Reunions Weekend gets off to a spirited start Thursday evening when activist Ralph Nader is presented with the inaugural Princeton AlumniCorps Award for Civic Engagement. The honor is to be bestowed during the 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration of the organization at the Westin Princeton. More than 250 alumni are expected to attend.
The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to civic life and inspired others to pursue public interest work. Mr. Nader, a member of Princeton University class of 1955, was a founder with other members of his class of the Princeton Project, now named Princeton AlumniCorps, in 1989. The organization was started as an independent nonprofit dedicated to connecting students and recent graduates to public interest jobs.
“In Ralph Nader, we have chosen a civic leader whose many accomplishments include inspiring the creation of the first independent organization of alumni dedicated to the public interest.” said Andrew Nurkin, Executive Director of Princeton AlumniCorps. “The spirit of engagement inspired by Ralph Nader continues to drive change in Princeton’s campus culture and provide alumni of all ages with experience and training for civic leadership.”
At Thursday’s event, the keynote speaker will be Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America. She will join in a conversation with Princeton University Professor Stan Katz on public service and higher education.
From 1993 to 1997, Princeton graduate Michelle Obama served as a Project 55 mentor in Chicago. In a letter of congratulations to Project 55, the first lady wrote, “My time with Princeton Project 55 helped me to understand that having access to and encouragement toward service can have a profound effect not only on the arc of a career, but also on the strength of our communities.”
Renamed PrincetonAlumniCorps in 2010, the organization has placed more than 1,500 graduates in one-year public interest positions through the Project 55 Fellowship Program.The model has been emulated by more than 30 other alumni groups, including Harvard, Stanford, and Bucknell universities.
More recently, AlumniCorps has added programs that support alumni through a lifetime of service. The Emerging Leaders program trains early-career nonprofit managers to be future heads of nonprofit organizations. The ARC Innovators program connects alumni with significant career experience to pro bono projects at nonprofits across the US. With more than 1600 program alumni and a network of more than 500 nonprofit partners across the country, Princeton AlumniCorps is committed to growing and engaging multiple generations of civic leaders.