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Meet the 2016 Rhode Island Fellows
Julio Alicea, Social Studies Teacher & Advisor, Blackstone Academy Charter School
Originally from Pennsylvania, Julio Alicea grew up in a working class, Latino community outside of Philadelphia. His firsthand experiences with inequality left him with a passion for social justice. He first explored this passion at Swarthmore College, where he participated in the rigorous Honors Program and graduated Phi Beta Kappa after studying Sociology & Anthropology, Educational Studies, and Spanish. While at Swarthmore, he served as a mentor to black and Latino youth off campus while advocating on campus for living wages for campus employees, increased faculty diversity, and more focused conversations around issues of race and policing.
Upon graduation, Julio chose a career in urban education so that he could work to disrupt rampant educational inequities. To prepare for a career as a high school teacher, he moved to Rhode Island to complete the Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Brown University. He funded his degree at Brown with the WW-RBF Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color and continues to be a strong advocate for diversifying the teaching force.
Currently, Julio serves the communities of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence as a Social Studies Teacher & Advisor at Blackstone Academy Charter School. At Blackstone, he teaches World History and Economics and helps to coordinate student government, among other roles. He also teaches in the SPIRIT educational program that runs year-round, combating summer learning loss in the summer months while providing structured college visits during the school year.
Moving forward, as an NLC fellow, Julio hopes to expand his network in Rhode Island and acquire new entrepreneurial and advocacy skills that will allow him to extend his educational influence beyond his classroom walls. He views schools as having unlimited potential to be levers of social change that disrupt inequality, rather than cogs in a machine that reproduce it. Like the late, great Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, Julio ultimately believes in the power of education to cultivate a critical consciousness that enables students to read both the word and the world.
Karen Alzate, Case Manager, The Providence Center
Karen Alzate is an alumni from Rhode Island College, who is currently employed at The Providence Center. Karen is first generation American. Karen has worked with the College Crusade of RI as her internship while in college and then employed with the family engagement team, educating parents on the importance of their children attending college and how to find ways to pay for it. At her current employer, Karen is a case manager for the community support program, in which she assist clients of Hispanic background in the community, advocating for them.
Antoine Boyer, Housing Counselor/Youth Program Instructor, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Antoine moved to Rhode Island at a young age and grew up in a home with his mother and older brother. In 2001, Antoine graduated from Woonsocket High School and continued his education by attending the University of Rhode Island through the Talent Development Program. Antoine began working with West Elmwood Housing Development in 2009 through their Clearcorp program, where he worked as a Lead Hazard worker and helped to make over 600 homes in Rhode Island safe from lead contamination. Antoine continued on to facilitate summer youth programs in 2012 and 2013 through West Elmwood Housing and later that became Community Outreach Coordinator for the organization. Currently, Antoine is Housing Counselor and facilitates an afterschool Hip Hop based program called Fulfill the Dream in elementary and middle schools in Providence. Also, he also does community work outside of the workplace by collaborating with local community groups.
Kayra Bozzi, Farm, Food and Youth Programs Director, Southside Community Land Trust
In over a decade of work across the United States and now in her family’s home state of Rhode Island, Laura has led efforts to bring about just and effective solutions to complex environmental problems.
Laura is the Farm, Food and Youth Programs Director at the Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) in Providence, RI. At SCLT, Laura strengthens urban food systems by leading initiatives including a youth employment program, healthy food access- related marketing, education & community outreach, and programs to support beginning farmers through training and access to land. Before moving to Providence, Laura lived in southeastern West Virginia and worked at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, where she developed cases to enforce environmental compliance at mountaintop removal coal mines and led the creation of a new sustainable agriculture program.
