Interested in human services work?

This blog is all about our 10-month Ally program, but we don’t often talk about other opportunities Public Allies offers. One of them is called Turning the Tide, a fellowship whose application deadline is fast approaching. Turning the Tide Fellows are AmeriCorps Professional Corps members who work full time in frontline human services and benefit from leadership development and networking.

We’ll let the Fellows tell you themselves what it’s about — check out what they have to say in the video posted here. If you’re interested after watching the video (and we hope you are), you can visit for further details. And/or send the Turning the Tide folks an e-mail at

Fellowships are available in at human services organizations in six cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Pittsburgh. The program is jointly run by Public Allies and the Alliance for Children and Families.

:: Click here for info about how to apply.
:: Click here for info about the Alliance for Children and Families.


Speech | What sets Public Allies apart

When people hear that Public Allies is an AmeriCorps program that involves a 10-month service apprenticeship for young adults, they often lump us in with other youth service programs. The list is long and full of amazing groups doing important work; we’re honored to be in their company. But sometimes the lumping tendency does a dis-service to service groups in that it overlooks our distinct differences. At Public Allies, we believe that our inclusive, collaborative definition of leadership is what sets us apart.

That’s why I’m posting the speech below. It was delivered by our CEO, Paul Schmitz, at the plenary session of this year’s annual Independent Sector conference. I think it does a wonderful job expressing Public Allies’ approach to leadership. If you’re thinking of being an Ally, this will help you understand what it’s all about. I hope you find it inspiring and thought-provoking. -DMB

Paul Schmitz

My greatest influence growing up was John Lennon, who said. “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”… I never understood that, either, but he also said. “Think globally, act locally.” And I understand that and it frames how I think about dealing with some of the big global challenges we are facing today.

I think people need to see change where they are to believe that solving bigger problems is possible. If we are to build civil society in an increasingly uncivil culture and solve problems, we must think more from the bottom up.

Steve Heintz, CEO of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, quoted Peter Drucker that in turbulent times, we cannot solve problems today using yesterday’s logic. I would add to that we also can’t solve problems using yesterday’s leadership…

Now let me be clear about that. I am not voicing a rejection, but an invitation for you to make our tables bigger, broader, and more diverse. There is still a seat for you.

At Public Allies we talk about changing the face and practice of leadership, because if you change who is at the proverbial tables, the tables themselves must also change.

By changing the face, I’m saying that we must bring more diverse people and perspectives to our tables. It is imperative. As a sector we fail to do that.

One of my Allies a few years ago was doing her presentation of learning. It is how they demonstrate what they’ve learned at the end of our program. Her supervisor, a boomer and ’60s activist, asked her what his generation of activists and leaders needed to learn that her generation understands. She replied, “Your generation sees diversity as an ideal, something to believe in. We learned that it is an action, something you do.” 

 Our sector believes in diversity very well, but we don’t do diversity well. That must change.

 And if we change who is at the table, the table itself must change. We must think about how to solve problems differently.

Many of our nonprofits here today have grown a lot. We’re serving more people, we’re managing better, we are achieving more outcomes, and we have evidence our programs work. Yet, social problems linger and racial and other disparities have grown. 

In my community, we have had a dramatic increase in youth programs, after-school programs, education organizations, choice schools, charter schools, teaching programs, and all the rest. If I consult their websites, annual reports and funders, they are all meeting lots of outcomes and some have won national awards and recognition for evidence and innovation. But it doesn’t add up. In fact, despite all these “proven” efforts, we continue to have the worst 3rd grade reading scores for African American children.

There is no evidence that the aggregation of evidence-based, control-group-researched, outcome-focused services add up to needle-moving change on important issues. Improved strategy, management, outcomes, and evidence are probably necessary to move the needle, but they are not sufficient.

Perhaps we have to reverse-engineer how we think about solving problems. We need to look at communities where the graduation rate is up 20%, the crime rate cut in half, teen pregnancy down by a third and figure out what added up to produce those results. My hunch is that there were successful programs but that they were combined with political will, organizing, advocacy, community engagement, and community building. Top down solutions don’t work if they don’t engage communities in the solution.

The pendulum has swung over the last 20 years toward an emphasis on nonprofit leadership as management and service as science. What has been lost is the art of service – how we lead, engage, and organize with communities. The science of service may be necessary but it is not sufficient to create real change without the art of service.

