Reflections on Dubin Leadership Trip

Dubin Group

Last month I had the incredible opportunity to partake in the Dubin Fellows New York City Leadership Trip, and I have just recently started to process the entire amazing experience. I joined about 20 Harvard Kennedy School classmates in New York City to have intimate conversations with high-impact, socially minded leaders–like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Former NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein, Harlem Childrens Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada, and Teach for America Founder Wendy Kopp. The three-day sojourn was sponsored by Glenn Dubin, who is the founder and leader of Highbridge Capital, a successful hedge fund company.

Conversing with Joel Klein

The most impactful portions of the three-day trip were the meetings with both Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg. Because of my background working in the education sector and my aspirations to be part of the movement that creates systemic change in the sector, the entire weekend seemed to be specially tailored to my interests since we met with several prominent education leaders! Our discussions with Bloomberg and Klein really helped to give me the bigger picture perspective on leadership and how to make an impact through different angles in my life. I could tangibly feel Bloomberg and Klein’s energy and sense of purpose. I felt like both of those meetings were also a call-to-action in some sense, and it seemed like they were giving us as much advice and wisdom as they could because they could see that we were the next generation of leaders. In that sense, I was invigorated and felt empowered by their call-to-action.


Bonding with Geoffrey Canada

I think it was coincidentally appropriate for the field visit to be so educationally skewed because of the urgency of the issues facing the education sector. My biggest take away from those conversations was that education is a “people business.” Despite all of the issues surrounding the debate for solutions, the education sector needs an infusion of great talent at all levels in order to create true systemic change. Multiple leaders–Deborah Kenny (CEO of Harlem Village Academies), Canada, Kopp, and Klein–mentioned this pressing need, and again, personally it felt like a call-to-action. To me it also signaled an incredible opportunity, and got me thinking, “how can we open up and widen the pipeline of talent into the education system and what are the levers we can use to make that happen?”


Asking Wendy Kopp an important question

Another major issue that was constantly in the back of my mind was the issue of scaling impact. How were these leaders tackling the issue of scale, or were they at all? It was fascinating to see the different approaches to scaling impact from the very strategic and methodical widespread impact (Teach for America, Endeavor) to the thoughtful saturation of one market (Mt. Sinai Adolescent Center, Harlem Children’s Zone, Harlem Village Academies). Throughout the trip, I wanted one of the leaders to just tell me which method was the right way to go, but it became clear that there is no one right answer. Both approaches seem to be necessary in order to push an entire movement forward. However, I did appreciate getting insights from Kopp, Rottenberg, Canada and Weinstein (Robin Hood Foundation) about using data to thoughtfully inform their decision-making. And what I realized about myself is that I am the type of leader who doesn’t just want to create an excellent program that serves one market well; rather I realized that I am the type of leader who strives to disrupt a system to create long-lasting change at a large scale. Listening to Kopp talk about starting Teach for America with 500 corps members because that was the tipping point for a national movement really resonated with me.

The group with Wendy Kopp

Probably the biggest takeaway I had was not even a tangible meeting or something that a leader said, but for me it was having the incredible opportunity and privilege to join a talented group of students to meet some highly accomplished leaders. Being surrounded in that environment with these people is something that was truly energizing, and something that I had never dreamed of. I kept thinking about what the young me (shy, immigrant kid) would have done in that environment, and it blows my mind to realize that I had this opportunity. It was affirmation for me to follow my heart and my instincts and to continue to fight for what I am passionate about. All of the leaders we met were inspirational in that they were following their hearts and doing what they believed was right. I appreciated being in their presence, and truly appreciated having the opportunity to be part of this prestigious group.


Fellows at the Colbert Report

At one point during the field visit, I looked around the conference room and I didn’t see the faces of fellow graduate students or competitors vying to get better grades in class or the more profound answers to questions. I saw the faces of future leaders, movers, shakers, and change-makers. Future colleagues, funders, mentors, advisers, friends, confidants, and comrades fighting against inequity and injustice. I was rejuvenated when I realized that we will be making an impact on the world soon, and we all had this foundational experience together. Learning about their rich experiences during busrides, lunch, or en route to the next meeting was valuable, and I sincerely hope that we take the opportunity to stay connected with each other.


