The Drew Gooders

They educate us. They entertain us. They feed the hungry. They sell us cookies. All for good causes. Across the nonprofit spectrum, Drewids flourish. Here are 10* stellar examples.

Devyn Lopez C’16


Who: Member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on disaster preparedness and response.

Where: Vicksburg, Mississippi

We caught her just as she was about to: “Go boots on the ground” in the wake of tornadoes and floods in Kansas City, Missouri.

It turns out: “Disaster relief is my passion.”

Life-changing event: Lending a hand to Hurricane Sandy victims through Drew’s Circle K Club.

The big picture: “I’m helping the mass population. I feel like, if you’re able to get the community back on track, then individuals will have the resources to help themselves and others.”

Andrew Bishop C’14

Political Science, Chinese

Who: Elementary school language arts teacher, Teach For America (following a two-year stint with Teach For China).

Where: Inverness, Mississippi

Realized early on at Drew: “So many people working in education policy have no experience in the classroom.”

Those who can, teach rural: Professor of Chinese Di Bai told him, “To understand China, you really need to go out into the country,” which is Teach For China’s focus.

What’s next: Serving a second year in Inverness and figuring out his long-term plan. “I’m filling a need, and every day I have an opportunity to have an impact on a child’s life.”

Lidia Soto-Harmon C’15

Political Science, Spanish

Who: Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital.

Where: Washington, D.C.

She oversees: The country’s largest council, serving 86,000 girls in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia.

By the numbers: Soto-Harmon drew more than 250,000 Girl Scouts to the National Mall for the organization’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2012.

Best perk: Throwing out the opening pitch at a Nationals game on the stadium’s Girl Scouts’ Day. After considerable practice, “I did not disappoint.”

The reward: “The multiplier effect of what girls can do in their community is one of the things that excites me about this position.”

Benjamin Rodriguez-Cubeñas G’87

International Relations

Who: Director, Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture Program, Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

From the Upper West Side: Rodriguez-Cubeñas doles out $2.5 million annually to New York City arts organizations, from nascent groups to established entities such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The Pocantico Center: Running a residency program for artists at the Rockefeller estate rounds out his responsibilities.

No rest for the weary: He also chairs the Citizen Advisory Committee of CreateNYC, an initiative making recommendations on cultural issues to the City Council. “For the first time, New York City will have a comprehensive cultural plan.”

Why nonprofit? “It represented an opportunity to make a difference.”

Emily Litman C’99

Political Science

Who: Community builder extraordinaire, founder or founding member of multiple nonprofits, from Jersey City Lacrosse and Hoboken’s Cantigas Women’s Choir to a Hudson County group that teaches English as a second language to adults.

Where: Northern New Jersey

Day job: Teacher in Jersey City’s port-of-entry program for Spanish-speaking immigrant children whose education has been interrupted.

Interrupted how? “Literally walking from South America to New Jersey for nine months.”

“The multiplier effect of what girls can do in their community is one of the things that excites me about this position.”: “If I were to die tonight, I’d want to be proud of my last 24 hours on this earth.”

The Rev. Anne Marie Hunter G’91

Religion and Society

Who: Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Safe Havens.

Where: Boston, Massachusetts

Impetus: A Methodist pastor, Hunter launched the national interfaith organization to help faith communities address domestic violence. “I felt strongly that people of faith needed to be standing with people who are faithful and experiencing abuse.”

Funding from the feds: One of Safe Havens’ clients is the U.S. Department of Justice, which relies on the group to train faith communities across the country.

At the end of the day: Hunter was effusive about a recent training session involving a rabbi, an imam, Christian clergy and two pagans. “Seeing that kind of diverse community approach and willingness to find solutions is why I do this work.”

Arnold Kawuba C’10

Political Science

Who: Fundraiser for United Nations World Food Program, which works to stop famine in 80 countries.

Never forgot: Professor E. Obiri Addo, of Drew’s Pan-African Studies program, who pushed the Uganda native to “always give back” to those still caught in poverty and conflict in Africa.

Life-changing visit: After hearing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan speak at Drew in 2010, Kawuba was accepted into a graduate program in Geneva of which Annan was an alumnus.

Suddenly, at age 24: “I was hanging out in these forums with people like the foreign minister of Syria when Syria was blowing up, and we were saying, ‘Let us get food to these people.’”

Saving lives through work: “This is where my heart is, where my passion is. It gives me energy to jump out of bed every morning.

Whitney Estrin C’02

Theatre Arts

Who: Director of Development of the nonprofit Theater for a New Audience.

Where: Brooklyn, New York

Foreshadowing: In her application to Drew, 18-year-old Estrin wrote, “I don’t know exactly how or where, but I do know that theatre will always be a part of my life.”

Dress rehearsal: Four years of interning at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and a junior year semester abroad at the Globe Theatre in London.

New role: Switching to the administrative side at age 26 wasn’t selling out her dream; it was the next chapter of it.

On working backstage: “I find a lot of creativity in problem solving, and I’m still making theatre.”

Dylan Jones C’15

Economics, Political Science

Who: Elementary school math teacher, Teach For America.

Where: Inverness, Mississippi

You won’t believe this, but: Jones says he was “terrible” at math when he was young.

First career choice: Lawyer

What happened: Professor Jennifer Kohn. She wanted to know why he wanted to be a lawyer, and Jones didn’t have a good answer. He also went to Professors Marc Tomljanovich and Patrick McGuinn for help with “big life decisions.”

What’s next: He’s completed his two-year commitment and is signed on for a third year. “I love what Teach For America is doing. I don’t have a burning desire to leave right now.”

Margaret Quern Atkins T’07


Who: Founder and Director, New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons (NJ-STEP).

Where: Newark, New Jersey

What that entails: Atkins coordinates education efforts, “from precollege to PhD level,” with seven colleges that work with 500 inmates in seven prisons.

The true aims: Changing communities by educating convicts who will someday return to them.

Chance encounter: A campus visit by the Rev. Nibs Stroupe, a prison-reform activist, set Atkins on a course that led her to create NJ-STEP in 2011.

What she loves about her work: “That nobody, not the inmates or the educators, leaves the same as when they came in. The changes you see in people are concrete.”

Rachel Auteri C’08

Political Science

Who: Director of New Program Development, Jhpiego (a nonprofit health organization of Johns Hopkins University)

Where: Baltimore, Maryland

9 to 5: Auteri scours foundations and corporations for funding to support health care programs for women and children in about 40 countries.

Such as: The Safe Surgery 2020 initiative, in which Jhpiego works to reduce hospital infections by strengthening surgical teams.

Out of Africa: Auteri got the travel bug from a Drew International Seminar to Ghana, Togo and Benin. That and Drew’s U.N. Semester and an internship at Human Rights Watch are “definitely what sent me down this path.”

More from the Summer 2017 issue

More from the magazine

Related Posts

Drew University Professor Publishes Book on Literature and Film in India

Shakti Jaising's book bridges gaps through cross-national analysis


Drew University Professor To Appear in Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions

Brianne Barker returns after 2022 victory


Discoverers of Groundbreaking New Lung Cancer Treatment Honored as Heroes in Drug Discovery

Students learn about drug discovery process from industry experts