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David Allard, Spanish Teacher, Swansea Public Schools
David Allard is a public school Spanish teacher, local campaign manager, and yoga instructor from Middletown, Rhode Island. He is very active in the Rhode Island political community. David is the campaign manager for State Representative Linda Finn. He is also a member of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats and serves as Membership Director for the Young Democrats of Rhode Island. David has volunteered with Marriage Equality Rhode Island, Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, Rhode Island Pride, Clean Ocean Access, and Unite Here Local 217. David is very passionate about many social justice issues and would like to run for office in the future in order to ensure that diverse voices are represented in Government. In his free time David enjoys practicing power yoga, running, reading nonfiction, and playing tennis.
Marcela Betancur, Project Coordinator, Providence Housing Authority
Marcela grew up in Colombia and at the age of 12 moved to the United States. In 2007, she graduated from Central Falls High School and went on to receive a BachelorÍs Degree in Political Science and Public Administration as well as a minor in Non-profit studies from Rhode Island College in 2012. After graduating, Marcela received the opportunity to work for the Providence Housing Authority as a Project Coordinator. During her time with the organization, she has worked closely with numerous governmental, public, and non-profit organizations across the state of Rhode Island and other states. MarcelaÍs work with the Smoke-Free Living movement in the City of Providence and the Providence Housing Authority was recognized by the American Public Health Association this past winter. Since then, Marcela continues to work with new projects and programs for the vulnerable populations across Providence and the State of Rhode Island.
Norelys Consuegra, Senate Aide, U.S. Senator Jack Reed
Norelys R. Consuegra has been working as a Senate Aide for U.S. Senator Jack Reed since 1996. Her duties include providing detailed information and assistance to the SenatorÍs constituents in all areas of immigration law and policy, solving passport and visa inquiries, providing assistance abroad to U.S. citizens among other issues pertaining to International Affairs.
A native Rhode Islander, daughter of Colombian parents, Norelys is fluent in Spanish and has over twenty (20) years of experience with immigration law; through her job, she has received extensive training in immigration law, has excellent communication skills and has also been responsible for initiating and coordinating outreach projects with the Senator and his constituency. In December 2012, Norelys completed her MasterÍs Degree in International Relations from Salve Regina University and during her last semester, was selected to participate as an E-intern with the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, through the U.S. Department of StateÍs Virtual E-internship Program. Norelys serves as the liaison between the Senator and his constituency throughout the State of Rhode Island, in particular with the Latino community. During her tenure as a Senate Aide, she has been recognized as the recipient of the Ralph Gabellieri Service Award by Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island, been recognized as a Diversity Ambassador by the State of Rhode Island, awarded the Extraordinary Women Award for community work, received recognition from RI Latino Public Radio and the National Archives and Records Administration for her collaborated work between offices. She has received numerous letters from constituents thanking her for the assistance provided and willingness to come to a solution.
In addition to her full-time employment, for the past ten (10) years, during the summer, she works for the Special Programs for Talent Development (TD) at the University of Rhode Island, the same program she participated as Undergraduate. She is the Tutor Coordinator for the programÍs Pre-Mat 5 week session. She has been very involved in community service and although her position as a Senate Aide limits participation on Boards and Commissions, Norelys remains very active. She works with the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund and the Political Action Committee (RILCF/RILPAC) and currently is the Program Coordinator of RILCFÍs Latina Leadership Institute (LLI) and has volunteered with many Rhode Island organizations. She makes her home in Pawtuvket with her husband Salvador and two sons, Gabriel and Ashten.
Jordan Day, Call Receiver, AAA Southern New England
Jordan is a Providence native and recent graduate of Rhode Island College. She is a part-time employee with AAA Southern New England and is looking to expand into campaign fundraising and advancement.
