FELPS FELLOWS 2023
Paralegal, Center for Employment Opportunities
Raynor Bond-Ashpole (he/him) is a paralegal at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a nationwide nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the economic mobility of individuals recently released from incarceration, primarily through providing robust employment services that result in long-term employment. In his role, Raynor supports CEO’s legal and compliance teams’ varied needs and conducts research and analysis for projects that concern both his team and the wider organization.
Prior to his role at CEO, Raynor was a paralegal at a civil rights law firm, where his chief responsibility was advocating for the mental and physical healthcare of those incarcerated in California. In this capacity, he regularly corresponded with clients to identify their needs regarding healthcare and completed legal research and litigation support for several civil rights cases.
Raynor graduated magna cum laude from Haverford College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in Sociology and Environmental Studies. As part of his studies, he wrote a thesis that examines the role of levees in the production and reproduction of Jim Crow modernity along the southern portion of the Mississippi River. The thesis also analyzes the Black visions of modernity that were created in response. In addition, he worked as an Assistant Researcher to the college’s Head Librarian and served as an Executive Board Member and Secretary for the Haverford College Athletes of Color Coalition.
In his free time, Raynor enjoys taking photos on film, going to plays, and listening to history podcasts.
Program Assistant, New York Health Foundation
Penelope Campos (she/her) is a program assistant for the New York Health Foundation (NYHF). NYHF seeks to improve the health of all New Yorkers through grant making, informing health care policy and practice, and spreading effective programs to improve the health system across New York State. NYHF funds in four core areas: Veterans Access; Healthy Food, Healthy Lives; Consumer Empowerment; and the Special Projects Fund.
In her role, Penelope oversees the grants portfolio of two priority areas: Consumer Empowerment and the Special Projects Fund, the latter of which is an emergency response fund. She coordinates funding opportunities and evaluates grant applications, supports grantee relationships, and conducts research on healthcare topics and policy developments.
Prior to joining NYHF, Penelope worked for the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, an organization dedicated to enhancing the delivery of health and human services. She supported non-profit development programming, community outreach, and referral services. During her time as an undergraduate, Penelope served on the executive board of the Women of Color Coalition, a social-justice oriented organization, and conducted community-based research with a focus on indigenous knowledge systems, cultural resilience, and climate change as a Global Citizenship and Sustainability Fellow. She has also volunteered for Fordham Bedford Community Services in the North Bronx and is a middle school math tutor in her spare time.
Penelope graduated from Cornell University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and minors in International Relations, Law and Society, and English. Penelope is a native New Yorker and enjoys reading, watching historical dramas, and crossword puzzles.
Communications and Design Associate, Center for Court Innovation
Michaiyla Carmichael (she/her) is the communications and design associate at the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). CCI conducts research, provides expert assistance, and operates community- and court-based programs that explore new ideas to reduce incarceration and serve communities. In her role, she liaises with programs and departments to create media that highlights the Center’s work. On the communications team, she actively contributes to CCI’s social media accounts, email campaigns, and events by producing graphic designs, videos, podcasts, and publications.
In addition to her role at CCI, Michaiyla was simultaneously an advocacy and organizing fellow for RESULTS. During her fellowship, she lobbied as a constituent to congressional and senate offices on Capitol Hill to advocate for equitable tax policy and funding for health and nutrition. She previously worked at the Hudson County Community College Libraries. Michaiyla was also an education and youth development intern at the National Urban League, where she produced research, media, and administrative support for Project Ready programs implemented across 35 national affiliates.
In 2021, Michaiyla graduated with a BA from Pace University, where she was honored with the Trustees’ Commencement Award for the highest level of undergraduate achievement. She studied Political Science and minored in African and African- American Studies as well as Peace and Justice Studies. During her studies, Michaiyla served as the Peace and Justice Studies teaching assistant and in two positions for the Black Student Union. She also spoke on panels for the university's Office of Multicultural Affairs and the New York Public Library.
Michaiyla is passionate about creating art for activism. In 2017, she began making multimedia art and clothing designs, called For the Culture Couture, conveying sociopolitical issues faced by the Black community. Michaiyla showcases her work in local exhibitions and fashion shows, including a 2018 debut in New York Fashion Week.
Michaiyla was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and lives in Jersey City, NJ. She enjoys spending time with loved ones, dancing, and creating art.
Youth Program Associate, Center for Court Innovation
Amy Cerezo (she/her) currently works at the Center for Court Innovation as a youth program associate for the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety's Youth Leadership Council (ONS YLC). The ONS YLC brings together about 50 youth ages 15-22 years old from 20 NYC Housing Authority developments across NYC. As a program associate, her role is to empower these young people to elevate their voices by co-designing and executing a $65,000 participatory budgeting process in partnership with city agencies and local community-based organizations.
Amy is an experienced youth advocate who's passionate about resource equity. She has several years of experience as an educator, where she worked closely with students to set goals and strategize their academic improvement. She found that in addition to setting goals, her students excelled the more she invested into their relationship. Amy has since transitioned into youth leadership development outside of the classroom. She continues to educate and mobilize youth to improve safety and wellness in their communities.
Additionally, Amy is committed to creating a standard of inclusion and equity in the public service workplace. She is dedicated to supporting BIPOC from underserved communities as they navigate and thrive in the workplace. Her approach is to analyze ways that public service organizations uphold white supremacy culture amongst their employees and prompt internal reflection for a pro-black, equitable workplace that hires from the communities they serve.
