We continue to be impressed with the breadth and quality of the projects and their impact. Altogether, the first eleven graduating classes of Fellows have undertaken 189 projects that affect a broad range of stakeholders in the school and the Ithaca community. The final projects were again presented in a Park Project Fair held in the atrium of Sage Hall. Attendance was again high and gives evidence to a growing School-wide appreciation for the efforts of the Park Fellows. It is also through such efforts that the Fellows learn to set the example as future contributors to the School and their communities. The following is a brief summary of the 18 projects for the Class of 2012.
- Student Agencies Fellows Program
Fellows: Alexander Green
Alex worked with Student Agencies, Inc (SAI), the oldest independent student-run corporation in the country, to create a leadership development program. Based on elements from the Park program, Alex conducted classroom sessions to coach SAI business unit managers on personal mastery, team dynamics, and organizational leadership. With this foundation in place, additional Park Fellows will continue enhancing the SAI leadership training program this year. Alex also advised SAI's Big Red Shipping & Storage and Take Note businesses on future strategies and assisted identifying and implementing operational efficiencies. He also advised the CIO, President, and CEO on technology strategies, brand positioning, and other matters.
- Tompkins County Planning Department
Fellows: Frank Nicklaus
Frank completed a study of energy supply and demand conditions in the local area for the Tompkins County Planning Department. His research included interviewing approximately 20 key energy stakeholders in the region and conducting extensive research through sources such as the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, the NY Independent System Operator, the US Department of Energy, and many others. The project deliverables include a public presentation to the Planning Department staff and to local residents at the Tompkins County Public Library on April 30th, as well as a comprehensive report due for final submission to the Planning Department in May. The findings and recommendations from Frank’s work, as well as that of three other Cornell graduate students who are performing parallel work assessing the potential for renewable energy deployment in the county, will be used to guide the Planning Department in formulating its Energy Roadmap, one of the key measures intended to help the county achieve its goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.
- Wide Awake Bakery
Fellows: Matthew Clifford
Matt Clifford worked with Stefan Senders, founder of Wide Awake Bakery – a mission-driven organic bakery and all natural bakery selling to the greater Ithaca community primarily through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and direct-to-consumer channels. Matt has helped Stef develop a set of financial planning and modeling tools. These tools give Stef deeper insights into his business performance, while allowing him to set sales and production targets and analyze the impact of new products or channels on his business. Matt and Stef have also worked together to develop the business systems necessary to collect and record information that is vital to understanding and growing the business in ways that ensure both profitability and community impact.
- Communications Strategy for Non-Profit Organizations
Fellows: Kay Fok, Natalie Grillon, Stefanie Levner
Primary Client: Finger Lakes Land Trust
Others: BRConsulting, Johnson Board Fellows
In 2011, Kay, Natalie, and Stef researched many non-profit organizations to benchmark our client’s current communications activities. At the end of 2011, they presented their final communications plan and recommendations to the Finger Lakes Land Trust and ensured that the client was happy with result of project and aligned on recommendations. Leveraging their experience with FLLT and backgrounds in marketing, public relations and non-profit management, they designed a communications toolkit to be used by Johnson students who are helping clients within the Non-Profit sector. They established best practices in digital and social communications- a communications channel that they believe is less familiar in the non-profit and small business arena.
This project also gave them the opportunity to work with other Johnson organizations, such as BRConsulting, BRMicroCapital and the Johnson Board Fellows to discuss how the ready-to-use toolkit might look to best serve their non-profit clients. They anticipate that there may be other Park project organizations that could participate and benefit from this workshop as well.
- Sage Hall and LEED: A Green Building Perspective
Fellows: Jacob Shirmer
For his Park project, Jacob looked at Sage Hall from a green building perspective. He analyzed the building utilizing the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, which is the most widely used green building certification program in the world and covers building areas such as energy, indoor air quality, materials and resources, and water use. His final deliverable is a presentation that covers an introduction to LEED and the importance of green building, how many credits Sage could obtain under the LEED system, why becoming certified under LEED would benefit Johnson, and recommendations for how Sage can obtain additional credits and save energy and utility costs.
- Camp MacCormick – Johnson Fatherhood Initiative
Fellows: J. Shakir Ramsey, Abraham Spence
Building on last year’s success, a team of Fellows continued the partnership with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to provide a positive male influence and expand opportunities for the young men at the MacCormick Youth Detention Center in Brooktondale, NY. These youth are detainees in a maximum security institution and while some are already fathers, many will be responsible for fathering children at some point after their release. The program is focused on providing mentorship, support, and educational opportunities through activities focusing on fatherhood, work, and life skills. This year's Fellows made some program shifts with an increased focus developing professional skills in interviewing, networking, business and finance. These changes have been highlighted in the local community press including Cornell Enterprise and website. With new attention around this initiative, fellow participation has doubled and the MacCormick Secure Center is excited to further enhance the curriculum, makingit more robust and relevant for these youth.
