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 171 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 17 projects for the Class of 2011.
- Student Agencies
Fellows: Christian Polman, Alexandra Tsakeres
Clients: Director, President, and Managers of Student Agencies
Student Agencies is an organization dedicated to helping Cornell undergraduates gain hands-on business experience by managing small businesses in the Ithaca market. In their role, the Park Fellows helped Student Agencies focus on several key strategic areas to build a stronger organization. Their projects included: 1) identifying and defining Student Agency’s key brand attributes to help sharpen their new manager recruitment messaging. 2) assisting with recruitment of new managers by improving their interview process and helping to promote Student Agencies via on-campus information sessions. 3) working to redefine the Student Agencies Johnson Fellows roles and responsibilities in order to strengthen the program and joint value to Fellows and SA going forward. 4) providing training to new student managers in the form of live critical thinking and business soft-skill sessions.
- Diversity Symposium
Fellows: Luis Troccoli, Pratik Shah, LaTranda Martin
Others: Velicia Sutton, Roy Loggins, TaNisha Green, Jasmine Francis, Angela Or, Nicole Clarke
Faculty: Nsombi Ricketts
This past Fall, the Johnson School at Cornell University inaugurated the largest diversity-related event in the school’s history – the Johnson School Diversity Symposium 2010. The symposium was the result of a student-led collaboration between the Black Graduate Business Association (BGBA), the Latin American Business Association (LABA) and the undergraduate Minority Business Students Association (MBSA). The purpose of the symposum was to create a holistic platform for participants to engage and educate one another on the latest issues and exchange ideas related to diversity and business. Although hosted by three minority-focused organizations, the symposium was designed to attract people from all backgrounds interested in understating the latest trends, challenges and opportunities related to diversity in the business world. The event hosted four expert panels covering a variety of topics in these areas as well as three keynote speakers including an exciting and dynamic presentation by Frans Johansson, author of the New York Times best-seller The Medici Effect – a book who’s primary message is the awesome power of diversity in driving innovation. The event was the vision of several Class of 2011 Fellows and the product of over six months of hard work by a 9-member Planning Committee consisting of students from all three of the host organizations.
- Johnson Social Entrepreneurship Course
Fellow: Alessandra Zielinski
Faculty: David Ben Daniel, Steve Gal, Mark Milstein, Risa Mish, Clint Sidle, and Wes Sine
NBA 5100 was launched in Spring 2011 with 23 students and 6 faculty participants. The objective of the course was to give students an overview of the field of social entrepreneurship as well as an opportunity to gain hands on experience working with a social enterprise on a predetermined project. The class represents a collaborative effort between the Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Sustainable Global Enterprise faculty. Class discussion covered topics such as: the various definitions of social entrepreneurship, different business models, social impact measurement, and specific case studies. In addition to attending lectures, students worked in teams on one of several projects throughout the semester including: the IDEACorps Challenge, AGE Africa, Challenge Industries, and the Child Advocacy Center at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Teams completed projects related to improving impact measurement and increasing operational efficiency, among other efforts to positively affect a social enterprise while gaining exposure to typical challenges faced by these organizations. Efforts are underway to improve the course and ensure that it remains a fixture at the Johnson School.
- New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2010 Idea Village Challenge
Fellow: Marlon Nichols
Others: Daniel Hest
Faculty: Steven Gal, Risa Mish
In conjunction with the Black Graduate Business Association (BGBA), this project organized the School’s participation in the New Orleans IDEAcorps Challenge. The challenge brought 4 other top tier business schools (Booth, Haas, Kellogg , and Stanford) to help entrepreneurs in New Orleans solve their toughest challenges and successfully pitch angel investors, venture capital firms, and venture philanthropists for startup funding, through a non-profit innovation and entrepreneurship laboratory called The Idea Village. This was an intensive, week-long incubation program matching a student team from Johnson School with a local New Orleans startup company – our team will be volunteering its time, energy, and business savvy to help the company get off the ground and running. The IDEAcorps Challenge took place during spring break this year, and all team members will receive up to 1.5 academic credits for participating. The Johnson team took first in the competition. Efforts are underway to institutionalize the School’s annual participation in the event.
- Camp MacCormick – Johnson Fatherhood Initiative
Fellows: Kyle Helbing, Alex Woodcock
Clients: NY State Office of Child and Family Services – MacCormick Secure Center
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. The program was so successful that the MacCormick Secure Center looks forward to continuing the partnership and a group for next year is being assembled with a potential expansion to two teams.
- 2010 Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference
Fellow: Adam Conderman
Since 1999, Reaching Out has organized a national conference for LGBT MBA students. Initially begun with 50 participants, the conference now sees attendance of over 1,000 people including students, company representatives, recruiters, and speakers. Reaching Out is the only diversity conference still run solely by students. As part of a team of 10 MBA students from Tuck, NYU Stern, Darden, and Ohio State, the Park Fellow led the fundraising efforts for the conference and increased revenues from $475,000 to over $620,000. Even in a down economy, this was the most money that had ever been raised for the conference. With significant new company outreach, the number of companies attending increased by 15% and included Cisco, Citibank, TD Bank, and the Broad Foundation. The fundraising success led to one of the largest give-backs to the organization. The give-back is the difference between revenues brought in and the cost of the conference and is used primarily to fund scholarships and case studies into LGBT business issues.
