Shepard Hall, site of the Colin Powell Center

Center Unveils Restructured Colin Powell Program in Leadership

Center-Supported Effort Brings Clean Water to Rural Honduras

Wind Energy Policies Find Advocate in Center Scholar

Scholar Investigates Health Literacy Links to Policy

VISTA Champions College Access

Colin Powell Center Steps into New Era

Welcome to the Colin Powell Center's fall newsletter. We began our programs several years ago with a small cohort of eight students in a new leadership training seminar. We've grown rapidly since then. Our leadership program now supports 33 students. Our service-learning initiative expands every year and is now one of our signature programs. It allows us to support student service in local organizations like Literacy Assistance Center of New York and Neighborhood Housing Services of New York. Once we discovered how powerfully students desire to serve, we responded by initiating support for student-led and student-designed service programs.
Recognizing the need to think strategically about our growth, we undertook a strategic planning process this past summer, and began implementing these plans in September. You'll start reading about these new efforts in this issue. We've redesigned our leadership program to more closely integrate seminar, service, and research activity. New small-scale grants promote collaboration between our students and CCNY faculty around research that speaks directly to public needs and community audiences. We are also launching two publication series: one as an outlet for students and faculty policy research, and the other to present research on service-learning.  Our Website now also includes audio files of Center-sponsored public events, ranging from lectures to discussions of leadership and life skills, and we have a new Facebook page, which can be found via this link

Across the board, the Center is growing in ways that would have been difficult to predict only a few years ago. We anticipate a steady expansion in our core leadership programs. Within four years, we will support service-learning opportunities for 500 students each year. Ultimately, we aim to make service-learning opportunities available to every interested CCNY student, changing key elements of the college's approach to education and public needs.

There will be other exciting developments and changes at the Center over the next few months. I hope you find the updates and stories in this newsletter engaging, and that you'll check in on our progress from time to time via our Website, our Facebook page, and at our public events.

Colin L. Powell

2009-2010 Scholars Join Newly Enhanced Leadership Program 

Chrysothemis Kishore and Ayodele Oti, first-year students in the Colin Powell Program in Leadership and Public Service.This fall, the Colin Powell Center unveiled its newly sharpened and refocused Colin Powell Program in Leadership and Public Service. Based on feedback from participants, in-depth research into best practices in student leadership development and policy research, and an analysis of exemplary programs at leading universities, including the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford, the Colin Powell Center's restructured program now offers the following elements:
increased opportunities for students to apply policy studies to community-based service projects during the academic year:

  • expanded and explicit public policy and leadership training;
  • increased opportunities to connect with professionals in the public and private sectors;
  • increased interaction between undergraduate and graduate students.

"These changes and improvements are quite dramatic," notes Center Deputy Director Nora Heaphy. "They help us more effectively meet the needs of students from many different disciplines who have a commitment to public service, but not necessarily a formal leadership training or a background in public policy." First-year students, for instance, now focus in the fall on the nuts and bolts of agenda setting, policy formation, and policy implementation. During the spring, they delve into the history, role, and options for public service and civic engagement; they also spend 25 hours putting theory to practice in local organizations.  More

Center-Supported Effort Brings Clean Water to Rural Honduras

By Flannery Amdahl

City College is a long way from Nueva Suiza, a tiny village accessible only by bumpy roads through the mountains of Honduras.  Thanks to a CCNY student organization funded in part by the Powell Center, however, a connection between the two is now well-established and growing stronger.

At the heart of the connection is Engineers Without Borders, an organization that pairs students and professional engineers with communities in developing countries that lack the resources to build basic infrastructure. In 2005-2006, the international organization paired City College's new student chapter with Nueva Suiza. The village lacked sanitary running water, so many of its 400 residents suffered from chronic intestinal, eye, and skin infections. CCNY students embraced the assignment.

After an initial assessment trip, the team designed a complete system for water collection, transmission, storage, and purification. The project's greatest engineering challenge, recalls chapter president Svetlana Fisher, was selecting the ideal site to build the purification tank. The mountaintop village is located near a stream, but the student engineers needed to position the pipes carefully so they would receive enough pressure to push the water uphill. More

Jason SelfeRenewable Energy: A Goal Worth Pursuing

Picture a strapped rural community in former East Germany, near the longtime repressive East-West border. Right on the horizon on the outskirts of town, eight wind turbines dwarf the landscape. These aerodynamically sleek structures provide the post-Soviet town of Dardesheim with virtually all of its energy needs, replacing petroleum-based energy sources, and benefiting the environment. Additionally, the wind park generates needed tax revenue and jobs for the area.

