Meet the 2018 Capital District - NY Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)
Legislative Director, New York State Senate
Brian Alapatt currently serves as a Legislative Director in the New York State Senate. During his junior year of college at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Brian completed an internship in the New York State Senate that made a real impact on him. It was his first foray into government and he greatly enjoyed the experience. After the internship, he became a permanent staff member.
Some of his responsibilities as a Legislative Director include drafting and introducing legislation, building coalitions to gather support amongst legislators for legislative and budgetary initiatives and meeting with stakeholders on issues across variety of topic areas.
Brian’s background in science became a real asset on the job. He grasped the science involved in a variety of environmental issues. In 2016, he played a lead role in the enactment of the nation’s first state law requiring public schools to test their potable water sources for lead.
Brian has also worked on a variety of political campaigns, ranging from citywide all the way to Presidential. He even served as a Delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA.
Two of his biggest interests are the intersection of business and government along with the intersection of technology and policy.
Outside of work, Brian greatly enjoys cooking, trail running, traveling and creating Snapchat stories.
Client Relationship Manager, James McGuinness and Associates
A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Sean T. Baldwin currently serves as a Client Relationship Manager for James McGuinness and Associates. In this capacity, he ensures that the technical needs of private service providers for children with special needs are met, and that the programs utilized on the county level are on par with state reporting standards. He advises the group on policy to ensure that their products are always compliant with ever-changing state and federal health care laws.
Sean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Siena College, where he served as president of their theatre club and their chapter of the New York College Democrats. He also received a Master of Public Administration with specializations in Social Welfare Policy and Women and Policy from SUNY Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. Social justice has always been on the top of Sean’s agenda. To this end, he has served on multiple political campaigns, interned in the Washington DC office of Rep. Paul Tonko, and performed AmeriCorps service with the Albany County District Attorney’s Community Justice Outreach Center. Sean seeks to further the cause of social justice by working with a nonprofit to provide advocacy and direct services to underserved communities. One day in the near future, Sean hopes to hold public office.
Outside of direct policy work, Sean believes that society can best be served through the arts. Having worked in the theatre since childhood, Sean believes that the arts can be used to increase civic engagement, forecast political and social developments, and provide society with much-needed self-awareness. As such, Sean serves as Vice President of local theatre group Going Dark Productions. He seeks to utilize artistic techniques, such as legislative theatre, to make a difference in his community. In his free time, Sean can be found in rehearsal, or behind the microphone at WVCR 88.3 the Saint, where he serves as producer, engineer, and host of an alternative music program and a political commentary show.
Communications Director, NYS Assembly
Jake Egloff is the Communications Director for NYS Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. In this capacity, he serves as the spokesman for the Assemblymember, manages relations with local and state media, maintains the member’s social media presence and helps break down issues in state government in a way that’s accessible to the general public. Jake grew up outside of Buffalo, where he developed a passion for social and economic justice while spending summers working on a farm with migrant workers. He is a 2015 graduate of the University at Albany, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics, and plans to enroll in a Master’s program in Public Administration in the future. He has previously worked as the Senior Organizer for North Carolina for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s 2016 Coordinated Campaign, and as a Workforce Development Planner for the North Central Washington State Workforce Development Council. He served as an Americorps Service Member in Wenatchee, Washington, at an adult education center. Jake is active in Democratic Party politics and served as a Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He is the current Treasurer of the Albany County Young Democrats and served on the executive board of the UAlbany College Democrats. Jake is passionate about LGBT and reproductive rights, environmentalism, workforce development, and bridging the urban-rural divide.
Director of Policy, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Raquel Gonzalez’s passion for public service stems from a desire to help families and communities like her own. Growing up in the poorest county in New Jersey, Raquel decided at a young age to embrace civic engagement as the vehicle for positive change.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies from George Mason University, Raquel learned her personal motto of “Respect.Empower.Include.” while working as a Field Organizer in Indiana for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. She spent the next two years serving as an appointee in Obama’s Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy and Confidential Assistant in the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.
During a one-year intensive dual degree program, Raquel lived overseas and earned a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Mediterranean Security from the University of Malta and a Master of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Shortly after returning to the United States, Raquel worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign as a Regional Field Director in Ohio, and then became an Associate Director for Volunteer Operations during the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
During the second term of Obama’s Administration, Raquel served in various roles, including: Special Assistant to the Director of Peace Corps; Economics Director for Presidential Personnel at the White House; and Deputy White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Raquel currently serves as Director of Policy at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, where she advises the Commissioner on agency program actions and policies and serves as an agency liaison with stakeholders and the general public. Her diverse portfolio includes managing the development and implementation of policy proposals for the Governor’s annual State of the State address and supporting efforts to bolster statewide agricultural education and increase procurement of local agricultural products.
