Meet the 2017 New York City Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Ian Abbott, Associate, Morgan Stanley
Ian Abbott is an Associate at Morgan Stanley within their Wealth Management division. He has helped to shape business strategy as the financial services industry faces the headwinds of the financial crisis, the wake of changing demographics, and the onset of increased regulation. In his current role, Ian leverages his analytical skill set to increase revenue growth and the expansion of a robust investment product distribution platform. Passionate about using business as a tool to transform communities, Ian leverages his personal and professional experience in his efforts to decrease wealth inequality in the U.S. Outside of work, Ian is deeply involved in the community. He serves as an Associate Board Member for Covenant House New York, an organization focused on servicing homeless youth in the metro NY area. In this role, Ian helps homeless teens prepare for job interviews and he serves on the working committee for the Sleep Out, a fundraiser in which participants sleep outside in the winter to raise awareness about youth homelessness. He is also a mentor for SEO Scholars and a math tutor with New York Cares. Ian feels that his service to his community is connected to his purpose: positioning people to create wealth and freedom in their lives. Ian is originally from Newport News, Virginia. He graduated with honors from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia with a B.A. in Economics. In his free time, Ian enjoys mentorship, tennis, and attending concerts with friends.
Olivia Dana, Project Director, Staten Island Youth Justice Center, Center for Court Innovation
Olivia Dana is the Project Director of the Staten Island Youth Justice Center, an operating program of the Center for Court Innovation. The Center for Court Innovation is a public/private partnership between the New York State Unified Court System and the Fund for the City of New York that creates operating programs to test new ideas and solve problems within the criminal justice system. Olivia's primary role as Project Director is to develop and oversee alternative to detention and alternative to incarceration programming for justice-involved juveniles and adults, as well as supervising other community-based programming in Staten Island, New York. Olivia began her career in Brooklyn, New York as an Assistant District Attorney at the Kings County District Attorney's Office, where she was assigned to the Red Hook Community Justice Center, the nation's first multi-jurisdictional community court. While assigned to the Justice Center, Olivia prosecuted criminal cases within a community court model that has been shown to reduce recidivism and incarceration while increasing the use of alternative sentences such as social service sanctions, drug treatment, mental health treatment, and restorative justice practices. Olivia holds a B.A. in English from Fordham University, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She is originally from Massachusetts.
Daniel Edelman, Government Innovation Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab
Dan Edelman is a Government Innovation Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School's Government Performance Lab. Dan assists Arkansas and New York State with using Pay for Success to finance reentry systems for people exiting the states' prisons. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative, he has worked on vendor diversity, transportation, and workforce and youth development projects with cities across the northeast. Before joining the GPL, Dan taught high school social studies and coached soccer in Jackson, MS, through the Mississippi Teacher Corps, and worked in fundraising and administration for the New York Common Pantry, a community-based, anti-hunger organization in East Harlem. While earning an MPA from Princeton University, where he won the Somers Award for excellence in domestic policy, Dan interned in the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the New York City Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice. He also holds a BA from Amherst College in Sociology and Spanish, and an MA from the University of Mississippi in Curriculum and Instruction. Dan is a member of Citizens Union's Municipal and State Affairs Committees.
Valerie Edwards, News Reporter, Daily Mail
Valerie M. Edwards is a North Carolina native, who is proud to call New York City her new home. She is currently a news reporter for the Daily Mail. She's worked in the British newspaper's London office, and for the Belfast Telegraph in Northern Ireland. Valerie attended Elizabeth City State University, a historically black university in North Carolina, where she received a B.S. in Aviation Science and a B.A. in Mass Communications. She is a recent graduate of Columbia University where she received a Master's in Journalism. As a first-generation college student, she is deeply committed to public service. Outside of her work, she is an advocate and volunteer for issues such as racial justice, gender equality, LGBTQ equality, environmental and wildlife protections and education reform, particularly for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). She was selected as a 2016 HBCU Top 30 Under 30 distinguished scholar, and she is a White House HBCU All-Star alumna for Elizabeth City State University. Valerie is also a mentor for several high school students in New York. In recent years, she has iinterned with NASA, the NC Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., and she has conducted research in mobile robotics as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She became a private pilot in 2011. In her free time, Valerie enjoys traveling, videography, writing and spending time with her fiancé and two dogs. She is a very proud and active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Jessica Frisco, Special Assistant to the Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Jessica Frisco currently works as a Special Assistant at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, working to ensure that all New Yorkers get enrolled in affordable health insurance and have access to quality primary care services. Originally from New Haven, Connecticut she began her undergraduate education studying to be a Registered Nurse; however, experiencing firsthand the inefficiencies and inequities in the country's broken and expensive healthcare system, she realized her passion for policy and administration and graduated two years later with a Master of Public Health from Columbia University. Jessica worked as a health policy intern in the South Bronx for Assemblymember Michael Blake during her first summer in New York City. Around the same time, some 74-year old senator from Vermont grabbed her attention and within a few weeks she was leading community phone banks, petitioning events, and voter registration drives for the first time ever. She was eventually elected as a delegate for Bernie Sanders in New York State. Following Bernie's loss in the primary election, Jessica founded Grassroots Action New York in April 2016 with the help of other community organizers. The group is made up of grassroots volunteers and focuses on changing the structural and systemic flaws in American politics, such as suppressive election laws. In the way that the Bernie Sanders campaign made her feel empowered and responsible to take action, Jessica is passionate about finding ways to get people to become involved on issues directly and indirectly affecting their daily lives.
