Meet the 2018 New York City Fellows
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Special Projects Manager to the Chief of Staff, New York City Department of Social Services
Zayba is the Special Projects Manager to the Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Social Services. In this position, she advances the integration of the Department of Homeless Services and the Human Resources Administration, which helps ensure the city’s homeless services are being delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible. Previously, she was a political appointee for the Obama Administration in Washington D.C. She worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development on President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security program. While at USAID, she served as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Food Security and as an Advisor on the Bureau’s Global Engagement and Strategy team. In these capacities, she supported partner countries and smallholder farmers in developing their agriculture sectors in order to spur economic growth, increase incomes and reduce hunger. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Zayba was a student at Barnard College of Columbia University, where she earned a degree in Urban Studies. Zayba is excited to be back in New York City and closer to her home state of New Jersey.
Research and Evaluation Manager NYC Service, Mayor's Office of New York City
A survivor of the Albanian Civil War, Ravesa Bajo spent her adolescence as a political refugee in various European countries, surmounting a great deal of socio-economic, cultural and political challenges and obtaining political asylum in Paris, France. When continuing her immigration odyssey in the United States at the age of eighteen, Ravesa’s personal experience of political violence, human rights abuse, poverty and marginalization led her to develop a profound commitment to finding sustainable solutions to great social issues and to dedicate her professional life to public service.
Currently, Ravesa is the Research and Evaluation Manager at NYC Service, the civic engagement division of the Mayor’s Office of New York City. Focusing on inspiring and empowering New Yorkers to volunteer and bridge the gap between city government, individuals and communities, Ravesa develops evaluation practices and frameworks, ranging from public-private partnerships to national service programs and capacity building initiatives, to build effective civic engagement models and community impact studies in areas such as health, environment, seniors, youth and immigration services.
Prior to her current position, as a recipient of the city government NYC Service Fellowship, Ravesa developed citywide capacity-building initiatives to encourage NYC organizations to leverage volunteers as a key human capital strategy to more effectively deliver on their social missions. Ravesa led an impactful portfolio of initiatives in the areas of good governance, board diversity and inclusion, organizational development, youth voice, economic development and national service programs, as well as intergovernmental, cross-sector and coalition-building partnerships. Before joining NYC Service, Ravesa advocated for the successful societal reintegration of NYC justice-involved youth with CASES, focused on education and empowerment of underprivileged students in South Side and West Side Chicago, and conducted legal research in the fields of eyewitness identification and DNA testing access in death penalty cases with The Innocence Project as a national Steamboat Leadership Scholar.
A polyglot, Ravesa volunteered at a young age by assisting other political refugees to navigate the French bureaucracy and distributing hot meals to the needy with Les Restaurants du Coeur, a French charity. A first-generation college student, Ravesa holds a B.A. in Political Science from John Jay College, where she was selected as an Academic Peer Advisor and a Research and Creativity Scholar. In her free time, Ravesa volunteers as a College Success Mentor with iMentor, serves on the United Neighborhood Houses and Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center Junior Boards, runs charity marathons and self-studies Afrikaans.
Government and Community Affairs Specialist, Consolidated Edison
Public Affairs Manager, The New York Women's Foundation
Gael Black is the manager of public affairs at The New York Women’s Foundation, a community-based foundation that invests in bold, community-led solutions promoting economic justice, safety, and health for women and families in NYC. She plays a leading role in developing and executing the foundation’s communications strategy in alignment with its broader work. Her responsibilities include public education events and initiatives, communications related partnerships and special projects, editorial oversight and production of research reports and publications, and media and public relations. Key projects have included launching Where Women Stand, an ongoing series of conversations on the impact of the policies of the federal administration on women, and the production of Voices from the Field, a series of reports that explore the needs and best strategies for promoting the economic security of NYC’s women and girls across their lifespan. Gael joined the foundation in 2012 as the 25th anniversary coordinator, managing special communications and development projects.
Gael discovered her passion for public service when she became a United Nations Foundation (UNF) Global Classrooms Model United Nations delegate as a high school student. For six years, she worked closely with UNF as an intern and volunteer, conducting research for background guides, training staff and delegates, and serving as a key leader of ten large-scale, professional Model United Nations conferences. Continuing her impact on student development, Gael has served as a mentor at iMentor since 2013. Gael was also a 2013 Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service fellow and has been an alumni guide for the program since 2014.
Gael graduated from the University at Albany (UA), where she received her B.A. in Political Science and History with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She is a proud native New Yorker and life-long social justice advocate.
Deputy Press Secretary, New York Attorney General
Jordan Carmon is the Deputy Press Secretary for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He serves as a spokesman and media liaison for the Attorney General, collaborating with a team to craft and magnify his message through various media outlets.
