Meet some of our outstanding BANC volunteers.
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After graduating from Booth in 2005, I worked on Wall Street as an investment banker and returned to Chicago to work at an investment firm. I enjoyed the financial rigor of banking and investing, and those skills have served me well throughout my career. However, I most enjoyed working with, and for, companies to help them drive to greater success and value. For that reason, I left the world of finance to work as a growth strategy consultant. While I enjoyed consulting, when a search firm reached out to me about a software opportunity, I was intrigued and excited. I accepted this opportunity, which started me on the most amazing journey of my career. I fell in love with software because of its deep focus on people, and I’ve been working for different private equity-backed software companies ever since, most recently serving as a CEO.
I was again intrigued and excited about the email I received from BANC to join a project team. It was a chance to work with so many amazing organizations to create an immediate as well as enduring impact.
I wanted to volunteer with BANC, to put it in a very Chicago way, to “maximize my utility” by using the skills that I have honed over my career. I wanted to donate my time, anyone’s most precious commodity, to a great organization, and BANC had many such opportunities. I was also excited because I knew that I’d be matched with great people and have the opportunity to make a big impact with a great client organization.
I worked on a project for the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW). Going in, I thought it was a very well-scoped project. Additionally, the team was thoughtfully assembled with a combination of complementary skills. Our project leader did a fantastic job guiding us toward a great outcome for CFW. We were set up for success from day one with the team and the leader. The culmination of our project was a presentation to the board, where everyone had their own section to present. It was a great end to a well-run and impactful project for our client.
I encourage people to apply to BANC. The project opportunities provide enduring value for the organizations for many years to come. It’s a chance to create real impact. The time commitment is workable for just about anybody, with work that can be allocated to pockets of time that work best for you. Our team joked that the first time that we met in person was when we met for the board presentation. By then, we all felt that we knew each other well. I’ve had many great experiences in consulting. This was among the best that I have had for the culmination of a project.
I graduated from law school in 1979 and have practiced as a litigation and trial attorney ever since. For the past 35 years, I have been at a large Chicago-based law firm and have represented clients, tried cases, and argued appeals throughout the country. My practice has been focused on intellectual property disputes, executive compensation, dealer litigation and a wide variety of other commercial matters. I represented clients in many different industries, including real estate, software, electronics, financial services, and motor vehicle manufacturing, among others. I also held several leadership positions in my law firm.
Because my clients were businesses and so much of my practice involved management, marketing, product, and financial issues, I decided to go to business school. I enrolled in Booth’s Executive MBA Program and graduated in 1997, XP-66. After graduating from Booth, then known as GSB, I was able to apply many of my new business skills and insights to my legal practice, particularly in the realm of calculating and analyzing damages, which is a key part of almost every lawsuit. I also had better appreciation for the business perspective, enabling me to understand and communicate better with clients and to craft better legal gameplans for, and solutions to, business problems.
In 2019, I turned 65 and decided it was time to begin transitioning from full time practice. I was interested in having more time for myself and my family, but I also wanted to continue to be engaged in interesting projects and to give back to the community. At the end of 2019, I resigned as a Partner in my firm and went on “senior” status. In that capacity, I continued to handle select client legal matters and expanded my pro bono work. I represented criminal defendants on appeals of their convictions and immigrants in asylum cases and I prepared amicus curiae briefs for non-profit organizations. I also became a Board member and Treasurer of a theater company.
It was against this backdrop that I joined BANC in early 2020. BANC provided an opportunity for me to engage in community service beyond legal work. At the same time, I saw my background as a lawyer, including project management, legal reasoning skills, interviewing and investigations experience, as being potentially valuable to BANC. I began my first project in March 2020, working with Streetwise to develop a new social enterprise program to complement its existing newspaper vendor program. In early 2022, I began working on another BANC project, this one for Comer Education Campus, to develop a strategic implementation plan for a new career pathways initiative for economically disadvantaged young people.
Working with BANC has been challenging and rewarding. My teammates were smart, hardworking, and creative; each brought experience and insights that were invaluable. I learned a lot from them. I particularly enjoyed seeing our teams came together over the course of our engagements and create a work product that was better than any one of us would have created on our own. BANC provides wonderful opportunities. I encourage anyone looking for a great community service experience to join a BANC team.
