Served: City Year Boston 2009 on the Civic Engagement Team
Current Occupation: Director of Volunteer Engagement at City Year Boston
Fun fact: During her time with City Year, Mollie has engaged with approximately 25,000 volunteers in almost 200 service events in our Boston community!
City Year Boston (CYB): What first attracted you to City Year?
Mollie Puskar (MP): Two things really. One, I’d done another AmeriCorps program in the summer between my junior and senior year of college with the Maine Conservation Corps that really opened my eyes to what different AmeriCorps were, and what those experiences were like. So I went into my senior year really wanting to do a longer stint of service with AmeriCorps. And that combined with what I heard from my mom’s boss, who had done City Year in Columbus in the mid-1990s. She spoke really highly of City Year and what a life-changing experience it was. Her input combined with my introduction to AmeriCorps through the Maine Conservation Corps was what really drew me to City Year.
CYB: Tell me about a major challenge you faced during your service year and how you overcame it.
MP: I remember early in my corps year on the Civic Engagement Team feeling a respect for City Year, and also bewilderment at City Year. I felt like every week I was being pushed out of my comfort zone into leadership roles that I didn’t think I was ready for. I remember, I respected it and knew it was good for me, but I was like “I think they’re pushing me further than I think can go!” But once you do those things you don’t think you can do, you reset your limits and realize that if you keep going for it and are willing to figure it out as you go along, you can accomplish more things than you ever thought you could.
CYB: Describe your transition from City Year to your current career.
MP: At the end of my corps year, I was given the tremendous opportunity to come back as the Program Manager for the Civic Engagement team, and that set me on the track I’m currently on. I served as the PM for four years before moving into my current position as the Director of Volunteer Impact. I still am very closely involved and oversee the civic engagement work at the site, while also keeping an eye on volunteer infrastructure and ways we can improve our broader engagement efforts. Over the last year or two, I’ve worked with different departments at the site to identify strengths and weaknesses in our larger volunteer programming and am now leading a working group to figure out how we can close some of those structural gaps and how we can more effectively and efficiently engage people who want to engage with us, to help us reach our goals of every student being successful.
CYB: What do you love most about your job?
MP: At the end of the day, what I’ve gotten to do for 7 years, is go and talk to school leaders, community center leaders, and parks leaders, and basically ask them what would be helpful for them, what would be helpful in their space. And I’ve been given the resources to make some of wishes come true, and I think that’s an incredibly rare occurrence and incredibly rare gift. I am sometimes just awed that that’s my job, at the base of it. And the people I’ve met, inside and outside of City Year, are just absolutely amazing.
CYB: Do you have a message for alumni who want to volunteer or get engaged with City Year?
MP: We want you to come back! We’re working on ways to make it easier to do that. We highly encourage you to read the blog and alumni newsletters, and to try to stay up to speed with upcoming initiatives and events through social media or the new Alumni Guidebook. You can check out the website for opportunities to volunteer--like supporting an event, physical service, report card conferencing with our students, or mentoring a corps member. Alums are uniquely suited for many of the volunteer opportunities that we have, and we want you to stay engaged with us!