Philadelphia 2011 Fellows

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Sarah Truitt, Special Education Teacher, Philadelphia School District (Philadelphia Learning Academy South)

My name is Sarah Truitt, and I am currently one of two Special Education teachers at a Philadelphia School District alternative school. Our students have been permanently or temporarily expelled from their neighborhood schools, and I teach them English, Math, and Creative Writing. I came to this position through my affiliation as a Teach for America corps member, and this is my second year both as a corps member and as a teacher. After I finish my commitment with Teach for America, I hope to continue working in education, specifically with students in alternative schools. I graduated from New York University in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. During my time at NYU I was both the Vice President of my sorority and the President of the Greek Community, and I also worked to create a study-abroad opportunity for NYU students in Lebanon. I grew up in Washington, DC, and attended the National Cathedral School where, among other activities, I rowed with a crew team on the Potomac River and rang the bells at the National Cathedral.

Isaiah Thomas, Associate Dean and Athletic Director, Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School

Isaiah ThomasI currently serve as the Associate Dean of Students and Athletic Director at Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School. I am also the Executive Director for Mature Cradle Inc. I am a former Legislative Assistant for State Representative Tony Payton Jr. I also previously served as the Youth Coordinator for Carson Valley Children’s Aid and as Project Director for the Frankford Freedom School, which is a free, intergenerational, reading enrichment, and social-action based summer program that services youth in Philadelphia and across the country. I have been involved in the Freedom School program in various roles for the last eleven consecutive summers, serving as a Junior Servant Leader, Servant Leader Intern, Site Coordinator and Ella Baker Trainer/Consultant for the Children's Defense Fund and Communities in Schools. I am currently a graduate student at Lincoln University. I completed my undergraduate education at Pennsylvania State University where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychological and Social Behavior with a minor in English in 2008. I am the head boys basketball coach in the same neighborhood I played high school basketball. I am also considering running for office in 2011.

Shane Seaver, Board Member Exchange Club Family Center

Shane SeaverSeaver most recently served as the Campaign Manager for Bill Holmes challenger's campaign to capture the State Representative seat in PA-167. Seaver worked with the PA House Democratic Campaign Committee to create targeted field, GOTV and vote by mail plans; as well as an operating campaign budget. Seaver put in place a robust field operation, reaching nearly 20,000 voters; he created and successfully implemented a full and regimented finance solicitation program using union outreach and current donor research. In 2009, Seaver was a Field Organizer for Doug Pike's challenger's campaign in the DCCC-targeted 6th District of Pennsylvania. Pike lost a close race, 51% to 49%, to his Democratic Party-endorsed primary opponent. In 2010, Seaver spent time in Michigan's 7th Congressional District for incumbent Mark Schauer, developing and successfully implementing a targeted, grassroots field plan in Jackson County, the district's largest and most diverse. Seaver serves as a board member for the Chester County Exchange Club Family Center, as well as the Communications Chair for the Chester County Young Democrats. Seaver was born in Tampa, Florida in 1985 and received his B.A. in Political Science from West Chester University, Pa. Seaver has resided in Chester County, Pennsylvania since the age of 8.

Gavin Keirans, Management Consulting Analyst, Accenture

Gavin KeiransGavin is currently a Management Consulting Analyst for Accenture. Outside of client responsibilities, Gavin is involved in recruiting efforts and as the communications lead on the Analyst Action Team. Prior to joining Accenture, Gavin served two terms as Student Body President of Penn State University. While at Penn State, he successfully led the implementation of full time legal services, late night bus transportation, tenant-landlord mediation program, online book exchange and a standing budget. Gavin stays connected to his alma mater, having sat on the Executive Board of the Alumni Association. His advocacy work allowed Gavin to contribute to many publications, including being profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer and NE Times of Philadelphia. During his collegiate career, Gavin also hosted his own radio show and was a frequent panelist on a local political show. Gavin first developed his passion for service and involvement at Jesuit high school St. Joe’s Prep in Philadelphia. In his spare time, Gavin takes part in a men’s soccer league still hoping for the day he figures out how to bend it like Beckham. He looks to be civically engaged in the Philadelphia community for years to come and make an impact locally.

Asher Chancey, Associate Attorney, Rawle & Henderson

Asher ChanceyAsher Brooks Chancey is an associate attorney at Rawle & Henderson in Philadelphia, where he focuses his practice on the defense of commercial motor vehicles and admiralty and maritime law. He previously worked at Palmer Biezup & Henderson, a Philadelphia maritime law firm. Asher performs pro bono work through Philadelphia VIP, and was a member of Young Lawyers for Obama. Asher graduated from the University of New Orleans with a B.A. in 2003, and graduated cum laude in 2006 from Tulane University School of Law. While at Tulane, Asher received the Harry F. Stiles Scholarship in Maritime Law, was selected as a Senior Fellow for the Legal Research and Writing Program, and served as the Editor in Chief of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Asher spent his third year as a visiting student at the University of Maryland School of Law, during which time he completed externships in both the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. He resides in West Philadelphia with his wife Kelly and their two children, Lily and Alex.

Laura Burns, Legal Assistant, Esperanza

Laura BurnsPassionate about ending inequality around the globe through innovative and sustainable solutions, Laura is driven by the poverty and injustice she has witnessed throughout the world. A Legal Assistant at Esperanza, a Hispanic nonprofit in North Philadelphia, Laura currently works to improve the lives of immigrants and their families by providing them with the immigration legal services they need and educating them about their rights. Laura has extensive international experience in the fields of economic development, humanitarian relief work, journalism, and public policy. She has worked on projects for USAID in Guatemala, the Inter-American Development Bank in Mexico, and volunteered in post-earthquake Haiti with All Hands Volunteers. A graduate of Emory University, Laura recently completed a year-long Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship in Mexico City where she studied International Relations and Migration Policy. Bilingual in Spanish and English and proficient in French, Laura has visited, lived in, and worked in over twenty countries in the past four years. An avid runner, Laura ran Cross Country competitively in college and is currently training for her fourth marathon. A recent transplant to Philadelphia, Laura grew up in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

David Bennion, Staff Attorney, Nationalities Service Center.

David BennionI am a staff attorney at Nationalities Service Center, a nonprofit organization providing direct services to low-income immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia area. I represent immigrants and their United States citizen family members in all stages of the immigration legal process, including family petitions, green card and citizenship applications, deportation defense, and federal appeals. I have defended DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth against deportation, including engaging in public advocacy to enlist community support, media attention, and political intervention. I provided legal advice to undocumented activists who engaged in civil disobedience actions in Arizona and Washington, D.C., in 2010. I have represented asylum-seekers at every stage of the asylum process, including appeals to the federal circuit courts. I blog at Citizen Orange and other online outlets about the law and politics of immigration and the immigrant rights movement. I studied politics and international relations at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, and later law at New York University. I am originally from Utah and am descended from Mormon pioneers and polygamists. I am a vegetarian pacifist atheist but was none of these things in my youth.