Intern Natalie White Reflects on the Transformative Power of Fortune

Intern Natalie White Reflects on the Transformative Power of Fortune

08/29/2019

It’s another hot summer night, in a stifling, air condition-less apartment. Natalie White—a summer intern at The Fortune Society—is grappling with the subjunctive tense of the Norwegian language. Studying languages and traveling are two of her passions. Through them, Natalie has discovered her true purpose in life—connecting with others. It’s also, in part, what brought her to Fortune.

Natalie’s first “official” introduction to the transformative impact of Fortune came in high school, at an event she helped coordinate. Barry Campbell, a core member of Fortune’s Executive Management Team, shared his gripping story of incarceration and how Fortune’s programs and services provided him with the skills and confidence to tackle reentry. Natalie recalls:

“When he talked about his first time coming out of prison, the thing that struck me the most was how hard it was for him to reconnect with his family because of the housing barriers and the laws surrounding [recently incarcerated individuals].”

Helping individuals reenter society is a central tenet of Fortune’s mission, which is to provide justice involved people with the skills and support they need to build productive lives. In Employment Services, for example, staff conduct job readiness trainings in “soft skills,” such as resume writing or mock interviews to prepare clients for the job application process. Fortune also facilitates “hard skills” trainings in high-growth industries, transitional work programs and paid internships—all designed to develop the necessary skills for job placement. Successfully completing any of these programs builds self-confidence—something that Natalie’s efforts have helped inspire in others.

After her freshman year at American University, where she studied the history of marginalized groups, Natalie thought about a summer internship. Since her mother, Anne Gray, is a longtime Board member, Fortune seemed like a natural fit. And it was. Natalie brought her compassionate spirit and exuberance to the Development team and The David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy. Quickly, she immersed herself in whatever needed to be done—from writing bios and donor profiles to tidying up shelves.

Her final project was to organize the first-ever “Headshots Day.” The event offered staff (more than half of whom have justice involved histories) and clients the opportunity to pose for a professional headshot for employment purposes or to post on LinkedIn. Natalie rallied her friends to volunteer: photographer, Grayson Barrett and makeup artist, Marissa Proto. Ties, dress shirts and professional attire—in-kind donations from supporters—were gathered together. The day was wildly successful. Over 150 staff and clients participated. The event generated a palpable agency-wide buzz and garnered press mentions by PIX 11 News (watch here) and other news outlets.

“The event itself gave [participants] and staff an opportunity to feel good about themselves,” Natalie says. “It was awesome just getting to pick different ties and dress shirts and work through it with the people getting photographed.”

In the PIX 11 news segment, one client enthusiastically shared, “It’s feeling like a great day. I’m feeling very inspired.”

This one event boosted the self-confidence of many who participated and altered their self-perceptions for the better. It also produced a great headshot. At Fortune, we believe in the power of the individual to change. Program by program, training by training, we rebuild and transform lives.

Natalie’s internship has ended. A fall semester awaits, but her impact endures. Natalie’s internship is a testament to the power of one, for the betterment of all.

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