Meet the 2017 New Jersey Fellows
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Mateus Baptista, Policy Advisor, Office of the Mayor - City of Newark (Mayor Ras J. Baraka)
Mateus Baptista hails from Newark, NJ where he currently works for Mayor Ras J. Baraka. In Mateusís current capacity he advises on education policy with a focus on returning Newark to local control and implementing community schools. His interest in education policy began when he served on the board of education for the Newark Public Schools as a student representative. Prior to returning home, Mateus worked in the United States Senate for Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) advising her on the student debt crisis. In the Senate, Mateus wrote legislation that would expand bankruptcy discharge for student loan borrowers. Prior to the US Senate he consulted for a school district in Southeast Los Angeles on its college-going culture, helping to better align district policy and student achievement outcomes. Mateusís work focuses on urban education reform and college access with experience in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington D.C. and California. He graduated Brown University magna cum laude with a B.A. in international relations. He also completed his Masterís degree in urban education policy at Brown. Mateus has advised school districts, state education agencies, and federal education policy. He has spoken about educational inequality at the US Department of Education, the US House of Representatives, and universities. Mateusís interests lie at the intersection of educational attainment and community development."
Rajpal Bath, Paralegal/ Legal Assistant, Simon & Simon, P.C.
Rajpal (Raj) Bath has always had a deep interest in Politics and how it affects the community that one lives in. Having grown up in a working class household, he was raised with the ideology that every person should make time to understand what is occurring locally/nationally and how it affects families. At an early age, Raj participated in Student government throughout High School and re-activated the College Democrats at Hofstra University prior to the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Raj started his political campaign career whilst at Hofstra University by working as a Field Director for a LGBT candidate who ran for State Assembly. Since then, Raj has devoted time to help assist with Presidential, State, County & Local campaigns to help elect Progressive candidates who will work to improve our society for the future. Raj currently works as a Paralegal at an Injury Law Firm in Philadelphia. He also serves on the Maple Shade Planning Board as well as serving as the Vice-Chair of the Burlington County Young Democrats. As Vice-Chair, Raj has shaped the action strategy for Recruiting, Educating & Training the next generation of Young Democrats in the county. Rajpal was born in New York but raised in England and now lives in Burlington County. He holds a Bachelorís degree in Political Science & minored in International Politics, European Studies & General Business with the intent to analyze Foreign & Domestic relations from Hofstra University. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family & friends, reading, working on his vegetable garden & seeking new adventures.
Stephanie Brown, Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Jersey City
"Stephanie Brown serves as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Jersey City, where she works in the Labor and Employment Group. She is a December 2015 graduate from Seton Hall University School of Law. While in law school, Stephanie worked as a research associate for LexisNexis and as a law clerk for Piro, Zinna, Cifelli, Paris and Genitempo, LLC. Also while in law school, Stephanie interned for the Honorable Hector R. Velazquez, P.J. Ch., the Honorable Maureen Mantineo, Senator Patty Murray in the Democratic Education Office, and at the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Domestic Violence Unit. Throughout her time in law school, Stephanie was active with local communities and organizations, serving as an executive board member of the Student Bar Association, Co-President of the Latin American Law Students Association, Conference Committee Co-Chair for the Hispanic National Bar Association Law Student Division, and also as an appointed Commissioner on the West Orange Human Relations Commission. Stephanie currently serves as Co-Chair of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey’s E-Communications Committee, a Commissioner on the West Orange Human Relations Commission, and as a mentor for high school students. Stephanie completed a dual degree at Rutgers University in 2011, receiving a Bachelor's degree in Political Science, and Planning and Public Policy from the Bloustein School. "
Garry Closeil, Program Manager, Rutgers New Jersey Medical SchoolProgram Manager
