2012 NLC Fellows: New York City

New York City

Charlene Carruthers, Campaign Manager, Color of Change

Charlene Carruthers currently serves as a Campaign Manager at Color of Change. A native of Chicago, she has worked extensively to promote social justice, empowerment and build leadership on local and national levels. Trained in the Saul Alinsky tradition of community organizing, Charlene believes in intentional and inclusive power building. Her passion for working with young leaders to build capacity and leadership has led her to work with and train youth of color and women across the country. She has worked for national progressive organizations including the Center for Community Change, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law and the Women's Media Center. At Color of Change, Charlene works to integrate field and online organizing in order to create progressive change for Black Americans. She has traveled and studied throughout the global south and brings with her a sense of global citizenship. Charlene received her Master's in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, where she focused on urban development and public policy. She is also a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University where she majored in History and International studies.

Evan Davidoff, Development Associate for Annual Appeals, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

Evan Davidoff currently works at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender synagogue. He serves as the Development Associate at CBST. In the past Evan has worked with several different organizations including the LGBT Community Center, Nehirim, the International Federation of Social Workers and Human Rights Watch. Evan has always believed strongly in advancing human rights at the international level. While working with the International Federation of Social Workers at the United Nations he worked as part of a team on the 26th Annual Social Work Day at the UN and the Global Social Work Student Conference. Evan holds a master's degree in social work, with a concentration in international and community development, from Monmouth University. He also holds a bachelor's in social work, with a concentration in social justice, from Stony Brook University. Evan grew up on Long Island, but has attended schools throughout the Northeast including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. He recently attended the World LGBTQ Youth Leaders Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was a great opportunity for Evan to meet advocates for LGBT rights as human rights from around the globe.

TJ Helmstetter, Campaign Manager, Democratic Congressional Candidate

Whether it's at one of the country's most progressive political operations or the Democratic Party's most prominent "new media" agency, T.J. Helmstetter is engaged in making change happen. Most recently, he served as Communications Director at New York's labor-backed Working Families Party, during a year when the Party won big on elections and issues ranging from green jobs to a less-regressive tax code. In that role, T.J. served as spokesman for the Party while also bringing its online fundraising operation to new heights. Previously, as a consultant with Blue State Digital, he worked with progressive causes (and corporate clients, too) to raise their profiles (and their dollars) online. While at BSD, he was most proud of his work with LGBT causes including Freedom to Marry and the launch of Dan Savage's inspirational "It Gets Better" campaign. Earlier, T.J. began his career as an organizer at Garden State Equality and he worked on political campaigns in New Jersey. This year, T.J. is taking on his most exciting endeavor yet as the campaign manager for a Democratic Congressional challenger running against one of New York's most right-wing incumbents.

Katie Long, National Program Coordinator, Project Eye-To-Eye

Katie Long is a National Program Coordinator for Project Eye-To-Eye a national non-profit. Project Eye-To-Eye is an art based mentoring program that pairs college and high school students with learning disabilities (LD) and/or ADHD with middle school students with LD/ADHD. As National Program Coordinator Katie currently manages 15 of the 38 chapters. Some of her duties include working with the chapter coordinators, faculty and staff contacts and trains mentors as well as traveling to each chapter twice a year. Katie began mentoring for Project Eye-To-Eye at the University of Denver in her sophomore year of college, and became the chapter coordinator in her junior year. Katie graduated from the University of Denver in Spring 2011 with a BA in Geography and a minor in History. She also spent one quarter studying Geography at the Universita di Bologna in Bologna, Italy. Katie was diagnosed with a visual processing disorder when she was eight years old and was labeled with a LD. She graduated high school with certificates from the International Baccalaureate Program, a worldwide international education program. She is was born and raised in Colorado and moved to NYC in July 2011 to join the Project Eye-To-Eye team.

Daniel Millenson, Managing Director, Generation Citizen

Daniel Millenson is the managing director of Generation Citizen, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering underrepresented youth to be active participants in the democratic process. Daniel spent the last two years as a Teach For America corps member in the Mississippi Delta, where he taught 11th and 12th grade English in one of the poorest counties in the state. He also served as a Teach for America learning team leader, helping to mentor fellow corps members teaching high school English. Prior to TFA, Daniel worked on the 2008 campaign of former Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick. Daniel graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in philosophy and history and was a finalist for the Truman Scholarship. While an undergraduate at Brandeis University, Daniel was the co-founder and national advocacy director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF), a national effort to apply economic pressure on Sudan to halt the genocide in Darfur. Starting in 2005, SDTF pushed universities and public pension funds to divest their portfolios of companies engaged in problematic business operations in Sudan, ultimately getting divestment policies adopted by over 60 universities, 24 states, and the federal government. A Chicagoland native, Daniel moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 2011.

