Why You Should Apply to the 2018 NGen Fellows Program From Alums

The application period for the 2018 American Express NGen Fellows program is quickly coming to a close. When deadlines loom, it’s easy to drag your feet and hesitate to throw your hat in the ring. So, in the spirit of offering a little extra inspiration before the March 5 deadline, we asked some NGen alums to share about how their program experience impacted them.

Janet Arias-Martinez, Terri Broussard Williams, Amy Lazarus , Scott Beale, and Kevin Bolduc answered questions covering what they wanted from their experience, what they actually took away from it, and how it influenced their professional trajectory after. Keep in mind that these four leaders are part of a community of 100+ transformative leaders! If you’re eager to be one of 12 Fellows to join that community for the 2018 program year, be sure to complete your application by Monday, March 5!

Janet Arias-Martinez
Associate Director of Alumni Relations
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)
Cohort Year: 2016

What made you apply to the American Express NGen Fellowship program before you were selected for it?
I attended the 2014 IS Conference’s NGen pre-conference program and met some current IS fellows. I was intrigued by the NGen model and inspired by the caliber of leaders that the fellowship attracted. Growing up, my father always quoted the proverb, Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres. Loosely translated: “Tell me with whom you walk, and I’ll tell you who you are.” With this in mind, I applied for this fellowship not only to challenge myself and grow as a leader in the nonprofit sector that I care so passionately about, but I also wanted to be a part of this network of inspiring and capable leaders who I believe will change the world.

What were the biggest challenges you faced before, during, and after you participated in the program?
Before: My job is demanding and it was challenging to break away from the work during our peak season to participate in the program, but it was a worthwhile investment.

During: I was pregnant during the first half of the fellowship, less than a month away from delivery when we presented our group project at the IS conference in 2016, and nursing a newborn during the second half of our fellowship. It was an amazing time but challenging at different points to balance the fellowship, a full-time job/life and a new addition to the family. But, I wouldn’t trade the experience.

After: With all the new-found knowledge and connections gained during the fellowship, once you finish, the ending can feel somewhat abrupt or incomplete and you can lose momentum and feel a bit directionless. It helped to stay connected to my cohort and to re-engage during IS and AmEx events to help regain my bearings and continue to cultivate those relationships as I determine next steps in my career.

Who is the last person from your NGen Fellowship cohort you talked to?
Those of us living in the DC area got together in January 2018 for a mini-reunion with our partners/kids.

Terri Broussard Williams
Vice President, Government Relations
American Heart Association
Cohort Year: 2013

What were the biggest challenges you faced before, during, and after you participated in the program?
The biggest professional development challenge I faced at the time I did the program was growing my team from seven to more than two dozen. It was an extremely difficult time for me. I was able to use the adaptive leadership I learned in the program to help me overcome that challenge and scale my team to have great success.

How has your work, role, and leadership evolved since you participated in the program?
While I’ve been in the same role since I completed the program, I have shifted my perspective greatly. I am now seen as a more strategic and global leader. I take greater risks and I am able to find cross sector collaborations in a more seamless manner.

How would you describe your program year’s cohort in three words?
Energetic, collaborative, driven for good

Who is the last person from your NGen Fellowship cohort you talked to?
Abby Flottemesch was the last person I emailed/talked to.

I talk to not just my NGen cohort members regularly, but many individuals who were in different classes, provided services for our fellowship or work at partner organizations. Some of them have grown to be close friends, having supported me at events, changes in life, and adaptive leadership needs.

Who is the last person from your NGen Fellowship cohort you talked to?
My cohort was great, but the person I speak to most frequently as an advisor and friend is Kevin Flynn of CommonGood Careers. He wasn’t in my cohort but our shared NGen experiences have made everything from IS conferences to ski weekends more fun!

Amy Lazarus
Founder + CEO
InclusionVentures
Cohort Year: 2011

What made you apply to the American Express NGen Fellowship program before you were selected for it?
At the time, running a nonprofit, it was helpful to have a cohort of people that weren’t board, staff, or family, to talk with about common challenges and possible solutions.

How has your work, role, and leadership evolved since you participated in the program?
The people I met through my cohort, as well as fellows in other years, became confidantes and collaborators in the social impact space. I learn from and admire their determination, love getting to work together to advance our missions, and appreciate the personal and professional support.

Who is the last person from your NGen Fellowship cohort you talked to?
Dan McCabe and I were paired as coaching partners during the cohort, and that has continued through the years. He is invited to my wedding!

Scott Beale
Founder & CEO
Atlas Corps
Cohort Year: 2009

How has your work, role, and leadership evolved since you participated in the program?
Atlas Corps has grown from a <$1 million organization to a nearly $5 million organization. I think by 2009 we had supported 18 nonprofit leaders from 3 countries and now we have supported over 600 leaders from 88 countries.

What measurable change are you driving in your work today?
Atlas Corps will provide training to 100 of the world’s best social change leaders by giving them the unique opportunity to serve in the U.S. for one year. In addition, we will strengthen U.S. organizations by providing diverse social change talent to their teams.

How would you describe your program year’s cohort in three words?
Dynamic, diverse, delightful

Who is the last person from your NGen Fellowship cohort you talked to?
Maya Enista, but I talk to my classmates and other NGen Fellows frequently (at least once a month).

For me, the NGen Fellowship has made a significant impact on my career by providing me early legitimacy and a network of people to provide professional development and personal support. Ten years ago when I joined, Atlas Corps was a small nonprofit trying to get off the ground and today we are a nearly $5 million organization that has been on the Nonprofit Times Top 50 Power & Influence list the past two years. We are supported 100 of the world’s best nonprofit leaders every year through a global fellowship and I am thankful that I also had the opportunity to be a Fellow early in my career!

Kevin Bolduc
Vice President, Assessment and Advisory Services
Center for Effective Philanthropy
Cohort Year: 2009

What were the biggest challenges you faced before, during, and after you participated in the program?
The perspectives and experiences of my cohort were incredibly diverse. We had so many good ideas for projects we wanted to pursue that choosing something reasonable was a real challenge.

How has your work, role, and leadership evolved since you participated in the program?
While at its core, the focus of my work – bringing data and insight to philanthropic funders – hasn’t changed, our scope has grown in terms of programs, geography, team size, and topic. That expansion has allowed me to hand off responsibilities and focus more on writing, speaking, and advising – stretching all kinds of leadership muscles I hadn’t been using as much when we were focused on just one or two assessment products.

How would you describe your program year’s cohort in three words?
Inspiring, dedicated, selfless

Types: Blog
Global Topics: IS Member, Leadership Development, Organizational Relationships
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