FELPS FELLOWS 2020

2020 Fellows

Isreal Adeyanju

Managing Analyst, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Isreal Adeyanju is a housing advocate and technology enthusiast passionate about leveraging innovation to drive social impact. Isreal currently serves as a managing analyst for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In this role, he leads strategy and analytics for the conversions team responsible for facilitating permanent loan financing for affordable housing developments. His team plays an integral role in delivering Housing NY 2.0’s unprecedented goal of 300,000 new affordable housing units by 2026. 

 

Embedded in his practice, Isreal seeks to transform the potential gap for Black and Latino youth and believes that while intelligence is evenly distributed, opportunity is not. He co-founded Enza Academy with the goal of building sustainable pipelines for Black and Brown youth to access engineering and tech spaces.  As a founding fellow of Code Next, Isreal supported Google’s first diversity pipeline program welcoming young students of color into the world of tech and entrepreneurship. Afterward, Isreal served as a project lead at the New York City Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, a data-driven “startup within government,” outreach shop that connected New York’s most vulnerable to health care and the gamut of preventive and interventive housing services. 

 

Isreal’s impact spans the globe as he has run numerous digital literacy programs in Southern and Western Africa. Currently, Isreal developed and runs the “Breaking into Tech” program at Children’s Aid Society in the Bronx; a unique digital literacy after-school program focused on inspiring youth to see technology under the hood and imagine a career in tech.

 

A child and current resident of the Bronx, Isreal is a graduate of City College’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global leadership. He enjoys traveling around the African continent with the goal of reaching all fifty-four countries by age fifty-four.

Liznel (Liz) Aybar-Ventura

External Relations Associate, New York State Senate

Liznel (Liz) Aybar-Ventura is an associate in the New York State Senate's External Relations department, a department tasked with providing resources and support to the Senate's Democratic conference. External Relations works collaboratively with Senators and their staff to orchestrate efforts across constituent services and outreach, community events, communications, policy, and crisis management.

In her capacity, Liz is responsible for maintaining best practices in communications and community affairs for various State Senators in the New York City area. She joins Senators’ district offices to lead or support constituent services, communications, translation and interpretation, event planning and execution, policy, and crisis management. Additionally, she provides support to the entire Senate Democratic Conference by way of authoring and translating communications such as district-wide newsletters and press releases on legislative priorities and current events while the Senate is in session in Albany.

Prior to joining the New York State Senate, Liz served as the head of research at a life sciences executive search firm. Tasked with identifying and coaching diverse MD and PhD candidates for consideration as C-level executives at biotech companies and venture capital firms, she created and executed project plans for marketing and communications, candidate profiles, long-lists, brochures, articles, and official search materials. Liz worked to implement best practices to engage under-represented leaders in the pharmaceutical industry with the goal of diversifying her clients’ leadership teams.

Liz graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Relations in 2015. While at Trinity she held a minor in Hispanic Studies, which led her to study 20th-century systems of government across South America at the University of Buenos Aires. During this time, Liz performed research on the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing practices in Ecuador and Argentina for Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), a nonprofit, nonpartisan Argentinian environmental organization. In Hartford, she interned as a legislative assistant at the Connecticut General Assembly and served as a main coordinator for the 10th Annual Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival. 

Jane Bartman

Manager, Bloomberg Associates

Jane Bartman is a manager at Bloomberg Associates (BA), a pro bono consulting firm that helps city governments tackle complex challenges to improve citizens’ quality of life.

 

During her time at BA, Jane has worked on a range of projects aimed at improving City service provision. These have included supporting the City of Detroit’s efforts to provide eligible Detroiters with access to criminal record expungement services; providing strategic and operational recommendations to the cities of Detroit and Atlanta in their preparations for a robust and accurate 2020 Census count; creating a step-by-step guide to assist immigrants in navigating the procedures required to move to Milan, Italy; and facilitating the City of Atlanta’s Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust, convened by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to assess Atlanta’s existing integrity structures and make recommendations as to needed enhancements. The latter culminated in a Report recommending that the City of Atlanta create an independent Inspector General function, thereby strengthening and centralizing the city’s oversight resources.

 

Jane has also worked on projects related to housing affordability and real estate, including conducting an in-depth analysis of uncommitted funds held by the Atlanta Housing Authority and recommending opportunities to leverage those funds to accelerate the creation of affordable housing in the City of Atlanta.

 

Before joining BA, Jane was an engagement manager at the San Francisco office of the Concord Group, an international real estate and land use consulting firm. While at Concord, she led numerous engagements on behalf of private and public sector clients, creating tailored deliverables to drive highest and best use conclusions for planned development scenarios.

 

Jane graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, where she earned an AB in Geographical Studies and International Studies. As an undergraduate, Jane conducted thesis research on how the built environment shapes national identity focusing on the Scottish Parliament in the runup to Scotland’s vote on independence. Jane is an avid runner and trivia goer, and volunteers regularly with organizations in the New York Area.

Markie Bledsoe-Grant

Restorative Justice Coordinator, New York Peace Institute

Markie Bledsoe-Grant is a restorative justice coordinator at the New York Peace Institute, where she oversees the Criminal Court Mediation Program for Kings and New York counties. New York Peace Institute is a Community Dispute Resolution Center that provides mediation services to Brooklyn and Manhattan communities to empower people to find creative and durable solutions to their disputes. Markie’s program uses restorative practices and mediation to support people going through the criminal court system and provides the people directly impacted by the situation to have more influence over the outcome. 

 

Prior to joining New York Peace Institute, Markie co-founded Contemporary Leaders in Action, a committee dedicated to providing resources and support for children of domestic violence survivors residing in New Jersey. As an undergraduate student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Markie assisted in many research projects such a correctional incident database that tracked incidents occurring in jails throughout the U.S. with a focus in jail suicides. She also researched restorative practices used in Navajo communities to address domestic violence and how they could be implemented in New York City. Markie’s passion for restorative justice and dispute resolution comes with vast experience with various city agencies as a NYC 311 call center representative.

 

Markie earned her BA in Forensic Psychology and Dispute Resolution Certification from the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has completed trainings such as basic mediation training through Columbia University and is a certified mediator with the New York Peace Institute.

Lorenzo Bradford

Research Associate, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Lorenzo Bradford is a research associate at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). In this role, Lorenzo conducts qualitative and quantitative research that aides LDF’s impact litigation in the areas of economic justice, voting rights, criminal justice, and educational equity.

 

Prior to joining LDF, Lorenzo served as the Kenneth Cole Service Learning Intern for the Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership program where he engaged in community outreach efforts focused on youth education and empowerment. In this role, Lorenzo spearheaded a weekly tutoring program and various community outreach events in Harlem. In the summer of 2016, Lorenzo was selected for the Training and Recruitment Initiative for Admission to Leading Law Schools scholarship–a unique summer program between NYU School of Law, Harvard Law School, and the Advantage Testing Foundation.