Yosha Gunasekera, Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society
Yosha Gunasekera is a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society where she has represented hundreds of indigent clients in the criminal justice system during her first year alone. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post, The Hill, and Medium and has written on key problems in the criminal justice system. She has discussed crime and criminal and racial justice issues as an on-air contributor to HLN's The Nancy Grace show, WHDT World News, and on Facebook Live for Abrams Media. She works with women exiting prison and serves as a Junior Board Member and Events Co-chair for the Women's Prison Association where she helps organize events to raise awareness about the plight of women in prison. She was Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania Pro-Bono Project, Women's Re-Entry Legal Program, where she helped pilot a program where law students educate women on their legal rights and resources once out of prison. She won a grant to work with the City of Philadelphia to help reduce the pre-trial inmate population by implementing an online bail payment system which is now utilized by the city. She created a mini-documentary for the Innocence Project network on wrongful convictions in arson cases to raise awareness about innocent people serving time in prison. She has been quoted in the Atlantic Daily Star, VICE, appears in the PREA resource center, and is a featured contributor to the Levo League. She has interned at the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, The Innocence Project, The Defender Association of Philadelphia, The United States House Committee on Homeland Security, and The Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
TJ Hatter, Long Island Director for Intergovernmental Affairs, New York State Attorney General
Timothy James "TJ" Hatter is the Long Island Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. In this capacity, he coordinates policy initiatives between different levels of government and represents the Attorney General at community events across Long Island and New York State. Prior to his time with the Attorney General, TJ worked for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in the Division of Performance Management, as well as in the Town of Huntington as a Legislative Aide. In 2007, TJ headed up the Town of Brookhaven's 451-Town initiative, a "311" style contact center where residents could inquire about Town Services and Events. At 23, he was the youngest person in the United States to be appointed to such a position. TJ has a J.D. from the University of Tennessee where he won awards for international law and international mediation. He has an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, where his dissertation, "An End To Noble Failure: A Millennial Foreign Policy For America," was published by Atlantic Community, as were several of his position papers. Additionally, he has a M.A. from SUNY Oswego in Journalism and won awards for his columns in the student newspaper "The Oswegonian" and his appearances on the student television station "WTOP."
Gary Johnson, Policy Advisor, NYC Office of The Mayor
Gary Johnson is a New York native, raised in East Harlem by a family of dedicated civil servants. Gary has spent several years working within NYC local government to progress economic development policies, programs and services aimed to support New Yorkers from all backgrounds. As a Policy Advisor at the New York City Mayor's Office of Operations; Gary manages mayoral initiatives in a range of policy areas including: civic tech, broadband access, workforce development, immigration and veteran services. Gary's passion for public service was ignited while working at the Harlem Children's Zone; an innovative Harlem based organization regarded as the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time. Continuing to explore that passion, Gary is currently focused on developing innovative ideas, made possible through data transparency and smarter city policies, designed to improve the efficacy and end user experience of services in communities where the needs are greatest. Gary is honored to be a member of the 2017 class of NLC Fellows.