A few months ago, Jason Selfe, a Colin Powell scholar, caught four trains and a bus from Bonn to see the turbines, among them the uncannily quiet Enercon 6 MW (megawatt), the world's largest land turbine. Selfe, an economics and advertising/P.R. major at CCNY, interned with the World Wind Energy Association in Bonn this past summer. The association promotes information and policies critical to the development and marketing of wind energy around the world, and is "the voice of the wind-energy industry," Selfe says. Selfe, who is dedicated to advancing renewable energy sources, traveled to Dardeshiem as part of his internship. He recently spoke to the Center about his experiences.

What was your focus at the World Wind Energy Association?
I developed educational materials to combat the lack of awareness of the potential of wind energy for farms, municipalities, schools, and venture capitalists. Another focus was gathering material to index the private wind energy companies and nonprofit wind energy organizations around the globe. Essentially I looked at who's out there in the industry and who is doing what.

How has your internship influenced your policy focus at the Center?
My goal is to see the U.S. move away from its current approach of "renewable energy portfolios." Renewable energy portfolios are a mandate by the U.S. government to utility companies, saying you have to generate X percentage of your energy through renewable resources. This approach tends to benefit big business. However, to make renewable energy meaningful and to affect the way people really use energy, we need a decentralized energy distribution system. Changing to a "feed-in tariff" model does this. More

Health Literacy: The Path to Inclusive Health Care

From the cramped classrooms of Coney Island Library to the gracious spaces of City Hall, a 2009 Health Literacy Fellowship took Sebastian Rubino, a Dobrich New Americans scholar at the Center, to far-flung city sites. The packed six-week fellowship, which ended in August, was run through Mayor Bloomberg's Office of Adult Education and included intensive seminars on health policy issues, clinical site visits, and community fieldwork in which the fellows led health-literacy workshops.

At Bellevue Hospital, Rubino, a fourth-year student at CCNY's Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (a seven-year BS/MD program), observed the facility's state-of-the-art TEMIS interpretation operations (similar to the UN's simultaneous translation services). At Coney Island Library, he instructed non-English speakers and adult learners about health-related topics and developed and led engaging activities to encourage behavior change. Throughout the experience, Rubino gleaned practical insights, some of which he shared during a recent discussion.

What is health literacy?
Health literacy goes beyond health education. For effective health literacy, you really need to draw out communities and put information in individuals' hands that they can use to improve and manage their health. You want people to know how to read their medication labels, to stop the doctor and ask him or her to re-explain something if they do not understand it, and to realize that they can improve their health with small changes in their daily lifestyles

What was an important focus of the fellowship?
It was teaching the health literacy workshops to ABE [Adult Basic Education] and ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] students. One enlightening moment came after my faculty mentor helped me realize that successfully teaching the ABE students meant not necessarily focusing simply on completing my lesson plan, but starting a discussion to get students to learn something they had not known before. More

Hashim Hassan in front of the Capitol buildingCenter Scholar Sharpens His Policymaking Focus

Hashim Hassan had waited through the morning to gain entrance to the packed Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Sudan last summer. Hashim, a New York Life fellow at the Colin Powell Center, was working at the time as an intern with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The hearing was relevant to research he was doing as part of his CSIS experience, but Hashim also had a personal interest in the subject. A native of the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan, he fled to Khartoum at age 14 with his family to escape civil war and later left for Cairo. In the U.S., Hashim has spoken out on the human rights situation in his native country.

Now he sat listening to Susan Page, a regional director of the D.C.-based National Democratic Institute, testify about efforts to conduct a census as a step to empowering Sudan's subjugated citizens, so their voices would count in the country's April 2010 presidential election.  

For Hashim, who actively campaigned for Barack Obama and who gained U.S. citizenship on the last possible day to enable him to vote for his candidate, Page's words resonated deeply. "Being able to cast my first vote for president was the one of best things that has happened in my life," he says. "I never voted in Sudan; we've had a complete dictatorship under El Bashir since 1989."

Hearing leading policymakers such as Page, both on Capitol Hill and at CSIS events, which he helped to organize and staff, deepened Hashim's experience in Washington, D.C. Now back at City College, the international studies major recently reflected on his summer at CSIS.

What was your research focus at CSIS?
I looked at what President Obama was trying to convey in his speeches in Accra, Ghana, and in Cairo, and what the policy ramifications are. Obama touched on issues that really matter to me, for example, how regular people in communities both in Middle East and in Africa can bring change from the bottom up.