 

Lorenzo graduated from Columbia University with departmental honors in African American studies and was the recipient of the Ella Baker Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement for his senior thesis entitled Transgressive Black Masculinities in Hip Hop: The Politics of Performance and Anti-Patriarchal Liberation. He has written articles featured in Current Affairs, The San Diego Tribune and The Columbia Spectator.  During his time in college, Lorenzo served as an executive board member of the Black Student Organization, a resident advisor and a member of the varsity football team. 

 

Lorenzo was born in La Habra, California and raised in Mesa, Arizona. Outside of work, he enjoys spicy foods, documentaries and watching the Los Angeles Lakers 2020 championship run.

Wayne Byun

Associate, Bennett Midland LLC

Wayne is an associate at Bennett Midland LLC, a management consulting firm that works exclusively in the civic sector. During his time at Bennett Midland, he has supported research and program development for the E Pluribus Unum Fund, an organization founded by former Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu to work towards racial justice in the U.S. South. He also served on a team providing strategic and management support to the International Refugee Assistance Project’s legal department, helping to develop and implement new organizational and supervisory practices. Currently, Wayne works with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams grant program, supporting mayoral teams both in the U.S. and abroad to tackle a range of pressing issues, from reducing jail recidivism to fostering vibrant public spaces.

 

Wayne was born in Seoul and previously worked at the Korean Educational Development Institute, coordinating international meetings with scholars and editing articles for the Korean Journal for Educational Policy. He also interned with North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a political advocacy group founded by North Korean defectors residing in South Korea, where he translated exclusive news stories and helped conduct interviews with recent defectors.

 

Wayne completed his MA in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, for which he wrote a thesis on the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt. Wayne holds a BA from Brown University, where he took advantage of its open curriculum and pursued an independent major called Critical Humanities. When not at his standing desk, Wayne purchases spices for his local food co-op and can be found rollerblading or playing paddleball around Brooklyn.

Eliana Cohen

Curriculum and Outreach Coordinator, Coalition for the Homeless

Eliana Cohen is a curriculum and outreach coordinator at Coalition for the Homeless, a direct service and advocacy centered nonprofit that works towards solutions to end homelessness for the 70,000+ individuals in New York City who lack this basic human right. Eliana works most closely with the First Step program which supports low-income and homeless women to build confidence, identify their skills, and work towards finding a meaningful career and financial independence.  

 

At First Step, Eliana provides direct support to her clients in both classroom settings and one-on-one.  Utilizing her teaching experience to ground her work, Eliana develops the curriculum for her clients in a way that is culturally-relevant and prepares clients to be competitive in the workforce.  In addition to her on-site responsibilities, Eliana orchestrates outreach for First Step, overseeing partnerships with other nonprofits, government agencies, and corporate partners.  She also has the pleasure of supervising the interns who support First Step. 

 

Previously, Eliana worked as a teaching fellow at Breakthrough Collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she mentored a cohort of middle schoolers and taught creative, rigorous workshops that encouraged students to envision themselves in higher education settings.  

 

Eliana graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Anthropology.  A lover of languages and exploration, her studies took her to London and Lisbon for a semester each.  Eliana speaks French, Spanish, and Portuguese.  In keeping with her passion for language, Eliana received high honors from her department for her thesis entitled “Bridging the Gap: Romantic couples’ use of code to create meaningful connections in the face of divergent linguistic backgrounds.”  Eliana continually seeks opportunities where she can use her language skills to build relationships with clients, engage with diverse perspectives, and support the social justice work to which she is dedicated.  

 

Eliana enjoys salsa dancing, cooking, and escaping into nature.  She grew up in South Burlington, VT and is proud to be from the Green Mountains. 

Aarati Cohly

Community Engagement Specialist, NYC Census 2020

Aarati Cohly is a community engagement specialist at NYC Census 2020, an initiative launched by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure every New Yorker, especially those in harder-to-count communities of color and immigrant communities, are fully counted and represented in the 2020 Census.  At NYC Census 2020, Aarati helps lead office operations and also serves as a key staffer, managing the census director’s schedule and overall office calendar.  Her duties include the creation of an office-wide protocol handbook, updating City Hall weekly on the office’s activities, and producing a weekly internal newsletter.

 

Aarati served previously as an Urban Fellow at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development in the Green Housing Preservation Program. In this role, she managed the financing and energy efficiency needs of four multi-family affordable housing properties in NYC and successfully closed two loans.

 

Aarati is a 2017-18 Fulbright Scholar. As part of her grant in India, she conducted over 100 one-on-one interviews, which evaluated the benefits and challenges of eco-village living from the perspective of community members.

 

Aarati’s passion for public service first began as a high school student at the School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL), a semester program located in Washington, D.C. aimed at helping high school juniors become ethical leaders who create positive change in the world. SEGL gave Aarati the foundational skillset she required to engage in her community through public service. 

 

Aarati graduated with honors from NYU in 2016 with a dual BA degree in International Relations and Environmental Studies. At NYU Aarati received recognition for her thesis, a quantitative analysis of the incidence of farmer suicides in India.

 

Aarati is a life-long New Yorker and has devoted her career to working with local organizations that focus on environmental, housing, and immigration equity. Aarati currently serves on the Associate Board of Generation Citizen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to civics education.

Tieliek Curry

Engagement Coordinator, New York City Department of Education

Tieliek Curry is an engagement coordinator for the Pre-K and 3-K for All expansion team within the Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) at the New York City Department of Education. Through early childhood education programs based in public schools as well as community-based organizations across the city, DECE provides all families with access to high-quality early childhood options that prepare their children for academic and personal success. In partnership with community leaders, educators, and families, DECE engages, nurtures, and supports New York's youngest learners with the tools to develop into thoughtful students and creative problem-solvers.

 

Prior to joining DECE, Tieliek served as a regional director at SuitUp, a nonprofit that seeks to increase career awareness and college readiness for low-income students by connecting them with Fortune 500 companies and hosting one-day business competitions. While working at SuitUp, he also served as an AmeriCorps member in the South Bronx with City Year, a national service organization providing additional supports to high-need public schools to help students succeed and graduate. As a City Year corps member, Tieliek supported a group of students at CIS 303X to improve their attendance, behavior, and academic performance. He also served as a literacy coach to facilitate literacy interventions for middle schoolers and professional development for his fellow Corps members.

 

Born and raised in Harlem, Tieliek graduated from Binghamton University with dual degrees: a BS in Human Development and BA in Philosophy, Politics and Law. He is committed to inspiring young men and women of color through mentorship and community advocacy. 

