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Volunteering, Executive Style

Hopkins execs are taking their leadership skills into nonprofit boardrooms. Harris Benny, left, and Dale Meyers, PEP director, right, with Joseph Jones, a PEP client.
Harris Benny is a boardroom veteran. The JHM International vice president has sat through countless meetings, weighing in on important institutional decisions. Now, thanks to Business Volunteers Unlimited of Maryland, Benny has taken his leadership skills outside Hopkins and into the community.

Through an alliance with JHHS Human Resources, BVU, which facilitates partnerships between businesses and nonprofits, helped place Benny on the board of People Encouraging People (PEP), a nonprofit organization serving those with mental disabilities and substance abuse problems.

Health System VP for Human Resources Pamela Paulk says the partnership is an important extension of Hopkins’ Leadership Development Program. “We’ve always done lots of hands-on volunteering, but very little had leadership aspects. This was a great opportunity.”

Since the alliance began two years ago, Paulk has recruited four execs per year and hopes to increase it to five. This year, in addition to Benny, BVU paired Community Services’ Michael Jenkins with the Hearing and Speech Agency; JHM senior VP Steve Thompson with Loyola College’s MBA program; and Lisa Rowen, director of nursing for surgery, with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

In choosing a nonprofit to support, Benny selected PEP in part because of the name. “I like the way it sounds, and that’s exactly what they do—encourage people—the poor, the homeless, in various ways.” He also likes the challenge of raising the organization’s community profile, and whenever possible, he’s getting to know clients.

Hospitalized for years, one client, Joseph Jones, lost his job and had no means to pay rent. Through PEP, Jones found low-cost housing and a job in the food industry. He recently purchased a motor bike, which has become his means of transportation.

“You don’t get a ‘down-and-out sense’ about PEP clients,” says Benny. Parallels to the Hopkins mission are not lost on him. “We should always have our minds on helping the Baltimore community attain that level of pride and self-reliance.”.

—Judy Minkove



Johns Hopkins Medicine

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