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Jenna Starr ’23

Making a Difference: Serving on the Board of a Public Library

We talked with Jenna Starr ’23 about what she learned volunteering on the board of the Wallingford Public Library in suburban Connecticut, as part of Yale SOM’s Nonprofit Board Fellows club.

In this series, Karen Guzman talks to Yale SOM students about how volunteering complements their business education and connects them to their community.

Student: Jenna Starr ’23

Organization: The Wallingford Public Library, the main library facility in the suburban town of Wallingford, Connecticut.

What drew you to this particular volunteer opportunity?

I knew that I wanted Nonprofit Board Fellows to be part of my business school experience, because it’s such a unique opportunity. My background is in philanthropy, where I dealt with numerous boards, but I never had the opportunity to sit on one myself. I wanted to get an intimate look at what it means to navigate the intricacies of running a nonprofit. Specifically, I was excited to work with the Wallingford Library, because I know the impact they can have. Before coming to Yale, I was a Big Sister to a 14-year-old who lives in Wallingford. She struggled with making friends, and this library was her safe space.

What are the values that motivate you to volunteer?

Commitment to making an impact, desire to take advantage of every learning opportunity, wanting to give a voice and amplify voices in a community, and inclusivity.

How does volunteering complement your MBA education?

I structure my business experience with the concept of triple bottom line in mind: profit, planet, and people. The core classes focus on profit. My electives teach me about impact on the planet. Volunteering gives me experience with people. Nonprofit Board Fellows allows me to supplement the education I receive in the classroom.

What's one surprising thing you have learned through volunteering?

How many people use the library for reasons other than taking out books. A library can be a safe harbor, a cultural epicenter, a resource center, or a comforting space.