Garry Closeil is a Program Manager for Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School and has roots in New Jersey. Born in Newark and raised in East Orange and Orange, Garry is passionate about helping others. He studied Computer Information Systems and Psychology at Caldwell University and obtained his Masterís degree in Social Work from Kean University. Since 2004, Garry has worked in the Public Health arena providing and promoting sexual health education, awareness and community engagement strategies. Passionate about health awareness, especially among youth, this career choice is a natural fit for Garry. Garry is known for his out of the box approaches with reaching out to the community. He has hosted health themed open mic nights, monthly movie nights and provided several awareness events aimed at offering the chance for people to mix and mingle while being educated on health disparities and taking action. Garry is committed to making a difference with youth in the urban communities; supporting them to live out the greatest version of themselves and their youthful years. He plans on pursing ventures to efficiently serve and mentor youth. In his free time, Garry is known to play tennis and spend time with his family and friends. Garry also enjoys the arts as it is a part of his life and he works diligently to ensure the youth of today are exposed to or have the same opportunity, especially music and poetry
Aida Epifanio, Manager of Operations, Division of Engagement, Camden City School District
Aida L. Epifanio has worked within the fields of housing, urban & economic redevelopment and education for over ten years. Through internships, volunteer work and professional positions, Mrs. Epifanio has had the opportunity to give back to the communities she has worked with throughout this time-span. Mrs. Epifanio presently serves as Manager of Operations within the Division of Engagement at the Camden City School District (CCSD) and was recently elected to serve as a Board Member on the Berlin Township Board of Education. While working on her PhD in Global Affairs at Rutgers University, Mrs. Epifanio served as the Director of Student Services & Travel Programs at The Latino Institute, Inc., an educational non-profit organization located in Newark, NJ. Mrs. Epifanio obtained her M.S. in Global Affairs at the Division of Global Affairs, Rutgers University in 2011. While working on her Master's Degree, Mrs. Epifanio served as Housing Administrative Coordinator through a Graduate Assistantship with the Rutgers University: Department of Housing & Residence Life. Prior to attending Rutgers University, Mrs. Epifanio had the opportunity to serve as a Project Manager at Cooperís Ferry Partnership (CFP), a non-profit urban redevelopment organization in Camden, NJ. While at CFP, Mrs. Epifanio managed the Camden Home Improvement Program (CHIP), a program that provided approximately 300 micro-grants in the amount of $20,000 to homeowners in the City of Camden for eligible home repairs. The CHIP program was awarded the 2009 Sterling Achievement Award from the Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA). Mrs. Epifanio received a dual-B.A. in Psychology and Womenís and Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in 2007. While at TCNJ, Mrs. Epifanio served as a Community Advisor for two years, and was an active member of Women in Learning & Leadership, Theta Phi Alpha Sorority, and the Fundraising Activities Chair of Union Latina. She is also a graduate and proud alumni of Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, NJ (Class of 2003). Mrs. Epifanio is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, and recognizes the contribution of her parents & cultural upbringing in her passion for social justice and progressive change. In her free time, she appreciates spending time with family, traveling, reading, going to concerts and enjoying art and film. Mrs. Epifanio currently resides in Berlin Township, NJ with her husband, Frank.
Parimal Garg, Policy Advisor, Phil Murphy for Governor
Parimal Garg is a policy advisor for Phil Murphyís gubernatorial campaign and focuses on a variety of issues involving state government. Prior to joining the Murphy campaign, he clerked for Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court and worked as a litigation associate in Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrisonís Washington D.C. office, where he primarily handled antitrust matters and helped coach Anacostia High Schoolís mock trial team. He has also served on the board of Be Jersey Strong, a non-profit that aims to educate New Jerseyís uninsured population about their health care options. Parimal grew up in Lawrenceville and currently resides in Newark. After graduating from Lawrence High School, he received his B.A. from Georgetown University in Government and Economics and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. During his academic years, he worked as an organizing fellow on Barack Obamaís 2008 presidential campaign in New Jersey and interned for Representative Rush Holt, Senator Frank Lautenberg, and the U.S. Attorneyís Office for the District of New Jersey. In his spare time, Parimal enjoys exploring new pizza places across the Garden State, reading presidential biographies, and cheering on his beloved New York Knicks.
