Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ReServe is Relocating to Manhattan

ReServe is moving.

As of Friday, October 24, our address and telephone are:

6 E. 39th Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: 212-792-6205

The best way to reach us during this transition is by e-mail. For a complete e-mail directory, please visit our web site.

We will no longer be at 150 Court Street in Brooklyn.

Thank you in advance for noting the change.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Claire Haaga Altman Changes Roles at ReServe

After three fruitful years as Executive Director of ReServe, Claire Haaga Altman is embarking on a new venture, but will remain committed to the mission of ReServe as a member of ReServe's Board of Directors.

October 2008

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is a bittersweet moment to bid adieu to friends and colleagues that I have worked with at ReServe over the past three years as I move on to a new position. But it’s so long, not good bye as I know our worlds will continue to intersect. As of October 1, I have left ReServe to spearhead a development project at the HealthCare Chaplaincy – a multipurpose complex for their teaching, research and library facilities along with a residence for persons with serious illnesses and a suite of medical offices.

The month of October marks an important milestone for ReServe – we will be moving to new offices in Manhattan (6 E. 39th Street, 10th floor, 212- xxxx). All of the ReServe staff will miss our colleagues at the Blue Ridge Foundation in Brooklyn where ReServe has been incubated since its infancy in 2005. BlueRidge has generously provided ReServe with both financial and logistical support as well as our all important home base, all of which has prepared ReServe for this next level of maturity. Special thanks to Matt Klein, BlueRidge’s Executive Director, who has been invaluable on so many fronts to ReServe’s growth.

Susan MacEachron, ReServe’s Deputy Director since February 2007, has been appointed by the Board as the Acting Executive Director. Most of you know and have worked with Susan who will, I know, lead ReServe ably as we implement a number of innovations designed to increase our ability to place more ReServists in meaningful positions, provide a greater level of assistance to our nonprofit and public agency partners, and advance public policy around the important asset that older adults represent in helping to solve public problems. Susan can be reached at, 718-923-1400x225.

Other changes that are in progress at ReServe are a reorganization into three teams in order to be more effective in generating positions for ReServists. The first – developing positions for ReServists – is being headed by Jess Geevarghese, who has been promoted to Senior Program Officer. Scott Kariya who started as a ReServist is now working with Jess as a permanent part of this team. Anna Collins and Iowaka Barber will head up the team working to place ReServists. The third team will handle ReServe’s operations. We believe these changes will make our process more efficient which should help our Partner Organizations find the people they need and ReServists find positions they want.

I want to say in parting that I am grateful first to all the ReServists who have opened their hearts, and dedicated their minds and energy to helping a myriad of nonprofits and public agencies improve and expand their delivery of services to New Yorkers. Secondly, the response of nonprofits and public agencies – particularly the City of New York and CUNY – to our “new” idea of deploying retirees to take on projects and tasks that might otherwise not be done has been incredible. We began three years ago offering a new service – now being a ReServist is a calling for many who want to help make New York City a better place to live and work. Thanks to all of you for letting me be part of this really exciting experience. I know that you will enjoy working with Susan and all of the ReServe team as we move into our fourth year of operations.


Claire H.Altman

Sol Watson Joins ReServe Board of Directors

He is new to the ReServe Board of Directors, taking his seat in June to provide advice, counsel and leadership to the organization whose purpose is, he says, “To give older adults an opportunity to use their skills, talents and life experiences through work or service to benefit ourselves and the community.”

He is the fourth generation of Solomon B.'s (last name Watson), and a practiced leader and lawyer in Boston and New York, even though ”my natural proclivity is one of introversion.” That tendency, he says, elicits a style to lead by influence and persuasion as much as to lead by authority. ”I try to get the same good results as any good manager or leader--and can be tough when necessary.” So he could have been found in the trenches with his troops whether leading a platoon of MPs in the Mekong Delta as a young Army lieutenant or seasoning his troop of lawyers as Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of The New York Times Company.

Solomon B. Watson IV (known as Sol) has a law degree from Harvard, but when he left Woodstown NJ (Pop. about 2600 in the early 60s) for Howard University, he studied English and journalism. After graduation, his membership in the ROTC put him in upstate New York and in Vietnam and in the company of young lawyers serving their tours. Most notable was Capt. Stephen A. Swartz, a graduate of Boston University Law School. “He was smart, savvy, cordial, and very capable,” Watson said. Recalling a conversation about his future with the military, Watson says Swartz’ advice was to get out and consider law school. It came on top of a recent diagnosis of pseudofolliculitis barbae. The skin irritation caused by close shaves of curly facial hair may be remedied by letting the beard grow—a military no-no. Watson has had a beard since this diagnosis in 1968.

Watson went to Harvard Law and after graduation to the Boston law firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould. After returning from Vietnam Swartz joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and assisted Watson in becoming an intern there after his first year in law school. The two have retained their friendship. “In large measure, Steve Swartz is responsible for my being a lawyer and the beginning of my legal career,” Watson said.

