Monday, June 9, 2008

ReServe at Work at the CUNY Graduate Center

ReServist Jan Herman

As Human Resources Director of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Yosette Jones-Johnson knows a great deal about the value of experienced staff. The right person in the right position can help lift an organization to an all-new level of effectiveness.

That’s why, she says, “We're profoundly grateful to have the ReServists. We certainly couldn't afford to hire someone with this level of experience outright. And it takes a lot of care to place a ReServist with this kind of opportunity and have it work so well.”

Retired journalist Jan Herman, one of the Graduate Center’s current ReServists speaks up immediately. “I was struck by that too. The matching setup is very considered.”

Yosette refers to Loretta Williams, a ReServist in Human Resources, as a “perfect” consultant on complex issues regarding the health benefits of city employees, because of the experience Loretta brings as a retired city employee.

"Someone with her experience can tackle almost anything that we confront. There is an answer. And she’s going to help get people there."

“ReServe is very respectful in the process of communicating with ReServists and laying the best possible foundation for their work. And they follow up! These are very valuable, very different kinds of attributes."

David Manning, the Graduate Center’s Director of Media Relations and Marketing, explains the benefits of having a ReServist: “For me, reaching out to journalists, having a ReServist come in who is a terrifically experienced, qualified journalist is remarkable.

“If I were setting out to hire an assistant—if there were the money to do that—it would be someone with his kind of qualifications. And because we don't have that position, and can't fund that position, to be able to have the kind of skills that Jan has is amazing.

“Just this morning, I had Jan work on making a list of journalists to contact. The Graduate Center has recently done a major breakthrough study of second-generation immigrants, and we want to get exposure on it.

“I sent a pitch out and followed it up with an invitation to come to a performance. One of the writers who responded expressed some interest, so I wrote back, talking about the complexity of the study and how she could focus in on one element of it in an article. And she said, ‘Well, write back and send me a pitch focused in on the element.’ So I turned it over to Jan.

“Turns out he not only can do it, he knows the journalist in question at a major publication, knows what somebody on the other side wants, is familiar, now, with the study, and how to shape something that can be targeted to that person. That's a significant and important skill to have.”

Jan seems equally impressed by David’s skill in media relations. “In this particular case, you know, David sent out such a really good press release that it became the basis for a New York Times article. And I don't think that the New York Times article did much more than basically repeat the press release.

“So for me, it's a good thing, coming to work here. I like the idea of working for an institution that has substance to it. I get as much as I give, from my point of view.”

David picks up again: “Someone mentioned the word ‘volunteer.’ And I've worked on the other side of things with volunteers…Volunteers can be more management, sometimes, than they're worth. Not that they're not wonderful people, committed, capable, etc.

“But the thing about Jan is that I'm dealing with somebody that comes with experience and skills. It doesn't require that kind of management. I can give him a much more general assignment and he'll know what I'm talking about. I mean, I've been trying to stump him with something . . .” and here he breaks off into laughter.

Jan expresses a similar admiration. “I feel like I'm talking to a peer, frankly, and a peer who actually knows the business far better than I do in terms of public relations and media relations. So actually, a lot of it is a learning experience for me.”

David sums it up. “And the common ground, for each of us is that this is such an interesting place. I don't just say that as a PR agent. This is a fascinating place. The dimensions of creative, intellectual, social, collegial people and activities going on around here are just infinite.”

Survey Says

ReServe invited ReServists who have or have had a placement to participate in an online survey. Thanks to all of you who responded. Here is what you told us:

56% applied to ReServe to be able to continue using your professional skills.

69.3% feel the stipend was important to your decision-making process to join ReServe.

84.5% feel that ReServe appropriately matched you with a partner organization.

84.4% feel that ReServe placed you in a position appropriate to your skills and experience.

81.0% feel that your placement makes appropriate use of your skills.

70% feel enriched by your ReServe placement.

77.4% feel/felt productive because of your ReServe placement.

79.1% feel/felt valued in your ReServe placement.

51.4% feel/felt healthier because of your ReServe placement.

80.1% feel like you made a meaningful contribution to the organization(s) you worked with during your ReServe placement.

77.7% read ReServe's electronic newsletter.