Abdul-Basit Haqq, Staff Representative, Communications Workers of America Local 1037
Abdul-Basit Haqq grew up in New Jersey, spending most of his formative years at the NIA Masjid & Community Center located in Newark. Already a youth leader in the community, at the age of 21 he was elected to the board of the mosque as their secretary, a position he still holds. During that time, Haqq also became employed by the State of New Jersey. His introduction to the Labor Movement came when he turned to his union, Local 1037 of the Communications Workers of America, for assistance in obtaining compensation for taking off for a religious holiday. His staff representative, who quickly became a friend and mentor, encouraged him to be more involved with the Local, which lead him to become a shop steward. Over the last few years, Haqq has taken part in various labor actions, voting drives, and community service projects through his Local. Many of these activities were done in conjunction with CWAís Next Generation, a program to train young activists and leaders within the Labor Movement. Haqq is also a co-founder of Local 1037ís Next General Caucus. In March 2015, Abdul-Basit Haqq joined Local 1037 as a full-time staff representative and is directly responsible for representing 700+ state workers. Currently, Haqq is focused on connecting these two aspects of his life: Islam and Labor, by educating Muslims about workersí rights and the broader Labor Movement in America as well as building bridges between labor and Muslim activists.
Darvis Holley, Assistant Principal, Pemberton Township School District
Darvis Holley was born, raised, and educated through the public school system, in Willingboro, New Jersey. He left after graduation to attend Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, where he completed his Bachelorís Degree in Special Education. While a student at Winston Salem, Darvis was a member of the Student Government Association and volunteered as a mentor at the local YMCA. Upon completion, he returned home to begin a career as a teacher in Hamilton Township, NJ, educating at both the middle and high school levels. As the well-being of children is paramount to Darvis, he went on to earn a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership at Wilmington University in 2012. In 2014, he was appointed Vice Principal at Helen A. Forte/Newcomb Middle School in Pemberton, New Jersey. In this capacity, he is never too busy to attend to the needs of a student, parent, or a community member. Darvis has accomplished much in his thirty years upon this earth and the best is yet to come. He works tirelessly at self-improvement and is determined to meet and maintain his goals, and attain new ones. For several summers, he acted in the capacity of lead supervisor for a Summer Food Program funded by the Department of Agriculture. Under Darvisí management, the program was a huge success, serving hundreds of students daily. He was an active member, and also served in the capacity of Treasurer and subsequently Vice President, of the Willingboro and Vicinity Chapter of the NAACP. Darvis was appointed to the local Zoning Board, and the Municipal Utility Authority, where he served as a Board member and Commissioner, until his appointment and subsequent election in 2014, by a landslide victory, to the Willingboro Township Council. Ongoing community service includes mentorship and tutoring of at - risk students, and free snow removal and lawn service for senior citizens and veterans. Last year, Darvis added his premier collaboration skills to several philanthropic efforts including a 2015 Christmas Toy giveaway for Willingboro youth. 500-plus elementary school children attended, and received a gift, presented by Darvis dressed as Santa. He was also instrumental in providing turkey dinners to hundreds of local and county residents during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, he also provides numerous community service programs to local and county recipients. One such program is the Guide-right Program, which offers mentoring to middle-school youth.
Kristin Ianco Yaeger, Chief of Staff, Assemblyman James Kennedy
Kristin Ianco Yaeger currently serves as Chief of Staff to New Jersey Assemblyman James Kennedy. In her position, she manages the Assemblyman's district office as well as advises on his policy and legislative agenda. She also coordinates community outreach and constituent services to towns in Union, Somerset, and Middlesex counties in the 22nd Legislative District. Kristin previously worked as Deputy Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Scheduling Director to Congressman Robert Andrews. She has worked alongside members of the New Jersey Legislature developing policy in healthcare, government transparency, education reform, environmental issues, and womenís health. Kristin was also responsible in assisting Assemblywoman Stender in her role as Chair of the State and Local Government Committee of the General Assembly. In addition, Kristin is Board Secretary for the New Jersey Young Democrats and was recently appointed to the Executive Board of the Democrats 2000. She has been a Campaign Coordinator for the Union County Democratic Committee in local, legislative, and congressional races since 2012. Kristin was born and raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Metuchen. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Minor in Political Science from Rowan University.