Jacqueline Kennedy, Director of Community Partnerships, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Jacqueline's interest in community development began in her own neighborhood as an intern at a nonprofit organization in Southeast San Diego, CA. In 2010, after moving to New York to pursue her master's degree, Jacqueline joined the national non-profit organization, Community Solutions, Inc., as an intern for the Brooklyn neighborhood initiative, Brownsville Partnership. At the Brownsville Partnership, Jacqueline coordinated all community outreach and engagement strategies for the organization leading her to move into a Manager position before stepping into the role of Interim Director in 2015. After serving 6 years in Brownsville, Jacqueline joined the newly formed division, the Center for Health Equity at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as the Director of Community Partnerships. In this role Jacqueline works to further establish the agencies framework for engaging the NYC community with specific emphasis on racial equity and coalition building within the Center for Health Equity division. Jacqueline is committed to racial equity and supporting communities of color, with a special interest in black women. In 2014, Jacqueline launched the Black Women's Phoenix Forum, a website to continue the conversation around black women's sexual and reproductive health and wellness. Jacqueline holds a BA in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego and an MPA in Nonprofit Management and Policy from NYU Wagner School of Public Service.
Terry Kim, Senior Policy Analyst, The Children's Aid Society
Terry Kim is the Senior Policy Analyst at The Children's Aid Society. In this role she manages the agency's education and federal policy agenda. Terry also coordinates Children's Aid's legislative and advocacy strategy for community schools at the city, state, and national levels through the Coalition for Community School Excellence, the New York State Community Schools Network, and the Coalition for Community Schools. Prior to The Children's Aid Society, Terry worked as the Director of Communication & Strategic Planning on a cluster team for the New York City Department of Education's Division of School Support. In this role she managed 12 Children First Networks providing operational support to over 300 district schools citywide. A California native, Terry's passion to advance educational equity began in Los Angeles. She was a City Year AmeriCorps member providing individualized support to middle school students in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Central Los Angeles. During her undergraduate years at UCLA, she directed a mentoring program working with youth and families in the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Terry continues to support young people and communities as a mentor to a high school senior through iMentor NYC and a Community Grants Committee member for the Korean American Community Foundation. Terry has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UCLA and a Master of Arts in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Scott Lowenstein, Director, Global Strategy Group
Scott Lowenstein is a Director in Global Strategy Group's research practice, where he works on strategy, message development, and data analysis for Democratic political candidates, progressive organizations, and corporate clients. In the world of politics, Scott has conducted research for Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Congressman-elect Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting President Obama and Secretary Clinton. Scott also helped Democrats in New Jersey and New York win key legislative races in the face of tough political environments. Outside of political campaigns, Scott's work has focused on improving access to quality public transportation with the Rockefeller Foundation's Bus Rapid Transit initiative, expanding access to early childhood education with New York City's Pre-K for All initiative, and protecting American's civil liberties and safety with the ACLU. Scott has also worked with the Open Society Foundation on reforming Stop and Frisk and New York State's Work for Success initiative to help the formerly incarcerated find employment. In addition, Scott helped companies like Ford, FedEx, and New York Magazine better communicate to customers, employees, and readers. Scott graduated from Brown University with a degree in Applied Mathematics-Economics, where he also learned how to make a mean spaghetti sauce.
Tala Mansi, Manager, Global Cause Partnerships, UNICEF USA
Tala has dedicated her career to building the capacity of organizations through private-public partnerships, the mobilization of youth, and organizational development. Collectively, Tala has over seven years of experience working with civil society organizations and has conducted work in 15+ countries. In her current role as Manager of Global Cause partnerships at the UNICEF USA, she focuses on resource mobilization and creating more public awareness for polio eradication, as part of the Global Polio Eradication initiative which aims to eradicate polio by 2020. Her work at the UNICEF USA addresses issues of inequality, the eradication of preventable diseases, health systems strengthening, child protection, access to clean water and sanitation, and capacity building. Prior to her work with UNICEF, she spent 5+ years working for the largest global youth-run leadership development organization, AIESEC. In her most recent role, she created and managed partnerships with large institutions in the private and public sector as Global Director of Strategic Partnerships. With Palestinian roots, she is passionate about bringing awareness and interest in Middle Eastern culture, history, and identity. She serves on the leadership team of the afikra, an organization that aims to cultivate curiosity around the Middle East through meet-ups and presentations about various topics related to Arab history, identity, and culture. She is a native New Yorker and holds a BA in Political Science from Baruch College and is currently an MPA candidate at NYU Wagner's School of Public Service where she specializes in international policy.
