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Meet Will and Connor, DLC’s Sanford Board Leadership Initiative Volunteers

Meet Will and Connor, the latest members of Duke’s Sanford Board Leadership Initiative. The SBLI program matches Master’s of Public Policy students with a local nonprofit in Durham, where they serve as non-voting board members. This year, Connor and Will have been matched with the Durham Literacy Center, and are working under the supervision of Sarah Bausell, a member of the DLC’s board and an educational expert at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University. Will and Connor are working to incorporate student feedback into DLC management by creating an avenue for students to have a leadership role in the organization. Sarah says “I am thrilled to get to know Connor and Will through this work- they each bring special talents and a unique perspective to the table. They are especially interested in participatory structures—first helping the DLC better understand student needs and perspectives and then helping the DLC commit to engage students (who are interested) in leadership opportunities."

“I really appreciate the fact that the DLC, from the top down, recognizes this as an issue and a priority,” Will said when discussing what excites him about the project. Will was exposed to the importance of reading and education from an early age from his mother, who was a literacy specialist. During his time serving as a board member, Will wants to learn about the challenges that nonprofits face and how to make the most out of the resources that nonprofits, such as the DLC, have. This experience with the DLC can help Will with his post-graduate goals of working in health policy, which often overlaps with nonprofit work.

Prior to enrolling in both the Masters of Public Policy program and the Law school, Connor was a teacher, which has informed his experience in both of his programs. “After 3rd grade, you're not learning to read, you’re reading to learn, and if you don’t do that you're missing out on so much in school and as a functional member of society,” says Connor regarding the importance of literacy. He is interested in a career in public interest law, and is hoping that his experience as a board member with the DLC will give him a sense of how nonprofits work, how they are governed, and what it takes to make recommendations and improve what they do.

Sarah’s hope is for the SBLI students to enjoy their time, make some valuable personal and professional contacts, and complete a cycle of inquiry that they feel proud of. “The work that they have proposed to undertake is meaningful and I’m excited to see how it unfolds,” she says. We're excited to see how Connor and Will's project unfolds. Stay tuned for more!


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