Alyssa Aguilera is the community organizer for the Health Justice program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), a nonprofit civil rights legal services organization. Alyssa joined NYLPI in 2009 and her work focuses on the intersection of health and civil rights as well as the elimination of health disparities for low-income communities of color and immigrants. She uses her training and expertise in community organizing to build grassroots campaigns, support community leadership and develop broad-based coalitions that drive legal advocacy.
Currently, Alyssa co-coordinates campaigns to ensure equal treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries at private academic medical centers and to preserve the health care safety net in New York City. As part of these efforts, she works closely and collaboratively with many faith-based and community organizations, unions and advocacy groups across New York City and state. Alyssa is also active in efforts to develop grassroots responses to the lack of accessible health care in medically underserved neighborhoods and to improve linguistically and culturally competent health care for immigrant populations.
Alyssa is a native of San Antonio, Texas and graduated from Harvard University in May 2009 with a degree in Government. She spent a semester abroad studying the Zapatista indigenous rights movement and other social movements throughout Mexico. She has also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she worked for a food justice nonprofit.
At Harvard, Alyssa was active in the Phillips Brooks House Association, the nation’s largest student-run social justice and nonprofit organization. She served as the advocacy programming chair as well as a member of the organization’s student leadership team. Alyssa co-founded and directed the Student Labor Action Movement, where she organized students, faculty and staff in support of workers’ rights on and off campus. She also spent three summers teaching and working for the Summer Urban Program, which provides high-quality, low-cost summer enrichment for nearly 1,000 youth in Boston and Cambridge. Alyssa interned with the Boston Workers Alliance and SEIU Local 1’s Justice for Janitors campaign.
Alyssa is a graduate of the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program and co-coordinates the NYC chapter of the Harvard Latino Alumni National Network.
Lorén Amor works as chief of staff to New York State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, who represents the 36th District in Astoria, Queens. Lorén’s responsibilities include overseeing legislative initiatives, community outreach and media relations and serving as the Assemblymember’s primary liaison to elected officials, government agencies and civic organizations. Through his position, Lorén has organized coalitions to advocate on behalf of students and senior citizens, and helped advance an agenda focused on promoting economic growth, expanding civil rights and protecting consumers.
A lifelong resident of Astoria, Lorén graduated from Harvard University in 2010 with a BA in History and Literature and a foreign language citation in Spanish. He developed his passion for public service through internships with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the office of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. After graduating, Lorén returned home and volunteered for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s re-election campaign, where he was promoted to a field organizer position in the district’s Queens section for the primary election. Lorén then managed Congresswoman Maloney’s general election campaign, supervising media, field and political operations while coordinating strategies with elected officials and community leaders.
In college, Lorén was sports chair and a columnist at The Harvard Crimson and volunteered as a civics teacher at Jackson Mann Elementary School in Allston, Massachusetts. He spent a summer in Seoul, South Korea teaching SAT-prep and Advanced Placement courses. Lorén was also president of the Kirkland Drama Society, acting in several plays and co-writing and co-directing an original musical during his senior year. For his work with The Crimson and the Kirkland Drama Society, Lorén received the David McCord Prize for writing.
Lorén, a former Judge Charles J. Vallone Scholarship recipient, serves on the Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee of the Astoria Civic Association.
Christopher Gomez Blank is the development associate at the Brooklyn Family Defense Project (BFDP), a nonprofit legal services office that provides representation to low-income parents in child welfare and related family court cases. Through a holistic model that includes social workers and parent partners, BFDP seeks to help parents obtain the benefits and services they need to keep their families safe and stable. In collaboration with the project director, Chris assists in all aspects of fundraising, particularly in developing BFDP’s law firm and individual donor base. Chris also administers the BFDP Associates Advisory Board, which provides guidance to BFDP’s leadership on issues concerning communication, fundraising and events.
Prior to joining BFDP, Chris served as the immigration outreach project coordinator at the City Bar Justice Center (Justice Center), the nonprofit legal services affiliate of the New York City Bar Association. While at the Justice Center, Chris administered the Varick Removal Defense Project, which provides representation at the Varick Immigration Court to lawful permanent residents facing deportation. Chris also developed an improved project model that expanded the project’s scope of legal services and offered more opportunities to pro bono attorneys. In addition to this work on the Varick project, Chris assisted in the facilitation of various legal clinics and presentations throughout the five boroughs and Long Island.
Chris graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009 with a BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish Language and Literature. During his time there, Chris was an active member of the Latino/Hispanic community and served as president of the Latino Student Union, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Award by the Office of the Dean of Students for successfully restructuring and consolidating all the Latino/Hispanic groups on campus to allow for a more effective approach to advocacy and cultural programming. During his fourth year, Chris was an undergraduate associate with the Immigration Law Clinic of the Legal Aid Justice Center, where he conducted client intakes and prepared subsequent applications. Deeply interested in international affairs, Chris took the opportunity to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a semester, where his coursework focused on globalization and political economy in Latin America. Upon graduation, Chris embarked on a six-month solo backpacking trip that took him from Mexico to Chile.
Erin Burns-Maine works at WHEDco – Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation – located in the South Bronx. WHEDco is a nonprofit that works to make the Bronx a more beautiful, equitable and economically vibrant place to live and raise a family. In her role as housing and community development associate, Erin assists in the planning and development of new projects by coordinating focus groups, implementing community development initiatives and conducting neighborhood research. Erin works closely with the Southern Boulevard Merchant Association and spearheaded the development of a Web site for the district allowing merchants to build an online presence. Erin also creates maps, brochures and presentations that communicate WHEDco’s work to the public.
