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If 60 percent of all occupations have at least 30 percent of activities which can be automated with current technologies, what three steps should communities take today to better prepare their populations’ career prospects? In this Q&A, Sam Girard, Vice President and Senior Global Client Partner for IBM, shares his top recommendations for cracking the code to an evolving workplace. Mr. Girard earned an Executive MBA from Loyola University Chicago and a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. 

Q. With accelerating automation as well as changing work force dynamics (some reports project that by 2020 nearly 40 percent of the American workforce will be contingent workers /independent contractors), how can community leaders pragmatically prepare their citizens? 

A. Frankly, given the complexity and speed of these changes, I believe it requires a cross-section of leaders across the entire community. For example, I recall scanning a recent World Economic Forum report on jobs and a point that really stood out for me was as new technologies are enabling innovations such as remote working and teleconferencing, the result is that organizations are likely to have a smaller pool of core full-time employees. This change has huge ramifications for today’s, not just tomorrow’s, workers. Think about it, 2020 is just three years away; it’s right around the corner.  

So, given this velocity of change, I believe that future career paths need to be redefined. The redefinition process can be challenging though as individuals need to gain skills that are projected to be in demand for this new workforce. That’s where community leaders can play a role. For instance, IBM has joined Impact2030, whose mission is to mobilize human capital globally to advance sustainable development goals. Working in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia and Girls, Inc., IBM will be deploying 100 IBM senior consultants with 100 girls to teach them coding through a combination of classroom and practical exercises. Specifically, we’ll be tapping into a pool of IBM consultants of whom many are recent college graduates and are part of a development program that takes place in Philadelphia. A key target outcome is to provide not only projected high-demand skill sets but also coaching by IBMers who can help the students to navigate an ever-changing workplace.  

Q. It’s interesting how you mention that a number of recent college graduates are part of the solution; but do they really have the depth required to lead such change given that they’ve graduated just a few years ago? 

A. Fair question, but l do believe and frankly IBM does as well. IBM’s college recruitment process is extremely selective (e.g. Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania is one example of the targeted schools for our talent recruitment efforts) and onboarding training as well as continuing education have always been ongoing focal investments for the firm (new collar).  Two key points: First, is that we will select employees who can “learn and apply quickly” since technology is moving so fast. Second, is that our consultants need to understand how ecosystems are impacted by technology. Cognitive and robotics are no longer constrained to a set of processes or a supply chain. These technologies will remove barriers across ecosystems, which then requires all of our talent to understand industry ecosystems and how they operate.  

Q. So, what top three recommendations do you have for community leaders to better prepare their citizens? 

A. First, as a leader, provide some context around these upcoming uncertain times so that communities don’t unnecessarily waste time and energy. It’s a given that automation, AI, and robotics will disrupt so many industries and jobs. But, provide available research and data points to help your communities understand potential career opportunities for those who prepare.  

Second, build a community engagement model that includes in-person communications. While social media and other technologies are, and should be part of the engagement model, face-to-face dialogues are crucial to providing the candid conversations that will be needed to deal with these imminent changes. 

Third, work on problems that make a difference in the community. The more we make it real for our youth, our citizens, and employees in the community; the more technology will be used to solve basic problems.  

Works Cited

1. Manyika, James, et al, (2017). A Future That Works, McKinsey Global Institute

2. Korn Ferry, (2016). Korn Ferry Futurestep Makes 2017 Talent Trend Predictions Link.

3. Schwab, Klaus and Samans, Richard, (2016), The Future of Jobs, World Economic Forum

4. Link

Author Bio

Michael Wong is an Associate Partner with IBM’s Global Enterprise Transformation consulting practice. With over 25 years of experience working directly for Apple, AstraZeneca, IBM, and Merck; his insights have been shared in the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review.

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Pennsylvania (HIAS PA) is a Philadelphia nonprofit that provides “legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers” and “advocates for just and inclusive immigration policy and practices.” Originally founded by the Philadelphia Jewish community in 1882 to assist Jewish refugees fleeing Russian pogroms, HIAS PA now serves immigrants and refugees of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. Its values are “based on the core Jewish belief of ‘welcoming the stranger’ and tzedakah (generosity, charity, and fairness).” The organization estimates it has assisted more than 300,000 people from over one hundred countries during its lengthy history.

