At the board meeting that took place on Jan 12th in New York City, there was a review of accomplishments and discussion of progress to be made. The Board discussed Foundation operations and Buildings & Grounds updates.
Inna Kuvich ('01, '02, '06) interviewed Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg(CRS ‘95, ‘96, ‘98). Currently, Paula is the Administrative Officer of the Hague Branch of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT). Inna chatted with her about the work of the UN, the impact CRS has had in her life and her work at the Board of Directors.
Joseph Riddle ('87, '88, '95, '97) met up with campmate with Larry Norden ('87) on November 9. They discussed Larry's work at the Brennan Center for Justice, and how the mission of Rising Sun is critical in this political climate.
Dear dedicated Camp Rising Sun supporters,
Every now and then one has the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and witness the often unseen efforts of people who seemingly make magic happen. This year I had the often formidable, sometimes humbling, and overall agreeable opportunity to sit in Helene's chair one day a week while she was on maternity leave. This gave me a close-up view of the dedicated and talented staff that keeps the LAJF running. These are the people who, day in and day out, allow us to provide the distinct and life-changing experience we call Camp Rising Sun to promising young people from around the world.
This year the cast of talented members included:
- Yena Purmasir - Yena is a poet. She is a New Yorker. She is a compassionate CRS alumna. She is an organizational warrior who labored for months to book flights, arrange visa interviews, field 2,001 questions from applicants, selectors, and government gatekeepers and to make sure that 120 campers knew what was required to get them to the buses for transport to Camp. She held the virtual hands of parents across the globe as they debated the merits of sending their children to a program they had never heard of until a few short months ago. She has managed it all with a sense of humor while consistently demonstrating grace under pressure. She joined our staff at Camp this summer with responsibility for evening programs. Thank you, Yena.
- Savannah Hawke - P rior to Savannah's recruitment we relied on a series of accounting temps to handle the day-to-day bookkeeping and administrative requirements of the LAJF. This did not work for our organization. Savannah has consistently demonstrated a capacity to remain unflustered even as she worked to resolve problems that would have challenged the most stoic of souls. Due entirely to her hard work, talent, persistence, and attention to detail we have resolved longstanding administrative issues AND still found time to get our staff, vendors and F&I committee caught up on all the work that is required to keep lights on, staff paid and campers fed. Thank you, Savannah.
- Ritam Mehta - Ritam has managed to wear many hats- so many, I have lost track. Ritam has transformed our web and social media presence. He has helped us to transition to modern email and phone systems, redesign our websites, take advantage of Facebook to involve alumni in the CRS experience and to support our recent campers. He did all of this while being a full-time student, part-time intern with the NYC Board of Education AND serving as a staff member at CRS this summer. Thank you, Ritam.
- Cameron Rylance - Cameron is our longest serving staff member. He has devoted himself to sustaining the Clinton campus and his efforts are clearly visible to anybody who has the opportunity to walk down the path from the main building to tent hill to the pool to the pond and out to the woods that are the southern border to the Clinton campus. Cameron has gone above and beyond the call of duty, organizing alumni activities at Camp including the fall and spring retreats, tent weekend and our ever-popular maple syrup weekend. He has somehow managed to meet and often exceed the ever-changing requirements of local authorities, including changing out the hardware of all locking doors across the entire campus on what can charitably be described as "short notice." Thank you, Cameron.
- Janessa Schilmoeller - Janessa agreed to take on what is understood to be a "big job." Being a camp director for 120 campers and a staff of 25 (including volunteers) over the course of a summer involves far more than most people who have never held the job can imagine. Selecting staff members to fill critical roles such as Nurse and Chef are usually the most challenging, but other positions are daunting in their own ways. Staff training must satisfy our program needs but also the health and safety requirements of a camp situated in New York and regulated by government thereof. Janessa brings with her years of domestic and international work in youth education, admirable professional and educational credentials and a can-do attitude that gets things done. Thank you, Janessa.
- Elyem Chej - Elyem joined us in May after completing her Bachelor's degree in Spain. Her job was especially challenging as she stepped into the role just as Yena was transitioning to summer staff. Elyem had to take care of all the hosting and home visits for the boys, arrange buses for the trip to Camp, give campers tours of New York, work on 101 database projects, manage the mid-season Alumni Reunion AND handle all of the last minute travel issues that arise every summer. Did I mention all the work on Facebook? Thank you, Elyem
If I ever begin to wonder why it is that our volunteers are willing to devote thousands of collective hours per year on the essential tasks of fundraising, facilities management, budgeting and governance, all I need to do is look at the dedication of the staff. The commitment of young, talented, CRS alumni year after year continues to inspire me. Their belief in our mission and program is the best form of inspiration I can ask for.
President, The Louis August Jonas Foundation
We are pleased to announce that Helene Mattera will step in as the Interim Executive Director of the Louis August Jonas Foundation! Helene is now well positioned to lead us through our next phase of growth. She brings a strong CRS background, educational training in youth and program development, more than a decade of fundraising experience and a passion for the Rising Sun alumni community.
Several months ago, an urgent message was conveyed to the Camp Rising Sun: The CRS campus at Red Hook is in urgent need of repair. Work will continue at Red Hook, including further site assessment and planning for repairs and renovations that will sustain campers and the CRS community for the next 100 years. It remains the goal of this Foundation, and the Board, to reopen Red Hook with alumni support and to run two seven-week Camps in the future.
Priya Jain, current senior vice president of business development and strategy at Atkins, is the mother of two Camp Rising Sun alumni and serves as a member of the LAJF/CRS Board of Directors. She leads and implements strategy and client-focused initiatives with an emphasis on account management, sales pipeline, and sales talent development. Over the course of her 23+ year career, she’s held a variety of leadership roles that have encompassed strategy, sales, operations, and project delivery. She holds multiple advanced degrees including Masters Degrees in environmental engineering and in physics.
In addition, Ms. Jain currently serves as a leader in the Northern New Jersey Chapter of Ellevate, a global professional women’s leadership organization and is the founder of Prabhat, a nonprofit aimed at providing educational opportunities to the underprivileged.
We asked Ms. Jain about her daughters’ involvement with Camp as well as her current career endeavors.
1) What do you think is the biggest lesson or takeaway you (or in your case, your daughters) learned from Rising Sun?
Witnessing the emotional and intellectual growth of my two daughters who attended CRS over the last five years. They both came back with an intense awareness of global issues and a highly developed ethical sense of responsibility towards addressing them.
2) Can you tell us more about the work you do with your organization, Prabhat?
I am the founding member of Prabhat (prabhat.org) a non-profit dedicated to educating the underprivileged children in India and the US. Founded in 2010, Prabhat has created a network of partners and non-profit educational organizations and effectively connected donors with recipients. As a board member, I am actively involved in all aspects of strategy and planning, organizing fund raising events, vetting out partners and recipients, ensuring appropriate use of funds, and communications.
3) If you had one piece of advice to offer young men and women who are still in high school, college, or the early stages of their career, what would it be?
Life is a marathon and not a sprint. A bad grade, being passed over for a cherished job, or getting that coveted promotion does not define who you are now or what you will become in the future. Take these bumps or successes in the journey as an opportunity to learn from and grow. Celebrate your successes and dig down deep to find the strength to overcome setbacks.
Be curious, discover what you value, work hard to achieve your goals, and learn to adapt. Above all, don't forget to enjoy the journey - you have only one life to live!