What was a highlight of your internship with CSIS?
Our coordinator asked me to be a presenter at a leadership luncheon for the Center's 100 or so interns. Our team was asked to argue the "pro" position on nuclear proliferation. Two or three people in my group were in that department, and they were passionate about the issue, but it was my job to synthesize the information and make our case. I felt like my hands were on the discussion, and this was a highlight for me. More

Service-Learning Students Fill Critical Needs at Area Nonprofits

PR Writing students describe their service-learning project to General PowellWest Harlem Group Assistance Inc., (WHGA), provides invaluable services to New Yorkers. The nonprofit organization directs affordable housing and revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. Yet effectively getting the word out about these services has been a challenge. Now this may change. Advertising and public relations students at City College have teamed up with WHGA to develop a media campaign targeted to neighborhood residents. Through their PR Writing course, taught by Professor Lynne Scott Jackson, the students are developing a fresh, new branding campaign for the organization, among other projects, based on more than 100 surveys of local residents.

PR Writing is just one of eight service-learning courses taking place this fall at CCNY. Service-learning is a powerful teaching method that embeds service activities in the curriculum in ways that address real community needs. The Colin Powell Center provides financial support, training, and technical assistance that make service-learning courses possible. Additionally, the Center offers workshops to organizations and agencies on how best to develop campus-community partnerships.

In other service-learning courses, students are assisting in community health clinics, secondary schools, and a range of organizations. Altogether through these courses, more than 180 CCNY students will devote an average of 30 hours each of service this fall to community organizations. Their efforts are particularly welcome these days.  This past year, nonprofit organizations around New York City have seen their grants and donations fall by as much as 50 percent. Meanwhile demand for services is surging, according to a recent report from the National Council of Nonprofits, based in Washington, D.C. More

New VISTA Coordinator Champions Leadership and Access

Stephanie CraneThe Colin Powell Center's new AmeriCorps VISTA program coordinator, Stephanie Crane, hit the ground running this fall semester. Tapped by City College's Office of Student Life and Leadership, Crane, a 2009 Fordham graduate, recently led two sessions for CCNY's weekend retreat for student leaders. The retreat brought together approximately 80 students in Hudson Valley, New York, for two days of skill building, motivational workshops, and bonding experiences.

In her first workshop, "Community Service and Leadership," Crane shared stories of leaders such as civil rights firebrand Ella Baker, El Salvadorian liberationist Father Rutilio Grande, and hip-hop pioneer and activist Grandmaster Flash. Crane noted their skill in inspiring others to "own" their activism and to commit to its success, and she called on her audience to integrate leadership and service into their everyday lives at CCNY.

The following day, Crane facilitated a powerful dialogue among students about the challenges they face as effective leaders on campus, and led them to potential solutions. "I was moved by the level of dedication and passion that many student leaders have for the work they do on campus," Crane says.

Crane's college experiences made her a natural choice to lead the sessions. At Fordham, the urban studies major was student coordinator at the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice. There she facilitated students' advocacy, leadership, and community-service efforts, and created college-access programming for middle and high school students in the Bronx. "I'm passionate about college access, particularly as it impacts high school students in urban area like New York City, says Crane, who made this issue the subject of her senior thesis. More

Mission Statement
The Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at the City College of New York (CCNY) is a nonpartisan educational, training, and research center named for one of CCNY's most distinguished graduates. Established in 1997, the Center's mission is to prepare new generations of publicly engaged leaders from populations previously underrepresented in public service and policy circles. The Center also seeks to build a strong culture of civic engagement at City College and to mobilize campus resources to meet pressing community needs and serve the public good. The Center focuses its efforts in the areas of community and economic development, education, the environment, health care, international development, and global security issues.


Advisory Council  
Madeleine K. Albright
Former Secretary of State

James A. Baker, III
Former Secretary of State

Tom Brokaw
Special Correspondent, NBC

Robert B. Catell
AERTC, Stony Brook University

Fulvio Dobrich
President and CEO
Galileo Asset Management, LLC

Harold M. Evans
Former President and Publisher
Random House

Carly Fiorina
Former Chairman and CEO

Vartan Gregorian
Carnegie Corporation of New York  

Richard N. Haass
Council on Foreign Relations

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.
Senior Managing Director
Lazard Freres and Co., LLC

Henry A. Kissinger
Former Secretary of State

Robert E. Paaswell 
Interim President
The City College of New York 

Lois Pope

LIFE Foundation

Colin L. Powell (Chair) 
Former Secretary of State

Linda Powell

Lisa Quiroz
Senior Vice President
Time Warner, Inc.

Jack Rudin
May & Samuel Rudin Family Foundation

Stephen Schwarzman
Chairman & CEO
The Blackstone Group

Sy Sternberg
Chairman and CEO
New York Life Insurance Company

Linda Kaplan Thaler
CEO and Chief Creative Officer
The Kaplan Thaler Group, Ltd.

Barbara Walters
ABC News  

Elie Wiesel

Charles B. Wang

Fareed Zakaria
Editor, Newsweek International 


The City College of New York
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