October 2018 Alumni Spotlight
October Alumni Spotlight with Bethany Nelson, MPA ’13
In this month’s alumni spotlight we speak to a graduate, who, like so many from Marxe has gone on to a rewarding careers with an organization that provides outreach to the underserved populations who need it most. Bethany Nelson tells us about her role at Summer Search where she manages youth mentors, and more.
Tell us what you do as Director of School and Community Engagement at Summer Search.
As Director of School and Community Engagement, my primary role is to lead the outreach strategy and recruitment of new students. In order to identify candidates for the program, we partner with 23 NYC public high schools across four boroughs. Through this work, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to engage with dedicated school staff, administrative personnel. However, as is the case with many nonprofits, I wear many hats at Summer Search. I also support and supervise a group of mentors and managers, lead programmatic events/trainings, and collaborate with our development team around various funding opportunities.
How does Summer Search approach mentoring relationships with the young people it serves?
While many mentoring organizations utilize volunteers, Summer Search’s mentors are full-time paid staff, often coming from youth development and social work backgrounds. Our mentors are dedicated to social justice work and dismantling white supremacy. We focus on developing and strengthening students’ non-cognitive or socio-emotional skills that will support their success to and through college, we also process a lot with our students around race, class and privilege and how systems of oppression show up in their lives. At Summer Search, mentors are not trained to be directive with advice; mentoring is a partnership that capitalizes on students’ own agency.
What opportunities have the Marxe School and your MPA afforded you?
When I started the MPA program at the Marxe School, I was intent on graduating with a concentration in nonprofit management. However, I ended up choosing a general track, which allowed me to embrace many of the additional offerings for full-time MPA students and delve into both policy and management courses. I held a research assistant position with Hilary Botein focusing on housing policy and subprime lending and participated in The Washington Semester, where I completed a graduate internship at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. There were many opportunities to obtain funding for conferences and professional development while at the Marxe School and I readily took advantage of these awards.
Did you have a favorite class or professor?
I really enjoyed Intro to Public Affairs with Sonia Jarvis, so much so I selected her as my capstone advisor. She is a remarkably witty and engaging individual and consistently fostered great discourse in the classroom.