On Thursday, January 22nd, Millennium Campus Network’s fellows were joined by special guests from several local nonprofit and government organizations for an exciting networking session and inspirational conversation. The guests, Siiri Morley, Amber Oberc, Adam Korn, Eve Deveau, and Richard Pien shared their career experiences in the nonprofit and public service sectors, and gave advice to young people looking to do humanitarian work.
Siiri Morley, Executive Director of Strong Women, Strong Girls, was among the guests. Morley’s organization is a Boston-based multi-generational mentorship program that seeks to cement in girls the natural self-esteem they are born with. She shared her journey that brought her from the Peace Corps in Africa to various nonprofit organizations. She recommended, “Ask for help, collaborate, don’t be afraid to admit when something’s not working. Too many people have turf wars – support each other’s work for win-wins.”
“Being around passionate people is what makes life fun,” Amber Oberc, U.S. Managing Director at Tanzanian Children’s Fund and board member at Boston Network for International Development insists. Her organization supports more than 100 orphans living in a home, as well as health clinics, microfinance program, and a robust volunteer program for three weeks to one year.
Oberc’s international career began when she became an international flight attendant upon graduation from University of Illinois, in order to get rid of her “travel bug.” But she found she was still interested in the world, choosing to work with the global health organization Partners in Health, with Project Muso doing healthcare work in Mali, and more before she landed in her current gig at Tanzanian Children’s Fund.
Eve Deveau, U.S. Managing Director of Gardens for Health International, also joined the group. Her organization helps families with malnourished children start their own home gardens. She began as an intern with Gardens for Health, which was just beginning to see major growth as an organization. Some of the great advice Deveau shared was that “it’s good to dream and have goals, but don’t be afraid to take a wrong step.”
Adam Korn, Associate Director and Founder of Boston Network for International Development, told the Fellows that it may not be easy to start your own project or initiative, that lots of people will say “it’s not worth it” and tell you to join a big organization. But for Korn, the end result is worth the all the work, and he added that by starting your own project, “your connections will be your own.” Korn should know, after starting and running his own non-profit, which seeks to connect groups and individuals in the Boston area who are interested in international development issues.
Richard Pien, Elected Representative of Boston’s Ward 5 briefly shared how he got into public service – after working on several mayoral and presidential campaigns, he decided he had the experience to run for himself. He advised students to do three things: “Write things down, follow your heart, and pray and meditate.”
Sam Vaghar, Executive Director of MCN, explained one of evolution’s that has taken place in the international development world since he co-founded MCN just several short years ago. “B-corpations and earned income weren’t in the minds of people [in the international development world] then.” Today social entrepreneurship, social business, and b-corporations are the buzz words on the forefront of many organizations’ strategies, from Nourish International to Warby Parker.
Vaghar gave some words of wisdom of his own. “My advice to all of you is simply to be a good person. When people want to get ahead, they always want to push others out. Be humble, we all struggle, we all go through tough times.”