Archive | May, 2011

Meet Our New Staff!

31 May

Catchafire is excited to introduce you to four new team members. As we welcome these professionals to the family, we wanted to let you know their backgrounds and what they will be adding to our community.

Jessica Kantor

Jess joins Catchafire to lead Digital Marketing and Social Media. Jess is incredibly excited to connect with all of you. Make sure to follow us at @Catchafire – let her know by sending us a public message and she will follow you back!

Previous to working with Catchafire, Jessica Kantor led the Digital Strategy team for RJW Collective. In this role, Jessica strategized the digital component to marketing campaigns for clients that included a global clothing company and a national fitness club. Jessica Kantor started her career in film and TV working at Sony Pictures Entertainment, at the ABC TV show “Six Degrees,” and The Weinstein Company. While at The Weinstein Company, Jessica transitioned into emerging technologies, where she researched and recommended new platforms to promote, distribute, and interact with professional content.

Geoffrey B. Ratliff

Geoff joins Catchafire as a Service Officer. Geoff believes in the idea that “if you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you do not do that, then you are wasting your time on this earth” (Roberto Clemente), and he lives his life with that quote as his guiding principle. After five years spent working in corporate America and pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at St. Louis University, he made a conscious decision to take the best practices that he learned in the private sector and implement them into the nonprofit world. He spent six years working for a number of nonprofit organizations – most recently as a Program Manager for the National Urban League in their Housing and Community Development division – and continues to serve on a number of nonprofit boards in addition to his volunteer efforts. Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Geoff currently lives in central New Jersey with his wife and daughter. When he is not busy using his business skills to make the world a better place, he enjoys watching – and talking – sports, playing poker, practicing yoga at I.AM.YOU studio, and performing karaoke. Geoff received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies. He is more than happy to engage you in a serious bar discussion when you want nothing more than to enjoy a few drinks and laughs with your friends.

Thomas Whitaker

Thomas joins us as a Business Development Associate. Thomas saw the value of meaningful volunteer experiences during his two-year stint in the Peace Corps. Working with small business owners and nonprofit organizations in Senegal, he was interested in the potential of collaboration between the private and social sectors. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Thomas studied International Relations as an undergraduate and later took a job working as a researcher in the House of Commons in London. This experience furthered his desire to study how the world works and led to an MA in Global Finance from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Thomas has spent time traveling around Europe, mostly hitchhiking. He speaks French and the West African language Pular. Born and raised in West Virginia, Thomas is excited to explore New York and all that it has to offer, especially its music and pizza scenes.

Ryan Letada

Ryan Letada joins us as a Business Development Associate. Ryan is a foodie, Fulbright Fellow, education reformer, and social entrepreneurship junkie. After graduating from Wheaton College (MA), Ryan was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to explore mass-eviction and relocation of urban poor communities in Metro-Manila. This experience inspired him to start Education Kindling (eKindling) – a nonprofit dedicated to bringing learning technologies and joyful ways of digital learning to children, classrooms, and communities across the Philippines. Under his leadership, this education venture became a pioneer in 1:1 computing learning in the Philippines and is currently expanding its program to 7 schools with an additional 750 learning technologies. After snorkeling and reforming education in the Philippines, he returned to NYC to rejoin its growing social entrepreneurship scene. He worked at the Hatchery to foster venture collaboration within the NYC startup community. Ultimately, his life goal is to create social good and to spread it to as many people as possible.

Advertisements

Nonprofit Profile: Stephanie Kaplan, African Services Committee

19 May

Today’s guest post comes from Stephanie Kaplan, communications director of African Services Committee (ASC), a nonprofit organization working in Harlem and Ethiopia offering health, housing, legal and social services to more than 10,000 immigrants each year. ASC worked with Catchafire on both Graphic Design and Communications Material Review projects.

I learned about Catchafire from a former volunteer, and was immediately excited about the idea. I rushed to the site to check out the services that were offered. I’m sure I’m not the only person that functions as a ‘one-person show’ in the communications/marketing department of a non-profit, so
I was excited by the prospect of getting qualified and talented assistance on several projects that I had looming.

African Services Committee (ASC) was established in 1981 by Ethiopian refugees, and hoped to lend a hand to other refugees and immigrants newly settled in New York. Now, 30 years later, ASC is one of the largest multiservice agencies serving the African & Caribbean immigrant community. Our organization provides health, housing, legal, educational and social services to over 10,000 people each year focusing on HIV prevention, testing, care and advocacy.

Continue reading

Pro Bono Engagement Seminar: Pro Bono 101 for Social Good Organizations

18 May

This morning, we hosted our second Pro Bono Engagement Seminar for all new Catchafire Members and old members who missed out on our first one.

