Faculty Spotlight: Arlene Buchanan, Associate Director of Employer Engagements and Partnerships Outreach

by Natalie Bowers

Arlene Buchanan, Associate Director of Employer Engagements and Partnerships Outreach, is excited to develop strategic partnerships that offer students transformative real-world experiences and to connect talented students with industry leaders, providing opportunities that enhance their career prospects and deliver fresh, innovative perspectives to our partners. Buchanan’s role matters because it ensures our students are well-prepared for the workforce while contributing to the growth and success of the organizations we collaborate with.

“Northeastern University stands out by providing industry-aligned co-op experiences that significantly increase employability – boom, the ROI. I am proud of the impactful work we are doing and excited about the contributions I can make in this role.”

– Arlene Buchanan

Conversations about the value of a college degree have become increasingly common, with students and their families questioning the ROI of higher education. With over a decade of experience in higher education, Buchanan understands the importance and value of a degree and aligning with institutions that prioritize this outcome.

She said, “Northeastern University stands out by providing industry-aligned co-op experiences that significantly increase employability – boom, the ROI. I am proud of the impactful work we are doing and excited about the contributions I can make in this role.”

Developing Partnerships

Buchanan is based in Miami, Florida, and she is also strategically focusing on emerging markets beyond the state.

She said, “My goal is to forge relationships with industry leaders in key sectors and regions. By engaging with employers in these areas, I aim to create diverse and dynamic co-op opportunities that align with our students’ academic and professional goals. I love to collaborate, so if you have an idea, market, employer, or opportunity worth exploring, let me know and I will look into it. Let’s go!”

Faculty Spotlight: Nneka Allen-Harrison, Assistant Adjunct Professor at Mills College

by Natalie Bowers

Assistant Adjunct Professor for CPS at Mills College, Nneka Allen-Harrison, has conducted a new study titled “Bay Area Black Voices: Employment Outcomes of the Black Labor Force in the San Francisco Bay Area.” Her research synthesizes employment data to explore economic disparities in the region. Despite its robust economy and diverse population, the Bay Area faces a significant racial wage gap. Drawing on U.S. Census data, Allen-Harrison highlights that in 2019, Black men in the Bay Area earned a median income of less than $60,000, whereas their white counterparts earned over $80,000 annually. For further insights, refer to her work in the NGN article.

“The disparities in employment and economic outcomes for the Black labor force in the Bay Area underscore the urgent need for solutions that promote social empowerment and create a more equitable society.”

– Nneka Allen-Harrison

2024 Women Who Empower Awards

by Natalie Bowers

The Women Who Empower Innovator Awards, now in its fourth year, have provided more than $1.32 million in funding to over 100 changemakers in the Northeastern community. The 2024 recipients were selected by a panel of judges and 33 winners will receive a total of $500,000 in funding.  Four of the 33 winners are affiliated with CPS. Congratulations to all of the winners across Northeastern University!

Northeastern University’s Women Who Empower initiative is grounded in the belief that diverse and inclusive communities empower a better world. The network comprises strong, aspiring, and distinguished individuals dedicated to fostering positive environments, building lasting connections, and providing meaningful experiences where all people thrive, through entrepreneurship.

Making CPS Proud! CPS Affiliated 2024 Winners

This year’s CPS Affiliated winners are:

Mary DeVega, CPS’22, NUSL’25


San Francisco, CA | MPowered: A staffing firm dedicated to empowering women through training and professional development

Linh Dinh, CPS’25


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | ATURE: Bridging the gap between Asian SMEs and global markets

Rama Doddi, CPS’24 


Boston, MA & Vizag, AP, India | RegPulse: Identifying the Regulatory “Pulse” of small to mid-lev Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices and Biologic industries and provide solutions for their regulatory concerns

Claudia Tobar, CPS, D.Ed’20



Pichincha, Ecuador | Kamina: A revolutionary financial wellbeing platform, that provides a comprehensive solution with advisory, access and assessment, committed specifically for women and non-banked individuals

Learn more about Women Who Empower.

Read the NGN’s coverage.

