2012 NLC Fellows: Philadelphia


Julia Cadwallender,1st Grade Inclusion Lead Teacher, KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy

Julia Cadwallender teaches at KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy. Julia is the 1st grade special education teacher and supports students with learning and emotional disabilities in a college preparatory curriculum. Before teaching at KIPP Julia taught primary special education in the School District of Philadelphia through Teach for America. Julia moved to Philadelphia from Atlanta, GA where she attended Emory University, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Community Building and Social Change. It was through Emory's Community Building and Social Change Fellowship that Julia cemented her passion for closing the achievement gap for children in America's underprivileged communities. Julia has a master's degree in Elementary and Special Education from Chestnut Hill College. Julia has enjoyed getting to know the city of Philadelphia on long runs through Fairmount Park and the city itself. Julia loves to travel and spends much of her free time out of the country. Born in Wonthaggi, Australia, Julia grew up mostly in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Gwen Emmons, MSW Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

Gwen Emmons is a writer and activist currently pursuing a master's degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to Philadelphia, Gwen spent six years in the Washington, D.C. area, where she received a B.A. in psychology and women's studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. As an undergraduate, Gwen interned for several women’s organizations at the state and national level and studied abroad in Lesotho, but credits her work on a crisis hotline with opening her eyes to the larger, institutional changes that need to be made in the world. After graduating, she served as the Associate Director of Advocacy of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan D.C., managing the organization’s advocacy, electoral, and communications work. She then worked as an online fundraising, advocacy, and communications consultant for progressive non-profits, running online campaigns on everything from no-cost birth control to anti-smoking initiatives to global hunger awareness. In Philadelphia, she's serving on a student panel to revise part of her MSW program’s curriculum, volunteering as a clinic escort with Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and writing about reproductive justice.

Todd Farally,Trustee and Steward, Sheet Metal Workers Local 19

Todd Farally is a third generation member of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 and currently holds the office of Trustee and is also Steward to one of Local 19's signatory contractors. He is also an active e-activist, where he writes and helps to manage social networking for both his Union and a few other progressive political groups. Todd also serves as a Committee person for Philadelphia's Democratic City Committee, 21st Ward 12th Division. Todd has been involved in the political process in the region from a young age, either on the picket line or knocking on doors for voter registration and candidate information for prospective voters. This past year Todd was honored to become a Democracy for America Scholar and took the journey to Minneapolis for Netroot Nation 2010. While having not yet earned his undergraduate degree, Todd has served a four and a half year apprenticeship and plans to attend the National Labor College to continue his formal education. Never one to be idle though, he is constantly keeping up to date on all current events and techniques within his field. Todd Grew up in Media Delaware County and currently resides in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Judy Ha, Assistant Director, Asian Americans United

Judy Ha is the Assistant Director at Asian Americans United, a grassroots community organization that works to develop Asian/Asian American leadership to build communities and promote social justice in the Greater Philadelphia area. She has had many roles at AAU, including planning and implementing the summer youth leadership programs, coordinating student/adult volunteers, grant-writing and fundraising, and working on campaigns for justice. Prior to working for AAU, she had four years of teaching social studies and ESL as a Pennsylvania state certified teacher as well as years of experience working in after school, Saturday, and summer youth programs. She also has extensive experience in teacher development and educational training, including one summer experience working with a group of teachers in Kampala, Uganda in 2009. Judy was born in Seoul, Korea and was raised in northern New Jersey. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a special major in Political Science and Education and also has a master's degree in Multicultural Education from Eastern University. Her main extracurricular activities included playing sports, volunteering for community service, and tutoring or mentoring youth. Currently, she resides in Philadelphia, PA and is an active member of Renewal Presbyterian Church serving in the diaconate and children's ministry.

Luke Hostetter, Social Studies teacher, School District of Philadelphia

Luke Hostetter is currently employed as a Social Studies teacher at John Bartram High School in the School District of Philadelphia. He has held this position for 3 years and has taught in various environments and grade levels. In 2008-2009, Luke volunteered with City Year Greater Philadelphia. City year is a national service organization that focuses on leadership development and community service for 18 to 24 year olds. At City year he served as a team leader for a 8 corps members in service at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School. While volunteering his team conducted of 1800 hours of community service and held events that engaged the school and community members. In 2008 Luke graduated the University of Mary Washington and received his BS in Business Administration. He received his masters degree in Education from Chestnut Hill College in 2011. Luke is from Richmond, Virginia and has lived in Philadelphia for the past 4 years. He is passionate about education and hope to empower young people to create positive change for themselves, their communities and their country.

