Meet the 2017 Rhode Island Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Isaac Albanese, Administrative Coordinator, Student Activities Office, Brown University
Isaac Albanese is Rhode Island born and raised, and graduated from Rhode Island College (RIC) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture. Of his many endeavors as an undergraduate the most notable were the three years he worked as a Resident Assistant. He earned several awards for his unique programming and was asked to present to the staff during biannual RA training on topics such as mediation and conflict resolution. To this day the extensive training, community among RA staff, and the interpersonal connections made with a number of resident students have had a lasting impact on his life; Isaac came away with a deeper appreciation of diversity, recognition of his privilege, and perhaps most importantly a sense of support necessary for him to come to terms with his identity as a transgender person. In his final year at RIC, Isaac drafted a proposal for Gender Inclusive Housing and presented it before the former President and her administrators. Once approved, he collaborated with the Office of Residential Life and Housing to draft policies and the application process. Legally changing his name and coming out to friends and family, Isaac went on to complete a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) as well as a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources at the University of Rhode Island. The driving force behind enrollment in the MPA program was to change policies that negatively impact LGBT identified people among other marginalized identities. Isaac is currently working for Brown University in the Student Activities Office as Administrative Coordinator. Articulate and forthright, he has sought multiple opportunities to speak on behalf of his identity to educate those who are unfamiliar with transgender people and to model vulnerability. In early 2016, he performed an original spoken word reflection of his experience with masculinity as part of the Men’s Story Project hosted by Brown University. To further develop these skills, Isaac took part in a Public Narrative Workshop led by Professor Marshall Ganz of Harvard University that was hosted, again, by Brown as a part of the “Reaffirming University Values: Campus Dialogue and Discourse” project. Isaac is a passionate young professional who seeks to inspire positive change within the world around him and is eager to put into practice the skills gained from his NLC Fellowship.
Oluwadamilola Animashaun, Coordinator Counselor, Philomena Fayanjuola
“It takes a village to raise a child”, this well-known African proverb encapsulates, Oluwadamilola’s Animashaun reflections, ambitions, and objectives, for his community. Oluwadamilola Animashaun is a native Rhode Islander born in the city of Providence, reared within a Nigerian, two-parent household. He grew up in a neighborhood that suffered from rampant violence and a school system that often times, partook in concretizing ideas of less than. Yet, unexpectedly, on his way to entering high school, he joined a non-profit called Youth In Action. Youth in Action is an organization dedicated to empowering young people with the knowledge and skills to make social change. This organization inspired and prompted him to be social justice oriented, politically inclined, and a community activist. He would later attend the University of Rhode Island where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, double majoring in Political Science and African Studies, in a time period of three years, also awarded the highest departmental academic award called University Academic Excellence Award. While attending URI, he served on several organizations and positons including; Resident Advisor, URI’s Africana Studies Undergraduate Assistant, and Africana Studies Teacher Assistant. In addition, interning as a policy intern at the Office of Governor Gina Raimondo, research intern at the Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and a Mayoral Fellow/ Legal Assistant under Mayor Elorza. After graduating, he determined that he would learn the philosophy and disciplines of a venerable global change agent Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., developing the skills for advocacy, social change, civil resistance, and becoming a certified Kingian Nonviolence Trainer. A few months ago, he was honorably selected from a countless number of applicants to be actively involved in a Social Justice internship in Selma, Alabama where he focused on community organizing, Kingian Nonviolence teachings, law, and mentoring of inner city youth. These experiences all culminated into a deeper commitment and passion to serving marginalized communities via political education, advocacy, and mentorship. Now, he interns for the progressive political party named Working Families Party, mobilizing youth for the free tuition college campaign and actively worked on the campaign for the newly elected State Representative Marcia Ranglin Vassel. Additionally, he is employed by the Rhode Island Educational Talent Search providing free help to students in completing high school and the college admission process. In his off time, he enjoys voraciously reading, writing and lifting weights
Gisel Bello, Medical Scribe in the Emergency Department, University Emergency Medicine Foundation