My career is focused on building digital products from ideation to implementation for clients and helping them drive the highest value for the customers. I have worked extensively with multifunctional teams across North America, Africa, and Asia Pacific, and successfully launched products in these markets. Immersing myself in different cultures and environments enabled me to recognize various customer needs, create diverse growth strategies and deliver better business solutions. My experience extends to driving digital transformation with CRM tools to developing new business models and to delivering customers’ personalized journeys.
I believe in giving back to the community and have participated in various volunteer activities over the years. When COVID restricted my charitable interactions in 2020, an email from BANC presented an opportunity to volunteer with a nonprofit. A project with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) DuPage appealed to me as I experienced firsthand the impact that mental illness had on a family. I applied without any hesitation, and was selected to work virtually with other Booth alumni. Over six months, our team assessed the state of the organization, evaluated the programs and services, and provided a strategic plan for the next three to five years. The client immediately enacted the strategic plan to fulfill its mission of building better lives for those affected by mental illness.
BANC projects are diverse, opening possibilities for consultants to be involved in different areas and nonprofit sectors. In a subsequent BANC project, we identified Key Performance Indicators and designed dashboards for the client. In my most recent project, I embarked on a new initiative as a project lead. Participating in BANC projects has furthered my professional skills and gave me an opportunity to learn from other alumni with unique perspectives and different mindsets. Leading a group of seasoned professionals allowed me to advance my soft skills and project management skills, encouraging and empowering them on the project.
While it is extremely satisfying to be able to help nonprofit organizations with my professional expertise, what I love the most about BANC projects is that I get to interact with clients, listen to their stories, and get exposed to new perspectives on social problems. To anyone considering applying to BANC, my advice is not to wait. There is no time like the present to make a difference. The projects are both challenging and rewarding, and will grow your network, and provide you with invaluable experience to serve the wider community.
My involvement with BANC was a pleasant accident. I stumbled onto a BANC outreach email in my spam folder and decided to apply! I had little awareness of the organization but had familiarity with the model as I had volunteered with Booth Social Impact Club (BANC equivalent in the evening & weekend MBA program). Next thing you know, I was on an exciting project!
My background is in engineering. I lead operations and drive performance improvement initiatives at an engineering laboratory. I also advise a food tech start-up in Chicago in areas of product development & operations. As such, I had limited domain knowledge around behavioral health, education & youth programs - areas related to my first BANC client.
My first client at BANC was Alternatives, a youth program service provider that was looking to build sustainable growth in the behavioral health programs in schools in the Chicago metro. Our team performed an in-depth market analysis to understand how programs are built and offered to students, to understand the end goal of multiple stakeholders, and to identify the willingness to spend on these programs. During the discovery period, we also got to understand the organization and its strengths and weaknesses. After our analysis, we prescribed pragmatic and actionable steps that the organization could take in the short, medium, and long term to achieve its growth objectives. Our recommendations were well received by the executive director and other key staff in the organization.
I really enjoyed working with my BANC team in the post pandemic environment (remote). Though the youngest in the team, I was an equal contributor to the group and brought in my expertise around data gathering from social media and general data analysis. Given that many of my team members had been part of multiple BANC projects, I learnt a lot about nonprofit client management and the operational challenges of nonprofits. We had a strong and collaborative team.
BANC is a unique avenue to give back to our communities beyond the traditional means. It has allowed me to explore and contribute to organizations and causes that might otherwise not have been on my radar. I look forward to my next BANC project.
My career has been in the financial services sector, in analytical roles. Right out of college (UChicago ’82, BA Economics) I went to work as a runner on the Chicago Board of Trade Financial Futures trading floor. By the time I graduated from Booth (‘86, at the time just ‘GSB’), I was working with institutional clients to develop hedging strategies for fixed income securities portfolios. I then moved into risk management roles, first with the Board of Trade Clearing Corporation, and then in banking, still focused on analytics for my entire career.
In the last 10 years, I have been working with volunteer organizations. On many weekends, I helped maintain natural areas in Chicago public parks. I also joined a finance advisory committee for the National Religious Vocational Conference, and took on the role of Co-Director of the local chapter of the Global Association of Risk Professionals.
