Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ReServe is Relocating to Manhattan

ReServe is moving.

As of Friday, October 24, our address and telephone are:

6 E. 39th Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: 212-792-6205

The best way to reach us during this transition is by e-mail. For a complete e-mail directory, please visit our web site.

We will no longer be at 150 Court Street in Brooklyn.

Thank you in advance for noting the change.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Claire Haaga Altman Changes Roles at ReServe

After three fruitful years as Executive Director of ReServe, Claire Haaga Altman is embarking on a new venture, but will remain committed to the mission of ReServe as a member of ReServe's Board of Directors.

October 2008

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is a bittersweet moment to bid adieu to friends and colleagues that I have worked with at ReServe over the past three years as I move on to a new position. But it’s so long, not good bye as I know our worlds will continue to intersect. As of October 1, I have left ReServe to spearhead a development project at the HealthCare Chaplaincy – a multipurpose complex for their teaching, research and library facilities along with a residence for persons with serious illnesses and a suite of medical offices.

The month of October marks an important milestone for ReServe – we will be moving to new offices in Manhattan (6 E. 39th Street, 10th floor, 212- xxxx). All of the ReServe staff will miss our colleagues at the Blue Ridge Foundation in Brooklyn where ReServe has been incubated since its infancy in 2005. BlueRidge has generously provided ReServe with both financial and logistical support as well as our all important home base, all of which has prepared ReServe for this next level of maturity. Special thanks to Matt Klein, BlueRidge’s Executive Director, who has been invaluable on so many fronts to ReServe’s growth.

Susan MacEachron, ReServe’s Deputy Director since February 2007, has been appointed by the Board as the Acting Executive Director. Most of you know and have worked with Susan who will, I know, lead ReServe ably as we implement a number of innovations designed to increase our ability to place more ReServists in meaningful positions, provide a greater level of assistance to our nonprofit and public agency partners, and advance public policy around the important asset that older adults represent in helping to solve public problems. Susan can be reached at, 718-923-1400x225.

Other changes that are in progress at ReServe are a reorganization into three teams in order to be more effective in generating positions for ReServists. The first – developing positions for ReServists – is being headed by Jess Geevarghese, who has been promoted to Senior Program Officer. Scott Kariya who started as a ReServist is now working with Jess as a permanent part of this team. Anna Collins and Iowaka Barber will head up the team working to place ReServists. The third team will handle ReServe’s operations. We believe these changes will make our process more efficient which should help our Partner Organizations find the people they need and ReServists find positions they want.

I want to say in parting that I am grateful first to all the ReServists who have opened their hearts, and dedicated their minds and energy to helping a myriad of nonprofits and public agencies improve and expand their delivery of services to New Yorkers. Secondly, the response of nonprofits and public agencies – particularly the City of New York and CUNY – to our “new” idea of deploying retirees to take on projects and tasks that might otherwise not be done has been incredible. We began three years ago offering a new service – now being a ReServist is a calling for many who want to help make New York City a better place to live and work. Thanks to all of you for letting me be part of this really exciting experience. I know that you will enjoy working with Susan and all of the ReServe team as we move into our fourth year of operations.


Claire H.Altman

Sol Watson Joins ReServe Board of Directors

He is new to the ReServe Board of Directors, taking his seat in June to provide advice, counsel and leadership to the organization whose purpose is, he says, “To give older adults an opportunity to use their skills, talents and life experiences through work or service to benefit ourselves and the community.”

He is the fourth generation of Solomon B.'s (last name Watson), and a practiced leader and lawyer in Boston and New York, even though ”my natural proclivity is one of introversion.” That tendency, he says, elicits a style to lead by influence and persuasion as much as to lead by authority. ”I try to get the same good results as any good manager or leader--and can be tough when necessary.” So he could have been found in the trenches with his troops whether leading a platoon of MPs in the Mekong Delta as a young Army lieutenant or seasoning his troop of lawyers as Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of The New York Times Company.

