Fall Cohort 2022
- Ahyoung KimAsian American FederationAhyoung KimAsian American Federation
Since joining AAF in 2019, Ahyoung Kim has worked for immigrant small businesses at the city, state and federal levels. She also worked with foundations and corporations to ensure support for the needs of the pop-and-pop stores, particularly during the height of the pandemic. Her work pushes for increased access to information and resources, fair business practices and commercial revitalization in areas of high Asian American and immigrant populations.
During her tenure, Ahyoung has expanded AAF’s footprint in small business communities of Murray Hill, Queens, Astoria, Elmhurst and Sunset Park. Her expertise in outreach and on-the-ground concerns for immigrant small businesses is based on direct contact with hundreds of Asian small business owners across the city through AAF’s direct technical assistance program and continued policy and advocacy discussions with immigrant small business organizations.
- Jeanne Ortiz-OrtizPro Bono NetJeanne Ortiz-OrtizPro Bono Net
Jeanne is the Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager at Pro Bono Net (PBN), a national nonprofit that brings the power of the law to all by building cutting-edge digital tools and fostering collaborations with the nation’s leading civil legal organizations. At PBN, she coordinates and grows state and national digital initiatives to expand access to legal help information and strengthen the work of volunteer attorneys and legal advocates helping people with their legal problems. She first joined PBN as a Disaster Response Legal Fellow to coordinate cross-program goals and work with organizations, law schools, and law firms in building innovative efforts to respond to the legal needs of people impacted by climate disasters.
Before joining PBN, Jeanne provided free legal representation and employment discrimination litigation on behalf of low-income transgender people in Puerto Rico and worked as a legal fellow with the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center. During law school, she founded an award-winning Ms. JD chapter to connect law students and facilitated reproductive and constitutional rights workshops in communities across Puerto Rico.
Jeanne is the Vice-Director of the American Bar Association Disaster Legal Services Program, where she helps coordinate immediate and free temporary legal help for disaster survivors across the country. She is an On The Rise Top 40 Young Lawyers Honoree and a member of the New York City Bar Association Pro Bono & Legal Services Committee. Jeanne is bilingual and admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and New Jersey.
- Dana NurseYouth CommunicationDana NurseYouth Communication
Dana Nurse is Youth Communication’s Director of Culturally Responsive Education. From Brooklyn by way of Trinidad, she is a former high school special education teacher and most recently served as the ELA Content Specialist for the NYCDOE’s Office of Assessment. Dana holds a BFA from Emerson College in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and a MSEd from St. John’s University in Special Education. She is committed to anti-racist education and uplifting youth voices. She is an afrofuturist nerd, a sometimes poet, and loves dachshunds maybe a little bit too much.
- Matthew GreeneOpening ActMatthew GreeneOpening Act
Matthew Greene has been working in youth development for over a decade, coupling his artistic career with a passion to lift up and empower the rising generation. From his college years studying playwriting and working in residential treatment facilities, he saw the potential to bring theatre education to the passionate, creative young people who are too frequently overlooked. After moving to New York City in 2010, he spent his days as a youth care worker with Boys Town USA and his nights and weekends in rehearsals and work sessions. He worked as Co-Artistic Director of the Broadway Academy, a summer camp based in Nebraska, and held numerous guest artist roles working with high school students on both coasts. His work with Opening Act began as a Teaching Artist in 2015, leading after-school theatre programs at some of the city’s most under-resourced public high schools. Leading these talented teens through the process of creating, rehearsing, and debuting original plays in Off-Broadway theaters further cemented Matthew’s belief that arts programming should be available to everyone. In 2017, as part of a three-year strategic plan, Opening Act hired Matthew to create the Act 2 College and Career program. The program was conceived as a response to student and alumni interest in support beyond the stage, and Matthew was eager to make the dream a reality. Drawing upon his teaching and youth development experience, his years as a foster parent helping to navigate the CUNY system, and his belief that theatre education provides a strong foundation for any career path, Matthew piloted the Act 2 program, now in its fifth year. Through Act 2, Matthew has created college and career access programming for hundreds of Opening Act students, using theatre arts as an entrypoint to tackle the daunting postsecondary landscape. Additionally, Act 2 provides support for alumni through ongoing artistic and professional training, networking opportunities, and a paid fellowship program that builds transferable skills through creative production opportunities. Opening Act is the proud recipient of the HelloInsight HI Impact Award, and Matthew remains committed to developing the social-emotional capacity of students and alumni through arts education. As a playwright/librettist/lyricist, Matthew’s award-winning work has been produced on both coasts and in several places in between, including Working Artists Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row, and the New York International Fringe Festival.