Prior to her work with WHEDco, Erin was the public education and advocacy coordinator at the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance in Worcester, MA. Erin advocated alongside homeless families for improvements to the family shelter system and increased rental assistance. After two years, Erin began to focus on improving housing affordability and educational opportunities that could potentially prevent family homelessness.
Erin received her BA in Sociology and her MA in Community Development and Planning from Clark University in Worcester, MA. During her time at Clark, Erin was an active member of the Fiat Lux Honor Society; the Gryphon and Pleiades Honor Society; the Community Action, Reform and Education (CARE) Initiative; and the “Making a Difference” Scholarship program. Erin’s community development studies included a semester abroad in Windhoek, Namibia and a graduate research project in Cusco, Peru. Erin was awarded the John W. Lund Community Service award and the Adams-Mills Award for her commitment to social change.
Yoo Jin Cheong works as the associate director of the Strategy and Engagement Team at the Office of Portfolio Management within the New York City Department of Education. The NYC Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in the United States, serving over 1.1 million students in nearly 1,700 schools. The Office of Portfolio Management develops and implements structural changes to the portfolio of public schools in order to provide high-quality educational options for all students in NYC.
In her role, Yoo Jin helps to develop strategies for and manage citywide engagement efforts related to school proposals. She facilitates communications with internal offices as well as the public, and monitors proposals to ensure compliance with New York State law.
Prior to working at the NYC Department of Education, Yoo Jin assisted the former executive director of the United Nations Office of Partnerships in launching the nonprofit organization Global Partnerships Forum. The organization aims to develop international partnerships across the private and public sectors to address various socioeconomic issues. Yoo Jin also worked on the 2009 Bloomberg for Mayor campaign, where she oversaw and trained volunteers and canvassers for campaign tasks and led the Korean-American outreach efforts by meeting with community organizations and translating speeches and publications.
Yoo Jin graduated from Yale University in 2009 with a BA in History. During her time at Yale, she planned all senior events, including commencement, as the class treasurer and co-chair of the Senior Class Council. She also served as the president of the Korean-American Students Association and volunteered at a local elementary school as a bilingual tutor.
William “Will” Colegrove currently serves as the director of legislation and budget for New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer. He is responsible for overseeing all legislation introduced by the Council Member and managing her budget allocations. He also acts as the liaison to the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, chaired by Council Member Brewer, and the Manhattan Delegation of the New York City Council, co-chaired by Council Member Brewer. In his current position, Will works with city agencies, advocacy groups and the public to develop legislation in a number of policy areas, from election reform and open government initiatives, to environmental issues and quality-of-life concerns.
Originally from Bainbridge Island, WA, Will moved to New York to attend Fordham University in the Bronx. He majored in Political Science and was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national Political Science honor society. Will spent a semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, conducting all of his coursework in Spanish at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Once back at Fordham, he got his start in government working as an intern to New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. After graduating from Fordham in 2010, he headed back west to Bristol Bay, AK, for his fourth consecutive summer working for a commercial salmon fishery. Will returned to New York later that year to manage the successful re-election campaign of Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh.
Since joining Council Member Brewer’s office, he has helped usher several pieces of legislation into law, including two initiatives aimed at encouraging local sourcing of New York State food and reducing barriers for the construction of rooftop greenhouses. He also recently made it through the passage of his first New York City budget, a $66 billion undertaking.
Abigail DeAtley is a development coordinator at Planned Parenthood NYC. Previously, Abigail served as a resource development and program associate at Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). Her work there includes generating support for diverse programming and planning annual events and fundraisers. Abigail’s programming work focuses heavily on sustainability initiatives and includes leading AAFE’s community garden and participating in Local Spokes, a Lower East Side and Chinatown bicycling coalition.
Abigail moved to New York in September 2009 to complete a year of volunteer service as a member of AmeriCorps VISTA. Abigail was placed at AAFE and cites her colleagues and supervisors as important inspirations during her first year in public service. Despite living on a meager stipend, most of which went directly to rent payments on her not-so-charmingly dilapidated apartment, Abigail was ecstatic because her VISTA year demonstrated that her professional aspirations and personal beliefs could be reconciled by working in public service. Upon successful completion of her VISTA year, Abigail joined AAFE as a full-time staff member and continues to enjoy the challenges of working at a multifaceted community development organization.
Abigail graduated from New College of Florida in 2009. Her area of concentration was Sociology and her senior thesis focused on the struggle to unionize Florida’s college professors in the 1970s and 1980s. Abigail attributes her initial desire to do service work to the phenomenal professors, rigorous coursework and unique campus culture at New College.
Pamela “Pam” Dicent has served as the development assistant at Community Resource Exchange (CRE) since October 2010. CRE is a nonprofit management consulting firm that makes New York City’s nonprofit organizations stronger and more effective in fighting poverty and advancing social justice. As a part of the CRE team, she not only provides support in all areas of fund development, but also coordinates marketing and communications activities. Pam is working on CRE’s Neighborhood-Based Capacity Building initiative in the Rockaways, helping to strengthen the network of nonprofit service providers in the community, particularly those focused on the needs of youth. Prior to joining CRE, she completed internships with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital CARES program for youth facing psychological and substance abuse issues.