Amy was born in the Bronx and then raised in Bridgeport, CT. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018 with a Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies. She also studied restorative justice practices on her own in 2020 through Amplify RJ, a restorative justice initiative for educators based in Los Angeles.
Getzamany (Many) Correa
Program Associate, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Getzamany (Many) Correa (she/her) is a program associate on the education team at Bloomberg Philanthropies. In her role, she provides support for the College Access and Success portfolio, particularly the CollegePoint Initiative. The CollegePoint Initiative offers free virtual college advising to help high school students apply to and enroll in top colleges and universities. Many is an advocate for equal opportunity and access to educational programs for all students.
Many is a graduate of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global and International Studies. Her thesis focused on Feminist Foreign Policy. At Bard, she interned for Bloomberg LP— Corporate Philanthropy, the Office of Manhattan Borough President, and Foreign Policy Interrupted. Many also earned her TESOL certificate and volunteered as an ESL tutor.
Many was born and raised in Atlanta, GA, and currently lives in Queens, NY. Outside of work, she volunteers as a college coach. Many also enjoys cooking, exploring NYC, and traveling.
Partnerships Manager, Raised By Us
Miko DiGiacomo-Castillo (she/they) is a partnerships manager at Raised By Us, a nonprofit committed to creating a more just and equitable future by unlocking the collective power of the workplace to do good. As part of this role, she designs and executes social impact events, including employee engagement activations, charitable giving campaigns, and disaster response efforts. Miko first joined the Raised By Us team as their first volunteer coordinator in 2020 during her NYC Civic Corps year in the AmeriCorps program.
A certified summer camp nerd, Miko wrote her senior honors thesis, "More Notes on Camp: Understanding Space at an Overnight Summer Camp for People with Disabilities", after many years as a camp counselor in upstate New York at the AHRC NYC recreational site, Camp Anne. AHRC NYC's mission to advocate for people who are neurodiverse to lead full and equitable lives has grounded Miko's values in diversity and inclusion.
Miko is a proud community college graduate from Passaic County Community College and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Media, Culture, and Communications from New York University in 2020. During her time in school, Miko also dedicated her time as an elementary school tutor in Greenwich Village and as a direct support professional for adults living in assisted housing in northern New Jersey.
Ana Gabriela (Gabby) Dimaté
Paralegal, Immigrant Defense Project
Ana Gabriela (Gabby) Dimaté (she/her) is a paralegal at the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP). IDP fights for fairness and justice for all immigrants caught at the intersection of the racially-biased U.S. criminal and immigration systems, pushing back against criminalization and mass deportation. As part of this, IDP provides expert legal advice on the immigration consequences of contact with Criminal and Family Court Systems. Through its national hotline, IDP assists immigrants and their loved ones, defense attorneys, family court practitioners, and immigration advocates understand the impact of contact with these systems and the potential immigration consequences that could stem from it.
Gabby runs IDP’s hotline, responding to calls, emails, and letters from immigrants, their loved ones, and advocates from throughout the US and outside of it. She regularly gives explanations of the criminal and immigration systems and provides referrals for calls outside of IDP’s scope of work. For intakes where IDP attorneys are able to provide legal analysis and advice, Gabby guides individuals on gathering the necessary criminal court documents. In addition to this work, Gabby is part of IDP’s Community Defense and ICE Raids teams, helping to create community-facing materials about the overlap of the criminal-immigration systems and tracking trends of ICE policing and arrest practices in the New York area.
Gabby has developed a great passion for immigrant and Latinx advocacy, immigration litigation, and social justice. Her experience working for various immigration nonprofits and firms, along with her personal experience as an immigrant from Colombia, have greatly expanded her knowledge on the American legal system, mainly immigration law.
Gabby received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her time as an undergraduate, Gabby was an Eve Carson Scholar, and also received the Dr. Michael Stegman Award for Policy Research and Advocacy. In her free time, Ana Gabriela enjoys cooking, playing tennis, and spending time with friends and family.
Legal Advocate, Part of the Solution
Freddy Espitia (he/him) is a legal advocate at Part of the Solution (POTS), a nonprofit organization that offers a wide array of services to individuals of families residing in the Bronx. These services range from immediate dignity and wellness programs to long-term guidance for self-sufficiency.
As a legal advocate, Freddy advocates for POTS clients incorrectly denied access to public benefits. In collaboration with his legal team, Freddy assists clients facing eviction proceedings in the Bronx Civil Housing Court. As POTS clients can expect a comprehensive eligibility evaluation of needs, Freddy also connects clients to internal and external services beyond legal matters.
Before joining the POTS team, Freddy was part of the Bonner Scholars program, an inter-university fellowship that connects students with service-oriented employment opportunities. For most of his undergraduate studies, he worked in various roles at the Sacred Heart Center to help Latino families flourish. In addition, as a research intern, Freddy researched and published online issue briefs of legislation affecting the well-being of undocumented women in the US. Finally, in his role as the head of public relations and social media for the cultural advising program, he managed all promotional materials for university events centered around diversity and inclusion.
