Get to Know
Our Fellows

Spring Cohort 2021

  • Abeer Alharazi
    Yemeni American Merchants Association

    Ms. Abeer Alharazi has been the Deputy Director at the Yemeni American Merchants Association (YAMA) since 2019. She was the first employee to be hired at YAMA when it was established in 2017, as it was born through the Yemeni Bodega Strike in New York in response to the Executive Order Travel Ban on February 2, 2017, at Brooklyn Borough Hall. She formerly served as a (DOJ) at The Arab American Association of New York (AAANY). For almost four years, she served immigrant communities from across New York City by providing various immigration legal services to over hundreds of clients. She received her Paralegal Certification from York College and received a legal studies award for outstanding scholastic achievement in 2015. Abeer holds a degree in Business Administration from BMCC College, where she was on its Dean’s list and received the Phi Theta Kappa award in 2011. Prior to her arrival to the United States, Abeer worked at the American Embassy in the capital of Yemen, Sana’a for five years. She mostly served in the procurement department where she experienced working with local and overseas Merchants. She was recognized for her exemplary service, and extraordinary efforts for sustaining a high level of performance, where she received multiple awards.

  • Andrew Mulinge
    Code Nation

    Andrew Mulinge is the Director of Programs at Code Nation in New York City. He has overseen the recruitment, placement and retention of over 200 tech volunteers in New York since 2018. Additionally, Andrew has managed inclusive programs in schools and technology companies that have prepared students to enter careers in tech. Since 2020, Andrew has led an initiative focused on the development of policy positions that advance technology and computer science education accessibility for students in under-resourced communities. Prior to joining Code Nation, Andrew worked in the classroom as a 3rd grade English teacher and as a policy consultant for the Moriah Group, a firm focused on enhancing outcomes for children and youth through improved education, child and youth development, and community development strategies. As a 2016 NYC Education Pioneer Fellow, he provided qualitative and quantitative analysis on professional development workshops for the New York City Department of Education. Andrew currently serves as an advisory member of Forward Promise, an initiative of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where he has reviewed and approved grants totaling $1.05 million to organizations dedicated to supporting culturally-responsive practices that buffer the effects of historical and systemic trauma on boys and young men of color. Andrew has a master’s degree in Sociology and Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and a certificate in African-American studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a proud alum of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a premier leadership development program for Black men committed to service. In his free time, Andrew enjoys DJ-ing, playing pick-up basketball, and listening to podcasts.

  • Angèlica Lara
    Unlocal

    Angelica Lara is UnLocal’s Education and Outreach Director. She was raised in Queens, New York and is deeply committed to advocacy as a tool for creating sustainability for New York City’s undocumented communities. She is the resident Dramaturg with the ALAT theater company with which she participates in efforts to dismantle and create alternatives to a system that creates harm in our homes and communities by means of story telling.

  • Anya Mukarji-Connolly
    Brooklyn Defender Services

    Anya Mukarji-Connolly is the Associate Director of Policy at the Brooklyn Defender Services where she oversees the organization’s legislative team which comprises of a multi-disciplinary staff working on city, state and federal criminal, civil and immigration policy work. Anya has been an advocate for low-income and homeless communities in New York City for close to 20 years. Prior to joining BDS, Anya led NYLAG’s LGBTQ Law Project. At NYLAG, Anya managed a team of attorneys who represented low-income clients in immigration, housing, employment, and other civil legal matters. She managed the program’s private and public funding and developed its Advisory Board. Before joining NYLAG, Anya was the Director of the Urban Justice Center’s legal services program for homeless and at-risk youth. There, Anya directed its civil legal services program, managed the Project’s state and city legislative and system advocacy work, and managed its fundraising which enabled her to expand the program during her tenure.