Leyana Dessauer

Program and Development Associate, North Star Fund

Leyana Dessauer is the program and development associate at North Star Fund. North Star Fund is a social justice fund that supports grassroots organizing and communities building power in New York City and the Hudson Valley. Leyana has a wide breadth of responsibilities, providing support on both grant making and development within North Star Fund.

 

Leyana is also on the board of Our Climate, a youth-led national organization fighting for equitable and science-based solutions to climate change.

 

Leyana graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a BA in Liberal Arts, concentrating in Environmental Studies. During college, she was part of a national campaign for carbon pricing legislation to fight climate change with Our Climate. She was also involved in immigration advocacy activism on her college campus. Leyana is from Syracuse in upstate NY, and now lives in Manhattan.

Joan Encarnacion

Communication Designer, IDEO.org

Joan Encarnacion is a communications designer at IDEO.org, a nonprofit design studio that creates products and services alongside organizations that are committed to creating a more just and inclusive world. At IDEO.org, Joan creates visual narratives, designs appropriate creative solutions across a variety of media and contexts, and helps teams across all design project phases in creating deliverables that tell compelling stories. Joan has worked on building digital tools and services to help low income Americans improve their financial health and behavior change campaigns to improve uptake of healthcare services.

 

Prior to joining IDEO.org, Joan designed for Kiskeya Libre, a grassroots organization and collective that looks to unify the Dominican diaspora and Dominican artists in the island through art, education, and community building. Since its launch in 2014, he has served as the creative director of La Galeria Magazine. This magazine is a small volunteer-based online publication with a mission to empower the voices of the Dominican diaspora and focus on topics such as blackness, identity, LGBTQ, feminism, and mental health. It provides a platform that allows the community to discuss and deconstruct the Dominican ideologies and experiences.

 

Joan was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and currently lives in New York City. He is a graduate of The City College of New York, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in electronic design and multimedia. In his free time, Joan enjoys working on personal design projects, discovering new music, exploring the city, visiting art museums, and learning new creative skills.

Omar Etman

Community Coordinator, New York City Department of Education

Omar Etman is a community coordinator for the Division of Early Childhood Education within the New York City Department of Education. In his role he focuses on expanding pre-K dual language offerings and improving the professional learning that educators receive.

 

Omar arrived to early childhood education from the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), where he served as an Urban Fellow. At DHS he managed the College Prep Project, an initiative that provided college-going resources and preparation to high school and non-traditional students residing in shelters. In addition to practical work experience, the Urban Fellows program gave him an expansive understanding of city government, deepening what he learned as an undergraduate student at New York University from which he earned his BA in Journalism and History.

 

Outside of work and school, Omar runs, reads magazines, and watches Egyptian soap operas. He also serves as an adult literacy tutor with the Brooklyn Public Library where he tutors a group of eight students, of all ages from across the borough, on reading and writing exercises that move them closer to obtaining their high school equivalency diploma. Their classes together are often the most fun and meaningful time of his week.

Lydia Guo

Project Manager, New York City Economic Development Corporation

Lydia Guo is a project manager for the strategy team at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).  NYCEDC is a quasi-city agency and the city's primary engine for economic growth. Its mission is to build strong neighborhoods and create good jobs.

 

As a project manager, Lydia conducts research on new ideas and programs that will help the city's businesses and workforce prosper. Her work has included research on the jobs and economy of Sunset Park in Brooklyn, analyzing the impact of new environmental rules on specific industries in the city, and forecasts on the health of one of NYCEDC's primary revenue streams.

 

Prior to NYCEDC, Lydia was a consultant at Accenture Strategy, where she provided strategic and operational advisory to Fortune 500 clients.

 

Lydia is a San Francisco Bay Area native.  She moved to New York City to attend the NYU Stern School of Business, from where she graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Business and minors in Math and Public Policy.  Throughout college and in her career, Lydia has been passionate about working for the city's underserved populations by identifying solutions at the intersection of the public and private sectors.

Lexi Ivers

Data Coordinator, New York City Department of Homeless Services

Lexi Ivers is the data coordinator at the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS). The mission of DHS is to prevent homelessness when possible, provide safe temporary shelter, and to connect New Yorkers experiencing homelessness to sustainable housing. At DHS, Lexi analyzes city-wide client move-out data and provides strategic guidance to the Associate Commissioner of the Rehousing Support Division. Additionally, she oversees the process and procedures for how the agency ensures that clients move into safe and habitable housing.  Lexi also meets with DHS shelter clients to understand their housing needs and coordinate with staff to devise strong exit plans. 

 

Lexi came to DHS through the Urban Fellows program, a career development program that introduces recent college graduates to local government and public service in New York City. As an Urban Fellow, Lexi supported the executive director of strategic planning on collaborative service design initiatives such the conscious shelter design, which is a compilation of best practices for most effectively and thoughtfully utilizing shelter space. Additionally, she developed a series of tools and recurring knowledge sharing opportunities for shelter staff to strengthen their interactions with clients.

 

Lexi graduated from American University, where she studied legal history and public policy. In her time at American University, Lexi started a student-run leadership and mentorship development program for foster youth in middle and high school. During her free time, Lexi enjoys eating soup dumplings and trying new LUSH products.

Lea Kassa

Resettlement Program Manager, International Rescue Committee

Lea Kassa is a resettlement program manager at International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global humanitarian aid organization. IRC helps empower and support the livelihood of those who have been impacted by crisis and disaster. In her role, she helps manage the organization’s U.S. refugee resettlement program by overseeing programmatic monitoring and evaluation throughout IRC’s offices nationwide. Her responsibilities include analyzing and ensuring staff understanding of donor guidelines, tracking trends across and reporting out on internal and donor audits, and managing the budget and logistics of a yearly conference.

 

Prior to joining IRC, Lea spent two years as a project associate at JSI, a public health consulting company based out of Boston. In this role, she helped design and conduct community listening sessions regarding racial disparities in infant mortality/chronic disease, developed an online communications strategy for a youth HIV/STI prevention and awareness website, and organized trainings for family planning providers.

 

Lea graduated from Cornell University in 2016 with a BA in Biology and Society and minors in Inequality Studies and Nutrition and Health. As an undergraduate student, she served as a mental health counselor for an on-campus crisis line, developed global health service-learning workshops, and conducted research in maternal and child nutrition. She also spent a semester in New York City interning for the Center for Reproductive Rights and Lawyers for Children.

 

Lea was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and volunteering for a group that organizes live music events across the city.

Morgan Kirby

Specialist for Estates, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Morgan Kirby is the specialist for estates in the gift planning department at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider and an informed educator, delivering vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide.

 

In her role, Morgan manages the administration of specific bequest gifts from PPFA’s growing portfolio of estates-in-probate. When someone has left a bequest to PPFA in their will, Morgan works with the executor and family members of the decedent to ensure that their wishes are followed. She also handles the coding and recording of estate activity, processing gift acknowledgements, and conducting probate related research.

