By Mary McManus, second year City Year AmeriCorps member serving at McDonough Elementary School, and two year Corps Council member (pictured above in red vest in a roundtable with Dean Charlie Rose at the Dean's Council Supercharger)
For the past two years I have had the distinct pleasure of serving on City Year New Hampshire’s Corps Council. Corps Council is a feedback driven, initiative based group made up of corps members. Individuals are selected from each team to represent and articulate the needs and feedback of their peers. The council meets everyone two weeks to share on behalf of each school-based team, what is going well and where they could use support. This is the feedback aspect of the council. We then take that feedback and share with site leadership some common trends and advocate for the needs of our fellow corps members. We also, as a council, have discussions about what we as peers can do to alleviate the struggles, or highlight the successes of those with which we serve. This is the initiative aspect of our service.
We break ourselves up into three committees: Corps Unity, Site Sustainability, and Personal & Professional Development. Over the past two years we have led Ed Talks which give the corps opportunities to speak in front of the site and share their passions. There has been a weekly email started just to spread joy and laughter in the middle of the week. We lead Corps Unity games, have taken professional photos, and even provided a surprise coffee and breakfast for fellow corps members before service in our schools. Being a part of Corps Council is a unique leadership opportunity for corps members to take ownership over their year of service. Much like we are tasked with aiding students in advocating for themselves, we as corps members must learn to be our own advocates and take an active role in continuing to make better happen at every level.
As a second year Corps Council member, I also have the opportunity to be one of two Dean’s Council representatives. Along with running our sites Corps Council, I and a fellow Service Leader, Adam McAfee, act as the representative of City Year New Hampshire to the larger City Year Network through the Dean’s Council. Adam and I have monthly calls with the Dean of City Year, Charlie Rose, along with representatives from all 28 sites in the country. Dean’s Council members act very similarly to Corps Council representatives, just at a larger scale. We advocate for the needs of our site as well as share information and perspectives we gather from our calls with everyone in New Hampshire.
It has been an amazing opportunity to really get a feel for the scale and scope of our work across the nation. There is something really humbling about having the opportunity to hear how different, but amazingly similar, service can be from site to site. Recently, Adam and I had the pleasure of traveling to Boston for our Dean’s Council Supercharger. Dean’s Council Representatives from all 28 sites (except for Cleveland & Detroit who could not attend) had the opportunity to share our experiences and share some ideas about how to make all of our sites and corps councils better. We also were very lucky to be able to have open discussions about our service with City Year leadership like City Year CEO & founder Michael Brown, COO Sean Holleran, Chief Program Design and Evaluation Officer Stephanie Wu, and Vice President for Corps Experience Alex Allen. It was very empowering to see how interested they were in hearing our thoughts and witnessing their tireless work and dedication to improving City Year.
My experiences in both Corps Council and Dean’s Council continuously give me perspective and insight into not only the needs of others, but also the opportunity to hear about and support the inspiring work of so many people in this organization. From first year corps members all the way to the CEO, it’s extremely humbling to work in an environment that prides itself on the voice and support of every individual.