Judith Bernstein-Baker served as HIAS PA Executive Director until October 2016, retiring after leading the organization for eighteen years. Her involvement with HIAS PA began while running the Public Service Program at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, which placed students with HIAS PA to fulfill the school’s requirement for students to perform public service. Judi became particularly interested in immigration issues in 1996, when U.S. law took a harsher stance on immigration and she “began getting calls from law students who graduated, asking me if I could help find pro bono attorneys to help handle cases around the country for immigrants.” Around this time, the position of HIAS PA executive director became open, and Judi was asked to apply. “After some soul-searching as to whether I should leave Penn, I decided I would leave and get back into the so-called front lines.” Judi also was drawn to HIAS because of a strong personal connection: the national organization had brought her mother to the United States. “If it wasn’t for HIAS, we wouldn’t be here.”

Leading organizational transformation 

“When I arrived at HIAS, it was a very small organization and had very fairly narrow parameters as to what it should do.” As one of three agencies in the Jewish communal network that handled refugees, HIAS PA focused on helping to navigate the immigration system and attain citizenship. This included pre-migration counseling, assistance applying for green cards, and provision of community education, among other services. “Once they arrived, we’d turn them over to other agencies for social services and job placement.” 

With only eight staff to address the needs of an estimated four to five hundred refugees inbound to Philadelphia per year, Judi began looking for ways to expand both HIAS PA and its services. “We…started a legal services component after [The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996]

 was passed. …When I arrived, we had one part-time lawyer and one full-time lawyer.” Judi’s experiences at Penn provided the foundation for expansion. “Because I had both legal and social work backgrounds…I started working to build up that program.”

At the beginning of Judi’s tenure at HIAS PA, the organization was heavily reliant on the Jewish Federation for funds. “I think we had one outside grant. We did one fundraiser a year. And I guess sixty to seventy percent of our money came from the Jewish Federation.”  The expansion of the legal program enabled HIAS PA to grow its grant base, which Judi attributes to her connections to the legal community and to the excellent reputation of the HIAS PA staff. But an extraordinary need to rapidly develop new sources of funding soon emerged. “As the demographics of refugees changed, the Jewish Federation felt it was no longer a priority for them to fund…and when I say demographics, I mean less Jews. And because they didn’t provide their generous subsidy, the two other agencies…made a decision not to participate in the refugee program. So we had to make a decision as to whether or not to take over their functions, and we had to do so with very diminished funds.” After years of receiving one hundred thousand dollars annually from the Jewish Federation, Judi found herself negotiating for a mere fifteen thousand dollars. “I did not know how we were going to do this. …Our board felt very strongly that we have to be committed to refugees regardless of their background, as I did.”  So “on a wing and a prayer,” Judi proceeded to pivot HIAS PA to address the needs of immigrants of all ethnicities and religions, while continuing to expand the services it could offer.

The early challenges Judi faced with funding and expansion required commitment and vision -- the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as well as the tenacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other along the way. “You...just have to start small and do a good job and start identifying additional needs and make a case for it. You grow and…a lot is identifying needs and competencies.” With funding help from national HIAS and increasing grants from the federal government, Judi and her staff began to implement new programs, like English language classes in Philadelphia schools and outreach to the asylee community when new benefits became available. The success of these initiatives attracted more attention -- and funding -- to HIAS PA. Judi focused on building trust with stakeholders and networking in order to continue to grow HIAS PA’s base of support. Over time, to support HIAS PA’s growth trajectory, Judi increased the staff to nearly forty personnel, serving thousands of clients per year with legal services, education, and resettlement assistance.

Management style: people first, growth always

Judi attributes the success of HIAS PA in large part to the excellence and commitment of the staff, which have built a strong reputation in the immigration services and legal communities. Making good hiring decisions is a core element of her management approach. “I always look for somebody who’s really committed to the mission. Commitment has to trump everything else. But they also have to have good skill sets. And it depends on the position -- if it’s an attorney position, I’d like to see them have experience in immigration and to see…how they’ve been creative with cases. Creativity is another thing I look at.”    

Getting the right people also depends on a nonprofit organization’s ability to convey its needs for a given position, and to be mindful of the client community’s needs. “You also have to write a really good job description. We did that and we also did a lot of team interviewing, so it wasn’t just one person -- I felt that was important because we got a lot of peoples’ perspectives.” Using the example of the hiring process for a program director, Judi explained the benefits of this approach. “I felt it was very important for some of the staff from the community be in those interviews and give feedback and ask questions and tell us if that person would be a good fit. That’s where diversity comes in -- it’s very helpful.”

The unique dynamics of immigration-related work can pose additional challenges for human resources decisions, which have to be taken into account in the strategic planning process. “You have to assess almost every year what your staffing is going to be. If you have a low number of arrivals, you may need to have less staff…although HIAS made a decision this year not to [reduce staff]. It’s difficult because you’re paid per refugee, per capita -- so the fewer refugees, the less money you have from the government, so one part of the strategic planning has to be developing a reserve fund and developing non-government resources.” Again, Judi emphasized growth as a solution. In lean times, HIAS PA had to “think broader than resettlement. What other programs can you put in place beyond the resettlement program that is dependent on per capita [clients served]?”