 

Before joining PPFA, Morgan expanded her knowledge of the legal system by working as a legal assistant in the litigation practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. She assisted on several pro bono matters, including the firm’s representation of a woman seeking back payments of child support in family court. Outside of work, Morgan began volunteering with Read Ahead New York as a reading and writing mentor for a third-grade student. She incorporated her love of running with her support of this organization’s mission and ran the 2018 New York City Marathon on behalf of Team Read Ahead.

 

Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a minor in Spanish Studies from St. Lawrence University, where she cemented her passion for public interest work. While at St. Lawrence, Morgan completed several crisis training courses facilitated through the University Advocates and the local Planned Parenthood to better equip herself to support survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. She also volunteered with the local affiliate for Habitat for Humanity, assisting with home construction projects that would otherwise be cost prohibitive to those in need. In 2015, the affiliate hired her as an intern to establish the framework for a home preservation and weatherization program. 

 

Morgan currently lives in Brooklyn. She finds joy through live music and outdoor experiences.

Claudia Maisch

Program Specialist, Open Society Foundations

Claudia Maisch is a program specialist for the equality team at the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Her portfolio of work primarily focuses on advancing immigrant and refugee rights. In her role, she works in an elevated capacity providing research and relationship building within the U.S. immigration field.

 

Previously, Claudia held the position of program administrative specialist for the education support program at OSF. Through advanced engagement in grant-making activities, she supported the program’s mission of furthering education justice through policy research, advocacy, and movement-building in the global education field.

 

Prior to joining OSF, Claudia worked in an operational capacity for insightCuba, a nonprofit that coordinated educational and cultural delegations to Cuba. She was responsible for visa procurement, specifically supporting Cuban-born U.S. citizens who emigrated to the U.S. prior to January 1971; she worked directly with travelers and the Cuban Embassy to fulfill visa application requirements.

 

Alongside her professional experience, Claudia has served on the board of two young professionals’ networks: the United Nations Association and the New York Immigration Coalition. She has volunteered as a citizenship workshop assistant at Dominicanos USA to aid eligible legal permanent residents in the application process to become U.S. citizens. Additionally, Claudia works as a professional mentor with the New York University First Class Professional Development and Mentorship Program to meet individually with first-generation college students in supporting them with overall career planning, networking, and leadership development.

 

A daughter of Peruvian immigrants, Claudia was born and raised in New York. She received her BA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Binghamton University (SUNY) and received the highest honors recognition in her program for her thesis on the human rights violations associated with the constitutional court ruling in the Dominican Republic on September 26, 2013 that revoked the citizenship of children born to unauthorized migrants. Her driving purpose is to serve immigrant and refugee communities by preserving integrity and humanity as central to advancing social change.

Gloria Mesa

Health Promoter, New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene

Gloria Mesa is a health promoter at the Center for Health Equity within the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). She engages with community members, local organizations, and faith-based organizations to promote health and wellness programs from the Bronx Neighborhood Health Action Center. As a native French speaker Gloria also works with the African immigrant community in the Bronx as a liaison to inform them of the resources that are available at the Health Action Center.

 

Gloria is a passionate advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. She first joined DOHMH as an AmeriCorps member. She worked on a birth equity initiative with the Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone where she conducted outreach to create more breast-friendly spaces throughout Bedford-Stuyvesant and Brownsville, Brooklyn. She also co-facilitated Baby Café workshops where mothers were given support to encourage their breastfeeding journey. Previously, Gloria interned with the American Red Cross where she recruited volunteers and provided direct client assistance.

 

Gloria received her BA in Healthcare Management from Winston-Salem State University. During her time in college, she studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya to complete a research on female genital mutilation. She served two years as the president for the African Student Association on campus where she held meetings and cultural events to showcase African culture to her peers. In her free time, Gloria enjoys traveling, dancing to Afro-beats, and spending time with her friends and family. 

Elianny Moronta Espinal

Coordinator of Volunteer Engagement, iMentor

ianny Moronta Espinal is a coordinator for the volunteer engagement team at iMentor, a nonprofit organization that builds mentoring relationships that empower first-generation 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. In her role, Elianny is responsible for prospective mentor communication and pre, during, and post-orientation logistics and support.

 

Prior to working at iMentor, Elianny worked with the SUNY Office of Global Affairs as a program manager for the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women (JFEW) SUNY Global Affairs Leadership Program, a two-year scholarship program for SUNY women of which she is also an alumna. During her time with the JFEW SUNY Program, Elianny managed a team of graduate assistants and implemented curriculum and deadlines, as well as communicated with outside stakeholders including guest speakers from the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and several other international nonprofits. As an alumna of the program for the 2018 class, Elianny interned at the Office of the President of the Ford Foundation, spearheading the foundation’s disability inclusion project.

 

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Elianny moved to NYC in 2013. A 2018 graduate of Stony Brook University, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts and Psychology, with a minor in Creative Writing and Literature, and cum laude honors. In her spare time, Elianny reads and writes, hoping creativity will strike at a moment’s notice.

Diane Narouz

Manager of Special Events, NYU Langone Health

Diane Narouz serves as a manager on the special events team within the office of development at NYU Langone Health. NYU Langone Health is one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers. The institution’s mission is to serve, teach, and discover, which is accomplished daily through a unified academic culture dedicated to excellence in patient care, education, and research. The special events team raises funds through several meaningful events throughout the fiscal year. Diane focuses on the institution’s primary pediatrics fundraiser, Playing for Pediatrics Winter Game Night benefitting Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. Proceeds from the event provide critical funding for leading-edge research and care hospital-wide to give each child the best chance for a bright and healthy future. 

 

Diane’s interest in the field of public service was first sparked during her internship at Bloomberg LP. Diane supported several initiatives of the global philanthropy and engagement team while focusing on volunteer service projects and the corporate employee giving program.

 

Diane graduated from the Macaulay Honors College – The City University of New York, where she served on the scholars council, which is an important and influential voice of the student body. She also conducted breast cancer research to support the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative. 

Mariama N’Diaye

Manager, Bloomberg Associates

Mariama N’Diaye works as a manager on the social services team of Bloomberg Associates - an international philanthropic consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies that helps Mayors around the world tackle their most complex and difficult challenges.

 

In her role, Mariama helps lead international efforts around providing systemic support to recently arrived migrants, supports the development of the first homeless count in Paris, and provides on-going strategic support and program implementation assistance to cities that have taken up President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge.

 

Mariama is a graduate of Williams College, receiving a BA in Comparative Politics and Honors in Global Studies. A native speaker of Wolof and highly proficient in French, Mariama focused her undergraduate career on Comparative Politics and Global African studies. She was awarded Honors for successfully completing her thesis on the intersections of urbanization, race relations, and hip-hop in the suburbs of major French cities. 