  • Candace Thompson-Zachery
    Dance/NYC

    Born in Trinidad and Tobago, now local to Brooklyn, NY, operates between the spheres of dance, cultural production and fitness and wellness, with a focus on the Contemporary Caribbean. She has had an established career as a performer, choreographer, fitness professional, cultural producer, teaching artist, community facilitator and Caribbean dance specialist. In addition to her work in these areas, she leads ContempoCaribe, an ongoing choreography and performance project and is the founder of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, an organisational platform for Caribbean dance in the diaspora that spearheads the New Traditions Festival in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Adelphi University’s BFA program for Dance, and has presented, performed and taught at major venues including: Queen’s Hall (T&T), John F. Kennedy Center, New York Live Arts, Brooklyn Museum, and The Ohio State University. She was an inaugural member of the Dancing While Black Fellowship Cohort 2015/2016, was an awardee of Adelphi University’s 2017 – 10 Under 10 program, and a Dixon Place Artist-in-Residence for fall 2017. As a cultural producer and strategist, Candace has worked with the Dance and Performance Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, WIADCA (NY), Sydnie L. Mosley Dances, Renegade Performance Group, and curator Claire Tancons, for the 2019 Sharjah Biennial. Ms. Thompson-Zachery holds an M.A. in Performance Curation from the ICCP program at Wesleyan University and a certificate from the Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy at UPenn. with National Arts Strategies. Of tantamount importance to her is the vital role dance plays in our communities and she is eager to see dance artists of various styles, practices and traditions thrive in New York City.

  • Carolyn Slade
    The Fortune Society

    Carolyn Slade has over 25 years of extensive leadership experience within Non Secure Detention, Non Secure Placement and Scattered Site Housing. During Carolyn’s tenure, she has held positions as a Program Manager, Program Director and Site Director. Affording Carolyn the ability to gain a wealth of experience, insight to evaluate programming, become solution focused, develop leadership skills and interact with others from diverse backgrounds. Carolyn’s ability to focus on programmatic assessments (i.e. budgeting, compliance mandates, staff development, best practices, etc.), contributed to the overall program adherence and desirable outcomes, which were essential for a collaborative working environment.

    Carolyn has spent the vast majority of her career working within the Juvenile Justice sector overseeing detention programs (Residential Treatment Facilities, Alternative to Incarceration and The Close to Home Initiative), that strived to assist at risk with behavioral concerns. Alternative to Incarceration afforded youth in the Juvenile Justice system to be assessed for at risk behaviors, connect to supportive treatment and provided them with an opportunity to be supervised in their family home setting oppose to being placed in long term detention facility.

    Close to Home Initiative (CHI) allowed adjudicated youth to be placed in the Care of the Administration for Children Services in a Non Secure and Secure Limited Placement Residential Facility within the 5 boroughs and provide the adolescents with core skills for their overall development. In addition, CHI decreased the amount of youth mandated to Upstate NY, Office of children and Family Services, OCFS facilities through family court.

    Currently, Carolyn is a the Senior Program Manager within Scattered Site Housing at the Fortune Society, providing assistance to participants who have histories of criminal justice involvement, homelessness, mental health and substance use diagnoses.

    Carolyn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

  • Catherine Grau
    Queens Museum

    Catherine Grau currently serves as the Community Partnership Manager at the Queens Museum. Central to her role is working in close relationships with communities and artists to ensure that the museum is an open and accessible space that not only exists to serve through educational and cultural programs, but that is co-created with its constituents. Prior to joining the museum, Catherine has worked on a number of local and international multi-disciplinary public art projects, in the capacities of curator, educator, programs and community engagement facilitator. She was trained as an artist in the field of public art practices (MFA, Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany / BFA, Pratt Institute, NYC).

  • Chris Gorman
    American Folk Art Museum

    Christopher Gorman is the Chief Communications Officer at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, New York. A graduate of Manhattan College, Christopher has worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, and HarperCollins Publishers. He has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and producer, and served as a consultant for non-profit organizations such as the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation. He lives in New York City with his family.

  • Cievel Xicohtencatl
    The Laundromat Project

    Cievel Xicohtencatl is a multidisciplinary artist, cultural organizer, and a born and raised New Yorker currently working remotely from Mexico. At the moment she focuses on advancing artists and neighbors as change agents within their own communities through serving as the Community Engagement Manager for The Laundromat Project which is a Black rooted and People of Color centered arts organization in NY. In here role, she engages neighbors and artists through residencies, fellowships, public, and educational programs. She has been awarded fellowships through National Association of Latino Arts and Culture and The Laundromat Project and hold a Bachelor of Arts from CUNY Hunter College in Studio Art.