Outside of work, Raquel looks for opportunities to use her experience to support upcoming progressive leaders and help build a better future for the next generation. She serves as the Membership Liaison for the Board of Directors of Latinos44, a professional development association for former Latino-appointees of the Obama Administration. She is also a Fellow with the New York State Academy of Public Administration and a Class 17 participant in the Empire State Agriculture Leadership Institute (LEAD NY).
Senior Legislative Analyst, Manatt, Phelps and Pillips, LLP
Nikita Hardy is a Senior Legislative Analyst in the Government and Regulatory practice of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP. She provides strategic analysis of New York State legislation and regulations and evaluates their impact on clients.
She has several years’ experience advising on New York State legislature and development. Before joining Manatt, she was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to be an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Manager and Excelsior Service Fellow for the Division of Science, Technology and Innovation at Empire State Development. In this role, she created and nurtured early stage companies through the New York State Business Incubator and Innovative Hot Spot program and developed a collaborative ecosystem for new media and gaming throughout the state. Nikita has also served as legislative director and coordinator of legislative and community affairs for the New York State Assembly and has served as treasurer for Community Board No. 3 in Brooklyn, New York.
Nikita is passionate about women’s issues, health care policy and eradicating socio-economic barriers. She strongly believes in giving back and ‘paying it forward’. Amongst her professional roles, she has held various community leadership positions. She continues her community service through the Black Women’s Association of Albany, the Junior League and various local organizations.
She holds a Master of Public Administration from the Austin Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. In addition, she earned a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in American and Urban Politics from Brooklyn College with a minor in Africana Studies.
A native of Brooklyn, NY, she relocated to the Greater Capital Region in 2015 with her husband and two daughters. She currently co-chairs the Legislative Committee of the Greater Albany Chapter of Jack and Jill of America and is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Counselor - Legal Advocate, The Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program
Samantha serves as a counselor and legal advocate for the Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program, an agency committed to reducing the trauma of sexual assault, crime, and violence, as well as providing community education for its prevention. Samantha provides comprehensive counseling and support services to her clients to help them navigate the criminal justice system, and find healing after experiencing a trauma. She also assists on special projects at the agency, and recently helped to introduce Take a Stand, Troy, a community initiative that aims to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes, create an open dialogue, and inspire the community to build a culture in which interpersonal violence is not tolerated.
Samantha received her Bachelor's of Science in Forensic Psychology from The College of Saint Rose, where she was an active member of the Honorable Loretta A. Preska '70 Mock Trial Team, and conducted and assisted on several psychological research studies. Her article, The Societal Fear of Sexual Assault and Self Protective Behaviors, can be found in The College's 2016 Journal of Undergraduate Research. Samantha also graduated from The College of Saint Rose with a minor in Spanish and her Certificate of International Spanish Language Studies after living in Buenos Aires, Argentina and attending the University of Belgrano.
Assistant Director of Public Policy and Research, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts
Brett Jordan is a recent transplant to the Capital District. She moved here from her native Boston on New Year’s Day 2017 to pursue her dream job, working to advance access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Brett currently serves as Assistant Director of Public Policy and Research at Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, the statewide advocacy and policy office that supports New York’s nine Planned Parenthood affiliates. In her first year at PPESA, Brett has been privileged to combine her activist and policy wonk sides in protesting ACA repeal efforts locally and in Washington, DC, and in researching and writing about a variety of policy proposals.
Before moving to the Capital District, Brett completed her Masters of Public Policy at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 2016. She concentrated in women and gender studies and health policy, completing coursework in state and federal health care policy, social justice issues, and policy analysis. Brett also served as a member of the Heller Student Association and student member of the Board of Governors of the school.
Brett graduated with College Honors from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Political Science and a minor in French. She is a classically trained soprano, community theater actress, and amateur swing dancer.
Project Coordinator, New York State Department of Health
Jonathan Lang is a Project Coordinator with the Office of Health Insurance Programs within the New York State Department of Health. With a wide-ranging portfolio, Jonathan’s responsibilities include interfacing with external stakeholders to strengthen collaborative relationships with Medicaid’s many partners, and assisting the Executive Deputy Medicaid Director and the Medicaid Policy Director on the development and execution of special projects.
Jonathan Lang began his career in New York State government through the Empire State Fellows Program, which is designed to provide professional development and leadership opportunities to individuals who are interested in a career in public service.
