Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Westchester Alumni Who Serve


A primary mission of YWAA is to encourage service to Yale and service to the Westchester community.  Many alumni in the area have stepped up with contributions, leadership and time commitment.  From time to time, Yale Westchester Blog will highlight Westchester-based alumni who have made outstanding contributions to Yale or to the community, who lead service-oriented organizations, or who have service achievements that deserve broader attention. 

Buery '97 Law "missed the rush of being a leader"
(Children's Aid Society photo)
New Rochelle-based Richard Buery '97 Law went to Yale Law School, knowing that he didn't want to be a lawyer. After graduating from Harvard, he says he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but law school could prove to be the best stepping stone. And off to Yale he went.

"I knew that I did not want to be a lawyer," Buery said in an article posted on the website of the Yale Law School. "But I did not have a career plan other than wanting to continue a commitment to social justice I had begun to develop as an undergraduate." At Harvard, he helped start an organization, Mission Hill Summer Program, devoted to summer activity for children in the Roxbury section of Boston.

Today, after a stint in law (as a clerk for a Court of Appeals federal judge) and after an entrepreneurial period, when he started two non-profit organizations, Buery is the President and CEO of the The Children's Aid Society.  The organization, founded in 1853,  is one of the nation's largest agencies, serving children in the New York City and Westchester areas.  The Society states its primary mission is "to help children in poverty to succeed and thrive."

The Society provides services at multiple sites--in schools, neighborhood centers, camps, and health clinics.  Its services are broad and include weekend and after-school programs, camps, family support, arts, adoption and foster programs, nutrition services, pregnancy prevention, sports, and legal advocacy.  Services reach out to about 40 locations in the area.

Buery, The Society's leader the past four years, told the Yale Law School there was a turning point when he decided to switch from law to non-profit service. He had served as an attorney for community groups in Louisiana, when "it occurred to me that I would rather have their jobs (as community organizers and leaders of a local movement) than my own. I also missed the rush of being a leader and entrepreneur."

The Children's Society, now 160 years in existence, has an extended history of initiatives that have taken hold around the country.  They include the first free school-lunch programs and the first day-care programs for working mothers. In recent years, it has been cited for its pregnancy-prevention program and community schools.

Josh Wallack, a Vice President for early-childhood programs at The Society, is also a Yale graduate ('93).

Buery has emphasized programs that encourage children to succeed in school and aspire to go to college. Programs will track progress from grade school to freshman year. Before joining The Society, he started iMentor, a mentoring program that matches school children with professionals. The program arranges for children to meet regularly with their mentors in person and online and now hopes to expand nationwide.


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