Freddy received a BA in Politics, Philosophy, Economics, and Law with a concentration in Politics from the University of Richmond. While in college, he also participated in Gilman Scholars - Japan, spending a summer learning the language abroad and bringing back educational materials to Spanish-speaking elementary school students in the US. In his leadership roles in the Richmond College Class Cabinet; the Multicultural Student Solidarity Network; and Students Creating Opportunities, Pride, and Equality, Freddy aimed to bring his same enthusiasm for equity for disadvantaged communities to the forefront of his involvement.
Freddy grew up in New Jersey but is a recent Harlem transplant enjoying the city. He enjoys creating visual art and spending time with friends in his spare time.
Communications Manager, Affiliates Risk Management Services, Inc.
Sofia Garcia (she/her) is the communications manager at Affiliates Risk Management Services, Inc (ARMS). ARMS provides comprehensive risk management services and education to Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) in order to improve patient outcomes and protect the reproductive health services offered by PPFA. In her role at ARMS, Sofia manages all internal and external communications, including newsletters, grant reports, CEO communications, and website copy.
Prior to joining ARMS, Sofia worked as a communications and patient education manager at Mission: Cure, a startup nonprofit dedicated to finding cures for pancreatitis and improving the lives of those affected by this rare disease. She participated in a wide range of activities including fundraising, patient outreach and engagement, and operational management. Sofia’s passion for reforming the healthcare system and improving outcomes for all patients, especially low-income patients and patients of color, began in this role.
Sofia graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a minor in Linguistics. During her academic years, Sofia served as a communications intern in various nonprofits with areas of focus ranging from gender equality and international law to global public health to education reform.
Born in Bogotá, Colombia and raised in San José, Costa Rica, Sofia immigrated to the suburbs of Atlanta at age 14. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking traditional Latin American dishes, and crocheting. She now lives in Long Island City, NY with her partner and their two cats, Pepper and Oliver.
Content Associate, FreeWill
Sarah K. Hashmi (she/her) is a content associate at FreeWill, a startup that provides nonprofits with estate planning, stock, and IRA giving tools as well as customized communications to provide donors with a warm and easy way to support their mission. FreeWill's most popular product includes a free estate planning tool. In her role on the partner success team, Sarah creates customized content sharing FreeWill’s products for around 100 nonprofits. She works cross-functionally to discover the best content strategy and most effective communications for nonprofit partners.
Before joining FreeWill, Sarah worked as a development and communications associate at Urban Pathways, an NYC-based nonprofit that ensures that homeless and at-risk New Yorkers have the housing, services, and support they need to be self-sufficient. In this role, she worked closely with donors and all events including the annual Gala.
Sarah graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Communication - Intercultural. While at Geneseo, she pursued multiple internships at nonprofits such as the Sadie Nash Leadership Project and Teach for Pakistan. Sarah also studied abroad for a semester at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Sarah was born in Pakistan and raised in NYC, with a few moves in between. She currently lives on the Upper West Side and enjoys spending time with friends, traveling, and watching Gilmore Girls on repeat.
Jennifer (Jennie) Jung
Project Manager, Center for Employment Opportunities
Jennifer (Jennie) Jung (she/her) is a project manager on the strategic operations team at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). CEO is a national nonprofit organization that provides immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services to individuals who have recently returned home from incarceration in 30 cities across ten states. In her role at CEO, Jennie provides support on system optimization and process improvement projects to implement solutions that are efficient, effective, and person-centered.
Prior to joining CEO, Jennie was with the Center for Court Innovation, working in the Brooklyn criminal courthouse project site to provide the court with release condition options other than bail for individuals facing arraignment. In this alternative-to-bail work, she witnessed the criminal legal system’s mechanisms of control and oppression. She interviewed hundreds of people and their families impacted by a myriad of social issues that affect “criminal” behavior – generational poverty, racial profiling and overpolicing, transmisogyny, ableism, and immigration. These experiences further fed her commitment to working for social change systemically, while also centering people most directly impacted by its exploitation. Outside of her paid work, Jennie organizes around Korea peace and anti-imperialism efforts.
Jennie was born on Long Island, NY and returned to New York immediately after graduating from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and minors in Sociology, Educational Studies, and Disability Studies. She currently resides in Queens and is improving her Korean and learning Spanish to be able to connect with even more people in her community. Jennie also enjoys singing (both in choir and karaoke rooms), being outside, and learning suspiciously specific information about niche internet subcultures.
Innovation Policy Specialist, New York State Department of Financial Services
Arjun Kaushal (he/him) is an innovation policy specialist in the research and innovation division for the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). NYDFS supervises and regulates nearly 3,000 financial institutions across insurance, banking, and financial services in the State of New York.
In his role, Arjun’s responsibilities include policy development and analysis, tracking trends and innovations in the financial services and technology industries, and engaging with stakeholders across the State on policy-related matters. Arjun is particularly passionate about strengthening consumer protections in financial services, researching the core causes of systemic exclusion in consumer finance, and delivering on NYDFS’s mission of building an equitable, transparent, and resilient financial system.
