2014 Fellows

Brittany Aydelotte, Senior Program Coordinator: Education Division, The Bonner Center at The College of New JerseyBrittany-Aydelotte-e1387401209452-150x150.jpg

Brittany Aydelotte has worked at The Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement at The College of New Jersey as the Education Division Coordinator since 2009. She graduated from TCNJ with a degree in English and Secondary Education and is current pursuing a Masters of Arts in Counseling at TCNJ.

As an undergraduate at TCNJ, Brittany was a member of the Bonner Community Scholars program where she completed over 1,500 hours of service in Trenton Schools and developed her passion for urban education. Immediately after graduation, Brittany completed a 1,700-hour AmeriCorps term with the Bonner Center and was transferred to a permanent position as the Education Division Coordinator.

The Bonner Center’s mission is to mobilize faculty, students and staff to help sustain and advance the communities in which we live. In working toward those goals, Brittany manages a group of undergraduate students in their service in Trenton Schools, oversees recruitment and scholarship distribution, and develops community engaged learning projects with professors to integrate meaningful service into their courses. She also acts as a facilitator for the Education Working Group for the Trenton Prevention Policy Board. Through her time at the center she has led service trips to New Orleans, LA and Nicaragua.

Brittany is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Cinnaminson, NJ. In her spare time, she enjoys playing and watching sports, photography, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Katie Brennan, Associate, Monarch Housing AssociatesKatie-Brennan-150x150.jpg

Katie Brennan is an Associate at Monarch Housing Associates where she works to expand the supply, accessibility, and variety of affordable, permanent supportive housing.  Before joining Monarch in 2013, Katie worked for the Supportive Housing and Special Needs Division at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. She had been at HMFA since obtaining her Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

Katie came to New Jersey to attend graduate school. While there, she expanded her knowledge of community development and New Jersey through her work with the School Development Authority, YouthBuild New Jersey, impact loan funds, and municipal economic development. Prior to moving to New Jersey, Katie worked in Cincinnati and Chicago, cities to which she will always be thankful for engendering her affordable housing passion.

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Katie never expected she would currently reside in Jersey City, New Jersey. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, crafting, traveling, New Jersey bike advocacy, and local theater production.

Franchesca A. Cifuentes Andrade, Community Outreach Specialist, The Future Project | NewarkFranchesca-Cifuentes-e1387401461951-150x150.jpg

Franchesca Cifuentes-Andrade is first a daughter, a sister, an immigrant, a Latina, and a social entrepreneur in the making.

She is winner of the 2013 New Challenge, a platform for entrepreneurship and social innovation which helps students develop as changemakers and lead real change in the world.  She has a deep passion and desire for cultivating systems that will bring about transformative change for young people across New Jersey and New York.  She is on a mission to help unlock the potential residing within and all individuals.

Franchesca is committed to building supportive communities to facilitate social change, one person at a time.  In New Jersey, she is helping create large scale social change by forming broad cross-sector coalitions to support educators and policy makers close the achievement gap of our students in Newark.  Working as the Community Outreach Specialist at The Future Project in Newark—a nonprofit building a national movement to transform the culture of high schools across the country, bringing the community together and inspiring people to be dreamers and innovators of their own future—she is collaborating with The Dream Director of Newark, a team of believers, and the greater community to achieve a single vision: to turn Brick City into Dream City.

In New York, as President of The New Voice Toastmasters Chapter, an educational nonprofit, Franchesca is helping increase access to educational opportunities for incarcerated women and men by bringing educational and leadership development programming into the prison system.  She established the very first Toastmasters Prison chapter in the state of New York.  Franchesca is also Co-Founder of Harlem Peace Partners, a grant-making and research institution supporting anti-youth violence community-based organizations, project and entrepreneurs in Harlem.

As a master’s student at The New School, a progressive institution of higher learning in New York City, Franchesca studied Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Organizational Change and Community Development at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy.  Prior to making a career shift to the nonprofit sector, Franchesca studied and worked in Finance.  She received her BA in Economics from Douglass College and Rutgers University.

Franchesca was born in Ambato, Ecuador and immigrated to the US in 1993.  She was raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Jersey City with her dog, Leo Cifuentes.

 Callie Chamberlain, National Urban Fellow, Baruch College, CUNYcallie-chamberlain-150x150.jpg

Callie Chamberlain is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration through Baruch College, CUNY as a National Urban Fellow. As a fellow, Callie is also mentoring at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted to improving the nation’s health and health care. At the foundation, Callie works on strategic planning and staff engagement, change management and communications. In addition, she works with senior leadership to advise on organizational structure.

