March 2021 Alumni Spotlight
Jeanette Gisbert, MPA ’08
Congratulations on your recent rise to the level of Executive Director of Volunteer New York! Can you tell us about any critical short- and/or long-term goals you have?
Becoming a new Executive Director in the time of a global pandemic has presented several unique opportunities. My short-term goals are to ensure the health and safety of the Volunteer New York! team. Our people are our greatest asset and their health, physical and mental, is critical to accomplishing our mission. I’m also focused on ensuring that our community understand that even in a COVID world where so much has had to be cancelled or postponed, that – Community has not been cancelled. Volunteer power is still needed. To that end, Volunteer New York! has been working closely with our community partners to help them pivot to virtual programming and to be able to continue to incorporate volunteers safely.
What unique challenges has Volunteer New York! met in the wake of the pandemic outbreak this past year?
Like every nonprofit or small business, Volunteer New York! has had to adapt and respond to our community’s needs. Early on, in April 2020, we were one of the first organizations to operationalize a virtual volunteer recognition/fundraiser. Since then, many organizations have looked to our event as the roadmap for implementing a world class virtual event.
Although the world has changed dramatically over the last year, our mission—to connect volunteers who are eager to help with fellow nonprofits meeting critical needs—remains steadfast.
Volunteer New York!’s work has not stopped. In fact, we’ve expanded and adapted our services, resulting in an increase of more than 100% in individuals who have raised their hand to help. Volunteers have shown that community has not been cancelled.
Volunteers helped small business owners secure PPP loans, acted as a lifeline to essential services for the immunocompromised, bridged the education divide as e-tutors, and committed to our intergenerational call buddy program to prevent social isolation for seniors.
We are proud of what we have accomplished and know there is still more to be done.
You live and work in Westchester, where Volunteer New York! is based. Tell us about the challenges of employing Volunteer’s goals and strategies in Westchester.
Westchester a community of tremendous wealth but it also has pockets of need. We are always working to educate our community that there are ways for them to support and connect to their local community through volunteerism and that Volunteer New York! can make it easy for them to find a meaningful opportunity.
What was your experience at the Marxe School like? What skills did you pick up from your time in the MPA program that you still rely on today?
I really enjoyed meeting peers who were as passionate about and committed to making a contribution to the world as I was. It’s hard to pick just one skill – I use all of them daily!