Tamara Ibezim, Assistant Vice President, Compliance Specialist, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Tamara Ibezim is an Assistant Vice President in the Global Wealth Investment Management (GWIM) Compliance organization at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In this role, she supports the Alternative Investments business unit through the review of private placement materials, implementation of effective monitoring and testing routines and ensures adherence to SEC, FINRA, and OCC regulatory requirements. Prior to her role in Compliance, Tamara spent three years in GWIM Technology and Operations in various operational risk management and leadership roles as part of the GWIM Operations Analyst Program. Tamara is a mentor to participants in the Operations Analyst program and is an active member of the Black Professional Group and Womenís Exchange at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Through membership, she has been able to service New Jersey and New York City area schools and nonprofit organizations by leading financial literacy events and volunteering at soup kitchens. Tamara is a graduate of The College of New Jersey, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, minor in African-American Studies. As a Bonner Community Scholar, Tamara completed over 1,500 hours of service in Trenton schools and developed a passion for urban education and economic development. Additionally, she served as a Bonner Congress representative and mobilized freshman students to complete their community engaged learning project with College faculty and area nonprofit organizations. This scholarship was Tamaraís introduction to organizing, the importance of advocating for communities and being a committed servant leader. In the spring of 2009, Tamara was initiated into the Zeta Sigma chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, the first Greek-lettered organization established by African-American women. She remains active and participates in community events and service projects with her sorors in the greater Monmouth County, NJ area. Tamara is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Ocean Township, NJ.
Tamar Lerer, Public Defender
Tamar Lerer is an appellate public defender who lives and works in Newark, New Jersey. As a public defender, Tamar represents indigent defendants in their criminal appeals in New Jersey courts. Prior to becoming a public defender in 2014, Tamar clerked for the Honorable Stephen H. Glickman at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Tamar earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Swarthmore College.
John Mulholland, Director of Public Policy & Legislative Counsel Office of Senator Jeff Van Drew, Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, and Assemblyman Bruce Land
John J. Mulholland, Jr. is the Director of Public Policy and Legislative Counsel for Senator Jeff Van Drew, Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, and Assemblyman Bruce Land in New Jersey's First Legislative District. His responsibilities include advising the Senator and the Assemblymen on statewide policy issues and legal matters relating to county and municipal government. John is a veteran of numerous campaigns, having worked in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. His work in New Jersey politics began in 2013 as a member of the team that successfully mounted a defense of Assemblyman Herb Conaway and Assemblyman Troy Singletonís targeted legislative district. He most recently coordinated the campaign operations that successfully re-elected Assemblyman Andrzejczak and elected Assemblyman Land to his first term. As the son of a Teamster shop steward and later, himself, as a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers, John was regularly exposed to workersí rights, workplace safety, and social justice issues. In 2011, he was selected for a Peggy Browning Fellowship in the legal department of the United Mine Workers of America. The following year, he was selected for a Conwell Community Fellowship in the consumer law department of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, where he focused on homeownership defense work. He currently serves as a Founding Co-Chair of the New Jersey Young Democrats Policy Committee, as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the South Jersey Young Democrats, and as a Board Member on the Temple University Political Science Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Peggy Browning Alumni Association. John received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Temple University and his Juris Doctor from the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law. He was named a fellow in the Rubin Public Interest Law Honor Society in recognition of his involvement with the Criminal Record Expungement Project, the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, and the Volunteer Low Income Tax Assistance Program. He is licensed to practice law in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Asia Norton, Teacher, KIPP NJ