I became more focused on nonprofit roles when I separated from my employer in February 2020. I quickly discovered that transitioning from the corporate, for-profit world into the nonprofit sector was not as easy as I had hoped. As luck would have it, one morning my email inbox contained a call for volunteers for the latest round of BANC projects. I signed up and found a project close to home in the backyard of Booth, working with the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (HPNC). The project involved building out an operational budget forecast for a planned renovation of their building, and the expansion of programming that the new facility would allow.
I was able to use my analytical skills and finance knowledge to help the BANC team build a tool for HPNC to develop operational income forecasts. The project gave me direct experience working with a nonprofit organization and a first-hand perspective on how these organizations differ from the corporate world. Working with my BANC team, I was impressed by how Booth alums from many different fields, with different skills and mindsets, can come together quickly and develop solutions for nonprofits.
BANC has been a great experience. I plan to continue working with BANC and will be a project leader in the upcoming round of projects. As rewarding as it has been to simply apply my skills and knowledge for a useful cause, it has also given me fun and opened opportunities for direct experience in areas that I was unfamiliar with.
My professional expertise is in financial services, but I’ve always been drawn to the work of building a better world and giving back to my community. That combination is what drew me to get involved with the Booth Alumni Nonprofit Consultants (BANC).
After spending over 30 years working, I am now retired. I started my career programming investment models – quantitative and analytical as one might expect for a graduate of the Booth School of Business (1993 Evening Program). I held a variety of roles including program management, risk management, and investment consultant for both large institutional funds as well as ultra-high net worth families.
I have also had extensive experience with nonprofit organizations. I co-founded the Social Justice Resource Center which links faith to action by providing information and resources on the social issues of our time. I currently serve on the boards for the Maryknoll Lay Missioners and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners Foundation, and I am a volunteer financial coach for the YWCA in Evanston.
I was introduced to BANC through an email from Booth Alumni Relations that highlighted upcoming projects and the skill sets that BANC was seeking. I was particularly drawn to a project for Inner Voice, an organization that provides affordable housing and support services for families and individuals as a pathway for health and recovery following a period of homelessness. The BANC team would develop dashboard metrics to further improve operations and to provide reports on effectiveness to current and prospective funders. My experience in data analytics and management reporting were a good match for the project needs.
The team that came together for the project was amazing. Each of us had something unique to offer and everyone made significant contributions. I learned a lot from participating in the project that I can apply to my nonprofit board and other volunteer work that I do. The client was very happy with our final deliverables which included a data dashboard, a review of the digital data collection and reporting capabilities as well as a strategic fundraising framework that utilized insights from the metrics developed.
My experience was so gratifying and worthwhile that I joined the BANC Operating Board as a Co-chair of the Operations Committee and volunteered to be a project leader for both the Women’s Business Development Center and the Chicago Foundation for Women. I encourage anyone who is looking to leverage their background and skill set in a philanthropic way to consider volunteering for BANC. It is a great way to network, to learn and to give back.
I am Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Guaranteed Rate, leading the Mergers and Acquisitions Group. My expertise is in predictive analysis, utilizing my unique background in technology and finance. After graduating from Booth, I was Managing Director of Global Investments at a private equity firm and led the Data Analytics and Business Intelligence practice at a consulting firm. Throughout my career, I have invested in domestic and international opportunities, sourced deals, assisted in the closing process and executed on management projections for both asset and platform level investments.
When I saw an email from BANC, I immediately knew that it was the perfect opportunity to give back. There are so many ways to give back. Instead of searching for a nonprofit that could use my expertise, BANC served as a funnel. BANC has a great cause and works with incredible organizations. I could trust it to find and validate projects that would benefit from Booth alumni skills.
Since my undergraduate days, I have been involved in giving back to the community. I am on the Executive Board of St. John the Baptist, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and previously served on the board of the University of Chicago Booth Alumni Club. I also volunteer at a food pantry and serve as an adult tutor. BANC was different because it gave me the chance to work with other Booth alums.
I had a fantastic experience with BANC. I was part of a team analyzing potential early growth strategies for IMD Guesthouse, an organization that provides comfortable, affordable, temporary housing for patients and their families, and for military veterans receiving treatment at the Road Home Program at Rush. Members of the team had very diverse backgrounds, which I don’t typically get to work with in my normal work environment. I enjoyed working with people who brought different perspectives.