  • Deborah Johnson Ingram
    Primary Care Development Corporation

    Deborah Johnson Ingram is a Senior Director at Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC). In her role, she leads a team of trained experts who partner with health care providers across the country to improve their clinical services and healthcare outcomes for some of the most vulnerable patient populations. Deborah is passionate about the communities she and her team’s serve. She leverages her “trench perspective” expertise in primary care to help clients become patient-centered, efficient, and more successful at delivering high impact, quality care.
    Deborah has an extensive track record for her work as clinical improvement specialist consulting on whole person-patient centered care. After almost a decade with the NYS Quality Improvement Organization, IPRO, Deborah joined PCDC in 2010 and within two years she launched a clinical coaching/consulting service line that yields $1MM+ in annual revenue. She’s advised on patient centered care sustainability planning, primary care practice operations and efficiency analysis for private practices, hospital ambulatory care clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers. Deborah conducts trainings on organizing and presenting clinical data and analytics, reporting to the federal clinical quality program also known as Promoting Interoperability, CMS Quality Payment Programs in addition to diagnostic and procedural coding.
    As a member of PCDC’s leadership team, she’s contributed to the development of their New York State market plan, their health equity/racial justice roadmap, and the launch of several new products to meet their partners’ needs. She’s committed to PCDC’s mission to invest in communities by supporting young black and brown public health professionals through her mentorship.
    Deborah received her MPH-Epidemiology degree from the State University of New York Downstate and her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from New York University.

  • Emily Travis
    TDF

    Emily Travis is the marketing manager at TDF, a non-profit service organization best known for the iconic TKTS Discount Booths. Emily oversees the 120,000-strong membership program, as well as more than half a million ticket sales yearly for live theatre, dance and music performances. Originally from Washington, D.C., she previously worked at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals and The Textile Museum. Emily holds a master’s degree in arts management from George Mason University, and a B.S. from Drexel University. She has written about music and art for various publications including The Washington Post and GRAMMY magazine.

  • Hayley Ferber
    Chashama

    Hayley Ferber is a contemporary arts leader and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. As Deputy Director of Chashama, a non-profit that repurposes unused real estate into artist studios and exhibition spaces, she supports a creative community of multidisciplinary artists. In this role Hayley has overseen programs and facilities, fundraising and grants and the organization’s strategic plan.

    As an independent art educator with over 10 years of teaching experience, Hayley has taught workshops for the Swiss Institute, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Educational Alliance Art School, Amos Eno Gallery, and Baruch College at CUNY; served as a guest juror for the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and Queens Council for the Arts and a guest speaker for NURTUREart and Art Frankly; and facilitated conferences and panels for The University Council of Art Education, Young Professionals in the Arts and POWArts.

    Hayley received her MAT in Art & Design Education from the Rhode Island School of Design and BS in Studio Art from New York University. Other arts leadership positions include Vice President of the University Council for Art Education, a non-profit organization that advocates for art, and art education, as vital forms of critical inquiry.

  • John Solano

    John joins the Trust Fellows cohort after being recently promoted to Senior Associate of Social Enterprise Operations at Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a New York-based nonprofit that provides employment services to individuals with criminal convictions. In his current role, John is reimagining staff training and on-going support in order to amplify the voices of those who provide the impactful frontline services to CEO’s program participants.

    John’s transition to the non-profit sector began in 2019 with Refoundry Inc., a Brooklyn based grassroots organization supporting criminal-justice impacted individuals in honing their artisanal skills and entrepreneurial endeavors. John also brings for-profit experience in Inventory Management with the Finance Department of Eataly USA, LLC., served as a secondary-science classroom educator, and provided curriculum support & professional development to first-year teachers, through the Carnegie Institute of Washington.

    Born and raised in New York, John also runs with Front Runners New York, NYC’s largest LGBT+ Running Club, enjoys cycling around Brooklyn in search of new restaurants, and loves spending time in Prospect Park with his rambunctious new puppy, Rebecca.