Shaylah Nichols

Associate of Corporate Partnerships, Project Sunshine

Shaylah Nichols is an associate of corporate partnerships at Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Manhattan that brings volunteer-led programming to pediatric patients and their families in a variety of medical settings. In her role, she mobilizes teams of corporate volunteers to execute programs that are tailored for patients’ developmental and psychosocial needs during treatment. Shaylah uses her knowledge of youth and adolescent development and experience with volunteer management to provide family-centered opportunities for joy, connection, socialization, and memory-making.

 

Prior to working at Project Sunshine, Shaylah worked as a youth development intern at Elmcrest Children’s Center, a multi-service residential treatment and education center for children with emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric disturbances. There she supported adolescent girls in the Community-Based Child Welfare/Juvenile Justice program, which provides support and guidance to children and their families in order to strengthen and improve conditions that ultimately lead to reunification.

 

Shaylah has volunteered with a number of organizations, including the Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program, working with at-risk youth in the Syracuse City School District in order to decrease the high school dropout rate, and fullCIRCLE, a program that offers guidance and support for first-year students through the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Syracuse University.

 

Originally from Syracuse, NY, Shaylah graduated from Syracuse University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science with a focus on Youth and Adolescent Development. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Uganda and interned at Raising Up Hope for Uganda, where she conducted research and assisted with initial implementation of the Ugandan Alternative Care Framework. She now lives in Brooklyn and during her free time enjoys kickboxing, reading a juicy novel, and volunteering as a “cuddler” in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.

Lena O’Brien

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

Lena O’Brien is a senior procurement review analyst at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) within health and human services. MOCS is a New York City oversight and service agency that is dedicated to optimizing existing operations and transforming processes to make it easier to do business with the City. MOCS supports the procurement activities of New York City agencies with a goal to ensure fairness, transparency, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

 

In her role, Lena reviews and assesses complex and diverse procurement submissions by ensuring that New York City mayoral agencies are compliant with the New York City Charter, Procurement Policy Board Rules, local laws, and other policies and initiatives. She also serves as a liaison representing MOCS at interagency meetings. Lena is responsible for overseeing the procurement submissions of an assigned portfolio of city agencies. She also supports and trains junior analysts.

 

Prior to joining MOCS, Lena worked as a therapist assistant for Quality Services for the Autism Community. While there, she provided skill development and instruction to individuals with developmental disabilities in the after-school and social-skills programs. The lesson plans consisted of teaching daily living skills such as personal hygiene, grooming, socialization skills, and academics.

 

Lena graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. During her time on campus, Lena was a research assistant in the Psychology department, focusing on cognitive psychology. She was also a teaching assistant for a course focusing on gender and work.

 

In her free time, Lena likes to travel and explore, try new foods, and read. She currently is reading the Harry Potter series.

Aysha Omer

Health Insurance Enroller, Community Service Society of New York

Aysha Omer advocates for health equitable practices that impact medically underserved communities. She currently serves as a health advocate/insurance enroller at the Community Service Society of New York (CSS). CSS is a 175-year-old nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify and address the root causes of economic disparity through research, advocacy, and litigation for over three million low- income New Yorkers.

 

As a core member of the Health Initiatives Department’s Facilitated Enrollment for the Aged, Blind and Disabled program (FE-ABD), Aysha provides educational outreach through phone and written advocacy to Medicaid enrollees transitioning to Medicare. Additionally, she assists with monthly programmatic reporting to the New York State Department of Health, contributes to network trainings, and provides technical support to community-based organizations.

 

Prior to her role at CSS, Aysha served as a case manager at the Institute for Family Health (IFH). IFH is the largest federally-qualified community health center in New York State that serves over 115,000 patients across 31 sites. During her time with IFH, Aysha linked Harlem community members to external health, social, behavioral, and legal services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Aysha empowered community members to independently advocate for their health by addressing access to healthcare issues and subsequently improving their quality of life.

 

In 2016, Aysha graduated from George Mason University where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Global and Community Health with a concentration in Health Education and a minor in Clinical Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. Her passion for just healthcare practices was ignited as a child when she became the primary caregiver for her mother. She quickly experienced the effects of healthcare disparities within low income communities when pursuing high quality and culturally competent healthcare providers on behalf of family members.  

 

Aysha currently resides in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan. When Aysha steps away from the advocacy arena she spends her time hiking, reading, surviving bikram yoga classes, and exploring new neighborhoods.

Nitya Ramanathan

Program Manager, New York City Department of Small Business Services

Nitya Ramanathan currently serves as a program manager in the New York City Department of Small Business Services, where she supports the business education program which serves over 9,000 New Yorker who are looking to start, operate, and grow their businesses. The program offers free courses on topics such as market research, digital marketing, and business finance.

 

Prior to her current role, Nitya was the program manager for the Youth Leadership Program at Miracle Corners of the World. The program prepares young people to become leaders of change in their communities through leadership development, global citizenship, and vision planning.

 

Nitya previously worked with DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) as an after-school youth worker in East Harlem. 

 

Nitya graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. While in college, she served as president of the Shoah Foundation Student Association and was the recipient of the The Roberta Persinger Foulke Endowment Fellowship which provides assistance for students who demonstrate the ability or desire to further the interests of women in the field of history or historical studies.

Aruni Ranaweera

Associate Consultant, Common Impact

Aruni Ranaweera is an associate consultant at Common Impact. In this role, she serves the organization’s mission of building a new, connected economy by facilitating relationships between nonprofits and corporations through skills-based volunteerism.

Aruni comes from a diverse professional background that bridges corporate and social experiences. Before Common Impact, Aruni worked as an investment banking analyst in the Energy Investment Banking Coverage group at J.P. Morgan. In this role, Aruni analyzed the unique challenges of private sector companies and acquired critical skills in executing strategic and financial transactions. Prior to this role, Aruni was the financial manager of Rice Bikes, a nonprofit, student-run bike shop at Rice University. As the financial manager, Aruni implemented the first financial plan and pricing model for the shop, helping to expand an important service to promote sustainable and affordable transportation to students, staff, and the Houston community.

Aruni received the Loewenstern Fellowship in International Civic Research, through which she worked with the Chamber of Small Business and Artisans in Cochabamba, Bolivia to conduct an assessment of the organization’s programs and services. Aruni also worked at Rice University’s Glasscock School’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership where she researched nonprofit board diversity and inclusion.

Aruni graduated from Rice University in 2017 where she dual-majored in Mathematical Economic Analysis and Statistics. She was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and grew up in the Midwest. In her free time, Aruni enjoys cycling, cooking, and writing.