- Isa Del BelloBrooklyn Bridge Park ConservancyIsa Del BelloBrooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
With a background in elementary education, Isa moved to New York to pursue a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University. Shortly thereafter she began teaching with Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy as an environmental educator, introducing numerous students to urban ecology and wild spaces found within and around the park. At present, she continues to strategically build and develop the Conservancy’s education team and environmental education spaces. Areas of specialty include youth empowerment, differentiated instruction, curriculum development, educational psychology, environmental education, environmental stewardship and environmental conservation. She holds a M.A. in developmental and cognitive psychology with a concentration in risk, resilience and prevention, specifically examining socio-epidemiology and human development across the lifespan. In addition she holds a B.A. in elementary education with dual concentrations in science and literacy.
- Brittany CouchPentacleBrittany CouchPentacle
Brittany Couch holds a BA in Entertainment & Media Studies and a certificate in Music Business from The University of Georgia. Prior to working at Pentacle she was the studio manager for Dancefx and then ALDEN MOVES Dance Theater, where she honed her graphic design and arts administration skills. Brittany has multiple years of experience as a post-production assistant for documentary films and as a stage manager for national touring dance competitions and events. In addition to her work at Pentacle, she is NEVILLE Dance Theatre’s Booking Coordinator, a dance instructor, and a media coordinator for Open Call Dance Competition. She brings a fervent enthusiasm to Pentacle for cultivating young leaders and connecting arts organizations with the tools they need to empower their artistry.
Brittany Couch (she/her) began her creative journey at the age of 5 as a competitive dancer and would eventually find her place as an instructor and administrator for various educational organizations in Georgia and New York. She holds a BA in Entertainment & Media Studies and a certificate in Music Business from The University of Georgia. Brittany has multiple years of experience as a post-production assistant for documentary films and as a stage manager for national touring dance competitions and events. She now serves as Education & Outreach/Marketing Manager for Pentacle, an arts services nonprofit providing unique and robust programs for performing artists at critical stages in their careers. At the same time, Pentacle enriches the cultural landscape through cross-sector partnerships in multiple communities across the city of New York and the United States. Brittany brings fervent enthusiasm to Pentacle for cultivating young leaders and connecting arts organizations with the tools they need to empower their artistry.
- Jeffrey MooreRising GroundJeffrey MooreRising Ground
Jeffrey Moore joined Rising Ground in 2013 and has held many positions during his tenure with the organization. He currently serves as the Director of the Runaway Homeless Youth Division which provides Transitional Independent Living programs and Mental Health Services for young people at risk of homelessness.
In addition, Jeffrey is an experienced facilitator as he is a certified trainer in multiple trauma models, as well as Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), a model developed by Cornell University to support youth in crisis situations. Jeffrey also works with other nonprofit organizations such as the YMCA and the National Urban League as a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) consultant, to develop curriculums and workshops to increase youth engagement in STEM-related careers.
Born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Jeffrey has a Bachelors in Criminal Justice from SUNY Buffalo State College, and a Masters in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
- Jacqueline WuRandall's Island Park AllianceJacqueline WuRandall's Island Park Alliance
Jacqueline R. Wu is the Park-as-Lab Research Coordinator at Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA) in New York City where she develops and conducts environmental monitoring projects around the Island. As a non-profit park steward in New York City, RIPA understands the importance of outdoor space and its positive impacts. Jackie is proud to lead Park-as-Lab, a program focused on fostering community science and collaborative studies of the Park’s urban ecology, in partnership with local advocacy groups, universities, and students of all ages.
