FELPS Fellows 2019

2019 Fellows

Samaya Abdus-Salaam

Membership Organizer, Riders Alliance

Samaya Abdus-Salaam is the membership organizer at Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders fighting for more affordable, reliable, and sustainable public transit in New York City. As the membership organizer, she works to build and strengthen a community of subway and bus riders through fundraising and community events to connect members across all campaigns.


Samaya first joined Riders Alliance as a summer intern. She worked with members who were fighting for Select Bus Service in Woodhaven, Queens, and felt inspired by their passion for their community and transit advocacy. Previously, Samaya interned with the New York Foundation. She coordinated a community organizing orientation for the 17 interns working on social justice issues throughout New York City and created a zine showcasing their work and how interconnected their respective fields are.


Samaya was introduced to community engagement and social activism during high school when she participated in a youth-led environmentalist group with the International Education and Resource Network USA. There she worked with other New York City high school students to put together a conference on environmental sustainability where students learned how to lead more sustainable lives through hands-on workshops.


Samaya continued her passion for social activism in college at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and double minored in Cultural Anthropology and African American Studies. At the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she began to engage in on-campus rallies and marches, as well as local rallies to call out injustices happening nationally and in Western Massachusetts. While at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Samaya worked as a fundraising canvasser for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


In her free time, Samaya enjoys reading, free writing, and spending quality time with her family and friends. 

Frieda Adu-Brempong

Senior Associate, Bennett Midland LLC

Frieda Adu-Brempong is a senior associate at Bennett Midland LLC, a management consulting firm focused exclusively on the civic sector. During her time at Bennett Midland, Frieda has supported strategic planning for the Center for Court Innovation’s Harlem Community Justice Center by conducting research about the East Harlem community, its housing challenges, and new and valuable opportunities for the Center. In her current role, Frieda works with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams grant program, providing coordinated support to mayoral teams working on a range of issues—from neighborhood revitalization to improving transportation and infrastructure. Frieda also serves on a team providing project management and strategic support to the New York City Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice on the implementation of Raise the Age legislation in New York City, and on the Justice Implementation Task Force, the next phase of planning around closing the jail complex on Rikers Island.


Before joining Bennett Midland, Frieda conducted research for a global health firm in Washington, D.C., where her assignments included research on farming productivity indicators in rural Nigeria and developing literature reviews to inform case studies on replicable public health practices.


Frieda graduated with honors from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania where she earned a BA in Policy Management. As an undergraduate, Frieda dedicated a significant portion of her time to service activities on campus and in the local community, including taking the lead on coordinating community service activities for the college’s first-year students. Frieda served as president of the college’s Black Student Union in her senior year and cofounded a new campus organization called the Student Liberation Movement, which would organize campus demonstrations and administrative hearings for the development of several new inclusionary campus policies.


A South Bronx native, Frieda is active in her community on matters pertaining to tenants’ rights and gentrification. She is eager to learn more about the different ways creative use of data and statistical software such as geographic information systems can be used to bolster public policy making and local planning decisions. In her free time, Frieda enjoys reading short stories and writing poetry.

Selamawit Asmerom

Education/Life Skills Specialist, Abbott House

Selamawit Asmerom currently serves as an education/life skills specialist at Abbott House, a foster care agency in the Bronx, NY. She provides services to youth in foster care who are fourteen years old and above. In her role she runs a monthly workshop called Preparing Youth for Adulthood (PYA). Through PYA, she covers independent living skills topics such as money management, job skills, healthy living, good hygiene, interpersonal skills, and cultural awareness.


Prior to her current position, Selamawit served as a case planner at Abbott House. As a case planner she was responsible for monitoring and reporting her clients’ mental and physical well-being, in addition to their progress in the foster home the services they received. Selamawit represented and testified in court on behalf of the agency.


Prior to working at Abbott House, Selamawit worked in a community center as an after-school leader with kindergarten students. She assisted them with their homework, taught them how to paint, and how to make presentations. Selamawit used her role to help her students dream big for themselves. She has also worked at iMentor as an event assistant.


Selamawit was born in Addiss Abeba, Ethiopia. When she turned thirteen-years old she came to the United States. She describes her transition into America as “a toddler learning to walk for the first time.” Selamawit earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Lehman College.

Grace Atchue

Career Services Coordinator, Harlem Children’s Zone

Grace Atchue is a career services coordinator with the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit organization in Central Harlem that gives children the comprehensive, critical support they need to reach success and ultimately break the cycle of poverty in the community. Grace works with the Center for Higher Education and Career Support, partnering with the program’s 1,000 college students to provide one-on-one counseling, application guidance, and career exploration to ensure that they graduate from college ready to enter the professional workforce. Grace is responsible for recruiting, coaching, and advocating for students throughout the application process for highly competitive internships with partner companies to ensure students’ professional advancement.


Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and English from Georgetown University. In her time at Georgetown, Grace worked as a student advocate at LIFT-DC, a nonprofit organization that partners with parents in the community to reach goals such as increasing savings, finding educational opportunities and jobs, and accessing public services to increase economic stability. Grace was also the philanthropic chair of Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity. In her role, Grace developed a partnership with the food bank Martha’s Table and organized multiple community events and fundraisers.


Grace was born in New York, raised in Connecticut, and now lives in Brooklyn. In her free time, Grace enjoys travel, cooking, and reading.

Mamadou Bah

Community Partners Coordinator, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Mamadou Siré Bah is the community partners coordinator for the Center for Health Equity at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). He manages relationships with community and faith-based organizations around prediabetes awareness and type-2 diabetes prevention strategies. Mamadou also provides technical assistance to community partners for evidence-based diabetes prevention programming. As the son of Guinean immigrants raised in Jamaica, Queens, he is passionate about public health and civic participation in underserved communities.


Prior to his work at DOHMH, Mamadou served for two years as a public ally with the AmeriCorps program Public Allies New York. He spent his first year as a tenant organizer and counselor with the nonprofit Cooper Square Committee. During his time there, he researched buildings and major Lower East Side landlords to better inform tenants on the specific housing issues they were experiencing. Mamadou spent his second year as a health advocacy fellow at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). During his time at the NYIC, he helped create and implement trainings for immigrant-serving, community-based organizations and he facilitated engagement with city and state immigrant health advocates.


Mamadou received his BA in Anthropology from CUNY Queens College. He currently serves as a board member of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, the first citywide Muslim democratic club in New York City. During his free time, he loves watching and making music reviews on YouTube, eating sushi, playing FIFA and NBA 2K, and watching reruns of “Regular Show.” His favorite podcast is “The Brian Lehrer Show,” which he listens to daily.

Deanna Bednarz

Operations and Culture Associate, New Classrooms

Deanna Bednarz is the operations and culture associate at New Classrooms, an ed-tech nonprofit committed to personalizing education across the country by supplying schools with math curricula, technology, and critical support. New Classrooms’ flagship program, Teach To One Math, employs diverse learning modules that require students to interact with their curriculum in non-traditional ways.


As a core member of the business operations team, Deanna supports New Classrooms’s commitment to challenging the traditional classroom and delivering educational material tailored to each child. In her current role, Deanna oversees the full spectrum of office operations from managing the office budgets to liaising with vendors. Deanna’s initiatives have a profound influence on the New Classrooms workplace, and she directly advances the organizational goal of cultivating a productive and engaging environment in which all employees thrive.


Prior to her role at New Classrooms, Deanna served with Teach for America, teaching 7th- and 8th-grade American and World History in Greensboro, North Carolina. In her classroom, she found ways to bring history to life, often having students grapple with primary sources and act out historical scenes. Beyond conventional learning supplies, Deanna sought to address the broader problems of morale and economic ability in inner-city classrooms--she organized and secured the donation of professional materials, such as ties and other attire, for her students.


Deanna graduated cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Economics. As a student, she frequently volunteered with the Little Sisters of the Poor and tutored at Homework House, an afterschool program that provides a holistic environment for students to learn.

Angelique Beluso

Program Coordinator, Latinas On the Verge of Excellence

Angelique Beluso is the program coordinator with Latinas On the Verge of Excellence (LOVE) Mentoring Program, a college preparation mentoring program that serves young women of color across New York City. The goal of LOVE Mentoring is to empower young Latinas by providing positive role models, increase high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates, and promote healthy living through exercise. As the program coordinator, Angelique oversees programming, facilitates and implements health curriculum and college preparation programs, and supervises mentors and part-time staff.