From Corporate Raider to Nonprofit Recruiter

At age 50, Scott Kariya left behind a successful career as a headhunter. He was tired of the long hours and short-term satisfaction but soon found that being idle wasn’t the road to happiness, either: “I was good at every job I did except retirement.” After reading about Reserve in the New York Times, he came looking for part-time employment—with a resume printed on recycled paper. He wound up not at another nonprofit but with ReServe’s three full-time program officers doing (what else?) matching human talent to need, though he finds it much more low-key and personally fulfilling.

Like most ReServists he works three half-days a week, which he says is perfect because he wants time to learn to relax, a discipline he is trying to master. He has left behind 70-hour work weeks as a corporate headhunter, but continues his commitment as a certified member of a Red Cross emergency response team and advocates with a group to promote bike riding and mass transit. He recently added a one-man conservation campaign because, he says, he hates waste, which explains why he uses scrap paper for his resume, and why he’s first to switch off unused lights in the office.

Kariya, now 52, is a Japanese-American who grew up in Leonia, NJ, a small town in Bergen County near Fort Lee, and graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. His grandparents immigrated in the early 1900s. They, along with his parents and other relatives were sent to internment camps during World War II but they harbored no bitterness. In fact, his mother, an octogenarian, still speaks in high schools and takes part in panel discussions about her camp experience. “They recognize,” Kariya says, “that it was an unfortunate time in American history, that it is important to remind people about it so that it does not happen again. But they are willing to say, ‘It’s over.’ ”

Like corporate waste, Kariya doesn’t like to see human potential unrealized and skills not maximized just because they don’t fit the bottom line. “It just galls me to think that there are all these valuable things that people have that are not being used. In the old days people used to ask me, ‘Don’t you feel good about getting people positions?’” But that really wasn’t what mattered to him. Now it is. “These non-profit organizations are so grateful to have highly skilled, experienced people who, quite frankly, they would not be able to afford at regular market rates.” ReServists contribute and the non-profits benefit. To a former corporate headhunter, he says, “That’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

ReServe at Work at the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College

Standing: Lendynette Pacheco, Coordinating Business Advisor; Monica Dean, Director
Seated: Cornelius “Corny” Marx, Stanley Kohlenberg, and William Drewes, ReServists.

Since October 2007, ReServists have been working in the City University of New York system, part of ReServe’s ongoing commitment to supporting the work of our civic institutions.

Five of these ReServists are currently at work at the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship, part of CUNY’s Baruch College, located in midtown Manhattan.

ReServe stopped by to talk with the Field Center staff and our ReServists there about their incredibly fresh ideas on older adults, CUNY’s unique resources, and how the success of a small business can benefit just about everyone.

ReServe (RS) Tell us about the work that's going on at the Field Center, and the particular skills the ReServists are bringing to their work. How is this model of civic engagement helping CUNY?

Monica Dean (MD), Director We are basically the nerve center for entrepreneurship at the college. We serve several college constituencies, including students, faculty, and alumni, as well as budding and existing entrepreneurs. We have research that's conducted out of the Center, we provide counseling as well as workshops for entrepreneurs, and then we have several programming activities that are for students.

I think what's really important about our entrepreneurship Center, what's really key about our success here, is that [southern California real estate developer and Baruch College alumnus] Lawrence Field is intimately involved in the work that we do. We meet with him on a regular basis. He comes to New York several times a year. He’ll chair the board, and he is very supportive of all the work that we do.

As of December of 2007, we received a new gift from him, a $10M gift, which is in addition to a previous gift of $3M. That new gift really puts us in a new playing field in terms of how we can serve our stakeholders, as well as how we're viewed on a nationally and internationally.

As part of our new gift we are required to develop an advisory board, and that's what [ReServist] Corny Marx is helping us to do. So he, in addition to helping us look at what type of people would fit in terms of board members, also has a lot of connections within the New York City community, and that's helped tremendously. So in fact some of his contacts have agreed to become board members. He's been working with [Academic Director] Ed Rogoff and myself developing that aspect. It's a huge effort.

RS I'm hearing from a lot of our organizations that one of the great things that ReServists are bringing is a Rolodex, so to speak, an address book.

Bill Drewes (BD) That's called “intellectual capital.”

RS Intellectual capital. Thank you. So Corny, in bringing this intellectual capital to bear, how is that going for you?