Prior to this experience, Callie was a member of UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Optum’s Leadership Acceleration Program. During her tenure as an information technology and health care consultant, Callie served in a variety of roles and capacities. Some of these experiences include business analysis for UnitedHealth care’s sales portal, development of Optum’s thought leadership practice, project management for an enterprise-wide innovation effort, strategy and operations for an external client as part of a demonstration program, social media ambassador for UnitedHealth Group, and marketing lead for the Leadership Acceleration Program.

Callie has served on the Board of Directors for Prairie Oaks Institute, a non-profit organization that supports educational programs and leadership development. Callie has also served on the Savage City Commission Communications Committee, where she was responsible for strengthening community engagement through social platforms and redesign of municipal liquor stores.

Callie holds Bachelor degrees in Marketing Management and Business Communications from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. In her free time, Callie enjoys working out, traveling, reading, cooking, and embarking on adventure with family and friends!

Susan Choy, Equities Business Manager, UBS Investment BankSusan-Choy-e1387401695854-150x150.jpg

Susan Choy believes that running is a way of life – physically and philosophically. As a personal and community-oriented method to give back to others, she ran in several marathons to raise funds for amazing organizations, such as the New York Asian Women’s Center, Operation Homefront, and Boston College Campus School for students with multiple disabilities. She continued her social justice journey by participating in the National Organization for Women – New York City (NOW-NYC)’s inaugural Activist Alliance to take an action-oriented approach to promote comprehensive reproductive health care access, economic empowerment, and campaigns to end violence against women. She is committed to engaging coalitions for change not only in the NJ/NY area, but also internationally through the Ghana Health and Education Initiative (GHEI). She has volunteered in the Girls’ Empowerment and Malaria Prevention summer sessions to assist in projects most meaningful to and sustainable for the local community. She maintains her connection back in the U.S. as the Summer Serve & Learn Relations Coordinator, shaping volunteer recruitment efforts for GHEI.

Susan graduated from Boston College with majors in Operations Management and Marketing and a minor in Asian American Studies. At BC, she participated in the Global Proficiency Program and Community Research Program, demonstrating a comprehensive global perspective in her academic and service work with a field study in cross-cultural health care in the Asian American community. Susan currently works as an Equities Business Manager at UBS, where she enjoys advancing process improvement projects.

Michael J. Comba, Vice President, Hoboken Strategy GroupMichael-Comba-e1387402044398-150x150.jpg

Michael J. Comba is Vice President of Hoboken Strategy Group, Inc., a Hoboken-based public affairs and government relations firm.  In this role, he represents clients on the federal, state and local levels and oversees the company’s operations.

With over a decade of lobbying experience, Michael has shepherded numerous legislative and grassroots outreach campaigns on behalf of major corporations, institutions of higher education, real estate developers, national associations and government entities.

Prior to joining Hoboken Strategy Group, Michael served at two leading New Jersey-based government relations and business development firms.  In the public sector, Michael served on the staffs of then-Congressman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in his Washington, DC office as well as Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) and former Assemblyman Peter Eagler (D-34).

Furthermore, Michael is a former member of the Executive Board of Democrats 2000, a statewide organization dedicated to electing Democrats under the age of 40.  He is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, Father Carey Assembly #0677 and Father Carey Council #1280 in Carteret, previously serving as Grand Knight.

Michael is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he earned a bachelor of arts in Politics and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University where he earned his masters degree in Public Affairs and Politics.  Raised and educated in Carteret, Michael and his wife Maria reside in Edison with their two sons, Nicholas and Michael.

Arpan DasguptaArpan-Dasgupta-e1387402297725-150x150.jpg

Arpan Dasgupta served in the Peace Corps from 2010-2013 in Mexico where he lived and worked in rural and urban settings focusing on sustainable development and environmental education. His projects included implementing an U.S. Agency for International Development grant to promote sustainability at a primary school located within a nationally protected nature reserve, improving business practices at an apple cooperative, working with the Ministry of Environment to develop a sustainability program for university campuses in the City of Queretaro, and supporting the work of volunteers through trainings and site visits.

He has worked in government and politics for the past ten years. Prior to the Peace Corps, he worked at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in the Office of Chief Operating Officer and Office of Deputy Executive Director. His experience also includes positions with Senator Robert Menendez, New Jersey’s Governor’s Office of Economic Growth, and Senator Jon Corzine.

Arpan was born in Calcutta and grew up in New Jersey. He was an undergraduate associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He speaks Bengali and Spanish.

Jennifer Lehman, Legislative Aide, New Jersey State AssemblyJennifer-Lehman1-150x150.jpg

Jennifer Lehman is a legislative aide to New Jersey Assemblywoman Celeste Riley in the Third Legislative District. Her responsibilities include implementing strategic methods to accomplish policy goals, assisting to draft legislative initiatives, and providing community outreach and constituent services to communities in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties for the Third Legislative District.