Angelique is also the founder and executive director of The Colored Girls Empowerment Project (CGEP), a mentoring program for young women of color in The Bronx that provides intersectional, inclusive, and comprehensive sex education, social justice, and financial literacy training as well as college admissions counseling. In this role, Angelique recruits, trains, and manages mentors, fosters partnerships, and oversees CGEP’s fundraising efforts and budget.


In her previous role as a community organizer at Planned Parenthood of New York City, she recruited, cultivated, and managed their youth organizing chapter, Planned Parenthood Generation. She developed the leadership of college students throughout New York City to become reproductive justice activists on their campuses by training student activists to lead voter registration efforts and collaborated with student activists to organize sex education workshops.

She found her passion for empowering young people when she advocated for health policy changes, investment, and program needs on behalf of young women of color as a Young Women's Advisory Council Member for the New York City Council's Young Women's Initiative.

Angelique is a Latina/Filipina woman born and raised in the Bronx with serious dedication to and passion for women and youth empowerment. She graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies and is a proud Public Service Scholar Alum. When she is not working, she is fighting for reproductive justice at her local abortion clinic as a clinic escort.

Alexandra (Alex) Boldin

Research Analyst, Versa Institute of Justice

Alexandra (Alex) Boldin is a research analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera). Vera is an independent nonprofit that works broadly to build and improve justice systems. In her role, Alex performs quantitative research and analysis for a variety of projects throughout Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. She works on projects including examining the use of restrictive housing across jurisdictions and analyzing data on the use of prison and jails to inform prosecutor’s offices.


Prior to joining Vera in April 2018, Alex assisted with a survey research project through the Center for Court Innovation. This project explored individual impressions of procedural justice through surveys performed at the Manhattan Criminal Court. In this role, Alex was involved in survey administration and data analysis. Alex also worked as a researcher in the Princeton Baby Lab, a developmental psychology lab that explores infant learning and development through neuroimaging. While working at Princeton, Alex volunteered as a tutor with the New Jersey STEP program, a college-in-prison program that provides college courses and academic support to students in New Jersey prisons.


Alex graduated from Macalester College with a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Mathematics in 2015. In her spare time she volunteers as a tutor for LGBTQ+ young people and is learning to roller skate in training classes with Gotham Girls roller derby.

Otis Booz

Associate Consultant, Taproot Foundation

Otis Booz is an associate consultant at Taproot Foundation, a nonprofit organization that connects the nonprofit sector to skilled expertise in the private sector, pro bono. In his role, Otis has supported the design and delivery of an array of corporate social responsibility programs for clients looking to impact issue areas as disparate as early childhood education, environmental conservation, and the reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals. Most recently, Otis has conducted stakeholder interviews with nonprofit leaders as part of a research and discovery project geared towards improving youth employment rates in Canada.


Prior to joining Taproot, Otis supported the delivery of education to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East in a role at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Amman, Jordan. As part of the Education in Emergencies team, Otis helped to implement an initiative designed to ensure that Palestinian refugees living in Syrian war zones could receive quality educational resources, even when violence interrupted access to traditional schooling. In his time at UNRWA, Otis also worked with the director of education to develop the education department’s annual planning document, a tool to guide agency strategy for the school year. More recently, Otis helped to design and execute media strategies for a variety of nonprofit clients in a position at Berlin Rosen Public Affairs in New York City.


Otis is a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and graduated from Brown University with a degree in History. He received departmental honors for his thesis, a 135-page work on the history of African immigration to France following the collapse of the colonial apparatus in the mid-20th century. Otis is a proud graduate of the Cambridge Public School system.

Tehya Boswell

Program Coordinator, The Resolution Project

Tehya is a program coordinator for The Resolution Project, a global nonprofit committed to creating positive social impact. The Resolution Project identifies and empowers undergraduate students around the world who wish to launch new social ventures with dynamic, hands-on support that includes mentorship, seed funding, and an international network of pro bono services and resources. There are nearly 400 fellows in over 70 countries working in diverse, high-impact fields such as education, healthcare, human rights, water resources, and sustainability.


As program coordinator, Tehya works on partnership management, implementation of domestic and international social venture challenges, and the onboarding and management of fellows and volunteers.


Prior to joining The Resolution Project, Tehya worked in program organization and management with Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that provides free educational and recreational programming for children with medical challenges. She also spent a significant time studying abroad, eventually developing her own social venture in Worcester, Western Cape in South Africa with the help of a fellow student. The venture was dedicated to raising awareness about and reducing the rate of substance abuse via a two-pronged approach. The first was an after-school program for youth from both the Black township and the Colored community. The program created a safe space to discuss the students’ interactions with and perceptions of substance use, as well as provided a creative and artistic outlet for them. The second aspect was an outpatient reintegration program that formed bonds between stable members of the community and those recovering from substance addictions.


Tehya graduated cum laude from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio with a major in Psychology and minor in Neuroscience, with a focus in public health and research. Her studies culminated in an honors thesis that examined job satisfaction and stress levels of ethnic minority faculty in higher education. She received the distinguished award of high honors in the department of psychology for this work. Throughout college, Tehya was deeply involved in multicultural affairs, supporting and mentoring first year students, and an independent multi-year research project in Kenyon’s Department of Neuroscience.

Khrystina Bradley

Supreme Court Part Specialist, New York County District Attorney’s Office

Khrystina Bradley currently serves as a supreme court part specialist at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York State laws. Under the current administration of District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr, the office has become a national leader in criminal justice through its ability to expand restorative justice initiatives, facilitate growth, and bring together communities through enriching campaigns and local solutions.


In an effort to help advance the accomplishments of the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Khrystina joined the office in December 2017 as the liaison between District Attorney’s Office and New York County Supreme Court. At the forefront of the criminal justice system, Khrystina has a unique perspective on the potential for prosecutors to make positive impacts on incarceration and recidivism statistics through restorative justice initiatives. The perspective gained from the daily setting of a courtroom is further bolstered by her experience volunteering with Avenues for Justice, an alternative to incarceration, where she serves as the co-chair of the junior board. As a volunteer, Khrystina serves to provide young offenders with the tools to make different life choices through tutoring, workshops, and mentorship. 


A four-year undergraduate program at Franklin University Switzerland (FUS) afforded Khrystina the good fortune to have lived in Lugano, Switzerland and earn a BA in International Economics and International Banking & Finance. The FUS experience was exponentially rewarding due to the unique element of its curriculum: academic travel.  Every semester, each student embarks on a semester-long course, coupled with a professor-led travel component to the respective country. Each experience gave Khrystina a unique perspective on the United States criminal justice system and how it is failing offenders, particularly those who may have a greater chance of rehabilitation.


Recognizing the pivotal role of prosecutors in the criminal justice system, Khrystina works to further advance restorative justice initiatives through programs, such as Inside Criminal Justice, which engages incarcerated individuals and Assistant District Attornies in discourse surrounding themes of institutional prejudice, recidivism, and re-entry.


While she paves the path to a successful career in criminal justice, Khrystina spends her free time reading, dancing ballet, and playing volleyball.

Misbah Budhwani

Assistant Director, Harlem Children’s Zone

Misbah Budhwani is an assistant director at Harlem Children’s Zone where she oversees middle-school after-school programming. Part of her responsibilities include managing and identifying external partnerships; training staff members in youth development and social and emotional learning; developing curriculum on STEAM education; managing and evaluating program and components; supervising individual academic case management; and directing site operations and logistics.


Prior to working at Harlem Children’s Zone, Misbah worked at Global Nomads Group (GNG) in program development and their virtual exchange dialogue facilitator program. During her time at GNG, she collaborated with teams in Amman, Karachi, Kabul, Islamabad, and New York to facilitate GNG’s Youth Voices, Global Citizens in Action, and Campfire programs. She worked with her team to train educators in those countries to implement a project-based curriculum focused on social justice, cultural exchange, and civic engagement. Prior to that, Misbah was a middle school math and science teacher and taught in the school districts of Bryan ISD, College Station ISD, and Snook ISD.


