Meet the 2018 Los Angeles Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)
Strategic Partnerships Manager, First 5 LA
Alba Bautista is an experienced social sector professional who has worked for organizations that expand opportunities and improve the livelihoods of communities globally. Currently, she leads First 5 LA's organization-wide strategy to partner with the philanthropic community on early care and education policy and systems change. As the Strategic Partnerships Manager, she is responsible for catalyzing, building, and maintaining partnerships to advance First 5 LA's mission to ensure that all children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life. Prior to this, she served as a Senior Program Officer for Data2X, a research and advocacy platform housed at the United Nations Foundation. In this role, Alba managed research partnerships that address data gaps on the lives of girls and women by increasing the availability of data (e.g. sex-disaggregated data) and improving how the data is collected (e.g. developing new methodologies). Additionally, she supported advocacy efforts to increase awareness around the importance of gender data and data use for policy, especially for achieving the UN Global Goals. Alba also has experience working on programs supporting smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers. She helped design and operationalize programs to improve farmers’ agricultural practices, link the farmers to specialty buyers, and help make their businesses more competitive in global markets.
Graduate Fellow, Graduate Student, San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments
Michael Claproth is a graduate student at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy pursuing a Master of Public Administration. His graduate research focuses on the issue of political representation and governance at the local, state, and federal levels. By studying these issues in depth, Michael hopes to be able shed light on the inequities of political representation felt by marginalized communities.
Michael is also a staff member at the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), where he works closely with municipalities to advocate for sustainable energy solutions for the region as head of the SGV Go Green program. Ever the transit enthusiast, his responsibilities also entail educating SGV residents on transportation issues and working with LA Metro on the expansion of key transportation projects – including light rail and bike share – into the San Gabriel Valley.
Prior to his graduate experience, Michael worked in communications at the AARP California State Office in Los Angeles where he advocated for public policies in issue areas including affordable housing, financial justice, and transportation. During his time at AARP CA, he helped to enact Purposeful Aging Los Angeles – a 5-year plan to implement policies aimed at creating equitable living conditions for people of all ages and abilities throughout the City of LA and Los Angeles County. Michael spent the 2016 election season collaborating with community groups, Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA Metro, and others to help pass Measure M in Los Angeles County. As 2018 approaches, he has begun to shift his focus from issue campaigns to helping elect progressive candidates to office.
Outside of work and school, Michael volunteers his time with groups like the Partnership for an Equitable Los Angeles (PELA), the Economic Roundtable, and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA). Michael holds a B.A. in Communication from California State University, Los Angeles. He’s a self-proclaimed fantasy football connoisseur, news junkie, and a newly minted LA Rams fan.
Director, Tech + Innovation Initiative, UCLA
Andres Cuervo serves as Director of UCLA Tech + Innovation (ucla.edu/innovation), an initiative to build new partnerships with the tech sector, foster campus innovation, and communicate the latest scientific breakthroughs from the university to the public in new and compelling ways. Prior to UCLA Tech + Innovation, Andres managed marketing and communications for UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. He was recently the recipient of the UCLA External Affairs Achievement Award.
Before UCLA, Andres worked for the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, where he coordinated the Chamber’s education and workforce development programs. His passion for helping to build a more inclusive and pioneering city began with his work as an intern for former Mayor of Riverside Ron Loveridge, the South Coast Quality Air Management District, and the National League of Cities.
Andres currently also serves as Vice President, Chair of Transportation & Infrastructure, and Vice-Chair of Communications for the Neighborhood Council in Palms, a community of 44,000 residents in Los Angeles.
Andres earned his B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside, where he co-authored and successfully campaigned for the passage of the Green Campus Action Plan, the university’s first student referendum for sustainability projects.
Andres enjoys hiking National Parks, indulging in Star Wars, and is a proud first-generation Colombian-American.
Associate Director of Recruitment and Admission, University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy
Sarah Esquivel serves as the Associate Director of Recruitment and Admission at the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. The Price School’s mission to improve the quality of life for people and their communities is consistent with her personal commitment to social justice. Sarah’s life’s work and personal experiences as a woman of color cemented her strong passion for higher educational accessibility as a means to improve social justice by enabling intergenerational mobility. She is proud to work with such driven undergraduate and graduate students who want to change the world through public service. Sarah currently serves on the standing committee for the Price School’s Initiative for Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion where she oversees recruitment and retention. In this role, she conducts outreach to local organizations and public schools to create pipeline programs for underrepresented students interested in public policy and urban planning. Sarah also actively participates in these programs conducting workshops on financial aid and the college application process. As future change agents, Sarah believes that it is important to provide students with the social and cultural capital necessary to transform our political system and our communities.
