On Sunday, more than 4,500 people braved the frigid waters of Lake Michigan to take the 2015 Chicago Polar Plunge and raise more than $1.1 million for Special Olympics.
Along with celebrities who took the dip — like Vince Vaughn and Lady Gaga — were nine Kellogg students, including four Kellogg Board Fellows.
The team of Board Fellows raised nearly $4,000 for the cause.
Special Olympics Chicago Executive Director Susan Nicholl first met with students in the Kellogg Board Fellows Program this past fall, and it was that talk that inspired several of the students to form a team for the Polar Plunge.
“We felt that partnering with Special Olympics Chicago would be a tangible and useful demonstration of the impact our organization and the Kellogg community strives for with nonprofits in the Chicago area,” said Noah Buntman, president of the Kellogg Board Fellows. “We hope that this year’s Plunge with Special Olympics Chicago is the first of many and the start of a lasting friendship and partnership between our communities.”
Will Connor (pictured above), one of the Board Fellows team members, has a relative who has been a lifelong participant in the Special Olympics. Because of that, he wanted to give back to an organization that’s done so much for someone he cares about.
“We could not have had more fun at the Polar Plunge this year,” Connor said, “and are grateful for Special Olympics for inspiring our participation.”
The Kellogg Board Fellows Program is a student initiated and student-led experiential learning program. Approximately 50 fellows are selected each year, and they come to the program with work experience and an abiding interest in nonprofit board governance work.
Each fellow is matched with a Chicago-area nonprofit board of directors for 14 months, beginning at the end of the fellow’s first year at Kellogg and continuing through May of their second year. The fellow serves as a non-voting member of the nonprofit board, actively contributing to the board’s work in a mutually agreed upon way that advances the work of the board. Each fellow is assigned a mentor from the organization’s board of directors; the mentor helps with the onboarding process and provides ongoing guidance and insight into the workings of the board.
In addition to gaining real-world experience on a board of directors, the fellow also studies nonprofit board governance through two courses taught by Kellogg faculty: Nonprofit Board Governance and Advanced Board Governance. These courses offer the fellow an opportunity to study best practices, examine trends in nonprofit governance, exchange insights with other fellows and learn how to become an effective board member.
The program’s unique combination of academic study and real world experience helps fellows gain a deep understanding of the challenges and rewards of board service.