Thursday, June 16, 2011
Bethany Rubin Henderson: visionary activist and developer of leaders
Bethany Rubin Henderson is a Mortar Board from the University of Pennsylvania, the founder and executive director of City Hall Fellows and a past recipient of a Mortar Board Alumni Achievement Award. Read more about how she has continued to live out the ideals and values of Mortar Board.
Home: I am a native of Baton Rouge, La., have spent the last 6 years in Los Angeles, Calif., and, as of December 2010, live in Alexandria, Va.
Education: B.A. and M.A., Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1998; J.D., Harvard Law School, 2002
Mortar Board chapter: Quaker, University of Pennsylvania, 1997
Favorite Mortar Board moment: Two stand out. First, my induction, which took place in a gorgeous old wood-paneled room in College Hall at the University of Pennsylvania; the beautiful, historic setting underscored the weight of the honor. Second, attending the 2010 National Conference, where I received my Alumni Achievement Award. The other alumni I met were fascinating people whom I’d otherwise never have had a chance to meet, and the energy of the student officers was palpable.
Major student activities (as an undergrad): Ultimate Frisbee (captain of the nationally competitive intercollegiate women’s team); Pi Beta Phi (membership chair, philanthropy chair); Panhellenic Council (executive vice president); Student Class Boards; Political Science Undergraduate Advisory Board
Profession: Visionary activist, developer of local civic leaders
Occupational title: Founder and executive director of City Hall Fellows
Most recent achievements:
Personal: My 2 incredible daughters, aged 2.5 years and 7 months
Professional: Raising over $2.5 million to support the recruitment, selection, training and support of 51 Fellows in three cities, Baton Rouge, Houston and San Francisco (San Francisco currently is in the process of selecting a fourth cohort.) To date, those 51 Fellows have worked more than 60,000 hours solving critical municipal problems and have each undergone more than 300 hours of training in the local policy process in their cities, as part of which they have collectively completed more than 50 pro bono consulting projects for city agencies and leaders. These Fellows have found ways to save their cities millions of dollars; authored local legislation that has improved public health delivery; assessed the shortcomings, proposed refinements to and enforced participation in groundbreaking policy initiatives like Bank on San Francisco and HealthySF; managed the implementation of new financial management and more eco-friendly and cost-efficient public water meter systems; designed and piloted anti-obesity, juvenile delinquent reform and gang prevention programs; and much more.
Professional recognition: 2011 Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) Distinguished Alumni Award; 2011 Selah Social Justice Leadership Program–executive cohort; 2010 Mortar Board Alumni Achievement Award; 2010 New Leaders Council Fellow–Los Angeles; named to the 2010 Next American Vanguard by Next American City magazine; 2009 Echoing Green Fellow (an award for innovative new social entrepreneurs who have devised high-impact solutions addressing the root cause of social problems); Coaches' Prize in the 2009 Los Angeles Social Venture Partners Social Innovation Fast Pitch Competition.
What you have done, would like to do, or already do that no one but you knows about: I’m not much into cooking, but I’ve taught myself how to cook a mean vindaloo. I’d like to go hang-gliding and learn how to fly a plane.
Hobby: Ultimate frisbee; my family; travel; exploring historical and cultural sites and going to restaurants everywhere I travel or live
Last book(s) read: The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Most-used web site(s): Dropbox.com, Facebook.com, Google Docs
Five adjectives that describe you: Audacious, determined, pragmatic, idealistic, enterprising.
How your college experience changed your life: During my junior year, Professors Ira Harkavy and Lee Benson introduced me to service-learning: a pedagogy that integrates an academic curriculum with meaningful hands-on, real-world experience that also benefits the community. It was a paradigm-shifting. It completely changed how I view the purpose and role of education at all levels. This impacted my experience of the rest of college and my course choices—in fact, I did an independent study exploring why the academy at large was not yet adopting service-learning, something I’m delighted to note has changed significantly since I graduated. It impacted my experience of law school—I wrote my 3L thesis, later published in the Journal of Legal Education, on the discord between the typical legal education and what lawyers do, and demonstrated how incorporating more service-learning practices could improve the legal profession. It also impacted my career choices, inspiring my design of City Hall Fellows and our over 300-hour civic leadership development curriculum.
Your favorite organization: City Hall Fellows, of course!