A first generation college student, Sarah first became passionate about educational equity at Occidental College, where she majored in Sociology and Spanish Literary Studies. Her sociology background heavily influenced her progressive political views and activism. Sarah’s senior thesis on racial microaggressions and campus climate helped her to discover the importance of support systems for underrepresented students. As a senior, Sarah also worked for Oxy’s Office of Admission where she helped to coordinate multicultural visit programs for prospective students. Her experience working with underrepresented students and their parents led her to pursue a career in higher education. She completed her Master’s in Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs at the University of Southern California, and hopes to pursue a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership in the future.
Sarah was born in San Jose, Costa Rica but grew up in Los Angeles, California. Like the stereotypical native Angeleno, she enjoys hiking, yoga, and going to the beach (but only when it’s above 70 degrees). When she isn’t experimenting with recipes from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Sarah dedicates her free time to photography and working on a website dedicated to wellness, spirituality, and self-care for women of color.
Director of Digital & Civic Engagement, River LA
Jason serves River LA as the Director of Digital and Civic Engagement. In this role, Jason ensures connects River LA’s digital presence to LA river residents and supporters through intentional engagement and interactive campaigns. Prior to this position, Jason served as the Operations Manager and was responsible for River LA’s operational, financial, systemic functions.
Prior to River LA, Jason worked as a Project Manager for Impacct Brooklyn (previously Pratt Area Community Council) in Brooklyn, New York. At Impacct, Jason managed two multi-unit affordable housing projects through construction, included overseeing tenant relocations and property management services. While serving as a Public Allies New York fellow with Impacct, Jason contributed to the organization’s mission as a Community Advocate by cultivating relationships with community members, curating community actions, participating in rent reform campaign policy strategy and coordination.
Jason holds Bachelor of Business Administration, Finance from Howard University in Washington D.C., as well as a Master of Business Administration from the Metropolitan College of New York. In 2011, Jason participated in the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate at the University of Southern California. Jason currently serves as an Executive Committee member of the Beta Chapter Alumni Association and Beta Chapter Investment Club (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Howard University).
A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Jason sees volunteering as a way of life. He is drawn to the Los Angeles River because it represents an opportunity to connect diverse communities, find real solutions, and have fun while doing it. On the weekends, Jason is relaxing with his wife, reading, writing, and listening to music.
Assistant Director, NuRoots Community Fellowship/LA Director, Community Engagement The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles/Honeymoon Israel
Jennifer Yael Green currently serves as the Director of Community Engagement for Honeymoon Israel in Los Angeles, as well as the Assistant Director for the NuRoots Community Fellowship at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. She focuses on building and fostering interfaith communities for young couples across the city.
She graduated with her M.A. in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California, where she was chosen as a representative for an academic trip to Havana, Cuba and wrote about the role of women in a changing economic and political system. She also served as a Graduate and Research Intern at Human Rights Watch, where she worked on grassroots advocacy and legislation around juvenile life-without-parole sentences in the Children’s Rights Division. She is a graduate of the Glass Leadership Institute at the ADL, and the Jeremiah Fellowship at Bend the Arc, where she still serves on several committees.
Jenn previously worked as an advocate for youth in foster care and on probation in South LA, and drafted curriculum with the Department of Children and Family Services for an independent living program that was the first of its kind in the country. She currently serves as a volunteer CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) for a youth in the foster care system. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.
She has been a teacher and community organizer across the globe, and her passions have taken her from the townships of South Africa to the villas of Argentina and a private academy on the southern tip of South Korea. In her free time, she explores all of the city's vibrant neighborhoods for her adventure blog, My Best LA Day, and gathers inspiring females for her women's circle, Her Tribe LA. She is a book-club member, a roller-skating aficionado, and ice cream addict.
Program Officer, First 5 Los Angeles
Hector Gutierrez is an experienced Policy Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the public policy world. Over the last decade, Hector has worked to support and advance policies that increase access to safe and affordable food for low-income Californians. He has also supported research and initiatives to improve safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities. As a Program Officer for First 5 Los Angeles, Hector’s key area of responsibility include coordination and management of investments that advance First 5 LA’s systems change work in the Broadway-Manchester and West Athens communities in South Los Angeles. He also works with First 5 LA’s built environment team to advance key advocacy efforts that support healthy food access and active transportation for families and children ages prenatal to 5.
Hector received his Master in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and BA in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. In his spare time, he serves as a board member for Arroyo SECO (Sustainable Economies Community Organization) and South Los Angeles Food Cooperative (SoLA), organizations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of communities through food and the solidarity economy. In his spare time, Hector is working to develop an advocacy app to engage communities in the political process and make state government more transparent and equitable.