Travis Escobar, Academic Campaign Management, Inspiring Minds
A south side Providence native, Travis Escobar, considers himself an aspiring ñsocial entrepreneurî. Travis is passionate about helping solve community issues regarding poverty, education,community safety, and social equality. TravisÍ passion to give back to the community is inspired by his mother Carmen Cruz. Carmen is an advocate for Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR). She has shared her story to students, legislators, and the community at large, in hopes of creating social awareness of domestic violence. During TravisÍ senior year in high school, he decided after years of watching his mother fight for community change, that he would go on to college to improve his community as well.
In 2008, after graduating from Times Squared Academy, Travis enrolled at Rhode Island College (RIC) through the summer Preparatory Enrollment Program (PEP). PEP is geared toward aiding first generation college students and students who live in poverty. After successfully completing this program, Travis set his sights on becoming a student leader at RIC. During his entire enrollment at RIC, Travis served as an elected official in the collegeÍs student government. RIC Student Community Government, Inc. is a unique nonprofit structure, where the student executives have complete management of an approximately $1 million dollar budget. Travis would serve one year as student body vice president, two consecutive years as president, and one year as speaker. His accomplishments included aiding the creation of programs for yearly large scale concerts, RIPTA fare discounts for students, 24 hour library service during exam week, GPA requirements for paid student leaders, and creating more student leadership positions.
In 2012, Travis accomplishments allowed him to be selected by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as his guest for the State of the Union Address. Travis was selected to be a representative for Pell Grant recipient students nationally. Later that year, Travis would be invited back as the keynote speaker for his former high schoolÍs graduation. In 2013, Travis graduated from RIC with a degree in Public Administration and Political Science. He became the first in his family to graduate high school and college. As the elected senior class president, Travis had the opportunity to give the ñstudent farewell addressî in front of thousands in attendance. Currently, Travis is an AmeriCorps VISTA, where he serves at Inspiring Minds as the Academic Campaign Manager. In his role, he is in charge of recruitment of volunteers that go on to tutor in Providence public schools.
Jennifer Gaviria, Middle School Advisor, The College Crusade of Rhode Island
Jennifer Gaviria grew up in Central Falls, RI. She was the first in her family to be accepted to college. In 2007, she began her undergraduate career at Providence College. In 2011, she graduated with a B.A. in Global Studies. After graduation, Jennifer wanted to give back to her community, so she applied to City Year Rhode Island where she became Team Leader at Roger Williams Middle School.
During her service year with City Year, Jennifer realized she wanted to continue to work with youth, and applied to The College Crusade of Rhode Island. Luckily, Jennifer was hired as the new Middle School Advisor at Roger Williams Middle School. As Middle School Advisor, Jennifer gives advisory services and referrals to the “”Crusaders”" at Roger Williams.
Mark Gray, Healthcare Coordinator, The Providence Plan
After living in Georgia for 7 years, Mark returned to his native Rhode Island and accidentally became a community organizer after responding to an ad on craigslist posted by Clean Water Action. In the three years since, he has participated in electoral and legislative campaigns and had the opportunity to learn from some of the most accomplished and respected leaders in the worlds of politics, policy, advocacy and business. He looks forward to honing, refining and synthesizing the skills and knowledge he has gained with the Fellows and this year’s Institute.
Heather Hudson, Outreach Director, Rhode Island State Treasury
Heather is a native of Tacoma, WA and grew up exploring the mountains of the west coast. She received a Masters of Arts in Education Policy from University of Colorado Boulder in 2010, and her Bachelors degree in Anthropology from Willamette University in Salem, OR in 2006. During her undergraduate studies, Heather lived in Argentina and Bolivia for a year. It was there that she discovered her passion for social justice work, in addition to a love for the food, dancing, stories y la gente de suramerica. Professionally she has worked in non-profit management, led all-girl outdoor education trips, worked on political campaigns, researched the effectiveness of community-based education programs, and developed state-wide initiatives for local government. Heather believes in democracy and Martin Luther King Jr.’s the Beloved Community. On an ideal day, she would be out rock climbing in the North Cascades by day and at a social justice rally at night with friends.
