CLiGS XMNR Graduate Student, Pam Nagurka, working with Campbell Soup Company’s “Healthy Communities” program for her Directed Study Project

Pam Nagurka, Kim Fortunato, Antoinette Dendtler,

By: Barbara McCutchan

One of the great opportunities within the XMNR program is for each graduate student to identify one or two Directed Study Projects (AKA Capstone Project) to fulfill program requirements and their individual professional development plans.

Pam Nagurka of Arlington, VA quickly seized the opportunity to work with the Campbell Soup Company’s “Healthy Communities” program when this project was offered as a CLiGS Sponsored Project.  In this one to two semester project, Pam is working directly with Kim Fortunato, Director – Healthy Communities[1], to develop a series of resources to help sustain and build the program beyond the city of Camden, NJ; where this almost 150-year-old company is headquartered, just across the river from Philadelphia.

Key goals of the Campbell Healthy Communities program are reduction in childhood hunger and obesity based on four strategic areas of focus: food access, physical activity/access, nutrition education, and public will.

Campbell made a commitment to stay in Camden, NJ despite the abandonment by other corporations. Campbell Healthy Communities employs a “collective impact” model with Campbell Soup Company as both the major funder and “backbone organization”. Campbell is a catalytic donor engaging partners and stakeholders with the goal of achieving a stronger and more sustainable model via their own network to carry the Campbell Healthy Communities programming forward. It is for this purpose that the products of this Directed Study project will be used in Camden, as well as a best practice model for other communities.

The enduring understandings from this project will be numerous for Pam, but will certainly include the following:

  • Capacity building with a focus on leveraging resources
  • Working with cross sector groups within a community with a deep sensitivity to outsiders
  • Creating social change within a community system with processes that can be embedded allowing progress to be self sustaining

When Pam saw that this project was a way to fulfill her individual professional development plans, she commented, “I have worked in the public and nonprofit sectors my entire adult life. The idea of working with a private company, the Campbell Soup Company, in their corporate responsibility division will be stimulating. Before hearing Dave Stangis, Vice President – Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, speak at our February class, I believed solutions to food insecurity lay solely in the public and nonprofit domains. Through XMNR, I am beginning to understand the important role private enterprises play in solving some of the world’s most critical problems and welcome the opportunity to work with Campbell Soup Company.”

Pam is being supervised by Dr. Barbara McCutchan, CLiGS Fellow, with Cohort colleague Emily Talley serving as a peer adviser.

Picture: Pam Nagurka, XMNR graduate student (right) visiting in the gardens of program partner ECO Charter School with Kim Fortunato, Campbell Soup Director – Healthy Communities (left) and Antoinette Dendtler, Ed.D., Founder & Head ECO Charter School, Camden, NJ (center).