Associate Attorney, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP
Weiss Hamid is a commercial litigation associate at Gordon, Rees, Scully, Mansukhani, LLP, in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Southern California, Weiss holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA. There, he served as president of the United Afghan Club, helping raise funds to build wells in rural Afghanistan, as well as serving as a mentor for local Afghan-American high school students. He also interned for Greenpeace, lobbying Los Angeles City Council and making public comments in support of clean energy initiatives, such as Greenpeace's Quit Coal campaign.
While attending Loyola Law School, Weiss served as Editor-in- Chief of Production of the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal, a collaborative law journal that works across the Loyola, USC, UCLA, and Pepperdine campuses. LAPILJ’s focus is to produce academic and practitioner articles that promote social issues pertinent to Los Angeles, such as immigration, human trafficking, and civil rights for the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Weiss volunteered as a mentor for the Judge Stephen O’Neil Trial Advocacy Mentoring Program partnered with high schools in South Los Angeles. The program brings 40-50 students from local high schools to attend weekly classes during the spring semester and to participate in a mock trial in front of a real judge at the end of the program.
When Weiss isn’t lawyering, he’s writing comedic sketches or performing improv.
Staff Attorney, Adult Representation Project, Immigrant Defenders Law Center
Alanna Holt is an immigration lawyer who grew up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, and has lived, worked, and studied in cities across the country. Currently, Alanna is a Staff Attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center (""ImmDef"") in Los Angeles, where she fights to prevent the deportation of individuals with serious mental illness in immigration removal proceedings. As an attorney at ImmDef, Alanna is part of a coalition of lawyers seeking to provide universal representation for all immigrants facing deportation.
Prior to moving back to Los Angeles in August 2016, Alanna was an assistant public defender in Miami, Florida for three years, where she represented indigent individuals facing criminal charges.
Alanna’s primary passion is increasing access to free, effective legal services for all low-income communities, and particularly for people facing deportation or incarceration. Prior to law school, Alanna served as Policy Coordinator for a criminal justice reform organization called the Justice Project in Washington, D.C, where she advocated for policy changes that would increase the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system. While in law school, Alanna led multiple student organizations, including a student chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild and the Public Interest Law Group, where she worked to enhance the legal community’s commitment to racial and social justice.
A 2013 graduate of Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, and a 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan, Alanna is a proud Big Ten alumnus, although she is most loyal to her Michigan Wolverines (Go Blue!). Alanna enjoys hiking in Griffith Park, spending time with her family, playing the ukulele, and listening to Bruce Springsteen.
Program Manager, Homeless High-Risk, Los Angeles County
Karen recently joined LA County’s Whole Person Care program, a pilot project serving frequent utilizers of our county’s public institutions. She is the Program Manager for their high-risk homeless programs that strive to meet the health and housing needs of the County’s highest needs individuals.
Prior to this role, Karen earned her MPP at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy in May 2017. During this time, she devoted herself to working towards racial and economic equality. One summer, she worked with the Center for American Progress on their Economic Policy team where she researched disparities created by wage stagnation, as well as the inequality of many Republican tax reform proposals. She also worked on a policy analysis with the Tipping Point Community, making recommendations for both temporary and permanent housing solutions in San Francisco.
Before graduate school, Karen was an Education Pioneers fellow with Green Dot Public Schools in Los Angeles. As the Financial Analyst for the entire organization, she built tools that allowed the schools to better understand their spending as well as the funds received from the Local Control Funding Formula that directly affected the needs of our city’s underserved communities. She also wrote the budget portion of a federal grant that awarded the organization $14 million to expand their current scope of services across the nation. Karen also provided pro-bono strategic consulting support for RaiseAChild, an LA-based non-profit that helps LGBT families foster and adopt children.
Karen has a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University. She is thrilled to be back in Los Angeles and looks forward to diving into the policy landscape. In her spare time, Karen enjoys strolling around Echo Park Lake with her dog.
Nina Idemudia, AICP
City Planning Associate, City of Los Angeles
Nina Idemudia, a native of Detroit, currently works for the Los Angeles Department of City Planning as a City Planning Associate in the Transit Neighborhood Plans division. There, Nina helps to craft regulations for development that enhances the pedestrian realm and accommodates multimodal transportation. In 2012, Nina graduated from the University of Michigan with her BA in African American Studies and Women's Studies and earned her Masters of Planning from the University of Southern California in 2014.
Nina has a strong passion for community outreach that uses grassroots tactics to increase community involvement among underrepresented groups and has created award winning programs designed to engage youth in the planning process. Nina was honored by the American Planning Association LA Section with an Award for Excellence in Public Outreach in 2013 & 2015 for two youth based programs she created surrounding planning.