Judi is confident the staff is well-positioned for success beyond her tenure. “We have good leadership now, through our new executive director -- I’m very happy. …More changes are on the horizon, but they’re good ones.”

Challenges ahead

Judi is deeply worried about changes in immigration policy that have reduced the number of refugees admitted annually, and constraints on who may be admitted as such. “I believe that any policy that’s based on religious discrimination or racism is wrong, and eventually will backfire…if we want people to treat us in a respectful manner, we need to have programs in place that welcome refugees and immigrants.”  In light of the challenges ahead, Judi noted the strong response of the community. “I can’t tell you how many people, including in my own community, want to do something -- they want to step up, they want to adopt refugee families – but first, the families have to get here.”



Chang, M. Interview with Retired HIAS Executive Director Judi Bernstein-Baker [Personal interview]. (2017, June 30).

HIAS PA. “Our Mission.” (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

HIAS PA. “Services.” (n.d.) Retrieved July 26, 2017, from

Ask Blanca Pacheco where to meet and she suggests a bread-and-roses-style cafe where the menu features the “Anti-War,” the “Anti-Racism,” and the “Pro-Redistribution” sandwiches. As assistant director of New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) of Philadelphia, a decade-old, interfaith support group for undocumented immigrants, Pacheco, 35, not only talks the talk of social justice but walks the walk, and makes a meal of it.

A native of Ecuador, she is the youngest of 12 children. Her mother wove Panama hats and her father was a subsistence farmer. She completed sixth grade, worked in clothing mills, married, and had a son, all by the time she was 16.

Seeking job opportunities unavailable in Ecuador, her husband set out undocumented for the United States in 1999. Six months later she left their toddler with her in-laws and made the risky trek too. She turned 18 the day after she slipped into the United States without papers in 2000. Her plan, she said, was to stay for three years, “make money, and come back to my family.”

But after working a series of menial jobs, it took her more than five years to pay the $14,000 of debt to the coyote who led her from Ecuador into Texas. By then her second son was born and not long after she and her husband separated.

In 2008 she joined NSM as a volunteer. In 2016 she was appointed assistant director.

Funded by private donors and a few foundations, NSM has an annual budget of $220,000. Comprised of 24 religious congregations and assorted allies, it provides social support services for immigrants facing deportation. The organization provides someone to accompany its clients to immigration court and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for probation check ins. In addition, an NSM hotline authenticates reports of ICE raids.

Its rapid-response program, Sanctuary in the Streets, conducts know-your-rights trainings and sends NSM members to hold a vigil wherever an immigrant faces imminent arrest. “Since a family cannot seek sanctuary in a congregation if their house is raided,” the group says, “we will bring the congregation to them by holding an interfaith service to prayerfully” and non-violently “disrupt the raid.”

While Pacheco fled poverty, not the violence endemic to Central America, there are parallels with many of the people NSM serves. “Our stories are very similar. We left our families behind. There is nothing you can say to someone who lost a loved one back home and can’t even go to the funeral. I went through that [four years ago, when her father died]. You just support them however they need support. Talk to them. Build community around them.”

The strict enforcement policies promoted by President Trump “pulled back the curtain” on the plight of undocumented immigrants, said Pacheco. “One good thing is that people, seeing the reality,” are organizing. “We can’t just be fighting against things. We need to be fighting for something.” At NSM that includes a campaign to approve licenses for all eligible drivers, regardless of their immigration status.

“In this crazy moment, we need to dream what we want the city to look like, and build the steps needed to get there. It could be slow. Maybe I don’t get to see it [in my lifetime]. But we need to be planting those seeds…I grew up on a farm. To be able to harvest you need to plant seeds.”

Author Bio

Michael Matza covered immigration, national, international, and local news for the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than three decades. 

La Confraternidad Eisenhower (Eisenhower Fellowships) es una organización independiente, sin ánimo de lucro y sin afiliación política alguna, fundada en 1953 como un regalo de cumpleaños al presidente Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower, quien actuó como el Comandante Supremo de las Fuerzas Aliadas Expedicionarias en Europa durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, tenía una experiencia significativa trabajando con líderes globales para alcanzar un objetivo común. Como presidente, el creía que “las relaciones pacíficas entre las naciones requieren de entendimiento y respeto mutuo entre las personas”. Honrando esta convicción, y su compromiso con un mundo más pacífico, un grupo de amigos y colegas le dedicaron la Confraternidad a él, como una manera para que Estados Unidos vinculara a sus aliados globales en un intercambio internacional de líderes.

