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Involved for Life: A Story of Achievement and a Lifetime Dedication to Service

October 7, 2016

“The President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to individuals who have completed 4,000 or more hours in their lifetime.” (

After receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, Janet Hertz spoke to   AmeriCorps Alums about her lifetime dedication to service. Janet served two terms as a NCCC member in 2007 and 2015, but also as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand (2013-2015). We are honored to share her story as part of #1of1million celebration of One Million AmeriCorps members. 

  1. Thank you for serving in AmeriCorps for multiple terms! In a few sentences, can you share more about where you served, with which AmeriCorps programs you served, what you did, and what leadership and career skills you developed because of your service?

My domestic service work with AmeriCorps spans a pair of service terms eight years apart. In 2007, I served with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). I was based in the Western Region in Sacramento, California. My first two spikes were in Louisiana following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a construction site volunteer manager rebuilding houses into homes. My third spike was serving in New Orleans as a health, information, and technology center instructor in the ninth ward in partnership with Xavier University. My last project with NCCC was in Crown King, Arizona as a wild land firefighter and Emergency Medicine Services (EMS) first responder, as I was on a fire team with NCCC.


My second AmeriCorps service term commenced in September of 2015 at Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus in Georgia. During this service term, I was an academic and life skills tutor for high school youth residing at a psychiatric treatment facility. I planned and implemented community events, after school programming, and a service learning project. Through my service learning project, I was able to teach my students about global human rights issues through the beautiful game, soccer. We built a soccer field, painted a mural, and knitted hats (which we sold and donated the money to a nonprofit to hand deliver soccer balls to third world nations).

Through my pair of AmeriCorps service chapters, I developed and expanded my leadership and many career skill sets.

As a Corps member, I learned adaptability, strategic thinking, and moreover that there is no greater prize in life than the reward of helping others.

  1. Congratulations on receiving the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award! The award was started as a way to thank and honor Americans who, by example, inspired others to engage in volunteer service. What does it mean to you to receive this award, did knowing about the award influence your service, and how do you think volunteer recognition like this can inspire others to serve?

hertz2My undergraduate alma mater, Saint Joseph’s College (Rensselaer, IN), has a mantra “involved for life”. There I received their prestigious Edward Panozzo award for dedication and intense commitment to social humanitarian endeavors over my four years. I have continued to serve the world domestically and internationally. Thus, it brings my heart great joy to see that others may be inspired to join the
quest to help others and show them that someone cares through the recognition of my volunteer efforts through this Lifetime Achievement Award.

As a NCCC Corps member, college spring break students were some of the volunteers that I served alongside as their construction site supervisor. One of those volunteers was inspired to serve in AmeriCorps and served with me as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. I know firsthand that my service work models for others the possibilities of what can and does happen when we invest in the potential of others by giving our greatest gift: time. It simply challenges and inspires others by being a good example of giving to others.

  1. When sworn into AmeriCorps, members make a pledge to a lifetime of service. This commitment to service was reinforced when AmeriCorps Alums conducted a survey of the organization’s membership in 2014 and learned that three in four alums want careers that change the world. What are your plans for your life after AmeriCorps? How do you hope to keep developing as a leader and change-maker who helps build strong communities?


My commitment of service is not limited to a prescribed amount of months nor hours. It is an embarkment of my lifetime. I am a Returned Peace Corps volunteer, as well (Thailand, Youth in Development 2013-2015). My service and humanitarian spirit post my AmeriCorps service will continue internationally with a second tour of service with the Peace Corps. I plan on being a change-maker and community builder on a global scale. Through capacity building internationally, I can assist with the ability of others to see that at the core people of all nations speak with a tender heart and a smile. Through my AmeriCorps chapters of service, I learned how to develop stronger communities as I have gained valuable leadership skills via unparalleled growth opportunities.

Getting to the Core of the Issue: Making a Career Out of Your Passion

October 6, 2016

Chioke Mose-Telesford is a proud AmeriCorps alumnae of Citizen Schools New York & currently the Director of Community Programs at Grand Circus Detroit. She shares her story of service and leadership as part of #1of1million celebration of One Million AmeriCorps members.

One of my first memories of being civically active was attending a prochioke-speakingtest against the Gulf War. I was in 1st grade and it was a Tuesday. I was of course elated to be out past bedtime. I didn’t really understand what I was marching about or why,
other than that we were voicing an opinion. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized not every kid drove to the state capital to lobby for a higher minimum wage or marched to advocate for equal funding for schools in low-income communities. But these early experiences instilled in me a desire to do work that contributed to the betterment of my community. I set my sights on a service-oriented career and never looked back.