Before joining NYDFS, Arjun worked as the assistant director of fintech policy at Change Machine, a nonprofit financial technology company that embeds financial coaching and education within public agencies. There he advised the organization on policy positions related to financial technology and consumer protections, including consumer data rights, small-dollar lending, credit-building products, and consumer debt management. Prior to Change Machine, Arjun was a senior associate at the Financial Health Network (FHN), a nonprofit dedicated to improving financial health for all with a specific focus on low- to moderate-income communities. At FHN, he worked on various primary and secondary research projects relating to financial health outcomes for marginalized communities, consulted with industry stakeholders on creating more inclusive financial products, and led an accelerator program and fund for early-stage companies focused on social impact in consumer finance. Arjun began his career in the Aspen Institute’s financial security program, where he supported policy initiatives on consumer debt, long-term savings and retirement, and financial wellness programs.
Arjun graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He is originally from Southeast Michigan and now resides in Brooklyn, where he enjoys long walks, trying new cuisines and restaurants, and catching shows of all kinds.
Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator, Amnesty International USA
Nonya Khedr (she/her) is an Egyptian immigrant and women’s rights advocate currently serving as a grassroots advocacy coordinator at Amnesty International USA—the largest grassroots organization protecting human rights across the globe, with over 7 million supporters, advocates, and volunteers in 150 countries.
In her role, Nonya manages three programs—she builds and strengthens Amnesty’s Human Rights Education Program; pushes the organization’s legislative agenda forward; and contributes to the growth of Amnesty International’s movement. At the Human Rights Education Program, Nonya is leading the Young Responders Urgent Action Network—a growing program that enables worldwide mobilization of young audiences to take instant action when someone is in danger or when a human rights catastrophe is occurring. She also supports the coordination and development of Banned Books Week, an action that has developed a focus worldwide on individuals behind the publications that governments are trying to silence. Among other legislative work, she’s mobilizing activists to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act—an act that would allow over 70,000 Afghan refugees to be eligible for permanent residency in the US.
Outside of her role at Amnesty, Nonya founded a nonprofit organization called SheFFA to advocate against female genital mutilation (FGM) by conducting educational advocacy workshops and providing resources for survivors who have undergone FGM or are at risk. She continues her activism through grassroots organizing and has been appointed by the NYC Mayor to serve as an advisor on the committee to end FGM. She’s also a Board Member at Malikah—a global movement of women leaders advocating against gender-based violence.
Before Amnesty, Nonya worked on congressional and mayoral campaigns to support the election of women of color. She also worked on the government relations team at CARE USA fighting global poverty and was the President of the United Nations Association (UNA) chapter inspiring students to be involved in advancing international peace.
Nonya is a City College Great Grad, UNA Emerging Leaders Fellow, Colin Powell Fellow, Clinton Global Initiative Fellow, Skadden Arps Scholar, and Forbes Under 30 Scholar. She graduated from The City College of New York with a Bachelor's degree in International Studies and a minor in Human Rights.
Kathleen (Kat) Mallari
Development Coordinator, The Fresh Air Fund
Kathleen (Kat) Mallari (she/her) is the development coordinator at 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.
In her role at the fund, Kat supports all aspects of development. She serves as the primary point person for the organization’s fundraising customer relationship management software. Kat is part of the donor relations team and the key point person for gift processing, reporting, and assisting development team members with their use of the system.
Kat is also a contracted project manager at Act To Change. She combines her passion for youth leadership development and serving the Asian American Pacific Islander community by curating and facilitating cohort sessions for Act To Change’s Youth Ambassador Program to combat bullying in high schools.
Kat graduated cum laude with a BA in Global Studies from Cedar Crest College in 2020. During her time at Cedar Crest, she proudly founded the college’s first Asian American Student Association. She was also a program fellow for the US-Asia Institute Impact Leadership Program for Filipino-Americans in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC. A proud women’s college alumna, Kat currently serves as an executive board member for her college’s alumnae association.
Kat was born in the Philippines and raised in Yonkers, NY. She loves spending time with her cat, Pudgy, and enjoys hotpot and boba as often as she can on the weekends.
Ronald (Ron) Marine
Associate, Bennett Midland LLC
Ronald (Ron) Marine (he/him) is an associate at Bennett Midland LLC. Bennett Midland is a civic sector consulting firm that supports government agencies, nonprofits, and foundations to develop and implement new programs and initiatives, solve operational problems, and execute effective management strategies. At Bennett Midland, Ron provides operational and strategic planning support to the Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation teams program.
In his current role, Ron works directly with in-house innovation teams in the mayoral offices of Reykjavik, Iceland and San Francisco, CA to address a range of urban challenges from homelessness and housing to access to school support services. Ron also works with the NYC Comptroller’s Office and the NYC Housing Authority to develop more effective resident engagement strategies. Previously, Ron worked with the City of Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department to explore regulations to reduce blood lead levels in children.
Prior to joining Bennett Midland, Ron served as a community organizer for the Anthony Adams for Mayor Campaign in Detroit, where he developed community engagement strategies to increase voter turnout and increase saliency of issues related to infrastructure, education, and violent crime.
Ron holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, where he researched the effects of canvassing methods on Latinx voter participation in the Detroit city-council elections. As a student, Ron was captain of the University of Michigan rugby team and helped establish a scholarship program to partner high-level talent with expert training in Wellington, New Zealand. Ron has also served as a rugby coach and is passionate about the power of sports in urban communities. In his free time, Ron serves as chair of the national student committee of a mentorship program known as L.O.R.D.S.