Pam’s passion for education and social justice was ignited when the Posse Foundation selected her to attend Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She graduated magna cum laude, earning a BA in Sociology. Her interests also inspired her senior thesis on racial justice ally status and its implications for white identity development. The travel bug bit Pam during her semester abroad in Siena, Italy. As a volunteer at the local Campansi she spent her time with its elderly residents, improving her Italian skills and completing a research project on gender roles. The honors that she has received include the Lucretia C. Mott Prize in Sociology, the Wheaton Ujima Leadership Award, a Wheaton College Porter Fellowship and the Award for Excellence in Italian. She is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honor Society.
When she wasn’t in the classroom or taking part in impromptu debates and discussions about race and racism around campus, Pam was an active leader and member of various intercultural groups, a theme month coordinator at the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning, and HERO mentor volunteer for local high school youth. She also served as a preceptor, advising incoming freshmen on issues of academic and social development.
Denice Dorchak-Ochola is a portfolio assistant at The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF). EMCF funds organizations that help young people improve their educational skills and academic achievement, prepare for the world of work and make the transition to employment and economic independence, and/or avoid high-risk behaviors such as involvement in the juvenile justice system and teen pregnancy. As the assistant to EMCF’s four program officers, Denice is required to be a “Jill of All Trades,” ready to take on a variety of tasks that support the management of grantee relationships, the evaluation of programs and the screening of candidates for investment. Her day-to-day work focuses on maintaining EMCF’s documents and contacts database, preparing and distributing documents, scheduling and planning internal and external meetings and events, and handling special projects as they arise.Denice developed her commitment to public service as an activist at the Metro State College of Denver, where she worked with a diverse group of students to advocate for issues ranging from campus equality for the GLBTQ community, to adaptive technology for students with disabilities. Her fervor to lend a voice to the marginalized and under-represented led to work as a fundraiser and community organizer for the Denver Rape Crisis Center. In 2005, Denice moved from her native Denver to Brooklyn, where she shifted her energy from holding signs and yelling slogans to working in an afterschool program for at-risk youth and to serving as the president of the Student Association for International Studies at the City College of New York. While at City College she completed internships with Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, a women’s employment rights law firm, and with Goods for Good, an international nonprofit providing material and financial support to schools and orphan care centers in Malawi. Denice graduated with honors from City College in 2009 with a degree in International Studies.
Alexandra “Ali” Fine currently serves as the development associate at The Good Dog Foundation (Good Dog). Good Dog is a nonprofit dedicated to all aspects of animal-assisted therapy, including training, certification, visit coordination, research and awareness. Through the use of professionally trained handler and therapy dog volunteer teams, Good Dog aids in the healing process and enhances the quality of life for patients and clients at hundreds of facilities on the East Coast and disaster sites throughout the country.
Working at Good Dog has allowed Ali to combine her experiences with community outreach, her passion for animals and strong belief in the human-animal bond. She provides support for Good Dog’s fundraising and donor relations activities, including the planning and execution of volunteer, fundraising and community events.
Prior to joining the Good Dog team, Ali served as a campaign associate at Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger in Boston, MA. At Project Bread, Ali built relationships with community members and corporate sponsors; raised awareness through speaking engagements and community events; and significantly contributed to the planning and administration of the 2010 Walk for Hunger, which brought 42,000 Walkers to raise $4.2 million toward the fight against local hunger. Ali also previously provided media and communications support to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, focusing on the Eat Humane campaign and writing for the Compassionate Travel blog.
An honors graduate of Skidmore College, Ali holds a BA in Sociology. Throughout her time at Skidmore, Ali cultivated relationships with local animal shelters, assisting at adoption events and fostering homeless dogs. She was actively involved in the student volunteer club Benef-Action and was accepted to present her senior thesis at the Eastern Sociological Conference in Baltimore, MD.
Anna Friedman serves as the special assistant to the Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, the largest system of schools in the country, with more than 1,700 schools serving 1.1 million students.
In her capacity as special assistant, Anna supports the Chancellor in executing and communicating key initiatives to improve educational outcomes for all New York City students. Anna prepares the Chancellor for events and meetings, manages projects on the Chancellor’s behalf, and conducts research to help him execute his top priorities. Anna is also responsible for writing key communications and drafting presentations on behalf of the Chancellor, including policy announcements, public remarks and memos. She also manages the Chancellor’s relationships with key external partners.
Anna first came to the NYC Department of Education (DOE) in 2008 as a New York City Urban Fellow. Through the year-long fellowship program, Anna studied urban policy, city agency operations and intergovernmental relations. In her work at the DOE, Anna served as a project manager in the development of a pioneering new school model serving at-risk students entering high school. She also designed and implemented strategy for a multifaceted outreach campaign to help drop-outs and at-risk students get back on track and graduate from high school.
After the Urban Fellows program, Anna worked in the DOE’s Communications office, where she drafted Op-Eds, press releases and public remarks for the Chancellor. In addition to writing and managing larger publications, Anna organized public events with key partners and also developed comprehensive guidelines for Communications.
Anna graduated with honors from Harvard College in 2008 with a concentration in Social Studies, an interdisciplinary major combining Government, History, Economics, and Philosophy. While at Harvard, Anna completed research in Italy as part of her senior thesis about the effect of local policy on the integration of immigrants in Italy. She spent a summer as an intern for the State Department at the US Consulate in Milan, where she worked in Public Affairs.
