Fall Cohort 2023
Abby Verbosky, Program Director for Reel Works, leads and organizes programs that inspire and empower students to share their stories through filmmaking, as well as gain workforce readiness workshops and trainings. Abby currently leads the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance Youth and Family Programs Roundtable and is a contributing member of the Steering Committee for the NYC DOE’s Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Moving Image and the Summerfield Foundation Peer Learning Cohort. Abby Verbosky maintains her professional practice in portrait, event, and real estate photo/video. Based in Brooklyn, New York, since 2011, her roots are in photojournalism, street photography, experimental video, and art exhibition management.
Ada Lin is currently a Senior Program Coordinator at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF). In her work, she coordinates a youth leadership program called the Asian American Student Advocacy Project (ASAP). Ada educates and trains AAPI youth across the city to develop their policy advocacy understanding and build their leadership, community, and teamwork skills through the development of school-based campaigns. In addition, Ada also work with AAPI identifying parents to foster their sense of identity and belonging in their communities. In her role, Ada has expanded the programs using different recruitment methods and diversifying ways community members can participate in the program. In her work, Ada strives to create an environment where everyone can feel seen, heard and valued.
Prior to CACF, Ada worked as a counselor advocate at the Chinese-American Planning Council where she would provide counseling and SEL workshops to high school students. During her time in graduate school, Ada also interned at an elementary school in the Lower East Side as a school social work intern, and at a local City Council member’s office as a policy and communication intern. As a social work student, Ada focused her coursework on social work policy advocacy. Ada received a B.A. in psychology from CUNY Brooklyn College in 2018 and a Master of Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in 2022.
AjiFanta Marenah was born in The Gambia and migrated to the U.S as a political asylee when she was twelve years old. She completed her Bachelor’s in Government and Politics and Master’s in International Relations at St. John’s University. As a Black, Muslim, immigrant woman, AjiFanta is determined to use her platform to dismantle oppressive systems and contribute towards building just, inclusive and peaceful societies that respect human rights and dignity. In the name of that cause, she is currently working as the Civic Education & Advocacy Program Manager at Muslim Community Network (MCN) where her role includes organizing the Muslim community around policy issues that impact them and leading MCN’s efforts fighting against islamophobia, racism, and hate crimes.
On the local level, AjiFanta serves on the board of The Gambian Youth Organization (GYO), a community-based nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for and educate the community about their rights against marginalization and connect them to useful city resources. She was there with the GYO when the tragic fire struck at the Twin Park Towers helping to raise funds, advocate for victim rights and create a post fire community advocacy plan and most recently working with the team to address the current migrant crisis in NYC by providing needed assistance to asylum seekers as they arrive and working with City Hall to amplify those needs.
AjiFanta is also active on a more global scale serving on the board of Movendi International’s New York Chapter, as well as recently graduating from The Emerging Peacemakers Program as one of 50 fellows working to advance world peace through an interfaith framework. She has also worked as a research assistant with Human Rights Watch and The Rose Lokissim Foundation under the supervision of international Human Rights Attorney,Reed Brody, where she assisted a coalition of organizations with designing a mechanism to bring justice for victims of enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of mass atrocities that happened under the rule of the former Gambian dictator, Yahya Jammeh.
AjiFanta has been recognized locally and nationally for her work. She is a recipient of the Council on American Islamic Relation (CAIR-NY)’s Faith In Action Social Justice Award and has been awarded by Bronx Borough President, Vanessa Gibson, Congressman, Ritchie Torres, and New York State Assembly Woman, Chantel Jackson, for her advocacy throughout New York.
Being born and having lived through the consequences of a government that violated its own constitution, international human rights laws and the basic tenets of morality, shaped her determination to contribute in creating just and inclusive societies that respect human rights and dignity.
Alexis (she/her) is the Director of Programs at The Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE), a Brooklyn-based organization working with communities to prevent, interrupt, and heal from hate violence – centering those most targeted and impacted by systems of oppression. Alexis works with CAE staff to oversee all of CAE’s programming: Empowerment Self-Defense; Upstander intervention; and Youth development; she also coordinates partnerships with other organizations and is involved in CAE’s strategic planning efforts.
Alexis is a social worker with experience in youth development, community mental health, and crisis intervention and de-escalation. Prior to joining CAE, Alexis was the Assistant Director of Intake and Program Coordination at The Door – A Center of Alternatives.
As an organizer she has worked to dismantle white supremacy in individuals and communities, and sought accountability in law enforcement and the criminal legal system. Alexis specializes in program development that is trauma informed, anti-oppressive, and rooted in revolutionary love.