Corny Marx (CM) We've got the board up to [about] ten. And they are mostly entrepreneurial people, which mirrors the Center's mission. And I think that's the great thing about this group of people is that they've all done it. Not all, but virtually all have built themselves within a corporation or within their own business, from zero background.

MD Another major activity has been our marketing efforts. And that's something that Lendy [Lendynette Pacheco, Coordinating Business Advisor] has been working on. And Stan has been working very intimately with us, trying to develop our collateral materials, as well as figuring out how to position ourselves in New York City, an environment where there's a lot of competition from other service providers and other organizations.

That's where the folks here at ReServe are filling in and helping us. They started in March. And, you know, they've all made a very significant impact to our work within a very short period of time. They all have way more experience than any of us do!

RS So Stanley, what kind of things do you see yourself bringing on account of having this experience?

SK Well, you have out there a student class aspiring to become, in a great many ways, business people. And we would like to get them more interested in the entrepreneurship center. This requires all of the same marketing techniques that you use to sell a product, because we are, in fact, a product.

I spent most of my career in marketing. And [informing students and potential students about the resources available at the Field Center] is just another marketing problem in effect.

We’re redoing our brochures. There's a wealth of information sitting in the files here. There are all these success stories that we can use as promotional material. Because in the end that's our product: a person successfully in business, lasting more than the conventional two years before you go under.

For instance yesterday I was with a former client of ours from 2002, who has become very successful, and we're writing up a success story on her so that we can use it in promotion. And I've gone through all the files from 2002 to 2007, getting everybody. I went through the Web and found those still in business. There are 105 that have Web sites. And I'm going to go visit them all. Eventually.

MD As I said before, a core piece of our work is our services to the community, so, that's providing workshops, as well as counseling clients one on one. And we have two groups that we focus on, one of which is minority entrepreneurs, and the other is women entrepreneurs.

BD We’re putting together five different sets of curricula. And it's been quite exciting putting them together!

We also address the immigrant issue, which is very important. In New York City, for example, 80% of new job creation in the last ten years has been in small business.

Within that statistic, the majority of small businesses are being developed by members of a minority group, and low-income communities, and immigrant populations. And the number of big corporations, because of mergers and acquisitions, is getting smaller and smaller. So creating jobs is about small business.

One-third of people living in this country are dependent upon income earned through small businesses. And it's only been in the last decade that the major business schools have actually looked at creating programs for small businesses. The whole MBA establishment has been geared towards rational analysis, working for a major corporation. They really haven't addressed this population the way we do.

ReServist Bill Drewes

BD They're not really looking for a blue-collar student. They're not really looking at teaching people to start a small business, even though the principles of business are the same.

We're doing a lot more here at the Field Center than just helping a small business get started or expand. We're really addressing a major problem that could make or break the strength of our country going forward.

SK The variety of successful cases that we have is enormous and it runs from Subway franchisees to executive recruiters to cafes, a lot of restaurants—some very good ones! And they continue, and grow. We have a bakery on the Lower East Side, a gentleman who came here in 2002, who just wanted to open a little bakery, and now he's got a huge restaurant down there. It's the Clinton Street Bakery.

CM Oh yes! Fabulous!

SK He came here to sell cupcakes and stuff.

BD I had a client, a young black man from the Bronx, who wanted to get into the cleaning trade. But it's very tough for anyone to break into the trade, particularly building cleaners. So he started cleaning toilets in the Bronx. So he did his thing, and we helped him get certified as a minority-owned business, we helped him get a contract from Marriott Hotels.

Now he employs 60 people, and he's making close to 8 million dollars a year. And out of the 60 people that he employs, the majority of them come from low-income communities, are black or hispanic, mothers off of welfare—

CM I wouldn't mind having him on the board! That's a great story.

BD You multiply this times the hundreds and hundreds, and this is a major impact small business entrepreneurs are having. These are the real heroes of our country. Fully one-third of us depend on their success.

ReServe Explores Sharing Its Model with Other Nonprofits

ReServe Board Member Sol Watson, ReServe Founder and Chairman Jack Rosenthal, ReServist David Krutchik, Chicago Department for the Aging Commissioner Joyce Gallagher, ReServist Kathy Murnion

Retirees looking for meaning and ways to use their skills and experience and nonprofits looking for seasoned talent have been slow to connect. But their parallel paths are now bending into arcs that create can-do circles, and ReServe, with a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation, provided a forum to offer support and share ideas.