Más de seis décadas después, la Confraternidad Eisenhower continúa comprometida con ofrecer una experiencia de confraternidad única a más de 70 líderes en la mitad de sus carreras, cada año. A través un riguroso proceso de selección, entre 40 y 50 Fellows de todo el mundo son invitados a crear y realizar un itinerario de viaje individualizado en el cual se encontrarán con entre 60 y 80 profesionales de su campo, y visitarán entre 8 y 10 ciudades de Estados Unidos. La Confraternidad Eisenhower también selecciona y trabaja con 20 líderes estadounidenses para ofrecerles experiencias similares en más de 40 países. A pesar de que la organización ha evolucionado a través de décadas de cambios tecnológicos, políticos y sociales, continúa teniendo frutos y relevancia en su misión. En el centro de sus operaciones, “la Confraternidad Eisenhower identifica, empodera y conecta líderes innovadores a través de una experiencia de confraternidad transformadora y un compromiso de toda la vida en crear un mundo más pacífico, próspero y justo”. 


Erin Hillman, Vicepresidente de Programas y Operaciones, ha visto la Confraternidad Eisenhower crecer desde su llegada a la organización hace más de 15 años. Erin vivió por muchos años en el área de Philadelphia, recibió su diploma de grado de la Universidad La Salle y su Master en Educación de la Universidad de Temple. Luego de lo cual, comenzó a interesarse en la educación y el desarrollo de Sichuan, China, donde trabajó con los Cuerpos de Paz por dos años. Durante ese período en el exterior, comenzó un programa de formación para profesores de educación superior, y desarrolló una valiosa destreza en el idioma chino. Una vez regresó a Estados Unidos, Erin se encontró con una oferta de trabajo de Encargado de Programa en Idealist para la Confraternidad Eisenhower. Su educación, destrezas lingüísticas y experiencia de liderazgo hacían de ella la candidata adecuada para el cargo. Desde el año 2000, Erin ha servido a la Confraternidad Eisenhower en muchos cargos: no sólo como Encargada de Programa Internacionales, sino también como directora del Programa en Estados Unidos, Directora Senior de confraternidades, y más recientemente como Vicepresidente de Programas y Operaciones. 

En su cargo actual, Erin debe enfrentarse a muchos obstáculos para liderar una organización compleja y en constante evolución. Uno de sus grandes desafíos es encontrar la manera de medir concretamente el impacto de los Programas de Confraternidad Eisenhower. Aunque por un lado es fácil de hacer un seguimiento al rendimiento de la organización (por ejemplo, la Confraternidad Eisenhower ha trabajado con cerca de 2.400 líderes de más de 100 países), es más difícil hacerle un seguimiento al progreso que ellos hacen al lograr resultados intangibles (tales como crear un mundo más pacífico, próspero y justo). Ella busca trabajar de la mano con cada uno de los Fellows miembros de su equipo y los antiguos Fellows de la Confraternidad Eisenhower para buscar maneras creativas de reconocer y aprovechar “los impactos positivos, medibles [y] tangibles”. 

Como parte de su trabajo en Eisenhower Fellowships, Erin también realiza una cantidad significativa de viajes al extranjero para continuar sus programas de expansión y mantener el contacto con la red de antiguos Fellows. A la fecha, ella ha regresado a China en más de 20 ocasiones para promover la vinculación de líderes chinos para el Programa Multi-Nación, e iniciar el nuevo Programa de Eisenhower Fellowships en Zhi-Xing, China. En un viaje a Vietnam en 2014, Erin se dio cuenta que se había sentido inspirada por el entusiasmo y la sinceridad con la cual los Fellows la trataron. Los Fellows Eisenhower tienen la oportunidad única de alejarse de sus vidas y expandir sus redes profesionales y sociales. Muchos, sin embargo, regresan a casa con una muy pequeña red de antiguos Fellows conocidos, y algunas veces tienen que recorrer grandes distancias para encontrarse con alguien que haya compartido la misma experiencia. En un esfuerzo por mantener vivos los lazos de la confraternidad, y aumentar la consciencia del gran trabajo realizado por estos Fellows, Erin siente que es imperativo para Eisenhower Fellowships desarrollar un mejor sistema de acercamiento con los antiguos Fellows. A pesar de que las interacciones cara a cara son lo ideal, y Erin viaja con frecuencia para visitar a los colegas en el extranjero, Eisenhower Fellowships está trabajando para crear una manera más eficaz para que los antiguos alumnos permanezcan en contacto. 