Before joining the AG’s office, Jordan was a Consultant at Deloitte, where he worked with both federal government and commercial clients on communications strategy, crisis response, performance management, and legislative monitoring. His clients included the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Centers for Disease Control, Johnson & Johnson, and the World Economic Forum.
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was formative in instilling Jordan’s passion for politics and public service. After phone-banking and knocking on doors in 2008, Jordan moved to Chicago in 2012 to join the President’s reelection campaign as a Digital Communications intern, where he helped manage social media accounts and develop other campaign communications.
Jordan is the youngest of five children born to Israeli immigrants, and credits everything he is in life to his family. Besides politics, his main passion is playing, watching, and thinking about soccer. He is particularly passionate about leveraging the sport as a platform for social change, which has fed his involvement with Soccer Without Borders.
President, La Unidad Latina Foundation
Julio serves as the President of La Unidad Latina Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to propelling students dedicated to advancing the Latino community from high school to college graduation and beyond. Additionally, he consults for educational non-profit and for-profit companies to increase revenues and develop strategic programming partnerships. He is driven to build a community of individuals and organizations dedicated to the advancement of the Latinx community. He also works to decrease wealth inequality by increasing educational attainment and creating professional development opportunities for all. Lastly, Julio serves on the boards of Highbridge Voices and LPZ Cinetech, organizations dedicated to developing NYC youth through arts programming. Prior to his current role, Julio served as a Business Operations Manager at a Bronx, NY middle school and a human resources practitioner in the manufacturing and financial services industries. One of his proudest moments to date was working with the Bronx Parks Department to install basketball courts in the empty recess yards of three Bronx Middle Schools. Julio studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University and received a Master’s degree in Management from the Harvard Extension School. He was born in Dominican Republic, grew up in Harlem, and is proud to call the Bronx home.
Former Community Affairs Director, New York State Assembly
Chris Chu was the community affairs director for New York State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell. His work requires a comprehensive understanding of the local, state, and federal news and legislation. Previously, he served as director of community affairs and constituent liaison, in which he worked to advocate for tenants, reduce the bureaucratic hurdles of healthcare, and promote access to public services.
Prior to entering New York politics, Chris served as a Fulbright Scholar and Cultural Ambassador in Brazil. For his Fulbright Scholarship, Chris co-taught English and led a self-designed course covering contemporary American politics at a federal university in Brazil. His classes ranged from discussions about affirmative action in higher education to the implications of a two-party political system. This focus on generating dialogue on how politics and policy affect people compelled him to enter public service.
Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, Chris also engaged Latin American communities through both research and work. He conducted maternal and child health research in rural Guatemala for thirteen weeks through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Additionally, he worked for two separate international nonprofit organizations for six months, focusing on implementing water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in over 100 schools in Guatemala and community building in a newly constructed community health center in Nicaragua. Chris also presented his research on type 2 diabetes at the Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking Colloquium in Qatar.
Chris graduated from Rice University in 2015 with a major in Kinesiology (Sports Medicine). During his time at Rice, he was a cheerleader, founded the Rice Club Gymnastics Team, and held several leadership roles across campus. He co-led a service trip to dispel the misconceptions of pediatric cancer, was an active volunteer for organizations supporting the homeless and low-income residents, and was a participant in a 27-day Homeless Challenge for the National Coalition for the Homeless. His commitment was recognized by leadership and community service awards. Chris is also an Organizing for Action Fellow and currently serves in the NYU Wagner Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service.
During his free time, Chris enjoys exploring nature, doing gymnastics and calisthenics, community organizing, and surfing. He is a voracious reader and avid podcast listener.
Engagement Manager, KPMG LLP
Mercedes Forrest is a manager in the management consulting practice at KPMG LLP, where she advises and leads fortune 500 clients through major organizational transformation that aligns their strategic vision and financial objectives. She has led her clients through initiatives such as target operating model and end-to-end process design. Mercedes provides her clients with a holistic viewpoint for achieving organizational transformation considering people, process, and technology drivers for change.
Mercedes started her career at IBM, where she was an accountant and later a department lead managing a team of accountants and interns through the general accounting process. Her passion for education led her to become an Education Pioneer Fellow, where she recommended ways to enhance the teacher evaluation process.
She has served on the board of a nonprofit committed to promoting the advancement and economic empowerment of women. Most recently she has served as chair of the junior advisory board of the Association of Management Consulting Firms. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and was a Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) Fellow.
She received her B.S. in Business Management with minors in Accounting and French from North Carolina State University and her M.B.A. from Duke University. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
Associate, Jackson Lewis P.C.