I have a very busy work schedule, but the clear expectations and communication made the time commitment very manageable. We met a couple of times in person but I was able to complete a majority of my assigned tasks around my time constraints. The project needs were a perfect match for my skills. I used my data and analytics background to create visuals from a large, flat, dataset, allowing us to see trends and make recommendations to the client.
The client was very happy with our analysis and recommendations. I am continuing to stay involved with BANC as a member of the Operations Committee, helping organize our databases to better reach out to alumni and nonprofits.
To anyone who is considering applying to BANC, my advice is: Get involved now! BANC works with great nonprofits, and you will get to meet and collaborate with terrific Booth alums. There are so many wonderful nonprofits in the Chicagoland area. Their need for help currently outweighs our resources. We need more Booth alums to volunteer for this wonderful cause.
Giving back gave me so much more in return.
I had been receiving and saving the BANC postcards for a few years, always hoping that I would find some way to prioritize making the time. I had a great interest in getting involved, but with a full-time career in marketing and two teenagers, extra time disappeared before I even realized I had it.
In early 2020, I took some time off from working. And fortuitously, a week later, an email from BANC arrived with a new set of projects! I applied, got engaged, and was eager to get started. Then, COVID hit and all projects were put on hold. Again, however, I was in the right place at the right time. BANC cofounders Gayle Haller and Judy Maley were interested in using the down time to tackle some marketing projects. I had a deep dive into all things BANC to help update the web site and partner with Dana Moran to launch a new BANC newsletter. Interviewing nonprofit leaders and alumni to learn and write about past projects filled my desire to learn more about the nonprofit world and understand how Booth alum were helping, yet further piqued my interest in participating on a project.
Finally in June, BANC decided to launch a project virtually and I joined the team. The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) DuPage sought help building a strategic plan to support their mission of empowering all people impacted by mental health conditions to live life with purpose and meaning. The BANC team conducted one-on-one interviews; explored the mission, vision, and values; drilled into program details; and assessed financial and operational viability. Over six months, a diverse team of six Booth alum built an understanding of the situation that balanced market need, NAMI strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities, with the ability to execute and effectively serve local needs of the DuPage community. We did this all virtually, and three of us participated while also holding down full-time careers. Shifting gears to attend a weekly meeting and finding time to make my contributions to the project was never a burden. In fact, the experience sparked a passion that helped me bring additional curiosity and focus in my full time job. By stepping away from what I was working on to do something equally, if not more, challenging and interesting, I was able to bring more to my work across the board.
I sought out BANC to fill a void and desire to give back. To apply what I’ve learned in decades of healthcare and B2B analytics marketing to a nonprofit organization that was doing good in the world. What I completely underestimated was how much the experience would give back to me, from connecting with Booth alum to bringing back so many elements of what I loved being a Booth student: the challenge of lightning speed learning, critical thinking and dialog across a team with varied experience and perspective, and working with people who share a passion for a data-driven approach. If you’re thinking about participating in a BANC project, don’t wait!
I am currently a process design project manager on the strategy and integration team supporting Google’s people operations. Prior to Google, I worked at Disney, managing a project to centralize HR operations and supporting theme park operations and efficiency in an internal consulting capacity. I also have experience in operations consulting at McKinsey & Company and in manufacturing and distribution at Pepperidge Farm and General Motors.
My motivation for joining BANC was simple: I was looking for an opportunity to give back and do work that differed from my day-to-day job. I am a single mom of three and am acutely aware of the importance of modeling how they can engage in service to others. I was actively engaged in community service as a student. Seeing the impact that BANC made was very gratifying. Given the magnitude of issues facing the world in 2020, BANC allowed me to exemplify that small actions can add up to big impact. I am so proud of that.
Loaves & Fishes offers fresh food and meals for needy families, and our BANC team was asked to estimate the need so that we could better understand how much of it was being satisfied by the nonprofit. The project was a great fit, as I have extensive experience in food manufacturing and warehousing. I learned a ton about market sizing from other team members, and throughout the project I was impressed with the expertise and broad experience of my fellow alumni. It was a great reminder of the resources that we have within the Booth community. Our project team brought back the team-meeting feel of my B-school experience, when we were able to debate big problems with intelligent and engaged people invested in finding the best answer.