Sara Santini-Duran

Health Counselor, Community Service Society of New York

Sara Santini-Duran works at the Community Service Society of New York (CSS). CSS is a nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of public policy innovations that support low-income New Yorkers for more than 175 years.  Sara is responsible for overseeing the Community Health Advocate (CHA) program’s helpline. CHA is New York State’s designated consumer assistance program for health insurance and helps New Yorkers navigate the complex health care system. Since 2010, the CHA helpline has resolved 36,297 cases and helped save New Yorkers over $27 million in health care and health insurance costs. Sara provides substantive support, technical assistance, and advice to volunteers and staff who handle the consumer calls.

 

Prior to working at CSS, Sara worked as a research assistant on two projects at NYU Langone Medical Center. During the first project, Sara helped study the social determinants of health that affect new mothers and how these determinants impact the care the children receive. For the second project, Sara assisted in evaluating the experience patients had in multiple clinics in New Mexico where health professionals were trained to provide endocrinology services.

 

While growing up in Puerto Rico, Sara experienced first-hand how a close family member struggled to access necessary healthcare services within a bureaucratic and complex healthcare system. She developed a deep interest in healthcare advocacy with a focus on underserved populations. Sara graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts in 2017 with a Bachelors of Arts degree and a double major in Anthropology and Public Health. During her college career Sara had the opportunity to conduct research in Guatemala; while there, she wrote her senior thesis on how government corruption affects public health services.

 

In her free time, Sara enjoys cooking, yoga, and exploring NYC’s boroughs on foot and bicycle.

Bridgette Thomas

Program Support Specialist, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City

Bridgette Thomas is the program support specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City (BBBS of NYC), the founding agency of the nation’s youth mentoring movement. BBBS of NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to igniting the potential in youths through the power of mentorship.

 

In her role, Bridgette tracks and manages the $1.2 million New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) budget expenses and works closely with the chief program officer for ongoing DYCD budget management. She is responsible for planning, coordinating, and supporting program staff in the execution of the agency’s events such as the Grid Iron Games, holiday parties, academic recognition, AMC Night Market, and New American Lunar New Year.

 

Previously Bridgette served as a community outreach coordinator with AmeriCorps- NYC Civic Corps at BBBS of NYC where she increased the number of volunteer recruitment events in Brooklyn by 5% and conducted volunteer orientations. After her service year, Bridgette became the volunteer and family intake administrative assistant for BBBS of NYC.

 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Bridgette is a first generation Caribbean American. She received her BA from the University of Rochester in Public Health: Health, Behavior, and Society and minored in Psychology. As a student, Bridgette served as the Prime Minister of the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness and was an active member of Xclusive Step Team. She spends her free time reading, journaling, and discovering new restaurants in the city.

Victora Thornton

Volunteer Coordinator, The Fresh Air Fund

Victoria Thornton serves as the volunteer coordinator for The Fresh Air Fund. The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit agency that uniquely tackles poverty by providing summer experiences and year-round academic support to children from under-resourced New York City communities. As the volunteer coordinator, she recruits and manages volunteers and corporate groups for the Career Awareness (CAP) and College Connections (CCP) academic programs. The CAP and CCP programs provide middle and high school students with college readiness resources, access to career fairs and job shadows, and support to make informed decisions that will shape their futures.  She also engages The Fresh Air Fund’s corporate partners in a variety of volunteer engagement programs year-round.

 

Prior to joining The Fresh Air Fund, Victoria served as the volunteer coordinator for the New York State Senior Medicare Patrol (NYS SMP) program at LiveOn NY. The NYS SMP program is an education and counseling program that empowers older adults to protect themselves against healthcare fraud and scams. Victoria was brought on to expand the program by creating a volunteer training module and recruiting a volunteer team that educates Medicare beneficiaries on fraud prevention methods.

 

Victoria graduated cum laude from CUNY Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Urban Studies. She was also a member of the NYC Civic Corps where she spent her service year working at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on the Resident Green Committee Program. In this role, she developed a volunteer leadership program to empower NYCHA residents as they built community gardens and expanded the recycling and composting programs in their neighborhoods.

 

In her spare time Victoria continues to work with young people, serving as a volunteer youth leader for teens aged 13-19 with The Brooklyn Tabernacle. She also loves spending her time teaching dance to teen girls.

Prama Verma

Development Associate, Minds Matter NYC

rama is the development associate at Minds Matter NYC, a college access nonprofit. In her role she focuses on individual giving through Minds Matter NYC’s robust volunteer corps, special events, and marketing and communications.

 

Prior to joining Minds Matter NYC, Prama lived in Washington, D.C. where she served as the program coordinator for the Foreign Policy Institute, a research center based at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. While in D.C., she volunteered as a residential counselor at FAIR Girls, a nonprofit serving female-identifying adult survivors of sex trafficking. She also spent much of her free time volunteering with Desis for Progress, an organization dedicated to promoting the people, policies, and ideas that move the South Asian American community forward.

 

Prama has a degree in Political Science and Economics from Rutgers University, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Her passion for public service lies in relaying strategic messaging for mission-based organizations and her interests include gender and racial justice, homelessness and trafficking, and justice reform.

Sienna Walker

Resource Management Assistant, MDRC

Sienna Walker is a resource management assistant in the Postsecondary Education Policy area of 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. Prior to joining MDRC, they worked as a legal assistant with the ACLU’s National Security Project and special assistant to the Director of the Center for Democracy.  

 

Sienna has previously held roles with the Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Civil Practice area and the Center for Court Innovation. In 2016, they graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College of Columbia University with majors in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a minor in Race and Ethnic Studies. During college, Sienna interned with the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections as an Arthur Liman Summer Fellow.

 

Their interests include ashtanga and society and culture.

Imogene Winkleman

Manager of National Partnerships, Girl Scouts of the USA

mogene Winkleman currently serves as manager of national partnerships for Girl Scouts of the USA. In her role, Imogene seeks out and supports collaborations with nonprofit service delivery organizations, government agencies, and social capital partners to provide opportunities to Girl Scout councils across the country to expand and strengthen their work.

 

Before joining Girl Scouts of the USA, Imogene worked for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) as regional advisor for the New York Area Region of NFTY – the Reform Jewish Youth Movement, a program focused on leadership development, social justice, and Jewish community-building. While at URJ, Imogene created and led Kol Koleinu: Teen Feminist Fellowship (formerly Kol Isha), a year-long program that invites young Jewish feminists of all genders to explore and deepen their feminist knowledge, channel their voices to share their beliefs, and use their skills to create tangible change in their communities.

 

Prior to her work at URJ, Imogene supported government relations at both the city and state levels for The Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services, a New York City-based health and human services agency.

