December 18, 2018
Janet Altman Is First Exec. Dir. of Alray Scholars Program

Janet Altman
September 21, 2017 — The Alray Scholars Program, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps students who have left college complete their educations, recently announced it has named Janet Altman as its first executive director.

Altman had been served as program director for the Alray Scholars Program since 2015.

“Janet is a remarkably dynamic, resourceful and dedicated leader,” said Neil Swidey, who founded Alray. “The Alray board is thrilled to have her assume the role of executive director, to take this organization to the next level.”

The new executive director position has been funded through a $100,000, multi-year grant from the Cummings Foundation, and the organization said, signifies "a moment of major growth" for the grassroots organization, which relies almost on the efforts of volunteer mentors and board members. Prior to 2014, it had no paid staff.

“My new role as executive director will allow Alray to expand its reach in helping more students earn their college degrees and find meaningful employment,” Altman said. “The need for Alray’s services is growing, so my top priority will be to develop a sound funding strategy and continue to build on our success.”

Altman joined Alray Scholars as a board member in 2011, serving until 2014, when she became mentor coordinator, its first paid staffer. A year later, she was promoted to program director. She has also mentored individual Alray scholars since 2012.

For the past three years, she has managed daily operations of the scholar/mentor program and overseen all the volunteers. Under her leadership, the nonprofit developed partnerships with the Boston mayor’s Mentoring Movement and Mass Mentoring, as well as with numerous colleges and educational organizations. It also partnered with Match Beyond to provide career and job placement services to Alray Scholars.

In addition to receiving funding from the Cummings Foundation, it has established support from the Lenny Zakim Fund, the Orville W. Forte Charitable Trust and other foundations.

Previously, Altman was a school coordinator for Read to a Child in Boston; outreach coordinator for the Boston Jewish Film Festival; director of Adult Education at Hebrew College; and an international marketing manager at Magic Software in Boston and Israel.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the University of Maryland.

Swidey founded Alray Scholars in 2008 following the publication of his book, “The Assist,” which chronicled Charlestown High School’s championship basketball team and its legendary coach, Jack O’Brien. Swidey worked with friends and community members to fill an unmet need in Boston by providing support for students whose college paths had been interrupted.

Named in honor of a promising Charlestown athlete lost to street violence, its support formula includes one-on-one mentoring for each scholar, financial assistance, and post-graduation job placement assistance.

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