Along with her role at Harlem Children’s Zone, Misbah sits on Aga Khan Education Board for the Northeast and Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board Nationals where she works with over 3,500 youth and 1,400 educators around the nation through summer camps, early childhood education, college expeditions, advisory programs, capacity development, service and service learning implementation, and education professional learning groups. Her passion is the intersection of youth development, STEM education, girls’ development and education, and college and career readiness. 


Misbah graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, focused in Math and Science. She then attended Teachers College at Columbia University where she attained a Master of Arts in International Education Development and primarily focused on Human Rights and Peace Education. During her time at these institutions, Misbah worked closely with her professors as a teaching assistant and researcher. She presented some of her work at the Comparative and International Education Society Conference in Vancouver in January 2018. While at Teachers College Misbah also participated in the student senate and served as editor of the Comparative Education Journal.

Priya Dadlani

Support Specialist, TCC Group

Priya Dadlani is a support specialist in the nonprofit strategy and capacity building department at TCC Group, a firm committed to addressing and solving complex societal issues. She conducts data collection, analysis, and research to identify and enhance the capacity of nonprofits so they can achieve greater impact in a sustainable manner.


In 2018, Priya founded SPICY, a magazine and creative collective led by women of color and queer and trans people of color. She felt there were many unrepresented nuances when it comes to identity in America, and that she needed to hold space for individuals to explore those. SPICY was not only born out of a frustration with the media’s current landscape, but also a knowledge of the beauty and depth that has and will always exist in communities of color.


Previously, Priya was a program and development coordinator for the Transformative Culture Project, a nonprofit organization based in the diverse Roxbury neighborhood that provides high school students with an opportunity to learn about storytelling, film, and social justice movements. There Priya mentored youth through creative outlets and taught tangible life skills as well as wrote grants.


Throughout college, Priya worked in the communications department at the Middle East Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. where she produced a short documentary about women working in Syrian civil society. She was also a staff writer at the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London, UK covering the global and societal impacts of climate change. In addition to her work experience, Priya was the events and programming chair of the annual BUnited Diversity Conference, which aims to provide a safe environment to enhance attendees' cultural competency by recognizing and understanding social issues through workshop, discussion, and self-reflection.


Priya is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Her passions include reading and sharing stories from the South Asian diaspora, hosting community events, eating mango, and listening to podcasts.

Andrew Edelman

Research Associate, New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice

Andrew Edelman is a research associate at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ). MOCJ is a coordinating agency that works with justice system partners to implement programs and policies that improve the criminal justice in New York City. MOCJ plays a central role in all criminal justice reforms in the city, including closing Rikers and implementing Raise the Age.


Andrew’s role in MOCJ’s research department is supporting data management and analysis to advise senior leadership and inform policy and program decisions. He is the research lead for work focusing on summons reform, marijuana and fare evasion enforcement, and bail. His work has facilitated the development of several public-facing documents—specifically fact sheets on summons reform and bail.


Andrew graduated from Amherst College in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. During his time as a student, Andrew served as a resident counselor, was a member of the student council judiciary committee, and captained the ultimate frisbee team. After graduating, Andrew spent two years as an associate at Parthenon-EY, a strategy consulting firm in Boston and New York.


Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Andrew now lives in Brooklyn, NY. He still enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and shares his apartment with his two lovely roommates and two lovely cats.

Stephanie Guzmán

Project Coordinator, City Bar Justice Center

Stephanie Guzmán serves as the project coordinator for the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project (IJP). IJP assists low-income immigrants fleeing persecution in their home countries, survivors of violent crimes and trafficking in the United States, and individuals seeking humanitarian protection and other forms of relief. Stephanie is the first point of contact for callers seeking pro bono legal services for their immigration matters. She is responsible for asylum screenings and intakes, country conditions research, and pro bono liaising to ensure quality representation for all clients.


Stephanie has volunteered at the South Texas Family Residential Center, a detention center that houses immigrant women and children in Dilley, Texas. She served as an interpreter to prepare detained women for their credible fear interviews and also conducted “know your rights” presentations to over a hundred detained women and their children. This summer Stephanie also conducted a site visit at Cayuga Center in East Harlem, a federally funded facility tasked with caring for migrant children, to ensure that the facility space reserved for and programming offered to immigrant youth comported with country-wide standards. Stephanie interviewed children at Cayuga Center who had either entered the country alone or had been separated from family at the U.S.-Mexico border.


Prior to joining IJP, Stephanie worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP as a corporate paralegal and a Spanish-speaking interpreter and advocate for pro bono clients there.


Stephanie graduated Cornell University in 2014 with a degree in Feminist Gender and Sexuality Studies and holds concentrations in the Latino Studies and Africana departments. While on campus, Stephanie served as the co-chair for the Women of Color Coalition whose annual conference received an award for promoting cultural and racial diversity on campus. Stephanie held executive board positions on the Dominican Students Association and the Puerto Rican Students’ Association.


In addition to her passionate advocacy for underserved communities, Stephanie enjoys powerlifting and serving as a college prep mentor for South Bronx United, a youth development nonprofit in her neighborhood that uses soccer to engage with immigrant youth. Stephanie is from New Jersey with strong roots in the Dominican Republic.

Andrea Hernandez

Project Manager, City of New York Police Department

Andrea Hernandez is a project manager in the City of New York Police Department’s (NYPD) project management office, which is located within the police commissioner’s office. Her office is responsible for tracking, supporting, and managing high-priority projects for the NYPD.


In her current role, Andrea is responsible for multiple projects that impact New York City residents and the NYPD. These projects require coordination with numerous NYPD bureaus, New York City agencies, and communities. Along with her current role, she volunteers at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and recently participated in a MOIA advocacy video to defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In all of her roles, Andrea continuously strives to become an effective leader for her community.


Prior to joining the NYPD, Andrea worked at the New York City Board of Correction, first as an Urban Fellow and later as a consultant. There Andrea worked with a team of researchers to design and co-author a report that served as the basis for curbing restrictive housing options for young adults who were predominantly young men of color.


Andrea is an ardent believer in giving back to the community. She volunteered to teach public debate classes to incarcerated individuals at Rikers Island, and to provide Spanish-to-English interpretation services for asylum cases of unaccompanied minors.


Andrea is passionate about the intersection between the immigration system and the criminal justice system, and she is keenly aware of the many avenues to incarceration for undocumented people and is a passionate advocate for immigrants’ rights.


Andrea graduated cum laude from CUNY Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Human Rights. She is the first in her family to receive a college degree.

Jibreel Jalloh

Assistant to the Chief of Staff, New York City Mayor’s Office

Jibreel Jalloh serves as the assistant to the New York City Mayor’s Chief of Staff. 


Prior to working in the mayor’s executive office, Jibreel served as an Urban Fellow in the First Deputy Mayor’s office, primarily focusing on education and criminal justice portfolios. He has worked on school climate initiatives, researched best practices on community policing, and written memos on New York City Council hearings.


Jibreel has experience working with many levels of the U.S. legislative system. He interned in Washington, D.C. for U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke; in Albany, NY for New York Assembly Member Charles Barron; and in New York City with City Council Member Jumaane Williams. In these roles he has drafted bill memoranda, analyzed demographic trends, and met with constituents.


Jibreel’s undergraduate experience at Baruch College was the starting point for his keen interest in public service. As the leader of multiple clubs on campus, including SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) Society, Urban Male Leadership Academy, and the Black Student Union, he discovered a passion for public service and organizing events around things that matter. Jibreel is the proud son of Sierra Leonean immigrants.

Ana Jimenez

Program Manager, iMentor

Ana Jimenez is a program manager for iMentor New York. iMentor builds mentoring relationships that empower students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions. iMentor partners with more than 15 public schools in New York City and engages over 4,000 mentor-mentee pairs.


As a program manager, Ana directly supports the relationships of mentors and their 11th grade mentees. Mentoring relationships are built through weekly e-mails that are exchanged in a class that Ana facilitates, as well as at monthly in-person events. Ana works daily with mentors and students to deliver high impact, close relationships that provide positive academic and personal outcomes. Ana also works closely with teachers and administrators to provide support for the program school-wide and build a college-going culture for the students.