Asia Norton was born and raised in a household full of educators. Her upbringing cultivated her passion for education. Through-out high school, Asia participated in the oldest model of congress in America called Princeton Model Congress (PMC). It is there that she learned the workings of the US government and this experience peaked her interest in the democratic process. That is where she fell in love with government. She combined her passion for education and her love for government and decided to pursue a career in education policy. Asia continued to learn the inner workings of government through-out college by interning in the Mayorís Office in the City of Newark, New Jersey and the Law Department in Newark under the then mayor, Senator Corey A. Booker. She also got involved in grassroots organizing by interning at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. During her time at the Annenberg, she worked with high school aged students in several community based organizations in New York City, Boston, MA, and Providence, RI who fought for quality education within their school district. After college, Asia knew she had to gain a better understanding of education, so she became a teacher in Newark at a high performing charter school, North Star Academy Charter School. She was a founding teacher at their fourth elementary school, Liberty Elementary. She worked at North Star for three years and then began teaching at KIPP NJ where she currently teaches kindergarten at Life Academy where she teaches kindergarten and holds several coordinating positions. Asia has worked at KIPP NJ going on two years. Asia was born and raised in the City of Newark in New Jersey and continues to reside in Newark. She holds a Bachelorís degree in Africana Studies and minored in Philosophy from Simmons College in Boston, MA. She received her alternate route certification from Relay Graduate School of Education in Newark, NJ. Asia also holds her Masterís degree in Sociology and Education with a concentration in Education Policy from Columbia Universityís Teachers College.
Scarlett Rajski, Government Affairs, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Scarlett Rajski works in Corporate & Regulatory Affairs at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, where she collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to offer high-quality health care to New Jersey families and businesses. Prior to joining Horizon, Scarlett worked as a Project Manager in the Government Affairs Department of Gibbons, P.C. Born and raised in New Jersey, Scarlett began pursuing her passion for public service and government while in high school as a campaign volunteer in her hometown of Perth Amboy. She has worked in local, state, and federal government and had the opportunity to work for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez on Capitol Hill while in college. She later served as Special Projects Director at the Senator's state office in Newark. In this role, she managed community outreach for issue areas including childrenís health, veterans and military affairs, technology, and the arts community. Scarlett has also worked in public relations and communications, representing numerous corporate and public affairs clients at MWW and later in-house communications at the American Institute of CPAs. Scarlett graduated cum laude from Boston University and is pursuing a Master of Public Affairs and Politics at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy of Rutgers University. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey, a multi-partisan organization that is dedicated to increasing women's participation in the political process as well as the number of women in elected and appointed office.
Rudy Rodas, Attorney Advisor, US Social Security Administration
Rudy currently serves as an Attorney-Advisor for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review under the US Social Security Administration. In this role, he writes legal decisions regarding disability determination appeals. He also advises administrative law judges in Jersey City, NJ and Puerto Rico on how to strengthen the basis of their decisions in order to avoid Appeal Council and Federal District Court remands. Prior to working for the federal government, Rudy worked as Of Counsel to the Consulates of Colombia in Newark, NJ and New York City. He provided legal research in response to requests from the Consul Generals and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding questions of US immigration, criminal, and business law. Along with his experience working for a foreign government, Rudy also created a start-up law practice that primarily assisted undocumented immigrants in obtaining legal status in the US. Rudy is a first generation Guatemalan-American who was raised in Trenton, NJ. After graduating from Trenton Central High School, he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business from The George Washington University. He also obtained his Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law-Newark.† Rudy volunteers in various organizations that support urban communities and promote social and economic justice.† He is the board chair of NJ Urban Communities for Growth, chair of the immigration committee of the Latino Action Network, and Alumni Council Member of the Princeton University Preparatory Program.† Rudy is also a former chapter president of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. and a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of NJ.