Prior to RIPA, Jackie has worked along various bodies of water as an environmental researcher, informal educator, and wetlab assistant. She received her B.S. in Natural Resources with a concentration in applied ecology from Cornell University and her M.S. in Marine Biology from Northeastern University.
- Sinthia Peña-OrtizCoalition for Hispanic Family ServicesSinthia Peña-OrtizCoalition for Hispanic Family Services
Sinthia Peña-Ortiz serves as the Program Director of the Bushwick Community Partnership at the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services (CHFS). Before this role, she worked as an advocate for domestic violence survivors, immigrant families, and the safety and well-being of children. Sinthia has over ten years of experience serving families of color, immigrants, and low-income families. She received her B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and her Juris Doctorate from Vermont Law School.
- Richard M. SmithSchool of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical GardenRichard M. SmithSchool of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden
Richard M. Smith is the Director of the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. A National Historic Landmark and advocate for the plant world, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden, established in 1891, is the largest garden in any city in the United States. For the past 90 years, the School of Professional Horticulture at NYBG, the only nationally accredited hands-on horticulture program in the country, has educated and trained motivated individuals to become horticulturists of the highest caliber.
Richard, a Florida native, comes to New York with over 10 years of horticulture education experience. He has worked with the range of education from primary, secondary, post-secondary, adult to professional learners. Richard has served in a variety of roles such as a Master Gardener working with public and private gardens, a Biological Scientist researching innovative specialty crop and medicinal plant production methods, a plant nursey owner and consultant working with growers throughout the United States, South America, and Asia, and as a teacher and department lead of a public-school agricultural/horticultural sciences program focused on developing content and curriculum for professional horticulture industry certification.
Richard is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Plant Sciences with concentrations in Environmental Horticulture, Nursery and Greenhouse Management. After acceptance of a graduate student position with the University of Florida, Richard ‘s small plant nursery gained national attention and was highlighted in print such as Greenhouse Management Magazine, Growing Produce Magazine, and Hop Culture Magazine; on radio and podcasts such a To A Certain Degree, NPR-WMFE Intersection, Experimental Brew podcast, and What Ales You podcast; and with presentations at FNGLA’s Landscape Show, Florida Brewer’s Guild, and the Master Brewers Association. Richard’s classroom experience, working with over 1,200 students, has been awarded the Duke Energy STEM Partnership Impact Grant for the use of hydroponic crop production and the Lockheed Martin STEM Partnership Impact Grant for the use of precision agriculture in experiential education. Richard has served on the board of the Florida Academy of Science as the Natural Resources Chair and on the board of the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Associate Action Chapter in Orlando, Florida.
As a member of the Fall 2022 Leadership Fellow New York cohort, an initiative of the New York Community Trust, Richard is excited to take this professional development opportunity and expand on the knowledge, skills, and tools of the program to build initiatives focused on helping organizations develop a broader reach, create greater access, and enhance collaboration in preparation of more individuals to become successful leaders in the green industry.
- HC HuynhThe Elizabeth Foundation for the ArtsHC HuynhThe Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts
HC HUYNH (they/them) is an arts administrator and cultural worker. They are currently the Director of Special Projects at The Elizabeth Foundation of the Arts and the Managing Director of the United States Section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA). HC has developed programming for artists and arts writers through various partnerships with a primary focus in cultivating inclusive and vibrant communities. They have produced programming with various organizations such as the United Nations, Teachers College, Columbia University, the Maryland Institute College of Art, The Vera List Center, the SEAD Project, and many others.
In addition to their current positions, HC is a board member on the Nomination and Governance Committee of Raw Art Works, a youth arts organization that provides youth from underserved communities with arts programming. HC has served as a SEA Change Lab mentor for the SEAD Project, providing both professional and personal guidance to young adults part of the Southeast Asian diaspora.
They received their MFA in Painting & Drawing from Pratt Institute and a BFA as a dual major in Studio Education and Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design.