Reva Gaur is the director of Communications and Social Media at The Educational Alliance, a community-based organization that serves 50,000 New Yorkers each year through programs in education, social services, the arts, and health and wellness. She oversees media outreach and public relations, social media marketing and online communications for the organization.
In her first year on the job, Reva garnered extensive press coverage in top-tier outlets, including six New York Times articles and 12 broadcast television segments. Since then, she has continued to raise the profile of The Educational Alliance through frequent, positive media coverage. In addition, Reva launched the organization’s social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and has grown the Twitter following to over 2,200 followers with a high level of engagement. For the last three years, Reva also led communications and social media for the Save After School campaigns, advocating for 150 programs and over 15,000 youth citywide.
Prior to The Educational Alliance, Reva worked in marketing and publicity for the entertainment industry, but quickly realized that promoting social causes might be more fun (and rewarding) than promoting movies and famous actors. In terms of causes, Reva is most passionate about education, youth development, sustainability and the arts – and is fascinated by the idea of using social media to raise awareness about these causes.
Outside of her day job, Reva serves on the Board of Directors for Cell Motion Laboratories, a nonprofit that runs BioBus, a mobile science laboratory that brings hands-on science education to underserved students. She is also a volunteer consultant for IdealPolitik, an organization that offers pro bono communications consulting to small nonprofits. Reva also volunteers as a mentor to high school students in the Educational Alliance's College Prep Program.
Reva graduated from Brown University in 2007 with a BA in Sociology. While at Brown, she got her feet wet in the nonprofit field at WBRU-FM, an independent, nonprofit radio station reaching 300,000 listeners in Southern New England. She served as promotions director and never once had to pay for a concert ticket during her four years of college.
Zeest Haider is a research assistant at MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and education policy research organization that conducts large-scale evaluations across the country to learn what works, and how to improve policies and programs for low-income individuals. Zeest conducts both quantitative and qualitative research as a member of multiple project teams in the K-12 policy research area. One of Zeest’s main projects addresses an initiative that is part of the high school reform movement, in particular the transition into high school, called Ninth Grade Academies. As part of the research team, Zeest has conducted site visits to Florida, analyzed qualitative interview data from these visits, written and edited surveys administered to schools, prepared school-level demographic and testing data for analysis, and is currently working with the project team on a detailed report to be published in 2012.
Zeest had a keen interest in education and policy issues even prior to her current work and spent a summer interning at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. In this position, Zeest conducted a study on the effectiveness of rating 130 federal education programs using a measure (Program Assessment Rating Tool) developed by the Office of Management and Budget.
Zeest graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University with a BA in Economics in 2010. In her senior thesis, she researched the effect of state charter school policies on racial segregation across public schools. While at Barnard, Zeest was also an active member of various student organizations, and the Academic Affairs Representative on the Student Government Association. In addition, she was engaged in the local community, tutoring high school students and volunteering as a clarinet instructor at an elementary school.
Lauren Hee is a communications assistant at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center located in Lower Manhattan and Flushing, Queens that provides comprehensive, culturally relevant and affordable health care for Asian Americans and other medically underserved populations.
As a part of her development work, Lauren produces newsletters, fundraising appeal letters and direct mail materials that are sent to thousands of donors to help generate resources to ensure that patients can receive quality health care regardless of their ability to pay. She also helps coordinate fundraising events such as the annual fundraising dinner, which hosted over a thousand guests this past year. In addition to her responsibilities in development, Lauren works with the Health Education Department to develop brochures, newsletters and fact sheets on preventive health that are tailored for the health center’s predominantly Asian patient population. Over the last two years, Lauren also organized interviews, meetings, editing and photos for the production of the health center’s history book, From Street Fair to Medical Home.
Prior to serving as communications assistant, Lauren worked with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in 2006 as a project Asian health education and development intern. During the internship, Lauren participated in various workshops, shadowed physicians and collaborated with fellow interns to create a community health project on teen stress. Perhaps most importantly, she gained a better understanding of barriers to the delivery of health care, including language barriers, lack of resources and financial hardships that prevent patients from receiving needed care. The internship ultimately laid the foundation for Lauren’s desire to improve health care accessibility.
Lauren graduated cum laude from Barnard College in 2009 with a BA in English and a minor in Economics. As a writing fellow at Barnard, Lauren tutored peers in writing for courses across the disciplines and staffed the Erica Mann Jong Writing Center. During her college years, Lauren also served as head copy editor and staff writer at the Barnard Bulletin and interned at several magazines including Vogue, Lucky, Glamour, Self and CosmoGIRL!
Samantha Koller serves as an analyst at CASES – Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services. CASES provides community-based sanctions and services for court-involved individuals in New York City. As a member of the Strategic Planning and Analysis Unit, Samantha coordinates performance measurement for CASES’s five youth programs and manages reporting for government contracts and foundation grants. To assist the executive team in making data-based programmatic decisions, Samantha prepares service summaries, identifies trends, and monitors areas of special interest to education, employment, court intake and clinical unit staff. Samantha would like to continue designing data collection and reporting systems responsive to the needs of human services providers and of ultimate benefit to clients. Her interest in data management is rooted in the belief that meaningful measurement is essential in providing high-quality, equitable services.
Samantha became interested in working with data and contracts while serving as the program coordinator at Adolescent Consultation Services, a juvenile court clinic in the Boston area. Samantha was responsible for all stages of data collection and reporting, while managing the office and providing technical support. She also acted as project manager when the clinic successfully applied to renew its primary operating contract with the Department of Mental Health.
