2013 NLC Fellows: New Jersey


Shariq Ahmad, Field Organizer, NJ Democratic State Committee

Shariq Ahmad recently finished working on his latest campaign, the Victory 2012 Coordinated Campaign where he, as the Middlesex County field organizer, helped get President Obama, Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone, and the rest of the Democratic slate re-elected by runaway margins. He has worked on Democratic campaigns for the past 4 years, working mostly as an organizer tasked with managing voter identification, outreach and Get Out the Vote efforts. He is also a county committeeman in Middlesex County and serves as a mayoral appointee on Edison's Fair Rental Housing Board. Shariq is a graduate of Rutgers University, where he double-majored in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, double-minored in Economics and Religion, and completed certificate programs from the Eagleton Institute of Politics and in International Political Economy. At Rutgers, he spent most of his time traveling with the Model UN team, and as President, led them to be ranked top-10 internationally. After one of his team's victories, he and his teammates were invited as guests to a gala at the German Ambassador's residence to celebrate Oktoberfest. He is a proud member of the Cap & Skull Honor Society, to which he was selected because of his various successful leadership, service, and academic efforts at Rutgers. Shariq hopes to remain involved in Democratic politics, supporting candidates he believes in and organizing people to become more active and engaged in the democratic political process. He plans to continue his studies in law school and hopes that he can advocate at an international level, whether it involves bringing the world's worst criminals to justice, helping create and implement policies that ease burdens on families and children across the globe, negotiating peace to secure our nation's interests, or ignoring a parking ticket because of diplomatic immunity. Born and raised in Edison, NJ, Shariq loves to travel, is fluent in a several languages, and particularly enjoys visiting extended family in Pakistan. He is a huge Yankees fan, and sincerely believed for most of his childhood that by this age he would be busy getting groomed to be the successor and heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.

David Bander, Administrative Organizer, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

David Bander is currently an administrative organizer with the labor union 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. His work with 1199 includes training and recruiting union leaders; handling grievances and arbitrations; and contract negotiation and administration. Prior to joining 1199, David worked in politics for several years. He worked on political campaigns in Tennessee and New Jersey, and then served as chief of staff for New Jersey state senator Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro). David holds a BA in Government from the University of Virginia and a JD from Vanderbilt University Law School. In addition, he recently began a master's degree at Rutgers University's School of Management and Labor Relations. David is an avid reader and is a resident of Plainsboro, where he is active in local politics.

Steven Boxer, Teacher, Newark Public Schools

After graduating Rutgers College with a degree in Labor Studies and Statistics, Steven became a math teacher for one of the most challenged schools in Newark, NJ. Throughout his tenure at Newark Public Schools Steven has chaired the Technology H.S. School Leadership Committee, sat on the District wide School Leadership Council, as well as wrote a winning Teacher Innovation Fund (Facebook) grant.

Chrissy Buteas, Vice President, Capital Impact Group

Chrissy Buteas serves as a Vice President at the Capital Impact Group. She brings with her a wealth of experience in government and politics. Prior to joining the Capital Impact Group team, she worked in the office of a Board of Public Utilities Commissioner monitoring and analyzing energy-related legislative and policy activity. Chrissy participated in Leadership NJ, one of the most prestigious leadership development programs in the state. She also served her community as a Councilwoman in South Plainfield where she served as the liaison to the Environmental Commission and Health Department. She also serves on a number of volunteer boards and is Vice President of the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey. Chrissy served as a Raimondo Fellow at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. She holds an MPA from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University-Newark and a BA from Rowan University.

Neil Eicher, Director, Government Relations and Policy, New Jersey Hospital Association

Neil has worked as the Director of Government Relations and Policy at the New Jersey Hospital Association since 2008. In addition to working on health care legislation in Trenton, Neil also coordinates health care reform implementation efforts for NJHA. Prior to coming to NJHA, Neil worked as the Chief of Staff to Senator Ellen Karcher. He graduated from Juniata College with a degree in Politics and Russian and from Monmouth University with a Masters of Arts degree in Public Policy.

