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Nonprofit Leadership Alumna Inspires Future Changemakers

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On a Thursday afternoon, Meaghan Jarensky Barakett, MS-NPL, GSS ’16, graciously took my call while taking a break from watching after her 1-year-old, running her own nonprofit organization, One Girl, Inc. and a multitude of other things. I was excited to hear what new things were in store. Meaghan developed and founded One Girl, Inc., a not-for-profit committed to developing young women into social change agents by infusing activism into yoga and meditation programs. Meaghan is one of our alumni that has remained actively engaged with the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS). In December 2016, in collaboration with GSS’s Institute for Women & Girls, One Girl, Inc. hosted its first “Women in Charge: A Forum on Women’s Leadership” conference. It was so successful, a second event was hosted in December 2017. It was a great collaboration as both organizations have a commitment to empowering women and girls.

The first “Women in Charge: A Forum on Women’s Leadership” conference in 2016.

I can still recall the day I met Meaghan. It was a Saturday afternoon while coordinating our Executive Education Certificate program. A beautiful woman graciously allowed a student in the EEC program to take a picture with her. The participant had recognized her as a former Miss New York USA. I was so amazed at her gracefulness that the memory stuck with me ever since. Meaghan joined the MS in Nonprofit Leadership’s 2015-2016 cohort shortly after this encounter. She spoke passionately about her nonprofit organization, but like many start-ups Meaghan recalls, “I didn’t have a [solid]business plan. The program details, the rules and regulations…I needed to do the stuff that nobody wants to do. It’s a lot!” She went on to explain, “I knew I needed the program for the behind the scenes, unglamorous stuff. I needed to see my program from a business perspective.” She also explained how she needed practical skills to bring back to her organization in real time, since she was actively running her organization.

Meaghan speaks during her press conference for the NYS E-Personation Protection Act.

On Monday May 2, 2016, when the cohort was finishing up their Spring term (think finals) and about to start their Summer term in our program, she rallied her classmates and stood on the steps of City Hall to call for the passage of the NYS E-Personation Protection Act. Support for the legislation was a current project of the One Girl organization. It was a push for stronger anti-cyberbullying law that would impose a stiff penalty on an individual if convicted of online impersonation with the intent to harm.

Fast forwarding two years later, with the act pretty much established, Meaghan is continuing the empowerment of young girls to lead change. She has recently brought on a fellow classmate, Jackie Arcuri, to join the One Girl team to help her as an assistant Executive Director. This wasn’t the first time Meaghan found help in classmates. Carin, another graduate of the MS-NPL program, helped as a volunteer coordinator for the conferences at Fordham. Having been through similar schooling in nonprofits Meaghan was aware of the strengths her classmates brought to the table.  As we continued the conversation, Meaghan informed me she was working on bringing back a monthly yoga series and her Spring Leadership training, coming up on May 20th. After the Leadership training, the team will focus on a new cause for the year. How do yoga and leadership fit? Meaghan explains that it is a medium to help you do your “inner work” and help you “step into your power.”

The third WOMEN IN CHARGE conference will take place on Saturday, November 17, 2018 on the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus. Please save the date! 

To learn more about One Girl, Inc. and their upcoming events, visit onegirlny.org and follow them on Instagram at @onegirlinc. To learn more about the Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership or the Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership, visit fordham.edu/nonprofits and follow on Instagram at @fordhamgss.

If you are alumni and have an interesting story or updates for Center for Nonprofit Leaders, please feel free to email us at nonprofits@fordham.edu.

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