"Gisel Bello is a New York native who graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology. After graduating she worked as a clinical research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital for the adolescent psychiatry department on a research study that focused on juvenile recidivism. Simultaneously, on the weekends, she worked at Presbyterian Hospital in New York as a clinical research assistant in the pediatric emergency department. Gisel returned to the University of Rhode Island in 2016 for post-baccalaureate work in Biochemistry as she prepared to apply to medical school. She is currently in the medical school application process and is interested in women's reproductive health and health disparities in underserved immigrant communities. Ultimately, her goal is to become a physician and become an advocate for underserved communities. Gisel currently works as a medical scribe in the emergency department. "
Catherine Brennan, WIC Coordinator, St Joseph Health Center
Catherine (Cate) Brennan is a Rhode Island native and URI alumnus with a major in Nutrition and Dietetics and concentration in Hunger Studies. During college, Cate worked as an Outreach Worker through the URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America, traveling throughout the state to help low-income Rhode Islander’s access SNAP benefits. For Cate, this type of work brought to light many of the health disparities faced by socially disadvantaged populations, and it was during this time Cate decided to focus her passion for nutrition on helping others achieve what she believes to be a basic human right: equal access to nutritious food. In her current role, Cate manages the WIC Clinic at St Joseph Health Center in the Southside of Providence, which provides nutrition education, healthy foods, breastfeeding support, and community referrals to low-income pregnant/breastfeeding mothers and their children. This past fall, Cate was trained and took an exam to become a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is proud of the many progressive projects her clinic has implemented, including getting involved in a local community garden, and hosting RI’s Chocolate Milk Café- a peer breastfeeding support group for Black/African American/Afro Latino families. In the future, Cate is interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian and using her expertise to pursue a career in food policy. In her spare time, Cate enjoys cooking, writing poetry, and is an avid yoga practitioner and runner.
Val Castanteen, College and Community Partnerships Coordinator, (RIUDL)Rhode Island Urban Debate League -VISTA
Val's commitment to social justice and community organizing stems from her personal, academic, and leadership experiences in her undergraduate career at the University of Vermont(UVM). Despite the challenges of being a first-generation college student, she developed her leadership skills, serving on multiple boards to University initiatives, leading affinity and activist groups, and serving as a catalyst for a community development project in South Sudan. She travels to rural country Badji, South Sudan in partnership with Students and Professors from UVM to continue and sustain her work abroad. Her background in producing innovative ideas and strategies to improve community development processes has provided her with a deeper understanding of multifaceted social issues and problems that society faces at large. After graduating UVM in 2015, she went onto service work as City Year AmeriCorp member in Providence RI, where she fell in love with the city. In this position,she also furthered her education and experience in education reform, english language learning support, and youth development work. Currently, she works for the( RIUDL) Rhode Island Urban Debate League to assist in the capacity building of the organization through community and college partnership development as well as support in their daily operations. As a young professional, she aspires to learn more about organizational infrastructure and effective team dynamics in today’s multi-disciplinary private, public, and nonprofit private sectors. In her time as an NLC Fellow, Val hopes to build on her skills to become an effective leader and collectively act with other fellows in supporting community initiatives. She looks forward to strengthening her advocacy strategies and capacity building skills to further support youth organizing groups.
Carolina Correa, Major Gifts Officer, United Way of RI
Born in Medellin Colombia, Carolina Correa came to the U.S. at age 12. She graduated from Assumption College with a double major in Political Science and Psychology. With a strong passion for Youth Development she became the first Hispanic female Spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club of America’s 4.5 million youth served annually through Club membership and community outreach programs. After college she worked for the Department of Defense lobbying for family and youth programs in military bases in Germany and England. She recently came back to RI and is currently a Major Gifts Officer for United Way. In addition, she manages the Young Leaders Circle of RI and focuses on creating a culture of philanthropy for important causes. Fundraising, event planning, volunteering, swimming, and good books keep her busy!
