As important as it is to help girls achieve their dreams, the
Josephinum Academy in Chicago must simultaneously face reality. “This world can
be violent to young girls,” says Michael Dougherty, president of the Josephinum
Academy, a Catholic high school for girls in Chicago. He cites peer pressure,
media stereotypes and societal violence. “The needs [of girls] are very real,
and there’s a lot at stake. That’s why our school is so important.”
Make no mistake, the “Jo” is all about reaching dreams, and has been
helping girls fulfill theirs since 1890. For example, today, with a student
body of 200, the high school has seen 100 percent of its graduates accepted
into college for the past five years.
“We are committed to helping our students live their dreams and share
their gifts with all their heart and soul,” Dougherty says. “And we have really
big dreams for the school. We have dreams of growing to accommodate 500 girls
and dreams for a new facility. But those are just the externals. Real success
is our student success and that comes from us having a crystal clear understanding
of the unique needs for the students we serve.”
To sharpen that understanding
and more effectively pursue their big dreams, the Josephinum is participating
in the Notre Dame Alumni Impact Partners Initiative, a pilot program through
the Graduate Alumni Relations Office for the Mendoza College of
Business. Starting in April, the initiative will link teams of three or four graduate
alums with Chicago-area nonprofit organizations. The volunteers will share their business acumen and experience to tackle
a strategic project over a 4- to 6-month span. Projects will require a
commitment of 6-8 hours a month.
“We developed this program to offer our graduates a direct way to
connect with and improve their communities, which reflects the mission of
Mendoza and our outstanding alumni,” says Tim Ponisciak, program director for
the Graduate Alumni Relations Office. “We are excited at the number of
nonprofits that applied to participate. They realize what a transformational opportunity
this will be for them.
“The alumni office is optimistic this pilot program is just the first
step to something that will grow in significance and scope.”
In addition to the Josephinum Academy, the selected participants, along
with their areas of focus for the initiative, are Catholic Charities Chicago
(corporate sponsorship planning), Horizons for Youth (marketing its 25th
anniversary) and Notre Dame College Prep (review of donor relations processes
The Mendoza Graduate Alumni Relations Office is accepting volunteer applications until March 10.
For more information, please visit the website.
As to the “Jo,” Dougherty hopes the ND team will help sharpen the
school’s long-term strategy. “The Jo is a school and community with tremendous
potential and opportunity,” he says. “We don’t need just a process. We want to
articulate the vision of who we want to be for the next 20 years. … How do we
best carry these timeless values into the future?
look forward with great anticipation to have the team guide us through this
process. There is great value to having strategic consultants come in to
support you. We will be thrilled to meet the team members—the volunteers—who
are excited to help us refine the scope of our efforts by offering effective
and meaningful direction.”