Staff Spotlight: Pete Cardillo, Associate Director of Employer Engagement

by Natalie Bowers

Last year marked an exciting milestone with the launch of CPS’s Employer Engagement Team, dedicated to creating dynamic experiential learning co-op opportunities for students. Pete Cardillo helps forge and sustain vital relationships with companies eager to benefit from the fresh perspectives and skills our students offer. His goal? To showcase CPS’s eagerness to collaborate and highlight how our students’ exceptional talents can significantly bolster industry teams—a true win-win scenario!

“Our CPS alumni form an essential support network for our students, enhancing their experiential learning and co-op journeys. With a dedicated team now in place, we aim to encourage our alumni, especially those needing skilled student workers, to reach out and discover the impactful contributions our students can offer.”

-Pete Cardillo

Cardillo is continually connecting with various industry partners and engaging both long-time collaborators and new employer prospects. He shares, “Our CPS alumni form an essential support network for our students, enhancing their experiential learning and co-op journeys. With a dedicated team now in place, we aim to encourage our alumni, especially those needing skilled student workers, to reach out and learn more. Unlike typical interns, our students often arrive with substantial experience, ready to make a remarkable difference from day one. While we value partnerships with companies of all sizes, we particularly treasure the unique experiences provided by medium and small-sized businesses. So, whether you run a family-owned enterprise or a large corporation, we’re eager to connect with you!”

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to partner with us. Learn more here or just reach out to Pete and his team today at [email protected].

Please note: while the Employer Engagement Team and the broader CPS team strive to connect students with valuable experiences, they do not function as a staffing or placement agency for students or employers.

The Spirit of Giving: From Co-op Student to Donor 

Alumni Spotlight: Jim Nolan, BA Business & Administration ‘71

by Natalie Bowers

Few understand the value of co-op education quite like Jim Nolan.  

As a graduate of the College of Professional Studies, BA Business & Administration ‘71, and lifetime career in commercial real estate, Nolan encourages everyone to embrace the practice of philanthropy. His guiding principle is simple yet profound, “engage in giving back in any capacity possible, no matter how small, because every act contributes to a greater good.”   

Nolan’s formative years were influenced by his parents’ strong family values and his father’s military career, which involved multiple relocations around the globe and exposed him to many different cultures. He graduated high school at a small school in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, which was mostly populated by expat students, children of employees of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Embassy and Joint American Military Mission to Aid Turkey (JAMMAT).  

He said, “Coming from the military mindset, I never understood the world of business; I didn’t know there was such a thing as business, and I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was. There is no ‘profit motive’ in the military, there are just missions and objectives. You do whatever it is that needs to be done that day.”  

When it was time to submit college applications, Nolan aspired to pursue a career in teaching, influenced by the positive impact of his high school English teacher, Mrs. Vick. His mother’s best friend in Ankara was the daughter of Herb Gallagher, the Athletic Director at Northeastern University at the time. Both she and her husband were Northeastern graduates and their experience with the university inspired Nolan to apply to the School of Education. Despite never having set foot in Boston before, he was accepted.  

His first visit to Boston coincided with the start of his first semester as an English major in the Northeastern University College of Education. He said, “I boarded a plane from Turkey, arrived at JFK airport with only $50 in my pocket, purchased a bus ticket, and got off at Copley Square.” He then settled into the dorms located at 129 Hemingway Street, Boston. Upon his arrival, he was greeted with two military footlockers containing everything he owned.  

His parents agreed to pay for tuition and board, but Nolan had to earn money for everything else. During his freshman year, he secured a few small jobs, washing dishes at the girl’s dormitory and with Northeastern’s building and grounds when needed. By combining earnings from these jobs, he was able to cover most of his college expenses, graduating with a loan of just $1,200, roughly equivalent to $25,000 in today’s dollars. 

The Co-op Experience 

In his first year at Northeastern, Nolan met with his co-op coordinator to arrange a work experience. The challenge for the coordinator was that the job had to be related to education and provide room and board. Jim was open to opportunities, and the coordinator recommended he look at occupational therapist roles offered at Fairfields Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Newtown, Connecticut.  