Rajvir Goomer, Associate / Attorney, Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, LLP

Born and raised in West London, England, Rajvir Goomer was 10 years old when he moved to Saratoga (Silicon Valley), California for 2.5 years. During the move to California, Rajvir spent 6 months going to school in Bowie, Texas, a rural town where his uncle resided. After 2.5 years in California, his family moved to the East Coast, East Brunswick, NJ, where he spent the remainder of his childhood. After graduating high school Rajvir attended Virginia Commonwealth University on a full scholarship after being admitted into its Gauranteed Medical Program. While at VCU, Rajvir was a VCU Ambassador, President of the Indian Student Association, Founder of the Sikh Student Association and member of the Multicultural Advisory Committee. After 4 years of work on a Bachelor of Science in Biology, he made a final decision not to attend medical school. Rajvir worked with my dad in the family business for two years, and then obtained a paralegal position at Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst and Doukas, LLP. While working at Hoagland, Rajvir applied to attended Rutgers Law School in Newark as an evening student. During his years at Rutgers Law, he was the Secretary, President and then VP of the Evening Student Association. He passed both the NY and NJ bar exams and is now a practicing attorney at Hoagland, Longo. Rajvi wishes to continue doing cultural awareness programs in his personal life as I have done for the past few years in coordination with East Brunswick Public Schools. He was also married to the love of his life in 2010.

Jovi Hammer, Legislative Aide, New Jersey General Assembly

Jovi Hammer is a constituent and legislative aide for Assemblyman Reed Gusciora of New Jersey's 15 District. He graduated Rutgers University with a double major in Psychology and Political Science. During his undergraduate career he was part of the New Jersey Leaders of Tomorrow Presidential Internship Program. After graduating Seton Hall's Pre-Legal Program, he also became a legislative analyst for New JErsey Society for Economic and Environmental Development (NJSEED). Jovi is responsible for Assembly Bill 2684, a bill that would amend the current opt-in registry system for organ procurement in order to potentially save and enhance lives. He is pursuing a joint degree for his Juris Doctorate & Masters in Public Heath in the coming years. In his spare time, Jovi is an active member of the Mercer County Young Democrats and volunteers for the 15th District Democrats. Jovi was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Cape May, New Jersey. He currently resides in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Rob Houston, Program Officer, Center for Health Care Strategies

Rob Houston is a Program Officer at the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), a nonprofit health policy consulting organization that is dedicated to improving health care access and quality for Medicaid beneficiaries and other low-income individuals. He is currently working with CHCS' Delivery System Reform team on a number of projects to guide the development of Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and multi-payer reform efforts. These projects aim to improve health outcomes and quality while reducing costs in the State of New Jersey and across the country. Prior to joining CHCS, Rob worked with Robert Wood Johnson Partners on projects involving health information technology and organizational structure. He also consultanted with the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, where he researched the effectiveness of health care quality measures for the Medicaid population. Previously, he was the Manager of Special Projects for Therapy Dogs International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing therapy dogs with those in need of emotional support. At TDI, he led a number of initiatives designed to increase the geographical reach of the organization and support its continued growth in existing areas. Rob has been described as “Jersey for Life” and holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) with a concentration in Health Policy from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing from Rutgers Business School. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Madeline McCormick, Student, Rutgers School of Law

Madelein McCormick is a second year law student at Rutgers University School of Law, Newark. Originally from California, Madelein received her Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Philosophy and Gender and Women's Studies. Soon after graduation, Madelein began working as the grant writer for Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, where she was responsible for raising 1.4 million dollars annually in foundation and corporate support. After moving across the country for law school, Madelein has been involved in various non-profit opportunities, and as a 2012 Pride Law Fund Fellow she was able to spend her first year summer at Transgender Law Center, where she advocated for gender non-conforming clients throughout the country. Most recently, Madelein interned with Lambda Legal in New York City, focusing on research and writing for LGBT asylum cases. Madelein will be equally busy in 2013, where she will be interning with family law judges in Newark, NJ and spending her summer working for Immigration Equality in New York City. During her free time, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with her two lovely dogs, Oliver and Oscar and her partner, Emma.