Outside of work, she stays active in the American Planning Association. In 2016 she became a Vanguard Fellow, as she was selected as one of the top 40 under 40 urban professionals in the nation by NextCity.org. She was also honored with a "SHEro" award by LA Councilmen Curren D. Price, Jr. for her community leadership.
Senior Associate, Advancement Project California
John Joanino is a policy advocate and communications strategist with experience in multiracial community organizing and multimedia campaign planning. He is the Senior Communications Associate at Advancement Project California, a civil rights action tank working to transform public systems and shift investments to achieve racial equity statewide. John is passionate about the intersection of digital media, public policy analysis and political strategy.
Improvement Advisor, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
Braden works as the Improvement Advisor to the Whole Person Care program at Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to ensure that the city’s most marginalized Medi-Cal populations have the support they need to thrive. Her work focuses on improving support networks for individuals coming home from jail and prison, particularly those experiencing substance use disorder or mental illness. This work unites two pressing social issues that define her experience: the fight for health equity and the movement to end mass incarceration.
Before migrating south, Braden spent the past decade in the Bay Area, working in health education with marginalized youth in Oakland, in addition to positions with Kaiser Permanente and community-based health center La Clinica de la Raza, focusing on strategic planning to reduce racial health disparities. She also served as a teaching member of the Oakland Power Projects at Critical Resistance, which aims to decouple healthcare from policing and the prison industrial complex.
Braden received her MBA and MPH degrees from UC Berkeley, and she earned her B.A. in Human Biology, with a concentration in Global Health and Human Rights, from Stanford University. While in graduate school, Braden organized extensively in service of a more inclusive campus community, including work that highlighted the varied stories and experiences of LGBTQ students. Originally from Washington, D.C., she is an avid traveler, camper, singer, and napper.
Interim Registrar, USC Gould School of Law
Yasmine-Imani McMorrin is an attorney and education policy enthusiast serving as the Interim Registrar at USC Gould School of Law. In her role she leads the J.D. Study Abroad Program, coordinates the Social Media channels for the Office of Student Services, and serves as the Exam Administrator for all J.D. & L.L.M students; in addition to performing registrar duties. Yasmine is particularly interested in restorative justice practices and implicit bias effects as it applies to education equity policies. She is presently a board member of her daughter’s elementary school PTA.
Yasmine previously worked as a Civil Litigation Associate at a law firm in North Jersey, served as a Law Clerk in the New Jersey Superior Court- Criminal Division, Essex Vicinage, and developed employment law experience as an Assistant Mediator with the EEOC- Newark Office.
As a Rutgers School of Law student, she worked with the Community & Transactional Lawyering Clinic and Education & Health Law Clinic. She also served as the President of the Association of Black Law Students and worked for The City University of New York’s CUNY Start program, a program aimed to help students prepare for college-level coursework.
Before law school, Yasmine was a member of the IDEX Fellowship inaugural cohort where she served as an Education Consultant at an Affordable Private School in Hyderabad, India. She is an alumna of Spelman College with Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in English.
When she’s not at work or her daughter’s soccer games, Yasmine is practicing yoga, reading books from the library, and watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy.
Maria Morrisson Copolillo
Blended Learning Manager, PowerMyLearning
Maria Morrisson Copolillo serves as a Blended Learning Manager for the education non-profit, PowerMyLearning in Los Angeles. She supports 20 teachers at Los Angeles schools to effectively integrate technology into their classrooms in order to drive teacher sustainability and improve learning outcomes for students.
Maria is passionate about creating the best possible learning experiences and educational outcomes for all students, regardless of income or zip code. Her career in education started in 2010 as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in a rural public school in Yilan, Taiwan. She went on to teach sixth grade in Miami, Florida as a Teach for America corps member and founding member of the Miami Mentorship Project for fellow teachers. She went on to teach middle school math in New Orleans. As a teacher in New Orleans, Maria helped pioneer and launch the first grade-wide 1-to-1 technology initiative at KIPP New Orleans Schools.
Maria is proudly from Gearhart, Oregon in the rural Pacific Northwest and has lived in Los Angeles for almost three years. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Lewis & Clark College and a M.S. in Education and Social Change from the University of Miami. When Maria isn’t working, she performs improv comedy, plays guitar, sings karaoke, and spends weekends camping around Southern California.
Tony Rice II
Manager, Huron Consulting Group
Tony Rice II is dedicated to helping people and organizations maximize their potential. He serves as Co-Founder and Executive Director of Next Wave in Business (Next Wave), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that connects Black and Latinx undergraduate students with top employers. The mission of Next Wave is to close the up to 21% employment gap between Black and Latinx students who major in Business and their White peers.