As part of our service, we provide our members with the knowledge and tools to build capacity effectively and learn how to utilize pro bono. We offer this seminar every month for new members in order to help them maximize their projects and give their professionals amazing pro bono experiences! This training is important to us because Catchafire project success is highly correlated to organizations who have attended our seminars and learned skills in managing, engaging and leveraging the work of pro bono professionals.

Today’s session started with networking over hot coffee and tasty muffins.  Our Founder & CEO, Rachael, kicked off the session by telling the Catchafire story and our mission. Following, our Community Manager, Ruti, then introduced herself and her new role.  Ruti is responsible for helping our members sign up for the right projects to meet their organizational needs, making sure our members receive the best matches possible, and providing members with the tools and knowledge to be an effective pro bono manager.


Next, we went around the room and learned a bit about each pro bono manager, their organization and a fun fact! Here are some of the very funny fun facts we learned from our members:


  • Grew up in 5 different countries
  • Survived her first winter in NYC and bought her first North Face jacket!
  • Had a diving accident in Australia and was in hospital for 5 days!
  • Lived in Hawaii for 5 years
  • Does voiceovers for movies for bad words!
  • Volunteers for a service dog program
  • Her husband and dog have the same birthday
  • Hates mountain climbing because she almost died getting to Everest base camp

Our former Chief Service Officer, Jane Slusser, then covered the following topics:

  • How to get the most out of your Catchafire experience
  • How to start your project on the right foot
  • How to keep your pro bono professional engaged
  • Troubleshooting tips
  • How to retain your pro bono professional’s support so they become lifelong advocates of your organization
If you’re a member and you haven’t attended our Pro Bono 101 seminar yet, don’t miss the next one, which we’ll be hosting in late June. Our seminar is mandatory for all pro bono managers who will be working with Catchafire professionals. Please email consultant@catchafire.org to enquire about our next seminar. If you cannot attend our seminar in person, you’ll soon be able to take our online webinar.


Thanks to all Catchafire Members who attended today’s seminar. We’re certain that you now have the tools to become great pro bono managers and are on your way to successful Catchafire projects!

Catchafire Part of the White House’s Young Entrepreneurs Summit

16 May

Did you know it’s National Small Business Week? As part of the festivities, the White House and the US Small Business Administration are convening a summit of young entrepreneurs, to find out how to help them grow their businesses and encourage innovation. From the summit’s web site:

As part of the President & SBA’s commitment to young people and youth in underserved communities, the agency has committed a portion of the National Small Business Week agenda to devoting time and resources to educating and engaging young entrepreneurs.

Catchafire’s Founder and CEO, Rachael Chong, will be part of the New York summit, which takes place tomorrow evening. Tune into the White House’s livestream tomorrow at 6:30 to watch live!

Pro Bono Voice: Kara Silverman

12 May

(c)2011 Ken Levinson

Today’s guest post is by Kara Silverman, a PR professional at Yodle.com. She was recently matched with the NYC chapter of Komen Greater NYC to help with Event Publicity for the annual Tickled Pink benefit.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Catchafire Consultant and my friend/former colleague Ruti Wajnberg. She begged me to take on a volunteer project with Komen Greater NYC, even though I was already volunteering for my local Jersey City Councilman, Steven Fulop, and working a full time job. At first, I was skeptical that my services would even be helpful, but in the end it was a profoundly impactful experience!

Continue reading

Pro Bono Q&A: Live Chat May 23

9 May

On Monday, May 23 at 12:00 noon, our very own Community Manager Ruti Wajnberg will join Anne Diaz from the Taproot Foundation for an online discussion on how pro bono can help social good organizations.We hope you’ll log on to learn about this growing sector and its exciting potential to help build nonprofit capacity quickly and effectively. The chat is free, and you can set a calendar reminder for yourself by visiting the chat’s URL.

We’re thrilled to be part of this series of live chats put on by Grantspace.org, a service of the Foundation Center.

Save this link and join us on the 23rd!

Pro Bono Voice: Eric Morrow

3 May

Today’s guest post is by Eric Morrow, a digital marketing professional at IBM. He was recently matched with the NYC Audubon Society on a Social Media project. 

At IBM, I’m in a social media role focused on competition with another big tech company.  The site where it all comes together is SmarterQuestions.org.

Catchafire matched me with the NYC Audubon Society.  Most people know them for their birding efforts, but they also perform extensive wildlife and lands protection and run education seminars about NYC ecology. NYC Audubon wanted to get involved in social media but didn’t really know how to start.  I began by sitting down with their team and talking with them about what NYC Audubon is all about, and getting a sense for what they want to accomplish.  That helped us figure out where they should start and what they should prioritize.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: