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New Leaders Council

New York City 2011 Fellows

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Jennifer Suh, Managing Director, HeadCount

Jennifer SuhJennifer Suh is the Managing Director at HeadCount, an organization that registers voters at concerts and connects young music fans with relevant political information. She has extensive experience working in the non-profit sector with a focus on youth development and civic participation. For two years she served as the Operations Manager and Assistant to the Executive Director at the League of Young Voters and League of Young Voters Education Fund. Prior to that, she interned with Young People For (a program of People for the American Way) and served as the State Director of Michigan for Music for America during the 2004 presidential election. Jennifer also has broad experience working in socially conscious media including print, web and radio. She also interned with investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at The Village Voice, and worked for Air America Media. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in English and African American Studies. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, New York and is an organizer for the Downtown Brooklyn chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Nick Smith,

Nick Smith During his varied career in public service, Nick E. Smith, J.D., has served as an adviser to city council members, a Mayor and state legislators on issues ranging from affordable housing, criminal justice, to labor and employment law. Currently, Smith is the Policy Associate at the College and Community Fellowship (CCF) and organizer of CCF's Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a national collaborative aimed at removing educational barriers for current and incarcerated students. He is also a political contributor to Huffington Post Live. Previously, he served as Director of Legislation and Communications for New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) and as an appointed commissioner for the City of Berkeley, California. As Legislative Director, Smith co-authored and helped pass New York State laws banning the marketing and sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, increasing penalties for the fraudulent labeling of food products and increasing public protections against the release of exotic animals. He successfully lobbied the NYS Dept. of Tax and Finance to end plans to tax Yoga classes at the 4.5% NYC sales tax rate. As commissioner, Smith was the first African American student elected to lead the Commission on Labor for the City of Berkeley, California, where he co-authored three ordinances, including a ban on sweatshop procurement, which became law in 2009. Smith also served as Berkeley, CA Mayor Tom Bates' appointee to the Housing Advisory Commission, where he fought for increased affordable housing. Most significantly, he and his fellow commissioners submitted budget recommendations that allocated $3.4 million dollars in federal Community Development Block Grants. In 2002, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recognized Smith for launching a social networking portal,, at the age of 14. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley (2007), and a law degree from St. John's University School of Law (2010).

Hattie Quarnstrom, Deputy Director of Performance Financing, New York City Administration for Children's Services

Hattie QuarnstromHattie Quarnstrom is currently Deputy Director of Performance Financing in the Department of Policy and Planning at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), where she manages performance based initiatives and conducts evaluation of programs affecting foster care in New York City. Through this work, she works closely with many community organizations that provide services for children and families. Prior to ACS, Hattie taught first grade at P.S. 48 elementary school in the Hunt’s Point section of the Bronx through Teach for America. Additionally, she interned with the Clinton Foundation in New York, and in the Office of United States Senator Carl Levin in Washington, DC. Hattie graduated with a BA in Political Science from Barnard College, holds a Masters in Public Administration from Syracuse University, and a Masters in Teaching from Fordham University. In her spare time, she mentors high school students with the Syracuse University Mentor Mentee Alliance and tutors elementary students. Hattie grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and attended high school in Japan. She lives in New York City.

Joseph Puma, Paralegal, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Joseph PumaJoseph Puma recently joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) as a paralegal. Prior to LDF, Joseph served as an intergovernmental liaison and policy analyst for the NYC Office of Management & Budget, and as a community liaison for the New York City Council. Joseph is an active member of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), a neighborhood housing and preservation organization, and he serves on its Board of Directors. His working-class upbringing in the Lower East Side, and his passion for the past, present, and future of the community where four generations of his family have called home fuel Joseph’s involvement with GOLES. A lifelong public housing resident, Joseph has been involved in the Housing Justice Movement, a national coalition public and subsidized housing residents, of which GOLES is a founding member. Through the Housing Justice Movement, Joseph has co-facilitated meetings between resident-leaders and the Obama White House, participated in public and private meetings with HUD and members of Congress, and delivered Congressional testimony. Joseph holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, secured a Certificate in Legal Studies from Hunter College, and he plans to pursue law school.