Prior to working at iMentor, Ana completed an AmeriCorps service year with City Year New York in which she served in East Harlem before joining City Year New York’s staff. City Year is an education organization fueled by national service that partners with public schools in high-poverty and under-resourced communities to help keep students in school and on track to graduate. Teams of City Year corps members support a select group of students at a school by targeting attendance, behavior, and course performance. Ana supervised and supported a team of ten diverse young idealists as they brought the joy of City Year to middle school students during her first year as a team leader. During her time with City Year, Ana helped organize free spring break programming for families in the neighborhood for two years and accumulated over 3,000 hours of community service.


Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ana is a first generation Dominican American. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Education. As a proud alumna of SUNY New Paltz Educational Opportunity Program, Ana is committed to bridging the achievement gap in under-resourced communities. She loves good food, do-it-yourself projects, and her adorable niece and nephew.

Vidula Joshi

Project Manager, New York City Economic Development Corporation

Vidula Joshi is a project manager in the Center for Urban Innovation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). NYCEDC is a quasi-governmental agency tasked with promoting economic growth, building strong neighborhoods, and creating good jobs.


In her role, Vidula manages a number of programs for industrial and manufacturing businesses including Futureworks Ops21, a program that supports advanced technology adoption among established New York City manufacturers, and the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, a grant program for garment manufacturers run in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Her responsibilities include strategic planning, outreach to business owners, and program ideation and development.


Prior to joining NYCEDC, Vidula spent three years in the strategy and operations practice at Deloitte Consulting where she supported Fortune 500 clients in strategic planning and operations transformation.


Outside of work, Vidula is involved in grassroots community organizing; she co-founded a group that seeks to organize debtors to take action against predatory and coercive lending practices. She also engages in electoral work for a number of candidates running in state and local races.


Originally from the Philadelphia area, Vidula graduated magna cum laude from the New York University Stern School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Political Economy. She enjoys reading in the park, biking around the city, and exploring New York’s vibrant music scene.

Sharon Kang

Professional Development and Training Liaison, New York City Department of Education

Sharon Kang is a professional development and training liaison at the New York City Department of Education’s (NYCDOE) Division of Family and Community Empowerment. She currently manages the professional development of both district and school-level staff dedicated to partnering with families and community organizations to increase student achievement. Her work also includes managing a website with over 1,800 users and organizing citywide conferences and expos that include multiple workshops and resources for over 500 attendees.


Prior to working at the Division of Family and Community Empowerment, Sharon was a staffing associate at the Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality at the NYCDOE. In this role, she implemented different strategies to support schools in filling their teacher vacancies to ensure every classroom had a qualified teacher.


Sharon holds a degree in Policy Studies and Citizenship and Civic Engagement from Syracuse University. During her time as a student, she conducted research on the socioeconomic integration of refugees in the Syracuse community and launched a pilot program that encouraged a cross-cultural learning experience between Syracuse University students and refugee students in the larger Syracuse community.


In her free time, Sharon enjoys exploring new coffee shops and traveling. 

Julia Kelling

Development and Special Events Manager, Row New York

Julia Kelling serves as the development and special events manager at Row New York, a youth development organization that provides over 2,000 New Yorkers with an opportunity to row competitively and excel in the classroom regardless of background or ability. Row New York serves middle and high school students, as well as individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities.


Julia supports the development team in planning and executing four major events each year including the Fall Benefit, the Bow Ball young professionals event, the Jingle Mingle winter ergathon, and the Harlem River Classic fundraising regatta. In addition to planning events, Julia manages Row New York’s associate board and associate circle. The associate board and associate circle bring together over 90 passionate young New Yorkers who work to support the organization through fundraising, outreach, and volunteerism.


Prior to her current position, Julia was the novice program coordinator at Row New York. In this role, she was able to work hands-on with student-athletes teaching the sport of rowing and helping plan and execute academic and college readiness programming in Northern Manhattan.


Julia continues to mentor young people through I Challenge Myself, another youth development organization. Julia sparked an interest in the development field during her first internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Julia holds a BA in Art History from Trinity College, where she rowed all four years and served as captain of the women’s rowing team. In her free time, Julia enjoys playing with her new puppy Roo, discovering new restaurants, and getting outside.


Anna Kitsmarishvili

Paralegal, New York City Mayor's Office of Counsel to the Mayor

Anna Kitsmarishvili is a paralegal in the New York City Mayor's Office of Counsel to the Mayor (Counsel’s Office). The Counsel’s Office provides legal guidance to the mayor and City Hall staff on compliance, ethics, legislation, and policy matters. Anna’s portfolio includes finalizing executive orders, handling constituent correspondence, and processing litigation holds. She also supports the administration’s commitment to transparency by tracking, reviewing, and responding to Freedom of Information Law requests.


Prior to her current role, Anna served as an Urban Fellow to the Deputy Commissioner for Collaborative Policing at the City of New York Police Department. She worked with the deputy commissioner and her team on fostering partnerships with individuals, government agencies, and community-based organizations. She was primarily involved with the RxStat Operations Group initiative, which brings together over twenty-five city, state, and federal agencies to address the opioid overdose epidemic in New York City.


Anna is a regular volunteer with the Rikers Debate Project, a nonprofit organization that teaches parliamentary debate to incarcerated individuals. She serves on the Board of Directors and is the co-founder of the women’s program.


Anna studied Political Science at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. As an undergraduate student, she completed internships in Washington, D.C., Switzerland, Israel, and China. She is originally from Tbilisi, Georgia.

Adrienne (Adrie) Lofters

Health Insurance Enroller, Community Service Society of New York

Adrienne (Adrie) Lofters is a health insurance enroller at the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of economic disparity for more than three million New Yorkers. CSS’s Health Initiatives Department helps health care consumers navigate the health insurance system, provides representation to clients in health insurance disputes, and advocates for policy change that reflects real consumer needs and concerns.


Working in the Health Initiatives Department’s Facilitated Enrollment for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program, Adrie conducts outreach to Medicaid enrollees in upstate New York to provide information about Medicare eligibility. Much of her work involves helping consumers enroll into Medicare and other health insurance financial assistance programs. Adrie also provides referrals and technical assistance to the program’s contracted community-based organizations and contributes to ongoing trainings for local advocates.


Adrie has worked with CSS since 2015. She first served as an intern for Health Initiatives’ Community Health Advocates program, advocating for consumers on a statewide helpline. She was hired as a program administration specialist after graduating from college. In this role she provided operational support to programs and was a certified application counselor for the New York State of Health Marketplace.


She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and a certificate in International Relations. Her interest in health care advocacy was sparked when she participated in Affordable Care Act community education and outreach in Middletown, CT. She later was chosen as the coordinator for the Wesleyan Clinic Escorts, supporting patients at a local women’s health clinic. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires in 2014 and wrote her capstone project on maternal and infant health initiatives during Argentina’s Peronist regime.


Adrie currently resides in Manhattan. She spends her free time reading, knitting, practicing yoga, and exploring Brooklyn’s finest eateries.

Ledwin Martinez

Senior Procurement Review Analyst, New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services

Ledwin Martinez is a senior procurement review analyst at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS). MOCS is an oversight agency that oversees and supports the procurement activities of New York City agencies with a goal to ensure fairness, transparency, efficiency, and cost effectiveness. Annually, agencies procure billions in products and services from a diverse pool of vendors that represent various industries. MOCS partners with industry groups to implement policies and tools that streamline and modernize procurement, resulting in the delivery of quality services to New Yorkers.


Ledwin’s responsibilities include reviewing and assessing complex and diverse procurement submissions by enforcing local laws and ensuring that New York City agencies are compliant with the New York City Charter, Procurement Policy Board Rules, and other policies. He serves as a liaison while representing MOCS at interagency meetings. His role also includes identifying and coordinating procurement practices through strategic planning, ensuring continuous process improvement across his team.


Prior to joining MOCS, Ledwin worked as a college advising coach at College Bound Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to helping high school students in low-income communities prepare for the college admission process. He worked with senior students from a variety of different backgrounds and guided them through the year-long process.


Ledwin graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences at New York University (NYU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Politics. While at NYU, he held a concentration minor in Social and Cultural Analysis in Metropolitan Studies. As a student, Ledwin was chosen to participate in an International Research Colloquium on Black Males in Education, a research conference where he engaged in critical discussions around crucial global issues. On a granular level his research was focused on the “Black Male Experience: Race, Racism and the Educational Gap” in hopes of identifying racial disparities in education and finding solutions to this problem. His mission has and continues to be to help educate others wherever possible, inspiring socioeconomic and political change within the most disadvantaged communities.

