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2007 Eli Segal Award Finalists
After receiving over 40 nominations for the 2007 Eli Segal Award, AmeriCorps Alums determined its five finalists for 2007.  The commitment shown by all five finalists is a testament to their dedication to a lifetime of service.  The finalists represent a broad array of service ranging from urban action to rural action and from service with youth & seniors to service through legislation.  The winner of the 2007 Eli Segal Award will officialy be presented with the Eli Segal Award at the 2007 Leadership Conference in New Orleans, LA, March 15-17.  AmeriCorps Alums is proud to announce the 2007 Eli Segal Award winner & finalists:
» Chris Myers Asch (2007 Eli Segal Award Winner)
» Awista Ayub

Chris Myers Asch, 2007 Eli Segal Award Winner
Co-founder/Executive Director, United States Public Service Academy

In less than ten years since his AmeriCorps service, Chris Myers Asch has launched two service initiatives: the Sunflower County Freedom Project and the U.S. Public Service Academy. Based in Sunflower, Mississippi (pop. 696), the Freedom Project is an intensive after-school program that prepares rural teenagers for success in college. Following students from seventh grade through high school graduation, the Freedom Project provides academic enrichment, leadership development, and educational travel opportunities year-round. The organization rehabilitated half a block in Sunflower to build the LEAD Center, a 7000 square foot study center that houses classrooms, a library, a theater, and a martial arts training area. Asch ran the Freedom Project from its inception in 1998 until 2006.


After witnessing the failures of public leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Asch wrote a proposal to create the U.S. Public Service Academy, a four-year, federally-subsidized college modeled on the military service academies. Students would get an intensive undergraduate education focused on public service and leadership development. Following graduation, they would be required to serve for five years in education, health care, emergency management, or other public service fields. In less than a year, the idea has earned support across the country and on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Public Service Academy Act, sponsored by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Arlen Specter and Reps. Chris Shays and Jim Moran, now stands before the U.S. Congress. Action is expected in 2007.
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Founder/CEO: Afghan Youth Sports Exchange
The Afghan Youth Sports Exchange’s (AYSE) mission is to use sports as a tool to prepare Afghanistan’s youth with leadership skills required to promote athletics into their schools and communities.  Sports as a foundation for youth leadership is essential for a developing country, particularly Afghanistan after being ravaged by 30 years of war.  Around the world, athletics has become a tool to create positive social change. I have seen the role soccer plays in the lives female soccer players in Afghanistan, as I watched them grow from girls into confident young women and strong leaders.  As an Afghan I know that when children are suddenly given the tools to change their lives, they embrace the opportunity to improve their own world, and as an American I know that helping Afghanistan ensures a more secure world.  After 30 years of war Afghan girls can once again become leaders. Sports are rapidly becoming the gateway to leadership, peace and equality in Afghanistan.  The role of AYSE is to help the leaders of tomorrow to ensure that they have the confidence and skills necessary to lead their country to a prosperous future.
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Program Director, Cascade County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program

Audrey Finlayson is the Program Director of the Cascade County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) that serves Cascade, Chouteau, and Teton Counties in North Central Montana. Through this program Audrey has recruited over 1000 senior citizen volunteers and increased the annual federal funding for the RSVP by $ 100,000.  The skills that Audrey learned and developed as an AmeriCorps member provided her with the tools to create a solid foundation for the RSVP as well as have an understanding of community needs. She directly attributes her success as an RSVP Director and a community leader to her service as an AmeriCorps member.  Whether it is through occasional volunteer service or a fulltime commitment such as AmeriCorps, Audrey’s belief is that people of all ages, walks of life, and abilities can give back and should be encouraged to do so. Audrey strives to provide diverse opportunities for citizens to volunteer. 

Audrey is committed to identifying local community needs in North Central Montana and matching volunteers with opportunities to meet those needs. Often times this has involved volunteers learning new skills and stepping out of some traditional roles such as participating in the Weed Whacker Rodeo, Commodity Supplemental Food Program Distribution, Get Fit Great Falls Coalition, intergenerational projects, or Neighborhood Watch.
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Founding Member/Co-chair, Colorado Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums

The Colorado Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums is working toward becoming a sustainable and self-sufficient organization; a chapter that has passionate, dedicated leadership, well-functioning committees, and consistent funding to further the mission and vision of the already growing chapter.  The Colorado Chapter is currently home to 294 registered alumni and provides opportunities for service through community-led projects three times a year.  The chapter looks to work collaboratively with local organizations to expand existing partnerships to be able to provide ongoing service opportunities which will engage Alums on a more consistent basis.  Both Alums and the greater community will enjoy the benefits of lasting service relationships to provide much needed services within our neighborhoods. 


The chapter is celebrating the recent development of a marketing and communications plan to reach out to additional alumni within Colorado.  The Colorado Chapter is currently conducting action planning to implement all aspects of the marketing and communication plan, which will ultimately increase the number of alumni registered as well as expand the level of involvement for those who are already registered.  Finally, the Colorado Chapter strives to provide professional development opportunities for all registered members of the chapter.  Although the chapter has been able to provide reimbursement for a variety of individual trainings that members have attended, the chapter seeks to develop a relationship with a local nonprofit training organization, such as Metro Volunteers, the local Hands On affiliate, to develop AmeriCorps Alums specific trainings.  Once established, this training would be made available to a variety of alums, particularly those in leadership roles to help further develop the chapter and enhance its overall sustainability.
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Executive Director, Linn County Nonprofit Resource Center

Like their counterparts elsewhere, the roughly 300 nonprofits in Linn County, Iowa, face ongoing operational and funding challenges.  Recently, two area museums, including a science museum serving tens of thousands of children annually, laid off their entire staffs. In the spring of 2006 the State advised one of the largest senior service providers that its budget would be cut $500,000.   The lack of training for quality, low-cost management in this county of 200,000 is a serious impediment to these nonprofits’ success.  The Linn County Nonprofit Resource Center (LCNRC) attempts to meet these needs by offering such training to nonprofits’ leadership.  Corporate professionals, consultants, and academics personally conduct many of the training sessions.  The LCNRC has also established peer groups for nonprofit professionals and has developed free or low-cost service programs.  The LCNRC Technology Assistance Program, for example, has engaged 20 area corporate computer engineers in a six-month project to provide free consulting and support to six nonprofits.

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