  • Juan Carlos Salinas
    Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning

    Juan Carlos Salinas- is currently the Director of Education at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. He has developed and implemented curricula based on various artistic disciplines, social activism, and leadership skill-building for more than twenty-five New York City schools and cultural institutions. He is a contributing writer of New York City’s Blueprint for Theater Education and is a contributor for Sing for Hope’s Art U curriculum. He has worked as Education Director of City Lights Youth Theater, Associate Director of Education at Yale Repertory Theater, and Education Manager of Ars Nova and Ballet Hispanico. Recently Juan Carlos oversaw the creation of the BFA Acting program at Long Island University Downtown, Brooklyn in partnership with the New Group Theater Company. Juan Carlos holds an MFA in Non-profit/Arts Management with an emphasis in Education from Yale University. Juan Carlos is the founder of the Y Tu Tambien, the college access program of the La Unidad Latina Foundation, which unites Latino alumni from across the Ivy League to help students in need gain acceptance into their desired colleges, and provides school and career exploration workshops. He is the current Chair and founding member of the Yale Latino Alumni Association of the Tri State Area, a board member of the Yale Latino Alumni Network, and a founding board member of the Inter- Ivy League Latino Alumni Council. Juan Carlos is a proud native of Rio Grande City, in Starr County, Tx.

  • Karen Delgado
    Arab-American Family Support Center

    Karen Delgado is a Solution Based Casework Program Director at Arab-American Family Support Center, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower immigrants and refugees with the tools they need to successfully acclimate to the world around them and become active participants in their communities.
    Prior to joining Arab-American Family Support Center, Karen was a staff attorney at Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Law Project, where they represented survivors of intimate partner violence in family and matrimonial proceedings. Other previous work includes litigation in child welfare proceedings, collaboration with youth to end dating abuse and domestic violence, and assisting veterans in obtaining benefits and housing. Karen is passionate about partnering with families to ensure access to benefits and services that assist with safety and stability. Karen holds a J.D. from CUNY School of Law and a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Stony Brook University.

  • Kate Toth
    Bricks and Mortals

    Kate Toth is Executive Director of Bricks and Mortals, a project of Judson Memorial Church, which has the mission of providing creative, sustaining solutions to help houses of worship thrive amidst the costly and challenging landscape of operating in New York City.

    With a background in advocacy, program development and fundraising, Kate has more than 15 years supporting and empowering vulnerable communities. Kate has worked as an LGBT Liaison, run field campaigns across the Northeast, and in supportive housing. She holds an BA from New York University and an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Kate was a Fellow in the NYU Wagner FELPS program. She’s proud to be a born and bred New Yorker.

  • Leah Charles-Edouard
    New-York Historical Society

    Leah Charles-Edouard is the Senior Manager of the Academy for American Democracy at the New-York Historical Society and has managed the program since January 2020. The Academy for American Democracy program helps students understand the ancient underpinnings of democracy in the United States while encouraging them to be active citizens. Leah graduated with a BA in History from NYU and has worked in the museum education field since 2011 starting with internships at the Fraunces Tavern Museum and the Morris Jumel Mansion. Prior to her current role, Leah worked as the Manager of School Programs at N-YHS where she coordinated field trips, wrote school programs, and managed a staff of forty per-diem educators. In her time working with students and teachers, Leah has learned that museum visitors need to feel as if they belong in museum spaces and see themselves in “on the walls” in order to connect with the past. She is passionate about elevating the stories of people history forgot and loves when she can introduce students to historic figures they would have never learned about in school, especially if the people are from marginalized communities. One of her favorite historical figures to talk about is Madam CJ Walker. Leah is a native New Yorker and loves Broadway, singing, the beach and trying out the endless variety of foods all around the city!

  • Lily Philpott
    Asian American Writers Workshop

    Lily Philpott runs and manages events, fellowships, and workshops at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She has many years of experience curating literary programs in New York City. Previously, she served as the Public Programs Manager at PEN America, where she launched the PEN Out Loud event series with the Strand Book Store, co-curated a summer event series with the Brooklyn Museum, and coordinated Lit Crawl NYC. She has also worked on public programs and development events at the Guggenheim Museum and the New York Public Library, respectively, and is a member of the Brooklyn Book Festival’s International Literature Committee and an Advisory Board Member of the U.K. based publisher And Other Stories. Born in Santiago, Chile, she lives in New York City.