Nekpen Osuan, Data and Operations Manager, Democracy Builders, Inc.

Nekpen Osuan serves as Data and Operations Manager for Democracy Builders, a non-profit education advocacy group based in New York City. She holds a Masters degree in Economics and Education from Columbia University, and graduated with Honors from Baylor University where she studied Economics and Leadership. Her background weaves a myriad of interests with particular expertise in data analysis, research and information management. A former Congressional liaison, PFAW consultant, StartingBloc Fellow and founding class member of Drum Major Institute Scholars program, Nekpen possesses a strong commitment to the use of data to inform organizational efficiency, particularly in progressive education reform. Her life's goal is to work to promote educational equity and social access by closing the achievement gap often observed in marginalized communities. Nekpen is passionate about social innovation, political engagement, and creating networks for social change. In her free time, Nekpen is an avid traveler, volunteer, political junkie, culinary aficionado and scholar of leadership. She credits her success thus far to her humble upbringing as a first-generation Nigerian-American. Despite her keen awareness of challenges facing her generation, Nekpen takes on every challenge with a smile.

Dumar Paden, CEO & Leadership Strategist, Dumar Paden Leadership

As a leadership strategist, educator, and social activist, Dumar Paden is committed to help develop a new generation of leaders designed to create sustainable positive change. He is currently the CEO of Dumar Paden Leadership, a consulting firm providing expertise in organizational leadership, cultural diversity, youth empowerment, and personal performance development. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and as a product of New York City Public Schools, Dumar understands the great challenges youth face every day in to receive a quality education. He is passionate in his efforts to ensure all students regardless of economic or social barriers are on track to have an opportunity to be successful. In an effort to help students in his community, Dumar also works for CAMBA, a nonprofit organization in Brooklyn where he coordinates high school youth programs focusing on college preparation, academic support, and career readiness. Additionally, Dumar became an elected member of the Kings County Democratic Committee in 2010. He currently holds a Master of Science in Leadership from the Ken Blanchard College of Business at Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY).

Hilary Papineau, Special Assistant and Research Analyst, Office of the New York City Comptroller, Audit Bureau

Hilary Papineau currently works as a Special Assistant and Research Analyst for the Audit Bureau of the New York City Comptroller’s Office. Hilary is responsible for conducting research and analysis as part of the bureau’s risk assessment to help shape meaningful audits and meet the bureau’s charter mandate of auditing all city agencies. She also responds to and researches potential audit ideas from the public and meets with advocacy groups that approach the office with potential audits. Hilary is a certified urban planner through the American Planning Association (APA). She completed her Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Albany in 2009. Hilary is also a former public policy fellow through the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society. Placed at the New York State Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights, she conducted demographic research and developed the agency’s Limited English Proficiency program. Hilary grew up in the Adirondacks and is an avid hiker, biker, and skier. She volunteers with the Brooklyn Food Coalition, helping to promote a just, sustainable, and healthy food system, and co-chairs the APA’s Youth in Planning program, engaging high school students in community-based planning projects.

Anthonine Pierre, Lead Community Organizer, Brooklyn Movement Center

Anthonine Pierre recently joined the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), an emerging direct-action, community organizing body based in Central Brooklyn. As BMC's lead organizer, her work includes building a membership base for the organization and helping to identify policy issues for membership-led advocacy campaigns. She is currently working on a project to increase parent and community engagement in Community School District 16, which primarily encompasses the neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant. Prior to working at BMC, Anthonine represented the Manhattan Borough President in Central & West Harlem for three years, where she worked to engage community stakeholders on public policy campaigns. In addition to community engagement, she has a background in youth programming & advocacy, having worked at the Children's Defense Fund and the Prospect Park Alliance. Anthonine is also a member of the Haitian American Caucus, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of the Haitian diaspora. Anthonine studied Political Science at CUNY - Hunter College. Born and raised in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, she is committed to using her passion for policy and advocacy to connect communities of color to political processes.

Samuel Pierre, Brooklyn Borough Director, Office of the Mayor

Samuel M. Pierre is currently the Brooklyn Borough Director, Community Affairs Unit in the Office of Mayor, New York City. Sam also represents the Mayor for all African American and Caribbean Affairs citywide. Being a youth leader from young, Sam credits the church for his love for people and his strong faith. Sam graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts & Political Science in 2007. Since then, Sam has worked in government, in various facets. He has interned with New York State Senate Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson, and served as the Brooklyn South Director to the former Chairman of Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns. Sam worked as the Deputy Director and a Special Liaison for Haiti Relief for New York State Assemblyman Alan Maisel during the tragic earthquake that left thousands deceased. As of recent, Sam was the President of the Haitian American Caucus a driving coalition movement to improve the lives of the Haitian-American community and its allies, but resigned to serve the city full-time in a Borough wide capacity. Sam loves his Haitian Community and is very much involved in future rebuilding efforts for Haiti.