Brandon McKoy, Program Associate, Fund for New Jersey

Brandon McKoy is currently working as a program associate at the public policy philanthropic foundation the Fund for New Jersey and completing his Master of City & Regional Planning degree from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Social Psychology from The College of New Jersey. Before pursuing his Master's degree, he worked as an AmeriCorps Vista at HANDS, Inc., a community development corporation in New Jersey, dealing with foreclosure mitigation and increasing citizen participation in local decision making. He also worked as a senior campaign coordinator on the political campaign for South Orange’s Mayor, Alex Torpey. Brandon’s professional interests include increasing democratic citizen participation and education, use of social media in politics, and sustainable environmental planning and development practices.

Kavita Mehra, Vice President, GlamourGals Foundation, Inc.

Kavita Mehra has been working in the not-for-profit sector in the New York City area for the past 10 years. Kavita completed her Bachelor of Arts from New York University, with a double major in both History and Gender Studies. She also holds a Master of Arts from Columbia University, with a concentration in South Asian Studies. She has worked with a host of organizations, including New York Asian Women's Center, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Easter Seals New York, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!) and Asian Women in Business. As Vice President of GlamourGals Foundation, Kavita’s work includes program development and expansion, special events, government relations, marketing and communications, and strategic planning for the organization. Her experience with GlamourGals has been the most exciting and personally rewarding opportunity of her career.

Christopher Menschner, Public Policy Analyst, New Jersey Department of Human Services

Christopher Menschner, Public Policy Analyst, New Jersey Department of Human Services. Christopher Menschner currently serves as a public policy analyst for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development. Chris’ work focuses primarily on welfare policy. Chris began his career as a counselor and case manager, working with adults with mental illness and substance abuse issues in and around Trenton, NJ. These early career experiences opened Chris’ eyes to the daunting issues facing low-income communities as well as the shortcomings of many social programs and policies aimed at alleviating poverty. Based on these early experiences, Chris has dedicated his career to fighting for just social and economic policies and developing innovative, effective, and empowering social programs. Chris has held positions in diverse government and non-profit settings, including community mental health centers, an affordable housing campaign, City Hall in Trenton, NJ, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate, and the West Africa AIDS Foundation in Accra, Ghana where he completed his graduate fieldwork as a Taiyeb & Atma Mama International Social Work Fellow. Chris received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University and earned master’s degrees in both social work and public policy from Monmouth University where he currently serves as an adjunct professor of social work. A proud New Jerseyan, Chris grew up in Hamilton Square and has lived in Jersey City for the past six years. Chris enjoys traveling, music, and is an avid Philadelphia sports fan.

William Moen Jr., Legislative Aide, New Jersey State Legislature

Bill Moen, Jr. is a legislative aide in New Jersey’s Fifth District, helping draft public policy initiatives, providing community outreach and performing other services for the legislators representing 19 Camden and Gloucester County towns, including Camden City. Prior to his work as a legislative aide, Moen served as communications director for the Fifth District Office. He also worked in various capacities in state, county and municipal campaigns in New Jersey -- and, before that, as an intern for U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews and then-New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney. A first generation college graduate, Moen earned a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, Bill and his EducaPhilly teammates were university finalists in the Penn Public Policy Challenge. The team conceived a plan to bridge the language gap between the School District of Philadelphia and the city’s minority communities by creating a Spanish-speaking radio show targeting Hispanic parents of students -- informing them of news, school policies and other useful information to help ensure their children’s success. Moen’s interest in such community-based initiatives, coupled with his enterprising spirit and determination to see a project through, has continued through his work in government and politics. In his current role with the State Legislature, for example, Bill has worked on legislation involving a number of social issues, including new urban education initiatives and the state’s first bill to bring social-impact bonds to New Jersey. Born and raised in a working class suburb just minutes from Camden City, Moen understands the importance of positive community figures and service to the community. While a teenager, he was member of a flag football team from his home town that represented the United States in Berlin, Germany, and ultimately brought home a world championship. Today he is trying to give back by volunteering as a little league baseball coach in Camden City. Coming from a family with a long record of military service, Moen also serves as Junior Vice-President of the local VFW Post Men’s Auxiliary, which is comprised of relatives of war veterans. Moen received a Bachelors degree in Political Science from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. He founded the university’s Democratic Club and served as its president. He was also Senate Chairman of the Student Government Association, an organization representing the university's entire student body.