Natasha Rogers, Private Equity Professional, Santander Holdings
Natasha Love Rogers is an engineer, lawyer, and emerging economic development financier with almost a decade of experience in the supply chain, healthcare, utilities, and housing industries. As a former Senior Associate at Goldman Sachs, Natasha's focus was to underwrite securties for projects that serve a public good, Currenlty, a junior Vice preseisnet ag Santander Holdings, Natasha is dedicated to resolving the complex issues facing urban America, by using the firm's capital to inves in triple bottom line projects. In 2009, Natasha was honored by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of St. Louis's top 30 Under 30 up and coming business professionals. This award is given to young professionals who are making a significant impact in the workplace as well as the community at large. A proud product of Newark, NJ, she is uniquely interested in the intersection of finance, technology and public policy in order to build stronger public-private partnershipsótransactions that are using government support in other ways to have the private sector deliver socially important products. Ms. Rogers is a first generation college graduate who actively speaks and mentors youth about her personal background in relation to topics ranging from education, youth rights, foster care, and compassionate leadership.
Oliver Starnes, National Account Specialist, Tronex International Inc.
Oliver Starnes was born in Morristown and raised in Roxbury where he graduated from RHS in 2006. In 2010, he graduated from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) with a Bachelor's in Political Science and 2012 with a Masterís in Public Policy. Oliver began his political career as a Staff Assistant in the district office of US Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT). After Liebermanís final year in office, Oliver returned to NJ in 2013 to pursue civic engagement at the local level. In 2015, Oliver served as Campaign Manager for three first-time candidates pursuing Township Council in Roxbury. He successfully facilitated the election of Roxburyís youngest councilman in township history by a ten-point margin of victory. Oliver currently serves as Chair of the Roxbury Township Democratic Committee and Morris County Young Democrats. Heís also the Vice President of Black Lives Matter Morristown and Endorsement Committee Chair of NJDSCís Progressive Caucus. In his youth, Oliver spent several years volunteering with the 4-H program through a Morristown non-profit called the Seeing Eye. He was awarded the Edward A. Bragaline scholarship for successfully raising future guide dogs. Oliver proudly hails from Morris County and is deeply invested in community organizing to advance progressive change in his local area. His main passions include Racial Equality, Womenís Rights and Criminal Justice Reform.
Richard Sun, Councilman, City of Summit, NJ
Richard is currently the Councilman-At-Large for the City of Summit, NJ. In addition, Richard serves as an Associate on the Finance Team of Nautilus Solar Energy, LLC. From 2013 to 2015, Richard was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working out of both their Washington D.C. and Summit, NJ offices. He served clients primarily within the infrastructure and pharmaceutical practices on the topics of corporate strategy, capital planning, and sales performance. Along with World Bank/IFC Economist Friedemann Roy, Richard co-authored the Housing Finance Chapter of the McKinsey Global Instituteís Blueprint on Affordable Housing. Richard previously worked on the U.S. Electric Utilities equity research desk at Credit Suisse AG. In November 2015, Richard was elected to the City Council of Summit, NJ. His margin of victory was the largest for a contested election in Summitís history. In addition, Richard is only the third Democrat to win and serve in Summit's At-Large Council position. On the Council, Richard serves as the Chair of the Public Works Committee, and the Vice-Chair of the Buildings & Grounds Committee, with oversight of the Cityís Construction, Engineering, and Public Works Divisions. His major policy foci include "citizen-technology," environmental sustainability, and downtown economic development. Richard also serves on the Board of Summit Downtown Inc, and is a member of the City's Technology Advisory Committee. Previously, Richard served as a White House Intern in the administration of President Barack Obama. Richard holds a B.A. in Economics cum laude from Columbia University, where he served as one of three student members of the University Senateís Executive Committee. A finalist for the 2013 Rhodes Scholarship, Richard was awarded a 2011 Udall Scholarship for Excellence in National Environmental Policy and was awarded the Oscar Wilde Gold Medal by the President of Ireland for his work on the topic of urban sustainability.