Arielle Garcia was born in New York City, but raised in South Central Texas. Having a love of the city instilled in her at an early age, she moved back to New York for college and has lived in New York City ever since. Arielle is an activist, an attorney, a seeker of truth, and a fighter for justice in our democracy. Perhaps by nature of her varied geographic background, she has a love for diverse perspectives and believes she has an obligation to serve disenfranchised and minority communities. Arielle believes in the power of individuals coming together, through their own empowerment, to make a difference. She knows education is fundamental to that empowerment. Following the 2016 election, Arielle took a step towards empowering others when she started her own email list-serve and newsletter (which she calls the “To Do List for America”) dedicated to (1) alerting her readers to pressing current legislative issues and (2) providing these readers with action items and tools that they can use to defend democratic and progressive values. Since she started writing her “To-Do List,” she has called on her readers to lobby their Members of Congress on a number of legislative issues including healthcare and economic reform. She has also called upon readers to support candidates in federal, state, and local races through grassroots fundraising, phone-banking, and door-to-door canvassing, and has also fundraised for humanitarian causes. Arielle practices what she preaches and is involved in a local activist group in her community in Brooklyn, where she has focused on races in local New York City politics.
Arielle is a Deputy Regional President for the New York City chapter of the Hispanic National Bar Association. She attended New York University for her undergraduate degree as a Journalism and History major, and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She practices employment defense law, but has also shown a commitment to her civic duties in her legal career through the pro bono representation and assistance of juvenile immigrants seeking to obtain legal permanent residency in the United States. Her hobbies include interior design, painting, reading, and, when possible, traveling. Her greatest loves are her family, friends, and of course, her country.
Legal Coordinator, National Basketball Association
Marvellous Iheukwumere is a multidimensional woman using her varied talents and life experiences to implement positive change in her respective communities. Originally from Aba, Nigeria, she immigrated to Austin, Texas and later moved to New York City. Marvellous is currently a legal coordinator at the National Basketball Association where she assists in managing legal matters. Outside of her work, she is passionate about women’s empowerment and sports as a platform for social responsibility. Marvellous is deeply committed to service and enjoys working with organizations such as Level the Field, Athletes for Hope, Emergination Africa and many others to provide equal opportunities for women and youth from underprivileged backgrounds. In March 2017, she created the inaugural Dynamic Young Women’s Workshop, a one-day career and personal development event for over 100 women of color in Austin, Texas. She is also a public speaker and has spoken at numerous career, sports philanthropy, and women's empowerment events. Outside of her community service activities, Marvellous also competed as a professional track and field athlete and finished as a 2016 Nigerian Olympic Trials Finalist. In line with her spirit of servitude, Marvellous and her friends recently created Gear ‘Em Up, a nonprofit organization to provide athletic apparel and resources for underprivileged athletes in developing countries. The organization is set to launch in 2018, and she aspires to create an equal playing field for young athletes. Marvellous received a B.A. in Psychology (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Columbia University in 2014, where she was also a standout Division I track and field athlete. At Columbia, she was selected to the Psychology Honors Program, received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship, served as a team captain, won eight Ivy League Conference championships, and led a tutoring program for middle and high school students.
Attorney, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
David Imamura is an attorney at the New York office of Debevoise & Plimpton, an international law firm, where he focuses on regulatory investigations and civil litigation. While he was in law school, he served as Chair of his home town’s Democratic Committee in Irvington, NY, where he was the youngest Democratic party chair in Westchester County. David previously was a member the National Steering Committee of For45, the Young Professionals arm of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, and served on the campaign’s New York Finance Committee. David previously worked as a Regional Field Director for Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s 2010 Congressional campaign. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2010 (where he serves on the Dartmouth College Fund Committee) and graduated from Columbia Law School in 2015.
New York Communications Associate, Working Families Party
Dom Leon-Davis is an experienced political organizer who believes in the power of grassroots movements to drive progressive change. Currently serving as the New York Communications Associate for the Working Families Party, he is responsible for crafting the message of New York’s progressive third party. He has supported dozens of races across New York State and helped tell the story of the progressive wave sweeping the state. Prior to his post at WFP, Dom served as Communications Director to New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake, writing speeches for the Assembly Member in both his legislative role and political role as DNC Vice Chair. He also worked as a field organizer in Florida for the Hillary for America campaign.
After graduating from high school, Dom served in the US Navy, eventually obtaining an appointment to the US Naval Academy. Upon departing the academy, he began his political career working in the Maryland State Legislature as a Legislative Intern. As a gay Black man raised by a single mother, a veteran, and the husband of a formerly undocumented immigrant, Dom applies an intersectional lens to his fight for social and economic justice. He currently serves on the SpringBoard of Good Shepherd Services, a direct service organization serving New York City’s foster youth.
