Q&A with Fellowship Alums

Each year, as a part of our newsletter, we ask alums to reflect on a series of questions about the Fellowship and social impact. Check out their responses below, and be sure to continue on to read the full newsletter!

What advice would you give current or soon-to-be alumni Fellows as they're beginning their careers?

Clara Monk ‘22: Ask people you look up to at your org to have coffee with you! While they might not initiate and ask you, in my experience they are always happy to be asked and willing to chat. It’s been a great way for me to build relationships and get career advice!

Molly Blake ‘19: There is no time like the present to try everything. I just switched careers and it is still so exciting and thrilling every single day. Don’t be afraid to shadow people, ask for help, network, and try everything. It is never too late. 

H’Abigail Mlo ‘22: Find joy, rest, and community outside of work. 

Jen Benson ‘17: Over the last two years you’ve set strong foundations to continue to grow your careers. Lean on your experiences, cohort, network, and learnings from the Fellowship, and don’t be afraid to reach for the positions, organizations, and work of your dreams. 

Sara Wilson ‘13: Be kind to yourself, and reflect on your professional goals and aspirations. 

Samantha Perlman ‘19: Be open to new opportunities, be willing to take risks and follow your interests and passion. Your career is just beginning and the FAO community is here to support you as you flourish.

Bianca van Heydoorn ‘09: Experiment early and often in your career. Be willing to make mistakes so that you stay in the practice of innovating and out of what can become a familiar rut. 

Joyce Kim ‘20: Seek out opportunities to try new tasks or roles even if it’s not something that’s officially a part of your job description so that you can have a better understanding of what you enjoy in your work!

Michael McNeill-Martinez ‘14: Be available, open-minded, and build a network of people whose perspectives you appreciate

Lauren Brincat ‘12: Maintain and grow your professional connections and never underestimate the power of a written thank you.

Khari Graves ‘17: Don’t be afraid to call on and leverage the network you have built both through the Fellowship and your organization. Even if it is an alum you have never met before, they are almost always more than willing to help you in any way they can.

Allie Negron ‘18: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, stay curious, and make suggestions! I was promoted within my current organization out of a need to formalize and professionalize the management of the Agency’s project pipeline. While I didn’t necessarily have a ton of project management experience, I had ideas for how we could improve the current process and be clearer and more transparent in our communication. If a responsibility or role you want doesn’t already exist, see how you might be able to carve your own path!

Meredith Jones ‘21: When I think back to my first few years after graduating college, the one thing I wish I’d done differently was to be more patient. It’s a weird time and it’s ok to just let it be weird! Things will change, and while it’s important to plan, you really never know what might come your way. 

Barbyose Noisette ‘09: Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sometimes embracing discomfort is a catalyst for significant growth.

Joanna Steinberg ‘08: Let your direct service and special project work inform the other! The fellowship provides an amazing opportunity to develop skills and experience in both of these areas.

Abi Mlo ‘22: Since joining TPL, I have learned and grown immensely. Prior to the fellowship, I’d never worked in this field. Now, I can’t imagine not working towards environmental justice in some capacity. Before completing the fellowship, TPL offered me to stay on and I’m thankful I did. I have led new projects and programs, built new partnerships, and strengthened existing ones. 

Karen Wilber ‘18: One thing that the fellowship helped me do is always think about what I wanted to learn next and how my skills could help my organization grow. This mindset has helped me to continue expanding my skillset in a way that has led to career growth as I’ve stayed at my host organization now for more than 5 years after my fellowship concluded!

Serena Salgado ‘22: Working for a non-profit before becoming a social impact consultant gave me so much context for the work I’m doing now and made me realize that I wanted to remain in the social impact space for my career!

Ellie Sanchez ‘17: I never expected to step into a career in politics/government, but my experience with the fellowship definitely helped me grow and showcase leadership and project management skills that made the transition into this world seamless. I hope that my experience can show current and future fellows that the opportunities after the fellowship are endless, and you can leverage the skills you learn here in a multitude of ways.