Laura earned a Ph.D. from Yale University in Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her research, grounded in institutional theory and public policy scholarship, applied social science tools to uncover the historical drivers to environmental problems and to identify strategies for achieving durable solutions. Before returning for her Ph.D., Laura worked on fisheries management and ocean policy issues in New England, Washington DC, and on the West Coast. Laura holds a B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Yale College and a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Isabella Cassell, Director of Food and Health Initiatives, Social Enterprise Greenhouse
Isabella Cassell grew up in Dartmouth, MA (just a short drive from the Ocean State) and after spending four years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, decided to return to New England and make RI her home. Isabella studied Psychology and Art History at UNC, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. She also spent a semester at King’s College in London, exploring the multidisciplinary perspectives of health and impacts of health system structures on society.
Isabella began her work in Providence at the Alpert Medical School’s Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, focusing on behavioral weight control. Always interested in the societal and environmental impacts on health, her work at the WCDRC further demonstrated how important healthy food and proper nutrition is to overall wellbeing and health. Inspired to get involved in nutrition from a macro perspective, Isabella applied for and was selected to be the RI Statewide Coordinator for Food Day, a national organization that strives to change both people’s diets and our policies. Within a few months of taking her role, Isabella spearheaded, managed, and implemented RI’s first Food Day Festival for the state of RI. Passionate about healthy food for all, regardless of income or background, Isabella led the effort to hold the festival in Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence, drawing students, families, foodies, displaced individuals, and government officials to celebrate local, healthy food. Isabella just completed the second RI Food Festival, creating a larger event through increased partnerships.
With passion for food policy and business, Isabella began work at the Providence-based Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a nationally recognized nonprofit network that provides business acumen training to “do well, do good businesses.” Isabella is the Director of Food and Health Programs, creating programming to support food and health focused ventures looking to make an impact in RI and the region. She is currently working on creating RI’s first Food Accelerator, a 12 week blended learning program that gives food ventures the tools they need to scale. Isabella is also on the Council for Urban Greens, RI’s first food co-op, as well as the founder of the RI Ladies Gaelic Football Club.
Isabella is extremely excited and honored to become a NLC Fellow and work with and learn from the network. She hopes that NLC will help her obtain the tools to become a champion for improving our food system.
Bryant Estrada, Alumni Program Coordinator, The Segue Institute for Learning
Bryant A. Estrada is a Central Falls native who after graduating from Central Falls High School in 2009, matriculated into Brown University without having a clue about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. After graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Education Studies: Human Development, Bryant was still indecisive and unsure of his passions and aspirations, and so he decided to move to Philadelphia the following fall.
His plan was to attend a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program, matriculate into medical school, and then become an amazing physician. But after a few months in Philadelphia, Bryant realized that medicine would not cut it for him and he was looking for something more, so he decided to move back home until he found out what he was looking for.
In the summer of 2014, Bryant accepted a position as Math Interventionist/Teaching Partner at Nowell Leadership Academy, where was able to gain hands-on experience in the classroom, and discovered his passion for urban education. About a year later, Bryant has now moved to The Segue Institute for Learning to serve as the Alumni Program Coordinator, where he offers supports and resources to Segue alumni and works with their current schools in order to best support their needs.
Aside from his employment at Segue IFL, Bryant continues his involvement with his hometown and its neighboring communities by serving as a founding member of the Central Falls Alumni Association and as board member on the City of Pawtucket’s Juvenile Hearing Board. Bryant is currently pursuing his secondary math teacher certification at Providence College. He expects to use his certification to implement teaching methods aligned to urban education reform strategies, and create methods that can be used in any urban classroom.
Bryant’s educational philosophy is based on the belief that every child, especially those labeled “at-promise,” has the ability to succeed when afforded the right tools and resources. He believes that urban education reform starts in the classroom, where efficient teaching methods are taken into consideration before implementing new education policies. This in turn, should have a lasting, positive effect on urban schools and the students that they serve.
Emily Gonzalez, College Access & Success Advisor, College Visions
Born and raised in the South Bronx, NY, Emily felt the impact communities can have on individuals from an early age. While her parents were unable to attend college, they deeply understood the importance of education. Their initial push to follow opportunities led her to be part of different communities that instilled the values of scholarship, leadership, and service.