  • Madleen Santana
    LEAP

    Madleen Santana is the Talent Manager at LEAP (Learning through an Expanded Arts Program). Spanning eight years and with SHRM’s certification of Essentials of Human Resource Management, her workforce development initiatives at LEAP include strategy and development of systems designed to streamline LEAP’s employee life cycle. She also manages employee onboarding, training, payroll, benefits administration and employee relations. Her current role as Talent Manager has a portfolio that consists of 400+ part-time, and 37 full-time employees.

    In her prior role as LEAP’s Human Resources Coordinator, Madleen developed and successfully implemented a unique system design that achieved 99% School Age Childcare regulatory compliance among the organization’s ten comprehensive afterschool Department of Youth and Community Development-funded sites.

    Prior to taking on human resource functions for the organization, Madleen was Office Manager at the organization’s first and longest running (15+years) award-winning, comprehensive afterschool site in the South Bronx, where her love for devising innovative human resource management systems began. As Office Manager she earned the University of Connecticut’s Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development Family Development Leadership Credential, and completed the coursework for her School Age Childcare Credential. Capstone initiatives developed while in both programs included a site-based Parent Learning Center developed from MFTA donations, and an LGBTQIA learning circle for parents and guardians struggling with LTGBQIA youth.

    Social justice, particularly racial equity and LGBTQIA rights are areas of passion for Madleen. She is an active member of the following organizational committees providing leadership, vision, and unique perspective; the Culture Group, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Group, the Multilingual Learners group, and soon, the Development Committee.

    A native of the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, in her spare time Madleen is an avid reader, writer, singer, musician, and gamer! She also loves to paint and has a little-known love-hobby for building motorized designs with the retro K’nex STEAMAGINATION toy brand.

  • Marlen Fernandez
    Mixteca Org

    Marlen Fernandez is the Director of Development and Compliance at Mixteca. She is originally from Puebla, Mexico. An immigrant herself, Marlen is passionate about creating opportunities to uplift and change the narrative of immigrants. She has experience in grant management, program development, and community outreach. Before joining Mixteca, Marlen worked at the Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY. There she led community outreach programs in Brooklyn and at the Consulate General of Mexico in New York. At the Institute, she also served as the Scholarship Program Coordinator. Marlen redesigned the scholarship program to create a dynamic program to empower undocumented students. As a result, Marlen has extensive experience working with undocumented students of all ages in higher education. The Hispanic Coalition of New York recognized her work with the 40 under 40 Rising Stars award. Marlen looks forward to bringing her experience to help launch Mixteca into a new era that focuses on sustainability and creating a permanent presence in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
    Marlen earned her Bachelors at Lehman College in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. Marlen is currently completing her Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at Baruch College.

  • Mollie Flanagan
    International Studio and Curatorial Program

    Mollie Flanagan is a Brooklyn based arts administrator who has spent over ten years supporting emerging and mid-career artists. Mollie works as the Chief Financial Officer at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) where she is responsible for the financial management, human resources, maintaining the donor database, facilities oversight and operations of the organization. She is proud to support ISCP’s mission to support the creative development of artists and curators, and promote exchange through residencies and public programs. Previously, Mollie worked as the Program Manager and Curator at the New York Art Residency & Studios (NARS) Foundation, an international residency program in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Prior to joining NARS, Flanagan worked as the Gallery Director at The Space, an artist collective in Long Island City, Queens. Mollie is a 2020 NYFA Emerging Leaders Fellow and has a Master’s of Arts degree in Modern Art, Connoisseurship, and History of the Art Market from Christie’s Education.

  • Na'ilah Amaru
    Human Services Council

    NA’ILAH AMARU is a policy advocate and campaign architect with an established record of social impact in both government and non-profit sectors. With over 20 years of civic leadership, she is a fierce champion for building grassroots governing power among underserved populations, women, and BIPoC communities.

    As the inaugural advocacy and policy director at the Human Services Council, Na’ilah leads the design and execution of the human services sector’s organizing infrastructure and collaborates with City and State lawmakers to advance non-profit legislative priorities.

    Previously, she has commanded key roles within direct service non-profits, municipal, state, and federal government, as well as electoral and issue campaigns. Na’ilah has also served as policy advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, as a legislative aide to U.S. Congressman John Lewis, and as executive director of the New York City Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus.

