Membership: A Telluride Educational Program of Its Own

26 Apr Membership: A Telluride Educational Program of Its Own

by Michael Becker SP08 TA13

With our annual Convention approaching, Telluride Association is once again recruiting alumni of our programs interested in applying for membership on our Board of Directors. TA members serve on TA committees throughout the year and attend an annual Convention each June. Our tasks include student selection for summer programs, oversight of our two residential Branches at Cornell University and the University of Michigan, managing the Association’s finances, and organizing special events. It is a wonderful feeling to give back to an organization that has had such a profound effect on our own lives. In addition, many members find the positions they hold (and the skills they develop) as TA board members serve them well in their personal and professional life outside of the Association. TA travel and expenses are all paid by the Association, so the only investment we require is your time and ideas.

In comparison to many of its educational nonprofit peers, Telluride’s Board of Directors is massive in size – fluctuating recently between about 75-100 members. Its composition is also a tad unusual – recent alumni of summer programs, branches, and fellow Nunnian institutions like Deep Springs College and the Arete Project, many in their 20s and 30s. They include both undergraduate and graduate students of all stripes, businesspeople, teachers, writers, musicians, a food truck manager, a wedding photographer and more. Members apply and are elected to membership on the basis of their investment in Telluride’s principles and interest in shaping the future of the organization.

Many members find their service to TA a transformative experience itself, providing deep opportunities for personal and professional development and a hands-on opportunity to wrestle with questions of ethical leadership and democracy-in-motion. The models of community self-government articulated and practiced in branches and summer programs are applied most fully and with the greatest consequence in the running of the organization itself. It is this reason we describe membership itself as one of Telluride’s most significant educational programs.

If you are interested in applying for membership in this or a future year, please reach out to the Recruitment & Applications Officer, Michael Becker, at He will be happy to provide you with a current application and related supporting materials, as well as to answer any questions you might have regarding the application process.

This year, our application cycle is as follows:

April 3, 2018  – applications first sent out to prospective applicants

May 15, 2018 – deadline to flag intent to apply for membership this year

Application due June 1, 2018

Mandatory in-person interviews at Convention in Ithaca (at CBTA) June 14-17 (Thursday to Sunday) *travel costs and incidentals covered in full for applicants who meet all deadlines*

There are numerous other ways to get involved in TA before applying for membership. Associates can adjunct for a year, or serve as a non-voting but fully participating member of a Telluride committee, to see if membership in the Association would serve them. If you would like to adjunct in a future year, please e-mail Cindy Estes-Smith ( and request to be put on the adjunct list for next year.  We also turn to alumni as application readers and interviewers for our summer programs, and many find this a rewarding way to be involved whether or not it leads to membership (as it often does). Furthermore, in major US metropolitan areas, TA hosts associate social gatherings and special events.

Some perspectives from current and past TA members:

I have learned patience and intellectual humility as a TA member, both of which have been essential in my professional life as a manager and team leader in an educational nonprofit. – Hammad Ahmed SP02 TA10


I joined TA because it was a community of thinkers and doers that reminded of my TASP experience but on a much bigger scale with impact across a larger variety of programs. Telluride is truly a unique organization that I’ve never seen elsewhere, and my favorite part is the open environment for hard discussions around values and democratic ideals framed by Nunn’s vision for a good society. – Mary Liu SP07 TA14


For me, the best part of being a Telluride Association member is developing and sustaining deep friendships through meaningful work. – Jessica Dragonetti SP04 TA10


I applied to TA when I lived at the Cornell Branch because I wanted to be able to advocate for myself and my fellow Housemembers. One of the most satisfying parts of staying in TA has been discovering the ways that my concerns have broadened to include more and more of TA’s programs and interests. – James May SP99 CB00 TA02


By now I am a bug in amber. But my experience affirms that anyone’s Telluride impact, and fulfillment, will likely be deeper than envisioned. – Brian Kennedy SP60 CB61 TA63

Being a TA member connected me to people working in original, innovative, and deeply thoughtful ways on a wide range of projects across a broad span of institutions and organizations. The (bland, corporate) term “networking” doesn’t capture the meaning of talking with people about their deeply compelling work.

I applied to be a member to have a voice in the policies and practices that affected me as a House member. Once I was a member, however, I developed a range of communicative, decision-making, and leadership skills that have served me well in my academic career. – Amanda Littauer CB95 TA96


In job interviews, everyone has to answer situational questions that start with “Tell me about a time when…” It might be about an accomplishment, a conflict, managing a budget or a team.  A couple years in TA ensured I always had great answers for these that didn’t start with “I was working on a project for class…” – Becca Carter SP91 CB92 TA00

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