Known as “EmGo” by her colleagues, Emily is an Access and Success Advisor at College Visions, a nonprofit organization based in Providence that supports low-income, first-generation students to enter and graduate from college. Her work ties with her own first-gen experience while attending Brown University on a scholarship. As a student, Emily participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s internship program, interning for the House of Representatives in DC, and was also selected as a National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Latinas Learning to Lead Fellow. These experiences heightened her awareness of the importance of representation within politics.
Upon graduating in 2013, Emily unexpectedly grew to call Rhody home while serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at College Visions before transitioning to staff this past summer. As a VISTA, she focused on incorporating post-college planning and alumni engagement into the advising model. In an effort to stay connected with policies and initiatives affecting Latino communities, Emily also supports NCLR, the largest Latino advocacy organization in the nation. As a member of their Lideres Summit Team, she has helped execute workshops and events for over 500 youth participants.
Emily is excited to join the NLC community. As a New Leaders Council Fellow, she hopes to build upon the values and skills necessary to devote her impact towards empowering communities that advance access and success through education for all.
Eve Keobounthanh, VOCA Program Coordinator, Center for Southeast Asians
Eve Keobounthanh grew up in neighboring Massachusetts and attended Suffolk University in Boston for her undergrad degree in International Relations. Her passion to work on change for those inflicted with interpersonal violence, due to their socio economic status, led Eve to her current position as the Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) Program Coordinator at a Providence based non-profit called the Center for Southeast Asians. Through the few years Eve has worked implementing and executing the objectives of the program, she has realized the lack of Southeast Asian, culturally competent and sensitive programming and services in Rhode Island and hopes to work with others in eliminating the void.
In Eve’s personal life, she tremendously enjoys traveling. Fortunately for Eve, her father took her on a month long trip to Laos when she was 14, and it became the life altering experience that built the foundation for her to decide she wanted to work in the human and social services field. Other countries Eve has traveled to are Egypt, Greece, Serbia and Spain- just to list a few!
Besides traveling, Eve likes to head north to snowboard in the colder months and go to the beach and further east for the warmer ones. Thank to her mom, Eve is an avid cook…. and eater! Cooking and entertaining with friends and family is a staple of hers, and encourages everyone to get out of their comfort zone to try new foods and activities.
On her off time, Eve can be spotted at the State House or Blackstone Conservation Park with her pup Lilly, at her local favorite sushi restaurant, partaking in a Crossfit workout or admiring the beauty of historical Down City.
Alex Krogh-Grabbe, Executive Director, Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition
Alex is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition. His work involves making bicycling safer, more comfortable, and more accessible across the state through advocacy for complete streets & bike paths and events & trainings that grow bike culture. Prior to this position, Alex worked on two political campaigns, organized a conference about urbanism, and launched a freelance map design consultancy. Before moving to Rhode Island in June 2014, Alex worked as the founding Executive Director of the Amherst (MA) Business Improvement District, where he launched dozens of programs designed to help local businesses bring new energy to the college town's downtown. In 2012, Alex received a Master's Degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.
Kabir Lambo, College Adivser, The National College Advising Corps.
Kabir Lambo is a Providence native and the son of Nigerian immigrants. He attended Mount Pleasant High School and gained access to the world of nonprofits through Youth In Action. Later, with the support of College Visions, a RI-based college access program, he was accepted into the University Of Rhode Island. At URI, he developed his skills as a leader becoming Vice President of the Pan-African organization UHURU SASA and Lead Organizer for URI's Annual One Love Weekend. As a major in Sociology and Africana Studies he hopes to help his community become self-reliant and reach its fullest potential. He looks forward to honing his leadership skills and build a strong network through NLC. Kabir also loves video games, podcasts and binge watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.
