Served: City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley 2003-2004 on the Lowell Elementary School team
Current position: National Alumni Manager at City Year, Inc.
Fun fact: Everyone in my immediate family has done something with City Year in some capacity! I have two brothers—one served as corps member and the other was a young hero and a city hero. And my parents were part of a panel at Cyzygy, which used to be City Year’s Annual Convention of Idealism, sharing insight on engaging alumni parents.
City Year Boston (CYB): What first attracted you to City Year?
Laura Kazanovicz (LK): I was introduced to City Year at ServeAThon in Boston while I was in high school. I knew was interested in going into education, but just didn’t feel quite ready to go to college. City Year seemed like a perfect opportunity. To work with students, , to mentor them, and to help them be more successful students and individuals was really appealing to me.
CYB: Describe your transition from City Year to your current career.
LK: I was a corps member straight out of high school, and deferred from college to do a year of service. My year as a corps member was one of the best years of my life. After graduating from City Year, I went to college to be an education major but realized after having done City Year that being a teacher wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to contribute to my community. I ended up studying psychology instead, with a focus on urban education. It was then I realized that working in an education nonprofit was really where I belonged. So after college I came back to City Year, working at the Boston site for one year, and then the San Jose/ Silicon Valley site for two years. Most recently I worked at the foundation for the county hospital in San Jose, but stayed connected by serving as chair on the CYSJ/SV Alumni Board. I worked for an organization that was still helping the same population of families that CYSJ/SV was serving but in a healthcare sense. I had a great experience there but it became clear to me that working with youth and education was my passion, so when my family moved back to Boston it seemed natural to come back to City Year, and here I am.
CYB: As the new National Alumni Manager, what is your role? What are your priorities for alumni affairs?
LK: I have a number of priorities for alumni affairs. A big part of what I do is manage our university and career partnerships, making sure that we have opportunities for corps members after they graduate. I also have a significant focus on alumni engagement and building alumni pathways to stay involved in the organization. That’s anywhere from supporting our alumni boards to do that at a local level to improving our website and communications to alumni, to make sure they know what’s going on at the sites around them or how they can be engaged at the site they served or are living near.
CYB: Are there any alumni resources you’d like to highlight?
LK: We are thrilled to share our university and career partnerships that we have been building for our alumni. We have over 100 University Partners offering tuition discounts and benefits to members of the City Year network, for a variety of programs. Our partners believe the service experience of City Year alumni can be an incredible asset to their communities, no matter the specific focus of their program. We have over 30 Career Partners who value the leadership skills and service experience that corps members gain during their year at City Year. For many employers, a year of service with City Year strengthens a candidate's application and chances for being selected. I encourage alumni to learn more about these partnerships on the alumni website.
CYB: Do you have a message for the alumni community?
LK: We’re at a really interesting place for alumni—when this corps graduates we’ll be at 25,000 alumni. We have alumni working in different fields across the country—from teachers, lawyers, and doctors, to politicians and nonprofit leaders. From my perspective, the alumni community is only as powerful as its contributing members. We want people to stay engaged, and we want feedback from you on how you want to stay engaged. We want alumni to feel connected to the current service and corps—whether that’s by attending an event or providing career advice. Please help us do that by keeping your information updated. We want to hear from everyone and really take hold of the power that we have, the power of 25,000 people who have given a year of service with City Year.