Rachel Moody, Student, Rutgers School of Law

Rachel is a second year law student at Rutgers School of Law – Newark working to complete a dual degree in the Masters of Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Her concentration is in the economics of environmental problems. Rachel’s interest in environmental policy and regulation stems from her educational background in city and regional planning. She has a strong desire to take part in the enforcement of pollution-control laws and to ensure government adequately protects natural resources and public lands. At law school, Rachel serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Public Interest Law Foundation, and was elected as a member of the Student Bar Association. Her research interests include energy law, global climate change, administrative law, and environmental economics in public policy. Presently, Rachel is exploring federal prosecution and defense as a legal intern at the United States Attorney's Office - District of New Jersey, with the Criminal and Civil Divisions. In the summer of 2012, she served as a legal intern for the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Fraud Prosecution section. Rachel also held an internship with the San Francisco Planning Department, where she worked with the Transportation Team supervisor in the Environmental Analysis division. With a diverse, non-traditional background, Rachel has unique perspectives on policy issues. During her undergraduate studies, she worked full-time as a tow-truck driver in San Francisco. As an Americorps Backcountry Trail Crew corpsmember, she spent six months living outdoors in remote backcountry camps, worked on a crew that built three and a half miles of trail in the Klamath National Forest, and maintained trails in Yosemite National Park. Rachel still loves to get outdoors, and now enjoys the challenge of endurance journeys. August 2012, Rachel hiked a 172-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, from the Pennsylvania border to Connecticut, in ten days. The prior summer she hiked the length of Glacier National Park, and then traveled from San Francisco to New Jersey on a motorcycle. She has also taken a solo, two-month cross-country tour of the United States. The next adventure Rachel is planning will be a bicycle tour.

Casey Olesko, Advocacy Center Manager, The Women's Centers

Casey Olesko is the Advocacy Center Manager for The Women’s Centers, a group of women’s health care providers with affiliates throughout the East Coast, including locations in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. As Advocacy Center Manager, she oversees a group of dedicated, passionate Phone Advocates who engage with patients over the phone and provide support and information to women who seek abortion care and other women’s health services. She has been working for The Women’s Centers since her graduation from The College of New Jersey in May 2012. At The College of New Jersey, Casey double-majored in Sociology, with a concentration in Nonprofit and Community Development, and Women’s and Gender Studies, with a minor in Marketing. While a student at TCNJ, Casey found a passion for reproductive health and justice. She was the President of Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood, an organization that strove to educate the TCNJ community about sexual health and reproductive rights while engaging students in political advocacy around women’s health care issues. She headed this organization for three years, and led the group in advocacy campaigns around health care reform, abortion rights, and contraceptive coverage. She also led successful fundraising campaigns for local and national abortion access funds. Casey also served as the Community Services Intern at Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area in Trenton, New Jersey for three years. There, she assisted with the organization’s social media and online marketing, establishing and providing content for their Facebook Page and revitalizing their affiliate website. She also engaged in several political campaigns against statewide budget cuts to family planning services. Additionally, she was chosen to be one of twenty young people nationwide to serve on Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Young Leaders Advisory Council, where she helped provide advice and insight to aid Planned Parenthood in involving young people in national reproductive rights and sexual health advocacy campaigns. Casey was born and raised in Bergenfield, New Jersey, but now resides in Plainsboro, New Jersey. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, sewing, and spending time with her two cats.

