Morgan Blackburn ’13 is the development manager at StreetWise Partners, a nonprofit that harnesses the mentoring resources of the private sector to reduce unemployment within the low-income communities of Washington, DC and New York City. At Streetwise Partners, she collaborates with the executive director and program director on strategies surrounding corporate relations, fundraising, marketing, and special events. While at Dartmouth, Morgan majored in women’s and gender studies and interned for the Oklahoma State Senate Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Was there a professor at Dartmouth who made you realize you wanted to work with nonprofits?
At Dartmouth, I had the opportunity to work with two amazing advisors: Professor Lisa Baldez of the government department and Professor Colin Calloway of the history department. While I loved their classes, it was the one-on-one meetings we would have that made an impact. In every conversation, whether we were talking about an assignment or just catching up on current events, you could feel their compassion, empathy, and yearning to create real social change. During senior year, when I was trying to figure out what path to take, I instantly knew that’s what I wanted. I wanted to have a job where I could connect with people, build relationships, and do my part to make the world just a little brighter.
As a development manager at StreetWise Partners, you perform a wide variety of tasks—from leading events to designing training sessions. What is your favorite part of your work?
I love so many parts of my job: planning special events to bring our donor and volunteer communities together; building meaningful relationships with companies looking to create change in their communities; and connecting people to their passion. But, hands down, my favorite part of the job is seeing our participants succeed. I work with our donors and corporate partners to provide new opportunities for our participants to learn and grow as professionals. Watching our participants learn new skills, practice and apply these skills in their daily lives, and land that dream job is truly inspiring. Our participants go from earning an average of $7,000 annually to over $30,000, typically within one year. And that’s just the first step! Watching and celebrating with a participant as they grow into their career is life-changing. Their determination and drive are truly changing their lives and the lives of their families. It’s what motivates me to do my absolute best.
You’ve said that one of your goals is to be an executive director at an organization that supports change with direct service and public advocacy. Is there a cause that’s especially close to you heart that you’d ideally like to be working with, and what is it about that cause that draws you in?
Workforce development will always hold a special place in my heart. The transformative power that it holds is tangible, and changes communities. However, I am also a huge advocate for reproductive rights and women’s health, and would ideally love the opportunity to work with Planned Parenthood or the Center for Reproductive Rights. It is my belief that women should be able to govern their own bodies and be able to receive adequate healthcare. And yet, as we have seen, that seems to be up for debate. Organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights provide access to lifesaving care and comprehensive sex education. They are on the ground, working directly with people in their communities to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. has access to basic human rights. Not only that, but they are lobbying Congress and working within the legal system to safeguard these rights on every level. To me, that is the best way to create real change.