Prior to her work at CASES, Samantha relocated to New York City to join the inaugural class of the New York City Civic Corps (NYCCC). NYCCC is an AmeriCorps VISTA program sponsored by the Mayor’s Office that is dedicated to the citywide development of volunteer programs. While working at Phipps Community Development Corporation, Samantha launched the Phipps Volunteer Tutoring Project, an initiative serving school-age youth and adults working towards their GEDs in the West Farms area of the Bronx. Samantha also served concurrently at BronxWorks, where she worked with program directors to design volunteer opportunities at the agency’s senior centers.
Samantha graduated from the Presidential Scholars Program at Boston College in 2007 with a BA in Philosophy. While in college, Samantha was an intern at the McMullen Museum of Art on campus and worked as a summer teacher at the Italian Home for Children, a residence and school for children with behavioral disabilities.
Deshaun Mars works as a college transition and success counselor for Good Shepherd Services, a social service, family and education agency that aims to provide the necessary support services to allow youth and families to lead productive and self-sufficient lives. In his role, Deshaun works with students as they are making their transitions to college by offering the academic, social and emotional support they need to succeed.
Prior to joining Good Shepherd, Deshaun was intimately involved in urban education in many different ways. Not knowing it at the time, his own educational experience sparked his eventual interest in urban education and social justice. In the middle of his high school career, Deshaun was able to attend The Dalton School, an elite private school in Manhattan, after spending two years at Paul Robeson High School, a public school in Brooklyn currently in the process of being closed due to poor academic performance. The experience was eye-opening for Deshaun, as this was the first time he was immersed in an intense intellectual environment, and it undoubtedly facilitated his personal development, academic success and ultimate career trajectory.
Inspired by this high school experience, Deshaun has since made the commitment to transform his community through education. As an undergraduate at Brown University, Deshaun was involved with Makin’ Moves Mentoring, a tutoring and mentoring program in which he worked with high school students from Providence, RI. Deshaun also served as a Minority Peer Counselor, where he lived with first-year students and did outreach to students of color on campus, conducting workshops and discussions on racism, classism and homophobia. In addition, Deshaun has worked with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, a national policy research and reform-support organization. There, Deshaun conducted research on youth involvement in school reform, helping to inform the campaigns of the Urban Youth Collaborative, a coalition of youth organizations that fight to change the conditions in New York City public schools.
Deshaun graduated from Brown University in 2008 with a BA in Education Studies and in 2009 with an MA in Urban Education Policy. He was also a long jumper and captain of the track team.
Scott McVittie, Jr. is the education data analyst at United Way of New York City (UWNYC), a nonprofit organization that creates, leads and supports strategic initiatives that have a measurable and lasting impact in improving education, income stability and health throughout the five boroughs. Scott works as part of a team that manages the K-12 education programs for the organization, of which the largest program is the multi-million dollar Attendance Improvement and Dropout Prevention initiative serving over 5,000 New York City public school students in 77 schools throughout the city. Scott manages the online database used by all partner organizations to provide information about program services and outcomes. He also develops a variety of reports for funders and partner organizations. Recently, Scott has played an increased role in performance management and program evaluation, working to implement a data-driven approach to ensuring that programs are meeting their target outcomes.
Prior to working at UWNYC, Scott interned at the New York City Department of City Planning, where he conducted an inventory and design study of the security infrastructure throughout Lower Manhattan. Scott also worked as a regeneration consultant at EDAW, performing equalities impact assessments to ensure that all equalities groups were considered in proposed developments throughout the London area. As an undergraduate student, Scott was an intern at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a nonprofit, independent research organization dedicated to researching the causes and effects of unemployment and measures for the alleviation of unemployment.
Scott graduated magna cum laude from Kalamazoo College with a major in Economics, earning the William G. Howard Memorial Prize, awarded to the senior who has done the best work in Economics, and earning honors on his Senior Individualized Project. While at Kalamazoo College, Scott spent five months living in Aberdeen, Scotland and attending the University of Aberdeen as part of a long-term study abroad program. Scott earned his MS in Regional and Urban Planning Studies from the London School of Economics in 2008.
Carlos Mendoza is a program manager at City Year New York, an education-focused nonprofit that partners with public schools to combat the dropout crisis by placing young AmeriCorps leaders (corps members) in schools to serve as tutors and role models. He is responsible for managing and coaching two diverse teams of corps members doing a year of service in two middle schools in Long Island City, Queens, as well as fostering relationships with other community-based organizations and ensuring that all service goals at his schools are exceeded. Before becoming a program manager, Carlos served as a corps members and then as a senior corps member with City Year New York, working directly with middle school youth to motivate and inspire them to stay in school and on track. Carlos is driven to do this type of work because of his own experiences; he came to the United States at the age of nine, not knowing a word of English, and attended low-performing schools. He was fortunate to have caring mentors and teachers that put him on a path to graduate high school and then college.
In 2008, Carlos graduated from Cornell University with a BA in Economics. He was a Gates Millennium Scholar and a Meining Family Cornell National Scholar, which recognizes students who demonstrate an outstanding degree of leadership. On campus, he was part of a group of students who, in response to Hurricane Katrina, organized a trip to New Orleans to assist with cleanup efforts. In addition, he tutored students in the area near his college and organized events aimed at educating the student body about immigrant rights. Carlos also served as a teaching assistant for a course on collaborative leadership and ran weekly sections for ten other students.