Terence is the founder of a freelance writing company called Write4You. In this capacity he writes for individuals or companies who do not have the time to write for themselves. Terence Miller earned his B.A. in Political Science from St. John’s University in Queens, New York in 2012. As a student, Terence was very involved in political campaigns, and while working on campaigns, he found his passion for public service. This passion for public service led him to intern for State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, work as a Community Affairs Representative for State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and work for Manhattan Community Board 10 in Harlem as an Assistant District Manager.
Upon graduating from college with this knowledge and experience in political science, Terence knew that he wanted to continue down the road of public service. After helping with Councilmember Christopher Johnson’s campaign in 2015, Terence decided that he wanted to begin to affect positive change in his community and city. So, he decided that he would take on the role of a Democratic District Leader. He understood that this would help him play a vital role in the city’s political process.
S. Masoud Mortazavi
Court Attorney, New York State Unified Court System
Masoud Mortazavi is a court attorney for an Acting Supreme Court Justice in Queens County. He is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law and is a member of the New York State Bar. Masoud grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in political science. As an undergraduate, Masoud interned in Washington, D.C. with former Congressman James Matheson (D-UT), cofounded a student refugee program to assist Iraqi immigrants with their transition and school applications, and worked to further progressive initiatives including voter registration.
During his time at St. John’s Law, Masoud was the President of the St. John’s Law School Democrats and later became the Co-Chair of the New York State Law School Democrats. He assisted in local campaigns, hosted political discussions, and participated in poll watching initiatives. Masoud was the Managing Editor of St. John’s Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development. As a staff writer prior to his position on the Executive Board, his note on the need for the expansion and recognition of LGBTQ athletes’ rights, “Elimination of the Locker Room Closet: Analysis of Current Laws and Professional Sports Leagues' Policies Toward Gay Athletes,” was selected for publication in the Journal. He has volunteered as a mock trial coach for law students and a debate coach for local NYC high school students, and was a Street Law teacher at John Bowne High School.
Masoud is of Iranian descent and is a dual citizen of Iran and the United States. As the son of two Iranian immigrants, he has experienced firsthand the difficulties of navigating the US immigration system; he has advocated for the rights of immigrants and used his status as a bilingual citizen to assist others in their transition to the US. He believes firmly in the right to live free from oppression, and that the right to vote is fundamental to this ideal.
Program Manager, Mount Sinai Beth Israel
Rachel O’Sullivan works within the reproductive justice movement, engaged in creating access to healthcare for patients often underserved by the medical community. As a program manager at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Rachel works directly with HIV positive patients to encourage active involvement in their medical care while providing administrative and strategic oversight to the Retention Adherence Program. Rachel has previously worked in Title X clinics and programs, where she assisted in writing grants, provided technical assistance, worked on the expansion of services and guided the general coordination of clinical services. Rachel holds a B.A. from Smith College, where she studied Anthropology with a focus on health and human rights. During college, Rachel spent time in Tanzania, where she worked as a birthing doula at a maternity hospital. She later returned to work as the startup manager for a maternal health education program that employed the natural leaders model to provide educational resources to women in the area. From her experiences working in community-based programing, Rachel has learned the importance of community-led spaces and has consistently worked to create space for community voices in all programs in which she has worked. In addition to her day-to-day work, Rachel is also an active member and leader within the HIV Planning Group of NYC, where she has continued to work towards creating spaces for voices that are not often heard. Rachel’s dedication to community-led programming has encouraged her to explore ways to amplify community voices, particularly within governmental bodies.
Senior Director, Engagement, Operations, and Staff Development, New York City Department of Education
Jennifer Peng is a lifelong NYC resident. She grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens and is an alumna of Prep for Prep. She got her B.A. in Economics and The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and her MST in Childhood Special Education at Fordham University.
Jennifer tutored local elementary school students throughout college and joined Teach for America as an elementary special education teacher in the Rockaways and Crown Heights. Having taught at both district and charter schools, Jennifer joined the NYC Department of Education to understand and play a role in the policy of the largest school district in the United States.
She currently works at the NYC Department of Education, building and supporting connections between central offices, NYC communities, and district school staff.
She spends her spare time writing about personal finance for urban 30-somethings. She is also working on her second installment of chronicling the Chinese immigrant experience of her parents' generation in 1980’s New York City.