Growing up, I rarely engaged with people outside of my social strata. I think there was a sense that barriers existed between people from different social classes, particularly if you grow up with humble means. What I appreciated about my interaction with the Dubins is that they made sure that those social barriers did not exist with them and even among the visiting fellows. They went out of their way to expose all of us who came from different backgrounds to high-performing leadership. Glenn was incredibly down-to-earth, and from his example I was reminded that high-performing leaders are people, too. I was able to see myself in his shoes. The biggest lesson that I learned from Glenn Dubin was the importance of finding, cultivating and nurturing talent. And to do that, you’ve got to be able to communicate, connect and build relationships with people not in spite of your differing backgrounds but because of them.012111_259

I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am to the Dubins, the Harvard Center for Public Leadership staff, the Highbridge staff, and all of the leaders we met, to have had this incredible opportunity! It was a clear call-to-action, and I will definitely use what I have learned to make an impact on our society.

Rey’s Philippine Social Enterprise Project

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end my first semester here at the Harvard Kennedy School. Over the last few months I’ve been knee-deep in the ethics of public service, the quantitative joys of microeconomics and statistical analysis, and riveting cases in the nonprofit and educational sectors. While I am loving my academic experience, I have been yearning to get my hands dirty — to apply these learnings to something real and tangible. Just when I was starting to get this itch, an amazing opportunity popped up!

GK Community Members
GK Community Members

Back in early November, I had the privilege of meeting Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga (GK, which means to “give care”), one of the Philippines’s largest and most successful NGOs addressing poverty in my home country. At a presentation at Harvard, he spoke passionately about GK’s mission to eradicate poverty for over 5 million Filipinos over the next decade by building communities and empowering impoverished people. I was inspired and hooked.

I had never met a Filipino who was so passionate about a social cause until that day, and I knew I wanted to learn more from him and GK. After chatting with him at school and through a few international video conferences, I volunteered to do a consulting project with GK. Based on their needs and my background, I will create a strategy to scale GK’s newest initiative, the Center for Social Enterprise. Basically I will help GK figure out how to create more business incubators in low income communities, so more people are empowered to be entrepreneurs in their communities across the Philippines.

Community building

I just could not pass up the opportunity to make a difference with skills I’ve learned both professionally at BUILD and academically at Harvard. So instead of hanging out on the couch during my winter break, I’ll be spending about 20 days in the Philippines in January to do field research in Manila. I’ll be meeting with GK staff and community members, learning the ins and outs of their process, and formulating a replication strategy that is founded not only on the theoretical stuff I’m learning here, but, more importantly, the practical day-to-day operations. On a personal note, this will enable me to give back to the country in which I was born and will hopefully be the start of my foray into international development work. Because this project goes beyond the expectations of schoolwork here at Harvard, there is no funding available for first year students to do international development projects.

This is where you, my kind and generous friends, come in. I leave in about one month, on Dec 29 for Manila, and I need to raise $2,500 to allay the expenses of the trip, like my flight, food, public transportation, etc. If you and 99 other friends donate just $25, I’ll be set and more Filipinos in low income communities will have the opportunity to start socially responsible businesses that improve their communities. Any amount I make over $2,500 will go straight to GK as a donation.

I hope that you will be able to support me and GK’s mission by making a donation today and by spreading the word to other friends who may be able to help. Thank you!

Click here to donate.

Final Notes

  • Learn more about Gawad Kalinga here or here.
  • Donations of $25 or more will be acknowledged in the report I submit to GK.
  • If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Twitter: @reyfaustino, Email: rey_faustino [at]

NYTimes Article: Surge in nonprofit courses at universities around the country

When do people know that they want to enter the nonprofit sector? Ask any sixth grader what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’ll tell you he wants to be a firefighter, doctor or lawyer. But he probably won’t say that he wants to be a program manager at a nonprofit organization.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that my path was leading me towards the nonprofit sector–to the chagrin of my dad who wanted me to be in the business sector. Although I enjoyed business and love entrepreneurship, running Troy Camp for the kids of inner city Los Angeles was what really lit my fire. For the longest time I tried to deny that, but my path is clear, and has been for quite some time now–otherwise I wouldn’t be so happy at BUILD, now would I? And this is the very reason why we are starting Level 5 (, so that young people who have heart and passion can also be equipped with the leadership and communications skills necessary to affect change in the nonprofit sector.