I wasn’t your “typical” AmeriCorps member. I had volunteered in Vietnam for a year and worked in management at an industrial distribution company for three years prior to joining. I saw AmeriCorps as an opportunity to bring my skills at running efficient, high quality operations into the education nonprofit realm. Therefore I was a bit older, but extremely excited to serve.


Being an AmeriCorps member is hard, plain and simple. Putting aside the financial obstacles, your entire role is to work in challenging situations and make something out of a sub-nonprofit budget. I was a Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools, a nonprofit that extends the day for low-income middle school students across the country. Before I started, the Brooklyn middle school I worked with had three Citizen Schools site directors in three years. On top of that, the school had huge teacher turnover, a new principal, and a general lack of resources. The teachers who remained were (rightfully so) overstressed and lacked trust.

One of my responsibilities was to observe classes during the day so that I could more effectively help my students complete their homework during our program. I went to the science teacher to set up a weekly schedule for my observation. When I asked what day would work, she said to me, “Why even bother? You’re not going to stick around nor will the rest of the people in your program. I see it every year. Eager Fellows are excited to help the students, but burn out and leave after a year. You all promise these things that never happen.”

It was definitely a slap in the face, but it made me step back and realize that I couldn’t create my own agenda. If I really wanted to make an impact, I needed to see what the school, and the kids I was supporting, needed from me. My year as an AmeriCorps member found me helping out a Spanish teacher each day with a rambunctious 7th grade class and taking groups of students on Saturdays to museums in Manhattan. I helped students navigate the very complex NYC high school process and practice for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.

That year taught me that oftentimes service work isn’t about what you feel you need to accomplish – it’s what those you are serving need you to accomplish.


After your AmeriCorps service, it can be hard to figure out your next move. I believe that all AmeriCorps members want to save the world. That’s why you joined, right? For a long time in college and after, I bounced back and forth on how I wanted to save the world.

I tried to nail down what I was really passionate about in life and it actually came back to my own childhood. So many things I experienced were made possible because others opened up opportunities my family didn’t have the money to provide. Dance. Choir. Pre-college programs. Soccer. Field trips. College. So much of my confidence and the belief that I could do anything, was because of the cheerleaders behind me. My mock trial coaches, who argued amongst themselves about whether I should be a CEO, lawyer, or the president. My middle school gym teacher who let me play tackle football, despite the boys’ protests. The donor of a pre-college program who made me realize I was just as worthy of a Stanford education as my wealthier peers.

Stepping back, I realized the work I want to do in my career has to be about expanding opportunities to individuals who don’t come from privileged backgrounds. Whether it’s diversifying the tech industry in Detroit (my current role) or helping low-income youth get to and through college (my old role), it all fits this passion.

My advice to AmeriCorps alums is to discover what it is that you are truly passionate about.

It might take a few years or multiple roles, but one day you’ll get there. Your path forward, and your impact on the world, will be amazing.


Chioke Mose-Telesford is the Director of Community Programs at Grand Circus Detroit. Chioke is a passionate education advocate, committed to building a tech pipeline in Detroit by increasing the exposure to opportunities in tech for youth and residents of Detroit. In her role at Grand Circus, she works with schools, foundations and nonprofits to develop programs focused on youth and adult workforce development. Prior to Grand Circus, Chioke worked in operations management and in the education sector in New York and Detroit, focused on academic achievement and college access. She served in AmeriCorps in New York with Citizen Schools. A dedicated alumna, Chioke Mose-Telesford holds a B.A. in African and African American Studies from Stanford University and is President of the Stanford Club of Michigan. You can connect with her on Twitter (@chiokerickya and on LinkedIn).



Jumpstart to Executive Director a #1of1Million Story on Leadership

October 5, 2016

This week for #REALTalk, Allisha Tull Programs Coordinator at AmeriCorps Alums, sat down with Danielle Marshall to ask how her experience as a team member and leader in Jumpstart (1997-1999), and her love for children, ultimately led to her current role as the Executive Director of Playworks Maryland.  Danielle shares her story as part of #1of1million celebration of One Million AmeriCorps members.


Can you tell us more about your AmeriCorps service? What impacted you, and the program you served in, the most? 