Michael Pernick, Associate, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Michael Pernick is an attorney in the Litigation Department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he maintains a practice focused on commercial litigation and a variety of pro bono matters. Michael also serves on the Board of Directors of the Adult Congenital Heart Association, a national nonprofit committed to improving and extending the lives of the millions born with heart defects through education, advocacy, and promoting research, for which he regularly speaks at conferences and participates in advocacy efforts on Capital Hill. Over the last several years, Michael has been engaged in voting rights and political reform; has organized voter protection operations in competitive elections across the country and has published on campaign finance reform. Before becoming a lawyer, Michael worked on political campaigns in New York and Connecticut and served as the campaign manager on four campaigns, including two hotly contested New York State Senate races. Michael also served as the national campaign coordinator for a campaign, launched by the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning, advocating for a longer school day and school year in high poverty public schools. Michael graduated from the New York University School of Law, where he was President of the NYU Law Democrats, an editor on the NYU Review of Law & Social Change, and a scholar within the Guarini Leaders in Government Service Institute. Michael received a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University, where he served as a two-term student body president and as the Vice President of the College Democrats of Connecticut. Michael grew up on Long Island and is an avid bluegrass fiddler who has performed with a number of bands.
Pierina Sanchez, Director, New York Regional Plan Association
A dedicated public servant, Pierina is the New York Director at Regional Plan Association, an independent non-profit organization that has helped to shape the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region for over 90 years. Pierina manages research, planning and advocacy activities in NY, including leading studies on affordable housing and neighborhood change, economic development and sustainability. She also leads the community engagement program of the Fourth Regional Plan, which has reached thousands of low-income residents and residents of color in partnership with grassroots, base-building organizations. Previously, Pierina served as a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute, where she lectured on gentrification and neighborhood change, and as a fellow in the Chicago Mayor's Office, an intern at the White House, and a senior aide to New York City council member. Active in her community, she served as the NY alumni ambassador for TRiO Programs at the Council of Educational Opportunity in Education -- dedicated to expanding college access to low-income, first-generation students throughout the U.S. She mentored first-generation college students with America Needs You, organized a public policy fellowship for youth of the Dominican-American National Roundtable, and served on the board of directors of Union Community Health Center -- a federally qualified health center in the Bronx. Pierina also served as secretary of the executive board of the Bronx Young Democrats. Pierina is a proud first generation Dominican-American from the Bronx and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Harvard University and a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.
Jugba Santi, Intergovernmental Affairs Analyst, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
Jugba Santi has shown a long-term commitment to public service and progressive politics. Jugba currently works as the Intergovernmental Affairs Analyst for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. In this role, she monitors relevant legislative and policy issues and addresses constituent concerns. She previously served as a Field Organizer with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. She also worked as a Communications Specialist for the New York State Senate Democratic Conference. She previously served as the National Committeewoman of the New York State Young Democrats and currently serves as State Legislative Liaison for the Black Caucus of the Young Democrats of America. In 2012, she worked as a Summer Organizing Fellow for President Obama's re-election campaign in Philadelphia. As a native of the Bronx, she has a strong interest in economic development and investment, particularly in communities of color. Of African-American and Liberian descent, she is also interested in bridging the gap between members of the African diaspora. Jugba earned a Master of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Albany with a double major in Political Science and Africana Studies.
Emily Santos, Business Transformation Consultant, IBM
Emily Santos currently works as a Business Transformation Consultant within IBM's Global Business Services. Specializing in relationship management and communications, Emily guides major U.S. corporations to optimize their operational processes and remain competitive in a changing market. Emily has a degree in Economics from New York University, where she focused on poverty alleviation and economic development. She has since called New York City home, and remains very invested in local politics. Through her membership in the Manhattan Young Democrats and the Village Independent Democrats, she has worked on numerous city and state campaigns. The local issue that enthuses Emily the most is pre-college education. Since 2014, Emily has been heavily involved in Big Brother's Big Sister's Community Impact Program, where she works with high school students at an inner-city public high school. She recently completed a post-graduate study of U.S. Education Policy, through Harvard's Extension School. Emily carries the mantra that "there has to be a better way" through every initiative that she gets her hands on. She is a leader in the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center's Young Leaders board, where she has worked heavily on the campaign for agricultural workers' rights in New York State. In partnership with a group of farm workers in Warwick, NY, she has worked to educate and organize the workers around the movement, and assist with the provision of short-term necessities.