Solomon B. Watson IV (known as Sol) has a law degree from Harvard, but when he left Woodstown NJ (Pop. about 2600 in the early 60s) for Howard University, he studied English and journalism. After graduation, his membership in the ROTC put him in upstate New York and in Vietnam and in the company of young lawyers serving their tours. Most notable was Capt. Stephen A. Swartz, a graduate of Boston University Law School. “He was smart, savvy, cordial, and very capable,” Watson said. Recalling a conversation about his future with the military, Watson says Swartz’ advice was to get out and consider law school. It came on top of a recent diagnosis of pseudofolliculitis barbae. The skin irritation caused by close shaves of curly facial hair may be remedied by letting the beard grow—a military no-no. Watson has had a beard since this diagnosis in 1968.

Watson went to Harvard Law and after graduation to the Boston law firm of Bingham, Dana & Gould. After returning from Vietnam Swartz joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and assisted Watson in becoming an intern there after his first year in law school. The two have retained their friendship. “In large measure, Steve Swartz is responsible for my being a lawyer and the beginning of my legal career,” Watson said.

While he was in Boston, Watson was a founder of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, a professional networking group ultimately recognized by more established lawyer organizations. Shortly after joining The Times’ legal department in 1974, he joined the advisory board of the Agent Orange Settlement Fund, helping families of children with deformities attributed to the herbicide use in Vietnam.

Watson worked his way to the top of Times’ legal department, leading a staff of a dozen or so lawyers, each immersed in one or more areas of law integral to operating the $3+ billion diversified media company. One of his prides is that long before he retired two years ago, “I had developed a very good legal staff, lead by an outstanding successor. When I left I was confident the company would be well served by the department and its new general counsel."

Watson says he thoroughly enjoyed his career at The Times, having worked with several generations of management and having seen many changes in the business and legal environments. He was once referred to by a colleague as the "prime minister" because of his counseling of employees at various levels of the company.

In retirement he continues to lend his acumen to several organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, a group of more than 400 black executives who are within two ranks of the CEO. Watson mentors young lawyers and executives, whom he calls his “troops,” a legacy of his Army days as a platoon leader. Among other commitments he is an advisory board member of the Howard University Institute for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation; board member of the Hudson River Foundation, and, most recently, a board member of ReServe.

“My goal as a director,” he says, “is to help the board give the organization some strategic and other direction as it grows to be influential in the New York City area, and also as it grows as a national model for civic engagement. “ The groundwork for expansion was laid at ReServe’s Replication Conference in New York last May, which attracted nonprofits from across the country interested in the ReServe business model and, in Watson’s words “how it could help their organizations utilize older adults who are able and want an encore career.”

Watson lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Brenda, retired Director of Human Resources at the Times. He says he’s a stay-at-home type of guy, and if there is one "issue" in their marriage, it’s that she likes to travel. The compromise is to take one big trip a year (this year to two islands of Hawaii.) Otherwise he’s content with saltwater fly-fishing off Martha's Vineyard and the Florida Keys. While he eats fish he generally returns his catch to the sea with no regret ("catch-and-release"). He says he has simple tastes and his palate tends toward what he calls "AFITS" (all food is the same).

His pro bono work fits nicely with retirement and what he calls the "Three F’s: Family, Friends and Folks of Similar Interests." He has twin daughters from an earlier marriage and three grandchildren: Trey, the 10-year-old son of Kira, a lawyer, and Tiara and Kayla, the twin daughters of Katitti, an elementary school teacher. He says, “I love spending time with the 28-month-old twins,” in part because they remind him of his daughters when they were toddlers.

Reserve’s Writing Pros Learn How to Get Results with Grant Proposals

CRE Senior Consultant Ximena Rua-Merkin leads writing course.

While ReServe is increasing its placement opportunities, it also is working to broaden the skills of worker volunteers already in the field. Many of ReServe’s nonprofit partners are in need of professional writers, particularly those who can help write grant proposals to foundations and government agencies.