“It was a beautiful campus, no gates, every building was a colonial five story building,” Nolan said, remembering his time there. He recalls arriving at the hospital, heading to the administrative building to get the room key, and settling into an 18×12 wide room with a sink and bathroom down the hall. “I unpacked feeling a little strange and went downstairs to the basement rec room. I saw other people there, they were acting a little rambunctious, and I said, ‘holy moly they put me in with the patients.’ But they were the orderlies!”  

Nolan’s next experiential work opportunity was with the Aetna Life and Casualty Company in Richmond, Virginia. Again, Nolan met with his coordinator and focused his job search on Virginia, as his parents were relocating from Turkey to live there. While with Aetna Life, he received free room and board, as well as laundry service. After two co-op periods with the company, Nolan realized his interest in business and finance and transitioned out of the College of Education to University College, now known as the College of Professional Studies. He switched his major to Business Administration and Management and added two additional years at Northeastern to complete his degree.  

“Giving is a joyful experience. If you are at Northeastern, you have got to be immersed in the programs that are offered and take every advantage that is thrown at you. Then give back.” 

Jim Nolan

While he caught up with his new major, Nolan held other positions with the Employers Commercial Union, the Security Insurance Company, the US Post office and Bradley’s Stop and Shop. As he moved closer to graduation, he again called on the assistance of his co-op coordinator for advice and job recommendations. He was recommended to take the Civil Service Examination and apply with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  

He spent the next seven years in a variety of positions and responsibilities with the FDIC, the last two years serving as the Assistant Liquidator of American Bank and Trust company in New York. Finally, Nolan decided it might be time to go out on his own. 

Going Out On His Own. 

After his tenure with the FDIC, Nolan spent the next three years as the Head of Real Estate Acquisitions for a Miami-based company, First Capital. He then had a brief stint as President of MDC Equities in Denver, Colorado. It was in Denver that Nolan met his future partner, and together they co-founded United Trust Fund (UTF), a privately owned real estate investment firm headquartered in Miami. His partner had a connection with a large state retirement fund to provide capital for property purchases, while Nolan’s role was to purchase, manage, and sell the investments. His partner famously said, “You buy the properties, and I will find the capital,” and that is exactly what they did for the next six years, building the name and brand of United Trust Fund (UTF).  

Starting essentially from scratch in 1982, Nolan and his partner grew the company to institutional status. To enhance the company’s capital structure, he hired an investment banker in New York. Deloitte and Touche were engaged to conduct a three-year back audit, and an investment offering was prepared. Nolan remarked, “I learned all of this through my Northeastern co-op experience and my time with the FDIC.” A list of 100 institutional prospects was made, and within one-year, Metropolitan Life closed on a 20% interest in UTF.  

Nolan successfully built his business while raising his three young children and volunteering his time as a Northeastern alum, attending local college fairs, and actively engaging in numerous nonprofit organizations. 


Nolan’s own family’s value of giving, coupled with his award of the Joseph Mullin Scholarship in his last year at Northeastern, gave him a strong sense of the importance of giving back.

Before he was able to give money, Nolan volunteered his time. He represented the university in the local college admission process, attended college fairs, and met with prospective students to promote Northeastern and its co-op program. He continued in that role for ten years, covering Florida and other parts of the southeastern part of the country.  

Eventually, he established the Nolan Family Scholarship for students with learning challenges, starting with a donation of $25,000 and aiming to increase it to $100,000. He has not only achieved this goal but has been able to contribute even more to the fund. 

At a dinner in Miami, Richard Freeland, then-president of Northeastern, solicited Nolan to serve on the University’s Board of Incorporators which he served on for more than ten years, actively engaged in the Admission Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Building Committee and finally, serving five years on the University’s Financial Affairs Committee.  

His breadth of involvement reflects Nolan’s dedication to making a meaningful impact on service and leadership. “When I had time, I gave time; and when I had money, I gave money.”, he said.

“Northeastern co-op provided experience and work ethic for my future and that fueled my desire to give back”

-Jim Nolan