Carlene Fonseca, Coordinator for Career & Technical Education & City Councilor-At-Large Central Falls School District & City of Central Falls
Carlene Fonseca was born and raised in Central Falls. After graduating as Salutatorian from Central Falls High School in 2007, serving as Senior Class President and being the 6th woman in school history to score over 1,000 career basketball points, Carlene pursued her dream of going to college in Washington, DC. Carlene received her bachelor’s degree in Government from Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 2011. She received her master’s degree in Criminology from the George Washington University in 2013. Carlene serves as the School Based Coordinator for Career & Technical Education at Central Falls High School. Carlene is also serving her 2nd term on the Central Falls City Council. She is the first African-American to hold the position. Carlene is a member of the Upward Bound Program of Rhode Island Scholarship Committee, a member of the RI Urban League Young Professionals, a member of the Young Elected Officials Network, a member of the world's largest African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta, and currently chairs the Ralph J. Holden Commission to Reopen the Community Center. Carlene has a wealth of political experience in Washington, D.C., where she served as the Confidential Assistant to the White House Liaison at the United States Agency for International Development. She also worked for U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. Carlene came back to Central Falls to use her experiences to build a better future for Central Falls. Focused on the youth in the city, she's working hard to close the inequity gaps that exist in urban communities.
Tori Guen, Senior Admission Officer, Brown University
Tori Guen is an education professional working as a Senior Admission Officer at Brown University. In addition to managing a domestic territory, recruiting, and reviewing applications, she also serves on the Diversity Outreach Team and works with the QuestBridge organization. As a former elementary school teacher for the Uncommon Schools charter network, she brings her K-12 perspective to her work in college admissions. This, in addition to her experience volunteering at the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, informs and energizes her passion for creating educational equality in higher education. Guen most recently worked in Colby College’s Office of Admission as a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions. There, she oversaw multicultural recruitment and managed the college’s fly-in program. At Colby, she also served on the President’s Staff Advisory Council and advised the Asian Students Association. Originally from East Brunswick, New Jersey, Guen graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Art History and Visual Arts. Guen hopes to engage with the greater Providence area by patronizing local restaurants and increase her volunteer efforts by engaging in literacy programs through the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. Guen enjoys traveling, painting, and kickboxing. As a New Leaders Council Fellow, she looks forward to expanding her professional network, engaging in meaningful work related to social justice, and finding ways to connect those in need to resources that will help them find success.
Alexander Henao, Paralegal, Marasco & Nesselbush LLP
A Central Falls native, Alexander was born to two Colombian parents who both emigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life. From an early age his parents instilled the importance of education; an opportunity which was never afforded to them. After graduating from Central Falls High School in 2005, he attended Rhode Island College where he studied Business Management and Human Resource Management which he would complete in 2010. Aside from the education that he has received, Alexander has also gained valuable employment experience in retail, business and banking. In 2011 he began his work as a paralegal with Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP, in Providence, RI, where he would soon find his passion working with people with injuries and disabilities. Alexander recently completed the Nursing program at the Community College of Rhode Island, and soon after started the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at The University of Rhode Island, which he will complete in 2017. He plans to advocate for and work towards empowering people from underrepresented and uninsured communities, who should all be afforded the opportunities that they deserve in regards to health and medicine. Alexander is passionate about public health policy, and hopes to work as a Nurse Practitioner in a community that would allow him the opportunity of being involved in direct patient education with youth and families.