Yair Inspektor,School, Seattle University School of Law

A recent law graduate, Yair Inspektor is a newly minted member of the Maryland State Bar and will soon become a member of the Washington D.C. bar. Yair is interested in and has experience with various fields of law and policy, including education law, immigration law, criminal law, and mortgage-backed securities litigation. In the past, he has worked for the Department of Justice, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, Public Defender Agency of Alaska, and other public interest organizations and government entities. Perhaps most notably, Yair gained his passion in social justice and progressive political interests while teaching 11th grade global history in the South Bronx. As a Teach For America ’06 Corps member, Yair spent two years teaching in one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. With a great effort from his students, he was able to achieve his school’s highest pass rating in the Global History Standardized state exam. A native of Israel, Yair grew up in Pittsburgh and spent time in State College PA, New York City NY, Seattle WA, and Anchorage AK.

Ash Kernen, President/CEO, Caveman Tinting, Inc.

Ash Kernen is the President/CEO of Caveman Tinting, Inc.(CTI), a solar-efficiency films company located just outside of Philadelphia. Ash started CTI at the young age of 19 and has been at the helm of the company ever since. In addition to his work at CTI, Ash is a grassroots entertainment-activist in Philadelphia and the founder of Allied | Artivist, a social-justice organization that employs the arts to advance progressive causes. In 2003, he graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Information Sciences and Technology and also served as the Vice-President of S.I.F.E. (Students In Free Enterprise). He has previously served as Intake Coordinator at the Philadelphia chapter of the ACLU and is currently a volunteer with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Outside of his professional endeavors, Ash is also an avid musician and extreme-sports enthusiast. Finally, as a certified swift-water technician, he volunteers as a first-responder with the Upper Salford Swift Water Team in Upper Salford, PA. He currently resides with his fiance and their beloved dog Memphis in South Philadelphia's Bella Vista neighborhood.

Lauren Kobylarz, Senior Development Associate, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Lauren Kobylarz is a Senior Development Associate at Community Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income Philadelphians. At Community Legal Services (CLS), Lauren coordinates the organization’s fundraising communications and provides support to the grants program. In 2010, Lauren created CLS’ first and largest community event, the Justice For All 5K, to increase public awareness of and raise funds for CLS’ work. Before joining CLS, Lauren held journalism internships at Bicycling Magazine in Emmaus, PA, and MLB.com in New York, NY. Lauren received a B.A. in English from Duke University in 2008. At Duke, she completed the Secondary Teacher Preparation Program and earned a secondary school teacher licensure in English. Lauren was also a sports reporter for The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, and was awarded a scholarship from the Association for Women in Sports Media for her work as a student journalist. Lauren was born and raised in Kinnelon, NJ and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA. An avid runner and triathlete, Lauren spends her spare time volunteering with Students Run Philly Style, the only program in Philadelphia that offers marathon training to help youth succeed in life.

Estivaliz Lezama-Caravaca, Organizer, Philadelphia Domestic Workers Association

Estivaliz Lezama Caravaca is a nanny and Costa Rican immigrant leading the first-ever project to organize domestic workers in Philadelphia. In the wake of the historic Domestic Bill of Rights legislative victory in New York by Domestic Workers United, Ms. Caravaca founded the Philadelphia Domestic Workers Association to end the invisibility of nannies, housekeepers, and elder care workers in Philly regardless of immigration status. She is a leader in the growing national movement fighting against racially-motivated exclusion of domestic workers from workplace protections. In the summer of 2011, this young activist represented Philadelphia domestic workers in the launch of the campaign "Caring Across Generations" in Washington D.C. and at an internal community leader retreat training seminar provided by the California-based National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is currently a student at Philadelphia Community College and plans to become a lawyer.