Jonathan Jacobs, Senior Employment & Training Interviewer, State of Rhode Island
Jonathan Jacobs is a Political Communications Consultant for progressive candidates and an elected Executive Board member and Legislative Lobbyist for Rhode Island Employment Security Alliance, Local 401, SEIU which represents state employees across several state divisions. He also works as a Senior Employment and Training Interviewer with the State of Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training. A native Rhode Islander, Jonathan grew up in the Providence area and graduated from La Salle Academy. He earned a B.A. in Theatre Studies from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC and minored in English.
After college, he acted professionally with a number of Rhode Island theatres, including Mixed Magic Theatre, 2nd Story Theatre, and Trinity Rep. Years of acting provided Jonathan with confident public speaking and presentation skills as well as the work ethic and collaborative nature that serves him today as a communications consultant. Jonathan has written extensively for local news and political sources. He has provided opinion pieces for RIFuture.org and spent seven months as a weekly contributing news writer for GoLocal Providence. He continues to write a monthly progressive counterpoint for Motif Magazine opposite Rhode Island Republican Party Vice-Chair, Giovanni Calise. In addition to his busy work schedule, Jonathan enjoys spending time with his wife, Michele, and his daughter, Audrey Phoenix. He and Michele are expecting their second child soon. The family lives on the East Side of Providence.
Emily Koo, Policy Associate, Office of Mayor Angel Taveras
Emily works for the Office of Mayor Angel Taveras as a Policy Associate, developing policies in areas ranging from education to sustainability to community development. In May of 2013, Emily graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Brown University. Her work as a Mayoral Fellow in ProvidenceÍs Office of Sustainability sparked her interest in local government and policy. As an undergraduate at Brown, Emily entered the political realm through Brown Democracy Matters and a campaign for publicly financed elections. In the wake of Citizens United v. FEC, the group steered towards disclosure, authoring the Transparency in Political Spending Act which now requires the disclosure of independent expenditures in Rhode Island. In her four years in Rhode Island, Emily has served on the executive committee of the RI chapter of the Sierra Club, interned for the Office of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and volunteered in various capacities with Save the Bay.
Chad McFarlane served on Active Duty in the U.S. Army from July 2002 to September 2007. During his tour, he spent 5 years stationed at Ft. Stewart, GA in the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) as M1 Abrams Armored Crew Member, completing two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Chad received an Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals. Chad attained the rank of Sargent and was Honorably Discharged in September of 2007. Since 2010, Chad has been attending Community College of Rhode Island as an A.S., Engineering degree candidate. He serves on the executive committees of several student organizations, and is now the President of the Student Veterans Organization. Chad has served two AmeriCorps terms of service as a Student Civic Fellow, and was named the 2013 Newman Civic Fellow for his Veterans Advocacy work.
In 2012, Chad was awarded a six month Fellowship with The Mission Continues, an organization that challenges Post 9/11 veterans to make a difference and lead in their communities. Through that transformative experience, Chad found a new passion in leaving his environment a better place, through technology, political policy, and engagement. Chad also serves on the Board of the Directors for the Rhode Island Military Organization, an organization whose focuses are: The RI Military Lounge at TF Green Airport, Education, Youth Development and Veteran Outreach. He will be completing his course of study at CCRI in Spring 2014, and is currently applying to 4-year institutions to complete a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.
Robin McGill, Writing Consultant and Tutor, Freelance
Robin McGill is an advocate for a broad education that promotes the arts and humanities and that is accessible to everyone. She has a strong background in higher education, and she hopes to pursue a career that addresses the tough issues facing education (especially higher ed) in terms of access, cost, and curriculum. As a graduate of Brown UniversityÍs doctoral program in Classics (2012), she has taught literature, language, and history courses at Brown and at Wheaton College in nearby Norton, MA.
During graduate school, Robin served as President of the Graduate Student Council and Coordinator of a Mellon graduate workshop, roles that enabled her to promote student engagement across disciplines. Interested in improving college readiness among younger students, she recently completed an internship with the High School Summer College program at Stanford University. In one major project, she designed a scholarship program to support local, low-income students as they look ahead to college. Currently, she serves on the High School to College and Career Workgroup of the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet, which works to increase rates of graduation and college admission among the urban population of Providence.