In my freshman year of college, I was headed toward the cafeteria and someone asked me “Do you like to work with children?” In my mind, I was thinking, “Absolutely!” That is what initially lead me to Jumpstart. I wasn’t thinking about service in the traditional way, but rather it was more about my passion for educating children.

I served two termsdmarsh with Jumpstart in Washington, DC. The first year I served as a corps member and the second year I came back as team leader. Even then I appreciated the opportunity for growth and leadership from the early stages of my service. Jumpstart provided an opportunity for me to learn more about working with children. While the program focused on literacy, it also taught me how children develop cognitively, socially, and physically.

There was a clear connection to giving back to the community. It wasn’t just about working with the kids and their development, but also talking to parents and getting to know the community members. Unfortunately when people hear “low income” they often make the jump in their minds to incredibly negative scenarios. But these are great people! The parents and community members I worked with all wanted better outcomes for their children and improvements to their own conditions. Being able to really interact and get to know people on a one-on-one basis changed how I view the world as a whole and my role in it. We are giving to the community, but we are also receiving so much from the community in terms of lessons, connections, and broadening our views about how we see others and ourselves.


What role has AmeriCorps and/or the AmeriCorps alumni community had on you since you completed service?

Jumpstart ultimately changed my career path. I realized how much I cared about education and healthy outcomes for children. I always thought service was the right thing to do, but my AmeriCorps service really demonstrated firsthand how critical service is across the country.

Service members are providing educational needs, cleaning streams, helping people who are sick…you name it, there is a place where an AmeriCorps member has filled in!

When I think about the service movement as a whole, it is absolutely crucial. For every service position available through CNCS, there are at least five more submitted applications. That says a lot about people’s desire to truly give back. Not just to give back in general, but to put their efforts into something they are passionate about, something meaningful, life-changing, and community altering!


How can alums support other alums in their career growth?

Really make yourself available to alums, particularly anyone seeking mentorship opportunities and career advice. When I first got started, I knew I needed to talk to people, but I wasn’t sure whom to talk to. Where or how to get started networking with people can be overwhelming. There are always opportunities to develop and learn from each other. We want to make sure we are not only reaching out to support them, but allowing opportunities for others to come in and share the content they’ve also learned. It can be a two-way mentorship where they’re not just going to you for advice, but you can ask questions about their role as well. As an example, younger people are often more aware of new trends of technology that may be useful in your own work.

Make sure that you are advertising available jobs to AmeriCorps alums, and are willing to share best practices! There are always people looking for solutions to challenges that many of us have already faced. We have to learn to document our experiences and share our skills with each other.


What advice to you have for AmeriCorps alums looking to launch a career in your field?

I’m big on setting up informational interviews, regardless of what field you’re going into. Overall, people are willing to share personal experiences. Go to these meetings prepared and have clear questions that will guide the conversations: What are the trends? Are there any pitfalls/challenges I should be aware of? Where do you see the field heading?

Volunteering and internships allow you to get a better sense of what you’d like to work in as well. Stay connected to people both inside and outside of your organization! It’s important to stay abreast on what’s going on in your work, but I also encourage people to see what’s going on outside of your work to stay aware of current trends. I reach out to three people every week to ask how they are doing! These can be employees, colleagues, mentors, or anyone in your network!


How has your identity shaped your view of service?

I’d like to flip that question around to say service has shaped my identity. I came from a family where we valued people and helpfulness, but through service I found a way to channel my energy and make sure that the service I am providing offers the highest impact as possible. I’ve become a more confident and capable person, which has extended into my learning in multiple areas. It provided a way for me to be a better problem solver as an individual, a team member, and a leader.

As the Executive Director of Playworks Maryland, I get to focus on supporting others and ensuring they’re working towards serving the 16,500 children statewide! At Playworks, we believe that play works for every kid. We foster social and emotional growth, increase physical activity, and work to ensure children feel an increase of safety on the recess yard and school as a whole, and best of all I get to do it through service!

