By Iris Dooling
AmeriCorps Alum Iris Dooling shares how the Eli Segal Fellowship opened doors for her career and gave her an up close perspective on national service policy.
My AmeriCorps experience started in 2005 as an AmeriCorps State member for the Indiana Reading Corps. Then, from 2006-2007, I was an AmeriCorps National member with Teach for America in South Louisiana. And from 2007-2009, I was an AmeriCorps supervisor with Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps program in Louisiana.
During my service as an AmeriCorps member with Indiana Reading Corps, I designed an independent service project called the Putnam County Pride Project. The goal of the project was to connect members of our college with town residents to build pride in our small county in Indiana. Our town had experienced town and gown issues, where the town and college relations were frequently strained, and this project aimed to address the problem and take a step towards repairing the relationship. As an AmeriCorps member, I was able to see a need and design a solution to help address the problem. My Eli Segal fellowship experience at CNCS was very similar in that I was able to work in areas that interested me and design solutions to problems I saw.
I applied to be the Eli Segal Fellow because I had experienced the AmeriCorps program as a member and as a program administrator, but I was curious about the “why” behind a lot of the decisions behind AmeriCorps policy. I wanted to get an additional level of understanding about the policy and politics behind the programs.
The Eli Segal Fellowship provided a really unique experience. I was able to meet and work closely with the key players in the national service movement. Being the Fellow is also an opportunity to be the voice of AmeriCorps members at headquarters and remind folks about the member‘s perspective. The fellowship exceeded my expectations and opened a lot of doors for me.
Iris Dooling, an AmeriCorps State and National Alum and former AmeriCorps Supervisor, was the 2009 Eli Segal Fellow. Learn more about the Eli Segal Fellowship and apply by visiting go.usa.gov/kYNe. The application deadline is May 23.