ReServe Chairman Jack Rosenthal and Executive Director Claire H. Altman welcomed some 20 executives and staff from government agencies and non profits nine cities to this mid-May conference in New York City. Harnessing the unused talent of those who’ve retired from the private and public sectors with the needs of public programs is a concept whose time has come. It has everything to do with helping but little to do with volunteering because these people are paid. While pondering how to describe this “new” workforce what to label them and how to define the workplace, ReServe and other organizations have been developing ways to do this with solid results and have earned a vote of confidence from the Atlantic Philanthropies, funder of several programs represented. “We know that older adults can contribute and do better things for our society,” Stacey Easterling, Atlantic program executive, said. She added that her organization was excited about what is being done at ReServe. “We view this as an intriguing experiment.”

NYC Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago and Chicago Commissioner Joyce Gallagher

New York City signed on to the ReServe experiment just a year ago. Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago of the Department for the Aging (DFTA) and a keynote speaker, recounted how DFTA entered into what he called “a win-win” contract with ReServe just a year ago. The idea, he said, was that “City agencies with unmet needs for professional expertise would be able to draw on the skills and experience of retirees recruited and screened by ReServe.” ReServe is a perfect vehicle to offer to City agencies that are committed to increasing age diversity. DFTA is the lead agency for ReServe, coordinating and facilitating relationships among city agencies that signed on to the initiative. Today, nearly 65 ReServists are serving 15 city agencies and five other city agencies are in negotiations. Some 60 percent of the ReServists working for the city come from the private sector.

Phyllis Segal, another guest speaker, is vice president of Civic Ventures in Boston that promotes the value of experience in solving serious social problems. Segal said Civic Ventures may have hit upon a name for the movement of retirees from the private sector to the nonprofit sector: Encore Career, which she said, has the seriousness and level of commitment of work but has the spirit of service. “We are a culture, especially the Baby Boom generation, that defines ourselves by our work—and most people need to work. So we’re seeing a revolution in volunteerism, in unpaid work. And salary compensation, some type of tangible recognition, is a proxy for significance, a sign that you value yourself and that the organization that you work for values you.” Oxymorons such as “retirement jobs” and “stipended volunteerism” require explanation, she said, but, “everyone seems to know what an Encore Career is. It’s after your mid-life work, it’s a new stage of work, and it’s different from what you did before.” Also, she said, “it’s about giving back, working for the public good.”

Claire Altman, executive director, outlined the ReServe model and turned to whether and how nonprofits across the nation might benefit from ReServe’s experiences in the three years since it was founded. Recruiting able workers in the 50-plus population for pre-school, after-school and innovative classroom projects is one area in need of help. Just as critical is the need to develop the mechanics to provide at-home services for seniors that the government does not provide. Segal broached another area where ReServe might be invaluable to all nonprofits: Where will the next crop of leaders come from?

Suzanne Hines, consulting manager at United Way in Houston, said this issue is the largest they face. “We have so many people aging out. We recently got a grant from Shell for a leadership development program where we’re trying to focus on the next generation and succession planning. Altman said United Way did a study of nonprofits in New York City four years ago and found that half of today’s leaders will retire in the next five years. “Nonprofit leadership at the very top level is a big issue,” she said. “The people they will be hiring will be in their Forties and probably with MBAs, so they will need mentoring.” Segal said the job of executive director needs to be reshaped. “You’re looking at a generation that is not workaholic like the Boomers,” she said. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been looking into the problem, and according to one study the prognosis so far isn’t good. Neal Naigus, assistant to the president at Portland (OR) Community College, said the experience is similar in seating new board members. One solution, he said, may be to invite executive directors retired from nonprofits to give young people the kind of leadership training they need to become effective board members. Carol Greenfield of Boston is founder of Discovering What’s Next: Revitalizing Retirement. The all-volunteer organization is in search of an executive director. “I wish we could have hired a ReServist,” she said, tongue in cheek. “It would have saved us a lot of money.”