After his freshman and sophomore years, Carlos participated in an internship with Breakthrough Collaborative in San Jose, CA, where he taught seventh grade math to middle school youth. It was his experience with Breakthrough Collaborative – and the impact that the program had on the youth it served – that inspired him to pursue a career in the education field. Carlos wants to dedicate a large portion of his life to closing the achievement gap and ensuring that all people have an equal opportunity to succeed.
Megan Nestor works as a program manager at The Opportunity Network (OppNet), where she is able to combine her excitement for youth development and passion for educational opportunities. OppNet seeks to equal the playing field for high-achieving, underserved high school and college students by creating access for them to career opportunities, professional networks and colleges. Megan is responsible for managing the high school career development program, which includes running weekly classroom workshops and working one-on-one with students on individual development. She also collaborates with executives and other professionals to plan career workshops and develop curriculum for the students.
Prior to The Opportunity Network, Megan worked as a program and development assistant at Minds Matter of NYC, an organization that helps high-achieving high school students from low-income families prepare for college success. Megan was responsible for supporting all programming, including the management of 400 volunteers and 150 students. She was also involved in development initiatives at the organization, assisting with grant writing and foundation research.
Megan received her BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 2008, where she also worked for the Office of New Student Programs in both the mentorship and orientation programs. She currently sings and serves on the leadership team for the Peace of Heart Choir, where she is able to share her love of music with communities in need throughout New York City.
Gawain Patterson is a grants associate at Citi Foundation. Citi Foundation is committed to the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of low- to moderate-income individuals and families in communities where Citi operates. Reporting to the director of operations, Gawain focuses primarily on the foundation’s impact measurement initiative, compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act and communications. As a part of the operations team, Gawain is responsible for compliance with federal Community Reinvestment Act regulations, reporting data that is critical to demonstrating the local impact of the Foundation’s initiatives around the country and supporting Citigroup’s national expansion.
In 2010, Citi Foundation launched a results-oriented measurement system to assess the impact of funded programs to help inform its strategy and future partnerships. Gawain leads the critical analysis of data from more than 800 investments across 87 countries and supports program staff to strengthen the impact of funded programs. Additionally, Gawain works with the Communications team in managing internal and external communication channels, including redesigning the Web site to better highlight grantee partnerships and demonstrate financial inclusion thought leadership.
Before joining Citi Foundation in 2009, Gawain interned at a number of organizations that support the public sector including Time Warner’s Corporate Social Responsibility division; LISC New York City (as a member of the inaugural cohort of the Cashin Community Development Fellowship Program, which enables students with an interest to engage directly in the work of community revitalization); and the New York Public Library.
Gawain is a member of the Grants Managers Network, LISC New York City’s Community Networks and Prep for Prep’s Alumni Giving Committee. Gawain holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. As an undergraduate, he assisted with the design and implementation of psychological research related to discrimination and inequality, and volunteered at a center that provides counseling and services to victims of domestic violence. He expressed his creative interests as vice president of the university’s step team and a contributor to the undergraduate literary journal.
Diana Petty currently serves as an agency relations manager for the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). In this role, Diana acts as the single point of contact for customer agencies receiving IT services from DoITT. By advocating on behalf of her client agencies and liaising with the broad range of DoITT divisions, Diana ensures that agencies receive the IT operations support they require, enabling them to focus more effectively on their core service delivery missions while their IT infrastructure is managed by DoITT. From data centers to wireless networks to Web sites and mobile apps, Diana facilitates effective communications, project management and customer service.
Diana began her time with DoITT in 2009 as a New York Urban Fellow, acting as special assistant to DoITT’s First Deputy Commissioner. The New York Urban Fellows Program is a year-long public policy fellowship that exposes recent college graduates to careers in public service. In this capacity, Diana helped research, draft and publish the City of New York’s first-ever social media policy; produce the City’s annual Technology Forum for more than 2,000 City IT professionals; and conduct a top-to-bottom assessment of DoITT’s functional areas and make recommendations for how to maximize operational efficiencies. Diana built upon the skills and institutional knowledge that she developed as an Urban Fellow by joining DoITT’s Policy, Planning and Communications unit as a full-time staff member. There, she was charged with improving internal communications to employees and promoting DoITT’s successes and service offerings to key external stakeholders.
Diana graduated magna cum laude from Macalester College in 2008, with a BA in Political Science and Media Studies. She got her start in public service and civic issues shortly after graduating while working at Grassroots Solutions consulting firm in Minneapolis. As a project assistant for the firm, Diana conducted advocacy and issue campaign strategy for nonprofit and community organizations. She also worked as a communications associate for Minnesota2020, a small Minnesota-based think tank dedicated to providing research and reporting that drives the local policy debate on issues such as education, health care and economic development.
Deirdre Ramos is a nonprofit professional dedicated to addressing social, political and economic injustices that prevent impoverished communities from breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Presently, Deirdre works as the research and development coordinator at the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), an organization with a 168-year legacy of shaping public policy and increasing opportunities for low-income New Yorkers through a unique hybrid model that combines research, advocacy, volunteerism and direct service programs.