 

Imogene received her BA in Women’s & Gender Studies and Psychology from Clark University, where she ran the university’s All Kinds of Girls mentoring program and helped found the Continue the Conversation task force on consent and healthy relationships. She currently volunteers with Planned Parenthood of New York City’s Activist Council.

 

In her free time, Imogene enjoys attending concerts, biking, playing the guitar, and exploring parks and markets.

Lucy Wu

Senior Development Associate, New York Immigration Coalition

Lucy Wu is the senior development associate at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). The largest and oldest statewide immigrant coalition in the United States, NYIC is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups working with immigrants and refugees in New York State. In her current role, Lucy focuses on the grant process from prospect research to grant writing and reporting. She also provides support with interdepartmental communication and coordination as well as databases and systems. Through her work, Lucy works to further advance programs and initiatives that provide critical support and help defend and protect immigrant New Yorkers.

 

Prior to NYIC, Lucy focused on development during her internships at a fundraising consulting firm and a nonprofit membership organization. Guided by a deep commitment to public and community service, Lucy previously worked as a CAMBA summer camp program leader and volunteered with Legal Hand, where she assisted local residents with civil legal needs by providing information, assistance, and referrals to community resources.

 

Lucy holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. Throughout college she was actively involved in service activities and community-based programs to drive positive social change, including participating in a service learning immersion program, and assisting with project data collection for the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program. Lucy also held several leadership positions in student organizations, and served as a student advisory board member of the Susan B. Anthony Center at the University of Rochester. In addition to representing the student body’s need for programming, she worked closely with the university community and local and national groups on initiatives, events, and programs to bring awareness to issues such as gender-based violence and discrimination, marginalized groups, and women's leadership.

 

Born in China, Lucy moved to the U.S. when she was 7 years old and was raised in Brooklyn, where she currently resides. Always having been particularly fond of New York City's museums and libraries, she enjoys exploring the city and discovering new activities, food, and places.

Andrea Zhu

Project Manager, New York City Economic Development Corporation

Andrea Zhu is a project manager in Neighborhood Strategies at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). NYCEDC is a quasi-city agency tasked with building strong neighborhoods and growing good jobs.

 

In her role, Andrea collaborates across city agencies to advance multi-pronged, inclusive neighborhood planning initiatives. She helps manage Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency, a portfolio of flood protection capital projects and intensive planning to adapt Lower Manhattan to climate change. She also coordinates the implementation of an investment strategy in open space, infrastructure, and mixed-use development in Lower Concourse in the Bronx. Andrea joined NYCEDC as an Urban Fellow, focusing on community engagement for planning processes in Inwood and Broadway Junction.

 

Andrea graduated from Brown University with a BA in Development Studies. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on international climate policy and Chinese infrastructure development, managed a literary and visual art magazine for the Asian American student community, and helped teach a course on globalization in Rhode Island prisons. In her spare time, Andrea reads, cooks dinner with friends, and lounges in parks. 

CAREER GUIDES

Aryana Anderson

Digital Content Producer, Digital Diaspora Family Reunion

Aryana Anderson has worked with independent artists, nonprofit organizations, and large media corporations to develop brand-aligned, mission-centered, digital and video content. Prior to her role as digital content producer at Digital Diaspora Family Reunion, producers of the new PBS series Family Pictures USA, Aryana was the senior associate for educational media and technology at Carnegie Hall, developing creative digital content and learning experiences for musicians and amateurs alike. 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. 

Aryana has served as a member of Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Advisory Council and junior board member of the Queens Council on the Arts where she has assisted in developing programs and resources to promote the growth, development, and sustenance of emerging arts professionals both locally and nationwide. She was a member of the inaugural Diversity in Arts Leadership Labs cohort at the Arts and Business Council of New York. She 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. Highlights from her professional development experiences include completion of 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 and has served as a guide since 2018.

Jerry Bruno

Strategic Project Manager, New York City Department of Homeless Services

Jerry Bruno is the strategic project manager at the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Administrator’s Office. In his role, Jerry is responsible for advising on the DHS strategic plan, tracking policy commitments, and managing high-level collaborative initiatives such as ThriveNYC.

 

Jerry has been a StartingBloc mentor and fellow, a New Leaders Council Fellow, an Emerging Leader in Public Service Fellow, and a New York City Urban Fellow.  In addition, he is the co-director of the NYC New Leaders Council chapter and is a docent at Grand Central Terminal for the Municipal Art Society of New York.  He is also the co-chair of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center’s Young Professional Council.

 

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.

 

Jerry is passionate about traveling and connecting with different people and cultures from around the world. He has been to four continents: North America, South America, Europe, and Antarctic, with a goal of visiting the other continents soon. He is an avid lover of Batman movies. And finally, his entire name – Jerry Dexter Bruno – represents different cartoon shows: Tom & Jerry, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Bruno the Kid. Jerry was a member of the 2014 class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service and has served as a guide since 2018.

Jawad Cipriani

Associate Director of Special Events & Programs – School of General Studies,
Columbia University

Jawad Cipriani is currently the associate director of special events and programs in the School of General Studies (GS), the undergraduate college at Columbia University created specifically for returning and nontraditional students seeking a traditional, Ivy League undergraduate degree. In his role, he oversees all special events for the school, including orientation, graduation, awards ceremonies, and Dean’s lecture series. In 2017, he received the “Commitment to the LGBTQ Community” Staff Award at Columbia University’s Lavender Graduation. 

 

Prior to joining the student life team at GS, Jawad served as a graduate assistant in the office of first year and transfer programs at Syracuse University for two years. Jawad coordinated the transfer mentor program, collaborated with colleagues to coordinate Syracuse’s orientation programs, and advised “The Story Project,” a student group for first-generation college students. During this time, he also interned in the LGBTQ resource center of Syracuse University and office of student involvement and leadership at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

 

He was able to work in these roles due to the experiences he had while working at Prep for Prep, an educational nonprofit with the objective of identifying and developing leadership in underrepresented groups. For three years he had the opportunity to work with college students who were graduates of the program. Working with Prep for Prep allowed Jawad to explore his commitment to tackling issues of inequity in the public school system and the social barriers that exist for students, which is at the core of the organization’s goals. He credits his undergraduate experience for nurturing his passion for public service and social justice.

 

Jawad received a Bachelor of Arts in Critical Social Studies with a concentration in Marginalized Populations from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in 2008. He earned his Master of Science in Higher Education from Syracuse University in 2013. He was a member of the 2011 Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) cohort and tributes the fellowship with helping him to develop the confidence to attend graduate school. Jawad previously served as a FELPS guide in 2015, 2017, and 2018.

 

Jawad grew up in New York City. He likes to dance, attend live shows, travel, eat spicy food, cheer on Syracuse basketball, and spend time with friends.