AmeriCorps Alums Announces 2016 AmeriCorps Alums Eli Segal Leadership Award Winners

September 22, 2016

AmeriCorps Alums is pleased to announce two recipients of the 2016 AmeriCorps Alums Eli Segal Leadership Award: Bria Price of Washington, D.C. and Tanika Lynch of Baltimore, MD.  The award is named in honor of Eli Segal – known as the “father of AmeriCorps” and the first CEO of Corporation for National and Community Service. New in 2016, it was designated to recognize emerging leaders who demonstrated strong collaboration and leadership potential during their AmeriCorps service, and a commitment to equity and an impact career. In addition, the awardees are also named Segal Fellows as part of a strategic partnership with the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program.201609-sep-18-segal_0497

Ben Duda, Co-Executive Director of AmeriCorps Alums notes, “Bria and Tanika are uniquely driven to make a difference in communities and for young people.  For both, their AmeriCorps experience played a formative role in shaping their worldview and their aspirations. On behalf of AmeriCorps Alums, we’re so pleased to invest in their leadership development and work together to shape how we address issues of equity and impact.”

Mary Bruce, Co-Executive Director adds, “We’re thrilled to have the 2016 awardees based in the DC region, and see exciting synergy opportunities as we look to advance the importance of a service year, the role that service can play in creating opportunities for all, and how AmeriCorps alums are uniquely suited to be the talent pipeline for the nonprofit sector.  Bria and Tanika fully embody those ideals.”

More about the 2016 AmeriCorps Alums Eli Segal Leadership Awardees, pictured above Tanika Lynch & Bria Price (L to R):

Tanika Lynch, a Playworks ’16 AmeriCorps alum, is currently in the Urban Teacher residency program at City Springs Elementary / Middle School in Baltimore where she is team-teaching in a 5th grade classroom.  She shared, “The communities AmeriCorps seeks to support are often under-resourced and in a state of disrepair. Non-profits that seek to make communities safer, stronger, and healthier must first understand how racism and other tools of oppression have counteracted each of those goals. With that in mind, they are then able to address root causes. Whereas the private sector has a fiscal bottom line, non-profits are able to get closer to the heart of the people.” Tanika holds a long term interest in the intersection of education, incarceration, and community development.

Bria Price, a City Year ’15, ‘16 AmeriCorps alum, currently works at City Year as an Impact Manager where she’s deeply invested in creating a powerful culture of learning for AmeriCorps members at the Johnson Middle School in Washington DC.  Bria shares, “Service is the gateway to consistent learning and growth if investment is for your community first, the world second and you third.  I could not be successful at one unless I was successful at all, but to do so required growth in me as a leader.” Bria envisions a career that merges social justice, education, and the arts.

The prestigious Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program hosted the 2016 Fellows Orientation on Sunday September 18, where program Executive Director, Tam Emerson, was able to see Bria and Tanika in action. Tam, a 2008 Segal Fellow and City Year ’07, ’08 AmeriCorps alum shares, “The 2016 AmeriCorps Alums Eli Segal Leadership Awardees are impressive citizen leaders and we’re eager for them to join our national Network, engage with the other AmeriCorps Segal Fellows in their cohort, and collaborate with the other 80+ Segal Fellows across sectors and the world to discuss real solutions for our current societal problems.”  The Eli J. Segal Program engages emerging leaders from four other partner streams and provides personal mentorship, cross-sector professional development, and inter-generational networking for a lifetime.


About AmeriCorps Alums:

AmeriCorps Alums is a powerful network of diverse alums that supports & equips each other to get things done so that all people can thrive in strong communities.  AmeriCorps Alums is the only national network for alumni of all AmeriCorps programs and celebrates the 1 millionth alumni this October 7th.  A business unit of Points of Light – connect with AmeriCorps Alums at and Facebook + Twitter + LinkedIn + Blog.


About the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program:

Named in honor of the first CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service and one of the first champions of national service, based at Brandeis University, the Eli J Segal Fellows Program provides emerging leaders an opportunity to join a community of like-minded change-makers. These leaders collaborate across sectors and topic areas to break down silos and create solutions in the pursuit of a more just and equitable world.

There are over 90 inspiring, diverse, and multi-generational fellows who are already leaders in their communities as well as a network of over 500 Founders and program partners. In addition to AmeriCorps Alums, Fellows gain entry to the program through partnerships with diverse leaders from Brandeis, City Year, CNCS, and Service Year Alliance. For more information about the program, please visit

University of Chicago’s Harris School to Offer Full Match of the Segal Ed Award

September 21, 2016

Today’s partner post is sponsored and written by The University of Chicago
Harris School of Public Policy. In addition to offering a full Segal Education Award match, AmeriCorps alumni applicants will receive preferential consideration and a waived application fee. Alumni will also be considered for additional merit awards.