- Project OAR (Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources)
Fellow: LaTranda Martin
Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources (OAR), formerly offender aid and restitution, is a non-profit run by a small and dedicated group of Tompkins County residents concerned with local incarceration issues. In order to secure funding from the state legislature, OAR is required to develop an annual report that summarizes how the previous year’s budget was allocated, how much bail money was forfeited by the organization relative to how much bail money was spent, total annual savings, average return time of bail by municipality, and bail loans broken down by various demographic categories (e.g., gender, race, age, etc.). However, without an actual budget model, the organization has been unable to identify trends in the data or to make logical predictions regarding future trends and budgetary needs. The Park Fellow’s project entailed not only creating a budget model for the organization to tabulate its current and historical budget data but also provide training for employees in how to use and update it.
- Educate the Children Consulting
Fellow: Elicia Carmichael
Others: Kelly Dwyer, Meredith Gethin-Jones, Elizabeth Mygatt
Faculty: Melvin Goldman
This project provided the Ithaca-based INGO, Educate the Children, with consulting services in branding, financial modeling, and change management for its community development work in Nepal. The four-person MBA team had two major objectives: to help the organization develop a strategic plan that would identify and assess options for a structurally and financially “right-sized” future, and to develop a brand concept that considered name and logo changes and donor targeting. Research for the project entailed fieldwork in Nepal with support from the Nixon Foundation, and in-depth interviews with nonprofit organizations, branding professionals, and current and potential donors in the USA. The project was developed in the fall of 2009, and completed in the fall of 2010, with recommendations presented to, and accepted by, Educate the Children’s board of directors in Ithaca. The student group continues to serve on Educate the Children’s strategic planning committee.
- Alternative Community School: Personal Financial Responsibility
Fellow: Justin Brown
The Park Fellow worked closely with the Principal and faculty at Lehman Alternative Community School to help establish personal financial responsibility as an element of the junior and senior students’ curriculum. Activities included creating a practical set of interactive 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. Under the supervision of faculty, these concepts were presented directly to students. As a final project, students were responsible for completing a case written for this effort that required students to incorporate these financial concepts into individualized monthly and annual budgets under hypothetical scenarios. As a result of the project’s success, LACS will continue with this curriculum next year and may expand it (with the help of another Park Fellow) to include an even broader portion of the student body.
- Johnson 1st Annual Battle of the Brands
Fellows: Chris Burke, Garrett Cox, Katie Scupham
Others: Naijia Huang, Vijay Nathan, Nate Rothstein, Erin Tuzel
A team of Fellows, in conjunction with the Marketing Association (MA) Executive Board, introduced a new Johnson School tradition: Battle of the Brands. The 1st Annual Johnson Marketing Challenge, Battle of the Brands, impacted the entire Johnson School community while increasing visibility to the marketing program at JGSM. Six teams of students created and executed a marketing plan for an assigned product over a 2-week period. Teams were selected through a rigorous application process and consisted of four 1st year students led by a 2nd year team advisor. Each team was sponsored by a well-known consumer packaged good company and assigned a product to market. Teams then sold their products during the capstone event at the Sage Social where the entire student body, faculty, staff, and partners “purchased” the products. After the sale, each team presented their results to a panel of nearly 30 industry experts and marketing executives. Participating students benefited from immediate application of classroom materials while engaging early with sponsoring companies and receiving real-time feedback from marketing experts. This event received much praise from students, staff, and sponsoring companies and was featured in several Cornell publications and professional blogs. As such, the event has been institutionalized; a position on the MA Executive Board has been re-named ‘Vice President of Marketing Competition’ while sponsoring companies have already been confirmed as participants for next year. Furthermore, outreach to the undergraduate business program has been initiated with the goal of starting a similar event within the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Battle of the Brands will continue to create a strong pipeline of future marketers.
- Ithaca Entrepreneurship Bowl-A-Thon
Fellows: Justin Angle, Linas Krisciunas
Clients: BR MicroCapital (BRM), Ithaca entrepreneurs
This annual Bowl-A-Thon event is designed to provide BRM with additional funding to build their loan pool for supporting entrepreneurs in the Ithaca community. BRM is a student-run organization that spurs microenterprise development by assisting self-employed individuals in reaching their business goals. Launched in January of 2009, BRM seeks to meet a critical need by working with promising, but underserved entrepreneurs in the local community. This event gives BRM an annual fundraising tool to fully realize its development objectives. The Bowl-A-Thon generates funds for local entrepreneurs while bringing together the Johnson School community for one of its favorite pastimes. The project involved establishing the economics and logistics of the event, gathering contacts and requesting donations from local businesses, and developing a marketing and registration plan. Ownership of this project is to be transferred to BRM, which will use the event as its primary annual fundraising effort.