Prior to joining the Empire State Fellows Program, Jonathan was the Director of Governmental Projects and Community Development for the Empire State Pride Agenda where he was responsible for overseeing all of the Pride Agenda’s advocacy activities with the Executive Chamber and New York State agencies. Initiatives that he was responsible for included increasing state support for housing and supportive services for LGBT runaway and homeless youth in New York City, securing funding for the LGBT Health and Human Services Network, developing a groundbreaking report on LGBT health disparities in New York City, finalizing regulations and policies for New York State’s anti-bullying law, collaborating with an interagency task force to develop new protocols for collecting information on sexual orientation and gender identity, and removing barriers for transgender people trying to amend the gender marker on their birth certificates.
In recognition of his work on these issues, Jonathan was awarded the “LGBT POC Advocate Award” and the “Avant-Garde Transformational Leadership Award” by In Our Own Voices, an Albany-based organization that provides services for LGBT people of color in the Capital Region, and was recognized by City & State in their “Rising Stars 40 Under 40” issue. Jonathan was also in the inaugural class of the 21st Century Fellow Program for the Pipeline Project, which is a year-long program of leadership development for LGBT people of color managers.
Originally from Buffalo, NY, Jonathan has as a B.A in biology from Denison University and is currently studying for a Master’s in Public Administration at the SUNY Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy.
Director of Policy and Legislation, New York State Senate
Angélica Martinez was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Alongside her family, she emigrated to New York City as a teenager 18 years ago. As an immigrant and a dreamer, Angélica faced many challenges as she started her college career and joined the workforce. Nevertheless, she pursued her passion for policy and creating smart legislation to help those in need. Angélica graduated from CUNY's Baruch College with a degree in Finance, Investments, and Economics. After working as a consultant for a small non-for-profit in the South Bronx, she became passionate about the public sector and decided to return to her alma mater to pursue a master's degree in Public Policy. Fortunately, with President Obama's DACA executive action, she was able to obtain a work permit and become a fully functioning member of our society.
Angélica is deeply passionate about food policy and served as president to the student organization Food Matters at Baruch as a graduate student. As president, she led her group on several initiatives, including the school’s first year as participants of Food Day, panel discussions, and the hiring of a new food policy professor. Another of her interests is immigration policy, as a dreamer she has first hand experience of what undocumented immigrants in this country face. Upon graduation, she was fortunate to work alongside Professor Rob Smith from Baruch on a research project to identify individuals that were eligible for DACA and find ways to assist them in applying. After that, she became interested in local politics and started working as Special Assistant to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, where she served for 1.5 years. At the beginning of 2017, she moved to Albany to serve as Director of Policy and Legislation to New York State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey, where she reviews all bills that come across the Senator’s desk and advises him on several policy issues. She feels incredibly proud to serve the people of the 36th District, and is happy to be living her dream affecting real change in people's lives.
Attorney, New York State
Andrew Neidhardt recently started a position at the New York State Office of the Comptroller after serving two years as an Assistant District Attorney for Albany County. He went to NYU Law School and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and now lives in Albany, New York, with his wife and daughter.
Wellness Associate and All Staff Representative to (HWFC) Board of Directors, Student Athlete, Honest Weight Food Cooperative (HWFC)
Jamere E. Shelby was born in Monterey, California. Raised in Mississippi, she began connecting her distinct cultural roots of her Haitian mother and her Southern father. Upon graduating from Callaway High School in Jackson, Mississippi, Jamere relocated to New York City on a journey to discover the origins of her family heritage. Jamere is fluent in both French and Haitian Creole languages. While learning about her culture, she relocated to Albany where she enrolled at the University at Albany to major in Human Biology.
She has worked in numerous positions for the University at Albany’s Department of Residential Life, including one of the Housing Managers who oversaw the New York Giants Training Camp in 2012. She is currently a Wellness Associate at Honest Weight Food Cooperative, providing help to consumers with products that range from herbal tinctures to natural body care. She is also one of the All-Staff Representatives to the Honest Weight’s Board of Directors where she bridges transparent information between the employees and the Board of Directors, as well as providing reports and feedback to help maintain the Coop's mission values for its employees.
When Jamere is not at Honest Weight, she is interning for HIIT By HILTS, LLC, learning how to successfully manage a fitness company and becoming a compassionate personal trainer through assisting clients to achieve their personal fitness goals. Jamere is also a City of Albany Amateur Boxer. She also serves as the Athlete Representative for Adirondack Association of USA Boxing. She is a competitive runner for Quick Sliver Striders in New York City and Albany Running Exchange in Albany. She is also an AAU Track Official for Empire Sports Council. Jamere is a super athlete who always strives to help others. She enjoys working in the community, mentoring and tutoring young children, and volunteering with #TeamDorcey in the 1st Ward neighborhood. Jamere is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church. Her love for public health, fitness, nutrition, and politics has shown her that her career goals are not just one standard focused path, but a variety of experiences to help to fulfill her passions. Upon graduation from the University of Albany, Jamere plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Health and Nutrition.
