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Thank You for Toasting to Brighter Futures With Us!

What a fun night! A Toast to Brighter Futures, held on April 17th, was our third annual Young Professionals & Alumni fundraising and networking event. The event was held at Lilium, a lounge located beneath the W Hotel in Union Square, and guests enjoyed cocktails, DJ Todd Fatjo and a very exciting raffle. Thanks to all of the young professionals and alumni who attended, our fantastic host committee, and those who supported by buying raffle tickets, we exceeded our fundraising goal!


Futures and Options alumni Alvin Ng and Garvin Chen.


Futures and Options alumni Alvin Ng and Garvin Chen. Photo credit: Lily Kesselman. 


We would like to thank our fantastic host committee for all of their help with the event: Rob Anderson, Robert Baehr, Molly Battles, Anne Benedict, Vikas Bhatia, Gabriel Clarke, Latisha Daughtry, Rebecca Dougherty, William Ernest, Jerry Faust, Ephraim Fields, Scharon Gordon, Courtney Hall Leimkuhler, Colin Hannaway, Stephen Hessler, Edward Hiraldo, Candice Homan, Michael Jetton, Michael Kaminer, Ketan Kapadia, Richard Kennedy, Melissa Kern, Edmund Lempenski, James Liu, Frank Lockwood, Ryan Machir, Janet Mannheimer, Cynthia Marian, Joanna Munoz, Stephen Musante, Stephanie Perry, Amanda Pusey, Pauly Rodney, Richard X. Simon, Steven Sperber, James Stone, Scott Stuart, Christian Sullivan, Marie Surpris, Meena Thever, Paul Wasinger, and Justin Wroe. 


Host committee member Eddie Lempenski, Diana DeClemente, Board Member and Host Committee Member Scott Stuart and Katrina Lempenski.


Host committee member Eddie Lempenski, Diana DeClemente, Board Member and Host Committee Member Scott Stuart and Katrina Lempenski. Photo credit: Lily Kesselman.


Futures and Options alumni Marie Surpris and Amanda Pusey.


Futures and Options alumni Marie Surpris and Amanda Pusey. Photo credit: Lily Kesselman.


To view more photos from the event, please visit our photo gallery. If you’d like more information about becoming involved with the Young Professionals and Alumni Committee, please contact Matt Ellis or call 212-601-0002.


Students Get an Inside Look into Top Companies

What do you get when you mix twenty-two enthusiastic high school students, a youthful, entrepreneurial company, and engaged volunteers passionate about their work? A home-run Career Essentials High School Program field trip to eyewear start-up Warby Parker! From the moment our students walked through the door, they were made to feel welcome and valued. The Warby Parker team went above and beyond in connecting with our students and exposing them to life at a fast-growing startup.

After a quick tour of the office, our group gathered over snacks for an introduction to the company. Volunteers told the story of the Warby Parker’s founding and explained in detail their innovative model of eyewear design and manufacturing, customer service, and doing good in the world. The presentation flowed seamlessly into a down-to-earth career panel, during which several volunteers shared their stories and explained how their roles contribute to Warby Parker’s overall mission. By being incomparably welcoming, positive, and accessible in their presentations, the volunteers inspired our students with their entrepreneurial spirit and empowered them to think creatively about their own career interests.


To read more about the Warby Parker Career Exploration Trip and to view more pictures, please visit our website here. To view Warby Parker's blog post about the visit click here.


On March 26th, our Career Essentials Middle School Program students got a first-hand look into the inner workings of Gap's 5th Avenue store. Robert Bazayev, Senior Customer Experience Manager, welcomed us and showed the students a video giving them an overview of the company. Then students were broken up into groups and each group was taken to four different departments within the store, including branding/merchandising, loss prevention, stock, and sales.

A Gap representative from each department, David Smith (Branding), Farah Faustin and Alejandro Rodriguez (Stock), LaShawn Myres and Chelsea Anderson (Sales), and Jessica Kusuman and Dineen Lopez (Loss Prevention) showed the students the different aspects of how a retail store operates. Students learned how to merchandize clothing on the sales floor to what to look for when spotting a shoplifter.  It was eye-opening for all to see the expansiveness of the industry and the work that goes into running a retail store.   

Students left this field trip with a much improved knowledge of the various careers one could have in the retail industry and the skills needed to be successful.  We are enormously grateful to all of the Gap volunteers for providing an engaging and informative event for our middle school teens. 


On March 27th, an eager group of 20 high school students in our Career Essentials High School Program ventured out to Saatchi & Saatchi’s stunning SoHo offices for an evening exploring careers in advertising. Students met members of the Saatchi team with responsibilities ranging from market research to video production and asked questions about their jobs and career paths over a pizza dinner. Christine DeNoon and Kathleen Giacobello from human resources led an interactive presentation on interviewing do’s and don’ts and helped the students practice introducing themselves with good, strong handshakes. The evening wrapped up with a fun video-reel of some of Saatchi & Saatchi’s favorite advertisements and a tour of their offices.

The student’s were particularly impressed by the rooftop running-track and garden! The takeaway message: careers in advertising take a lot of hard work, but the rewards of having interesting projects and being surrounded by creative, articulate and fun colleagues make it all pay off. Thank you to Christine and Kathleen, and all of the Saatchi & Saatchi volunteers, for preparing such a great event for our students!

If you are interested in partnering with Futures and Options for career exploration, please contact Keleigh Spinner, Director of Strategic Partnerships, at kspinner@futuresandoptions.org or 212-601-0002.

Futures and Options Students Give Back through Habitat for Humanity Trip

Over spring break, 14 Futures and Options students decided to make a difference.  They traveled to Exmore, Virginia, partnering with Habitat for Humanity to work alongside future homeowners in building a house.  They put up siding, helped build two decks, and learned the importance of working together.  For many students, this was their first experience with any type of construction work, and it actually helped one young man decide what he wants to do as a career.  Kevin Rodriguez reflected, “I finally found what I want to do with my life, which is construction.”


Besides learning specific construction skills, the students were able to learn from and inspire each other.  Team building activities, reflections, and shared living space (we slept on the floor of a Church and cooked our own meals) helped the group develop from a gathering of 14 strangers to a unit with shared values and goals.  The students discussed the importance of community service and social justice in their future career paths, and gained a close network of friends that will last a lifetime.  Kevin looks back on the group fondly saying, “Being able to get close with people that you never met in your life in one week was great.”


Futures and Options interns Raquel Beckford, Brandon Hutchinson, and Kevin Rodriguez work together to mix cement.


To view more pictures from the trip, click here.



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