Antonio Rodriguez , Community Improvement Coordinator, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
I joined NWBRV as a NeighborWorks AmeriCorps VISTA after graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island. He hopes to pursue a double masters in College Student Personal and Public Policy/Administration after his service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. In his second AmeriCorps service year, he hopes to bring fresh and fun ideas to the community and looks forward to continuing in his role as the organization’s Community Improvement Coordinator.
Komlan Soe, Navigator, Rhode Island Parent Information Network
I am a Political Activist, Inspirational Speaker, and Social Entrepreneur from Liberia; I resettled in the US in 2005 as a refugee. I have had the opportunity to speak at numerous conferences and events. I am a Co-Founder/President of African Youth Development Initiative, a youth group aimed at creating a platform for discussing issues affecting African youths and building network among African youths. As an Activist and Change Agent, I am recognized for strong actions and mobilization in bringing awareness to social and political issues. My works earned me numerous recognitions and awards, including URI Black Scholar Award for outstanding service and Omicron Delta Kappa, URI Chapter Civic Leadership award for my involvement in 2012 elections.
My leadership and passion for activism and awareness on political and social issues began in refugee camps in Ivory Coast and Ghana, where I spent most of my life. I was 3 years old when a brutal civil war ravaged my native Liberia, forcing my family to flee to a refugee camp in neighboring Ivory Coast. As I was growing up, I became very much aware that my cherished childhood freedom of movement was limited and strongly restricted. I became aware that refugees like myself were not allowed to visit the nearby town (less than 5 miles away) except on market day _ that was restricted as well. With a strong passion to bring about change, I (at age 14) led a successful children march for freedom to nearby town, violating unjust law I called ñbarbaric law that violates peopleÍs fundamental human rights.
Since then, my political activism and leadership have led to successful movements, including a high school student movement in protest of certain laws in Ghana while I was in high school. After graduating from high school in Ghana, I resettled to the United States as a refugee. Upon arrival, my family and I faced economic hardship that hindered my ability to look beyond and follow my passion. With perseverance and determination, I overcame and continued my passion. Later, I interned and worked at the International Institute of Rhode Island and University of Rhode Island Department of Sociology, while matriculating as a Full-Time student at the University of Rhode Island. I currently hold a BA degree in Political Science and Sociology with emphasis on international relations and public policy from the University of Rhode Island, and I presently work as Navigator/Policy Analyst at Rhode Island Parent Information Network, RIPIN.
In the summer of 2013, I went back to Africa. I traveled to Uganda to work with a Uganda-based organization, aimed at empowering women and youth to be economically independent and entrepreneurial. While in Africa, I spoke at different youth conferences across the continent on youth involvements in political development, entrepreneurship, and democracy in Africa. I am currently working to create a program that will aim at promoting entrepreneurship among African youths as a way to tackle high youth unemployment and encourage innovation in Africa. This program will be launched in early 2015, and it will operate in Uganda and Liberia.
Michael Steiner, Veteran Benefits Navigator, Westbay Community Action
Michael Steiner served on Active Duty in the U.S. Navy from July 2005 to July 2011. During his tour, he spent 5 years aboard USS Nimitz operating and maintaining RADAR equipment. Michael received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and an honorable discharge. He now serves as a drilling reservist aboard US Naval War College Support Unit at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. Since 2011, Michael has been attending Community College of Rhode Island as an A.S., Engineering degree candidate. He serves on the executive committees of several student organizations, including the Student Veterans Organization.
Michael has served two AmeriCorps terms of service as a Student Civic Fellow, and is serving his third AmeriCorps term in the Rhode Island Vet Corps’ inaugural program year as a Veterans Benefits Navigator. Michael is also the Vice Chairman of the Rhode Island Military Organization, and the Vice President of Administration for the Warwick Veterans Services Organization. He will be completing his course of study at CCRI in Spring, 2014, and is currently applying to 4 year institutions to complete a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He is passionate about serving the veteran community.