Since my BANC project wrapped, I have joined the Diversity and Inclusion Alumni Task Force at Booth to boost alumni engagement among underrepresented groups. I’ve also served as a speaker at several women-focused events for current students.
My advice to Booth alumni considering applying for a project is simple: Don’t wait! I wish I had done it sooner. It is easy to come up with reasons why it won’t work: You don’t have time. You aren’t experienced enough. You’re too experienced. You don’t remember the fundamentals of microeconomics. What I can tell you is that the important reasons for being part of BANC go deeper than the immediate impact on the organization you are partnered with. It may be the satisfaction of seeing your expertise applied somewhere new, or in working through the discomfort of the lack of expectation that you are an expert. The lasting impact on you is what will bring you back for the second project.
I like to say I am one of the few people I know who uses what I learned in school all the time—decades later. I had an aptitude and interest in math and business, and when I took my first college course in marketing research, it was like a light bulb went on. I loved it and knew I wanted to make a career of it. More than 30 years later, I am still in the sector, working in marketing analytics and forecast, primarily with consumer products companies.
After completing my MBA at Booth, I worked in a variety of analytical research roles supporting marketing and sales at Helene Curtis (now part of Unilever) and Kraft Foods. When I left Kraft to start my own business in 2002, I also considered teaching or nonprofit work. Although I didn’t end up working in the nonprofit sector at that time, I’m a very active volunteer. I’ve been volunteering weekly since April 2020 at the Lakeview Pantry and have been a community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association since 2019. My longest-standing volunteer role has been as a docent with the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), since 1997. I've also stayed involved with Booth and the University of Chicago since graduation, participating in various alumni clubs and even giving tours of the University of Chicago campus for the CAC. When I saw the call for BANC volunteers in the summer of 2016 for a market-research-focused project for a theater company, I knew it was for me—I love data, I love the theater, and I was eager to apply my skills to serve a nonprofit.
I have found it very rewarding to apply my analytical skills to benefit BANC’s nonprofit clients. And I haven’t stopped. Since my first BANC project for Court Theatre, I’ve led projects for Prevent Blindness, One Million Degrees, and IMD Guest House. As a current member of BANC’s steering committee, I’ve been part of a small task force working on a strategic plan for the organization.
For me, one of the best things about BANC is learning about the workings of our nonprofit clients and their specific sectors. The projects I have worked on have varied across the arts, education, and health care, all of which interest me. For example, I helped develop a tour for the blind at the CAC, which later enhanced my work as project leader developing a data dashboard for the Prevent Blindness BANC project. I also believe getting to know other Booth alumni not from my own class or industry has greatly expanded my personal resources.
If you’re looking for new ways to apply your business skills in a way that helps people, I would highly recommend BANC. The challenges of the pandemic have heightened the need for nonprofit services, and BANC provides a unique opportunity that connects Booth grads with rich, meaningful opportunities to contribute to society.
I arrived in Chicago in the fall of 1967 at a time when social unrest was at a very high level. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing; the Civil Rights Act had been recently enacted and faced substantial backlash in many parts of the country.
Earlier, JFK asked what we could do for the country and oversaw the creation of the Peace Corps; LBJ was building the Great Society; Martin Luther King was at his height of influence; people like James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and many others had been raising the consciousness among impressionable youth, and I had just finished a senior thesis on the benefits of the Job Corps.
So when I reached Chicago, I had mixed emotions about attending a business school when I was concerned about society. This was exacerbated when I saw the disparity in the economic and social conditions between [neighboring communities] Hyde Park and Woodlawn. Fortunately, I found others (Don Altvater and Bob Davidson) who felt as I did and together we formed Project One, an organization that enlisted GSB students who were interested in consulting with Woodlawn small businesses on a pro bono basis to help with accounting, inventory control, marketing, and other skills that we could employ. The experience was extremely rewarding.
