Community Partners is a program of the Harvard Business School Club of New York. Founded in 1998, our mission is to create constructive partnerships between Harvard Business School alumni and nonprofit organizations in the greater New York City metropolitan area that seek assistance with business and management issues.
In addition to our Board, our leadership consists of sector-focused committees led by experienced volunteers who organize our pro bono work, recruit alumni to volunteer and serve as Project Coordinators in these areas: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment & Health, and Social Services.
By donating time and management skills, HBS alumni offer nonprofits cost-free access to the kind of professional expertise they may otherwise not be able to afford. In turn, our client nonprofit organizations offer HBS alumni volunteer opportunities to serve the community in which they live or work in a truly meaningful way.
Community Partners is governed by a Board of HBS alumni committed to promoting public service and volunteerism within the alumni community.
In addition to our Board, our leadership consists of sector-focused committees led by experienced volunteers who organize our probono work, recruit alumni to volunteer and serve as Project Coordinators for Arts & Culture, Education, Environment & Health, and Social Services.
Cathy works at McKinsey & Company as the Global Corporate & Investment Banking Practice Manager – effectively the “COO” of the practice. Prior to McKinsey, Cathy was at Foote Cone & Belding as Senior Vice President and Head of the Chess Team, a strategic department that identified competitors’ motivations in order to predict & preempt marketplace behavior and reposition its clients. Cathy’s prior experience includes Global Risk Advisory at Bankers Trust and Manager of Administration for the American Express Foundation.
Cathy has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a B.S. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Cathy has been an active volunteer with Community Partners since 2013, initially as a project team member, then project coordinator, then Co-Chair of its Environment & Health Committee.
Leo has held senior executive positions on Wall Street, in the U.S. Social Security Administration, and in the global music industry. He has also worked in venture capital as a managing partner of a seed stage fund.
Leo has served on boards of various start-up companies and on many nonprofit Boards, including the Alumni Board of Harvard Business School and New York’s Eye Bank for Sight Restoration.
Leo is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A from Harvard College.
Leo’s Community Partners experience began when he started as a project team member in 2013. Subsequently, he joined the Environment and Health Committee as project coordinator, then became Co-Chair of the Education Committee. In addition, he served as Co-Chair of the Community Partners Leadership Award competition in both 2017 and 2019.
Each year over 145 local HBS alumni participate in pro bono work with Community Partners. We greatly appreciate the commitment of our fellow alumni and their contributions to our organization and the nonprofit community.
Community Partners has worked with a varied group of nonprofits in the New York area on a wide range of issues. To learn more about the breadth of our work, see our List of Nonprofits and brief descriptions of some of our Recent Projects.
The work of Community Partners is inspired by the Social Enterprise Initiative of the Harvard Business School led by Co-Chairs, Professor Herman B. “Dutch” Leonard and Professor V. Kasturi “Kash” Rangan. HBS SEI celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019 and its work has grown significantly in recent years. Currently over 90 HBS faculty members are engaged in social enterprise research, teaching and program activities.
We offer HBS alumni two types of projects:
A “consulting” project is a comprehensive project lasting 3-4 months, focusing on a broad strategic challenge facing the nonprofit’s leadership.
Each project usually involves a team of 3-8 HBS alumni, including a volunteer team leader. The team works with the nonprofit’s executive director and other staff members, and a typical project includes a project plan developed by the team, meetings with the nonprofit, independent work by the team, and delivery of a report including findings and recommendations.
We ask each volunteer to commit 2-3 hours/week for 3-4 months over the duration of the project, but expect the team to develop its own schedule and working style to cater to each member’s availability and other commitments.
For further information, see What to Expect as a Project Volunteer>>
A typical brainstorming project provides the nonprofit organization with the opportunity to explore a business issue or challenge with a team of four or more HBS alumni in a two-hour, high energy discussion.
Prior to the session, the volunteer Project Coordinator provides the team with background information which can be reviewed in about an hour. This helps everyone feel ready to kick-start the dialog when we meet with the client organization during the session.
The session is led by an experienced moderator, who is also an HBS alumni volunteer. At the beginning of the session, the nonprofit’s executive director shares an overview of the organization and relevant issues, which is followed by an open discussion and brainstorming.