As the daughter of Puerto Rican parents, Deirdre is particularly interested in issues that affect immigrant populations and communities of color. During her time at CSS, she has represented the organization at forums discussing the plight of Latino youth, policy briefings on affordable housing legislation and meetings with NY State Assembly Members to advocate on behalf of formerly incarcerated individuals. In her current position she is charged with conducting extensive donor research and raising funds for projects covering a wide range of subjects including healthcare, benefits access, education, housing, the formerly incarcerated and disconnected youth.
Deirdre earned a BA in English and Political Science from Villanova University, where she cultivated her passion for social responsibility by volunteering within Philadelphia’s most distressed neighborhoods and choosing a career path dedicated to generating societal progress. Upon graduating from Villanova, she served as the communications coordinator at Kids Smiles Inc., a nonprofit that addresses the oral health crisis for at-risk children through an innovative program that integrates quality dental care, in-house education and strategic outreach efforts. Kids Smiles sponsored Deirdre’s attendance at La Salle University’s Nonprofit Center where she completed several courses in nonprofit fundraising and development. Upon making her transition from Philadelphia to New York, Deirdre held an executive assistant position at The Partnership for Inner-City Education, an adopt-a-school program that pairs individual sponsors with struggling schools and utilizes funds to improve finances, academics and extracurricular activities, in addition to bettering the lives of disadvantaged students.
George True Simpson serves as communications manager at Empire State Pride Agenda, the largest organization devoted to equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers and their families. He uses traditional and new media to build public support for the LGBT community, inspire supporters to take action, and tell the story of the Pride Agenda and the people behind it.
George helped set the communications strategy in the campaign to pass the bill finally allowing all loving, committed same-sex couples to marry in New York State. Previously, he worked as online communications associate for Equality California and played a key role in the new media, email and Web strategy of the NO on Proposition 8 campaign. Before that he served as communications fellow for Let California Ring, California’s largest statewide public education campaign on marriage equality in history.
Graduating cum laude and with honors from Occidental College in Los Angeles, George majored in Diplomacy and World Affairs, minored in Film and served as president of the LGBT student group, Oxy OUT, spearheading efforts to secure gender-neutral campus housing. During his studies he interned in the Department of Public Information at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City. He has also studied or done research in Argentina, China, Japan and Morocco.
Donald “Donnie” Stuart serves as the associate director of recruitment at Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit organization that starts and manages outstanding urban public charter schools that close the achievement gap and prepare students from low-income communities to graduate from four-year colleges and universities.
In his role, Donnie manages the hiring process at Uncommon’s Brooklyn elementary schools and conducts outreach with critical partner organizations to develop a pipeline of outstanding talent to teach and lead at Uncommon’s schools. In addition, he manages Uncommon’s comprehensive referral program and has spearheaded its initiative to use LinkedIn as a recruitment vehicle. Donnie is privileged to spend a significant amount of time in Uncommon’s classrooms where he is continually inspired by the dedication and hard work of its teachers and scholars.
Prior to working at Uncommon Schools, Donnie served as a Teach For America corps member in Philadelphia, where he taught at Young Scholars Charter School. Donnie taught and developed the curriculum for sixth and eighth grade Social Studies at his school. In addition, he coached the track team and implemented Teach For America’s 2nd Year Corps Member Giving Campaign. During his Teach For America commitment, Donnie also earned his MSEd in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2008, Donnie graduated with highest honors from Middlebury College where he double-majored in Religion and Psychology. He studied abroad in South Africa, and through an independent research project examining teachers’ expectations in schools, Donnie became committed to combating inequity in urban education. At Middlebury, Donnie was a scholar-athlete honoree and captained the men’s varsity swim team his senior year.
Shadoe Tarver serves as the special assistant to the Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU) in New York City. CAU is the direct link between the Mayor and New York City’s diverse neighborhoods, and its staff members serve as the administration’s liaisons in the community. CAU’s efforts revolve around capacity-building in neighborhoods by working with Community Boards and civic organizations to improve their communities; ensuring constituents are receiving essential services and emergency response; and disseminating pertinent information to the public.
Shadoe’s current post requires him to perform administrative tasks for the Commissioner of CAU and to provide overall support to the office. Along with the daily tasks of scheduling and organizing logistics for meetings, Shadoe responds directly to constituent concerns, coordinates with other city agencies to resolve issues, and drafts correspondence and talking points on behalf of the office. He also co-launched and currently maintains the office’s social networking sites on Facebook and Twitter, offering constituents an additional avenue to exchange ideas and issues with the Bloomberg administration.
Shadoe attended Franklin & Marshall College for undergraduate studies where he received his BA with a major in Government. While at Franklin & Marshall, he was an active student leader and served as president of the Black Student Union and I.M.P.A.C.T., a student-run minority-male advocacy group. It was during his tenure as a dual president that his passion for public service blossomed and his focus on remediating socioeconomic disparities in underserved communities became clearer. Shadoe continues this work today, partnering with other young African-American male professionals to build support bases for African American male students in their schools and communities through an extension of I.M.P.A.C.T. in NYC.
Sydney Thomas is a program assistant in the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. OFE is committed to educating, empowering and protecting consumers. Only five years old, OFE has built 20 Financial Empowerment Centers throughout the city to serve over 10,000 clients, and is a pioneer in creating and implementing asset-building initiatives.
At OFE, Sydney works toward her passion of closing the wealth gap between minorities and whites. Sydney is largely responsible for the program management of OFE's Tax Credit Campaign, a mayoral initiative to help low-income individuals get back the money they earned through their tax refunds. She also assists with the expansion of OFE's Financial Empowerment Centers. She performs outreach events and keeps OFE updated on the policy landscape.