Khari Graves ‘17: The fellowship influenced my career path by showing me that the theories and ideas that I studied in school could be applied in a vast number of ways to support my community in their everyday life and material reality. It gave me a chance to grow existing skills and learn new ones in a setting that was incredibly supportive. To this day, I am still supported in my professional and community work by colleagues from my FAO placement. 

Kayla Jones ‘19: The fellowship connected me to other like-minded social impact leaders and accelerated my career growth. It felt great to gain such extensive community engagement and advocacy experience as part of my first job out of college. I went to graduate school after finishing the fellowship and decided to stay within the social impact sector because of my experience at Jumpstart. I look back at my time in the fellowship with fondness because I got the unique opportunity to help so many children and families throughout NYC.

Sara Wilson ‘13: Book banning, reproductive rights, and climate change are important social challenges to solve since they have much larger impacts on society. 

Nicholas Mitch ‘20: I believe it’s always important to take a systems approach to considering the context and effect of our work. To create equitable change, we need to understand the forces that shape the physical, economic, and social environments of which we’re part. 

Sarah Kacevich ‘16: Humans’ relationships with the environment currently need a lot of healing. When we investigate the deep interconnections between racism, slavery, capitalism, and environmental exploitation, it becomes clear that we must work together to envision a future that centers a more just and reciprocal relationship between humans and the Earth.

Ryan Corrigan ‘25: The most important thing to address is economic inequality. It bleeds through everything from access to education, the ability to pressure the government to make positive change, the ability to live a safe and secure life, and it maintains the power structures that reinforce climate change and racial inequity. 

Michael McNeill-Martinez ‘14: Both validating and appreciating identity, and what that means for people from all walks of life. 

Jahmali Matthews ‘23: I am committed to solving social challenges revolving around addressing the root causes of classroom inequality and dismantling systemic barriers that hinder the educational and societal progress of working-class individuals. By advocating for equitable access to education, resources, and opportunities, I believe we can contribute to a more just and inclusive society where everyone has the chance to fulfill their potential.

Sara Wilson ‘13: Frontiers in Social Innovation: The Essential Handbook for Creating, Deploying, and Sustaining Creative Solutions to Systemic Problems – was an interesting read. 

Mariah Peebles ‘11: I highly recommend Matthew Desmond’s new book Poverty, By America–there is a great episode of the podcast Vibe Check where they interview Desmond and discuss the main themes of his latest book. It is so good! 

Michael McNeill-Martinez ‘14: “Becoming a Totally Inclusive School” by Angeline Aow, Sadie Hollins and Stephen Whitehead 

Adriana Moran Garcia ‘22: Currently reading the 100 Year War on Palestine 

Jesse McLaughlin ‘24: The most interesting book related to social impact and my work in the environmental field that I’ve read recently is Decolonizing Extinction by Juno Salazar Parreñas. This book traces the ways in which colonialism, decolonization, and indigeneity shape more-than-human relations at orangutan rehabilitation centers on Borneo. Parreñas asks, “could conservation biology turn away from ultimately violent investments in population growth and embrace a feminist sense of welfare, even if it means experiencing loss and pain.”

Kira Azulay ‘23: The most interesting book I have read recently is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. As the Museum of Science focuses on climate change, it was helpful to me to learn about different ways of interacting with and understanding nature and the place of humans within the natural world. 

Sarika Tatineni Doppalapudi ‘25: One of my favorite books I’ve ever read is “In Search of Our Mothers Gardens: Womanist Prose” by Alice Walker. I first read this book seven years ago, and it has come to shape much of my work. “In Search of Our Mothers Gardens” is a collection of essays, reviews, and speeches, and there are two essays I revisit frequently. Alice Walker’s writings in “In Search of Our Mothers Gardens” and “Looking for Zora” challenge our notions of what archives can, and should, look like, and the importance of finding holistic ways to archive the work and lives of those who have been historically left out of traditional archival spaces.