Speaking of money, a general conundrum was acknowledged of how and how much to pay the non-staff community. ReServists receive $10 an hour for about 15 hours a week, no matter how much they had commanded in the private sector. Altman said ReServe has looked at several levels. There may be another, higher level of stipend for targeted consulting work, she said, but at the moment the fixed rate seems to work. David Krutchik, who had a career in marketing, spoke as a guest ReServist at the conference. He said he did not believe in the pay-for-performance model of the for-profit sector. “Getting paid $10 an hour is part of the contribution I’m making to the job, to ReServe and to continuing to be engaged in the world,” he said. The minute compensation becomes a ladder, he added, it could open a huge can of worms.

Ideas were many for recruiting paid volunteers in the over-50 age bracket, but those with goals of sustainability had added value. Civic Ventures, for example, has a pilot project in Silicon Valley in which corporations help move their soon-to-retire or recently retired employees into the social sector. Phyllis Segal stressed the need to develop a transition plan into Encore Career as early as age 45, “so that it is as natural to this generation as the idea of ‘Someday we’ll play golf’ was to our parents’ generation. As a society, we invent a new stage of life every century,” she said. “This is our turn to create a new stage of life.” Dick Goldberg, director of Coming of Age in Philadelphia, is among many who believe in working with partners. He has teamed up with Temple University and the PBS station to help promote civic engagement for the 50-plus crowd. “Replication is all about building partnerships and getting everyone in the community to make a commitment,” he said.

Coming of Age Director Dick Goldberg

One weakness in the movement is an inability to sell nonprofits on bargain-priced talent. “This sounds like marketing and communications to me,” Coming of Age’s Goldberg said. “How do you communicate customer benefit at a cheaper price? Just by saying what you used to do and it will be easy.” Altman found it an interesting way to talk about ReServe. Judy Norton from ReServe, agreed. She said when promoting ReServe to organizations, she tells them: “I was a senior vice-president at JP Morgan Chase for over 31 years, and I’m a ReServist.” Then all of a sudden it clicks.

Segal’s advice is to stress that organizations hiring ReServists are receiving a grant or pro bono service that has a value way beyond that. “As a nonprofit executive, I like to put this pro-bono, in-kind contribution on my financial statement. What you’re presenting is a grant of X dollars in order to get that of $10,000,” which is the annual cost of engaging a ReServist who works 15 hours per week.

Back to replication issues, Altman said ReServe has looked at a social franchise model of signing an organization onto quality elements of ReServe. In return, for an annual fee, the organization could tap into ReServe’s resources. Michael Funk, director of Experience Corps in San Francisco, noted that people involved with Experience Corps feel part of a movement because it has a national presence with 20 sites. He thought the same could happen for ReServe. Diane Redd, organizational consultant for the Organ Community Organization in Portland, said she believed nonprofits would embrace funding a replication model that’s branded and fee-based.

Commissioner Joyce Gallagher of the Department for the Aging in Chicago, said, “We’ve been thinking about this hierarchy of needs and giving back. But I think there’s a need to build a spirit as well as mind and body. “I think ReServe is a very spiritual program, and I’d like to bring it to Chicago.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

JASA Volunteer Ventures Expo: A Free Conference and Volunteer Opportunities Fair for Older New Yorkers

JASA is pleased to announce the 2nd Annual JASA Volunteer Ventures Expo, a free conference and volunteer opportunities fair for adults 50+ on Thursday, June 19th. This event is being produced in association with UJA-Federation of New York, New York City Department for the Aging, ReServe, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and Without Borders.

DATE: Thursday, June 19th, 2008
TIME: 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
LOCATION: UJA-Federation of New York, 130 E.59th Street
FEE: Admission is free for adults 50+, but advanced registration is required. Call (212) 273-5291 or email

Older adults from across the New York Metropolitan area will be joining JASA to learn about new trends in volunteerism and to meet with representatives from New York City nonprofit organizations with a dedicated commitment to reaching older volunteers.

-Meet with representatives from over 60 NYC nonprofits looking for volunteers.

-Choose from workshops on being an effective board member, volunteering with chidren and youth, finding the right volunteer opportunity online, and empowering yourself as a volunteer.

-Meet other people with an interest in volunteering and social action.

Professional Volunteer Managers will have the opportunity to register for a professional workshop on volunteer management.

Admission is free for adults 50+, but advanced registration is required. To receive a registration form and workshop details, please contact JASA Volunteer Services at (212) 273-5291 or