To help fill that need, ReServe took part in a pilot project with the Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a consulting group for nonprofits in Lower Manhattan which has devised an effective approach to teaching needed skills such as grant-writing. Overall, CRE provides a variety of capacity-building resources to about 200 nonprofit organizations.

ReServists received CRE certification upon completion of the five-day course in September, adding value to future placement with increased skill sets. Both students and teachers voiced high praise for the program. “From our first session together, I could tell that the ReServists had the skills, talent and expertise to become effective fundraisers and grant writers,” Ximena Rua-Merkin, CRE Senior Consultant and course leader, said. Student Ed Falk’s assessment: “The course provided very comprehensive information on techniques used by nonprofits to raise money.”

While a well-written grant proposal is at the heart of a nonprofit development office, the process of raising funds doesn’t end there, nor did the classes. ReServists also learned how to build relationships with funders and foundation board members.

Richard Loyd, a guest speaker at one of the sessions, said that one way to cultivate a foundation is to encourage its movers and shakers to attend events sponsored by the group seeking funds. “Invite them to participate and see what your organization really does,” he said.

Guest speaker Richard Loyd and ReServists

“Your project may not be the right fit,” he added. “Now might not be the right time. It’s very possible that they might be saying, ‘Next year…,’ so it’s very important when someone says something like that, that you have a system in place for following up in the future. This is why you make a phone call. Talk to them.”

“You may have two things that you are very excited about and which are very fundable,” Loyd continued. “When you talk to a program officer, find out which might be a better fit.” Rua-Merkin followed up on this point by saying, “They may ask you what is the priority for your organization.”
ReServist Beverly Hemmings said the course provided a valuable blueprint and insightful nuances of the fundraising process in a stress-free environment.” The clarity of the handouts and presentation amassed a wealth of information. It will be useful well beyond the classroom.”

ReServist Barbara Griffing agreed: “It was excellent. CRE could not have prepared and conducted this course more thoroughly.”

Monday, June 9, 2008

ReServe at Work at the CUNY Graduate Center

ReServist Jan Herman

As Human Resources Director of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Yosette Jones-Johnson knows a great deal about the value of experienced staff. The right person in the right position can help lift an organization to an all-new level of effectiveness.

That’s why, she says, “We're profoundly grateful to have the ReServists. We certainly couldn't afford to hire someone with this level of experience outright. And it takes a lot of care to place a ReServist with this kind of opportunity and have it work so well.”

Retired journalist Jan Herman, one of the Graduate Center’s current ReServists speaks up immediately. “I was struck by that too. The matching setup is very considered.”

Yosette refers to Loretta Williams, a ReServist in Human Resources, as a “perfect” consultant on complex issues regarding the health benefits of city employees, because of the experience Loretta brings as a retired city employee.

"Someone with her experience can tackle almost anything that we confront. There is an answer. And she’s going to help get people there."

“ReServe is very respectful in the process of communicating with ReServists and laying the best possible foundation for their work. And they follow up! These are very valuable, very different kinds of attributes."

David Manning, the Graduate Center’s Director of Media Relations and Marketing, explains the benefits of having a ReServist: “For me, reaching out to journalists, having a ReServist come in who is a terrifically experienced, qualified journalist is remarkable.

“If I were setting out to hire an assistant—if there were the money to do that—it would be someone with his kind of qualifications. And because we don't have that position, and can't fund that position, to be able to have the kind of skills that Jan has is amazing.

“Just this morning, I had Jan work on making a list of journalists to contact. The Graduate Center has recently done a major breakthrough study of second-generation immigrants, and we want to get exposure on it.

“I sent a pitch out and followed it up with an invitation to come to a performance. One of the writers who responded expressed some interest, so I wrote back, talking about the complexity of the study and how she could focus in on one element of it in an article. And she said, ‘Well, write back and send me a pitch focused in on the element.’ So I turned it over to Jan.

“Turns out he not only can do it, he knows the journalist in question at a major publication, knows what somebody on the other side wants, is familiar, now, with the study, and how to shape something that can be targeted to that person. That's a significant and important skill to have.”