Victoria (Tori) Markin
Senior Innovation Strategist, Build Commonwealth
Victoria (Tori) Markin (she/her) is a senior innovation strategist at Build Commonwealth, a national nonprofit building financial security and opportunity for financially vulnerable people through innovation and partnerships.
Tori’s role is to conduct research and to support projects with private and public sector partners to collect data on critical factors that support financial initiatives for select target groups. She recently conducted a study and published a Build Commonwealth research report that highlights how digital wallet providers can create products that create savings opportunities for financially vulnerable Americans. Tori also works with private sector companies to make their financial products more impactful in improving the financial security of low-to-moderate income Americans and to help companies design high-quality benefits to support their employees' financial wellness. Tori is also a core member of Build Commonwealth's Race and Gender Equity Working Group.
Prior to joining Build Commonwealth, Tori worked at Zipcar as a process improvement specialist co-op. In addition to her work experience, Tori also has significant leadership and philanthropic experience. During college, Tori led fundraising events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, ran activities for the American Cancer Society, and organized volunteer teams for Community Servings. She has continued to work with nonprofit organizations as a member of the Repair the World Service Corps and as a contractor for a Jews of Color organization.
In May 2021, Tori graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and minors in Law & Public Policy and Global Social Entrepreneurship. One of her most memorable experiences from college was the summer she spent in Johannesburg working as a business consultant to a small business there.
Tori grew up in Maryland before living in Boston for college, and she recently moved to NYC. In her free time, Tori enjoys rock climbing, playing guitar, and listening to Dolly Parton. She loves to travel and try new experiences. She did her first skydive in Switzerland last summer.
Community Engagement Associate, NYC Kids RISE
Elisa Mateo-Saja (she/her) is a community engagement associate at NYC Kids RISE, a nonprofit organization that manages the Save for College Program to help families, schools, and communities work together to invest in and save for their children’s futures. As a community engagement associate, Elisa conducts direct outreach to participating families to explain the program and engage them in completing the foundational steps. She leads presentations about the Save for College Program and facilitates informational workshops for families and community partners. In her role, Elisa also works one-on-one with families to provide navigational and technical support as they complete the program’s building blocks.
Before starting at NYC Kids RISE, Elisa worked as an administrative analyst with New York City’s Department of Social Services, working in supportive housing. She supported housing providers in accessing and inputting data in the CAPS database and had the opportunity to research existing housing policies to help inform policy creation for New York City.
Elisa graduated from Macaulay Honors College at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Economics in 2021. She was a Ron Moelis fellow which gave her the opportunity to explore social innovation in the private sector. Elisa also spent a summer studying at Princeton as a Public Policy and International Affairs fellow through the Junior Summer Institute. While at Princeton, Elisa studied statistics and global systemic risk. Her senior capstone critiqued the partisan realignment theory and explored the importance of grassroots organizations in changing the course of American political alignments, winning the honors senior capstone award in the social sciences.
Elisa is Colombian and Dominican, and she grew up in White Plains, NY. She now lives in Long Island City, Queens. Elisa enjoys following political campaigns and caring for her many plants. In her free time, she loves to bake and play with her dog Cyrus.
Program Assistant, The Volcker Alliance
Andrew Mekhail (he/him) is a program assistant at The Volcker Alliance. He supports initiatives designed to elevate the public sector workforce, strengthen colleges of public administration, and magnify the efforts of partners pursuing consonant goals. Alongside colleagues that inspire, motivate, and better him, he has driven labor force analysis and generational research for The Volcker Alliance, with the aim of expanding and diversifying inroads to public service.
Andrew is passionate about the promise of a policy sector whose composition is representative of the communities it serves, reflective of their lived experience, and faithful to their best interests. He is committed to advancing the empowerment of people with disabilities and the reification of their due societal respect. Through the goodwill and hard work of countless others, he dares to believe that we can end homelessness in his lifetime, building transformational and sustainable change along the way. He grounds himself in resilience and intentionality.
Prior to joining The Volcker Alliance, Andrew learned and served alongside nonprofits, think tanks, and elected officials at the federal and state level. Before transferring from the University of Rochester, he completed training as a speech and speechwriting tutor. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy through the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School, with a focus area in Peace and Conflict.
Andrew was proudly born and raised in Los Angeles to parents who emigrated from Egypt, growing up alongside one older sister. He reminisces fondly on part-time jobs at a movie theatre, coffee shop, and tennis camp. A firm believer that everyone deserves the blessing of a loving community, he considers himself deeply indebted to the people and experiences that have guided him to the present moment. He draws joy from the gift of music, the beauty of art, and the impact of the written word.
Stability and Self Sufficiency Family Mentor, Part of the Solution
Naomi Quelal is the stability and self-sufficiency family mentor at Part of the Solution (POTS). POTS is a nonprofit organization committed to the mission of being a loving community in the Bronx that nourishes the basic needs and hunger of all who arrive at their doors. A variety of comprehensive and personalized services are offered aimed towards moving the community from crisis mode to stability, including dignity and wellness, food security, and long-term stability.
As a family mentor, Naomi provides guidance to low-income families with school-aged children seeking greater stability and sufficiency through case planning and life coaching mentorship. She develops rapport with a cohort of mixed-status families to best identify their immediate needs, barriers, and set personalized short- and long-term goals in areas of financial stability, education, housing, health, and day-to-day needs. Naomi connects clients to POTS’ other stabilizing services, applying for public benefits, registering for educational or job training programs, obtaining financial counseling, and collaborating with external providers to organize workshops. Naomi advocates on behalf of her families to obtain the resources necessary to succeed and achieve stability.