A New Hampshire native, Cristin Langworthy has been a long-time resident of Rhode Island. She graduated from North Kingstown High School, a recognized student journalist, with an early interest in community service and politics. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island, while working to put herself through school. Cristin is currently a Women's Policy Institute Fellow at the Women's Fund of Rhode Island, working alongside her cohort on gender pay equity legislation. With a deep commitment to the non-profit sector she specializes in public policy analysis and legislative advocacy. As a member of the URI community she was a respected leader in student government, working on higher education policy and civil liberty issues. She served as the student head of academic affairs, as the assistant university Ombudsman, as the sole student appointee to the URI Provost selection committee, and was inducted to the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) leadership honor society. Cristin was inspired by participation as a young student in the Junior State of America and the Close Up Foundation, in Washington, DC. She was commended by the RI General Assembly and the Women's Legislative Caucus for her commitment and contributions to civic education and community engagement. Cristin later returned to work as a educator for Close Up, empowering young people from around the country to become engaged and active citizens through hands-on civics education. Her local activism has led to involvement supporting various community organizations addressing the needs of vulnerable groups in our state, including the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the RI Coalition for the Homeless. A passionate advocate for women in RI, Cristin volunteers with Planned Parenthood as a canvassing and phone bank captain, as an organizer with the Women's Health and Education Fund, and is a member of the RI National Organization for Women (RI-NOW), serving on the Legislative Action Committee. During election cycles, Cristin works as an election supervisor for the RI Board of Canvassers. At home, she is an avid amateur chef, animal rescue league ally, and a voracious reader. She currently resides in East Providence, RI.
Naomi Leipold, Project Manager, United Way of Rhode Island
Born and raised in Okinawa, Japan. Moved to Rhode Island in 2015 and is in love with New England. Background in urban planning and community development. Favorite way to spend weekends is to stroll empty beaches with her two dogs.
Miellette McFarlane, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor
Miellette McFarlane moved to Providence, Rhode Island in February 2015 to take a position in Governor Raimondo's administration as the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. She then transitioned into a policy focused role supporting the Deputy Chief of Staff. Prior to moving to Rhode Island, Miellette worked as an analyst for Goldman, Sachs & Co. in their Salt Lake City office focusing on government interactions. Miellette graduated with a B.A. in Economics from the University of California Riverside and also completed a Global Economics study abroad program in Brazil. Miellette was raised in Oakland, CA.
Eliesel Morales, Co-Founder, Lista Mundial LLC
Eliesel Morales was born and raised in Providence, RI in a place called Hartford Projects. He was raised by a single immigrant mother of four. He grew up in a culture of violence and non-stop drama which ultimately led him down the path of self-destruction, where he found himself addicted to drugs and eventually wound up in prison.
Eliesel Morales is now thirty years old and he was able to turn his life around. He has traveled to twenty-two states throughout the U.S., as well as six countries around the world.He is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and loving father of three.He is Co-founder of listamundial.com an interactive classified-ad site for the latino community.
He recently completed his first turkey drive where he gave away one hundred free-range turkeys to the latino community. Also he organized a fundraiser where he was able to join Pasha Hookah Bar and Praise Tabernacle Church to raise $630.00 (with two days notice) for Project Christmas, a program that provides christmas gifts for the children of people who are currently incarcerated.
He is also a member of the Black and Latino Alliance of Providence. A newly formed group dedicated to building harmonious relationships and finding common ground between the two influential cultures.
Eliesel is determined to have a positive impact on this planet. He will do this by connecting with like-minded individuals and merging his lifes' experiences along with the tools that he acquires from the NLC, to help him resonate deeply with the community and at-risk youth. He will encourage different approaches to age old problems to inspire productivity and positive progress throughout society.
Tiesha Nieves, Regional Recruitment Manager, Northeast, City Year, Inc.
Tiesha Nieves, Regional Recruitment Manager, Northeast Region at City Year and Americorps alumna ('09) is responsible for creating a pipeline of qualified and diverse 17-24 year old applicants who will be successfully admitted to the City Year corps. Prior to serving with City Year, Tiesha worked at Year Up - Providence where she was able to recruit a more diverse applicant pool of 18-24 year olds within Rhode Island as an Outreach Coordinator. At the YMCA of Greater Providence, Tiesha held the position as a Mentoring Coordinator. As the Mentoring Coordinator, she planned and implemented after-school programs. She was also responsible for launching their first summer program for high school students focused on environmental and internal wellness initiatives in Providence. Tiesha is passionate about working with Providence youth and young adults raising awareness of and offering opportunities to further grow their personal and professional skills. Tiesha holds a BS in Social Work degree from Salve Regina University.