- Cara FlynnThe CUNY School of Public Health FoundationCara FlynnThe CUNY School of Public Health Foundation
Cara has served as the Development Manager at the CUNY School of Public Health (CUNY SPH) Foundation since Fall 2021. The CUNY SPH Foundation advances the achievement of CUNY SPH’s mission, vision, and values as New York City’s public school of public health through fundraising, building strategic partnerships, and providing services as a champion for the school’s students as they embark on public health careers, and its faculty as they work to educate the next generation of public health professionals.
Cara has been a development professional since 2013, serving in roles at a youth career development organization and a Gramercy area, K-8 school for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She also works as an independent fundraising consultant supporting organizations in fundraising strategies and grant writing.
Cara earned her BA in sociology from Fordham University and completed graduate level fundraising coursework at New York University. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-NYC Chapter and the Fordham University Young Alumni President’s Club.
- Yuby HernandezGhetto Film SchoolYuby HernandezGhetto Film School
Yuby Hernandez is a New York City Native from Washington Heights, Manhattan. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2013 where she received a BA in Biology.
She later began her career in nonprofit management, completing a year of service for Repair the World in Baltimore, where she rediscovered her passion for art and storytelling. After having moved back to NYC, her work led her to co-direct two short documentaries igniting her passion for film and pushing her to attain her MFA at the School of Visual Arts SocDoc program. She then worked in the festival circuit at notable organizations such as Tribeca Film Festival, SFFILM, and Catapult Film Fund. She also Associate Produced the Sundance premiered, Award-winning documentary: Aftershock.
This led her to combine her passion for filmmaking with her dedication to serving the community, instilling creativity and perseverance in those she works with to join the team at Ghetto Film School as the Global Roster Director.
- Cesar PaganYoung Audiences New YorkCesar PaganYoung Audiences New York
Cesar Pagan is the Community School Director at P.S. 165 located on the upper west side of Manhattan. Cesar has a true passion for youth development, managing community based programs for over 10 years. He aims to improve student grade point averages, test scores and attendance rates. Cesar served as the Chairman of Youth and Education in his hometown of the Bronx. He has organized peace rallies, health fairs and community basketball tournaments, assisting community members obtain resources through events. Cesar is happy to create leaders out of young people and inspiring them to be great.
- Michelle LawrenceSafe HorizonMichelle LawrenceSafe Horizon
Michelle M. Lawrence is the Director of Anti-Racism Organizational Development and a member of Senior Team at Safe Horizon where she plays a leading role in Safe Horizon’s work to address and combat systemic racism and moves Safe Horizon towards being a more racially equitable and inclusive workplace and organization. She is part of Safe Horizon’s Anti-Racism Steering Committee and works closely with internal working groups dismantling white supremacy and white organizational culture and affinity groups co-chairs in developing and coordinating an annual action plan. She is leading conversations about racism throughout the organization, and partnering with external consultants to further the organization’s work to create lasting, measurable change. Michelle is known for her honest and frank conversations about race and racism and is known in the field as a racialized Black woman that is not afraid to speak her truth.
- Kristina Rivera LugoCasita Maria, IncKristina Rivera LugoCasita Maria, Inc
Kristina Lugo is currently serving as the Interim Co-Executive Director at Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education. Kristina has worked at Casita Maria for the past 10 years and has held roles as a direct line staff member for its educational programs, then as a program administrator, operations manager, human resources generalist, and, finally, finance director. Kristina has been vital to Casita Maria’s stability, as she has created effective results-driven systems, recruited and led a sound finance team, and nurtured an organizational culture that operates from a holistic approach.
Kristina is herself a former “Casita Kid”, and takes great pride in the work she has accomplished and the organization’s impact on the lives of thousands of young people and their families since its inception in 1934.
- Judith OhikuareNY Writers CoalitionJudith OhikuareNY Writers Coalition
Judith is a poet and writer, and the Operations & Development Director at NY Writers Coalition, a nonprofit organization in Brooklyn that provides creative writing workshops for underserved and marginalized groups in New York City. She was previously a staff writer at Refinery29 where she covered work and money and edited the popular “Money Diaries” series.
Prior to R29, Judith worked on staff at Cosmopolitan and Inc. magazines writing and editing stories about entrepreneurship, technology, and personal finance; she also served as an editorial fellow at The Atlantic on the “Sexes” and Health channels.