Jan seems equally impressed by David’s skill in media relations. “In this particular case, you know, David sent out such a really good press release that it became the basis for a New York Times article. And I don't think that the New York Times article did much more than basically repeat the press release.

“So for me, it's a good thing, coming to work here. I like the idea of working for an institution that has substance to it. I get as much as I give, from my point of view.”

David picks up again: “Someone mentioned the word ‘volunteer.’ And I've worked on the other side of things with volunteers…Volunteers can be more management, sometimes, than they're worth. Not that they're not wonderful people, committed, capable, etc.

“But the thing about Jan is that I'm dealing with somebody that comes with experience and skills. It doesn't require that kind of management. I can give him a much more general assignment and he'll know what I'm talking about. I mean, I've been trying to stump him with something . . .” and here he breaks off into laughter.

Jan expresses a similar admiration. “I feel like I'm talking to a peer, frankly, and a peer who actually knows the business far better than I do in terms of public relations and media relations. So actually, a lot of it is a learning experience for me.”

David sums it up. “And the common ground, for each of us is that this is such an interesting place. I don't just say that as a PR agent. This is a fascinating place. The dimensions of creative, intellectual, social, collegial people and activities going on around here are just infinite.”

Survey Says

ReServe invited ReServists who have or have had a placement to participate in an online survey. Thanks to all of you who responded. Here is what you told us:

56% applied to ReServe to be able to continue using your professional skills.

69.3% feel the stipend was important to your decision-making process to join ReServe.

84.5% feel that ReServe appropriately matched you with a partner organization.

84.4% feel that ReServe placed you in a position appropriate to your skills and experience.

81.0% feel that your placement makes appropriate use of your skills.

70% feel enriched by your ReServe placement.

77.4% feel/felt productive because of your ReServe placement.

79.1% feel/felt valued in your ReServe placement.

51.4% feel/felt healthier because of your ReServe placement.

80.1% feel like you made a meaningful contribution to the organization(s) you worked with during your ReServe placement.

77.7% read ReServe's electronic newsletter.

From Corporate Raider to Nonprofit Recruiter

At age 50, Scott Kariya left behind a successful career as a headhunter. He was tired of the long hours and short-term satisfaction but soon found that being idle wasn’t the road to happiness, either: “I was good at every job I did except retirement.” After reading about Reserve in the New York Times, he came looking for part-time employment—with a resume printed on recycled paper. He wound up not at another nonprofit but with ReServe’s three full-time program officers doing (what else?) matching human talent to need, though he finds it much more low-key and personally fulfilling.

Like most ReServists he works three half-days a week, which he says is perfect because he wants time to learn to relax, a discipline he is trying to master. He has left behind 70-hour work weeks as a corporate headhunter, but continues his commitment as a certified member of a Red Cross emergency response team and advocates with a group to promote bike riding and mass transit. He recently added a one-man conservation campaign because, he says, he hates waste, which explains why he uses scrap paper for his resume, and why he’s first to switch off unused lights in the office.

Kariya, now 52, is a Japanese-American who grew up in Leonia, NJ, a small town in Bergen County near Fort Lee, and graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. His grandparents immigrated in the early 1900s. They, along with his parents and other relatives were sent to internment camps during World War II but they harbored no bitterness. In fact, his mother, an octogenarian, still speaks in high schools and takes part in panel discussions about her camp experience. “They recognize,” Kariya says, “that it was an unfortunate time in American history, that it is important to remind people about it so that it does not happen again. But they are willing to say, ‘It’s over.’ ”

Like corporate waste, Kariya doesn’t like to see human potential unrealized and skills not maximized just because they don’t fit the bottom line. “It just galls me to think that there are all these valuable things that people have that are not being used. In the old days people used to ask me, ‘Don’t you feel good about getting people positions?’” But that really wasn’t what mattered to him. Now it is. “These non-profit organizations are so grateful to have highly skilled, experienced people who, quite frankly, they would not be able to afford at regular market rates.” ReServists contribute and the non-profits benefit. To a former corporate headhunter, he says, “That’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.”