- Cornell Football Strategic Marketing Initiative
Fellows: Jennifer Baker, Aaron Seabron
This project culminated in a series of strategic recommendations being delivered to the athletic department aimed at driving deeper levels of fan engagement and higher attendance at Cornell Football home games on an annual basis beginning with the fall 2012 season. The fundamental objective was to evaluate the Cornell Football fan experience first-hand and then research how that experience resonates with members of the greater Cornell and Ithaca communities. Through evaluating best-in class football programs, surveying over 150 community members, and conducting focus groups with current students and faculty a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with articulating Cornell Football’s unique value proposition in a relevant manner was developed. As a result of the project, several consumer-target specific tactical initiatives will be evaluated for implementation by the athletic department.
- Johnson Christian Fellowship
Fellows: Justin Kvasnicka
Through the Johnson Christian Fellowship (JCF) organization, Justin established a mentorship program with Cornell undergraduate students. The purpose of this program is to address the difficult peer pressure received by Christian freshman and sophomore students while transitioning from high school to college. Their role as mentors is to invest in the lives of these young men and women similar to how Jesus Christ invested in the lives of his disciples…..through servant leadership. Justin partnered with Campus Crusades for Christ, another campus ministry, to help in partnering mentor/mentee relationships. During this past year, he had six Johnson students participate as mentors and eight undergraduate students participate as mentees.
- Paleontological Research Institution & Cayuga Nature Center Merger - Logo Design Strategy
Fellows: Giselle Balagat, Elisa Dobbins
In January 2012, the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) approved plans to merge with the Cayuga Nature Center (CNC). Additionally, PRI's Museum of the Earth (MOE) also had to be considered in this merger. These organizations have partnered to create unified programming, yet all three have distinct target consumers and offer different value propositions to its respective customers. The task was to recommend a visual that conveys the merger, and provide guidance about how to rebrand this new and improved organization to the Ithaca community and beyond. The Fellows provided a preliminary recommendation about the direction of the logo design by examining the pros and cons of various case studies that considered a) adopting one logo, b) combining logos, and c) creating a completely new logo. Furthermore, as they spoke with and surveyed employees, they learned that employees lacked an understanding of why the merger occurred so they worked to close that gap too.
- BSA, Taughannock District Alumni Relations
Fellows: Thomas Galeazzi
Clients: Liam G.B. Murphy and the Taughannock District Board
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) provide training and leadership activities for the development of youth. Like many non-profit organizations, the BSA relies heavily on local volunteers, community expertise, and donations. The Taughannock District, covering the area from Ithaca to Cortland New York, recognized that it could benefit from the participation and expertise of its many underutilized alumni. This project was a consultancy to achieve more frequent participation by and contributions from alumni at the local district level. A review of the national organization and the district’s current practices and alumni was undertaken which sought to: 1. Recommend methods to secure increased funding from individuals and organizations, 2. Establish a committee to sustain or carryout these methods and better engage the network of alumni, and 3. Recommend strategy for increasing involvement of alumni and volunteers within the district area.
- New Roots Charter School: Personal Financial Responsibility
Fellows: Mihir Shah
Building on last year’s success at Lehman Alternative Community School, this project entailed working with faculty and administration at New Roots Charter School to establish personal financial responsibility as a part of the junior and senior students’ curriculum. Activities included creating a practical set of presentations and projects to teach core concepts such as saving, interest, budgeting, taxes, debt, credit and debit cards, basic investment options, and general financial awareness. These concepts were presented directly to students in an interactive format, stressing the importance of sound financial decision making in their lives. As a final project, students were required to complete a case that incorporated these financial concepts into individualized monthly and annual budgets under hypothetical scenarios. Under the guidance of another Park Fellow, New Roots Charter School is looking forward to continuing and expanding this project next year.
- Ithaca City School District Superintendent’s Office
Fellows: Jeremy Bohne, Jeff Cloetingh
Following a change in leadership of the school, the school system decided to undergo a continuous improvement process. The purpose of this initiative is to effectively convey District priorities to a broad cross section of the community, to help build a positive perception of the District, and to engage people who have not yet been engaged positively with the district. Jeff and Jeremy helped develop stakeholder feedback strategies that contributed to the development of Community Conversations, a series of 11 live feedback sessions in non-traditional venues such as barber-shops, hair salons, and the public library. They consolidated the feedback, evaluated potential responses, and provided recommendations for the Superintendent’s office and Board of Education.