Tony is also a Manager in the Higher Education Practice at Huron Consulting Group (Huron). He specializes in working with Human Resources departments at top colleges/universities across the country to analyze staff capacity and streamline their processes. He has more than 7 years of experience in strategy and technology consulting in both the private and public sector.
Tony is passionate about lifting others as he climbs. He has mentored students and young professionals for more than 10 years both independently and in collaboration with organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Posse Foundation. He also serves as Co-Sponsor of the African American iMatter Group at Huron, where he successfully led an effort to get Martin Luther King Jr. Day included as a paid corporate holiday and Spelman College, a historically black college/university, added as a target school for recruiting.
Tony was born in Riverside, CA and raised in Dallas, TX. He earned his B.S. in Business Administration from Boston University, as well as both his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and M.A. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan.
Project Manager, UCLA Labor Center
Hugo Romero is a Project Manager at the UCLA Labor Center focused on labor, immigrant, and young worker issues. Hugo oversees the labor cohort that forms part of Dream Summer, a national fellowship program for immigrant youth. Hugo is also a member of the I am a #YoungWorker team, a multimedia research project that combines data, stories, and images by and for young people to advance the rights of young workers across the country. Recently, he launched the first multi-union immigrant worker leadership development program in the country and contributed to the formulation of a three year strategic plan for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He has coauthored reports at the UCLA Labor Center and is working on an upcoming book about the Justice for Janitors campaign.
In 2014, he successfully launched the UCI Community & Labor Project, a project dedicated to labor and community research in Orange County, California. His passion for social and worker justice emerged from his experience working in the car wash industry, warehouse industry, and his involvement with the immigrant youth movement that fought for inclusive immigrant policies, such as DACA. Hugo currently serves on Blueprint for Belonging committee at the HAAS Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, the national steering committee for Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s 100 million for 100 million campaign, is an alumni of the Front Line Leader’s Academy, and the Rockwood Leadership Institute. Recently, he successfully served as campaign manager to elect the youngest member to the El Monte Union High School District.
Adrian Bayoán Rossello-Cornier
Although born and raised the in Boston, Bayoán as always considered himself Puerto Rican rather than American. In the words of the poet and political leader, Juan Antonio Corretjer, ""Boricano aunque naciera en la luna,"" (Puerto Rican even if born on the moon). Bayoán attributes his strong identity as a Boricua to his parents having instilled in the him the history, language, music, food, and art of the island in a home that can be described as a Puerto Rican embassy in Boston.
Staffer, Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
Jade Suh moved from Seoul, South Korea to San Diego, California with her family at the age of 14. As a first-generation immigrant, she is passionate about defending underrepresented communities and improving educational opportunities for immigrant students and students of color. Jade strongly believes in the power of creating an inclusive and diverse space for everyone to promote progressive values and policies. Specifically, she hopes to encourage and inspire first-generation immigrant activists and women of color to gain a voice in the decision-making process.
Armughan (pronounced: Ar-ma-gan) Syed grew up in Pakistan, England and moved to Switzerland at 14 (his dad has worked for the UN since the late 90s). He earned his Bachelors of Arts in Economics and English from Boston University (after spending his freshman year at Royal Holloway, University of London). It was during this time that he studied abroad for a semester in Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand as part of the International Honors Program. He holds certificates of General Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Chicago. He also got his Masters in International Business from the International University in Geneva.
Armughan Syed has spent the last 3.5 years organizing communities in Australia, New Zealand & Canada as part of his work at NationBuilder (a position he left recently). His primary area of focus was helping progressive organizations (such as Australians for Equality, the Australian Green party, CollectiveShout Australia) build out their tech infrastructure from a data aggregation perspective. He also trained the major political parties of Australia and New Zealand in the lead up to their federal elections in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
At present, Armughan’s focus has been to help create creative spaces for Muslim-American story-telling (which includes his own writing) in order to change the Muslim-American mainstream narrative. You’ll find him around LA attending any and every performance by Muslim-American comedians/writers. In addition, his work with an immigration attorney in Viña del Mar, Chile has informed his passions for immigrant rights (having been an immigrant in 2 separate countries). As a participant of the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons, he is also passionate about getting immigrant communities moving through initiatives like Fasting5K LA 2017 (which raised over $50,000 for the Muslim Youth Leadership Project, Black Youth Leadership Project, Chicano Youth Leadership Project and Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project).
Armughan and his wife, both avid vegans, live in West LA. They have three dogs that drive them nuts!