Estos desafíos mantienen a Erin ocupada. En un mundo que está cambiando rápidamente, Eisenhower Fellowships, también tiene que encontrar la manera de adaptarse y evolucionar. Según Erin, cuando ella comenzó a trabajar en Eisenhower Fellowships en el año 2000, la organización no era muy conocida en Philadelphia. Hoy, se ha convertido en una entidad orientada hacia el exterior; abierta a la colaboración y buscando aumentar su visibilidad. Por esta razón, Eisenhower Fellowships está a punto de lanzar su primer plan estratégico en 15 años. Durante el proceso de planeación, Erin y sus colegas esperan colaborar con los miembros de la Junta Directiva y antiguos Fellows para encontrar soluciones innovadoras para los asuntos más urgentes. Esto permitirá a Eisenhower Fellowships entrar en una nueva era de excelencia, en la cual podrá medir más eficaz y acertadamente sus programas, vincular mejor a su red global de Fellows, y aumentar el acceso a su sistema de aplicación online de tal manera que más personas puedan aplicar a sus becas. 

Erin atribuye mucho de su éxito a la extensa red de apoyo por parte de actuales y antiguos Fellows. Más recientemente, ella se inspire en Farzana Yaqoob, Fellow del Programa Multi Nación del 2016. Farzana es el Ministro de Bienestar Social y Desarrollo de las Mujeres en Jammu y Kashmir, situados en la altamente militarizada frontera de Pakistán con India. Durante su estadía en Estados Unidos, ella se reunió con varios profesionales para conocer más sobre estrategias de resolución de conflictos y las diferentes maneras de poder llevar más allá su trabajo de facilitar a las mujeres el acceso a educación y atención médica. Erin ha notado que, para que las mujeres tengan éxito en sus carreras, ellas tienen que rodearse de modelos inspiradores como el de Farzana. Es así que, Erin ha sentido un tremendo apoyo del compromiso permanente de Eisenhower Fellowships hacia la diversidad y ha estado en la organización el tiempo suficientemente largo para presenciar su primer Programa de Liderazgo de Mujeres en 2014. Su consejo a jóvenes mujeres es el de “siempre hacerse notar y ser la persona más preparada de la mesa”. Ella cree, igualmente, que, para que las mujeres tengan éxito, deben apoyarse mutuamente, y rodearse de hombres y mujeres inspiradores que las ayuden a alcanzar sus metas.    

Erin está inmensamente orgullosa de lo que ha sido capaz de lograr con Eisenhower Fellowships. No solamente ha crecido como líder, sino también, se ha encontrado con personas excepcionales de todas las profesiones y regiones del mundo.  Uno de sus máximos logros en Eisenhower Fellowships ha sido el de construir programas de tal manera que los líderes de naciones en conflicto puedan trabajar juntos para crear alianzas pacíficas. Ella dice con frecuencia que los Fellows de India y Pakistán, y los de Israel y Palestina han descubierto que tienen más cosas que los unen que cosas que los dividen. Esto le ofrece a ella una fuente inagotable de inspiración de la cual ella saca la voluntad para continuar trabajando hacia un “mundo más pacífico, próspero y justo”. 

Como administradora del legado de Eisenhower Fellowships, Erin Hillman continúa involucrada en muchas de las decisiones que van a darle forma a su futuro. Ella es optimista en que el programa de planeación estratégica va a atraer un cambio positivo para la organización, y desea retar a sus colegas y antiguos Fellows a diseñar soluciones creativas para sus cuestiones más urgentes. Mirando más hacia adelante, Erin continuará siendo uno de los más sinceros y leales agentes de Eisenhower Fellowships, y tendrá indudablemente un papel importante en impulsar a la organización hacia nuevos niveles de excelencia. 

In November 2015, on her first run for public office, Helen Gym won her City Council At Large seat with the most votes of all council candidates. As national Vice-Chair of Local Progress and the 2017 EMILY’s List Rising Star Award winner, she has become a leading voice for social justice. Councilwoman Gym was interviewed for this profile on July 5, 2017.

What led you into politics?

I’m a longtime community organizer. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a public school teacher with a specialty in English as a Second Language (ESL), a board member of Asian Americans United, founder of Parents United for Public Education, and the editor of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All these experiences shaped for me a large vision of racial justice and multiracial coalition building. I’m deeply committed to an anti-poverty agenda and believe in the power of communities to make change.

I did not take a typical path into politics. For a long time, many of the communities I represent -- immigrant communities, public school parents, and others -- did not see politics as a path to power. I never thought of my activism and work as political initially. My interest was always in how communities build power by strengthening our capacity to tackle major issues like education, housing, and healthcare to lead a morally compelling agenda. It turns out that both this strategy and message were political after all.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was running a campaign that inspired an easily jaded electorate to come out and vote -- for me! I needed to talk about the big issues facing marginalized communities such as underfunded public schools, poverty, discrimination, and racism. But I also needed to frame it within the vision of a hopeful future -- one that built off the work community organizations and groups were already doing.  We had already built up a broad base of support for public education over the years -- one that threw out a one-term governor who had cut funding to public education. My campaign was able to build on this base and give voice to the community’s desires for a bigger vision which included quality and equality in public education.