Lynne Prodger, Financial Reporting Analyst, City of Warwick
Lynne Prodger currently serves as Financial Reporting Analyst for the City of Warwick, the second largest city in Rhode Island. In this capacity, she manages the annual budget as well as grants for the city. Her in depth knowledge of budget administration and grant management were honed in her previous roles at Pawtucket School Department and the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Carinel Ramirez, Healthy Families Program Manager, Children's Friend
Carinel Ramirez, was born in New York City to newly immigrated parents from Colombia and the Dominican Republic. She spent several childhood years living in South America but journeyed back to the United States with her mother settling in Pawtucket, RI at the age of nine. Having had limited exposure to the English language she was immediately enrolled in an English as Second Language (ESL) program in elementary school. By middle school she was able to reach English proficiency and test out of ESL which allowed her to embark on a college preparatory track. In 2000, she proudly graduated from Tolman High School and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Psychology and Communications from the University of Rhode Island in 2005.
Upon graduating from URI Carinel felt a strong duty to serve her community and fulfilled it by encouraging ESL and GED students to pursue their education through her work as Case Manager for Project Opportunity at Blackstone Valley Community Action Agency. After over a decade of experience in social services Carinel earned her Masters of Public Administration with a focus on government and nonprofit administration from Roger Williams University in May of 2015. She currently works as Program Manager for Healthy Families America at Children’s Friend. HFA is a national evidence-based maternal and child home visiting program which aims to promote and strengthen positive parent-child relationships and prevent child abuse. Her passion is to drive progressive programming which empowers families and shapes Rhode Island to become a place where all families have a chance to not only survive but thrive.
Elena Vasquez, College Access Program Manager, Let's Get Ready
Elena Vasquez was born and raised in Pawtucket, RI. She attended the Pawtucket Public School System from K-12. Elena received her Bachelor's of Arts from Brown University in Commerce, Organization and Entrepreneurship in 2011. She went on to earn her Master's of Science in Law and Public Policy from Northeastern University in 2014.
Elena is currently a College Access Program Manager for Let’s Get Ready in Boston, a nonprofit that provides low income high school students with free SAT preparation and a college choice curriculum. She oversees five programs in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine. She previously worked for the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children and BrightStars while simultaneously holding the position of Educational Counselor for the College Planning Center of Rhode Island. Elena also served as a College Advisor for the National College Advising Corps at Brown University for two years where she worked individually with high school students in guiding them on the college application and financial aid process at Woonsocket High School.
Elena loves Pawtucket and wants to help change the city. She is currently a member of the Pawtucket Juvenile Hearing Board. She also serves on the High School to College and Career Post Secondary Completion Subcommittee of the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet, which works to increase rates of graduation and college admission among the urban population of Providence. Elena is passionate about education, specifically, college access and working with underserved students. She believes in a future where all students no matter their socioeconomic background can attain a college education. New Leaders Council will be essential in her development in the political sphere in Rhode Island.
Emily Winchell, Project Coordinator VISTA, AmeriCorps/ Paul Cuffee School
Emily Winchell is a native of Manchester, CT who is passionate about advocating for progressive change. After receiving a B.A. in Political Science from Rhode Island College in 2011 she moved to Washington, D.C. where she completed a M.A. in Legislative Affairs from The George Washington University.
While in D.C., Emily was able to be a part of the multifaceted political arena. She spent time interning for the 21st Century Democrats, a progressive political action committee, as well as for the US House of Representatives in Congressman Jim Langevin's office. She also worked on Jim Himes' Congressional reelection campaign in Connecticut.
After completing her master's degree, Emily returned to Providence as an AmeriCorps VISTA serving at The Paul Cuffee School. Her focus is on development, family engagement and alumni relations. In her free time she is also a volunteer on the United Way of Rhode Island's grant review committee.