Julissa Soriano

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy

Headshot of Julissa Soriano.

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

In the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, I investigate and mediate claims of housing discrimination brought forth by the public and determine whether there has been a violation under the Fair Housing Act. Under the Fair Housing Act, the alleged discrimination occurs on the basis of an individual's race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, religion, familial status, and/or retaliation.

What were you doing before you came to NYU Wagner?

Prior to attending NYU Wagner, I served with the U.S. Peace Corps in Madagascar in the education sector. I spent two years teaching English as a Foreign Language to high school students in the southeast region of Madagascar. As a secondary project, I organized and co-led a week-long women’s GLOW Camp (Girl Leading Our World), a leadership and empowerment camp, for female students from three high schools. I partnered with my Malagasy counterpart, local leaders, and other Peace Corps volunteers and provided workshops on nutritional, reproductive and sexual health; life skills and self-esteem; career identification; goal-setting; and community service.

Why did you choose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

My experience as a Afro-Latina volunteer in the Peace Corps and navigating cultural nuances in Madagascar informed my decision to apply to NYU Wagner. I was particularly interested in a graduate program, with a diverse student body, that would refine my professional experience and expand my knowledge in successful methods of advocating for marginalized identities within a community.

How did your experiences at NYU Wagner prepare you for your career?

One of my favorite courses during my time at Wagner was called, “Managing Public Service Organizations,” taught by professor Patricia Satterstrom. Taking this course during my first semester laid the foundation in identifying operational and management gaps in an organization and how to design effective solutions. What particularly stood out to me from the course was the concept of “managing up.” It was a new concept for me at the time and in many ways, when appropriate, I have since “managed up” in several aspects of my life. Managing up has served as a tool in advocating for myself within the workplace and advocating for the communities in which I serve.

How would you describe your experience as an NYU Wagner student?

The graduate school experience was very much an opportunity for me to participate in social activities, student-led programming and associations, as much as it was an academic experience. I served as the communication chair for the Wagner Management & Leadership Organization (WMLO). As a WMLO member, I appreciated the opportunity to organize programming that was relevant to our student body. There were several programs WMLO organized throughout the academic year and one of my favorites was a series called “A Day in the Life.” Students were able to visit the offices at Google and The Federal Reserve Bank of NY and gained some understanding of the host's leadership experience and a glimpse of the office’s culture.