Shehara Waas served as an AmeriCorps member with the FEMA Corps program between 2013 and 2014, working as an Environmental Consultant for FEMA’s Office of Environmental and Historical Preservation.

“In my experience, AmeriCorps’ various service programs target those who want to understand how collective action and genuine public interest can make an impact,” says Waas.

Waas built on her AmeriCorps experience at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, where she recently earned a master’s degree in public policy. With the solid foundation in service she got through AmeriCorps and the high-level analytical skills she acquired during her time at Harris, she’s now well equipped to make social impact on a large scale. She’s currently strengthening food policy for the Chicago region through a nonprofit called Fresh Taste, and she hopes someday to play a leading role at a regional planning organization.

Chicago Harris recently strengthened its commitment to helping AmeriCorps alumni like Waas continue to pursue positive change after their service term ends. Beginning in the fall of 2016, the Harris school will match in full the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award provided to AmeriCorps alumni who enroll in a master’s degree program, making it the first policy school in the state of Illinois to offer such matching funds.

“Whereas some look at a situation and say, ‘Someone should do something about that,’ AmeriCorps members see the situation and say, ‘I will do something about that,’” says Scott McFarland, executive director of Serve Illinois, which administers AmeriCorps programs across Illinois. “I want to thank Harris for showing that our colleges and universities understand that these AmeriCorps volunteers are the best that America has to offer.”

Adam McGriffin, associate director of career development at Harris, has worked extensively with AmeriCorps as a member, program director and commissioner. He believes that the investment builds on the shared priorities of AmeriCorps and Harris.

“I’ve been involved with AmeriCorps at every level and can confidently say that AmeriCorps service, combined with the rigorous quantitative training offered at Harris, creates the ideal combination of firsthand experience and world-class education to develop the next generation of effective change agents,” says McGriffin, an AmeriCorps alum.


The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy was founded on the belief that rigorous, quantitative research is the best guide for public policy. Since 1988, when the School opened its doors, it has built on the University of Chicago’s rich legacy as one of the world’s leading educational and research institutions. Honoring its foundation, Harris does not restrict itself to any particular policy domain but distinguishes itself by its unique point of view. From urban studies to early childhood development, from environmental sustainability to global health and more, Harris brings an exacting, data-driven perspective to the full spectrum of policy concerns.

Continually adapting to address the world’s most complex social challenges, the school is a pre-eminent source of scholarship with immediate relevance to practitioners. Our students come to us with the ambition to make a difference, and they graduate with a set of skills that enable them to become effective policy leaders. Harris alumni are thriving in a wide range of fields, but they are united by their belief that there is a science to social impact.

All students are required to take a year-long core curriculum providing a multidisciplinary foundation in policy analysis. Electives deepen students’ quantitative and critical thinking skills in areas such as economics, statistics, decision theory, political economy and organizational theory. Students are also encouraged to develop areas of expertise and acquire real-world training through coursework at Harris and other schools at the University, as well as through internships, practica and independent research projects.

Roughly one-third of Harris graduates pursue careers in the nonprofit sector, one-third in the public sector and one-third in the private sector. Regardless of their career path, graduating students are ready not only to be outstanding policy analysts but to lead policy change.

Like AmeriCorps members and alumni, Harris students, faculty, and alumni bring passion and precision to complex challenges. They know how to figure out what’s best for society—and get it done.

To learn more about Harris and to determine which program is the best fit for you, please contact Timothy LeCroix at 773.702.1019 or



How Do 1 of 3 Alums Get Their Jobs?

September 20, 2016

volunteermaryland1 in 3 Alums Got their Jobs through our Networks – Help Us Grow AmeriCorps Alums TODAY

AmeriCorps Alums supports diverse leadership in the social sector by connecting alums across the country to resources that support their commitment to a lifetime of service.  And it’s working.  We surveyed 2,500 alums this summer and learned that 1 in 3 alums got a job through resources and/or the network provided by AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Alums!  (We’ll be sharing more from survey results soon.)

But we need you to make this possible! Each year, we rely on donations of alumni and national service champions to keep our programs available.  

This year, to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of AmeriCorps, we have a goal to raise $22,000 from 220 alumni by October 1.  These funds will support career and educational goals of alums across the country. We’re already almost half way to our goal, so please send your gift by October 1, 2016 to help us help you reach our goals.  Visit today.

We are counting on you!

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