Samantha Miller, 3rd Grade Teacher, Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Elementary Charter School

Samantha is a third grade teacher at Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Elementary Charter School, a second year turnaround school located in North Philadelphia. In addition to teaching, Samantha has developed curriculum for the network, serves on the staff council, and coordinates field trips for her grade level team. She is also a 2010 Teach for America Corps Member. Samantha is a student at the University of Pennsylvania working toward her Masters of Science in Education. Recently, Samantha joined The Project 367 Inc. Team as the executive director of their inaugural multi-university conference.Prior to joining Teach for America, Samantha attended The Pennsylvania State University graduating from the Schreyer Honors College with degrees in political science and philosophy. Through Schreyer, Samantha wrote her undergraduate thesis on service learning in Pennsylvania Public Schools. As an undergraduate, Samantha interned in the home office of former Congressman Joe Sestak and for Civic Enterprises, LLC, a policy firm based in Washington, DC. She is from Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Tom Nardi, Supervisory Office Manager, Working America

Tom Nardi has a long history in Philadelphia area electoral politics, dating back to his significant experience as a 6-year-old sign-hanger for his uncle's 1992 state senate race. Tom graduated from Villanova University in 2008, majoring in Political Science. As an undergraduate, Tom wrote a weekly column on political issues and current events, touching on topics as diverse as hunger in Africa and the electoral prospects of Ron Paul. After graduation, Tom worked as a field organizer for Patrick Murphy's successful 2008 re-election effort, covering Northeast Philadelphia and Bensalem. Murphy won his election in a swing district with over 56% of the vote. During 2009-2010, Tom worked for Doug Pike in the DCCC-targeted 6th District, which at the time stretched from Lower Merion out to Reading in Berks County. Tom was a jack-of-all-trades for the campaign, working at various times as a fundraiser, intern coordinator, scheduler, and field organizer. Most recently, Tom worked as a regional field director for the South Dakota Democratic Party in 2010, and currently works as an Office Manager in Plymouth Meeting for Working America, organizing affiliate of the AFL-CIO. He resides in Philadelphia, and is an active Democratic committeeperson with the city's 58th Democratic Ward.

Jennifer Passannante, Attorney, Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, LLP

Jennifer Passannante is an attorney at the law firm of Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, LLP. Jennifer’s practice includes handling matters involving the Federal and New Jersey State Constitutions; Title VII; the Family and Medical Leave Act; New Jersey's Fair Labor Standards Act; Americans with Disabilities Act; and New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, Conscientious Employee Protection Act, and Tort Claims Act. Jennifer has significant experience trying cases in both State and Federal Courts and representing clients in Appellate Court. Additionally, Jennifer's employment practice includes drafting and/or modification of employer handbooks, policies and procedures, employment and severance agreements, and general releases as well as the negotiation of same. Jennifer earned her undergraduate degree, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. She served as the Managing Editor of Outside Articles of the Villanova University School of Law Sports and Entertainment Law Journal and was secretary of the Pro Bono Law Society. She externed for the Honorable Carol Sandra Moore Wells, U.S.M.J. and the late Senior District Judge Clarence C. Newcomer. She is a member of New Jersey Women Lawyers Association and previously served as a board member of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Alex Peay, Alex Peay, Rising Sons

Alex Peay is the Founder and President of Rising Sons which is an organizations which empower youth through personal and professional development as they give back to their community through service. He was born in Silver Spring MD and grew up in New York City. He attended Ursinus College with a major in Politics and two minors in Media/ Communication and American Studies. After founding Rising Sons his Sophomore year, he lost interest in going to law school and decided to bring his organization to Philadelphia and dedicate his life to help urban youth achieve their goals, dreams and ambitions.

Stephen Rudman,Campaign Manager, Citizens for Sylianteng

Stephen Rudman is campaign manager for Democratic candidate Will Sylianteng’s State House race in the 151st District in Montgomery County. Stephen has previously worked on such campaigns as Shapiro/Richards for Montgomery County Commissioner and Bryan Lentz for Congress. Before working as a campaign staffer, Stephen graduated from Temple University Beasley School of Law and worked as a clinical student at the Mazzoni Center Legal Services Department and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Stephen attended Franklin & Marshall College, studying Astronomy as well as Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. After graduating from F & M, Stephen worked at the planetarium of the North Museum of Natural History and Science in Lancaster, PA. Stephen also spent several years working in a research lab at Arkema in King of Prussia, PA where he developed plastics for use in medical devises as well as additives for biofuels. Stephen grew up in Upper Dublin, PA where he attended Upper Dublin High School. He was a member of Boy Scout troop 665 where he attained the rank of Eagle. Additionally, Stephen was on the 2000 Philadelphia Dragonboat racing team and the 2001 US Dragonboat racing team where he earned the Gold and Bronze medals, respectively.