For further information, see What to Expect as a Project Volunteer>>
Our two types of projects require different time commitments, but both are designed to be suitable for HBS alumni with full-time and demanding day jobs.
We work with a wide range of 501c3 organizations in the New York metropolitan area, ranging from small nonprofits serving very specific missions to large institutions well-known internationally. We organize our efforts around four sectors: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment & Health, and Social Services.
For each project, our goal is to assemble an alumni team with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. Our projects rely on the broad business and management skills developed at HBS, and don’t require specific expertise. We just ask that you bring an open mind and a willingness to participate – think “case study”.
No, but please note that Community Partners is funded by the Harvard Business School Club of NY, so we encourage all our volunteers to join the Club (either before, during or after a project).
If you’d like to join now, visit hbscny.org/join-renew/
Yes – our mission is to create constructive partnerships between HBS alumni and nonprofit organizations in our community, and as such only HBS alumni are invited to participate.
Absolutely! We are always excited to welcome new volunteers to Community Partners, and many of our teams contain a blend of first-time and experienced volunteers.
At the beginning of a consulting project, we encourage the team to meet in person (if feasible), then agree on a schedule and working style that suits each team member’s individual circumstances. While much of the work on a typical consulting project can be completed independently, most teams choose to schedule regular team meetings (whether in-person or via video- or teleconferencing) once every 1-2 weeks. Note: During the Covid pandemic, all meetings will be held virtually.
We understand that our volunteers often need to travel (for both personal and work reasons) during the course of a project. Given our flexible working model, this rarely creates an insurmountable issue, although we ask that volunteers communicate clearly with each other about their availability, both upfront and during the course of the project.
Many teams choose to mix in-person meetings (where feasible) with video- and teleconferencing. For in-person meetings, each team agrees on a convenient location, and in general we do not hold team meetings at client sites. Note: During the Covid pandemic, all meetings will be held virtually.
Yes, in addition to the Community Partners program here in New York, HBS Clubs in many other locations offer similar opportunities to provide pro bono services to nonprofit organizations.
Check this list of HBS Clubs>> and contact the Club nearest to you to inquire.
Please contact Victoria Soler, our Program Manager, at CommunityPartners@hbscny.org or (862)-281-9704.
We work with a wide range of clients in the New York metropolitan area, ranging from small nonprofits serving very specific missions to large institutions well-known internationally. We organize our efforts around four sectors: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment & Health, and Social Services.
For examples of the clients we work with see Nonprofits We’ve Helped>>
The general requirements for nonprofits are that the organization be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and that it be located in and focuses its activities and programs in the Greater New York City Area. You can find more detailed criteria on our Nonprofits Page>>. We regret we are unable to work with nonprofits who do not meet these criteria.
We offer two primary project types:
Once you complete a Project Application>>, a Community Partners Project Coordinator will work with you to finalize the scope and format of the project.
If you need help or have any questions, please feel free to contact our Program Manager Vicky Soler by phone (862-281-9704) or email CommunityPartners@hbscny.org.
Absolutely! One of the greatest testimonials to our work is when a client organization asks to work with us again, either on a follow-up project or one addressing a different challenge or opportunity. We encourage you to reach out to your prior project coordinator, or to complete a new Project Application>>.
We ask that you only submit a single application at a time. If you are looking for assistance on multiple issues, we encourage you to identify those in your application; we will then work with you to refine a project scope that is suitable for either a consulting project or brainstorming project.
Unfortunately, no – our mission is to create constructive partnerships between HBS alumni and nonprofit organizations in our community, so we require that your organization be located in and focus its activities and programs primarily in the New York metropolitan area.
We also welcome national and international organizations if they are headquartered in the New York Metropolitan area.
Absolutely, although we ask that you ensure your organization meets our selection criteria and encourage you to seek feedback on why your application was not selected prior to reapplying.
Not at all – while some clients offer to host certain key meetings at their offices, this isn’t a requirement.
Please contact Vicky Soler our Program Manager at CommunityPartners@hbscny.org or (862)-281-9704.