Elizabeth (Eliza) McCurdy

Senior Reentry Specialist, The Osborne Association

Elizabeth (Eliza) McCurdy is a senior reentry specialist with the Individualized Correctional Achievement Network (I-CAN) program at The Osborne Association. The Osborne Association is a nonprofit organization committed to offering opportunities to individuals who have been in conflict with the law to transform their lives through innovative, effective, and replicable programs that serve the community by reducing crime and its human and economic costs. I-CAN is a jail-based service in New York City jails serving those currently incarcerated.


Eliza manages The Osborne Association’s services in the George R. Vierno Center (GRVC) on Rikers Island. GRVC mostly houses detainees awaiting trial and parolees arrested on violations. The Osborne team at GRVC runs group facilitations in the housing areas five days per week, covering topics from financial literacy to relapse prevention and reentry planning. Eliza started with The Osborne Association as a reentry specialist leading group facilitations.  


Prior to joining The Osborne Association, Eliza interned with multiple nonprofits leading the charge towards criminal justice reform on city, state, and national levels. In 2016, Eliza worked with The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. to fact check, edit, and finalize “Delaying a Second Chance: The Declining Prospects for Parole on Life Sentences.”  She also interned with JustLeadershipUSA in 2016 on the #CLOSERikers campaign, where she helped to research, compile, and edit a white paper reimagining New York City’s detention system and lobby New York State senators and New York City Council Members to support the campaign.


Eliza earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Justice & Peace Studies and Psychology from Georgetown University in 2017. She framed her senior thesis as a 51 state and federal profile of pre-release reentry services in prisons across the country. Throughout the second two years of her time at Georgetown, Eliza served as the program assistant for the Program on Justice & Peace, taking on a community building and supporting role within one of her majors. During her undergraduate career, Eliza spent a semester studying Scandinavia’s criminal justice system up close at the Danish Institute of Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Elyse Oliver

Associate, Bennett Midland LLC

Elyse is an associate at Bennett Midland LLC, a management consulting firm that works exclusively in the civic sector to help government agencies, nonprofits, and foundations design and implement innovative solutions for complex problems. In her time at Bennett Midland, Elyse has supported the development of a nationwide scaling strategy for Spark MicroGrants in Rwanda, which will enable 14,000 villages to launch their own social impact projects. She also coordinates the firm’s support of a national study examining the economic impact of dedicated bike lanes in seven U.S. cities, and collaborates with Bloomberg Philanthropies in the administration of the Innovation Teams grant program to provide direct support to a cohort of mayoral teams.


Before joining Bennett Midland, Elyse worked with the Southeast Community Development Corporation in Baltimore, MD engaging residents and business owners in creating a more vibrant downtown corridor. In addition, she provided research assistance to the Public Justice Center for a study on tenant experiences in Baltimore Rent Court.


Elyse is the founder of a social startup called Project Charmify, which uses public space activation and hands-on workshops to teach high school students leadership and community development skills. Elyse graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in International Studies and Sociology.

Chábelly Pacheco

Project Assistant, Sanctuary for Families

Chábelly Pacheco is a project assistant at Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project (IIP) located in the Brooklyn Family Justice Center. Sanctuary for Families is New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.


As a project assistant in the IIP, Chábelly provides consultations and application assistance to immigrant survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking. Additionally, her responsibilities include collaborating with a team of immigration and family law attorneys, case managers, counselors, and fellow advocates from New York City agencies, such as the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the City of New York Police Department, to ensure the best assistance and advocacy efforts on behalf of clients. Other important duties include referring clients to the appropriate counseling, housing, education and public benefits providers and preparing applications for financial grants for temporary economic relief.


Prior to working at Sanctuary for Families, Chábelly worked as an assistant at the Immigrant Defense Initiative as part of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University, which assists staff and students with immigrant legal services. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she was a legal intern at Catholic Charities in their Unaccompanied Minors Program and was a grants intern at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.


Chábelly graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Liberal Studies, with a concentration in Politics, Rights, and Development and a double major in Spanish and Latin American Literature and Culture.  She wrote her senior thesis about migrant women sex workers and survivors of trafficking, with a case study on Dominican immigrant women living in urban Buenos Aires, Argentina. During her undergraduate studies, Chábelly studied abroad in Florence, Italy and Buenos Aires, Argentina. These experiences exposed her to many important topics of study and practice, specifically the academic realms of economics, gender studies, and the experiential practices of advocates and political figures.


Chábelly is from Dominican Republic and grew up on Long Island, NY. She is passionate about immigrant and feminist issues. Chábelly loves to cook with her husband and play with her adorable middle-aged cat.

Julia Schmidt

Individual Giving Manager – New York, Teach For America

Julia Schmidt is a manager on the New York individual giving team at Teach For America, a leadership nonprofit organization dedicated to catalyzing leadership to make educational equity a reality. Teach For America finds outstanding leaders who commit to expanding educational opportunity, beginning with at least two years teaching in an under-resourced public school. In her role, Julia partners with external stakeholders who donate to and advocate for Teach For America, as well as with Teach For America – New York’s Junior Board, corps members, alumni, and regional program teams. 


Julia joined Teach For America as a corps member directly after college, and moved to Florida to teach English Language Arts and Social Studies to fourth graders. Julia witnessed the power of the injustice and inequitable systems that families confront and dismantle every day, and working with one of Jacksonville’s most underserved communities cemented her belief that every child has potential and deserves access and opportunity. After two years in Florida, Julia moved back to her hometown in New York and joined Teach For America’s development team to increase the scope of her influence and to have a broader platform to elevate the voices of New York City students and their families.


Julia graduated from the University of Delaware in 2015 with Honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special and General Education. She serves on the Junior Board of Change For Kids, an education nonprofit that invests in New York City public elementary schools. In her spare time, whether it’s traveling to a new city, being a wannabe foodie, trying new recipes, or visiting all of the dog parks in New York City, Julia loves to spend as much time exploring as possible.

Sabrina Sekaran

Program Analyst, Vera Institute of Justice

Sabrina Sekaran is a program analyst in the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera). At Vera, Sabrina works on the Unaccompanied Children Program, a federally funded program that operates nationwide to provide legal services and representation to unaccompanied children in removal proceedings. In her current role, Sabrina liaises with legal services providers, assists with budgeting and reporting, plans trainings and conferences hosted by Vera, and helps to develop technical assistance materials for the network of legal services providers.


Prior to joining Vera, Sabrina volunteered in the Coquimbo region of Chile for ten months, teaching English in four schools to students in grades K-6 and facilitating a cultural exchange group for adults in her town. Previously, Sabrina was a legal assistant at MDRC, a research organization dedicated to improving social programs for low-income populations.


Sabrina enjoys teaching both adults and children and has volunteered as a tutor at various organizations in New York City including New York Cares, the International Rescue Committee, Masa, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. 


Sabrina graduated from New York University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Her interests include immigrants’ rights, racial justice, and adult education. In her spare time Sabrina enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, and spending time with family.


Jacques St.Cloud

Inter-agency and Permitting Liaison, New York City Department of Education

Jacques St.Cloud is the inter-agency and permitting liaison at the Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) at the New York City Department of Education. With school and community-based pre-kindergarten programs throughout the city, DECE provides families access to high-quality early childhood options that prepare their children for success in school and life. Together with families and programs, DECE ensures children are engaged, nurtured, and supported with the tools needed to develop into independent learners and creative problem-solvers.


As inter-agency and permitting liaison, Jacques is responsible for managing all early childhood work streams related to permitting, construction, contracting, health, and safety requiring interagency coordination. He works closely with senior leadership at various New York City agencies to collect, compile, and analyze permitting, construction, and agency-specific contracting data for all proposed, new, and expanding Pre-K for All programs. In addition, he leads an inter-agency working group at the New York City Mayor’s Office to coordinate support for programs to open and operate safely.


His career in public service started as an intern at the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS).  He worked closely with prime contractors to implement fair employment policies and practices and increase the representation of minorities and women in their workforce. He then joined the Division of Business Services at SBS to focus on facilitating the development of retail and food services businesses throughout New York City. While working at SBS, Jacques held a consultant role at the New York City Department of Buildings in operations working to improve services for businesses.


Born and raised New Yorker, Jacques graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration.