Erika Lindsey, Urban Planner, Manhattan Borough President's Office

Erika LindseyErika Lindsey currently works as an Urban Planner for the Manhattan Borough President’s Office focusing on land use issues affecting Northern Manhattan. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, Masters in City and Regional Planning program. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Erika worked as part of a team of students to develop a proposal for a new high-speed rail service system between Washington D.C. and Boston. She and her team members presented the proposal to several key transportation stakeholders, including United States Vice President Joe Biden. While in graduate school, she taught ArcGIS mapping software to New York nonprofit leaders and conducted mapping analysis for an environmental justice nonprofit based in New Delhi, India. Prior to graduate school, Erika worked as a consultant on a Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Networks Initiative. As a consultant, she led community center staff through a series of capacity-building exercises and managed fifteen community center consortia. Erika is also an alumnus of the Greenlining Institute’s Leadership Academy and the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship.

Connie Lee, Graduate Student, Urban Planning, New York University

Connie LeeConnie Lee is pursuing a master’s degree at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in Urban Planning. She was selected as a 2010-2011 Community Planning Fellow for the Fund for the City of New York and in partnership with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office. Her fellowship includes working with Manhattan Community Board #2 on zoning/land use recommendations and resolutions.She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Global Studies and Asian American Studies in 2005. Prior to moving to New York, she worked on several local, statewide, and national campaigns based in Los Angeles—including work on Tamar Galatzan for LA Unified School District, CA’s Measure R, Betsy Butler for CA Assembly District 53, Kamala Harris for CA Attorney General, Hillary Clinton for President in CA, TX, and DC headquarters. Her responsibilities varied from managing and organizing advance, field, finance, and political operations. While traveling different cities and states on the campaign trail, she recognized the need for better urban planning implementation. To combine her passion for politics, community empowerment, and urban planning, Connie came to New York to learn urban planning in one of the greatest metropolitan cities.

Mediha Kosovrasti, Social Worker, LMSW New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Mediha Kosovrasti is a Liscenced Social Worker (LMSW) employed at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygine. In this position, she provides intervention and brief therapy to patients who visit the Central Harlem Health Clinic. Mediha provides crisis and short-term counseling regarding suicide assessment, relational concerns, domestic violence, eating disorders, substance abuse, and trauma including sexual assault and physical and sexual abuse. Mediha's main interest is helping young people achieve their potential, and her goal is to impact youth through mentorship, counseling, and education. She has worked in the NYC public school system as a Social Worker, and also in the non-profit setting at the American Conference on Diversity as a Program Manager, where she worked with student leaders, teachers and administrators to create and implement student-run Action Plans aimed at combating prejudice in schools. Mediha holds an MSW from Columbia University and a Bachelor's in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey. Mediha is also a founding member of APEN, a non-profit organization that aims to promote and support the social, economic, and professional development of the Albanian community in New York City.

Nicholas Kelly, Deputy Press Secretary, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

Nick Kelly is currently Deputy Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Before joining Schumer’s office, he served as a Press and Legislative Aide for City Council Member Margaret Chin and as a fundraiser for both State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. Nick graduated from Columbia University in 2009 with B.A. in Political Science, where he wrote his thesis on the ethics of democracy promotion. While at Columbia and studying abroad at Oxford, he attempted to translate his studies in political philosophy into political journalism for the Columbia Political Review and the Oxford Student. Nick also contributed to the latest edition of the Encyclopedia of New York City, and he served on the board of the Columbia College Democrats. He has volunteered for Congressman Barney Frank, conducted research for Americorps, and worked for the UK-based charity Oxford Development Abroad. During college, he hosted a weekly jazz radio show and played in jazz and funk groups. A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Nick currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where he enjoys running when he isn't working.

Jennifer Gomez, Legal Fellow, Institute for Policy Integrity

Jennifer M. GómezJennifer M. Gómez is currently a legal fellow at the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, where she promotes the incorporation of sound economic analysis into governmental decision making. She is also a member of the Public Health Association of New York City's Policy and Legislative Committee, and a contributing author for the Wagner Food Policy Alliance blog. Prior to joining Policy Integrity, she worked as a litigation associate in the New York office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where she represented both domestic and international clients in various stages of arbitration and litigation. At Simpson, she also served as pro-bono counsel in several areas, including housing discrimination and child custody matters. She holds a B.A. cum laude from Mount Holyoke College (2005) and a J.D. (2008) from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. While in law school, she served as Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review, and as a legal representative for both the International Human Rights Clinic and the California Asylum Representation Clinic. Jennifer is a native New Yorker. She enjoys studying languages and traveling.
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