YNPNindy member Alyssa Starr Newerth started volunteering with Indy Reads in 2010, and joined the staff in 2012. She holds one Masters degree in Public Administration and another in Philanthropic Studies, both from Indiana University. As the Director of Advancement, she is responsible for Indy Reads fundraising, communications and strategic vision, and oversight of Indy Reads Books, the popular Mass Ave. spot. The Fountain Square resident is also the co-founder of the coolest book club in town, The Indianapolis Ladies of Leisure Society.
1. What is your name?
My name is Alyssa Starr Newerth (2 Rs like Ringo!).
2. How long have you lived in Indy?
I'm an Indy native. I grew up in Greenwood, went to college in Bloomington, did my AmeriCorps service in Indy, and lived in Rhode Island for 3 years. I moved home to start graduate school in 2008, and have lived in Fountain Square ever since.
3. Why have you focused your career on the nonprofit sector?
I've focused my career on the nonprofit sector because I believe it is where I can affect the most change. I am interested in government work, but think that I would get too frustrated about the short-term solutions that politicians pursue. Poverty, Education, Environment-they cannot be solved within an election cycle. I am, however, very interested in the interface of the nonprofit sector and the forprofit business world. This is what is most exciting about my work with Indy Reads Books. How can a combination of traditional philanthropy and social entrepreneurship change lives? We're trying to find out.
4. What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
Considering a nonprofit job? Do it! There may be a slight lag of salary, but on the whole, I find that nonprofits more than make up that difference with other benefits: health insurance, ample vacation time, flexible working hours, professional development opportunities, more relaxed work environments, and that much-lauded "feel good" factor.
5. If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
New skill? Photoshop. Obviously. Followed quickly by html and Quickbooks analysis.
6. If you were an inanimate object, which would you be and why?
If I couldn't be human, I think I'd like to be an aluminum or feather Christmas tree. A month of parties, sparkly decorations, and bourbon cocktails. Followed by an introvert's dream of 11 months hibernation. But I would prefer a non-basement storage solution.
7. What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
This isn't really an accomplishment, but I'd like for this to happen one day: A group of highly-respected and brilliant people are working together on big problem. A problem that really affects the future of our city and the quality of life of our citizens. They're stumped on how to proceed. Then one person says, "We should call Alyssa. She's so smart, insightful, and experienced. Also, she's wicked nice and wears cool dresses."
On Nov. 25, the 400-page Indy Writes Books hardcover anthology goes on sale, featuring 30 Hoosier authors, essayists, poets and artists. It's this year's cool must-have holiday item, plus you score nonprofit pro points since all proceeds support the adult literacy programs at Indy Reads. Check it out here!