What experiences have you had with immigrants and the immigrant community?

I grew up in an immigrant family which relied heavily on public services and institutions such as public schools. This had an enormous influence in shaping my views about the importance and value of public institutions and public spaces. I also lived in West Philadelphia during a period of resettlement of Vietnamese and other refugees from Asia and Africa. I saw firsthand how new immigrant populations struggled to access services and achieve stability for their families. Additionally, I spent 20 years with Asian Americans United (AAU) where we engaged in many immigrant rights struggles, particularly against negative development efforts in Chinatown such as the proposed building of a stadium. These plans were not inclusive of the voices of this significant immigrant community. We made sure we had a loud voice and say in a public process.

Most immigration policy is made on a national level; what role do you see local leaders playing in immigrant issues?

There’s a lot municipal leaders can do. For example, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and I have championed language access and we have sponsored a bill to create a municipal ID card so immigrants and many people in our city who don’t otherwise have access to a driver’s license or state ID can access services. I helped organize protests at the airport when the first Muslim ban came down. A month later, I helped convene a national Sanctuary Cities gathering in New York City. And I’ll continue to uplift the voices of our immigrant communities in Council and in the public sphere.

In a time of tremendous hostility to immigrants and people of color, local leaders must provide a counter message to the national anti-immigrant rhetoric. I am proud that on my first day of office, I stood by Mayor Kenney as he re-established Philadelphia as a “Sanctuary City.” We’re standing by our right to determine how residents will be treated within our own municipal borders. That means we’ll require ICE to obtain a judicial warrant, and it means I’ll be loudly defending our communities and our city when it comes to anti-immigrant rhetoric, inhumane deportation and detention practices, and scapegoating aspiring citizens who deserve a roadmap for citizenship. This is not a time for silence or meekness. This is a time for local leaders to step up when our state and federal elected officials do not.

What advice would you give about building leadership for social justice?

In immigrant communities, our youth are likely to be at the forefront of many struggles to improve the community. We should invest more in immigrant youth leadership and help them build bridges to multiracial partnerships, mentorships, and political action and engagement opportunities.

We have to teach young people to commit to social change over a period of time, which is hard to do. It is important to find ways to sustain the work and not burn out. Young people need to find spaces where they can grow and learn. For me, Asian Americans United was one of those spaces. We engaged in many campaigns and built relationships beyond the Asian community. The work with AAU showed me the importance of working with other networks and justice-minded activists. 

Is there anything you wish to add?

In this moment, America is at a moral crossroads, and local leadership really matters. Local leaders are closest to our communities and can partner with local movements. Immigrant communities in particular are strongest at the local level, and there are real opportunities for political engagement and action that has the power to diversify, change, and inspire our electorate. I see it in new immigrant community leaders who are mobilizing across the country -- Greg Casar, the first Mexican American councilmember in Austin, TX, for example, or Stephanie Chang, a state representative in Michigan. We need to recognize that power, value it, and go out and exercise it.

Eisenhower Fellowships is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization which was founded in 1953 as a birthday gift to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower, who acted as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II, had significant experience working with global leaders to achieve a common goal. As president, he believed that “peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals.” In honor of this belief, and his commitment to a more peaceful world, a group of friends and colleagues dedicated Eisenhower Fellowships to him as a way for the United States to engage its global allies in an international exchange of leaders.

More than six decades later, Eisenhower Fellowships remain committed to offering a unique fellowship experience to more than 70 mid-career leaders each year. Through a rigorous selection process, 40 to50 international Fellows are invited to create and execute an individualized travel itinerary in which they will meet with 60 to80 professionals from their field, and visit as many as eight to 10 cities in the United States. Eisenhower Fellowships also selects and works with 20 American leaders to provide similar experiences in more than 40 countries. Though the organization has evolved through decades of technological, political, and social change, it has remained relevant and fruitful in its undertaking. At the core of its operations, “Eisenhower Fellowships identifies, empowers, and connects innovative leaders through a transformative fellowship experience and lifelong engagement in a global network of dynamic change agents committed to creating a world more peaceful, prosperous, and just.”