Colin Stayna-Wynter

Program Manager, New York City Department of Small Business Services

Colin Stayna-Wynter currently serves as a program manager in the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), where he assists in running the Business Preparedness and Resiliency Program (BPREP). SBS helps business start, operate, grow and BPREP aims to foster a more resilient business community across the five boroughs.


Prior to his current role, Colin was the intergovernmental affairs intern at SBS where he summarized proposed legislation impacting small business, workers, and jobseekers and aided in preparing the agency’s responses for hearings. He also supported internal divisions such as Small Business First to foster a better regulatory environment.


Colin previously served as a legislative intern for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer in which he directly interacted with constituents, noting their comments and directing them to government services.


Colin graduated from The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. While at George Washington, he developed an interest in energy and sustainability.

Alissa Stover

Research Assistant, MDRC

Alissa Stover is a research assistant at the Center for Data Insights (CDI) at MDRC, a public policy nonprofit that conducts rigorous, nonpartisan research on the efficacy of policies and programs that affect low-income people in the United States. CDI is a new initiative that helps various social institutions use data science tools to improve their programs and create positive change for their communities. Alissa assists in organizing, funding, and executing various research projects.


Alissa’s primary project is TANF Data Innovations, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With MDRC’s partners on the project (Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, and Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania), the team will guide human services agencies that administer the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (cash welfare) program to use their own data for program improvement. The team will provide training and technical assistance in multiple domains such as using integrated data systems and data analytics to improve the agency’s efficiency and efficacy. Alissa also works on the Clarity Project, a “big data” exploration of who uses payday loans and why, and a project with the U.S. Census Bureau looking at long-term outcomes of cash welfare recipients.


In May 2018, Alissa graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley with Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She conducted an honor’s thesis, with funding from the Haas Scholars Program, in a cognitive neuroscience lab where scientists are exploring the neurological basis for motor disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. She co-founded a course on empathy, which helped herself and her peers understand not only other people, but themselves. Her experiences with this course drove her to continue her community-building work with the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, where she is currently helping to create an online empathy-training course. Her research and interests were greatly influenced by her experience with disparities in her own family and community, which allowed her to pursue a professional career as a ballerina in Europe until 2014 while others struggled to have access to basic human rights like food, shelter, and safety.

Arturo Urena

Legal Advocate, Part of the Solution

Arturo Urena is the legal advocate at Part of the Solution (POTS), a nonprofit organization that assists individuals and families on their journey towards stability and self-sufficiency.


As the legal advocate, Arturo works with POTS’s legal team assisting community members who are facing eviction proceedings in Bronx Housing Civil Court, along with resolving clients’ public assistance issues through advocacy and fair hearings. Additionally, he evaluates clients’ cases, helps them develop a plan to overcome the situation they are facing, and mediates with state and city agencies to obtain documentation and restore benefits clients have lost. 


Prior to his current position at POTS, Arturo was a fellow at the Immigrant Justice Corps. The fellowship focused on providing legal assistance for immigrants seeking citizenship, adjustment of status, or fighting deportation. He also held an internship with City University of New York Service Corps where he worked with the Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project. The Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Safe Passage collaborated on this project to support recently arrived unaccompanied minors going through deportation proceedings.  


Arturo graduated summa cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Management and a minor in Public Administration. While in college, he served as a Student Council senior representative and was the recipient of the university’s Howard Mann Humanitarian Award for his selfless and voluntary work for the welfare of others.


Thomas (Tom) Werring

Associate, Carnegie Hall

Thomas (Tom) Werring is an associate for learning and engagement programs at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI). WMI provides programming that harnesses the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, from pre-professional artist training programs to songwriting projects in justice settings and homeless shelters. Through these programs, WMI reaches over half a million people in New York City, across the U.S., and around the globe. WMI’s Learning and Engagement Programs focus specifically on young people and music educators, and partners with schools, orchestras, community centers, and instrumental instruction programs to deliver, enhance, and support music learning in the classroom.


As an associate for learning and engagement programs, Tom supports two education initiatives at WMI: Music Educators Workshop and PlayUSA. Through Music Educators Workshop, Tom collaborates with guest artists and educators, curating a yearlong series of workshops and other events for over one-hundred music educators in the New York City-area, as well as a summer workshop for music educators around the world. Through PlayUSA, Tom supports a network of fifteen organizations from across the country that offer instrumental music instruction for low-income and underserved youth, providing funding and professional development for their teaching staff and arts administrators to help address challenges and build on best practices. In addition to his work on these two programs, Tom serves on a cross-departmental committee within WMI developing and delivering professional development for staff with a focus on embedding practices of social justice and equity within programming. Through this work, Tom has co-led workshops discussing cultural heritage and identity development.


Tom earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education magna cum laude from New York University (NYU) in 2015. During his time at NYU, Tom student taught at the elementary and high school levels, leading general music and vocal ensembles. Tom also served as the Arts Intern within the New York City Department of Education. In addition to his studies and internships, Tom traveled the country as a touring musician, writing, recording, and performing original music utilizing and advocating a do-it-yourself ethos.


Tom currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. He continues to record and perform original music, and serves as a garden volunteer with Edible Schoolyard at PS 216 in Brooklyn.

Clarke Wheeler

Government Relations Associate, Planned Parenthood of New York City

Clarke Wheeler is a government relations associate at Planned Parenthood of New York City, an organization that provides sexual and reproductive health and education services to thousands of New Yorkers every year. In her role, Clarke advocates for sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice through stakeholder engagement, coalition partnerships, and policy analysis and advising. She also coordinates the legislative and budgetary lobbying program for city, state, and federal elected officials.


Prior to this role, Clarke participated in the New York City Urban Fellows Program, a selective public service fellowship that places recent college graduates in city government agencies and mayoral offices to support citywide initiatives. Through this fellowship, she worked at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment and coordinated the NYC Free Tax Prep Initiative, a campaign and tax coalition of more than 200 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and AARP-Tax Aide sites citywide.


Clarke worked on racial justice and social policy issues in her internships with U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand’s New York City Office, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and the NAACP. She has served as a budget delegate in her New York City Council District’s participatory budgeting process and a volunteer manager at BlackFem, a wealth and financial literacy organization designed for girls and young women of color. She also participated in the New York City Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color Participatory Review Committee, an experience that has inspired her to learn more about different forms of investment in communities of color.


Clarke graduated from Barnard College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Africana Studies in May 2016. While at Barnard, she developed a passion for social justice and public service through her participation in the New York City Civic Engagement Program, Student Government Association Committee on Inclusion and Equity, and the Emerging Leaders Program. During her junior year, she spent a semester abroad in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, where she learned about Afro-Brazilian history and culture and improved her proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese. 


Clarke was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and enjoys podcasts, horoscopes, and exploring New York City.      

Career Guides

Jeremy Coffey

Senior Associate, Perlman & Perlman LLP

Jeremy Coffey is a senior associate at Perlman & Perlman LLP, a law firm that empowers its clients to change the world. Jeremy enjoys getting to work with many types of organizations ranging from charities to educational institutions to socially conscious for-profits. He maintains a substantively diverse practice, advising clients on a broad swath of issues while helping clients at every stage of their organizations' life-cycles.


Prior to joining Perlman, Jeremy worked at Schiff Hardin LLP, a large national law firm where he was a member of the corporate and employee benefits practice groups and worked with Fortune 500 companies on complex transactions. Jeremy also assisted a startup financial technology company navigate federal and state regulations while helping it secure a New York Virtual Currency license, one of the few licenses issued to date. He also enjoyed working with the firm’s pro bono practice.


Before becoming an attorney, Jeremy was an English as a Second Language and Spanish teacher at MS260 – The Clinton School for Writers and Artists, a public middle school in downtown Manhattan.


Jeremy has a JD from New York University School of Law, where he also helped start the school’s therapy dog program, which brings dogs to relieve the stress of students, professors, and staff. He also holds a Master of Arts in Education and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University, where he first found his passion for the intersection of law and education. Jeremy earned his Honors Bachelor of Arts from Rollins College, where he was a member of the soccer team, an avid supporter of the intramural sports program, and member of IMPACT, a student-led group seeking to raise on-campus awareness of social justice issues. Jeremy lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.