So I think that to address these big challenges, we have to get real about how we engage diverse communities so that we can really begin to solve problems closer to home.

Video | Welcome … and get ready!

This video has been making the rounds of the Public Allies network, and we thought we should share it with our Allies2010 friends. In it, Public Allies CEO Paul Schmitz delivers a welcome to the new class of Allies. Depending on which of the 21 cities the Allies serve in, they start their core training any time between late August and mid October.

This was filmed on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which is our Operating Partner in Milwaukee. Paul was conducting a Friday training for the Milwaukee Allies, and he decided it would be a nice opportunity to enlist some help for a rousing cheer. The video includes excerpts from his training session, which is a terrific primer about the Public Allies leadership philosophy.

Enjoy! And maybe you’ll be getting a welcome of your own one day.

Video | We’re ready to get started!

This is the new video we’re using for our home page at We hope you like it. Here’s the story behind it.

In August, Public Allies held a gathering of everyone in its network. Staff and operating partners from all 21 of our sites visited Milwaukee, Wis. (where we’re headquartered) to meet with board members and others. We had workshops on things like social media, Gen Y, alumni engagement, change management and more. We also did a little socializing, too (though of course it was all very professional, even the karaoke parts).

Anyway, we figured it was also a great opportunity to take some photographs of our staff. A wonderful photgrapher named Kevin Miyazaki donated his time to do this, and he was terrific.

We’ll be using the images to help the great wide world get to know us a little better. The 48 people in this video — actually a slide show — are program managers, site directors, executive directors, recruitment directors and second-year Allies, among others (including your humble Allies2010 bloggers). They are mentors, trainers, community leaders and entrepreneurs. They are among the hardest workers and the most committed people I’ve ever worked with, and I think we need to brag on them a lot more than we do.

Anyway, this video helps us get our “new year” started. Beginning in late August and continuing into October (depending on the site), our 10-month “Ally Year” begins with the arrival of the Allies who will work as apprentices in local non-profits and undergo a demanding schedule of training and team service projects for their communities.

Want to know who the people in this slide show are? Here’s a list corersponding to their appearance in the slide show, in groups of six and with their site noted in parentheses. Alas, we didn’t get a photograph of everyone, but this is a pretty representative slice of the Public Allies network.

Group 1: Myisha Brown (Ariz.); Jenise Terrell (National Office); Steve Sullivan (Chicago); Nelly Nieblas (National); Alison Peebles (Pittsburgh); Dexter Bland (Del.)
Group 2: Laura Bumiller (Md.); Diane Bacha (National); Pawan Bhardwaj (Chicago); Christina Dang (Silicon Valley); Reymundo Armendariz (Silicon Valley); Ebony Scott (Chicago).
Group 3: Un Jin Krantz (Cincinnati); Jennifer Brown (Central Fla.); MacArthur Antigua (National); Raquel Davila (Pittsburgh); Marilyn DeArmas (Miami); Merilou Gonzales (National)
Group 4: Roger Hesketh (Del.); Nekeisha Neal (Washington, D.C.); Michael Allen (National); Elysse Wageman (Milwaukee); RoseMary Oliveira (National); Alexandra Ponce Murillo (Silicon Valley)
Group 5: Gerri Odum (North Carolina); Casey Bridgeford (Indianapolis); Eric Maynard (National);  Khalia Brown Sanders (Cincinnati); Danise Sugita (San Francisco); Antonio Cardona (Twin Cities)
Group 6: Max Chang (New York City); Edward Gonzalez-Novoa (New York City); John Viet (Silicon Valley); Asha Loring (Miami); Megan Johnson (Indianapolis); Margrette Castro (National)
Group 7: Ava Hernandez (Milwaukee); Elizabeth Hammond (Conn.); Tyler Driscoll (Conn.); Karla Radka (Central Fla.); Kate Flynn (Milwaukee); Don Chojnacki (Milwaukee)
Group 8: Justin Knight (Washington, D.C.); Nicole M. Thomas (Milwaukee); Malkia Lydia (Washington, D.C.); Tynisha Worthy (Cincinnati); Megan Coombes (National); Antony “T.J.” Hughes (N.C.) 

We’re ready for our new year! We hope you keep reading Allies2010 to watch our progress.

:: See more of Kevin Miyazaki’s work at his website.

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