2011 Class of DMI Scholars
KRYSTLE GONZALEZ is a recent graduate of New York University. She currently serves as the Special Program Manager at Color of Change. She is active in her community and has worked for non-profit organizations that promote social justice and address the needs of lower income communities of color. In 2009, she was granted an internship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute working in Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez’s office in Washington, D.C. She plans on pursuing a Masters degree in Urban Policy and is interested in economic and environmental justice and urban policy.
JANNELLY LA HOZ is a senior at Hunter College, studying Urban Studies and English. In May 2012, she hopes to become the first college graduate in her family. The daughter of Dominican immigrants, Jannelly is fully bilingual in English and Spanish. Currently, she works as a Student Advocate with the A Cut Above Program of the Harlem Children’s Zone, where serves as a liaison between HCZ and members of the community. Previously, Jannelly interned with the Welfare Rights Initiative, where she lobbied for progressive welfare policies. She has also served as a volunteer for Make the Road New York of Bushwick, Brooklyn, and a counselor for The Child Care Center of New York in Flushing, Queens.
ENRIQUE X. LOPEZ was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and is the first in his family to attend college in the United States. He is a senior at Manhattanville College, pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in French. An honors student, he was the recipient of the Legal Studies Award in 2009 and the Excellence in French Award in 2010. He is currently president of the Manhattanville Pre-Law Society, a club that welcomes all students who are considering law school. He has volunteered as an interpreter for the Stamford Day Laborer Wage Clinic and interned at the Harlem office of Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY).
PRAKIRTI NANGIA recently graduated from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, City University of New York. She began a PhD program in comparative politics at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. A Phi Beta Kappa and New York Life Scholar, she majored in political science and economics and minored in journalism. While at Hunter College, Prakirti interned for the United Nations, where she concentrated on women in peacebuilding. She also worked for New York State Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing and as a research assistant at the Hunter political science department. Prakirti is interested in politics and policy of development.
FELIX ANTHONY NAVARRO JR., born and raised in Spanish Harlem and currently living in the Bronx, is senior double majoring in Political Science and Pre-Law at The City College of New York. As a former scholar of the Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies, Felix plans to pursue a law degree in order to engage in death penalty litigation, and to address public policy regarding criminal justice and community development. Felix volunteers for the Harlem Chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Harlem Youth Law and Justice Center, and In Arms Reach, which is a mentoring program for the youth of incarcerated parents. As the founding president of the Prisoner Justice Club at CCNY, Felix and his fellow members avidly work to raise awareness of areas in need of improvement within the criminal justice system. As an intern at the Mayor’s Office during the Summer of 2011, Felix worked with a special advisor to the Mayor on the Bloomberg Administration’s Young Male Initiative.
IVAN RAHMAN of Bronx, New York, is a recent graduate of New York University, with a concentration in Diversity and Social Justice. He currently interns for the Office of State Senator Gustavo Rivera, where he works on the communications and policy teams. As the Resident Assistant of the Human Rights and International Relations Explorations Community at NYU, Ivan orchestrated a variety of programs focusing on race, gender, class, and ethno-political conflicts. He was an active member of NYU’s Center for Multicultural Education and Programs as well as the Co-Chair of the NYU Civic Team Advisory Board, which oversees the university’s largest volunteer program. His primary interests include educational equity and racial and economic justice.
MICHAEL SPITZER-RUBENSTEIN is a senior at Columbia University majoring in Urban Studies. He volunteered on Dick Gephardt’s campaign for President in 2004 and later interned on the Kerry-Edwards and Obama campaigns before becoming a field organizer on the Obama campaign in California and Nevada during the 2008 primaries. He recently worked as a Regional Field Director on Evan Thies’ City Council campaign, BuzzMaker, a new media firm, and Bedford Grove, a fundraising firm. Michael is the Treasurer of the Columbia Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a Representative on the Student Governing Board. He is also one of the co-coordinators of Columbia University Campus Camp Wellstone and plays a leading role in the Columbia University College Democrats.
