This Community Fellow of the Year parlayed her internship into a three-year board of directors term at the Women’s Fund of Long Island.

by James Forkan

“I was in awe—to be able to continue my involvement with an organization that I had fallen in love with was an honor and an offer I could not refuse.” –Stephanie Lerner

Stephanie Lerner, an Adelphi University senior and math major, has parlayed her Summer 2013 research and data analyst internship at the Women’s Fund of Long Island (WFLI) into not only a Community Fellow of the Year award but also a three-year WFLI board of directors term.

Named a junior board member in January 2014, Lerner said she is the youngest on the 16-woman board, as well as its first student.

While interning at WFLI, she did data research for the organization and created infographics that tell the Long Island-specific story of the status of women and girls. She noted it “recognized the importance of data in determining where to direct their funding.”

WFLI was so impressed with her internship that she was approached by the then-president of the board, Andrea Malone, to consider joining the board. “I was in awe—to be able to continue my involvement with an organization that I had fallen in love with was an honor and an offer I could not refuse,” she said.

In addition, Lori Duggan Gold, G.C. ’08, M.S. ’12, Adelphi’s vice president for communications as well as vice president of the WFLI board, “advocated for my membership as a junior board member,” Lerner added.

As a gender studies and political science minor at Adelphi, Lerner said, “I have grown passionate about women’s issues and now I had the opportunity to put what I had learned into effect and make a change in the Long Island community.”

When asked about issues she has been involved in since joining the board, Lerner pointed to “many issues women and girls are facing on Long Island. As an organization that funds other nonprofits, the Women’s Fund sees a variety of issues come forward,” she said, “including sex trafficking, domestic violence, female gang violence and countless others that many believe are problems that could not happen in suburban Long Island.”

Her biggest contribution to the board thus far, Lerner said, is her involvement with Girls Fund of Long Island, an initiative in which Long Island high school girls from various backgrounds are brought together to share their common interests in women’s issues and to launch community service projects.

Lerner’s WFLI ties have her thinking outside the box about ways she could apply her math expertise. Citing both her math major and her minors, she said, “I feel that everything I have studied has come into play at WFLI. My minors have helped me realize the political nature of women’s issues and the different views that exist in rectifying these issues that women face. …Prior to that internship, I had no idea how exactly I was going to use my math skills in a profession,” she said. “I didn’t know any math majors who had gone on to something other than becoming a teacher or professor.”

Through her WFLI and insurance internships, she added, “I realized that I was good at analyzing data and using the data to tell a story and explain its significance.”

Aside from WFLI, Lerner has been the underwriting intern for Philadelphia Insurance Companies in Garden City, New York, since August 2014, a position that ties into her career aspirations following her graduation. Lerner just passed her first actuary exam and hopes to become an actuary with an insurance company.

This article appeared in the Career Compass Spring 2015 Newsletter.

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