Alison is the Director of Programs and Development at Brooklyn Communities Collaborative and Maimonides Medical Center, where she has been an employee since 2018. Since joining the organization, she has held roles as Senior Project Manager and Manager of Practice Transformation. Alison is skilled in nonprofit operations, fundraising, and project management, and possesses a demonstrated history of working in the hospital and health care industry. Her previous roles include Research Associate at the CUNY Research Foundation as well as Office Administrator at various private healthcare practices. Alison holds a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies from SUNY College at Oneonta. Her additional areas of expertise include practice transformation, quality improvement, policy implementation and evaluation, and qualitative research and analysis. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and reading.
Carmen is the Finance Manager at Lighthouse Guild where we pride ourselves on providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals. In addition to her responsibilities in the finance department, she supports fundraising events, participate in the scholarship committee and is excited to be part of more opportunities within the organization. Carmen received her Masters and Bachelors in Accounting from St. John’s University in an accelerated five year program. She has been in finance/accounting for 13 years, with 10 of those years in the healthcare non profit space. In her spare time, Carmen enjoys cooking/baking, trying new restaurants, and working out for balance.
Cyndi Carnaghi-Collins, LCSW, is a human centered social worker who earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work at New York University, with a specialization in trauma studies from Adelphi University. Grounded in an understanding of how trauma and attachment shape development across the lifespan, Cyndi’s approach to social work centers on the histories and unique identities of individuals and communities. Currently, Cyndi is serving in senior management at the Jewish Board in New York City and is a nationally recognized race equity trainer and leader.
As the Senior Director in the Youth and Family Services Division at The Jewish Board, Cyndi manages a diverse portfolio exceeding $20M, overseeing 12 programs and initiatives funded by ACS, NYC DOE and DOHMH. Grounded by her expertise in evidence-based models, Cyndi utilized a data-driven approach and community participation to design and implement contracts and treatment models. Recognizing the critical role of community voice and input, Cyndi believes these elements are indispensable for well-run programs that serve as “windows of opportunities” and mitigate the risk of programs and agencies acting to underserve, oppress or exploit community struggle.
Beyond Cyndi’s experience and deep roots in nonprofit management. Cyndi is committed to transforming organizations nationally to be both antiracist and equitable. As a National Consulting Partner for multiple organizations, she serves as a national equity trainer, facilitating historical and contemporary analyses of population-level impacts of inequities and the role of organizations in perpetuating those impacts. Her work involves designing experiential training programs for organizations and city governments, championing the use of the “data driven accountability” models to mobilize policy and practice toward equitable operations and service provision.
In New York city Cyndi supports local nonprofits in areas such as multicultural staff development, antiracist training, and trauma-informed clinical practice. Her multifaceted leadership, spanning child welfare, mental health, and antiracism, reflects a commitment to equity, workforce wellness, and transformative change.
Cyndi’s leadership philosophy distinguishes between management and leadership, emphasizing that while management moves people through a process, leadership inspires, motivates, and facilitates the movement of staff toward innovative, often unrecognized potential. Leaders, according to Cyndi, support dreaming about and creating what is possible. Her belief in the importance of differentiating between management and leadership underscores her commitment to fostering environments that prioritize equity, diversity of thought and experience, and workforce wellness.
Deena Schwartz is the Director of NYS Guardianship Initiatives at Project Guardianship. She develops and leads projects to improve access to good guardianship and its alternatives, reform current systems, and educate the public. Deena has focused her career on addressing issues affecting older adults and has a decade of Article 81 guardianship expertise. She has developed and presented workshops focusing on person-centered services, decision-making autonomy, access to justice. Previously, she worked as an attorney with NYC Department of Social Services and led a diverse group of stakeholders in responding to complex elder abuse cases at the NYC Elder Abuse Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. Deena holds a J.D. from Fordham Law School and a B.S. in Anthropology from Tulane University.
Eileen is a committed Operations Director with over 8 years of dedicated service in the non-profit sector. Eileen has been instrumental in supporting operational needs at organizations, including Volunteers of Legal Service, Youth Represent, and The Doe Fund. With a rich background spanning Finance, Administration, Human Resources, and Development operations, Eileen has consistently improved organizations’ effectiveness in fulfilling its mission.
In her various roles, Eileen has been pivotal in managing the day-to-day functions and responsibilities of the office, implementing and refining policies and procedures. Eileen’s extensive experience in the non-profit sector is a testament to her commitment to utilizing her skills to support organizations that provide vital services to her community. Her devotion to social justice causes, particularly those impacting under-resourced communities in NYC, is what makes her passionate about her everyday work.