Gabriel Tanglao, Social Studies Teacher, Bergenfield Public Schools
As a first-generation Filipino-American, son of a unionized nurse, and product of New Jersey public schools, Gabriel A. Tanglao is deeply connected to his work as an educator, organizer, and activist. Passionate about social studies, he teaches AP Economics, Financial Literacy, and World History at Bergenfield High School, which is located in one of the most culturally diverse communities in the state. Beyond the classroom, Gabriel advises the National Social Studies Honor Society, Model United Nations, and serves as a STEM Mentor to help cultivate the next generation of student leaders. Active in his union, Gabriel is building capacity at the local, state, and national levels by establishing in/formal networks, leading strategic organizing initiatives, facilitating professional development, and training new leaders. He serves in various leadership roles from Bergenfield Education Association Treasurer to Bergen County Education Association Executive Committee, from New Jersey Education Association Professional Development Consultant to Co-founder of the National Education Association Young Professionals Caucus. Beyond the titles, Gabriel is focused primarily on the work of empowering early-career educators to build inter-generational solidarity, and combating systemic inequity to promote social justice throughout public education. In synergy with the labor movement, Gabriel is working to build coalitions through his involvement in various community-based organizations around the intersections of racial, economic, and environmental justice. He believes that leadership rooted in democratic values, purposeful collaboration, and robust diversity is vital to our rising progressive movement. Gabriel earned an MA in Economics Education and Entrepreneurship from the University of Delaware, an MS in Teaching, and BA in Political Science from Pace University.
Madeline Urbish, Project Director, New Jersey Audubon
Madeline (Maddy) Urbish currently works in government relations in New Jersey, focusing her energy on environmental issues. Her experience includes work in policy, public relations, and government affairs in the City of Trenton, the State of New Jersey, and in Washington, DC. Maddyís work focuses on environmental conservation policy on both a state and national level. Her prior experience includes working in the fields of juvenile justice, prisoner reentry, and homelessness prevention. In her current position with New Jersey Audubon as Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, Maddy is responsible for leading a group of 100 nongovernmental organizations across the four states of the Delaware River Basin to effectively advocate for protecting and restoring the natural resources of the region. This includes lobbying for federal legislation and funding to support environmental conservation, working with state partners to advocate for policies and funding to protect clean water, and facilitating communication and collaboration among the nonprofit and governmental sectors throughout the region. Recently, Maddy led the coalitionís successful advocacy efforts focused on the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in December 2016. Maddy previously spent a year in the nationís capital working for an U.S. Representative from California as well as a private consulting firm specializing in water resources. Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Maddy worked at the College of New Jersey for four years, first as an AmeriCorps member and later as a full-time project specialist focused on prisoner reentry, juvenile justice, and homelessness prevention policy. Born in New York, NY and raised in Cresskill, NJ, Maddy has spent the majority of her life in the Garden State. She attended The College of New Jersey where she earned two Bachelor Degrees in History and Political Science in 2011 and earned her Master of Public Administration from the Fels Institute of Government of the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. Maddy serves on the Board of the Delaware River Greenway Partnership and in her spare time loves to cook, read, and take her dogs for long walks with her husband near their home in Stockton, NJ.
Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, Marketing and Development Manager, Susan G. Komen North Jersey
As the Marketing & Development Manager, Kaitlyn Wojtowicz is responsible for ensuring brand consistency across all internal and external communications for the North Jersey affiliate of Susan G. Komen. Her purview covers creating printed and electronic graphic materials, as well as, all electronic and traditional communications with constituents and supporters. Kaitlyn also focuses on recruiting, managing, and stewarding third-party fundraisers coordinated by local supporters. In addition to fundraising and development work, Kaitlyn is responsible for all public relations and communications, including writing press releases, pitching stories to local media contacts, social media, and traditional and new media advertising. Kaitlyn came to Komen North Jersey with six years of experience in non-profit communications having worked previously for Answer, a program of Rutgers University that provides and promotes comprehensive sex education. There she held several different positions and functioned in an assistant managing editor role for their teen-written magazine, served as the vanguard of style and brand for all internal and external communications, wrote grants and served as their marketing manager. Kaitlyn graduated in 2010 from The College of New Jersey with a B.A. and a double major in English and womenís and gender studies and a minor in politics, law and philosophy (pre-law). Kaitlyn received her M.A. from the Graduate School of New Brunswick at Rutgers University in womenís and gender studies in 2014. She resides in Hillsborough, NJ and is an avid distance runner.