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My name is Taylor Polen, I was born and raised in Arizona and am passionate about finding creative solutions to inspire systemic equality and opportunity for all. I graduated from high school in 2016 and had little notion of what I wanted to do with my life until I joined Public Allies.
I found the program while searching for other sources of financial aid for college and applied late despite discouragement. My first term with Public Allies and the Alzheimer's Association began as an outreach specialist in December 2016. I became a program specialist my second year with Public Allies, in October 2017. Because of this program, I have been given the opportunity and guidance to achieve my life mission to create meaningful, positive and lasting change.
“To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research: to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”
Above is the mission of the Alzheimer's Association, but in what capacity do I serve that supports this mission? As a program specialist, you may think that I am limited to one program or role, that however, is not the reality. Since beginning at the Alzheimer's Association, I have been utilized in several different capacities by my coworkers and supervisor. I have provided support in data entry, event staffing, leading and developing educational workshops, helpline support, early-stage engagement, fundraising, health fairs, networking, organizing internal fundraisers and activities, marketing material design, program development, technical support, event set-up and tear-down, advocacy events, filing and organization, and so much more. Performing these tasks and filling the numerous and varietal roles gave me time to expand my professional capabilities while guiding the direction of my career.
I not only serve the Alzheimer’s Association individually but along with my fellow second-year Allies, we fulfill important leadership roles within the Public Allies Cohort. As a second-year Ally, my responsibilities have been expanded upon immensely compared to those of my first year. While the first year is often reserved solely for learning and growth, an Allies’ second year is used to expand their confidence and to step up and thrive as a leader within the program, their community and their placement organizations. I have worked with my fellow second-year Allies to develop and facilitate numerous presentations and activities for our group training days, community service events and staff support by assisting with other program logistics.
My AmeriCorps service has been invaluable. It has afforded me with opportunities to expand my capabilities, networking connections, and professional experience. Because of this, I have truly started to flourish as a leader and change-maker in the nonprofit Sector. After my program graduation, I will be pursuing my bachelor's degree in Nonprofit Management & Leadership at Arizona State University, while participating in the Next Generation Service Corps (A cross-sector leadership development program). As a result of my time in Public Allies, I will continue to implement creative, positive and lasting change wherever it is needed. Public Allies changed my life and I can never express the amount of gratitude I have for being gifted with this remarkable prospect.
Taylor Polen is a Class 11 and Class 12 Public Ally, placed at the Alzheimer's Association as a program specialist. Public Allies Arizona is a 10-month apprenticeship program designed to develop the next generation of civic leaders.