- Cornell Energy and Sustainability Office Communication Project
Fellows: Brianna Tufts
This project partnered with the Energy and Sustainability Office at Cornell. In 2009 President Skorton pledged for Cornell University to go carbon neutral by 2050. To support this effort, Focus Groups of faculty, staff and students were established to collaborate on planning, implementing, and reporting campus sustainability initiatives. This project supported the reporting responsibility of the groups by developing templates in Microsoft Access that link to the Sustainability Implementation Management System database. Templates incorporated visuals, titles and text in order to convey information about projects and sustainability efforts in a professional, informative way. Sustainability efforts to Cornell are varied and many and this project developed a way to share information internally and externally.
- Ithaca City Schools District Food Service and Waste Project
Fellows: Agata Kostecka, Elizabeth Mygatt Client: Dan Flerlage, teacher at Lehman Alternative Community School (LACS), on behalf of the Ithaca City School District The purpose of this project was to present the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) with data on the cost implications of various options of food serving and food waste disposal from its schools. The team examined current systems and practices (such as food service, logistics, and waste disposal/composting/recycling) and modeled the economic costs of the status quo as compared to alternative systems and practices. By helping ICSD understand the economics underlying different options, the team aims to empower decision makers with more complete economic information to facilitate and inform decision-making and make the Ithaca schools and community more sustainable.
- Johnson Office of Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan
Fellows: Jamease Leonard
Faculty: Nsombi Ricketts
As the Office of Diversity and Inclusion celebrated its 10 year anniversary this year, this project was designed to assist the office with its strategic plan for the next 5-10 years. Part one included analyzing the 2010 climate study results to identify Johnson strengths and weaknesses, and reoccurring Diversity and Inclusion issues within the school. From this analysis, a strategic plan was developed and presented to the Management Committee. Part two includes bringing together key stakeholders to form Johnson’s first Diversity Council. The Council will be comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and ODI staff in a facilitated decision making session. The Diversity Council will assist ODI in implementing the strategic initiatives that emerged as a result of the climate study.
- High School Youth Catholic Leadership and Retreat Program
Fellows: Ryan Barba
The “Reaching for Christ” Program was designed to encourage high school students to embrace their Catholic faith and learn the value of leadership, teamwork, and listening. The Fellow organized and facilitated two types of retreats: selection and training of a ten-member leadership team comprised of high school youth, and a full-weekend (two-night) Catholic retreat held for local high school youth. With the support of the local parish, the Park Fellow was able to select the ten students who were thought to have the leadership potential and strength of faith necessary to lead a successful retreat. For the next 8 weeks, the Park Fellow then put the group through an intense leadership training program that I developed including the concepts of credibility, leadership by example, teamwork, listening, and public speaking. The following spring, the first retreat was held and twenty local students attended. Not only did all attendees find the retreat enjoyable, but many of them joined the Immaculate Conception youth group, boosting attendance of weekly meetings and participation in public outreach and community service projects. The leadership team expressed how their leadership skills and Christian faith have improved because of the experience. The parish has officially invited the Fellow to continue the ministry after graduation.
- Paleontological Research Institution and Cayuga Nature Center
Fellows: Ken Bergami
Others: Jeff Leslie
Clients: Paleontological Research Institution and Cayuga Nature Center
As of January 2011, the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) has become a close partner of the Cayuga Nature Center (CNC). This non-for-profit partnership provides substantial opportunities for PRI to broaden its future educational outreach by focusing on the increasingly emphasized connection between paleontology and the environment. The project focused on conducting research that determines which programs and initiatives will have the most positive impact on the operations of both PRI and CNC, while improving the quality of environmental education. Furthermore, efforts are underway to determine how to maximize public awareness of these improved programs offered as a result of the partnership. The goal is not only to help PRI and CNC improve operations, but also to provide educational opportunities that match the interests of the local community.
- Johnson Women in Business Conference
Fellows: Hannah Dupes, Margaret Guillemette
Faculty: Nsombi Rickets, Sonia Rucker, Risa Mish and Susan Cabrera
Others: Anita Kacholia, the Women’s Management Council
Clients: Johnson School and the Cornell Community
This project launched an inaugural women’s conference at Johnson and established a viable infrastructure within the Women’s Management Council to sustain the conference on an annual basis going forward. The fundamental objective of the Johnson Women in Business weekend was to attract more accomplished women to business school, educate them on Johnson’s unique value proposition for women, and to provide a forum for women to discuss issues relevant to success in the business world. Through benchmarking peer schools, surveying current students, and on-boarding key admissions personnel, this year’s Johnson Women in Business Conference was open to prospective and current students, attracted nearly 40 outstanding prospective students to the Ithaca area, and included two keynote speeches delivered by prestigious alumni from Johnson. While a terrific event, we were able to gain valuable insights from participants and as a result will be hosting the second Johnson Women in Business Conference at the Cornell Club in New York City in April 2012.