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‘Path From Activism to Leadership’ is alumni panel topic

Three Bates College alumni with careers in social activism offer a panel discussion titled The Path From Activism to Leadership: Through the Alumni Lens of Engagement at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in Room 221-222 of the college’s New Commons Building, 136 Central Ave.

Open to the public at no cost, the event is jointly sponsored by the Bates Alumni and Parent Engagement office, the Harward Center for Community Partnerships and the Bates Alumni Council. For more information, please call 207-786-8283.

The panelists will discuss ways of engaging in the political process; how to transform volunteerism into activism; ways of understanding root causes of social problems; and how to identify an issue and frame it as a problem that can be addressed.

The panelists are:

Rachel Cohen, class of 1994, a health and humanitarian worker who has worked with Doctors Without Borders and is now regional executive director for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, North America;

Jessica Parsons ’93, an environmental education community organizer who is the project manager for Circle the City, an initiative of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy in Boston;

and Ben Chin ’07, political engagement director for the Maine People’s Alliance.

Audience members will be encouraged to talk with the alumni after the panel presentation to learn more about their career paths and opportunities to gain experience in their fields.

Cohen joined the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative in 2011. She has worked in global health and humanitarian aid for more than 15 years, primarily with Doctors Without Borders, aka Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Her work for that organization included time in South Africa and Lesotho. She serves on the board of directors of MSF’s Operational Center in Brussels.

She earned her master’s in public policy with a certificate in health and health policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Circle the City, of which Parsons is project manager, is an initiative focused on the streets connecting Boston’s parks — landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s “Emerald Necklace.” CTC programs entice Boston residents into car-free streets for a variety of family recreational activities. The program is a 2012 Urban Signature Project of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

Parsons previously spent more than 15 years as a teacher and administrator of environmental education programs in California and in Boston. She holds a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Chin joined the Maine People’s Alliance as a community organizer after graduating from Bates. After three years as a community organizer, he became MPA’s political engagement director, working to promote grassroots engagement with the legislative process in Augusta. He is co-director of a political action committee called Committee to Rebuild Maine’s Middle Class.

Chin was field director of the 2011 Protect Maine Votes campaign, which helped defeat an attempt to eliminate the state’s 38-year tradition of Election Day voter registration at polling places.



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