BRANDON STORM is a senior at Columbia University. He studies Economics and Political Science and has research experience in the Economics Department on protecting minority voters. In addition, he has interned for the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, Dissent Magazine, as well as other various non-profits in New York and Madrid. He is very interested in economic policy and protecting working families. Having grown up in a same-sex household, he is also very passionate about LGBT issues; Brandon also speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese.
2010 Class of DMI Scholars
GINA CHEN of Chicago, Illinois, is recent graduate of Yale University, where she majored in Political Science and East Asian Studies. A first-generation college student, she came to the United States with her mother at the age of ten from China. She began her advocacy work on behalf of immigrant and minority communities in high school. She has worked with the Chinese American Service League and at Connecticut’s only Workers Center, which serves immigrants in Latino neighborhoods. Through the Tina E. Yeah Community Service Fellowship, she worked at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center in Washington, D.C., conducting outreach with senior citizens in Chinatown and advocating for language access, tenants’ rights, and neighborhood revitalization. Gina is interested in immigration policy, direct-action advocacy, and urban development and its effects on minority populations.
ZACHARY DUFFY of New York, New York, is a senior Politics major at Whitman College. In the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, he investigated the level of minority representation on Manhattan’s Community Boards and wrote a health care guide for the uninsured. Zach has continued his work this year as a researcher in Whitman College’s State of the State for Washington Latinos initiative, advocating for electoral reform and passage of the DREAM Act. He organized a community-wide social justice conference last fall and recently won election to the Associated Students of Whitman College. Zach is interested in electoral reform, immigration policy, and issues relating to an equitable labor and work environment.
DANA EL KURD of Houston, Texas, is a senior Political Science and Economics major at the University of Houston. Her passion for social justice began in high school when she volunteered at a variety of anti-war events. She has since been involved in many social justice organizations, including Students for a Democratic Society and Texans Together, a civic engagement organization that works to improve economic opportunity. She currently organizes for Palestine solidarity in the greater Houston area. Dana is interested in American foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and civil and human rights.
MARGARET HAULE of Austin, Texas, is a graduate of Austin Community College. She has served on the City of Austin HIV Planning Commission and worked with the Real AIDS Prevention Project and AIDS Action Foundation. She volunteered for President Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign and organized a media campaign to shed light on the lack of minorities working at a local TV station. She is interested in a range of issues from AIDS prevention and education to the environment and housing.
RODNEY LEGGETT of San Francisco, California, is a recent graduate of Howard University. He currently works for the information technology team of the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, Rodney worked with the Regional Congregations and Neighborhood Organizations Training Center to advocate for prison reform in California and worked on the No on Prop 8 campaign. He has also mentored disadvantaged youth at local high schools. He volunteered for President Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign and Martha Coakley’s 2009 Senate campaign. Rodney is interested in criminal justice issues, sustainability policy, and education policy.
JAMES MCKINNEY of Forrest City, Arkansas, is a graduate student in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He has researched economic conditions in Louisiana, worked to improve access to higher education, and helped farmers in Arkansas with debt refinancing. James currently serves as a research assistant to the University of Chicago Medical Center’s South Side Health and Vitality Studies (SSHVS), a university-community partnership to improve health outcomes on the South Side of Chicago. He is interested in poverty alleviation and education reform.
JUSTINO MORA of Los Angeles, California, is a senior Political Science major at Mount San Antonio College. A first-generation high school graduate and college student, Justino works with Improving Dreams, Equal Access and Success (IDEAS), which advocates for higher education access for undocumented students. He advocates for federal immigration reform with the California DREAM Network, the Coalition for Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and the Reform Immigration for American Campaign. He is interested in immigrant rights, women’s rights, and education policy.
DEIVID ROJAS of Miami, Florida, is a recent graduate of Swarthmore College. As a Colombian-American he cares deeply about the relationship between the United States and Colombia and Latin America. He co-founded Taller de Paz (Workshops for Peace), which works with internally displaced youth in Bogota. He has served as the co-president of the Swarthmore Latino organization Enlace, student government vice-president, and in multiple roles in Club Despertar, which mentors and tutors children of farm workers. He has also worked with the Kaolin Mushroom union of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. He currently advocates for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. Deivid is interested in immigration issues, queer and gender issues, youth and media activism, and urban development.