Flash forward to 2015. I was retiring from a marketing/consumer insights career and I received an email from Booth/Rustandy regarding an opportunity to consult one-on-one with a nonprofit executive. I took advantage of that opportunity, enjoyed it, and was steered to BANC.
Over the past four years, I have worked on three projects as a project leader (or co-leader) and again found that my business experiences allowed me to select project team members who, together, would be able to deliver solid recommendations to our clients. I have found great satisfaction in being able to help nonprofits with the issues that our teams addressed, and I really enjoyed making contact with very smart and interesting younger Booth alumni who were able to teach me new ways of looking at issues based on their unique experiences.
More recently, I have been very active on BANC’s steering committee. Working with very talented cohorts, I feel we are helping BANC set a structure and agenda that will help to ensure future success—enabling other alumni not only to gain satisfaction from giving back to the community, but also to strengthen their ties to Chicago Booth and the university in general. I had been quite removed from Booth, but the fellow alumni I have met over the past few years instilled a greater pride in the school I attended so long ago. I highly recommend BANC to all alumni interested in helping to make a difference and expanding their professional contacts and Chicago Booth relationships.
“Brain food.” That’s the phrase that hooked me when I first talked to Judy Maley and Gayle Haller about BANC. I was interviewing for the pilot project, a test case for how BANC would be received by alumni and by the nonprofit community. After a career as a foreign correspondent, a marketing consultant, and a brand strategist, I was a stay-at-home mom with young twins. The idea of using my Booth skills, meeting other alumni, and helping local nonprofits was irresistible.
Here’s the secret though. I wasn’t just helping the nonprofits. I was helping my future self too. I am currently in the process of launching a new business, hivve.world, a curated look at virtual events worldwide. BANC was the first step that brought me back into the world of business.
Booth is one of a few business schools that is trying to help alumni who stepped off the career path with a relaunch program. BANC is a rare program that actively advertises that it welcomes applications from alumni at all stages in their lives—those working full time or part time, those between jobs, those who are retired, and those who are stay-at-home parents.
The result is an interesting mix of alumni with a common desire to give the very best to the client. Our client on the pilot project was the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). The project was fascinating, requiring us to quickly understand and segment the customer base and provide specific recommendations. We were a group of strangers on the team, connected by our experience as Booth alumni. Over the course of more than six months, we bonded over our diverse backgrounds and worked well together to deliver an extremely well-received report.
I was picked for the project because my background in brand strategy, marketing, and reporting was a good fit for the client’s needs. As I contributed, I also learned from my teammates—fresh ways to craft surveys and analyze data and to present our findings on paper and in person, and the subtle skill of getting everyone on the same page in a cordial manner. It reminded me of the give-and-take of group projects on campus.
I continue to volunteer with BANC as a member of the steering committee. As I met more BANC volunteers, I realized that I was not the only one who benefited from participating in a BANC project. BANC fulfills a need for connections, to give back and to grow in confidence. Here’s the data to prove it: despite everything that we all juggle, as many as 25 percent of BANC alums re-up for another project. Several serve on boards of nonprofits.
As an entrepreneur, I have a lot on my plate every day now. And it all started with Judy, Gayle, and the promise of brain food at BANC.
Leah Pittacora, ’01, uses her career in strategy and operations consulting, business process improvement, and acquisition integration to assist nonprofits through BANC project work.
Since my time at Booth, my career has been in strategy and operations consulting, business process improvement, and acquisition integration. Throughout this time, though, I found myself thinking more and more about different ways to get involved with volunteering and work with nonprofits.
When I got the email from BANC announcing the first round of projects in 2015, it was clear that this was the right opportunity at the right time. Recently, I had begun working independently as a consultant and felt that I had the right amount of time and flexibility in my schedule to take on a BANC project. I applied and was selected for one of the first projects, with the Women’s Business Development Center. The WBDC is a motivated, mission-driven group, and they placed strong emphasis on getting the most out of the project. Working with the BANC team on the WBDC project was such a good experience, it led me to want to work on more BANC projects. I was a consultant on a second project for the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, and then became a project leader for the Urban Autism Solutions project.
All the teams that I have had the pleasure of working with, both the Booth team members and the nonprofit client team members, have been really great. The client teams have all been very committed to their organizations and their missions, and that energy and commitment really runs through the entire project. I think our Booth teams have brought and also honed their skills in areas from finance and analytics to marketing and communications to the building of business plans to organizational alignment. The projects have been interesting and varied.
