Video | Giving back to his community

Nigel Okunubi grew up in affordable housing in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. At his housing project, there was a youth center that was responsible for a lot of Nigel’s important milestones as a kid. So when he found out that it was closing, he decided to do something.

Nigel spearheaded an effort to create a new youth organization to fill the gap that was left by the closing. As founder and executive director of the Adams Morgan Youth Leadership Academy, he’s in a leadership role in his old neighborhood, and helping kids he can relate to.

This video was created in support of Public Allies’ year-end fund-raising campaign. We thought the folks who follow this blog would like to see it, too.

:: To learn more about the Adams Morgan Youth Leadership Academy, click here.
:: To learn more about our year-end fundraising campaign, click here.

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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.

Videos | The super-hero series continues

Here you go: Two more installments in our June video series, “The Adventures of Public Allies Super-Heroes.” In Episode 5, you get a 78-second recap of our story so far. Just three more epsiodes to go.

See the first installment of video postings here and the second one here.

(In case you’re wondering, here’s a list of people making appearances as over-actors. In Episode 4: Merilou Gonzales, Melinda Rodriguez, Michelle Dobbs, Tom Hosch, Tim Dropik, Cris Ros-Dukler. In Episode 5: All of the above plus Michael Allen, Amelia Pena, David Todd, Diane Bacha, David McKinney and Paul Schmitz.)

Video | The latest Super-Adventures!

Last week I updated you about a wacky series of videos the Public Allies National Office is putting together in support of a Causes.com campaign this month. Here are the two latest.

One of our goals with these videos is to communicate what we’re all about. If you’re not familiar with trends in leadership education, national service and those sorts of things, it can start sounding a little wonky. So the idea of super-heroes came to our rescue, so to speak.

We created characters that correspond with Public Allies’ five core values. Our CEO Paul Schmitz is doing continuous learning proud as The Professor, dapper in his cape and bow tie — that’s him featured in the first video here.  The value collaboration is represented with swashbuckling finesse by Captain Collaboration — also known as David R. Todd, sponsorship director for Milwaukee and Chicago. David McKinney, our VP of Programs, is wowing ’em as Integrity Man, representing of course the value of integrity. And diversity/inclusion are co-represented by Alumni Relations Director Merilou Gonzales and Executive Assistant Melinda Rodriguez.

And since every Super-Hero needs a good Evil Villain, we recruited  Program Consultant Michael Allen to be Dr. Apathy.

Asset-focused principles will be represented by my fellow Allies2010 blogger MacArthur Antigua. We haven’t settled on a Super-Hero name for him yet. MacAsset? Leave a comment if you have a better idea and if we pick yours there will be a super-prize in it for ya!

Snapshot | Dainty … or determined?

This snapshot of Nikki, an Ally in San Francisco, was taken by Christophe Gonzales during a service day project. The “caption” below was written by Lauren LePage, a San Francisco Ally.

In her mid-year presentation of learning, Nikki performed spoken word, sharing with us a poem she’d written about feeling pressed on all sides. And when the pressure built up, she stopped trying; to be mediocre was easier.

But she wanted to press back. 

As her fellow Ally, I’ve watched Nikki press back, press back, and press on through. She is nothing short of fierce. In this photo, Nikki’s wearing a mask and gloves not because she’s dainty or nervous about paint smudges; she’s protecting herself from paint fumes. Because even though she was pregnant, she was determined to take part in our Cesar Chavez Service Day, determined to help create the mural at Anne Darling Elementary School, just as she was determined to fully commit to her placement, her Team Service Project (of which I’m proud to be a part), and her Critical Reflection project.

She pressed, she pressed, she pressed on back. And that’s not all she pressed on through…

Meet baby Kaya Seletute Arenal, born May 21, 2010, at 3:09 a.m. We like to refer to her as the Team HIP baby.

♦ ♦ ♦

Editor’s Note #1: You can see more photos from this service day at http://christophephotography.blogspot.com/

Editor’s Note #2: Congratulations Nikki! Kaya is beautiful.

