Veronica Nolan ’99, executive director of Urban Alliance in Washington, D.C., has been named a Rising Star in the 2009 Women Who Mean Business Awards presented by the Washington Business Journal. Nolan earned her master of arts in teaching from Trinity’s School of Education. She was profiled in the spring 2009 issue of TRINITY magazine.
The mission of the Urban Alliance is to prepare young adults from under-resourced neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, for the world of work and a life of self-sufficiency through education, mentoring and meaningful paid internships. In Nolan’s own words, “We are catapulting young people out of poverty by exposing them to opportunities and giving them the tools to lead a life of financial independence. I love working with teenagers, it’s in my DNA. They are still young and idealistic, yet on the brink of adulthood. Having a tiny influence on the rest of their lives excites me.” That passion has motivated Nolan to expand the Urban Alliance Foundation’s commitment to serve a growing number of D.C. youth and has earned her a solid reputation for being an effective advocate for young people.
Urban Alliance’s focal point is an internship program that each year places 150 high school seniors in paid positions at area employers, including the World Bank, Marriott, Children’s Hospital and law firms.
Over the past decade, Urban Alliance has employed more than 1,000 youth. The interns have a 99% high school graduation rate and 88% enroll in college – impressive statistics given the fact that D.C. Public Schools have the fourth highest drop-out rate in the nation and only 29% of D.C. high school graduates enroll in post-secondary education within 18 months of graduation.
Urban Alliance also provides workshops to 200 D.C. youth annually that focus on preparing for work, such as interview skills and how to be a responsible employee. In addition, the organization supports 150 graduates of the internship program each year, helping them make the transition to college and be successful in the work place.
As executive director, Nolan focuses her time on several priorities. “Staff management is very important to me,” she says. “We have an extremely talented staff. If I can take care of my staff then they can take care of the kids we serve. I make sure that they have the tools they need to be successful.” She also works with volunteers and cultivates the corporate partners that provide internship opportunities.
Nolan also provides financial oversight of the organization and places a high priority on strategic planning. “I always say that you need one foot grounded in where we are today and one foot firmly planted in the future.”
Nolan earned her master’s in teaching with a concentration in secondary education in 1999 from Trinity’s School of Education while working full-time in a D.C. classroom as part of the Teach for America program. Nolan notes that “Trinity’s commitment to social justice and education made it a great experience for me. Every one of my professors had been a teacher, so they shared their practical experiences with us. They encouraged us to learn from our peers and they provided time for reflection on our daily classroom experiences. They recognized that we were teaching full-time so they gave us assignments that we could use in the classroom immediately.”
Nolan’s innovative and strategic leadership of Urban Alliance earned her a prestigious Exponent Award from the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation in fall 2008. The honor, one of five awarded each year, recognizes strong and effective nonprofit leaders with a track record of achievement who have the potential for future growth and development. Organizations of award recipients receive a grant of $100,000 over two years to be used for leadership development.
This fall, Nolan was named one of Greater DC Cares’ 2009 Class of Change — 20 emerging and lifelong champions in philanthropy, volunteerism and service.