    Her vast interdisciplinary portfolio reflects her deep commitment to driving public policy that addresses the needs of diverse constituencies and holding government accountable.

    In addition to her civil servant and grassroots background, Na’ilah is a distinguished U.S. Army veteran and ammunition specialist. She was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for exemplary service during her tour in Iraq and was the first female recipient of her battalion’s Soldier of the Month recognition.

    Na’ilah holds three master’s degrees in Public Administration and Policy Analysis from The University of Texas at San Antonio, in Public Policy and Non-Profit Management from Georgia State University, and in Urban Affairs and Urban Planning from New York City’s Hunter College. She earned undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice from The University of Texas at San Antonio.

  • Natalia S. Young
    VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

    Natalia S. Young is the Chief Operating Officer for VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a 95-year-old not-for-profit organization. VISIONS mantra is “our vision is for everyone to see what is possible!” One of the many facets that she upholds in her leadership role.

    Natalia has expertise in finance, accounting, administration, facilities, human resources, payroll and technology. Under her leadership, the agency continues to implement effective organizational management, best practices and remains in compliance with industry standard requirements.

    She is known for embracing new challenges, being a self-starter, and most importantly as a people person. This is evident in her ability to motivate others to achieve their personal and professional goals. On a daily basis, Natalia begins her day with the concept of, “What great things am I going to be faced with today?” This helps her to maintain a level of commitment to  use her energies and talents to help uplift her community and to confront the challenges that come along with the job.

    Natalia earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in International Finance and a minor in Spanish from Bernard M. Baruch College and a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration, specializing in Fiscal Policy and Budgeting from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She holds memberships in numerous organizations, such as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Lions Club International – MD 20K1, National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club and most recently, VisionServe Alliance IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Leadership) Committee. Additionally, she is the recipient of several awards/recognitions, Catherine T. Alexander Award, Lions Club International Distinguished Service Award, Harriet Tubman Club – Golden Anniversary Award and many others. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and is proud to have visited six continents out of seven, with the goal to visit the seventh. Her leadership and professionalism are a testament of who she is.

  • Natasia Sidarta
    Gowanus Canal Conservancy

    Natasia has worked at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC) for 8 years, leading volunteers in environmental stewardship programs. Originally an Americorps NYC Civic Corps Member, she then became the Volunteer Program Manager, expanding her role to manage all volunteer stewardship programs and to manage and mentor staff, volunteers, and interns. In 2020 she was promoted to Community Stewardship & Operations Director, further expanding her role in program development and organizational strategic planning. Her current role focuses on building supportive partnerships with community members, including community gardeners, tree stewards, and public housing tenant association leaders. Natasia is passionate about public green space equity; she believes that everyone should have access to their local public green space and the opportunity, tools, and resources to become environmental stewards.

    Natasia is a proud Indonesian, and grew up in Queens, the Cayman Islands, and the suburbs of Philly. She has a BA in Biology with a specialization in Ecology and Conservation Biology from Boston University. She is a NYC Master Composter and a NYC Citizen Pruner.

  • Oluwaseun Owolabi
    North Star Fund

    Seun Owolabi’s professional career began in retail banking, where she found herself constantly educating customers on best banking practices. But it wasn’t until after she completed her Bachelor’s degree that she linked these efforts to an interest in public service and mission-driven work.

    Moving to New York in 2013 to pursue her Master’s in Public Administrations for Nonprofit Management at NYU Wagner, Seun was pleased to be surrounded by like-minded advocates who weren’t afraid to speak up for themselves and marginalized community members. From there, Seun committed to become a bridge builder, connecting resources to those in need.

    After her time at Wagner, she worked in sports-based youth development where she was challenged and deeply affected by the lack of people of color in leadership positions. This led her to North Star Fund, where she found her voice and desire to speak truth to power not only welcomed, but required.

  • Pia Catton
    National Dance Institute

    Pia Catton began a second career in nonprofit fundraising after 20 years as a journalist. She is currently Development and Marketing Manager at National Dance Institute, which brings dance and music education to public school children. At NDI, she is responsible for cultivation of donors, content creation, and outreach to parents and alumni. Additionally, she has successfully led fundraising efforts for political, religious, and community projects.