LEANNE SAJOR of Queens, New York is a recent graduate of Hunter College. She began her activist work in high school by founding a student-led group which organized annual citywide youth activist conferences. She has worked with various organizations advocating for immigrant rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, juvenile justice system reform and radical art. Leanne is on the Board of Directors and works as an after-school instructor with Sadie Nash Women’s Leadership Project. She is also part of the founding committee and Board of Trustees for Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation in East Harlem. Leanne is interested in education, gender liberation, and immigrant rights.
TINA TREVIÑO-MURPHY of Houston, Texas, is a senior Social Welfare major at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has served on the Board of Directors of the United Council of UW Students and the United States Student Association and as the Chair of the National Women’s Student Coalition. Tina currently works with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees in Wisconsin, serving as a translator and organizer. Previously, she served as the programming coordinator at the Campus Women’s Center, where she has been fighting to maintain funding for their programs and services while planning events, benefits, and rallies. A fierce advocate for social justice and women’s issues, her interests include higher education, immigrant rights, and intersecting identity issues.
2009 Class of DMI Scholars
ALEXANDER CUMANA, of Hialeah Gardens, Florida, is a graduate of Florida International University and recently completed a Masters in Politics from George Washington University. He currently works as a policy analyst for the U.S. Treasury Department. The son of Cuban immigrants, he is a first generation high school graduate and college student. His pursuit of policy work began with a high school internship in his hometown city hall. He has since held internships with members of Congress and progressive organizations such as Common Cause. A member of the Army ROTC program, he will be commissioned as an officer in the Reserve upon graduation. Alex is interested in American foreign policy with an eye to Cuba, middle-class economic issues and veteran’s affairs. Alex participated in the New Leaders Program at the Center for Progressive Leadership and interned at the White House.
ALEJANDRA LOPEZ of New Rochelle, New York, graduated from Pace University and is now attending Brooklyn Law School. Her commitment to community building and social justice has awarded her several scholarship opportunities, including the 2009 Civic Leaders of Tomorrow Public Policy Fellowship. Two Washington Center scholarships sent Alejandra to the Democrat and Republican National Conventions and the presidential inauguration. She is currently working on a documentary film about xenophobia in the United States and South Africa, based on a research trip to the country. Alejandra recently led her school’s Model UN team to win an award at the Model UN International conference at the Hague and continues to volunteer at the New York Immigration Coalition and Advocates for Children. Alejandra is interested in immigration and child advocacy.
DANIEL WU of Cypress, California, is a graduate of the University of Southern California and currently enrolled in a Sociology PhD program at Harvard University. While in Los Angeles, he worked actively with several Los Angeles community organizations, including the Korean Resource Center, the Bus Riders Union, and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy. He founded Campus and Community United (CCU), a campus coalition of religious leaders, student, and faculty to advocate for affordable housing, small business development, sustainable design, and a transparent planning process for USC. Last summer, he attended the Public Policy International Affairs Summer Institute at UC Berkeley. The summer prior, he interned with the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at USC’s Center for Sustainable Cities. Daniel is interested in regional and global urban development and planning as it intersects with the economy, environmentalism and equity.
JOE HILL of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of Georgetown University. As chairman of the Philadelphia Youth Commission, he advocates for youth between the ages of 13 years and 23 years. He serves as political action chair of the NAACP on campus and as executive board member of the Student Commission for Unity. As a Green for All Fellow, he works to develop a strategy for creating an inclusive green economy that can lift people out of poverty. Joe also took time off school to work for Obama’s presidential campaign and interned with the mayor’s office in Philadelphia this past summer. His interests include urban education policy, economic development and domestic environmental policy.
