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Nicole Kalitsi

Nicole Kalitsi ’20

Philanthropic support enables career-defining nonprofit co-op

In a career-defining co-op at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, global studies major Nicole Kalitsi spearheaded efforts to expand diversity and equity within Philadelphia’s arts and culture community. Philanthropic support made her co-op possible and ensured that Nicole was compensated for her work even though the nonprofit was unable to offer a salary.

Kalitsi benefited from the support of the Lenfest Foundation and its $3 million gift made in 2017 to support co-ops in the nonprofit and cultural sector. She was part of the first cohort of co-op students to benefit from the gift, working through the Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships to ensure her paid co-op.

As the diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Kalitsi was tasked with leading the direction of an affinity group comprised of arts administrators, organization higher-ups and interested employees who were focused on expanding diversity and equity within the city’s arts and culture community. Previous efforts by the large group had trouble getting off the ground, but Kalitsi was able break members into five subgroups to focus on one area of their diversity initiative and get more done, as well as research and schedule diversity training for interested employees and organizations.

“Even though I was on co-op, I was really treated like I was part of the team,” Kalitsi says “Being able to now say that I have had this experience, that I can be a self-starter and it's proven — I can show you what I actually did — that's amazing. I don't think I would ever have gotten this experience anywhere else.”

Not only did she accomplish a number of projects from start to finish, but she commanded respect from the members of her organization and the higher-ups she worked with at several of the city’s leading arts and cultural groups.

I don't think I would ever have gotten this experience anywhere else.

“It was a good opportunity to have a real project and have real ownership of something that was high-level for us in terms of our mission and strategic agenda,” says Kalitsi’s supervisor Michael Norris, Chief Strategy Officer for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance . “[Nicole] was really dedicated and resourceful and thoughtful. Once we had a vision and a skeleton work plan, she really ran with it and took ownership and responsibility for it. As a worker, she was fantastic.”

Kalitsi said without the financial support coordinated by Drexel, she would not have been able to take on this co-op that helped crystalize her future goals.

“A lot of people don't see that there is a lot of value in investing in students working with nonprofits… But Drexel does see us as being people who are going to contribute and build up the city in the future,” Kalitsi says. “Working with nonprofits, you get to actually be working with the people who are affected by the things that you do. … You work every day with people who are from amazing backgrounds and despite the lack of resources, everybody comes in and they're happy to be there and they're all working for this common amazing goal.”

This story is adapted from an article that originally appeared in Drexel Now.

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