Naomi has always been very passionate about amplifying the experiences of low-income children and families in communities affected by structural inequalities. Prior to joining POTS, Naomi was a functional family therapy interventionist, where she developed close relationships with children and families involved in active child welfare investigations for concerns of truancy, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, and suicidality. She conducted weekly in-home visits with clients in English and Spanish and developed individualized safety plans.
Naomi graduated from Connecticut College in 2020, where she studied Human Development and Sociology with a concentration of the identity development among Latinx children of immigrants. During her time at Connecticut College, Naomi was one of the founders of La Voz Latinx alongside her close friends, a campus wide programming aimed to increase awareness of the Latinx community in PWIs.
Naomi is a native New Yorker and child of Ecuadorian immigrants. Naomi enjoys exploring new places in the city and spending time with loved ones.
Membership Manager, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Michael Ryan (he/him) is the membership manager at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (BCC). BCC is among the largest and most influential business advocacy organizations in New York, having spent the last 104 years developing and promoting policies that drive economic development and advance its members’ interests. The BCC’s mission is to promote, support, advocate, and provide convening opportunities for its members and the Brooklyn community at large. In his current role, Michael is responsible for fulfilling and facilitating benefits/services to BCC members. He also handles various other projects for the BCC, such as sitting on the advisory board for the BCS Greater Heights Clubhouse.
Before joining the BCC, Michael interned with both the legal and facility oversight teams of the New York State Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). During his time in both the Albany and Rochester regional offices, Michael gained a background in adolescent community services, and how New York manages and regulates these programs. Michael also supported both teams on site visits, legal proceedings, and other initiatives handled by OCFS.
Michael graduated from Nazareth College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Studies. His time studying law led to his interest in pursuing the creation of ethical and equitable environments for under resourced communities. Michael also spent his time developing the college’s rowing program as a rower, team secretary, and team captain, and the college now supports a men’s club team and a NCAA DIII women's program.
Michael was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, NY and currently lives in Brooklyn. Outside of work, Michael enjoys music, art, and fitness.
Simran (Sim) Sohal
Case Analyst, Innocence Project
Simran (Sim) Sohal (she/her) is a case analyst at the Innocence Project, an organization whose mission is to free wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing, prevent wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate, and equitable systems of justice for everyone. In her role in the intake department, Sim is responsible for the evaluation of potential innocence claims according to the missions and protocols of the Innocence Project. This involves conducting in-depth reviews of criminal case documents, producing memoranda on cases in which DNA testing could potentially prove innocence, and pitching these potential cases to the post-conviction litigation team.
Sim graduated from Williams College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English and a concentration in Justice and Law Studies. During her time on campus, she conducted an independent research study exploring the relationship between jury nullification and procedural justice. Outside of the academic sphere, Sim severed on the board of the Rape and Sexual Assault Network - an organization that supports survivors of sexual assault and their allies by operating a 24-hour confidential hotline and organizing initiatives to prevent future harm.
Though originally from India, Sim was raised in Dubai and lived in Singapore through high school. In her free time, she enjoys exploring NYC, traveling, and photography.
Development Associate, Generation Citizen
Audrey Suwarno (she/her/they) serves as the development associate at Generation Citizen (GC), a nonprofit organization focused on building an education movement that equips and inspires young people to engage as active and informed citizens. On the national development team, she supports individual and institutional fundraising both nationally and across all sites. Through her work, she has the honor of providing high-quality, Action Civics education to more young people—especially those who have been historically excluded from the political process.
Prior to joining GC, Audrey was the grants and scholarships associate at The Philadelphia Foundation. She supported incoming grant requests, tracking the process from initial recommendation through grant completion as well as focused on expanding the reach of scholarship opportunities for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.
Audrey earned her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Social Justice from Arcadia University in 2021. During her time on campus, she wrote and published her research on mental distress calls and the efficacy of police officers as frontline responders. It was at Arcadia that Audrey had the privilege of participating in an Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program—exploring what it means to hold a classroom in a prison and the benefits for all students, and calling into question the class’s own unique biases of and experiences with the criminal justice system. Audrey also received her certification in Victim Advocacy from Stony Brook University in 2022.
In her free time, Audrey enjoys cooking and baking at home, painting, playing chess, and exploring local coffee shops.
Community Organizer, RiseBoro Community Partnership
Wesley Vasquez (he/him) is a community organizer for RiseBoro Community Partnership. RiseBoro offers a unique model of holistic social services including affordable housing, youth education, and health and senior services all designed to support every generation and meet the needs of communities. As community organizer Wesley leads and manages all community engagement efforts across RiseBoro services and initiatives. During his time at RiseBoro Wesley has organized a participatory budgeting election process in Brownsville; led a youth mental health ambassadorship program in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; developed and managed a community garden committee in Bushwick; and led a number of different community workshops ranging from vaccine awareness to civic participation.
Prior to joining RiseBoro, Wesley has worked in the capacity of community liaison and researcher for a number of different entities and organizations in areas such as transportation, social impact research, housing advocacy, and labor organizing. Throughout his work, he has developed a keen sense for public outreach, policy making, and community development.