Teacher, Chatham Central Schools
Otherwise known by his stage name ILLiptical, The WizARd of MARS, Michael is a Spoken Word Poet/Hip Hop MC, screenwriter, and English teacher with an aspiring passion to speak his thoughts and express his creativity for crowds of various ages and cultures at any given moment as the opportunity arises. It was Michael’s commitment to the upliftment of the urban youth as well as his obligation to interrupt the norms of cultural divide that inspired Michael to write the screenplay, Our Harlem. Michael holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the College of Saint Rose and has been an active MC and performer in Albany, NY since his junior year of high school. He has appeared in multiple stage plays and has served over ten years as an actor in the NYS Defenders Basic Skills Program.
College Success Manager, Sponsor-A-Scholar
Growing up in the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountain Range, Bens love for the outdoors took hold from an early age. This love of nature acted as a refuge and escape while trying to understand and interpret the outside world.
Bens love of movement and perception led him to study Psychology and Brain Development while at SUNY Oswego. After graduating from Oswego, Ben went on to get his Masters degree in Humanistic & Multicultural Education from SUNY New Paltz. During this time, his interest in restorative justice and re-shaping the education system took hold. Ben worked as a HEOP Academic Advisor at Bard College for two years where he worked with students, conducted admissions recruiting, and ran a summer intensive orientation program. During his time at Bard, Ben was able to create new programming geared at re-shaping conversations about racial justice among white folks.
Ben Sweet now works as the College Success Manager for the Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar. In his role, Ben is responsible for working with low-income students in Albany, Troy, and Schenectady High School’s to holistically prepare students for college and beyond. Furthermore, Ben works with students at local colleges to assist with the creation of academic plans. The end goal for Ben's position is to create powerful relationships that will empower students to use their own voices to access higher education and in turn, shape the world.
Bens has a large interest in the relationship between mindfulness, depression, and the outdoors. This interest has allowed Ben to conduct IRB approved research in this area and he hopes to continue this research going forward.
Outside of Ben’s professional responsibilities he is a long time runner and is an active member of the Albany Running Exchange Racing Team. This allows Ben to travel around the northeast to compete in various track meets.
Domestic Violence Program Administrator, New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
Erin Trowbridge is a Domestic Violence Program Administrator at the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV). In this role, she leads two grant programs aimed at addressing domestic violence cases that are at the highest risk for homicide, and assists with the statewide Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI). Prior to this role, Erin was the Excelsior Service Fellow for the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. She obtained a Master of Public Administration degree at Rockefeller College with a concentration in Women & Public Policy and Policy Analytic Methods in 2015. She also graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies. Erin's policy interests include international and domestic gender issues, international economic development, public health, and women's reproductive rights. Erin has served as a volunteer with a variety of local organizations, including most recently as an advocate at the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center where she assisted victims of sexual violence in navigating services and resources post-assault and as the Community Service Chair for the Rockefeller College Public Affairs Student Association. Erin has recently started working with STEM: Strong Through Every Mile, a Capital District organization that empowers survivors of domestic violence through running. Erin is from Encinitas, California and currently lives in Albany, New York.
Director of Research and Operational Programming, Ulster County Attorney's Office
Rashida Tyler hails from Kingston, NY and currently serves as the Ulster County Director of Research and Operational Programming. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy with a concentration and certificate in Nonprofit Management. She is a 2016 Women in Government and Civil Society Fellow and a 2017 graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.
Rashida is a passionate advocate for social and economic justice, especially for women in low-income and disenfranchised communities. Her areas of interest and research include: food insecurity, the impact of gentrification on the poor, homelessness, source of income discrimination, and criminal justice reform.
Rashida has been involved in advocacy since childhood, her mother was a homelessness rights advocate in New York City and would bring her sister and her to meetings of the Homeless People's Union. As a child, Rashida also began attending Hunger Action Network rallies and lobby days to increase the State public assistance grant. The experience had a lasting impact on her and she returned to Hunger Action Network as a graduate intern, where she gained experience working on state and national policies, including the HPNAP, CNR, and the Farm Bill. She also helped to organize lobby days and social actions. She understands firsthand the necessity for communities directly impacted to take an active role in the formation of public policy.