Sydney was first introduced to the Department of Consumer Affairs through the Urban Fellows Program. As a member of the legislative policy team, she lobbied to include asset-building initiatives for the low-income population in federal law, briefed the Commissioner on issues like the implications of the Dodd-Frank Bill and the integration of financial education in domestic violence services, and drafted a bill to allow the department to enforce the collection of fines from noncompliant businesses.
The summer prior to joining the Department of Consumer Affairs, Sydney worked under then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee as an intern on the School Operations Team at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). She received a birds-eye view of DCPS during one of its most transformative years. Her experience there taught her the value of a powerful leader and the difficulty of making changes in a government bureaucracy.
A proud Blue Devil, Sydney graduated from Duke University in 2010 with a major in Public Policy Studies and a minor in African and African American Studies. At Duke, she served on the executive committee of the Black Student Alliance, the Future Is Now and the Freshman Advisory Council. A native Californian, Sydney also interned for Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09).
Liza Van Gundy currently serves as the program associate managing grants and contracts for the Civil Practice of The Legal Aid Society (Legal Aid), the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit legal services organization. Legal Aid’s Civil Practice provides legal assistance to clients with problems related to housing, foreclosure and homelessness; income and economic security assistance; health law; employment law; tax law; consumer law; community development; immigration; HIV/AIDS and chronic health problems; family law and domestic violence; elder law; education law; and reentry and reintegration matters. As part of a two-person team managing over 100 individual grants and contracts, Liza participates in all aspects of the practice’s grants management. Liza’s responsibilities include producing narrative and data reports pertaining to the practice’s 23 special programs and practice areas, working with senior staff to evaluate and monitor program performance, and writing proposals for new and renewed funding from public and private sources.
Prior to joining Legal Aid, Liza was a co-coordinator of Community Health Educators (CHE), Yale University’s largest student-run volunteer organization. CHE’s mission is to train student volunteers to provide comprehensive health education in New Haven public schools in order to empower young people with the information they need to make healthy decisions. As co-coordinator, Liza directed an18-member steering committee that oversaw the organization’s curriculum development, trained and recruited student volunteers, and coordinated efforts with community partners. In this capacity, Liza increased CHE membership to over 150 volunteers and expanded CHE’s reach into over 30 public middle and high schools.
Liza graduated from Yale University summa cum laude with a BA in Political Science and distinction in the major in 2010. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in Fall of 2009, and in May 2010 she received the Triffin Prize, awarded to the senior in Yale’s Berkeley College with the best record in the social sciences. While she is currently pursuing her interest in urban social justice in the United States, Liza also has experience in international affairs. She speaks Russian and Spanish, and she has worked and studied abroad in Turkey, Greece and Russia.
Lindsey Yoo is a program assistant at Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER), a collaborative fund and initiative of Public Interest Projects. CPER supports community-based organizing as a vital means to achieving equitable education for low-income students and addresses institutionalized disparities in public school education. Lindsey works closely with all aspects of CPER’s grantmaking activities and is inspired daily by the hard work of devoted youth and community members in fighting for improved educational opportunities.
Prior to joining CPER, Lindsey worked for the Brennan Center for Justice, where she helped organize the annual Community-Oriented Defender Network Conference and compiled a database of research on the unconstitutional treatment of Arab, South Asian, Muslim and Sikh communities. Lindsey also assisted with the Center’s work on improved language access in courts and reform of racially disparate sentencing. As a paralegal for Sanford Wittels & Heisler, an employment discrimination law firm based in Washington, DC, Lindsey analyzed claims of race, gender and age discrimination.
Lindsey graduated magna cum laude from New York University, where she wrote for the NYU Journal of Human Rights and won the 2010 East Asian Studies prize for her research on gender and class issues in Asia. Her passion for social justice guided her widely varying undergraduate activities, which included travelling to Korea to document the stories of former slaves for the Japanese military during WWII, assembling packets of legal information for incarcerated individuals wishing to file lawsuits, and researching media portrayals of Korean-American small-business owners during the Los Angeles Riots.
Annie Zhou is pursuing her passion for international health and humanitarian aid as the development associate for major gifts and planned giving at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, natural disasters and exclusion from health care. In her role, Annie helps raise gifts of $5,000 or more through highly personalized cultivation efforts, including special updates, targeted mailings and donor appreciation events. Additionally, Annie oversees the production process and manages vendor relationships for all mailings. In 2010, the major gifts team raised more than $57 million for MSF programs around the world.
Prior to MSF, Annie was the philanthropy coordinator at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, where she implemented stewardship activities for individual and institutional donors, wrote and edited grant proposals and reports, and planned donor events, including one that successfully raised $100,000. Annie also worked at the International Rescue Committee as a resource development and International Youth Program intern. In this capacity, Annie drafted fundraising literature, conducted prospect research, and tutored refugee high school students to improve their reading, writing and math skills.
Annie graduated from Wellesley College in 2009 with a degree in Economics and Spanish. At Wellesley, Annie planned a variety of on- and off-campus activities for the community through her involvement with Wellesley Wushu, the Chinese Students Association, and Residential Life, winning the Distinguished Leadership Award in 2008 for her service as a First Year Mentor. During her junior year, Annie spent one semester abroad in Córdoba, Spain, where she lived with a Spanish family, enrolled in the local university and learned to dance Sevillanas.