Another bonus from volunteering with BANC: it increased my engagement with the Booth community. I’ve met so many Booth alumni that I would likely not have crossed paths with, with such a broad range of experiences, backgrounds, and graduation years. A couple of years ago, I accepted an invitation to join the BANC steering committee and appreciate the opportunity to stay involved and work on internal BANC projects that shape the future of the BANC organization. I also became a mentor at UChicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I was introduced to this opportunity through a BANC connection.
If you are on the fence about applying for a BANC project, I would highly recommend you do it. I have found that so many skills from the corporate world are transferable to the nonprofit world. Both sectors are trying to do similar things, just approaching it a little differently for obvious reasons; the framework and methodologies are just as applicable. I have a ton of respect and gratitude for BANC and the opportunities it gives to others and unique contributions itmakes to nonprofits here in the Chicago area.
Lawrence Donoghue, ’84, transitioned from a career in banking and small-business lending and uses his expertise to help nonprofits through BANC project work.
I built my career in banking and small-business lending. About six years ago, a former manager of mine told me about the Rustandy Center’s On Board conference. I attended that conference and got engaged in various nonprofit activities, which I have found so satisfying personally. I joined the board of Connections for the Homeless and got involved in several committees, including the executive committee and strategic planning committee. I also got heavily involved in their program of advocacy for more affordable housing in our Evanston community. In addition, I went back to school to get a nonprofit management certificate to give myself a firmer base of knowledge of the nonprofit world, including board leadership, fundraising, and key industry trends.
My first BANC project was with the Women’s Business Development Center, which wanted a strategic review of their microlending program. It was great to work with other alumni on this project. I found it very rewarding to use my 25 years of small-business lending experience to help them with an important strategic decision—how to grow their microloan portfolio to meet the growing need for capital by women and minority entrepreneurs while minimizing the risks of that growth. We recommended an approach using a government lending program, plus some new risk controls and governance enhancements. The board seemed very pleased with our recommendations and they began implementing them right after the project concluded.
I am now just getting started with a new BANC project, which will be focused on helping StreetWise magazine develop a new social enterprise. This new enterprise will help them to serve their clients in new ways and also bring in new revenues. I have been a supporter of StreetWise for at least 10 years, and its mission of serving the highly vulnerable homeless population is near and dear to my heart. I am looking forward to brainstorming with our team to identify a social enterprise that will work for StreetWise’s client base and help the organization expand their services.
Lastly, I've also joined BANC’s steering committee. Among other initiatives, I’m working with several other alumni in planning a fifth-year celebration of BANC. So far, BANC has completed 24 projects for nonprofits in the Chicago area and 132 Booth alums have participated as consultants in these projects. We have a lot to celebrate!
Mary Curtis, ’94, refreshed her critical-thinking, research, and valuable business skills to support nonprofits—and help her reenter the market after raising her family.
I worked at Baxter International for over a decade, first as a microbiologist and then in business development. I off-ramped to raise my family but decided to return to a career in 2016. While I had done plenty of volunteering during my time off, I didn’t think about the need to build transferable skills or to keep my resume current, so felt there was an initial hurdle to overcome.
I attended the Booth ReLaunch workshop, which helped me start thinking about what I was looking for and how I could demonstrate valuable skills through my volunteer work. BANC was a great stepping-stone and a way for me to fill the hole in my resume. My project with One Million Degrees, a nonprofit that helps students in Chicago community colleges, allowed me to demonstrate concrete skills—critical thinking, research, working in groups, data analysis, jumping into a new organization, evaluating problems, and creating recommendations. After being out for two decades, I gained new skills and could learn and apply them right away. Working with my Booth group was also an incredible experience; everyone was generous with their time and knowledge, and it was great to be surrounded by alumni.
I credit my BANC project as critical for having received a job offer with Fermilab, where I now work. My first experience was so positive that I chose to work on a second project with Prevent Blindness, which provides information on eye care and eyesight. Ultimately, I’ve loved staying connected to Booth through BANC. It was a rewarding experience, and I’m grateful for the opportunities it provided me.