AmeriCorps members in schools. Describe the impact manager experience and the qualities you seek to bring out in each of them, and why they are so important in the work we do with students and schools.
Our impact managers are driven, focused, passionate about education, culturally responsive and genuinely invested in seeing students succeed. They are managing AmeriCorps members, working with school administrators on data collection and analysis and creating opportunities to infuse City Year within their partner school culture. They are true role models, in and outside of the classroom. A part of my charge in this role will be to strengthen the methods City Year uses to codify the impact manager experience and empower those in this role to draw on the tools and experience they have, to make a measurable difference.
The next step is understanding how we can help impact managers balance those management and leadership responsibilities in a way that reflects our culture and values. Maybe that means developing new resources and facilitating trainings that will offer continued learning--but the thing I’m most interested in is getting all the right pieces together to make sure this work is powerful and has real impact, in a way that it has never been before.
We know you're passionate about inspiring the next generation of leaders. Share with us your favorite inspirational quote or message.
My favorite quote is actually a song lyric by the great Jimi Hendrix: “I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.” When I need some inspiration, that lyric keeps me moving. The City Year experience and the daily journey AmeriCorps members go through is representative of that “mountain.” Our AmeriCorps members are at school and in the classroom each day, working with students and assessing the best way to breaking down barriers little by little, and coming out with a new perspective on the other side.