Christopher Smith, Executive Administrator, Office of the Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners

Christopher is currently the Executive Administrator to the Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. Before working in his current position, Christopher was the Political Director of the Shapiro Richards Campaign for Montgomery County Commissioner in 2011. As a member of the Senior Staff, Christopher played an integral role in the history-making campaign that concluded with the election of two Democrats to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners for the first time in over a century. Christopher is a 2010 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Political Science and a minor in History. At PSU Christopher served on the Executive Boards of the student government and Interfraternity Council, while being an active member of his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. With several other students, Christopher helped create a multi-university coalition aimed at increasing funding to Pennsylvania State-Related Universities in an attempt to keep tuition prices affordable. Christopher is a 2006 graduate of Abington Senior High School, located in his hometown of Abington, Pennsylvania. In his spare time, Christopher likes to play golf and racquet ball and enjoys cooking. Christopher aims to continue to be civically involved in Philadelphia and surrounding areas for years to come.

Claudia Streets,Researcher & Adult Advisor, City of Philadelphia Youth Commission

Claudia Streets currently serves a Researcher & Adult Adviser for the City of Philadelphia Youth Commission. She also serves as a Field Researcher with The LEGACY / Penn State Youth Afterschool Program Project. She is a Youth and Parenting Educator with To Our Children's Future With Health, Inc, a nonprofit organization servicing the West and North Philadelphia areas. She is a recent graduate of Liberty University's Master of Human Services- Marriage and Family Program.

Gregory Tallman, Analyst, PNC Financial Services

Greg Tallman currently works for PNC Financial Services as an auditor in the company's asset based lending group. He travels both domestically and internationally to conduct field audits on-site at clients who represent all industries. He started full time in the summer of 2010 after spending two summers as an intern at PNC. Greg graduated from the Pennsylvania State University and Schreyer Honors College with degrees in Finance and Economics and a minor in International Business. He served on the executive committee for the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, The Penn State Dance MaraTHON, as the Communications chairperson. He helped guide thousands of students, alumni, and donors in raising a then-record $7.5 million to fight pediatric cancer. He also served in student government and gave tours of campus to prospective students. Greg is originally from Broomall, PA where he graduated from Marple Newtown High School in 2006. He enjoys spending his free time with family and friends, watching and playing sports, and serving as a Big Brother to a seven year old at-risk boy from Philadelphia.

Assamen Tessema, Manager, Dr.denim,inc

Assamen Tessema, Ethiopian, is currently working as a manager at Dr.denim, Inc. He worked as a lawyer at Dashen Bank, lecturer of law and journalism at Addis Ababa university and was editor and talk show host at FM96.3 in Ethiopia. Studying his LLB and LLM in Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, central European University Budapest, Hungary and Emory University, Atlanta, USA,he is very much interested in the interplay of law and politics.

Emily Torstveit Ngara, Law Clerk, Hon. Mitchel Ostrer

Emily is currently law clerk to Judge Mitchel Ostrer. In August 2011 she completed a one-year fellowship working half time at Nationalities Service Center representing low-income individuals in a wide variety of immigration matters and half time at the Toll Public Interest Center at Penn Law providing guidance for students interested in working for underrepresented causes, communities, and individuals. Emily is a 2010 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she served on the Board of the International Human Rights Advocates, the Equal Justice Foundation, the Journal of International Law and the Feminist Working Group. As a law student, Emily had the opportunity to intern for the first female High Court Justice of Botswana. While in Botswana she met her now-husband, Ronald. Emily received her Bachelor's Degrees in Business Marketing (with a Certificate of International Studies in Business) and Norwegian Language and Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle. She speaks fluent Norwegian (Stavanger dialect), is currently learning Spanish, and has studied French, German, and Swahili. Emily is originally from Bozeman, Montana. She loves to dance, especially Middle Eastern Belly Dance, West African Dance and Hip-Hop.