Video | Fun with Super-Heroes

My fellow blogger Mac and I have been a little off schedule with our postings the last two weeks. The holiday, application deadlines, and vacation days have all had something to do with it, but one of us has also been busy with a June Facebook Causes campaign. (You may remember a mysterious posting about this two weeks ago.)

Captain Collaboration

We’ve chosen a super-heroes theme for the campaign, in part because the super/action hero thing is kind of a hot right now (Iron Man 2Prince of Persia and, yes, I’d even count MacGruber). It’s also really easy to spoof the genre and you can put together a pretty good super-hero costume on the cheap.

We also liked the idea of underscoring Public Allies’ five core values by creating a super-hero around each one. So expect to meet masked men and women who represent the “super-powers” of  collaboration, continuous learning, diversity/inclusion, focus on assets, and integrity. We’ve been having fun camping it up. Here are episodes 1 and 2. Unless the reviews by our Allies2010 readers demand otherwise, we’ll keep posting each episode for your fun and amusement.

The Adventures of Public Allies Super-Heroes, Episode 1 (introducing Captain Collaboration)

The Adventures of Public Allies Super-Heroes, Episode 2 (introducing Integrity Man)

Staff Q&A | Meet the people who read your applications

Nicole Thomas

Nikki Thomas

Who she is: Director of Ally Recruitment & Alumni Relations and Program Manager, Public Allies Milwaukee, and a Chicago Ally in 2007 and 2008

Originally from: “I grew up as a Military child (moving every three to five years) and thus have lived in California, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Japan, Korea, etc. After all of that I consider California to be home because I was born there and ended up graduating from high school there. However, my family roots are in Chicago and the surrounding area.”

Her Ally experience: “I was an Ally for two consecutive years with Public Allies Chicago. My first year (class of 2007) I was placed with a scholarship foundation as an Educational Coordinator, and my second year (class of 2008) I was placed in the P.A. Chicago office as their Alumni Engagement Coordinator.”

Before Public Allies  “I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biology while being a pharmacy technician ad working on campus as a student worker.”

What’s it like at your workplace right now? “Times are busy around our office; we are currently wrapping up an Ally Class while simultaneously recruiting for Ally applicants and Partner Organizations. Since our Ally application deadline just passed, my personal goal is to have over 200 applications reviewed by staff within two weeks, coordinate, communicate, and schedule at least 100 interviews with applicants and engage our PA MKE Network (Alumni, Board Members, Partners, etc) to assist with interviews, while ensuring that all of our fellows meet all requirements to graduate from our program.”

What made you interested in becoming part of Public Allies? “I can honestly say that all of the Core Values caught my attention, but Asset-Based Community Development drew me in as a new way to look at a community and be able to advocate in a more effective way for my own communities. What kept me involved was the experience of what diversity truly is; Public Allies’ version of diversity pushes beyond usual expectations. There is more to the meaning of diversity. Or participants come from different backgrounds, experiences, education levels, ages, abilities, political interests, ethnicities, ideology, sexual orientation, geographical locations, income levels, gender identities, religions, etc. (the list could go on). The beauty of it all is that everyone wants to learn and is willing to step out of their ‘Comfort Zone’ to do so. Every year, it never fails, I see that learning take place within myself and others.”

Bob Marley

On your desk: “Every time I feel defeated I look to this poster for inspiration. It reminds me that nothing comes easy and it’s worth it. It’s especially important because I received this as a gift from one of my fellow Allies during my first-year experience.”

Complete the following sentence: If you become an Ally, be ready to. . .  “grow personally and professionally through being accountable for your actions within your placement, Team Service Project, training and your fellow Allies.”

In 21 words or less: What are the three most essential ingredients for a successful Ally experience?

“Time management of  program and personal life.

“Networking with your class and partner organization.

“Push for growth and learn by sharing experiences.”

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