At Taproot, we have the good fortune of working with many talented, smart, and creative individuals who join our Taproot Foundation Pro Bono Fellowship program. This program not only brings critical support to our work, but also helps grow the talent that will continue to service the nonprofit sector for years to come. For six to nine months, Taproot Fellows work alongside staff to build the pro bono marketplace and drive social innovation. Here are a few of their stories.
Ariela Rosenberg-Brafman became a Taproot Fellow while she was a graduate student at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. After attending a Taproot Open House event, she was immediately drawn to the organization’s innovative culture and the smart, passionate staff. Ariela also realized that Taproot’s Product Development Fellowship would bring with it opportunities in line with her career ambitions. The biggest reason, however, for why she decided to join the Taproot Fellows was for the opportunity to put best practices in product development to work.
From 2011-2012, Ariela served as a Product Development Fellow in the New York office. She was thrown right in on her first day and worked tirelessly on advanced projects, developing the skills that made her a huge asset to the Product Development team. Her primary responsibilities included researching, designing, and developing two new Service Grants.
Ariela was pleased to have gotten so much out of her experience as a Product Development Fellow, including getting to meet interesting people, to see the inside of a cutting-edge nonprofit organization, and to learn more about the nonprofit sector as a whole. Her favorite part about working at Taproot is the cross-sector diversity the organization draws in via its employees and pro bono consultants.
Ariela continues to move Taproot closer to achieving its mission by working as an Associate Consultant with the Product Development team. She attributes her success in getting to where she is today to the skills she developed in her Fellowship position.
Thank you for making it matter, Ariela!
After she graduated from the University of Vermont in 2008, Diana Fischer joined our Program Development Fellows and was quickly promoted to Consultant in Advisory Services. Diana was introduced to Taproot while worked as a Program Analyst at Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that evaluates other nonprofits. One of the organizations she evaluated was Taproot (which got a really great score). She was instantly struck by Taproot’s unique mission. She still recalls visiting the website for the first time and thinking, “wow that is a brilliant idea.” With a personal interest in corporate philanthropy, she was drawn to Taproot’s position at the intersection of the corporate world and nonprofit sector.
As a Program Development Fellow, she was responsible for developing thought leadership, conducting research, and supporting everything that went into building the movement to engage companies interested in pro bono. She also spent her time educating those involved with our work on how and why we do what we do.
Not only did she gain professional skills working in the consulting environment, but also she quickly became an expert in delivering pro bono services. By the end of her Fellowship, Diana was able to apply the knowledge and skills to build programs for large companies, including Gap and Capital One, and to write many of the thought leadership pieces that helped Taproot reach a wider audience, including a toolkit for the White House Counsel on Community Solutions.
Diana was so happy to be surrounded by such a “talented, passionate, motivated and frankly cool crowd” during her time at Taproot. She went on to join the Gap Foundation staff in San Francisco as Associate Manager of Employee Engagement charged with leading a program that connects Gap Inc. employees with nonprofit partners to share their skills and talents. Taproot helped her get where she is today by teaching her two lessons: 1) Don’t be afraid; 2) Take a step back and think, “Five years from now, what’s going to be the best thing and how can we make that happen today?”
Thank you for making it matter, Diana!
Ryan Cohen joined our history of great Product Development Fellows in 2010 after she graduated from U.C. Berkeley. With an undergraduate degree in peace and conflict studies, she knew she wanted to be in a place where she saw the overlap of multiple sectors and got to complete work that would affect social change. Ryan was drawn to Taproot to be at the heart of the intersection between nonprofits, corporations, and foundations, and knew working there would allow her to see great work being done in different ways by interesting people who all wanted to make a difference within their sectors.
As Taproot’s Product Development Fellow, she was responsible for researching and developing new and improved tools to support our pro bono consultants and nonprofit clients. She also worked on developing a training system and peer mentorship program to help Taproot recruit and retain pro bono Project Managers. Her last project at Taproot was developing a new initiative that would introduce new and improved products that would have a greater impact on our nonprofit clients and meet the needs of our pro bono consultants.
She thoroughly enjoyed getting to interact with leaders in different fields and discovering unique ways of thinking. She also loved seeing how the different sectors interact. In her time at Taproot, she learned how much synergy can be created when people who are good at different things come together and participate in something bigger than what they typically do on a daily basis.
After her invaluable contribution to Taproot Foundation, Ryan went on to become a policy analyst on Mayor Villaraigosa’s Education Team. There she advised the Mayor on his engagement strategy, researched and tracked policies, and planned major community engagement events. She credits her ability to interact well with the Mayor and other executives to the empowerment and confidence she developed at Taproot. During her interview, Ryan highlighted the mentoring she received at Taproot as being very impactful: “You don’t always luck out with the kind of mentoring I received from Aaron and also Alethea, the Director of Product Development. I think that level of mentorship is something that is really special about Taproot, and will continue to shape my future.”
Thank you for making it matter, Ryan! And thank you to all our fellows!