10 Months…

Just put together our congratulations video for over 500 Allies that are completing their Apprenticeship. For those who are curious about what happens during a term, these 45 seconds do a pretty good job of capturing it.  Congrats again to our Class of 2012, our newest batch of Alumni!


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 wwww.publicallies.org/turningthetide for further details. And/or send the Turning the Tide folks an e-mail at turningthetide@publicallies.org.

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.

Guest blogger | Funny, but sad, but in the end — inspiring

Casey Bridgeford

Today’s guest blogger is Casey Bridgeford, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll remember that we introduced him to you back in April in one of our staff Q&As. Casey is a program manager at Public Allies Indianapolis. This post, along with a link to this video, originally appeared in his personal blog, Revenge of the ILLIgans!  The headline sums up how I felt when I saw the video and then read Casey’s post. — DMB


Many people are waiting on a “real” leader to step up and solve the problems we are facing. They would argue that our country is standing still, and in some cases sliding backwards because politicians just don’t get it. Some would say that it is because most of our religious leaders are either corrupt or worse — cowards. Even other people would say that greedy businessmen are the problem.

What I believe is that the problem is me. I am the problem. Everyone like me who has passed up on an opportunity to help themselves is the problem. Anyone like me who has overlooked the opportunity to share their extra (knowledge, time, money, strength) is the problem.

The buck doesn’t stop with the politician — it stops with me. It stops with normal people. We are the answer we have been waiting for. Everyone of us who is the problem … is also THE Solution.

For the past 14 months I have been working with a community organization called Public Allies, which operates with the mindset that Everybody Leads. This simply means that everyone brings something to the table. There is no such thing as an extra person. Each person has something to contribute. Most people will contribute their time, talents, and passion, if given the right opportunity and support.

Public Allies gives that support to young adults who have made up their minds that they don’t look like a leader, leadership looks like them.

Without programs like Public Allies, people keep addressing problems the same way. We look for the expert to tell us what our problem is and how they are the only one who is able to fix it for us. Its this kind of thinking that has us stuck on an escalator with no good sense to walk the rest of the way. We are so used to depending on others, that we miss the opportunity to solve our own problems.

So when you wake up and look yourself in the mirror, remember you are looking at The New Face of Leadership!

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 | An alumni profile

Esteban (Steve) Ramos, New York Ally ’00

If you’re reading this blog because you are wondering about applying to Public Allies, you’ll want to know some of our more than 3,000 alumni. They’re an impressive bunch of people who have some interesting things to say about their Ally experience.  We’ve introduced you to a few already — people like Patrick Carroll Tafarai Bayne, Raj Shukla and Nelly Nieblas. Each originally came to Public Allies for a different reason, and each took their experiences forward in a different way.

Today, we’d like you to meet Esteban (Steve) Ramos, who graduated with the inaugural New York class in 2000. He’s doing terrific work as the executive director of an organization called FYI — Fresh Youth Initiatives — in the Washington Heights Neighborhood of New York City. It’s the same organization that hosted him as an Ally. FYI and Public Allies have a lot of things in common, and one of them is a belief in engaging the community in its own solutions. In this case, FYI engages young people who have done a lot to make their neighborhood a better place. Inspiring stuff! Enjoy the video.

:: Learn more about Fresh Youth Initiatives here.

Video | We’re ready to get started!

This is the new video we’re using for our home page at www.publicallies.org. 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.

Video | Honk if you’re an Ally

Guest blogger Elias Cepeda (left) is a new program manager at Public Allies Chicago. One of his colleagues has been videotaping the activities of Chicago’s new class of Allies. This video shows one of their exercises. Elias was kind enough to put it in some context so you won’t be left wondering why a bunch of grown adults keep saying “vroom” to each other.

At first glance it resembles a slightly out of control inside joke – 30 or so people in a circle gesturing back and forth between one another, with sound effects. One after the other blurts “vroom!” or “oil slick!” or “pit stop!” while waving a hand, twirling a finger or putting both arms in front of their body. 

In fact, it’s a well-planned morning exercise on the fifth day of core training for Chicago’s 2011 class of Allies. Mari Meyer, the program manager who facilitated the activity, explains what  is going on: 

“We are working as a team to get our imaginary race car around our track and there are certain sounds and movements that are required to do that successfully. For example, a side twist push and ‘vroom’ sound allows the car to move, and then a screeching brake sound and a hand against the direction the car is coming from stops the car and turns it around.” 

It’s an exercise Meyer learned through her theater experience as a youth. The idea is to move participants out of their comfort zones.  The mix of physicality and sound takes into account different kinds of learners. 

If the activity looks and sounds silly to observers, they’re not alone. At least initially, many of the Allies themselves – all adults working on very serious issues in the community, full time – weren’t so sure about Meyer’s race car simulation. “At first people are skeptical, especially older people,” she says. “They think it is silly and think, ‘how am I going to look?’ But once they start getting into it everyone lets go and it gets funny, noisy and loud. People get engaged  and everyone gets excited when it’s their turn and they are able to add in their own creative expression.” 

Engagement, collaboration and creative expression, all towards a goal. Now it starts to make some sense. The seemingly unruly and silly exercise actually fits very well into the Public Allies paradigm. 

“So much of our program is about building strong leaders that are not only able to lead and work effectively, but also collaborate on a team. It is not only about being accountable for themselves but also about communicating with partners, peers, teammates and co-workers. That is so crucial to them  developing as well-rounded leaders. In the game, they have to think,  ‘how am I going to work effectively with all these other people to make this car go ‘round?’ ” 

:: Visit the Public Allies Chicago web page here.

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