Andrew Regenstreich, Project Manager, New Jersey Community Capital

Andrew Regenstreich joined Community Asset Preservation Corporation in March 2012 as a Project Manager. In this position, Andrew manages individual development projects from predevelopment through construction, ensuring that the final product is of high quality and is completed in a timely manner. Prior to joining CAPC, Andrew held a variety of positions with Jersey City’s Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce; the City of New York; the United States Senate; and the U.S. Embassy in London. He also spent a year managing a microfinance program in a refugee camp in Zambia. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University, and a master’s degree in public and nonprofit management from NYU’s Wagner School. He is on the board of the Alexia Foundation, a nonprofit photography foundation.

Shabnam Salih, Legislative Aide, NJ Senate

Shabnam Salih grew up arguing international and domestic politics with her family from a young age. She is currently a legislative aide for Senator Shirley K Turner and spends her time managing constituent cases as well as researching and analyzing the Senator’s policy initiatives. She enjoys the opportunities she has to work on education policy ideas and issues for the Senator. Before coming to the Senator’s office, Shabnam was a kindergarten teacher in a charter school in Newark, NJ as a part of Teach for America 2010. She has a certification in elementary education. She enjoyed the challenging and vigorous experience. She deeply values her experiences in the classroom and will allow the experiences to guide her education policy work in the future. Shabnam has a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College, CUNY in Manhattan and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from The College of New Jersey. She also participated in the New Leadership Training for Young Women at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. She has a two year old son with whom she loves spending time. In addition to being a loving addition to her life, he has opened her eyes to a vast array of issues lower and middle income families face in the US every day.

Raimy Schutzman, Graduate Student, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University

Raimy Schutzman is currently a graduate student in City and Regional Planning at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her graduate work focuses on housing and real estate, with a particular interest in affordable housing and urban redevelopment. She is also a research assistant at the Rutgers Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, where she is working with the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance on developing recommendations and compiling resources on climate change adaptation strategies for New Jersey. Prior to returning to graduate school, Raimy was a Project Associate at the Durst Organization, where she managed budgets, schedules, and contracts for real estate development projects. Raimy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA with a major in Architecture and a minor in Economics. Raimy is from Oceanside, New York and currently lives in Highland Park, New Jersey; she loves her current location and thinks every suburb should be as walkable as Highland Park. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, bicycling, reading, and playing the flute.

Frank Speziali III, Deputy Political Director, Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters

Frank Speziali III graduated from Rutgers University in 2003 with a degree in Labor Relations. Two months after graduating, Frank started his first position in his professional career, with the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. After working in their Research Dept for about two years, Frank moved on to the New Jersey Carpenter Contractor Trust, the labor-management arm of New Jersey's Union Carpenters and their Union Contractor employers. This experience turned out to be invaluable, as he gained knowledge into the inner workings of the marketing and public relations world. Frank continued along this career path until October 2012, when he was offered a position on the Northeast Regional Council Executive Team. He currently holds the position of Deputy Political Director. Personally, Frank enjoys many different things: watching sports (huge Philadelphia sports fan), traveling when able, and spending time with his family and friends.

Stella Tsay, Senior Consultant, I.B.M. Global Business Services

Stella Tsay is a consultant with I.B.M., where she currently advises utility clients on smart grid initiatives. Prior to joining I.B.M., Stella previously managed multi-million dollar domestic and international marketing campaigns for clients across various industries, including but not limited to Kraft Foods, Nintendo, and United Airlines. Stella has a Master in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University. In her spare time, Stella likes to snowboard, surf, and travel.

Zachary Wright, Director, The De Miche Group LLC

Entrepreneur and business strategist ZM Wright is the CEO of The De Miche Group LLC, a multimedia consulting and development agency headquartered in New Brunswick, NJ. (www.TheDemiche.com) A decorated graduate of Washington, DC’s Howard University School of Business, ZM left investment banking for multimedia production in 2007. To date his company boasts a client list including some of the most recognized brand names and high volume communicators in the world. A New Jersey native, and the son of veteran educator Susan C. Settles, ZM has taken up innovation in education as his life's ambition outside of the office. In 2011 ZM formed a non-profit for the development of critical thinking skills in primary school students called "Imagine Doing." Along with his partner and attorney Franchesca M Rodriguez Esq., ZM runs Imagine Doing as both an instructor and strategic head.