    Prior to fundraising, she covered Broadway and the performing arts at the Wall Street Journal for seven years, during which she created the “Let’s Talk Arts” podcast and a data-driven project to analyze ticket sales. In 2016, she become Editor In Chief of the start-up Dance.com, bringing coverage of dance in all forms to a digital audience. She served the New York Sun newspaper as its dance critic, as well as a reporter and features editor before becoming its Culture Editor in 2006. She has also written for the New York Times, the New York Post, the Baltimore Sun, Politico, ArtNews, City Journal, the Weekly Standard, Playbill and more.

    She is a graduate of Kenyon College and the Mercersburg Academy.

  • Rima Begum
    Chhaya CDC

    Rima holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and was 2018 Social Worker of Queens Honoree, in recognition of excellent service in the community. Her anti-oppressive work over the years has allowed her to work with different racial, socio-economic, and gender backgrounds, across a range of age groups. Rima believes that policies can also create mass mental health issues, her approach to social justice is unique in that she uses her clinical skills to engage folks on an individual level and helps tenants understand how policies affect them. She is currently employed at Chhaya CDC as the Associate Director of Housing Stability , where she works with low to moderate-income tenants throughout Queens, particularly using her language capacity to organize in the South Asian community. Rima recently founded the Bangladeshi Tenant Union and as a community organizer, she looks to address systemic and institutional barriers to increase social justice.

  • Rita Rodriguez-Engberg
    Advocates for Children of NY

    Rita Rodriguez-Engberg is the Director of Immigrant Students’ Rights at Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), where she was previously a Staff Attorney. She and her team provide legal representation to immigrant students in New York City public schools on education matters, including special education, as well as give free workshops and trainings to parents and professionals on how to advocate for immigrant students in New York City schools. Rita also advocates at the city and state levels for better policies to address the needs of immigrant students and English Language Learners. Prior to joining AFC, Rita was an associate at a corporate law firm in New York. In her capacity as a public health professional, Rita worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Beirut, Lebanon on behalf of Palestinian refugees. Prior to law school, Rita was the Head Paralegal at the Federal Defenders of New York. She holds a J.D. and M.P.H. from Columbia University and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Shannon McKinnon
    Immigrant Justice Corps

    Shannon McKinnon is the Managing Attorney at Immigrant Justice Corps (“IJC”) which runs a fellowship program designed to train the next generation of immigration advocates through the placement of recent law and college graduates with nonprofit immigration legal service providers. In this role, she is responsible for leading the legal team to provide immigration legal services at IJC, as well as supporting the legal skills development of fellows placed outside of IJC with the goal of increasing availability of high-quality immigration legal services for low-income immigrants. Ms. McKinnon was previously a Supervising Attorney and Staff Attorney for the Immigrant Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee in Newark, New Jersey. She and the team she supervised represented adults and juveniles in all stages of removal proceedings, appeals, and a wide variety of affirmative applications before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ms. McKinnon also engaged in various community education initiatives and advocated for local policy reform on immigrant rights issues. Prior to that, Ms. McKinnon was a Staff Attorney in the Immigration Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society where her legal representation was focused on removal defense and particularly the intersection between immigration and criminal law. Prior to becoming a staff attorney, she worked as a litigator at Cooley LLP and, together with Legal Aid, formed a pro bono program to defend detained immigrants facing deportation. She received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. from University of California at Los Angeles.

  • Tim Fredrick
    Youth Communication

    Tim Fredrick, Ph.D., is the Senior Director of Education Programs at Youth Communication, where he has worked since August 2018. He is responsible for overseeing the implementation and evaluation of Youth Communication’s social and emotional (SEL) curriculum and professional development for educators.

    He began his career in education in New York City public schools, where he worked with middle- and high-school students on improving their reading and writing skills, as well as their SEL. His expertise is in working with disengaged readers—particularly boys—by pairing them with texts and tasks that reflected their backgrounds and concerns. His interest in literacy, SEL, and agency continued in his doctoral studies at New York University, where his dissertation focused on agency and language use in secondary English classrooms. In addition to teaching all levels from K through 12, he has mentored and taught pre-service and new teachers at New York University, City University of New York, and NYC Department of Education, and has worked with alternative certification programs such as Teach for America and the New York City Teaching Fellows.

