Atlanta 2011 Fellows

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Justin Tanner, Senior Communications Specialist, City of Atlanta - Office of the Mayor

Justin G. TannerJustin G. Tanner is a Senior Communications Specialist with the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office. In this capacity, he handles Executive correspondence, accompanies the Mayor to public engagements, serves as a communications liaison with local media and works directly on specific policy issues. Previously, Mr. Tanner served as the Director of New Media for the Mayor’s 2009 citywide campaign / 2010 Inaugural Planning Committee, where he was responsible for formulating and implementing a comprehensive social media and online marketing strategy. He also served as Co-Chair of the Young Atlantans for Kasim Reed and a Campaign Ambassador. Most recently, Tanner was selected to participate in the Truman Project Partners Program and the United Way VIP Program. He is the Political Chair-Elect for the Young Democrats of Atlanta and is an active member of the Fulton Democratic Party of Georgia, representing House District 49, Post Seat 4. Tanner holds a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School where he was President of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society, and a B.B.A. in Marketing from Howard University, where he graduated magna cum laude. At Howard, he participated in the Executive Leadership Honors Program and became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Chapter.

Simon Tafoya, Legislative Assistant, U.S. Senate

Simon TafoyaSimon currently works in the Office of Senator Mark Udall of Colorado as a Legislative Assistant. Simon began his work in the U.S. Senate approximately three years ago in the office of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. While working in the U.S. Senate, Simon has served as the Vice-President of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association for two consecutive years and is now serving as the Acting President. The membership organization offers social and professional development support to Latinos in the federal legislative branch. Simon's previous work experience was in the non-profit sector. He worked in his home state of Colorado with El Pomar Foundation, where he expanded the Foundation’s demand-driven approach to philanthropy, among other responsibilities. Simon holds a B.A. in International Political Economy and Hispanic Studies from the Colorado College. He also attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University where he earned a Masters of Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning. Simon was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado and is the youngest of seven children.

Maricarmen Smith-Martinez, Homeowner Selection Manager, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

Maricarmen Smith-MartinezMaricarmen Smith-Martinez works for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. As the Homeowner Selection Manager, she oversees the family selection process, working with community groups and volunteer committees to provide resources and guidance for candidates in need of affordable housing. She is a certified Housing Counselor, completing training with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, she served in Costa Rica as a Rural Community Development volunteer from 2006 to 2008. She earned a bachelor of arts in Spanish and religion from Emory University. Maricarmen is a recent graduate of the United Way V.I.P. (Volunteer Involvement Program) and the Community Leadership Program of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials Institute of Leadership. She serves on the Homeowners Advisory Board at Twelve Centennial Park and is an active member of NPU-M. She also participates on the board for the Atlanta Young Alumni and serves on a volunteer committee for the Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Maricarmen comes to Atlanta from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, Managing Partner, LMB Law Offices

Lynita M. Mitchell-BlackwellLynita M. Mitchell-Blackwell is managing partner of LMB Law Offices, a firm that specializes in real estate, contracts, and non-profits. Previous to launching her own firm, Lynita served as In house Counsel with Community Management Associates, Inc., the largest privately owned property management company in Georgia. Prior to her career in law, Lynita was a top legal and finance recruiter and an Assurance and Advisory professional with both Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Lynita received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Florida A&M University and Juris Doctor degree from Georgia State University College of Law. Lynita is admitted to practice law in Georgia and holds her CPA license in Florida. Lynita is a member of several professional and civic organizations that include the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, the American Business Women’s Association, the American Association of Attorney CPA’s, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. She is co-founder and President of the Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute, a non-profit organization that develops female leaders; and 2010 graduate of both The White House Project, Inc. Georgia Go Run program and the United Way Volunteer Involvement Program (VIP). Lynita is from beautiful Miami, Florida.

Yamil Little, Director of Communication, Bridge DA Gap

Yamil LittleRaised in Sacramento, CA by his mother along with his two sisters, Yamil Little left the West Coast to pursue a life on the East Coast in an environment encompassing education, youth empowerment, entertainment, politics and social change. Tirelessly dedicated to opportunities that lead to the betterment of youth, he serves as Director of Communications for Bridge DA Gap, a youth development program, working with award-winning entertainment industry leaders, politicians, and corporations. Operating under the mindset of ‘glass half-full’ he creates paths where there are no footprints. Little is not on the A-List, he IS the A-List. He is Ambitious, Astute, and Assertive and assures that his pathway to success will be paved with the next generation of youth in mind.He enrolled at The Art Institute of Atlanta (A.I.A) and prior to graduating Cum Laude from A.I.A., he studied Audio Production (mixing mastering, sound design, recording techniques). Thirsty for knowledge in the entertainment industry, he filled a void in the college marketplace by creating The Recording Academy’s (NARAS) first GRAMMY U Student Chapter within the State of Georgia. Through GRAMMY U, Little was able to connect students with top entertainment industry insiders for career opportunities and insight on topics such as “How To Make a Hit”, “H.E.R. Hip Hop Panel: Mainstream vs. Underground”, and lastly the “State of the Industry” in partnership with The A3C music festival. In his senior year he was elected as President of the Student Government Association’s Leadership Council and generating voter registration initiatives in 2008, led to him initiating a march from Morris Brown University to the Georgia State Capital. Partnering with the first African-American female mayor, Shirley Clarke Franklin, 58th Mayor of Atlanta, he successfully coordinated The 2007 Earth Day Production in addition to other campus-based large-scale events, carnivals, showcases and entertainment-based educational panels and workshops.