Jeremy was a 2009 fellow in the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS), and served on the FELPS Alumni Board for two years, including one year as president. Jeremy previously served as an alumni guide for three years.

Nicole Halsey

Chief of Staff, New York City Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence 

Nicole Halsey is the chief of staff in the New York City Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. In this role, she advances efforts of the de Blasio administration to support survivors of domestic violence through public awareness and engagement, strategic programming, and legislative advocacy. During her tenure, Nicole led the development of New York City’s first domestic violence awareness campaign in a decade, and the city’s first web portal dedicated to information about survivors of gender-based violence.


Nicole also served as director of strategic initiatives and director of community affairs at the New York City Human Resources Administration, where she managed high profile external affairs initiatives. She was the project manager for the rollout of IDNYC, which has provided identification cards to over a million New Yorkers, and she designed and implemented the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety outreach team, which focuses efforts on over a dozen high needs New York City Housing Authority developments.


Nicole began working in New York City government in 2004 as a special assistant to the Commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services (ACS). After two years in that position, she was promoted to deputy press secretary. While at ACS she worked on several campaigns to promote safe sleeping for infants, and programming to support youth that aged out of the foster care system. In 2007, she became director of intergovernmental affairs at the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice, where she led the department’s efforts to strengthen its ties to the community to increase an understanding of the juvenile justice process, and to incorporate more participation from families and stakeholders.  


Prior to joining city government, Nicole was a beauty editor, freelance writer, and newspaper reporter for several years.  She earned a Master in Public Administration degree from Baruch College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from New York University. She lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant with her family.

Mark Lee

Assistant Commissioner for Licensing & Standards, New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission

Mark Lee is a mission-driven public service leader with a focus on technology- and data-driven innovation in the government and nonprofit sectors. He is currently serving as an assistant commissioner for licensing and standards at the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Mark oversees operations, customer service, and data analytics in support of over 300,000 licensees.


Prior to TLC, Mark was a management consultant at Public Works Partners, advising government agencies and nonprofit organizations. He also worked as an operations and data manager at the New York City Department of Small Business Services, overseeing the city’s Workforce1 Career Center programs. Mark served as a front-line case worker for Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York and an IT consultant for Net@Work. 


Mark was a 2007 FELPS Fellow. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Yale University.

Santa Soriano-Vasquez

Director of Government Relations, Community Service Society of New York

Santa Soriano-Vasquez is the director of government relations at the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes economic advancement and full civic participation for low-income New Yorkers. Santa promotes and advances CSS's legislative agenda and programs and is responsible for ensuring compliance with lobbying laws and regulations. She is a member of CSS’s technology leadership team which ​support​ ​the organization’s ​planning​ ​and​ ​implementation of​ ​a​ ​​cohesive​ ​​​approach​ ​to technology. She also serves as the spokesperson for the Hispanic media.


In her previous positions at CSS, Santa co-authored publications, performed research, and conducted trainings geared toward human service professionals; worked with colleagues in a strategic planning process to reorganize the organization’s programs; recruited and trained volunteers; and developed partnerships with community-based organizations citywide.


Santa is a Board Member of the Latino Leadership Institute (LLI).  She serves on the Advisory Board of the Participatory Budgeting Project and the Advocacy Council of the Citizens’ Committee for Children. Santa is an alumna of the Electoral Activism & Leadership Academy of LLI and the Jewish Community Relations Council’s fellowship program.


Santa earned a Master of Public Administration in Policy Analysis and Public Finance from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the City College of New York.


Santa was a 2006 FELPS fellow in the first year of the program.

Tanya (TSJ) St. Julien

Chief of Staff, Leadership for Educational Equality

Tanya (TSJ) St. Julien is a community leader and advocate for educational equity with over 15 years of successful impact in local government and nonprofit management. She is the chief of staff at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), a national leadership development organization that develops civic leaders to improve education laws and policies for all children. TSJ also serves as an appointed member of her local Community Education Council.


Prior to LEE, TSJ led the communications and enrollment policy teams at the New York City Department of Education. She also worked extensively with community-based organizations in the Bay Area, Newark, Boston and throughout New York City to develop skill-based education and civic leadership programs for students and families.


TSJ is the proud daughter of Haitian immigrants and a native New Yorker, currently living in Bedford-Stuyvesant. She is 2018 Pahara-Aspen NextGen Fellow with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from Boston University and a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. TSJ loves good food, good jokes and good times with friends and family.

Rebecca Stauffer

Director of Healthcare Operations, Planning, and Policy, Project Renewal

Rebecca Stauffer is the director of healthcare operations, policy, and planning for Project Renewal, a nonprofit organization with a mission to end the cycle of homelessness by empowering individuals and families to renew their lives with health, homes, and jobs.


In this role, Rebecca manages the operations of primary care clinics located within shelters and medical vans, oversees the finances for the primary care clinics, and develops and supports strategic plans for the growth of Project Renewal’s healthcare services.


Prior to joining Project Renewal, Rebecca was the director of program operations for the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP), which is a bureau within the Department of Prevention and Primary Care at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. PCIP facilitates healthcare practices and providers across New York City to deliver quality healthcare through the use of health information technology. She also was a department administrator at the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry and senior project manager within the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center.


Rebecca earned her Master of Public Administration degree from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Kenyon College.

Steve Vassor

Vice President – Membership, Campaign for Black Male Achievement

Steve Vassor is the vice president of membership at the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. He initially joined the organization as the director of the Rumble Young Man, Rumble Initiative. Steve feels fortunate to have dedicated his career to nonprofits working with and on behalf of children, youth, and families. His mission is to improve life chances for young people, especially urban youth and young Black men. He enjoys creating coalitions, strengthening organizations, and developing strategies that lead to improved conditions for young people.


Previously, Steve served as program coordinator at East End Neighborhood House; unit director of a Boys & Girls Club; executive director of the Hampden Family Center; and chief of recreation for the City of Baltimore. He funded nonprofits and supported youth development strategies through his work with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, and he went on to support and develop mentoring partnerships at MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.


Steve co-chaired the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission for African American Males, the Greater Philadelphia Black Philanthropic Network, and the Rumble Young Man Rumble Five Planning Committee. Steve also founded AMPED (“ampt”) Strategies, a consulting firm whose clients included the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, MENTOR, Nike/Jordan Brand, Sneaker Villa, and United Way.


Steve earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mental Health from Morgan State University and a Master’s degree in Social Service Administration from Case Western Reserve University. He is a proud dad, husband, mentor, and man of faith and action. He enjoys travel, and as a former DJ, loves rap, his musical first love.

Alumni Guides

Aryana Anderson

Senior Associate, Carnegie Hall

Aryana Alexis Anderson has worked with independent artists, nonprofit organizations, and large media corporations to develop brand-aligned and mission-centered digital and video content. She currently works as a senior associate in educational media and technology at Carnegie Hall. Previously, Aryana was an associate producer at Amplify, developing industry-leading K-12 online learning experiences. Aryana has organized play festivals, reading series, and professional development events for artists in various disciplines. Her background includes work as a projection and sound designer, video editor, and media arts educator. 

In 2012, Aryana was elected to Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Advisory Council and assisted in developing programs and resources to promote the growth, development, and sustenance of emerging arts professionals nationwide. She is a member of the inaugural Diversity in Arts Leadership Labs cohort at the Arts and Business Council of New York. She currently supports her local arts community as a junior board member of the Queens Council on the Arts. 

Aryana received her training in screenwriting and production at the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film at SUNY Purchase. She holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Fordham University. She completed the Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. Aryana was a member of the 2014 class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.

Nicole Austin-Thomas

Assistant Vice President, Citi Foundation

Nicole Austin-Thomas works at the Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Citigroup, as an assistant vice president. The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world through strategic investments in nonprofit organizations and a “more than philanthropy” approach that leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people. In her role, Nicole cultivates relationships, evaluates programs, and conducts due diligence review on over 100 U.S. and international nonprofit partners annually, resulting in the overall approval of $78MM in funding. In addition, she manages key operational processes such as impact reporting to facilitate communication of the foundation’s strategic priorities.


Prior to joining the foundation in 2016, Nicole served as a program manager at New York Cares where she worked closely with corporate sponsors and community organizations to execute service projects for more than 8,000 volunteers and countless clients. Some of her favorite projects included inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs through youth enrichment, revitalizing public areas post-Hurricane Sandy and managing Winter Wishes, a holiday gift-giving program for 40,000 low-income New Yorkers. Nicole continues to be an active volunteer leader in various service organizations across the city.