Raphael Rosenblatt, Director of Evaluation, Year Up

Raphael (Raphi) Rosenblatt currently serves as the Director of Evaluation for Year Up, a national workforce development non-profit for disconnected youth. He began his work at Year Up as an Education Pioneers Fellow in the summer of 2010. During this time, Raphi analyzed a dataset of Year Up participants nationwide, identifying the risk factors associated with student dropout and developing an intervention program to increase student retention. Raphi’s interest in education equity was cemented in 2006 when he joined Teach For America. He spent three years teaching high school mathematics at Herbert Lehman High School, a large public school in the Bronx. While teaching, Raphi earned a M.S.T. from Pace University and co-founded an organization to encourage young adults to engage more strategically with the philanthropic sector. Raphi left the classroom in 2009 to pursue a Master in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he studied education policy and non-profit management. Raphi attended Brandeis University on a full scholarship, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in both Politics and Economics. He was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida.

Naomi Rothwell, Executive Director, M. B. International

Naomi Rothwell is currently the executive director at M. B. International, a boutique legal search firm. For the last three years, she strengthened and led the now 6,000 member strong community organization, Greater NYC for Change, which was recognized by Senator Charles Schumer for its leadership on health care justice in 2009. The group provides a supportive and empowering space for people from all walks of life to become engaged and active around vital social challenges. In her leadership role at Greater NYC for Change, Naomi organized mass rallies for health care reform and coordinated press conferences, educational events and lobby visits between unions, community groups and nonprofits. More recently, she has helped elect local Congressional candidates, organizing grassroots get-out-the-vote efforts in the city. Prior to her current position, she was an editor at Harper Collins in the teen fiction division. Fluent in Japanese and German, Naomi graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University, with a degree in English. She grew up in Atlanta, GA.

Samantha Slater, Communications Director, U.S House of Representatives

Samantha Slater is currently the communications director for Congressman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) who also serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Prior to this position, Samantha was a freelance communications consultant, serving a variety of clients from the political sector to the nonprofit world. This past May, she completed her MPA at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, where she focused on public policy. While in school, she also got an education in New York City government, working at the NYC Department of Small Business Services. Prior to going back to graduate school, Samantha spent nearly five years in Washington, D.C. She served as press secretary to Congressman Joe Donnelly (D-IN), where she learned more about the state of Indiana than she ever imagined, and was one of the first employees of Politico back when it was called The Politico. A native New Yorker, Samantha is happy to be working for her hometown Congressman. She enjoys traveling to exotic places, anything French, and running.

Simone N. Sneed, Major Donors Manager, Community Access, Inc.

Simone N. Sneed is the Major Donors Manager at Community Access Inc., a mental health nonprofit that empowers individuals with psychiatric disabilities to lead healthy, independent lives. Simone is dedicated professionally and personally to social justice philanthropy with an emphasis on the needs of women and girls. Her commitment to civic engagement has led her to influential positions with the Albany County Executive’s Office, Holding Our Own Women’s Foundation, the United Nations Fund for Gender Equality and The Astraea Foundation. In addition to completing fellowships at the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management and the University at Albany’s Center for Women in Government, she holds a B.A. in Sociology and Africana Studies with a concentration on race, class and gender from the University at Albany. Simone is also the Founder of Catching Brilliance LLC. Catching Brilliance is a company dedicated to providing holistic development strategies for organizations and individuals. Through Catching Brilliance Simone works to provide millennial women strategies to live balanced and fulfilling lives. Born and raised in Upstate New York, Simone relocated to New York City in 2009. She is currently learning French and preparing for her first triathlon.

Katherine Spaulding, Special Assistant to the Deputy Borough President, Office of the Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer

Kate is currently Special Assistant to the Deputy Borough President at the Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. She is also an Adjunct Professor teaching Labor & Economy at the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College. As Special Assistant, Kate has been the main program manager for such initiatives as the Go Green Youthbucks Program, 2010 Census Manhattan Complete Count Committee, and Textile Recycling Event and Awareness in East Harlem. While at the Harry Van Arsdale Center, Kate founded and managed the school's Food 4 Thought initiative which facilitates student-led program-wide discussion of issues affecting workers in New York City. Such discussions yielded the creation of the school's student alumni association, of which Kate serves as a mentor/advisor, and was included in a short documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Kate graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh and received her M.S. in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute, where she received the Outstanding Student Award from the APA Metro Chapter. She hails from Buffalo, NY and plans to return to become Mayor someday. Her twin sister Liz also lives in New York City.