Emily Kirsch, Lead Organizer, Green-Collar Jobs Campaign - Ella Baker Center

Emily KirschEmily Kirsch works at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights as the Lead Organizer for the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign. Emily has over five years of experience successfully building political and economic power in Oakland. Emily is a leader in local climate planning and green job creation with expertise in building long-term relationships across communities, sectors and interests. Emily convenes the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, the Oakland Apollo Alliance, is on the Steering Committee for the Emerald Cities Collaborative and is on the Board of the Workforce Development Collaborative.Emily played a lead role in launching the Oakland Green Jobs Corps which serves as a model for green job training across the state of California, serves on the advisory committee for the Green Tech Academy at Oakland Technical High School, co-authored Making Green Work: Best Practices in Green-Collar Job Training and has been featured in The Nation, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and holding a BA from San Francisco State University in Urban Health & Sustainability, Emily is passionate about creating solutions that save both lives and our planet.

Ansaf Kareem, Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company

Ansaf KareemAnsaf Kareem works at McKinsey & Co. and graduated from Stanford University in 2010. Ansaf is the co-founder of IDEAS, an international non-profit organization focused on creating awareness for environmental issues in the developing world. Ansaf’s past work experiences include working for one of the largest renewable energy law firms in the US, a clean-tech start-up in Silicon Valley, a non-profit working on civic participation, social media director for a state assembly race, and a research position at the Hoover Institution examining the role of emerging information technologies in mobilizing political efforts and citizen voice. Ansaf was also selected to serve as a Fellow at the Interfaith Youth Core and served in various leadership positions at Stanford, including the Board of Directors of the Stanford Alumni Association and as President of the Class of 2010. He wrote his senior honors thesis under sponsorship from CDDRL based on field research conducted in Pakistan during the summer of 2009. In 2010, Ansaf was recognized by Secretary Hillary Clinton as one of seventy Muslim-American leaders under the age of 30. Ansaf has been accepted for deferred admission to Harvard Business School, and will begin his graduate studies in Fall of 2012.

Nakia Harris, Director of Health Plan Operations, Amerigroup Community Care

Nakia HarrisNakia Harris is Director of Health Plan Operations for Amerigroup Community Care. Nakia is a Process Improvement expert who is certified in Lean Six Sigma Health care, holds a Six Sigma black belt certification and is a certified Project Manager (PMP). Nakia has over 11 years experience in the health care industry with emphasis in project management, process improvement and consulting. Nakia holds a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from Clark Atlanta University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland. Outside of her career, Nakia enjoys serving in the community through involvement in various non-profit boards such as National Council of Negro Women - Greater Atlanta Millennium Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc - Marietta Roswell Alumnae Chapter, serving on the Political Action and Awareness Committee and National Black MBA Association - Atlanta Chapter were she is a dedicated Lifetime Member. She is also actively involved with her church where she has served as a Missionary for Haiti participating in the relief efforts after the impacts of the January 2010 earthquake.

Keisha Carter, Legislative Advisor Intergovernmental Affairs Div., Office of the County Manager; Fulton County Government

Keisha CarterKeisha Carter is an experienced political professional whose leadership ability and passion for results were recognized at a young age. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Ms. Carter has been chosen for the some of the highest honors as a Kentucky Governors Scholar and YMCA Black Achiever of the year. While pursing Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and History at the University of Kentucky, she held numerous leadership positions including serving three years in the Student Government Association where she was elected the Senate President and noted as the only Senator to pass every bill she sponsored. Ms. Carter developed her “out of the box” strategies while working in key leadership positions for Congressman Ben Chandler (D-KY); Kentucky Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo; Former Georgia Lt. Governor Mark Taylor; the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton; Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell and members of the Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Maryland State legislatures. Her knowledge and understanding of political strategy, fundraising and public affairs are well recognized and respected throughout the country. Currently Ms. Carter operates RaZors Consulting and Carter Political Group. She also serves as a legislative advisor in the Intergovernmental Affairs Division-Office of the County Manager, Fulton County Government.

Jae Brown, Emergency Response Coordinator, US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

Jae BrownJae S. Brown is an Emergency Response Coordinator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As an Emergency Response Coordinator Mr. Brown is responsible for managing the incident response plans and activities of more than 300 labs and businesses across the United States. Prior to becoming an Emergency Management Specialist, Mr. Brown was an Emerging Leader Fellow with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While serving as an Emerging Leader Fellow, Mr. Brown worked on various public health issues to include initiating an integrated Electronic Health Records Program within multiple cities in the southeast United States. Mr. Brown’s civic activities include serving on the board of the Audio Verbal Center. He is a graduate of the United Way Volunteer Improvement Program in Atlanta and is serving on the board of the United Way of Atlanta’s African American Partnership. He was also selected for the 2010 class of L.E.A.D. Atlanta. Mr. Brown is currently a Doctoral Student at Central Michigan University studying Healthcare Administration. He graduated with a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Georgia and completed undergraduate studies at Georgia State University in Public Policy.