Amber was kind enough to send me this interesting article about how there has been a surge in nonprofit leadership and management courses at universities across the country. Read a few choice excerpts below, or check out the full article here:

KORBI ADAMS says she learned about nonprofit work from her high school clarinet teacher, who also directed her youth orchestra and would include Ms. Adams in her fund-raising activities.

“The community engagement stuff — it lit my fire,� said Ms. Adams, now 22. “I thought that was what I wanted to do: to combine arts and an outreach in nonprofit management.�

Ms. Adams decided to attend Arizona State University, where she majored in music and received a certificate for courses she took under the American Humanics program, which was founded in 1948 to encourage community work, including nonprofit administration, and is available at colleges around the country.

A 2008 graduate, she is now in what she calls her dream job, an education assistant at Childsplay, a nonprofit theater in Tempe, Ariz., where she works in arts education. “I’m learning how to very carefully mind the budget,� she said, noting that working with grant money requires carefully hewing to the bottom line.

The do-good desires of Ms. Adams and many members of her “Gen Y� cohort have sparked a surge in nonprofit management and leadership courses at colleges and universities, building on the example of the American Humanics certification program. More than 230 colleges and universities across the United States offer courses in those areas, up from 179 a decade ago, a 2007 study at Seton Hall University found.

Click here for the full article.

Launching a New Social Venture

My friends and I are on a mission to level the playing field in the leadership of the nonprofit sector, and we need your help.

Over tea at a cafe, my friend Karla and I lamented the lack of development opportunities for young professionals of color in the nonprofit sector. We witnessed our friends leave nonprofit to pursue careers in the for-profit sector because of this very reason.

And then we saw the severe lack of leadership diversity in the nonprofit sector. Did you know that people of color lead just 16% of nonprofit organizations nationwide? Sixteen percent! We instinctively thought that in order for nonprofit organizations to level the playing field for their clients, they first need to level the playing field in the leadership of their organizations.

There is a large pool of talented and motivated young people of color that want to make a difference in their communities. But high barriers to entry such as noncompetitive wages, limited career advancement, and few professional development opportunities continue to deter young people of color from pursuing careers in nonprofit. This untapped talent pool holds the key to making a lasting impact in the diverse communities that nonprofits serve.

Because we are tired of waiting for change to happen, we are choosing instead to make change ourselves. Thus, we created the Level 5 Project to increase diversity in the nonprofit sector by developing and empowering a corps of young professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Our flagship project will be the Level 5 Fellowship, which will provide young professionals of color with challenging leadership training, including an intensive curriculum and dynamic hands-on mentoring. We will award up to six fellowships to motivated, driven students from diverse backgrounds to join the charter cohort by spring 2009.

We’re starting this social venture with optimism, and although we are starting relatively small, our sights are set on systematic sector-wide impact.

Do you work on a college campus in the Bay Area?
If you do, we’d love to set up info sessions and/or workshops to advertise our opportunity.

Do you know any awesome current college juniors? We are looking for current college students who represent diverse backgrounds and are passionate about a career in the nonprofit sector. Please pass on this email to your contacts.


As a small start-up social venture, we’re always looking for donations of expertise (PR,  finance, design, leadership), funding, and time (interested in volunteering or maybe being a mentor?). Let’s make this a community effort!

Check out the info sheet and application attached to this email or download them at Applications are due on Dec 1, 2008!

Friends, we are on a mission, and you can read more about it at Join our social change movement to empower next generation’s changemakers!

Thank you in advance for your support!

Rey Faustino
Level 5 Project   |   Empowering Next Generation’s Changemakers
415 704 4880   |   |

Download the info sheet here.

Download the application here.