William Schweitzer, Sr. Associate, Global Risk Advisors
Will currently holds a Sr. Associate position at Global Risk Advisors (GRA), a geopolitical threat and risk analysis consulting firm, and their subsidiary GRA Quantum, a cybersecurity startup. Prior to joining GRA, Will was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and served multiple combat tours to Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. He holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in law from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. During his time at Hobart he interned for NYS Assemblyman Joe Morelle and US Senator Charles E. Schumer. Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Will is a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan and football enthusiast. He played middle linebacker at Rush Henrietta High School, and was able to continue his love of football during his college career at Hobart, where he also played inside linebacker. Along Will's journey he's had many moments that have reaffirmed his calling to a life of public service. He is humbled to have fought among the country's most elite soldiers and invigorated by his constituent work with some of New York's most influential political leaders. He has a passion for the American people and views our system of government as an unwavering mechanism to bring good to its citizens. He currently resides in Sunnyside, Queens with his All-Star fiancée, Melanie. They hope to get a pug soon.
Jordan Stockdale, Education Policy Analyst, NYC Office of The Mayor
Jordan Stockdale works within the Office of the First Deputy Mayor on a wide range of education policy issues, including school climate and safety, educational services for detained youth, students in foster care and the Renewal Schools Initiative. In this position, Jordan staffs the First Deputy Mayor and the Senior Education Advisor to the First Deputy Mayor as well as coordinates interagency partnerships around education-related policies and initiatives. As the former Program Director of School Climate Initiatives at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, Jordan developed new programming aimed at promoting safety and reducing arrests and suspensions in NYC public schools. Through this role, he also led the organization of the Mayor's Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline, a one-year task force comprised of advocates, academics and high-level government representatives. Prior to working at the Mayor's Office, Jordan served as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain where he taught and researched the impact of austerity measures on the quality of alternative education programs. Prior to living in Spain, Jordan taught special education in Harlem as a New York City Teaching Fellow. Jordan is a proud Harlem resident and a Master's Candidate at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Emerita Torres, Political Advisor, U.S. Department of State / U.S. Mission to the United Nations
Emerita has nearly a decade of government experience coordinating foreign policy for the U.S. Department of State. She has worked in political, economic, labor, and multilateral diplomacy-related positions as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), with experience in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Emerita is currently a political advisor at the U.S. Mission to the UN, covering UN sanctions and counterterrorism issues, including countering ISIL financing and recruitment, and implementing U.S. policy on several UN sanctions regimes in Africa. Emerita also represents the United States during UN Security Council negotiations on these issues. Some highlights of Emerita's previous tours as an FSO include her advocacy work for Colombia's underserved afro-descendent and indigenous populations, where she led interagency efforts to increase U.S. government funding for these groups. She also served as the focal point for Embassy Bogota's U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan, where she worked with the Government of Colombia to improve protection of workers' rights in Colombia. While serving in Pakistan, Emerita managed a multi-million dollar U.S.-Pakistan science research program and contributed reporting and analysis on Pakistan's first democratic transition between civilian governments. Emerita received her Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she focused on political and economic development and leadership. While at Harvard, she was the co-Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, volunteered for the Barack Obama presidential campaign, and was a teaching fellow for a community organizing course, which inspired her to become an organizer and train others on how to build community power through organizing. Emerita received her undergraduate degree in history from New York University. Emerita was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and is interested in applying her policy experience at the local and state level. In addition to politics and public service, Emerita is passionate about fitness and health. She has led community workshops on nutrition and is a certified group fitness instructor.
Michael Zaytsev, Leadership Coach
Michael Zaytsev, or Mike Z, is an author, cannabis activist, and Leadership Coach. He previously worked as a financial analyst for J.P. Morgan and in enterprise sales at Google. After teaching a Leadership and Teamwork training class to his coworkers at Google, Mike became fascinated with coaching. Now a Professional and Master Certified coach, he helps leaders maximize their impact by asking powerful questions, inspiring strategic action, and facilitating the results that matter most. Mike is deeply passionate about leadership education and personal development. As an activist, Mike created and leads a community organization called High NY, which is New York's largest community of Cannabis activists and entrepreneurs. Through High NY, Mike has produced dozens of education and networking events in New York City. Under Michael's leadership, High NY has grown into one of the largest Cannabis Meetup groups in the world. Michael is a highly sought after speaker and has delivered a TEDx talk called ""Thinking Differently About Cannabis."" His book, ""The Entrepreneur's Guide to Cannabis"" has been featured in Vice, Mic, and The Huffington Post. It was a best seller on Amazon.com. Michael is a proud alumnus of Stuyvesant High School where he participated in student government and fell in love with community service. He holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Claremont McKenna College, where he was an award winning student.