Jeremy Coffey

Senior Associate, Perlman & Perlman LLP

Jeremy Coffey is a senior associate attorney at Perlman & Perlman LLP, a law firm that empowers its clients to change the world. Jeremy enjoys working 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 variety of issues while helping clients at every stage of their organizations' life-cycles.

 

Prior to joining Perlman, Jeremy worked at Schiff Hardin LLP where he practiced in the corporate, real estate, and employee benefits practice groups. Jeremy enjoyed working with large institutional clients on complex matters, including advising a startup financial technology company navigate federal and state regulations while helping it secure a New York Virtual Currency license.

 

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 in dogs to relieve the stress of students, professors, and staff. He holds a Master of Arts in Education and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University, where he discovered his passion for law. 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, and served on the FELPS Alumni Board for two years, including one year as president. Jeremy has served as a career guide since 2017 and previously served as an alumni guide in 2010 and 2011.

 

Kwaku Driskell

Senior Program Officer, Robin Hood

Kwaku Driskell is a senior program officer on the Early Childhood and Youth team at Robin Hood, a nonprofit charity serving New York City. In this role, Kwaku invests over $8 million annually in nonprofits dedicated to improving outcomes for young people across New York City. Kwaku oversees the agency’s efforts to ensure that young people achieve high school equivalency; enroll in and graduate from college; receive job training; avoid the criminal justice system; and avoid homelessness.

 

Kwaku works to identify agencies for funding and collaborates with the agency leadership to ensure their success. He performs programmatic and fiscal analysis of the agency’s health and develops and applies metrics that estimate the long-term economic impact of an agency’s efforts on the individuals served. 

 

Kwaku is a skilled fundraiser and works closely with Robin Hood’s development team. He frequently provides sector-specific content knowledge when meeting with potential donors. Additionally, he helps lead Robin Hood’s family philanthropy work by planning and facilitating its teen council and college internship programs. Both programs seek to engage high school and college students in a discussion of poverty, class, and race.

 

Prior to joining Robin Hood, Kwaku served as the program manager for Young Audiences New York, an arts-in-education provider to the New York City public school system. In this role, he worked closely with the leadership of partner schools to integrate the arts into the classroom to enhance the school’s curriculum.

 

In addition to his nonprofit work, Kwaku is a classically trained actor with over 20 years’ experience onstage and in voiceovers. Kwaku is a board member of the Classical Theater of Harlem, a professional theater company. He is also a board member at the Levitt Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering youth to address food inequities in their communities.

 

Kwaku is a proud graduate of Northwestern University where he graduated with a degree in Communications and Theater and a minor in Spanish. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three daughters. Kwaku served as a FELPS guide in 2013 and 2014 and has been a keynote speaker for the program since 2015. 

Reva Gaur

Head of Operations – CrowdTangle, Facebook

Reva Gaur is currently head of operations for CrowdTangle at Facebook. She leads a global operations team for CrowdTangle, a social media content discovery and analytics platform that was acquired by Facebook in 2016. Prior to her work with CrowdTangle, she founded and led the Partner Solutions team within Facebook’s News Partnerships team for over two years. Her team was responsible for analytical account management, product expertise, and operational solutions for North American news publishers and journalists. Before that, she was on the Global Media Operations team at Facebook, leading their work around News & Journalism for two years.

 

Prior to joining Facebook, Reva spent a decade in the fields of media, communications, marketing and digital strategy, including as director of communications for Educational Alliance, a 125-year old community-based nonprofit organization serving Lower Manhattan. Reva has served on the Board of Directors for BioBus, Inc. since 2010, helping build the organization from a tiny nonprofit startup to an internationally recognized model for science education. 

 

Reva holds a MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Brown University.  Reva was a 2012 fellow in the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service and has been frequent speaker for fellows interested in business school degrees.

Annie Lee

Director of Communications, Prep for Prep

Annie Lee is director of communications at Prep for Prep, an education access and leadership development nonprofit serving students of color in New York City. In this role, she leads marketing and communications efforts for the organization, covering program recruitment, alumni engagement, and fundraising. Under her tenure, Annie redesigned the organization’s website, adapted its videography and recruitment materials for Spanish-speaking audiences, and added social media channels to communications strategies. Prior to establishing a communications department at Prep for Prep, she assisted with fundraising and board relations management in its development office.

 

Prior to Prep for Prep, Annie honed event planning skills at the nonprofit organizations Legal Information for Families Today as well as Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

 

Annie was a 2013 FELPS Fellow and has edited its semimonthly newsletter since 2014. She previously served as a FELPS guide in 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Barnard College, where she was named a Metropolitan Life Foundation/Richard R. Shinn Public Service Fellow and an Eleanor T. Elliot Education and Public Service Fellow. A native New Yorker, Annie is an avid reader of cookbooks and is currently attempting recipes from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: Tuesday Nights.

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 and has served as a guide since 2019. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University.

Aditi Shetty

Program Officer, Human Rights Watch

Aditi Shetty is a program officer at Human Rights Watch, a leading nongovernmental organization known for its impartial research, reporting, and targeted advocacy that promote human rights in over 90 countries. Since 2016, she has worked in various roles at the organization to support its research and strategic objectives.

 

Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Aditi worked with the Global Policy and Advocacy team at Global Citizen, where she supported campaigns on global refugee education and women’s rights, published editorials and op-eds, and provided research assistance on various domestic and international policy issues. She is also a volunteer crisis counselor and advocate with the Crime Victims Treatment Center, providing emergency room intervention and advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and domestic and intimate partner violence in New York City.

 

Aditi graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 with a degree in Political Science and International and Comparative Studies, with a concentration in Political Economy and Development. She also pursued coursework in History and International Law at the University of Oxford. Aditi is a participant in the Council on Foreign Relations Young Professionals Briefing Series. Aditi was a member of the 2018 class of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.

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 and has served as a guide since 2019.

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 the healthcare services delivered within shelter-based clinics and mobile health units, oversees healthcare services finances, 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. Rebecca has served as a FELPS guide since 2015. 

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 at 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 and has served as a guide since 2019.

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Moschell (Mo) Coffey

Director, Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service

Moschell (Mo) Coffey is passionate about developing the capacities of the public service sector. Furthering her commitment to leadership and professional development, Mo has supported the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) since 2008. As the director of the program, she 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 uses a culturally competent and strengths-based approach to help 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.

 

Mo’s consulting clients have included private foundations; the Institute for Child Success funded by the Obama White House Social Innovation Fund; Blue Meridian Partners; the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center funded by the New York State Health Foundation; Mission: Cure; the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law; and the Office of the President at New York University (NYU). Mo also oversees the professional development of the undergraduate participants in NYU’s Presidential Internship Program.

 

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 earned her Master of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU Wagner, where she now serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service. She is a Trustee of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, where she earned an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in International Relations with a minor in Spanish.

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