Originally from San Diego, CA, Nicole graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies in 2012. She began her career interning in communities of color in West and North Philadelphia and credits her undergraduate experience with sparking her passion to tackle urban inequality. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the cultural institutions, community gardens, and brownstones of Brooklyn, and eating her way through foreign countries with her husband. Nicole was a fellow in the 2016 cohort of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.

Jerry Bruno

Strategic Project Manager, New York City Department of Homeless Services

Jerry Bruno is the strategic project manager in the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Administrator’s Office. The mission of DHS is to prevent homelessness when possible and to provide short-term, emergency shelter for individuals and families who have no other housing options available to them. 


As strategic project manager, Jerry is responsible for advising on the DHS strategic plan by managing projects dealing with high-level collaborative initiatives, such as ThriveNYC, Trauma Informed Care, and Race Equity. He works closely with the executive leadership to achieve the goals of the DHS/DSS Turning the Tide on Homelessness Plan.


In addition, Jerry partners with all program areas throughout DHS to develop and implement specific performance indicators that will be used by the administrator and chief of staff to evaluate program performance, and make decisions on improving service delivery to the populations the agency serves with the goal of advancing all of DHS program areas.


Jerry was a 2017 StartingBloc Mentor, 2016 StartingBloc Fellow, 2015 New Leaders Council Fellow, and a 2012–2013 New York City Urban Fellow.  In addition, he is the co-director of the NYC New Leaders Council chapter, co-chair of the Junior Board for Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, and is a docent (tour guide) at Grand Central Terminal for the Municipal Art Society of New York.


Originally from Miramar, Florida, Jerry graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Public Leadership. He completed internships with the Florida Senate and the executive team of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Horatio Alger Association. In his off hours, Jerry loves travels, pretends to be a food critic and is an avid lover of Batman movies. Jerry was a fellow in the 2014 cohort of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.

Gary Johnson

Director of Strategy and Operations - NYCx, New York City Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation

Gary Johnson works in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation as the director of strategy and operations of NYCx, an industry engagement program for breakthrough and emerging technology. NYCx is the first-ever municipal tech engagement program that calls on industry to develop new technologies that transform public life, spur economic growth, improve service delivery, and increase digital access for all New Yorkers.


Gary believes that while technology will disrupt the way live, work, and interact, emerging tech will play an important role in unlocking the potential of underserved communities through innovative workforce programming, collaborative community-led program design, and the development of strategic partnerships across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He hopes to ensure the opportunities in the tech market are equitable and individuals are prepared for the jobs of the future.


Gary has spent over eight years working in NYC local government to progress economic development policies and programs that support the neediest communities. Previously Gary served as a policy advisor in the New York City Mayor's Office of Operations, where he managed mayoral OneNYC initiatives related to homelessness prevention, advancing pedestrian safety policies through Vision Zero, expanding affordable broadband access, and workforce development strategy.


Gary is a New York native, raised in East Harlem by a family of dedicated public servants. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Hampton University, and is a proud alumni of CORO Leadership NY, New Leaders Council, and the Council of Urban Professionals. Gary also serves as a Junior Board member for the Food Bank for New York City, a campaign to end hunger in NYC, and My Sisters Place, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence against women and children. Gary was a member of the 2014 class of the Fellowship for Exploring Leaders in Public Service.

Deshaun Mars

Director of Business Outreach, New York City Department of Small Business Services

Deshaun Mars is the director of business outreach at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) where he manages the outreach team's efforts to promote the agency's programs and services to support entrepreneurs and business owners. He also represents the agency publicly at small business committee meetings and liaises with merchants’ associations, business groups, and other external stakeholders to bring awareness to the agency.

Previously, Deshaun was the director of recruitment partnerships (external affairs) and district/school partnerships at Teach For America – New York. In these roles, he set the vision and strategy for the New York region's recruitment efforts to diversify its local teaching corps by working with nonprofits, community-based organizations, Teach For America's national recruitment team, government partners, schools, and others to build investment in Teach For America’s local diversity recruitment work.

Deshaun started his career doing college access and retention counseling at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation and Good Shepherd Services – two community development organizations based in Brooklyn. As a counselor, he helped students apply to college, transition from high school to college, thrive academically, and develop social-emotional skills.

Deshaun earned both his BA in Education Studies and MA in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. He is a proud New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. Deshaun was a Council of Urban Professionals Fellow in 2015. He was a member of the 2012 class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service. 

Anne Tatreau

National Director of Foundation Relations, Educators for Excellence

Anne Tatreau serves as the first-ever national director of foundation relations at Educators for Excellence (E4E), a nonprofit education advocacy organization. In this role, she collaborates with mission-aligned partners, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ballmer Philanthropy Group, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, to raise $8-9MM annually in support of teacher-led efforts to advance student-centered, solutions-oriented policy change across the country.


Previously Anne worked as the chief fundraiser at Classroom, Inc., a nonprofit education technology company that creates and implements immersive digital learning programs for students nationwide. She led the organization’s three-person development team during a period of renewal that culminated in a successful $8MM growth capital campaign and 25th Anniversary celebration.


Anne began her career at the New York City nonprofit Harlem RBI (now known as DREAM), which uses baseball, softball, and the power of teams to engage youth in school day, summer, and after-school enrichment programs. She led the organization's multi-million-dollar foundation and government funding portfolio, growing institutional giving by 92% (from $2.8MM to $5.4MM) and securing the organization’s first-ever AmeriCorps, NYSED 21st Century Learning Center, and national foundation grants.


During her ten-year career as a nonprofit fundraiser, Anne has raised more than $50MM for education-related causes and projects, including the construction of an award-winning mixed-use facility serving East Harlem children and families; the development of groundbreaking literacy learning games that help bring struggling readers to grade level; and the execution of a comprehensive, nationally-representative survey of public school teachers (the first in five years).


Anne was a member of the 2013 class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.

Tessa Vithayathil

Consultant, Common Impact

Tessa Vithayathil is a consultant at Common Impact, a nonprofit consulting firm that works to strengthen communities by connecting businesses and nonprofits through meaningful skills-based volunteering engagements. As part of this work, Tessa designs and implements long-term projects that match private sector skills to public sector needs. 


Tessa has fostered her passion for social impact through her work in fundraising, program management, and teaching. Most recently, she taught English to elementary and middle school students in Ishikawa, Japan as part of the JET Programme. Tessa has also worked at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), where she managed a grants program to help small businesses grow their bottom line and retain staff through investments in training. Previously, Tessa helped secure grants from corporations, government entities, and foundations as a member of City Harvest's institutional giving team. At the core of Tessa's portfolio of work is a desire to help individuals and organizations grow their capacity for success. 


Tessa's experiences both home and abroad have instilled in her the importance of community and a strong appreciation for cultural bridges, such as food and photography. She has an unhealthy obsession with the Great British Baking Show and can be found exploring the neighborhoods and culinary cultures of New York City and beyond. 


Tessa was a member of the 2014 class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.

Fellowship Staff

Moschell Coffey

Director, Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service

Moschell (Mo) Coffey is the director of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS). She has worked with FELPS since 2008. Mo oversees all outreach, recruitment, and selection; program and curriculum development; alumni engagement; and evaluation.


As the founder and principal of Challenges and Solutions LLC, Mo helps mission-driven organizations identify challenges and formulate solutions to achieve organizational efficiency, strengthen board and staff relationships, enable strategic growth, and define program outcomes. She also enjoys helping emerging and established leaders in public service explore their professional passions, chart career paths, and search for meaningful opportunities.


Over the past seven years, Mo’s consulting clients have included private foundations; the Institute for Child Success funded by the Obama White House Social Innovation Fund; the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center funded by the New York State Health Foundation; Mission: Cure; Breakthrough New York; Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law; Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community; and the Office of the President at New York University.


Previously, Mo worked as the managing director for The Good Dog Foundation, the national leader in therapy dog training, certification, visit coordination, research, and awareness. She was also the coordinator at the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law at NYU School of Law. Mo has served on the boards of nonprofits throughout the country.


Mo holds a Master of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.  A graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, Mo earned an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in International Relations with a minor in Spanish.