Carlon Howard, Impact Manager, City Year Providence
Carlon Howard serves with City Year Providence as an Impact Manager where he oversees the implementation of the Whole School Whole Child service model at a local elementary school. Before entering his current role with City Year Providence, he served one year as a City Year Providence AmeriCorps member, taught 5th grade math as a Teach for America-Rhode Island corps member, and was an Urban Leaders Fellow under Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston (Colorado Senate District 33). Carlon is a social entrepreneur dedicated to exploring innovative ways to solve some of our country’s most pressing problems. He recently helped found the Fellowship for Educators for Equity and Diversity (F.E.E.D.) – a non-profit aimed at recruiting and retaining teachers from historically under-served communities – and co-hosts monthly meetups designed to support education leaders from underrepresented backgrounds. Carlon graduated from the University of Georgia with undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science. During his time at the University of Georgia, Carlon led several student organizations, was a Richard B. Russell Leadership Fellow, and was recognized as Pandora Yearbook’s Outstanding Senior Leader. Recently, he completed a graduate degree in education from Rhode Island College. Carlon is an avid reader and lifelong learner who spends much of his time exploring topics related to political systems, financial literacy, and education policy.
Jaretta Konneh, Program Associate, Generation Citizen
"Jaretta Konneh is a Program Associate at Generation Citizen, an organization that believes that all youth have a right to a civics education. She first developed her passion for youth leadership at Youth in Action, a nonprofit organization in Providence that aims for young people to be at the forefront of social change. She served on the Board of Directors, where she was responsible for recruiting high school volunteers and creating an evaluation for the Executive Director. She continued working with youth as a student at Mount Holyoke College, where as a Community Based Learning Fellow she was responsible for recruitment, delivering orientation trainings, and maintaining social media pages. After graduating, she committed a year of service with City Year Boston where she tutored and mentored students in a 3rd-grade classroom at Blackstone Innovation School, then returned for a second year at City Year Providence to lead first year corps members at Del Sesto Middle School. A proud Rhode Islander, Jaretta enjoys watching the New England Patriots, dancing, eating, and listening to old school R&B."
Kaiya Letherer, Assistant Director, Prison Bridge Program College Unbound
Kaiya Betony Letherer grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and after exploring living on the West Coast decided to move back to her favorite smallest state. Upon returning home to Providence, she completed her bachelor’s degree from College Unbound and then went on to receive her M.Ed. in Higher Education from Merrimack College. While finishing her undergrad degree, she worked as an AmeriCorps member at the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence. In her role there she taught Nonviolence in 4th and 5th grade classrooms. As the Assistant Director and Academic Advisor for the Prison Bridge Program at College Unbound, Kaiya is passionate about developing higher education systems that are student-centered and project-based. In her instructor role, she implements College Unbound's pedagogical approach within the Adult Correctional Institution of Rhode Island using theories of Marshall Ganz and Paolo Friere as a guide. As College Unbound's Prison Bridge Program continues to grow, Kaiya's work evolves creating sustainable and scaleable curriculum that allow adult learners to flourish academically both inside and outside of carceral systems. Whether working with adults or children, her love of education is guided by her passion for helping people discover and develop their talents. Kaiya is also a trained musician and has studied classical and jazz voice at Interlochen Arts Academy and Berklee College of Music. She currently sings with the Providence Singers here in Rhode Island.
Alexander Lucini, Teacher, Providence Schools
Alex Lucini is a 2004 graduate of Pilgrim High School in Warwick and a 2009 graduate of Rhode Island College. Upon graduation, Alex was immediately hired into the Providence School system as a music teacher. Beginning his career at Bridgham Middle School, Alex developed a strong program that unfortunately was brought to an end by the district wide schools closing in Providence in 2011. A devout and passionate believer in strong public education systems, Alex Lucini has served as Treasurer of the PTU since Dec. 2013. Prior to being elected, Alex served as COPE chairperson beginning in May of 2011 and as a building delegate beginning in Sept. 2010. During his tenure as COPE chairperson, Alex developed lasting relationships with elected officials at both the city and state levels and has actively pushed for pro-teacher, pro-education legislation. He also lead a COPE drive to increase contributions to the union’s Political Action Fund. A pragmatic believer in Professional and Progressive Unionism, Alex believes educational opportunities for children expand when teachers are given the power to make instructional choices based on their own data and professional experience. Alex is currently the music teacher at West Broadway Middle School and is in his 9th year of teaching. His music groups have performed numerous times in public venues such as Providence Bruins Games, the VMA, All-City Concerts, Depasquale Square and at the Rhode Island State House. While mentored by great teachers and leaders Alex also contributes his success to being an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America as well as a 2013 graduate of the Leadership For A Future Program.