    At Youth Communication, Fredrick spearheaded the organization’s programmatic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including converting YC’s award-winning SEL curriculum to be conducted over videoconference, creating and conducting webinars on SEL topics related to the pandemic (attended by people from 11 countries), and using YC’s true, teen-written stories to create ELA curriculum for remote learning. He has also overseen the expansion of YC’s measurement and evaluation program, as well as expanding the organization’s work outside New York City.

  • Travis Burbee
    EPIC Players

    Travis Burbee is the Associate Artistic Director of EPIC Players, a neurodiverse theatre company based in NYC. He has been a resident of New York for 5 years. He has directed several shows with EPIC. Travis graduated from Missouri State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. His previous director work includes She Kills Monsters:Virtual Realms, Peter and the Starcatcher at the HERE theatre, the Little Prince, Shakespeare’s Tempest, and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown as the Assistant Director at the FLEA Theatre. Travis has also directed numerous children’s productions, as well as other productions in NYC such as Peter, Paul, and Carly. Travis is also a choreographer. He choreographed for EPIC’s past productions of Little Shop of Horrors and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Travis has performed with several theatre companies in the past and was nominated for an Innovative Theatre Award for his performance of Beethoven in EPIC’s production of Dog Sees God. He has also performed in EPIC’s cabaret at Joe’s Pub. In addition to being on the EPIC creative team Travis also heads up the in school and outreach EPIC education classes and performances.

  • Wei-ming Liu Egelman
    HERE

    As a fundraiser, translator, and dramaturg, Wei-ming Liu Egelman has built a career around helping artists and arts organizations tell their stories. Since 2017, she has done so as Institutional Giving Manager at HERE, a downtown NYC cultural hub devoted to nurturing artists as they create innovative genre-blending live performance in theatre, dance, music, puppetry, media, and visual art. In growing with HERE over the last 4 years, Wei has become increasing interested in the idea of the fundraiser as key stakeholder and change agent for the nonprofit arts sector, and is excited to further her inquiries with her lovely NYCT Leadership Fellows cohort.

    Outside of HERE, Wei is an experienced translator of plays, film scripts, grant applications and project proposals for performing and visual artists, art criticism, and academic articles. In this role, she articulated the visions of playwrights such as Katherine Hui-ling Chou, Yi-siu Lee, Liying Chien, Zhu Yi, and Pen-ning Hsing, as well as visual artists such as Iting Hou and Yi-kuan Lin.

    Wei holds a B.A. in Foreign Languages and Literatures from National Taiwan University, and an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia University. There are other things she tried but failed to hold, like the family cat for any length of time, and a PhD degree in Theatre from CUNY Graduate Center.

  • Yolanda Seltzer
    The Liberty Fund

    Yolanda Seltzer, LMSW, is currently the Social Services Director at The Liberty Fund, which reduces New York City’s pretrial detention by providing charitable bail and ROR (released on recognizance) services. Yolanda first joined The Liberty Fund as a Bail Associate in 2018, covering night arraignment court and posting bail for all eligible individuals in order to avoid their detention on Rikers Island.

    Today, Yolanda leads The Liberty Fund’s ROR Case Management Program, launched in response to the New York State 2020 bail reforms using a person-centered approach to help clients avoid further criminal justice system involvement. In addition to overseeing its daily operations, Yolanda provides direct social services to participants, manages staff and networks with key court stakeholders and community partners.

    Yolanda’s passion to join The Liberty Fund is a culmination of over 30 years experience in the criminal justice and social work sectors. At the New York City Department of Corrections, she began as a corrections officer and was later promoted to Corrections Captain. Through these roles, she worked directly with the inmate population, witnessing firsthand the negative impacts of detention on individuals who couldn’t afford bail. As the Facility Coordinator at the Geo Group Federal Prison, Yolanda ensured compliance in their Work Release Program, and at Project Redirect and Women’s Empowerment Network, she advocated for homeless individuals and families. Yolanda also owned and operated an early childhood education business that provided quality childcare for children ages 6 months to 12.

    Yolanda received her Master of Social Work from Stony Brook Graduate School of Social Work and her Bachelor in Human Service from Empire State College. In addition to her New York State Master Social Worker license, Yolanda also holds a New York State License as a Bail Bonds Person.