Jaspers Connect Across Cities and Class Years to Benefit U.S. Military Abroad

Manhattan’s alumni magazine, M, and the Mentor Program brought together three likeminded communication majors to give back.

Having a network of support can make all the difference, whether you’re searching for that first job, in a job transition, or running your own nonprofit.

That’s what Susan Fiorentino ’12, Catherine Kinney ’15 and Emily (Gordon) Spencer ’03 have found in each other. The three communication majors — now in three different stages of life — were brought together through a combination of interests, skill sets and, of course, a Jasper family connection.

And now, they’re paying it forward.

The three-Jasper team is partnering up for a fundraiser in honor of Veterans Day. They are harnessing Fiorentino’s connection with the powerhouse jewelry company Stella & Dot to benefit the nonprofit organization. (She hosts fundraising shows regularly.) Twenty percent of the sales benefit Spencer’s nonprofit, Heartillery Group, whose mission is to show support, love and gratitude to American troops serving overseas by sending cards, letters and care packages.

“I try to do at least one show a month for an organization that someone I know has a connection to,” Fiorentino says. “Emily was one of the first people that came to mind, and Catherine has been so great with projects and everything for it, so I knew having her on board, we'll definitely have success with the fundraiser.”

“And it was all because of the mentor meet-and-greet and Emily being in M magazine that we all kind of connected,” she adds.

Fiorentino first connected with Boston-based Spencer after reading her story in the winter 2015 edition of M magazine. Having a family member who is a veteran of the U.S. Marines, Fiorentino immediately related both to Spencer and her cause.

“She just has such an inspiring story,” Fiorentino says. “So I emailed her, and it kind of just worked out. I was able to help her out with Heartillery’s social media and outreach in New York City.”

Spencer, a natural mentor for Fiorentino, was able to give her advice on nonprofit fundraising and development, which have been crucial to Fiorentino’s first few months as the youngest woman president of the All Island Kiwanis group in Staten Island.

Fiorentino connected with Kinney just a few months later at the College’s spring Mentor Program Dinner. 

“We got paired up really well,” Kinney says, noting their instant rapport. “Not many communication majors want to do nonprofit work, so we immediately had a lot in common.”

As Fiorentino transitioned into her new role as senior coordinator of field development with Autism Speaks in June 2015, she wasn’t able to commit as much time and attention to Heartillery. She knew Kinney was the perfect fit for the role.

“I saw that [Susan] listed social media specialist for Heartillery on her LinkedIn profile, so I emailed her to ask her about it,” Kinney says. “She said, ‘Well, actually I don't know if I can continue doing this anymore. Do you want to do it?’ And I said, ‘of course!’”

Kinney, who has interned as social media contributor with the American Red Cross, Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, took her skills to a new level by taking on the role at Heartillery. She notes that Fiorentino’s advice and mentorship has also been crucial as she interviews for full-time positions in advance of her December 2015 graduation.

“It's a great experience,” Kinney says. “I always asked Susan questions about interviews, social media and everything, so when we reached out to Emily it was kind of cool because it felt like we were able to work together. It’s funny how we all connected. They’re my mentors but also my friends.”

MC Staff