Hannah McIntire, School Programs Manager, Dorcas International Insitute of Rhode Island
Hannah McIntire is the School Programs Manager at Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, where she leads educational initiatives to support immigrant and refugee families in Rhode Island. In her role, Hannah collaborates with school district personnel and community agencies to advance two-generational Family Literacy programming and innovative approaches to supporting refugee and unaccompanied minor students. Prior to joining Dorcas International, Hannah worked internationally in two-generation education and curriculum development in Nablus, Palestine, as well as domestically in Minneapolis, MN and New Haven, CT. Hannah is a board member of the Rhode Island Family Engagement Advisory Council and the Chair of the Rhode Island Partnership for Community Schools. She received her Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Religious Studies from Macalester College. She is a lifelong learner passionate about issues related to equity, immigration, and education.
Kate Pisano, Director of AmeriCorps Programs, Serve Rhode Island
Originally from New Jersey, Kate moved to Rhode Island to attend the University of Rhode Island. After graduating with a B.S. in Marine Biology, she served two terms in AmeriCorps through the Ocean State Environmental Education Collaborative at Save The Bay. Kate spent three years following her passion for environmental education while working as an Education Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy and is now exploring her commitment to volunteerism and service as the Director of AmeriCorps Programs at Serve Rhode Island. Kate is committed to supporting local nonprofit development, environmental issues, and helping new AmeriCorps members fall in love with RI the way she did. In her free time, Kate can be found rock climbing in Lincoln Woods or exploring her new hometown of Warren.
Meghan Rego, Director of Resource Development and Communications, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
Meghan (Meg) Rego currently serves as the Director of Resource Development and Communications for NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, a community development corporation located in Woonsocket, RI. In this role, she secures funding for the development of affordable housing, neighborhood youth programs, and homeownership education. This work promotes asset-based community building and generates a network of support that can be foundation for equitable achievement. Prior to this, Meg worked in higher education promoting service-learning opportunities for college students and community organizations with the Maryland-DC Campus Compact and at American University. She is a firm believer that we can accomplish much more together than we can as individuals. In addition to her day-job, Meg is a professor of public administration at Villanova University. She’s dedicated to educating the next generation of nonprofit leaders through graduate and undergraduate courses in effective nonprofit management. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Theology with a focus in peace and justice and a Masters of Public Administration both from Villanova University. As a native Rhode Islander having recently returned from Washington, DC, Meg is enjoys spending her free time at the beach with her pup Sadie, going to folk concerts, and perfecting the craft cocktail.
Kayla Rosen, Policy Advisor, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation
Born in San Francisco, CA, Kayla moved east to matriculate at Brown University, where she studied medieval history and education studies. At Brown, she worked as a peer advisor for first-years and an elementary school after school math tutor. She remains involved with the school as a member of Brown's Board of Trustees. Following graduation, she worked with school districts around the country on strategic planning, program evaluation, and resource allocation to better ensure equity in public schools. She currently works for the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation as a policy advisor to support economic development in the state.