Wesley graduated from CUNY Baruch College with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Public Affairs and minoring in Political Science. He has taken numerous courses that have educated him on current social issues and the role of policy and politics when addressing these issues in an attempt to provide people with an excellent quality of life and economic security. His academic work sparked his interest in issues related to NYC's infrastructure including water consumption, energy usage and access to quality and affordable transportation.
Wesley is a native New Yorker and currently resides in Astoria, Queens. In his free time, Wesley likes to play video games, bike around the city, eat out with friends, and watch movies.
Post-Conviction Litigation Fellow, Innocence Project
Vedan Anthony-North (she/her) is a post-conviction litigation fellow at the Innocence Project, where she litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful convictions.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Vedan worked for the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and improving justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. While at Vera, she worked to help local jurisdictions safely reduce their jail populations, assisted NYC in decreasing the use of solitary confinement on Rikers Island, and led a delegation of policy makers, corrections officials, and thought leaders on an international exchange to Germany to learn lessons for reform at home.
Vedan became interested in improving justice systems after assisting with the Blackout Arts Collective’s Lyrics on Lockdown tour, a spoken word performance that visited prisons throughout the Northeast. She built on this experience by volunteering with Books through Bars, a collective that works to provide prisoners access to education by matching their requests with donated books.
In addition to her work, Vedan has a love of travel (most recently Italy), books (most recent favorite was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee), hockey (her favorite team is the New York Rangers), and cooking vegetarian food.
Vedan received her JD from New York University School of Law in 2021, her BA in English from Barnard College in 2011 and completed the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Wagner in 2015, and this is her third year serving as a career guide.
Associate Director – School of General Studies, Columbia University
Jawad Cipriani (he/him) is currently the associate director of student engagement and transition 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 and collaborates on GS transition programming, and is an instructor for the first-year transition seminar, “University Studies”. He also oversees student group centralized advising, and leadership development programs. 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.
Jawad 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 students of color through educational and professional experiences. 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 from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in 2008. He earned his Master of Science in higher education from Syracuse University in 2013. He is currently studying toward a Master of Arts in social-organizational psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. He was a member of the 2011 Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service (FELPS) cohort and credits the fellowship with helping him to develop the confidence to attend graduate school. This is Jawad’s sixth year serving as a FELPS career guide.
Jawad grew up in New York City. He likes to dance, attend live shows, cheer on Syracuse basketball, and spend time with friends.
Policy Advisor, New York City Deputy Mayor’s Office for Strategic Initiatives
Aarati Cohly (she/her) has served as a key staffer in the New York City Mayor’s Office for nearly four years and currently serves as a policy advisor within the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Strategic Initiatives. In this role she supports Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and Senior Advisor Betsy MacLean on key civic engagement priorities including project managing the city’s efforts on a benefits access program which will connect New Yorkers to billions of dollars in government benefits that are currently underutilized, and NYC Speaks, a year-long public-private partnership initiative which uses community-generated data to inform key strategic policies in the new admin.
Prior to joining the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Strategic Initiatives, Aarati was the director of operations and strategic planning at DemocracyNYC, where she provided strategic support to the chief democracy officer; led large-scale outreach campaigns including the city’s $15 million Ranked Choice Voting campaign; managed large-scale award-winning marketing campaigns featuring the work of local artists; and built strong community relationships, which she was able to quickly tap into when organizing the city’s $1.5 Million investment in community-based organization partnerships in response to Hurricane Ida relief efforts.
Prior to DemocracyNYC, Aarati worked at NYC Census 2020 where she served as deputy chief of staff and point person to the census director, and managed special projects including contests with the MoMA, Seamless, and Lyft, and a community outreach project, persuading over 100 organizations to actively encourage members to complete the census through social media posts, email blasts, and internal engagement. Aarati began her career in city government as a project manager and New York City Urban Fellow at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and was a 2017-18 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar.
Aarati graduated with honors from NYU with a dual degree in International Relations and Environmental Studies. Aarati has devoted her career to working with community organizations that focus on civic engagement, education, and language equity. She was a 2020 FELPS fellow, a 2022 New Leaders Council Fellow, and serves as the Vice-Chair of Generation Citizen New York’s Local Advisory Board, a nonprofit organization dedicated to civics education.
Chief of Staff, Center for Employment Opportunities
Nate Garcia (he/him) is the chief of staff at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), the country’s largest reentry employment nonprofit and social enterprise employing formerly incarcerated individuals. Nate advises the chief executive officer and oversees executive goals and operations, internal communications, and board management. Additionally, he has led organization-wide strategies related to COVID-19 response and vaccination; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives; and a nationwide cash-transfer program for people released from jail and prison during the pandemic.
Before joining CEO, Nate worked to implement criminal justice reform initiatives both nationally and in New York City. During the Tom Ford Fellowship at the MacArthur Foundation, Nate helped launch a $100M+ initiative on jail decarceration. Nate also managed a team running a pretrial diversion program in the Brooklyn Criminal Court with the Center for Court Innovation.
Nate is a Denver, CO native and graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Nate was a 2017 FELPS Fellow. These days, Nate loves cooking, playing soccer, and pampering his plants.