KENYA LEE of Harlem, New York is a graduate of Hamilton University. She currently serves the New York State Assembly in a communications and policy capacity. As an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kenya helped educate constituents about funding available through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. She has interned for First Focus, an organization that advocates for children and families at the federal level. Kenya also advocated for the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program as vice-chair of America’s Promise Youth Partnership Team. She has also organized demonstrations on campus to support the creation of a Cultural Education Center. She is interested in social and criminal justice issues.
LIZ LAMOSTE of Troy, Michigan, is a graduate of Columbia University and currently attends law school at the University of Michigan. As program coordinator for Project HEALTH’s Harlem Hospital Family Help Desk, she provided information about social services resources to low-income families. She also interned in the Civil Division of the New York City Legal Aid Society. She is interested in social policy, particularly health policy, and its effect on the health of low-income populations.
LUCIA LEON of Orange County, California, is a graduate of California State University at Fullerton, where she studied Pure Mathematics and Women Studies. On campus, she served as president of the Alliance of Students for an Equal Education and is a member of the AB 540 Task Force of CSUF and the Social Justice Summit. She also continues to work toward the passage of the DREAM Act through the Orange County Dream Team, OC Dream Act Coalition and the Southern Region Dream Act Network. Lucy is interested in women’s rights, immigrant rights and LGBT rights. This past summer, Lucy interned at the Applied Research Center.
MARISA CARR of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. An advocate for indigenous language revitalization, she served for two years as a chair of the American Indian Student Cultural Center. She also co-chaired a committee that successfully lobbied the Minnesota state legislature for more than half a million dollars to create training programs for Minnesota’s indigenous languages. Marisa is also interested in social and economic disparities based on race, class and gender.
OLIVIA LOPEZ of Omaha, Nebraska, is a graduate of the University of Chicago. She has helped disadvantaged youth as a volunteer with the Hope Center for Children. She has worked on campaigns for local political candidates as well as for the Obama campaign. As a member of Habitat for Humanity, she helped construct homes and community centers in Indiana. Olivia is interested in poverty alleviation, environmentalism and educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. This past summer, Olivia interned at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.
RAHUL PATEL of Corona, California, is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he majored in Ethnic Studies and Interdisciplinary Field Studies. He promotes social issues through the arts. He works with Cal Slam to encourage empowerment through the spoken word. Rahul recently directed a showcase that examined cultural stereotypes and challenged societal norms. Rahul also ran a campaign to represent traditionally disenfranchised arts communities on campus and won a student senate seat with Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education (CalSERVE). Rahul has interned at the Progressive States Network and the Innocence Project, and seeks to explore his interest in sustainable and equitable urban policy.
2008 Class of DMI Scholars
CHLOE MIRZAYI grew up in Littleton, Colorado and is a graduate of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is pre-med and plans to complete a concentration in global and community health. Chloe served as the student body vice-president and also co-managed Thistle, a literary magazine she founded. Chloe was awarded a Community Recognition Award for her work on campus, which includes bringing gender neutral bathrooms to campus and passing an amendment in the to the student body constitution that now includes transgender students. Last summer, Chloe completed her DMI Scholars internship at the National Gay Lesbian Taskforce (NGLTF), where she researched health disparities in the US transgender population. She is interested in health care, health education, and the effects of health policy on marginalized populations in the United States.
CHRISTINA CHEN comes from the Bay Area, CA and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science and Asian American Studies. She served as the executive co-chair of the National Asian American Student Conference, president of Students Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge (SPEaK), political chair of the United Students of Color Council, and the chair emeritus of the Asian American Alliance Political Committee. She co-founded the New York City Asian American Student Conference and volunteered with the Chinese Staff and Workers Association and the Asian American Legal and Defense Education Fund. Christina completed her DMI Scholars internship at Applied Research Center and PolicyLink. She is interested in issues of immigration, labor, queer rights, and access to resources like healthcare and affordable housing for communities of color.