While he was in Boston, Watson was a founder of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, a professional networking group ultimately recognized by more established lawyer organizations. Shortly after joining The Times’ legal department in 1974, he joined the advisory board of the Agent Orange Settlement Fund, helping families of children with deformities attributed to the herbicide use in Vietnam.

Watson worked his way to the top of Times’ legal department, leading a staff of a dozen or so lawyers, each immersed in one or more areas of law integral to operating the $3+ billion diversified media company. One of his prides is that long before he retired two years ago, “I had developed a very good legal staff, lead by an outstanding successor. When I left I was confident the company would be well served by the department and its new general counsel."

Watson says he thoroughly enjoyed his career at The Times, having worked with several generations of management and having seen many changes in the business and legal environments. He was once referred to by a colleague as the "prime minister" because of his counseling of employees at various levels of the company.

In retirement he continues to lend his acumen to several organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, a group of more than 400 black executives who are within two ranks of the CEO. Watson mentors young lawyers and executives, whom he calls his “troops,” a legacy of his Army days as a platoon leader. Among other commitments he is an advisory board member of the Howard University Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation; board member of the Hudson River Foundation, and, most recently, a board member of ReServe.

“My goal as a director,” he says, “is to help the board give the organization some strategic and other direction as it grows to be influential in the New York City area, and also as it grows as a national model for civic engagement. “ The groundwork for expansion was laid at ReServe’s Replication Conference in New York last May, which attracted nonprofits from across the country interested in the ReServe business model and, in Watson’s words “how it could help their organizations utilize older adults who are able and want an encore career.”

Watson lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Brenda, retired Director of Human Resources at the Times. He says he’s a stay-at-home type of guy, and if there is one "issue" in their marriage, it’s that she likes to travel. The compromise is to take one big trip a year (this year to two islands of Hawaii.) Otherwise he’s content with saltwater fly-fishing off Martha's Vineyard and the Florida Keys. While he eats fish he generally returns his catch to the sea with no regret ("catch-and-release"). He says he has simple tastes and his palate tends toward what he calls "AFITS" (all food is the same).

His pro bono work fits nicely with retirement and what he calls the "Three F’s: Family, Friends and Folks of Similar Interests." He has twin daughters from an earlier marriage and three grandchildren: Trey, the 10-year-old son of Kira, a lawyer, and Tiara and Kayla, the twin daughters of Katitti, an elementary school teacher. He says, “I love spending time with the 28-month-old twins,” in part because they remind him of his daughters when they were toddlers.

Reserve’s Writing Pros Learn How to Get Results with Grant Proposals

CRE Senior Consultant Ximena Rua-Merkin leads writing course.

While ReServe is increasing its placement opportunities, it also is working to broaden the skills of worker volunteers already in the field. Many of ReServe’s nonprofit partners are in need of professional writers, particularly those who can help write grant proposals to foundations and government agencies.

To help fill that need, ReServe took part in a pilot project with the Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a consulting group for nonprofits in Lower Manhattan which has devised an effective approach to teaching needed skills such as grant-writing. Overall, CRE provides a variety of capacity-building resources to about 200 nonprofit organizations.

ReServists received CRE certification upon completion of the five-day course in September, adding value to future placement with increased skill sets. Both students and teachers voiced high praise for the program. “From our first session together, I could tell that the ReServists had the skills, talent and expertise to become effective fundraisers and grant writers,” Ximena Rua-Merkin, CRE Senior Consultant and course leader, said. Student Ed Falk’s assessment: “The course provided very comprehensive information on techniques used by nonprofits to raise money.”

While a well-written grant proposal is at the heart of a nonprofit development office, the process of raising funds doesn’t end there, nor did the classes. ReServists also learned how to build relationships with funders and foundation board members.

Richard Loyd, a guest speaker at one of the sessions, said that one way to cultivate a foundation is to encourage its movers and shakers to attend events sponsored by the group seeking funds. “Invite them to participate and see what your organization really does,” he said.

Guest speaker Richard Loyd and ReServists

“Your project may not be the right fit,” he added. “Now might not be the right time. It’s very possible that they might be saying, ‘Next year…,’ so it’s very important when someone says something like that, that you have a system in place for following up in the future. This is why you make a phone call. Talk to them.”

“You may have two things that you are very excited about and which are very fundable,” Loyd continued. “When you talk to a program officer, find out which might be a better fit.” Rua-Merkin followed up on this point by saying, “They may ask you what is the priority for your organization.”
ReServist Beverly Hemmings said the course provided a valuable blueprint and insightful nuances of the fundraising process in a stress-free environment.” The clarity of the handouts and presentation amassed a wealth of information. It will be useful well beyond the classroom.”

ReServist Barbara Griffing agreed: “It was excellent. CRE could not have prepared and conducted this course more thoroughly.”