Director – Leadership Institute, SEO
Daree Lewis (she/her) is the director of the SEO Leadership Institute. For over 50 years, SEO has been an innovator in education, mentorship, and increasing social capital to help talented young people of color attend college and launch their careers. In her role, she leads a team responsible for helping SEO alumni continue to achieve so that they become the leaders to create the more equitable society that SEO envisions.
As an alumna of New York City’s public schools, Daree is passionate about quality public education. Prior to her role at SEO, she was a senior program officer of school-age programs at Robin Hood, a foundation focused on finding, funding, and creating programs and schools that generate meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods. She joined the Robin Hood programs staff with ample experience in the nonprofit sector that includes partnering with the financial services and philanthropy sectors with the goal of increasing equity and access for all.
Her other previous roles include charter school oversight and accountability at the New York City Department of Education, program management and development at SEO, and leading the education team at Junior Achievement New York.
Daree earned a Master's degree in Public Administration from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College. She also earned a BA in Sociology at Queens College. This is Daree’s third year as a FELPS career guide.
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Mount Sinai Health System
Mark Liu (he/him) is the director of strategic initiatives for the oncology service line at the Mount Sinai Health System, an eight-hospital integrated health system. He works closely with senior leadership to develop long-term strategy while working collaboratively on critical projects ranging from clinical quality, alternative payment models, new technologies and process improvement. He first joined Mount Sinai as a project manager in strategic planning and business development as part of a team to build a new entity advancing population health and value-based care within the system.
Prior to working at Mount Sinai, Mark worked in ambulatory care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a world-renowned organization dedicated to the progressive control and cure of cancer. He managed day-to-day operations during his eight-year tenure working across nine services.
Mark graduated with a Master of Healthcare Administration from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a BS double major in Integrated Neuroscience and Sociology from Binghamton University. He was a 2021 fellow in the Association of Cancer Executives Administrative Fellowship Program and was elected to serve on their Board of Directors in 2022. He was selected as one of 25 scholars in the 2022 American College of Healthcare Executives' Thomas C. Dolan Career Accelerator Program.
Mark was a 2008 fellow in the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service, served on the FELPS Alumni Board for three years, including one year as president and another as vice president of the board. Mark has continued to be engaged with the fellowship and this is his eleventh year as a career guide.
Manager – Healthcare Industry Practice, CohnReznick
Rebecca Stauffer (she/her) is a manager of the Healthcare Industry practice at CohnReznick. With over 15 years of experience within healthcare organizations ranging from academic hospital-based medical centers, the New York City public health department, and a federally qualified health center (FQHC), Rebecca provides services to clients such as program development, strategic planning, developing and writing grant proposals, and grant management.
Prior to joining CohnReznick, Rebecca was 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. There she oversaw and led the healthcare services, including primary care and behavioral health services within clinics and mobile vans, developed and implemented new services, and managed the finances and budget. Rebecca also has expertise in strategic and operational planning to ensure compliance.
Previously, Rebecca was the director of program operations for the Primary Care Information Project (PCIP), which was a bureau within the Department of Prevention and Primary Care at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 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.
Chief Executive Officer, cfurther company
Steve Vassor (he/him) is a proud Dad, husband, and mentor. He is founder and chief executive officer of cfurther company, which is a social enterprise working in social justice, education, and entrepreneurship.
Steve enjoys traveling, and since the pandemic was declared, DJs a weekly show he created on social media, along with virtual and in-person events. Steve co-founded Mix4Change, a DJ collective focused on engaging US-based and global tastemakers in social change efforts. Together, the collective raised over $125,000 and encouraged over 50,000 people to vote in the most recent US elections.
Previously Steve worked at the Campaign for Black Male Achievement as vice president of membership, where he doubled the membership and amplified the power of its key events and activities.
Steve has a 20-year track record serving and leading nonprofit and municipal organizations with annual budgets ranging from $400,000 to $18 million. Steve funded nonprofits and supported youth development strategies through his work with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. He supported and developed 28 mentoring partnerships across 22 states at MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.
Steve continues to mentor and advise emerging leaders, has served on several commissions and is Board Chair of the Youth Mentoring Action Network in California’s Inland Empire. Steve earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mental Health from Morgan State University and Master’s degree in Social Service Administration from Case Western Reserve University. This is Steve’s third year as a FELPS career guide.
Moschell (Mo) Coffey
Director, Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service
Moschell (Mo) Coffey (she/her) 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 since 2008. As the director of the program, she oversees all outreach, recruitment, and selection; program and curriculum development and evaluation; and alumni engagement.
As the founder and principal of Challenges and Solutions LLC, Mo uses a culturally competent, anti-racist, 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; Center for Employment Opportunities; the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center funded by the New York State Health Foundation; the Center for Employment Opportunities; 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).
She currently serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service where she teaches the year-long capstone class on Social Impact, Innovation, and Investment. She 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. She is a former 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.
- FELPS Fellows 2022
- FELPS Fellows 2021
- FELPS Fellows 2020
- FELPS Fellows 2019
- FELPS Fellows 2018
- FELPS Fellows 2017
- FELPS Fellows 2016
- FELPS Fellows 2015
- FELPS Fellows 2014
- FELPS Fellows 2013
- FELPS Fellows 2012
- FELPS Fellows 2011
- FELPS Fellows 2010
- FELPS Fellows 2009
- FELPS Fellows 2008
- CareerWays Fellows 2007
- CareerWays Fellows 2005-2006