FRANCISCO COVARRUBIAS is originally from South Central Los Angeles and is a graduate of Pomona College. In the past, Francisco researched the experiences of bus riders who commute using the public transportation system in Los Angeles. He has served as a Latina/o Liaison who works with students, groups, professors, staff, and other organizations to empower Latina/o students on campus to engage in critical, community-based, academic work. Francisco was previously elected to serve on a South Central Los Angeles neighborhood council. Through his Young People For fellowship, he worked with other queer students to start a not-for-profit organization that will provide professional and academic development to LGBTQ students from Los Angeles. Last summer, Francisco completed the Public Policy International Affairs program (PPIA) at UC Berkeley. He now works for California State Assembly member Michael Gatto. He is focused on urban policy and its effects on the education experiences of students.
JASON WALKER graduated from the University of Louisville with a major in Pan-African Studies, and a minor in Cultural Anthropology. Originally from Washington, D.C., Jason was President of the NAACP College Chapter on campus and a member of the Malcolm X Debate Society, whose mission is to increase the participation of minority groups in collegiate debate through a movement known as MPOWER (Multi-cultural Policy Organizing with Emancipatory Rhetoric). He has organized campus demonstrations in support of racial and social justice. One of his most significant accomplishments was the creation of a campus-wide movement known as the Justice and Equality Now in America! Movement (J.E.N.A). Jason is also an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Jason completed his DMI Scholars internship at the NAACP national headquarters. His interests include dismantling structural racism through public policy, education policy, and justice issues including police accountability and juvenile justice.
JILLIAN WELLS is originally from Decatur, GA and a graduate of Agnes Scott College. For two years, she served as co-president of Witkaze, the Black Student Association on campus, and as a Student Senator in student government. Jillian is a committed workers’ rights activist and was a leader in the Agnes Scott’s Living Wage Campaign for over three years. Last summer, Jillian completed her DMI Scholars internship providing research support on the federal minimum wage for the Usery Research Workplace Group at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University. Her policy interests include wage laws and laborer rights, affordable post-secondary education, and public transportation.
LACOLE FOOTS is originally from Damascus, MD and a graduate of Temple University. She was Vice President of the Temple Debate Team, a Resident Advisor and a coordinating member of her Black Student Union. She has worked for grassroots organization Progressive Maryland on issues such as minimum wage raise and campaign finance reform. She hopes to pursue a career reforming Maryland’s public education system and alleviating poverty. She has previously interned at the Democratic National Convention and currently works in the Office of Constituent Services for the Governor of Maryland. LaCole was recently accepted to the Center for Progressive Leadership’s New Leaders Program.
LAUREN SILVERMAN is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In her hometown of Oakland, California, Lauren worked as a reporter and peer teacher at Youth Radio, an award-winning journalism education organization. As a reporter, she worked to provide a voice for young people typically underrepresented in the adult-dominated media industry. A number of Lauren’s pieces have aired on National Public Radio, and she received a Gracie Allen Award from American Women in Radio and Television. Lauren has worked with Washtenaw County Workers’ Center in Michigan – a nonprofit organization committed to improving the living and working conditions of low-wage and immigrant workers. As a community organizer and board member, she fought to raise the minimum wage, promote equal employment opportunities, file lawsuits against un-safe workplaces and affect public policy. Lauren has interned at the Center for American Progress and currently now works for National Public Radio.
MARIO LOPEZ is originally from Mexico City, Mexico and is currently a senior majoring in Political Science at University of California, Berkeley. Part of the organizing committee of the Power and Unity Coalition, Mario worked with a statewide organizing campaign in support for the passage of the CA DREAM Act to provide institutional financial assistance to undocumented students. In the past, Mario interned with UNITE HERE! working on the Hotel Workers Rising campaign in an effort to raise the living standards of disenfranchised workers in the service-sector industry. Last summer, he interned at Voto Latino, writing extensively on issues of importance to the Latino population, such as hate crimes and immigration. Mario’s policy areas of interest are immigrant and worker rights.
