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Making a Difference: Creating Opportunities for Local Vendors

Yale SOM’s new Inclusive Growth Fellowship pairs fellows with New Haven city agencies to work on projects that increase economic growth for all residents. We talked with Laurence Spekterman ’24 about his experience as a member of the inaugural cohort.

A student wearing a suit posing outside Evans Hall

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

Student: Laurence Spekterman ’24

Organization: Economic Development Administration, City of New Haven

The Inclusive Growth Fellowship, a collaboration with the Center for Inclusive Growth, gives Yale SOM students the opportunity to work on projects aimed at increasing economic growth in ways that broadly benefit New Haven residents, under the direction of city agencies. Laurence Spekterman ’24 is one of eight students in the first cohort of fellows. 

What drew you to this particular volunteer opportunity?

Over the summer, I had the privilege of working on a procurement project, setting spending targets for small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses working with public schools in Washington, D.C. I was excited to apply my experience on this project, which promotes local vendor use among anchor institutions in New Haven. My team includes my classmate Renee Osagiede ’24, and Courtney Hendricson and Steve Fontana, both New Haven deputy directors of economic development.

What are the values that motivate you to volunteer?

I’ve lived in Connecticut for seven years, initially moving here as a Teach for America corps member. I came to Yale SOM with the expectation that I would spend part of my time working with the community. I’m privileged to attend SOM, and I wanted part of my MBA experience to involve leveraging what I'm learning through graduate school classes, professional experiences, and my networks to support the public institutions and social causes I care about.

How does volunteering complement your MBA education?

The fellowship allowed me to test some of the hard skills I’ve picked up throughout the MBA. Real-world projects help me recognize my skill gaps. Right now, I’m applying lessons from classes like Strategic Management of Nonprofits and Impact Measurement and Financial Reporting to analyze how hospitals quantify the current scale of local procurement in New Haven.

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

I was surprised to learn about the New Haven's previous work promoting local vendor use, stretching back to 2012. Some popular local vendors have grown and thrived because of city initiatives.

What have you learned about the City of New Haven through volunteering?

New Haven is a unique city, home to four of the 10 largest universities in Connecticut, as well as the state’s largest hospital. It also has a higher percentage of low-income residents than all the surrounding towns (East Haven, West Haven, Hamden, Milford) and the state average.