Writer, Advocate, Educator
Zoe is an educator and organizer whose work focuses on gender equity, healthy sexuality, and a fair and effective legal system. Her writing on these topics has been published in the Yale Law Journal, New York Daily News, ReWire, and other outlets; she has trained and educated students across the country, from college campuses to juvenile detention centers; and she has spoken before the American Bar Association, the New York City Council, and at press conferences, rallies, and marches.
She earned her B.A. from Columbia University, where she drove the creation of an Emergency Health Care Fund for students in need, led a campaign to secure free emergency contraceptives on campus, and was the lead complainant in a prominent Title IX complaint against her school.
In her free time, she enjoys keeping bees, shopping for shoes, and cooking yummy vegetarian food for friends and family.
Assistant Political Director and PAC Administrator, The International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades (IUJAT)
Connor Shaw is the Assistant Political Director and PAC Administrator for the International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades (IUJAT), one of the oldest labor organizations in the county, which represents over 100,000 members across America and is headquartered in Queens, New York. In this capacity, Connor manages all political communications, Get Out to Vote efforts and the union’s political spending. Prior to joining IUJAT, Connor worked on political campaigns in 6 states, ranging from New York to Alaska. Most recently, Connor launched, managed, and ran the digital campaign, “The Trump Project,” for the Hillary-Clinton-affiliated Super PAC, Correct the Record. Outside of politics, Connor has provided communications consulting to a wide range of organizations, including a fortune 500 company, a venture capital fund, and a labor union. Connor has won multiple awards for his advocacy work, including a Silver Donkey for his work on the Correct the Record project “Let’s Talk Hillary.” Connor attended Indiana University-Bloomington, studying Economics and Sociology. While at Indiana University, Connor served as the Student Government Press Secretary, President of the Indiana University Student Policy Organization, Vice President of the Indiana University Democrats, Vice President of Indiana University Mock Trial, and Director of Finance for the Indiana College Democrats - as well as being named as one of eight Student Luminaries on a campus of roughly 40,000 students. In Connor’s spare time, he enjoys traveling and hiking, and is a self-described sports addict, as well as an avid reader.
Senior Analyst, NYC Mayor's Office of Management and Budget
Christopher Sun is currently a Senior Analyst at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As the city’s chief financial agency, OMB oversees both the expenses and capital budgets, implements the borrowing and bond programs, and evaluates the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of city services. Chris’s primary role as Senior Analyst is to develop and oversee new reporting and data analysis tools for use in evaluating the city’s federally funded programs. This includes transforming financial, geospatial, and demographic data collected through city programs into incisive reports and visualizations for city officials, the federal government, and the public.
Previously, Chris worked at the Open Society Foundations, where he managed the grant-making operations for the economic justice and immigrant rights portfolios. This included reviewing grant proposals and conducting management audits for over 300 nonprofits across the US. Chris started his career as an organizer with Asian Americans for Equality, promoting home ownership and financial access programs among predominantly minority and immigrant communities across NYC.
In addition to his career experiences, Chris has been a fervent advocate for advancing civil rights and economic justice. He served as an organizer for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 and previously served on the steering committees for the NY Chapter of Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), as well the Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG).
Chris holds a B.A. from the University at Albany, and an MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
High School Math and Science Teacher, NYC Department of Education
Two years into working as an engineer, Joseph Tadros realized that, while he loved the content, he would better serve his community if he became a teacher. He was awarded a New York City Teaching Fellowship in 2013 to teach mathematics in under-served and under-resourced public schools. He began teaching at Mott Hall V, a 6-12 school in the South Bronx. Prior to teaching, Joseph worked as an engineer. He received his B.A. in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rutgers University. At Rutgers, Joseph worked with many philanthropic organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, Service for Sight, Children’s Miracle Network and Operation Smile. Joseph has been passionate about helping others, particularly those who may not be able to advocate for themselves. In fact, he pursued teaching because he knew that his skill set and content knowledge could be better used to serve communities that need it most.
Joseph has been a leader both inside and outside the classroom. In the classroom, Joseph was the first to create an AP calculus and physics curriculum at his school. He organizes workshops and trips for his students to explore careers in STEAM. Outside of the classroom, he joined Educators for Excellence (E4E), because he believes that progressive policy work needs to be done on a larger scale. Joseph works as the school leader to create round table discussions with his colleagues to get teacher feedback on critical issues. He is currently advocating with E4E and meeting with the proper stakeholders to deliver more funding towards restorative justice practices. His passion for education reform comes from his own experiences as a first-generation American. Joseph is also piloting an after-school mentorship program for students to be paired up with a professional in order to create a capstone project in their field of choice. Joseph is determined to give students from marginalized communities the best opportunities to succeed.