Vice President for Programs and Operations, Erin Hillman, has seen Eisenhower Fellowships grow since her arrival to the organization more than 15 years ago. Hillman, a longtime resident of the Philadelphia area, received her B.A. from La Salle University, and her M.Ed. from Temple University. She then took her interests in education and development to Sichuan, China, where she worked with the Peace Corps for two years. During her time abroad, she initiated a college teacher training program, and developed valuable Chinese language skills. Upon her return to the United States, she came across a posting on Idealist which detailed an opening at Eisenhower Fellowships for a Program Officer. Her education, language skills, and leadership experience made her a well-suited candidate for the position. Since 2000, Erin has served Eisenhower Fellowships in many capacities: not only as Program Officer for International Programs, but also as Director of the USA Program, Senior Director of Fellowships, and most recently, as Vice President for Programs and Operations.

In her current role, Erin must confront the many obstacles of leading a complex and constantly evolving organization. One of her greatest challenges is finding a way to concretely measure the impact of Eisenhower Fellowships’ programs. While it is easy to track the outputs of the organization (i.e. Eisenhower Fellowships has worked with nearly 2,400 leaders from more than 100 countries), it is more difficult to track the progress they make on achieving intangible outcomes (such as creating a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world). She seeks to collaborate with her fellow staff members and former Eisenhower Fellows to find creative ways to recognize and harness “positive, measurable, [and] tangible impact.”

As part of her work with Eisenhower Fellowships, Erin also does a significant amount of international travel to keep up with expanding programs and a growing network of former Fellows. To date, she has returned to China more than 20 times to foster Eisenhower Fellowships’ recruitment of Chinese leaders for the Multi-Nation Program, and in initiating the brand new Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship Program. In a trip to Vietnam in 2014, Erin noted that she was inspired by the enthusiasm and sincerity with which the Fellows engaged her. Eisenhower Fellows are given a unique opportunity to step away from their lives and expand their social and professional networks. For many, however, they return home to a very small network of former Fellows, and sometimes have to travel great distances to meet someone with this shared experience. In an effort to keep the bonds of fellowship alive, and to increase awareness of the great work being done by these Fellows, Erin feels that it is imperative for Eisenhower Fellowships to develop a better system for engaging its former Fellows. Though face-to-face interactions are ideal, and Erin travels often to visit colleagues abroad, Eisenhower Fellowships is working to create a more efficient way for alumni to keep in touch.

These challenges keep Erin on her toes. In a world which is rapidly changing, Eisenhower Fellowships, too, must find a way to adapt and evolve. According to Erin, when she began her time at Eisenhower Fellowships in 2000, the organization was not very well known in Philadelphia. Today, it has become an outward-facing entity; open to collaboration, and looking to increase its visibility. For this reason, Eisenhower Fellowships is about to launch its first strategic plan in 15 years. During the planning process, Erin and her colleagues hope to collaborate with board members and former Fellows to find innovative solutions to their most pressing issues. This will allow Eisenhower Fellowships to enter a new era of excellence, in which it can more accurately and effectively measure its programs, better engage its global network of Fellows, and increase access to its online application system so that more people can apply for fellowships.

Erin attributes much of her success to a vast network of support from current and former Eisenhower Fellows. Most recently, she was inspired by 2016 Multi-Nation Program Fellow Farzana Yaqoob. Farzana is the Minister for Social Welfare and Women’s Development in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan’s highly militarized boarder with India. During her time in the United States, she met with professionals to learn more about conflict resolution strategies and ways in which she could further her work in providing women with access to education and healthcare. Erin notes that, for women to succeed in their careers, they must surround themselves with role models, such as Farzana. Erin has also experienced tremendous support from Eisenhower Fellowships’ longstanding commitment to diversity, and has been with the organization long enough to see its first Women’s Leadership Program in 2014. Her advice for young women is to “always show up and be the best prepared person at the table.” She also believes that, in order for women to succeed, they must lift each other up, and surround themselves with inspiring women and men who will help them achieve their goals.

Erin is immensely proud of what she has been able to accomplish with Eisenhower Fellowships. Not only has she grown as a leader, but she has been exposed to exceptional people from all professions and regions of the globe. One of her crowning achievements at Eisenhower Fellowships has been to construct programs in a way that leaders from conflicting nations work together to create peaceful bonds. More often than not, she says that Fellows from India and Pakistan, and Israel and Palestine find that they have more in common than that which divides them. This provides her with an endless well of inspiration from which she draws her will to continue working towards “a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world.”