MARKUS KESSLER is from Corona, CA and a graduate of Pomona College. He is a Young People For Fellow and a board member of Empowered Latinos in Action, a student organization that addresses Latino issues on and off campus. He has taken an active role in addressing issues of climate change and its effect on communities of color, joining other campus leaders in forming an environmental justice committee. Markus is most interested in education policy and is currently involved in research addressing disparities in education achievement and accessibility in the Latino community in the LA Unified School District.
ORRIN TIBERI is originally from Helena, MT and is a graduate of the University of Montana in Missoula, majoring in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in International Development Studies. He is active in many social rights campaigns across campus, recently organizing “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” a men’s march to increase awareness about domestic and gender violence and sexual assault. Orrin is a member of Mpowerment, a young gay and bisexual men’s group that does outreach and education to youth on how to lead a healthy lifestyle “out” in the big sky state. He also works with the health center on campus to help promote and sustain a tobacco free life for students and faculty, and has recently participated in some ground breaking research on the enforcement of smoke-free policy on campus. Orrin’s policy interests include advancing LGBTQ rights in the workplace and reforming anti-tobacco legislation to limit the sale and increase the price of cigarettes.
RAKIM BROOKS comes from the Bronx, NY and graduated from Brown University. He completed graduate studies as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Currently, Rakim is an Ed Baker Fellow at Demos. A member of the 2007 Mellon Mays cohort, Rakim interned at the Brookings Institution, worked as a research assistant for Economics Professor Glenn Loury, and spent another summer working for the Center for Law and Social Policy on poverty and race related social issues. He also chaired the Africana Studies Departmental Undergraduate Group. Rakim was awarded the Charles Nichols Award for Leadership. Rakim’s policy interests include urban policy, particularly housing, unemployment, and the role that globalization is playing in restructuring urban renewal initiatives.
TERESA CHENG is originally from Castro Valley, CA and is a graduate of the University of Southern California. She was an active member of the USC Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, through which she played an integral role in building the campaign to hold her university responsible for respecting workers’ right to organize. She also served on the Coordinating Committee of United Students Against Sweatshops. Teresa was the Executive Director of the Political Student Assembly under the USC Undergraduate Student Government. She has interned with UNITE HERE Local 11 and United Students Against Sweatshops in Hong Kong and China. She recently worked as a research assistant at the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California. She is now the International Campaigns Coordinator for United Students Against Sweatshops.
2007 Class of DMI Scholars
REBECCA BUCKWALTER-POZA is originally from North Carolina and a graduate of Harvard University. She concentrates on human rights and reproductive rights, focusing on HIV/AIDS. Rebecca was a member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth and the Advisory Board of Campus Progress with the Center for American Progress. She was also active in Advocates for Human Rights and in the International Relations Council, where she has served as a Senior Editor of the Harvard International Review and Director of the Commission on the Status of Women for the Model United Nations. Rebecca has interned for the Global Fund for Children and co-authored a book with political advisor James Carville. Rebecca also worked as a Polling and Targeting Analyst for the 2008 Presidential Election at Campaign to Defend America, and most recently worked in Communications for the Democratic National Committee. This fall, Rebecca will be attending Yale Law School.
SAMANTHA CONTRERAS, originally from Mexico, graduated from Santa Monica College and working fulltime for the rights of undocumented immigrant youth in America at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). She sits on the Board of Directors for the Southern Californians for Youth Network, a network of youth organizations working towards social justice. She previously interned at the Center for Community Change. In summer of 2008, Samantha provided research and communications support to the Legislative Deputy in the office of Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti for her DMI Scholars internship.
TAMARA JOACHIM is from New York City and a graduate of Hunter College, where she worked with the Welfare Rights Initiative, an organization that seeks to inform and empower students to organize around social welfare and education policies. Tamara has participated in the National Equity Center’s Summer Civil Rights and Social Justice Training Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles where she was later given the resources to implement community forums informing parents about the impact current education policy has on the future on New York City public school students. For one semester Tamara interned in the office of US Senator Charles Schumer. The following summer, she provided research support to the Taskforce on Poverty at the Center for American Progress for her DMI Scholars internship. Tamara is currently a Research Associate for the Brennan Center for Justice; previously, she served with the New York City Food Bank.