Ryan Segur, Case Worker, Connect for Health
Ryan Segur is a non-binary transfemme who works as a case worker for Connect for Health at Rhode Island Hospital. They are also pursuing an Sc.B. in Neuroscience at Brown University and plan to attend medical school in the fall of 2019. Their long-term goals are centered around moving trans healthcare policy forward from within the medical sphere. They will likely go into psychiatry as a means of prescribing gender-affirming hormones therapies to transgender adolescents. They also hope to impact DSM VI deliberations on the current psychiatric diagnosis titled ""gender dysphoria"", which they believe acts as a barrier between transgender patients and life-saving transition therapies. This following year, they will likely be doing research on hormone therapy outcomes in Canada. Raised in rural Iowa since the age of five, Ryan came into their budding identity as a queer and trans person amidst a culture of unbridled Midwestern toxic masculinity. They came to Providence after being accepted to Brown University and have since been reflecting on the cultural differences between coastal and Midwestern America. While their foremost passion lies in advocating for the emerging field of trans healthcare, they also feel a need to participate in parallel movement to fight for the liberation of all marginalized persons. Therefore, in addition to engaging with scientific and queer theory, they also see a need to engage with literature and narratives which detail how seemingly separate identitarian politics intersect in a multitude of ways. At Brown University, in addition to serving as president for a group named Queer People and Allies for the Advancement of Medicine (QPAAM), they also serve as an educator for Brown Health Services and the Brown Center for Students of Color on the topics of sexual health and social justice. In addition to their work in the hospital and at university, they currently are working to support Project Weber/Renew, a non-profit that supports people at risk and sex workers (many of whom are queer and trans) in the Providence community. Ryan hopes to find additional ways to support grassroots organizations like ProjectWeber by leveraging institutional wealth and influence. They hope to build further coalition between organizations who similarly wish to provide healthcare access to communities which experience lack of medical care.
Sol Taubin, Outreach Coordinator & Special Projects, Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence
Sol was born in White Plains, NY to recently immigrated parents from Argentina, moving to Providence, RI, at the age of ten. She graduated from Princeton University in 2016, where she studied issues relating to socio-environmental justice and urban development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of the classroom, Sol developed programming and organized on issues of identity and social justice, leading policy change on diversity, equity, and inclusion on the student government, co-teaching a 7th grade class on identity and activism, serving as a Fellow at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality & Cultural Understanding, and co-organizing social movements as a lead member of Princeton’s Latinx student organizations and the Black Justice League. She is passionate about community-centered development, the social and emotional wellbeing of youth, and structural reform that breaks down drivers of poverty, oppression, and marginalization. Currently, she works at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence and Young Voices RI, and supports the International Panel on Social Progress, and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s higher education engagement process.
Justin Thomas, Campus Compact VISTA at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies Americorps VISTA
Justin Thomas was born and raised in Rhode Island as the youngest of three boys from a mother who migrated from Panama. After he graduated from North Carolina A&T in 2010, with a degree in Journalism concentrating in Broadcast Production, he attained a highly sought after internship with one of America’s top regional sports networks. Through hard work and determination, Justin turned that internship into a full time position. Although Justin worked in a affluent part of town, he lived in a community stricken with poverty and violence. Also, he started to realize that the dream job he worked so hard for would only entertain people so the idea of doing something positive for someone else would never be achieved in that position. Justin was quickly immersed in a lifestyle of avoidance where he abused alcohol, drugs and gambling to escape the conflicting thoughts of what he saw around him where he lived and the unfulfilling employment he participated in. Justin made a rapid downward spiral, which eventually led him to crime then incarceration. In prison Justin decided to change all the negativity in his life and create something that would help someone else, he did research to enhance his entrepreneurial mindset, got involved with the barbering program in hopes of owning own barbershop and giving others the opportunity to work. Lastly, he immersed himself in programs and classes that would help him in his future endeavors. Eventually Justin took a work readiness program that would help him understand and tell his story to potential employers upon release, this program is known as Pivot the Hustle; a pilot program offered by Roger Williams University School of continuing Studies. Through Pivot the Hustle Justin made connections and followed up with them upon release, which ultimately led to amazing opportunities; an example being offered a contracted position in which he utilized the video production company he is co-owner of. Next Justin was offered a chance to be the first individual in Rhode Island with a felony record to participate in Americorps, and he took it. Now he serves as an Americorps VISTA at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies where he helps to create visibility of the school in unrepresented communities. Also he is now helping to extend Pivot the Hustle, the same program that gave him an opportunity to start over.