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2007 Reynolds Graduate Selection Event



NYU President John Sexton

On April 13, 2007, an extraordinary group of individuals gathered at the Skylight Ballroom of the Puck Building. The event was a cocktail party to kick off the final phase of the 2nd Annual NYU Reynolds Graduate Fellowships in Social Entrepreneurship selection process. This event and the program itself were made possible by a pioneering, $10 million gift to the university from the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation.


Wagner Dean Ellen Schall

Represented at the party were candidates from all over the world, and from across the university. President John Sexton and Dean Ellen Schall of the Wagner School of Public Service gave welcoming addresses. Adding to the sense of excitement was the presence of the sixty selection event judges, who together have made significant contributions to social, economic, commercial and intellectual development worldwide; and other distinguished guests, including NYUs provost.


Dean Schall and NYU Provost David McLaughlin

Each of the eighty-five finalists assembled candidates had already survived a rigorous initial selection process. From a pool of 400 applicants, the schools collectively nominated a cohort of 130 semifinalists. Through a fourteen member Internal Selection Committee consisting of senior NYU faculty and administrators, the 85 finalists were named. Each of them demonstrated promise in regards to seven core competencies that are important to changemaking efforts: Intellectual achievement, commitment to issues of social importance, ethical integrity, creativity in goal setting and method, persistence and flexibility in reaching goals, self assessment, and leadership. More than that, each of these finalists had shown the promise of future achievement as a changemaker in one or more of three areas: creating pattern-breaking social change in ways that are sustainable and scalable; building and sustaining the social infrastructure required for such visionary efforts to take root; or bringing action-oriented awareness to social issues through the media and the arts.

The party was an opportunity for the candidates and judges to get to know each other, discover areas of mutual interest, and enjoy some fantastic food and a photo montage of the first year of program, put together by undergraduate Reynolds Scholar Robert Sukrachand. The gathering had been scheduled to run from 6 to 7:30, but everyone was having such a great time that it didnt break up until 10. This was a great affair that really personified the cross-university and meta-professional aspects of the Reynolds Program said NYU Reynolds Program director Gabriel Brodbar. It was an extraordinary gathering of current and future changemakers from across the university and across the globe, as well as leaders form the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.


Craigslist Founder and Reynolds Judge Craig Newmark (left) and NYU Reynolds Director Gabriel Brodbar

The next day saw the last and most grueling round of assessments for the graduate fellowship. The Reynolds judges have broad-based backgrounds in the social entrepreneurial community, and have maintained an active engagement with the program over time; approximately half of this years judges have served on these panels before. They include leaders of social service programs, authors, lawyers, financiers, social entrepreneurs and socially entrepreneurial thought leaders. Some of this years notable judges were Craig Newmark, the founder of the commercial and social-networking web site Craigs List; Stephanie Kinnunen , CEO and Co-Founder of NEED Magazine, specializing in identifying humanitarian crises all over the world and serving as a clearing-house for social entrepreneurial ideas to help solve them; Cheryl Green Rosario, Manager in Philanthropy at American Express; Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and Eric Schwarz, President and Cofounder of Citizen Schools. A Judge Bio Book profiling all the participating judges can be found by clicking here.

In the course of the competition some of the sixty judges, in panels of three or four, interviewed each candidate individually for half an hour. Then different, five-judge panels led the candidates through two 45-minute group exercises, one focusing on a specific social issue, the other involving pattern-recognition and pattern-breaking activities. The candidates took lunch with President John Sexton, during which they also had an opportunity to talk with current Fellows and undergraduate Reynolds Scholars.

Fourteen 2007 NYU Reynolds Graduate Fellows were selected on the basis of their performance in these interviews and exercises, according to the judges assessment of how well they met the programs core competencies and future aspirations. (View complete profiles of the new and returning Reynolds Fellows.) Each of the successful candidates will receive a $50,000 grant over two years of study, as well as intensive curricular and supplementary opportunities to enhance his or her chosen course of study. This includes dedicated academic programming, a special required class, the NYU Reynolds Speaker Series and many other activities.

A separate selection process is utilized for the undergraduate Reynolds Scholar program. 65 rising juniors were nominated as semi-finalist from across the entire university. From these nominations, twenty finalists were identified through an Internal Selection Committee. On February 10, 2007, these finalists participated in a day-long selection event. Twenty judges (of which five were) current Reynolds Fellows conducted panel interviews and group exercises similar to the Graduate Selection Event. Judges for the Undergraduate Scholars selection process included Laura Fernandez, Director of the Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families Incarcerated Mother's Program; Richard Souto, Associate Executive Director of Groundwork, Inc., a community-based non-profit organization providing youth and family services in East New York, Brooklyn; and Ris Wilson, founder of The Laundromat Project, Inc., a new Brooklyn-based arts organization committed to making art more accessible to communities of color living on low incomes.

Like the Fellowship selection process, the Scholarship candidates are subjected to a very intense, rigorous, cross-university process, well-designed to identify those who are most likely to make positive contributions to social development over the course of their careers. Ten scholarship winners were named, each of whom will receive $40,000 over two years of study plus a paid summer internship and an intensive curricular and co-curricular component. (View complete profiles of the new and returning Reynolds Scholars.)