“This is a generation that is programmed to serve”

This morning, the City Year New York Women’s Committee hosted their Second Annual Women’s Breakfast. More than 130 influential New York women, 80% of whom were brand new to City Year, came together for a discussion on the current landscape in education and to explore ways to help schools and students succeed.

Today’s event involved a panel discussion moderated by Chelsea Clinton, and included panelists Debora Spar, President of Barnard College, Mithra Irani Ramaley, Vice President of Regional & Site Operations at City Year, Inc, Sally Bachofer, Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Education Department, and Jahqueena Haynes, City Year New York Team Leader, and keynote remarks from the New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. 

Chelsea Clinton and our panelist before the event. L to R: Dan Attridge, Jahqueena Haynes, Mithra Irani Ramaley, Chelsea Clinton, Sally Bachofer, Debora Spar, Madison Gordon, Marla Ensuncho

“To put the dropout rate in context… 1.7 million people today [in New York], right now, are over the age of 16, are not in high school, have dropped out, and don’t have a GED,” said Speaker Quinn, as she helped the audience better understand the educational needs of New York’s schools. “Now those are bad statistics, but this isn’t a disease we don’t know the cure to… We have the cure to this problem: it’s multi-faceted and part of it is right in this room today, and certainty a huge part of it is the [City Year] corps.”

Kicking off our panel discussion was Chelsea Clinton who shared her own motivations for being personally invested in education and helping others,I am obsessed with what works and obsessed with trying to highlight what works in ways that are distilled, approachable, and accessible,” and she went on to say that “City Year is fundamentally important to me not only because I’m obsessed with what works, because that’s a motivating force in my life today, but also because I am deeply proud of my father for starting AmeriCorps,” of which City Year is a part of. 

Throughout the discussion our panelists shared their experiences and elaborated on the roles that women in service are playing to solve some of society’s largest problems. “This is a generation that is programmed to serve. And I think that that’s really a wonderful thing,” said Debora Spar. “Not everybody has to start a school for rural girls in Africa, as wonderful though that is, in fact; you get more muscle, more power by joining an existing, wonderful organization where you’re adding your resources and energy to something that’s already working.”

“The big idea behind City Year is if you take thousands of young people and you focus them on an issue—on solving an issue, that means young, idealistic, energetic people can literally solve any problem in the world. That’s the idea behind City Year,” shared Mithra Irani Ramaley.

The major theme from the day was asking the audience to find their own specific way to get involved because “we can’t do this by ourselves,” said Sally Bachofer. “There is a unique opportunity that we have to partner with our civic partners, our partners in philanthropy, our business leadership, and the people who are actually on the ground doing the work in schools… It’s not something that one organization can do by itself. It is power in numbers and this collective sense of civic engagement is so critically important.”

We would like to thank everyone who attended today’s event and for their continued support of City Year. Leaving the event there was a great sense of unity and the feeling that the crisis that we are facing in education today is solvable and that we all have a role to play.

Thank you Chelsea Clinton, Debora Spar, Mithra Irani Ramaley, Sally Bachofer, Jahqueena Haynes, and Christine C. Quinn for participating in today’s event and for inspiring our audience.  

Thank you Jill Iscol, President of the IF Hummingbird Foundation for closing out our program and for providing all of our attendees with your new book Hearts on Fire.

Thank you Robert Todd Lang, Senior Partner and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP for providing us with a great space for today’s event.

And finally we would like to thank the City Year New York Women’s Committee for their dedication to spreading the work of our corps and for mobilizing New York’s women to make a difference.

Erin Berger
Tricia Black Brogan
Binta Brown
Tracy Collins
Darin Eydenberg
Emily Griset
Jill Iscol
Keri Larkin
Dianne McKeever
Henrietta Pertuz
Cynthia Ryan
Janice Shepps
Lisle Whitworth

Please CLICK HERE to see more pictures from today’s event.