Rashida works with many community organizations and advocacy groups to help work toward meaningful change and community uplift. Rashida is also a State Board member for Citizen Action of New York's Hudson Valley Chapter and Represents the Third Judicial District on the State Committee for the Women's Equality Party. Rashida is also a member of the Alumnae Board for the Center For Women in Government and Civil Society.
Research Analyst, NYS Executive Chamber
Elizabeth Vanasdale currently works for the Executive Chamber as a Research Analyst for Public Integrity conducting vetting and risk analysis. Previously she monitored and analyzed the fiscal operations of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance as a Budget Fellow III at the NYS Division of Budget. Elizabeth was also a Public Policy Fellow through the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society. As a Fellow, she worked on workforce development policies at the NYS Department of Labor. In this role she analyzed the statutory language of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and developed policies to be implemented on the state and local levels. All of these experiences have exposed her to understanding the different functions of government. Elizabeth’s interest in government began in her undergraduate career where she took Political Theory and Sociology courses that drew her to issues of poverty and classism. She was active in community service and cultivated a passion for serving the poor and underprivileged, volunteering to feed those experiencing homelessness in Syracuse and Philadelphia. While Elizabeth was exposed to poverty domestically, she sought to learn about the structural barriers that hindered social and economic mobility in post-apartheid South Africa. At the University of Cape Town, she studied African Gender Studies, South African history and African Genocide. These courses expanded her understanding of how society is shaped by patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture, creating norms regarding class, race and gender. Post-graduation, Elizabeth worked as an inner city Tenants Rights Advocate in Baltimore, Maryland as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer. In this role, she advocated for clients experiencing foreclosure, eviction and uninhabitable living conditions. As an advocate, she served more than 300 clients, conducted community outreach in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and advocated for legislation to prohibit landlord retaliation and income discrimination practices. While pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration, Elizabeth worked as a Public Benefits Paralegal where she developed substantive knowledge of public benefits law while collaborating on impact litigation and statewide policy priorities. The combination of Elizabeth’s personal and professional experiences has provided her with a unique understanding of the inner-workings of government and the implementation of public policy. As an NLC fellow, she hopes to continue to grow personally and professionally while learning from her fellow fellows!
Project Management and Continuous Improvement Professional
David Wallack is a Project Management and Continuous Improvement professional who helps organizations develop, refine, and align people and processes. Originally from northwestern New Jersey, David relocated to the Capital District in 2005 to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has called the area his home since. Over the years, David has collaborated with various organizations such as Troy Parks & Facilities, Unity House of Troy, and American Red Cross, volunteered as a high school hockey coach, and has been involved with mentorship programs designed to support the successful development of young adults through maximizing the positive influence of peers and mentors, goal setting in the areas of leadership, stewardship, learning, and service, and moving towards an increased capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness.
These experiences have influenced David and provided numerous opportunities to further develop his own skills in communication, empathy, teaching, and empowering others. By applying the lessons learned and his expertise in creating clarity from ambiguity, organizing, planning, and delegating, David repeatedly witnessed substantial improvements in teamwork, productivity, and growth for the organizations in which he’s worked with, most recently in the business analytics and communications engineering industries. Learning from the challenges encountered on the way to these repeated successes, David has committed himself to be a catalyst for positive change in the communities in which he lives and works. In his free time, you can find him playing racquetball or skiing in the Adirondack and Green Mountains.
Jonathan Whyte Dixon
Graduate Assembly, The Liberty Partnership Program
Jonathan Whyte Dixon originally from Brooklyn, NY was born on March 27, 1993. He attended Midwood High School and discovered a Track and Field, which he was not so bad at. In search of a good academic university with a competitive track team he came to the University at Albany in 2011. However he came across something more valuable, a community of people he was able to positively live and thrive in.
Mr. Whyte Dixon decided to begin his undergrad career as a biology major, however switched to History preferring to study the arts. Mr. Whyte Dixon during his undergraduate career was involved with New Student Programs, Residential Life, Student Association and worked in various capacities for the Liberty Partnership Program. Mr. Whyte Dixon was also a member of the 2016 Assembly internship class and volunteered in Haiti that summer.
Mr. Whyte Dixon after undergrad decided to continue with his education in pursuit of a masters degree in Education. He applied and was accepted in to the Education Policy and Leadership program at the University at Albany. Other than being in his Graduate Program he is a Graduate Assistant for the Liberty Partnership Program and has been involved with the Graduate Student Association on campus.
He likes to think of himself as a hard worker and a self starter.