Partners for Progress Hosts Second Annual Youth Career Development Summit

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NYC Leaders Gather to Discuss Employer Investment in High School Internships

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“Every member of Partners for Progress recognizes that building career opportunities for young people in New York requires inviting employers to the table."

Partners for Progress, a diverse coalition of New York City leaders dedicated to opening doors to youth for meaningful professional careers, held today its 2018 Youth Career Development Summit at the offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP in New York. Following the success of last year’s event, the summit brought together local leaders in business, nonprofit and government representing more than 70 organizations to discuss this year’s topic: employer investment in high school internships.

“Every member of Partners for Progress recognizes that building career opportunities for young people in New York requires inviting employers to the table,” said Stephen E. Hessler, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Chair of the Board of Directors of Futures and Options, a NYC-based nonprofit that partners with the business community to empower underserved youth to explore careers and guide them to further their education and become productive citizens. “New York employers can invest in the future of their businesses by supporting the next generation of talent. Our summit helps New York City leaders work together toward a common goal: building tomorrow’s prepared workforce.”

Through panel discussions, presentations, and group feedback, summit attendees discussed the benefits high school interns can bring to businesses and best practices for developing and managing young talent through internship programs. The first panel featured employers sharing their experiences with high school interns and the return on investment of their internship programs. On the second panel, high school interns and their supervisors discussed how high school interns offer opportunities for junior employees to gain increased responsibilities, learn how to supervise an employee, and enhance their leadership skills. The keynote speech was presented by Douglas McNeely, Managing Director and Head of the Strategic Client Coverage Group at BlackRock, who is a leader in the firm’s expanding high school internship program.

“Every New York City student should have the opportunity to participate in an internship during high school,” said Richard Rivera, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Summer Programs and Internships at HERE to HERE, a Bronx-based career pathways nonprofit. “These experiences offer an invaluable chance for young people to explore career options and start building a professional network—and as we’ve heard from our employer partners, they bring value to local businesses at the same time.”

As a result of the 2017 Summit, Partners for Progress members created a white paper outlining the essential components of quality high school internships, which was disseminated to guests in advance of the summit. Event attendees shared their feedback on these guidelines, which will be incorporated into the final document before it is released to employers, schools, nonprofits, and other organizations interested in developing high school internship programs. It will also be posted on the Partners for Progress website.

“Interns have been a tremendous asset to our organization, offering our junior staff an opportunity to delegate and manage and freeing up the time of all staff to focus on higher-level functions,” said conference panelist Michael Benedek, CEO, online data company Datonics. “I’m happy to participate in Partners for Progress’ Youth Career Development Summit to help stress the importance of nurturing future job seekers through internships. Exposing youth to diverse employment opportunities in the tech space is important for their development and for developing a healthy and vibrant tech ecosystem in New York City and across the nation.”

Speakers and facilitators:

  • Stephen E. Hessler, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Chair, Board of Directors, Futures and Options
  • Patty Machir, Executive Director, Futures and Options
  • Erikson Blakney, Program Officer, The Pinkerton Foundation
  • Judy Dimon, Chair, HERE to HERE
  • Douglas McNeely, Managing Director, Head of Strategic Client Coverage Group, BlackRock (keynote)
  • Gregg Betheil, President, PENCIL
  • Mariana Centeno, Senior Analyst, Goldman Sachs


  • Mary Anne Bame, Associate, Fixed Income—Office of the CIO, BlackRock
  • Helen Shelton, Senior Partner, Finn Partners
  • Keisha Golding, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, Gap Inc.
  • Diana Haggerty, Senior Recruiting Specialist, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  • Michael Benedek, President & CEO, Datonics
  • Carlos Williams, Founder, DBC
  • Stacey Morris, Chief Administrative Officer, Morgan Stanley

About Partners for Progress
Partners for Progress is a diverse coalition of leaders across the business, nonprofit, government, and academic sectors who recognize the pressing need to open doors for our youth to meaningful professional careers—and who embrace the resulting positive impacts for those students, the business community, and beyond. Partners for Progress is dedicated to building a vibrant workforce for New York City by preparing youth from high-need communities to be productive employees and by providing early access to the training, exposure, and work experiences that are the catalysts for rewarding careers. Partners include BlackRock, Big Picture Learning, Career Internship Network, Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School, DreamYard, Finn Partners, Futures and Options, Gap, Inc., Genesys Works, HERE to HERE, iMentor, infor, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Kirkland & Ellis, the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, New York on Tech NYC Center for Youth Employment, The Opportunity Network, PENCIL, The Pinkerton Foundation, and

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Jordan Miller
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