- Beverly J. Martin Elementary School
Fellows: Kira Dietrich
Kira worked with the A+ afterschool group at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School to teach fourth and fifth grade students basic financial literacy. This effort was in conjunction with the Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) run through Alternatives Federal Credit Union. The program runs for ten weeks and involves not only teaching the students about saving, spending and sharing, but also involves completing an entrepreneurial project in order to earn money. The current group is working towards becoming CPR certified and creating flyers and business cards to become “Mother’s Helpers”. Additionally, the group is holding a bake sale at Alternatives for which the students have created the budget, set prices, and allocated necessary resources. All students involved in this program have opened savings accounts at Alternatives and put a portion of the money earned into their accounts.
- Big Red College Mentors
Fellows: Payam Bavafa, Lisa McEnery
Big Red College Mentors’ (BRCM) mission is to improve the lives of high school students from underserved communities surrounding Ithaca, New York through detailed one- and two- year mentorship programs. These programs provide guidance for students to apply to higher education institutions and ultimately graduate high school. We establish the foundation of emotional and academic guidance from which students are able to succeed in college. Johnson students are matched during their first years with local high school juniors; this relationship spans the full two-year duration of the Johnson MBA program, coinciding with the period that the high school student is applying for college. Selection of students will be conducted on a need-based approach and guided by the school administration. The Big Red College Mentors and high school students will meet two hours per month, beginning in September. We are currently in discussions with a number of schools about instituting the program. We expect to have our first mentees in training by fall 2012.
- WICB Recordings
Fellows: Payam Bavafa
Payam’s earlier Park project was to launch WICB Records, a subsidiary of the non-profit community radio station at Ithaca College, WICB. The idea was to help promote local music, to give media and communications majors an opportunity to be exposed directly to the music business, and to increase WICB’s presence in the greater independent music community. The project was to help WICB establish a business plan, run project financing and develop strategies to push the label forward. It would also leverage contacts in the music industry to establish distribution channels, publicity, and legal assistance. A model record label for this project was KDVS Recordings, at UC Davis 90.3FM, which I helped get off the ground. Unfortunately after many meetings with the General Manager of WICB and other production coordinators who were quite supportive, the idea was struck down by Ithaca College’s Dean. Given the volume of projects WICB was already involved with, they were not ready to add another branch and promise any level of support from the college. WVBR, the local Ithaca community station, also turned our idea down unfortunately.
- Real Estate at Johnson
Fellow: Dylan Fonseca
This project seeks to further the study of real estate at Johnson by formalizing a concentrated curriculum and engaging in real time projects in the Ithaca community. Fifty percent of higher ranked MBA programs have formalized the study of Real Estate at their university. Cornell’s unique advantage of having the combination of the No. 1 ranked Hotel school (with a strong focus on real estate finance & development), the No. 1 undergraduate architecture program, the No. 2 graduate architecture program, a top 20 MBA program and a top-five ranked school of community and regional planning make it a natural owner of this type of real estate focused degree. The second aspect of this project was creating a position with a local partner to give students real time experience managing real estate. As the first Johnson real estate manager Dylan worked on balancing their entire portfolio of holdings while preparing architectural drawings and a financial analysis for the renovation of one of their buildings.
- Cornell Mentorship Program
Fellows: Rishi Sood
Clients: Johnson and the Cornell Community
The goal of this project was to setup a program enabling mentorship between graduate MBA students and undergraduate students in business related majors across schools at Cornell. For undergraduates, this mentorship provides insight into the first few years of work from an MBA’s perspective. For MBA’s, the program will serve as an opportunity to expand their network and practice leadership skills. The overall goal of the program is to bridge the gap between the schools and create closer relationships while helping students prepare for their jobs. The project required finding a champion for the project, laying out a yearly process on how to match mentors and mentees, a mentor selection process and mentor materials to guide the discussions and spark conversation.
- Ithaca Hours
Fellows: Will Martin
Clients: Paul Strebel
Local currencies allow people to barter their goods and services within their own communities without the use of national fiat currencies like the US Dollar. By doing so, community currencies keep wealth circulating within, rather than leaving the community, they encourage people to purchase locally produced goods and services and they provide community entrepreneurs with opportunities to generate wealth. This year is Ithaca Hour's 20th anniversary and to celebrate, the organization is currently going through a revitalization, with updates to the website and the creation of an electronic payment system, similar to Paypal. For his Park project Will wrote the business plan for this electronic payment system, which allowed Ithaca Hours to apply for a grant to start the programming of the new system. The sponsor is Paul Strebel, a local businessman and Cornell lecturer who is the current president of the Ithaca Hours board.