Amy Spitalnick, Communications Director, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron

Amy Spitalnick is the Communications Director for New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. She previously served as Press Secretary for J Street, the Washington, DC - based pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy organization, which she joined just after the organization's 2008 launch. At J Street, Amy served as national spokesperson for the organization and trained activists around the country in messaging and communications. She has also worked on a number of campaigns, including Dennis Shulman's 2008 campaign for New Jersey's fifth congressional district and Anthony Weiner's 2005 New York City mayoral campaign. Amy graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and holds a bachelors degree in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. She was awarded the 2008 Dutko Fellowship for Policy and Public Service. While at Tufts, Amy served as President of Tufts Hillel and held a number of internships in the political communications world. She spent a year living in Jerusalem, where she studied at the Hebrew University. Amy lives in New York, where she was born and raised. In her spare time, she enjoys hockey (watching, not playing) and exploring New York's food culture.

Joachim Steinberg, Law Clerk, U.S. Federal Courts

Joachim Steinberg is a law clerk for a federal magistrate in the Southern District of New York. A native New Yorker, Joachim attended the University of Chicago, where he graduated with honors with an A.B. in history in 2004. In 2005, Joachim entered Teach For America, where he taught elementary school at P.S. 107X in the South Bronx. Afterwards, Joachim matriculated at NYU School of Law, where he received his J.D., cum laude, in 2010. While at NYU, he was an editor on the Annual Survey of American Law, co-president of the High School Law Institute, and was one of the founding board members of the Suspension Representation Project. Joachim was the winner of the Orison S. Marden Moot Court competition, and was awarded a Vanderbilt Medal for outstanding contributions to the school of law. He also attended St. Catherine's College, Oxford, and is in the process of finishing a thesis for a graduate law degree there. He enjoys playing and watching soccer, and is licensed to practice law in the State of New York.

Sara Valenzuela, Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison and Latino Affairs Liaison, Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer

Sara Valenzuela recently joined the Office of the Manhattan Borough President as Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison and Latino Affairs Liaison where she works to encourage progressive legislation and initiatives in partnership with fellow government agencies, elected officials, and advocates in New York. Previously, Sara served as Associate Director of Government Affairs at Earth Day Network, directing federal policy and national environmental initiatives. A graduate of Vanderbilt University and Teach For America alumna, Sara has dedicated her career to political and minority advocacy. Following her TFA commitment, Sara moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as Legislative Correspondent to then Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair, Joe Baca. She was later recruited to serve U.S. Senator Robert Menendez as Legislative Aide/Latino Issues Liaison. In addition, she served as Congressional Hispanic Caucus Liaison and advisor on Latino issues for members of the Senate Hispanic Task Force. During the last months of the 2008 Presidential election, Sara was recruited by Obama for America to serve as Deputy Field Organizer for Hispanic Outreach in Pueblo, Colorado. Following the election she helped found the New Latino Movement, a civic engagement group focused on developing young leaders to promote equal opportunity and justice for Latinos.

Clarissa Wertman, Associate for Development and Communications, Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law

Clarissa Wertman is currently the Associate for Development and Communications at the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, a think-tank that promotes the incorporation of sound economic analysis into governmental decisionmaking. She identifies and pursues prospective funding opportunities, managing multi-year budget development, and formulating communications strategies to promote the work of the Institute. Previously, she served as a development coordinator and grant writer at Global Partnership Schools, an education management organization that provides services to underperforming public school districts. Clarissa began her career in the New York State Governor’s office on a variety of high-profile initiatives, including the Commission on Higher Education, the Commission on Property Tax Relief and the Economic Recovery Cabinet. With the Recovery Cabinet, which was charged with administering the $27 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in New York State, Clarissa developed and issued guidance to funding recipients for reporting requirements. Clarissa graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a B.A. in Political Science. Clarissa is a native of Niskayuna, NY and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Maria Zambrano, Executive Director, Excel Bridgeport

Maria is the executive director of Excel Bridgeport, an education reform advocacy organization in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Originally from Bridgeport, she began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member in the Los Angeles Unified School District. After leaving California, Maria returned to Bridgeport and led a grassroots community campaign to increase funding for the city’s public libraries. Her campaign successfully passed a citywide library referendum by a 30-point margin. Later, recognizing the lack of affordable test prep as a major barrier to college for students living in poverty, Maria designed, launched and led an SAT prep academy for low-income teens in the Greater Bridgeport area. Under her leadership, students in the program experienced score gains on the SAT exam ranging from 200-400 points over a three-month period. A graduate of Bridgeport Public Schools, Maria graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She holds teaching credentials in California and Connecticut as well as a master’s degree in elementary education. Most recently, Maria earned a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University.