QUIANA MCKENZIE is a graduate of Washington and Lee University. Having grown up in Chicago, Quiana lived in the Mississippi Delta during college and worked for a community development center through the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. She also served on the program’s Advisory Board, and has made it one of her career ambitions to establish a network of community centers. Upon graduation, Quiana completed a Dunn Fellowship, during which she worked in the office of the Governor of Illinois for one year. She considers herself a policy “generalist” and continues to work on a wide range of issues in a government agency, with an eye toward health care justice for the state of Illinois. Quiana currently works in the office of the governor of Illinois, aiding in the distribution of economic stimulus funds.
NEKPEN OSUAN graduated as a University Scholar at Baylor University and a Young People For Fellow. She has worked for both the City of Waco Public Health Department and the Homelessness Initiative, and she is passionate about working on community empowerment initiatives. In summer of 2008, Nekpen evaluated education policies in the office of Congressman Chet Edwards on Capitol Hill for her DMI Scholars internship. She recently completed a one year appointment at the MATCH Charter School in Boston and has since received a Masters in Education Policy from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.
NABANITA PAL, from Gaithersburg MD, is a graduate of Brown University, where she taught a debate and public speaking class to incarcerated young women in Providence. Nabanita also worked at the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, providing research support on post- Hurricane Katrina policy initiatives. While a student, she was also a leader in the Rhode Island Right To Vote Campaign, a state-wide movement to restore voting rights to Rhode Island’s 15,000 ex-offenders. In summer of 2008, Nabanita researched crime prevention and prisoner re-entry legislation for the Open Society during her DMI Scholars internship. Most recently, she completed a Fulbright Fellowship to study in India. Neeta is now a Research Associate at the Brennan Center for Justice.
REEM RAHMAN graduated with honors from the University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign. On campus, she was the Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Chair of the Hip Hop National Action Network and led the Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege Coalition (STOP), working to advance the formation of Islamic Studies programs in the U.S. Reem was also a Young People For Fellow. For the past three years, she served as the Communications Coordinator for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Reem is currently studying social policy at Oxford University this fall.
JOSEPH TARANTO graduated from The Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, where he studied Immigration and Politics. As a recipient of the Reynolds Undergraduate Scholarship in Social Entrepreneurship, Joe founded Promoting Immigrant Voices in Education (PIVE). He previously interned at New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and at the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), fighting workplace injustice in New York’s restaurant industry. In summer of 2008, Joe developed policy advocacy strategies around the DREAM Act with the Coordinator of Education Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition for his DMI Scholars internship. Joe is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff for New York City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito.
KARLA TURNER, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Fisk University, was heavily involved in student government. During college, she served as a hurricane relief volunteer in New Orleans and an intern in the Mayors Office of Youth Services in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. In the summer of 2008, Karla completed a PPIA (Public Policy International Affairs) fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center at Princeton University. She is currently attending the Vanderbilt University School of Law. In the future, Karla hopes to hold a policy position for a civil rights advocacy organization.
XINGHUA WU graduated from Swarthmore University with a degree in History and Education. His activism emerged in his home community in NYC, where he worked at Chinatown Youth Initiatives and the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families in. As a student, Xinghua was a Programming Co-Chair of the National Asian American Students Conference National Board, a fellow at Young People For, a Multicultural Recruitment Intern with the Admissions Office and co-president of the Swarthmore Asian Organization. In the summer of 2008, he completed a social action project for his Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Grant. Xinghua was recently a Fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership, and currently attends the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.
JULIA YANG is from Queens, New York and graduated with honors from the City College of New York in 2008. She started Partners in Education (PIE) on campus to match English-speaking volunteers with limited-English proficient students. She is currently working at the Asian American Legal Defense Fund and previously interned at the Center for American Progress and the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. In the summer of 2008, Julia worked in the Urban Justice Center’s human rights program. She began her studies in social policy at Oxford University this fall.