As steward to Eisenhower Fellowships’ legacy, Erin Hillman remains involved in many of the decisions that will shape its future. She is optimistic that the strategic planning process will invite positive change to the organization, and looks forward to challenging her colleagues and former Fellows to think of creative solutions to its most pressing issues. Looking forward, Erin will continue to be one of Eisenhower Fellowships’ most sincere and loyal agents, and will undoubtedly take great part in propelling the organization 

The Executive Director of Girls on the Run Philadelphia, Colleen Kelly Howard, takes a deep breath and relaxes into her seat. We met in a crowded Starbucks during the short break she had in a session downtown. Howard is new to the role of Executive Director, but she is a seasoned champion of girls. With three daughters, herself, Howard’s days consist of encouraging and guiding young girls at home and at work. Her middle daughter led her to Girls on the Run in 2013. She was a volunteer coach for her daughter’s team and built up the confidence and determination of a group of wide-eyed, bouncing third graders. Howard was hired as Executive Director in 2014 and in effect, was the sole full-time staff member of Girls on the Run Philadelphia. As the conversation went on, I quickly noticed her ironclad work ethic as she described how she approached every challenge that came her way. That attitude resulted in the organization's revenue increasing twofold between 2014 and 2015. As I later learned, that was only the beginning. Howard continuously looks towards the future, keeping a steady eye on any opportunity to help the organization grow. As the only staff member, she spends about 65 percent of her time on programming and 20 percent of her time on fundraising. 

Programming is the most time-consuming aspect of her role; however, Howard has overcome several barriers in that respect as well. Both the elementary school program and the middle school program have skyrocketed due to Howard’s persistence and determination to introduce Girls on the Run to as many Philadelphia-area schools as possible. The organization hosted two teams in 2013 and by last spring, that number had jumped to 25 teams of girls from different backgrounds running together in their final 5K at the end of a semester of training and mentorship. All the girls who participate in Girls on the Run share the common goal of completing the celebratory 5K. This complements the organizational mission of building a positive self-image and confidence in every girl in the program as they reach for that goal. The teams, broken down by school, are guided by volunteer coaches and many participants pay a registration fee if they are able. However, Girls on the Run is driven by their mission to provide an opportunity to any girl who wishes to participate, and for Howard -- that is her greatest motivation. It is clear through our conversation and her impressive results as executive director that she is passionate and dedicated to raising both revenue and the scope of the program to give every girl in the region the opportunity to participate in Girls on the Run and win. 

To make that goal feasible, Howard has narrowed the focus of her working board to raise money through individual giving, grants, and targeting schools where the families can afford the fees. Howard sends out appeal letters to her entire network and writes many of the grants herself. While it is tedious and arduous to reach out to high net worth individuals, foundations, and companies, she enjoys the rewarding work of grant writing and networking to raise the profile of the organization. When Girls on the Run Philadelphia was overlooked for a grant opportunity for the second year in a row, Howard reached out to one of the members of the foundation and asked what she could improve. Her proposals needed to spell out the need for the program in the area and once she tailored her grants to that feedback, the organization started to win more and more grants and funding support. With these resources, Girls on the Run Philadelphia can give hundreds of girls in the region an opportunity to learn, grow, and run in the program regardless of their socioeconomic status. 

The impact of these programs and the funds that make the programs available to all children is significant. Howard shared the survey responses from parents of participants, coaches, and the girls themselves. Girls who completed the program, as reported by their parent or guardian, were significantly more likely to have a positive body image. Beyond the clear impact on their emotional and mental health, participating girls also value healthier lifestyles and physical activity after competing in their first 5K. The greatest challenge that the organization currently faces is the completion rates from parents and their lack of data on girls who have graduated from the program. Acknowledging these shortfalls, Howard looks to incentivize future parent surveys and create an alumni program to collect information on graduates of the program and involve graduates of the program as ambassadors. Howard’s commitment to better evaluating the organization’s impact and creating sustainable results speaks to her ability to maintain a long-term focus and her passionate pursuit of effective change in Philadelphia. 

Howard’s goals in the coming years are ambitious, very much like her own character of will. Based on the organization’s strategic plan and the recommendations of their board consultant, she is eager to fill their new office space with full-time program and fundraising staff members. This business maneuver will help refocus her time on fundraising and increasing the presence of Girls on the Run in Philadelphia. Howard aims to make the organization as well-known as some of its other local counterparts and establish its place in the city’s nonprofit sector. With more staff support, her passionate and highly-motivated board members could also shift towards a governing role and as a result, focus energy towards increasing the organization’s capacity with fundraising to serve more girls. 

Howard’s unique perspective as a past coach and as the parent of a participant has served her well as she navigates the unfamiliar territory of leading a young nonprofit organization. With little formal experience, outside of managerial and operations positions, Howard plowed through barriers and forged a path to success for Girls on the Run Philadelphia. Her stunning increase in revenue and communities served speaks volumes to her leadership abilities. Howard is a strong and decisive voice for the girls who participate in Girls on the Run. She works tirelessly to achieve sustainable results and achieve the mission of her organization. With Colleen Kelly Howard leading the team, Girls on the Run Philadelphia is destined for greatness. 

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