Prior to joining the Assemblywoman’s office, Jennifer worked several years in the banking industry.  She also completed internships with local and county government, including with the Elmer Borough Council and Salem County Shared Services Department.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Rutgers University and recently completed her Masters Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management from Rutgers University-Camden.

During her time at Rutgers University, Jennifer served as the Treasurer of the Public Administration Student Association.  She also teamed up with professors, classmates, and public officials to develop a communication plan for the City of Camden to enhance internal and external communication.

Jennifer is a resident of Pittsgrove, New Jersey. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, outdoor activities and spending time with her friends and family.

Elizabeth Mahn, Budget Specialist, The State of New Jersey Office of Management and BudgetLiz-Mahn-e1387402509734-150x150.jpg

Currently, Elizabeth Mahn is a Budget Specialist at the New Jersey Office of Management and Budget, where she performs asset management for the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, and the Divisions of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Management and Budget, and Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired at the Department of Human Services.

She has co-authored a paper awaiting publishing in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare on economically disconnected women, as well as a paper for the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies entitled “Barriers to Upward Mobility” while obtaining her Masters of Public Policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.  During her studies she also worked at the Center for Survey Research, engaging in data collection on public health issues in middle schools across New Jersey that was commissioned by the Department of Health.  She was also a Graduate Student Coordinator with the Darien Learning Community at the Eagleton Institute for Politics.

Prior to moving to New Jersey, Elizabeth spent two years working on community development and women’s leadership in Costa Rica with the United States Peace Corps. Her interests in social justice, economic security, and women’s empowerment stem from her time at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, her home state, where she earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology with a minor in History.  While there, she interned with the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, and worked with Somali, Liberian, and Hmong young women to develop college readiness and leadership skills.  She also spent time with Planned Parenthood in one of their local clinics.  Recently, she has enjoyed getting to know her new home of New Jersey, both the urban and rural areas, as well as the people, and hopes to continue her interests in women’s empowerment and security by volunteering with local crisis centers.

Francis McGovern Jr., Sergeant First Class, New Jersey State PoliceFran-McGovern-e1387402659589-150x150.jpg

Francis McGovern Jr. is a 13-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police.  During his tenure with the agency, he has primarily served as a Detective investigating a variety of crimes.  Fran has conducted investigations related to homicide, robbery, narcotic trafficking, and financial fraud within the lower six counties of New Jersey for more than ten years.  More recently, Fran has been assigned to the New Jersey State Police Division Headquarters, where he is responsible for formulating and managing human resource policy within the agency, in conjunction with the New Jersey, Office of the Attorney General.

Fran earned a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.  Focusing his graduate studies in public policy development and political science, Fran looks forward to playing a role in shaping future policy in his home State of New Jersey.  During his studies at UPenn, Fran was elected as a student representative for the Fels Institute of Government’s inaugural elected body.  As such, Fran and his colleagues were the first to form and codify the original charter of the student government.

Since graduating, Fran has gone on to teach Counterterrorism studies as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University.  Fran was tasked with creating a new curriculum for the topic, designed to examine the historical basis of terrorism, focusing primarily on Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al Qaeda, and effective countermeasures to current and future threats.

Prior to his career with the New Jersey State Police, Fran was a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving in England, South Korea, Senegal, and several other overseas locations.  During his service, Fran conducted law enforcement and security operations in support of several military operations, to include the response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Fran is supported by his wife Tamara and two children, Liam and Emma.

Carlos Iván Merino, Legislative Aide, New Jersey 38th Legislative Districtcarlosmerino-150x150.jpg

Carlos Iván Merino, has extensive knowledge in Legislative Government and Political Campaigns in the State of New Jersey. In Politics, he has worked on statewide and local races where he specializes on targeting and direct voter contact. In government, he worked in the New Jersey 38th Legislative District where he handled the Assembly members communications and constituent outreach. In addition, he assisted in a variety of policy positions in Health and Senior Services, Regulated professions, Labor, Education, and Higher Education.

Mr. Merino is active in local and state politics.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University.

Evan Nison, Executive Director, NORML New JerseyEvan-Nison-150x150.png

Evan Nison is the youngest ever Executive Director of NORML New Jersey, the New Jersey Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, as well as the New Jersey Field Director for Compassion & Choices, an advocacy organization working to expand choices at the end of life.

In New York he is the Co-Founder and Director of the NY Cannabis Alliance, which has helped craft the NY medical marijuana and marijuana legalization bills. In 2010 he moved to California to run the college outreach effort for Prop 19 in California, which spanned over 40 schools and had a budget of $100,000. He was President of Ithaca Students for Sensible Drug Policy for 4 years, which was rated the #1 college drug law reform chapter in the country in 2011. Evan was instrumental in the passage of the New York 911 Good Samaritan Law and served as Drug Policy Advisor to Mayor Svante Myrick of Ithaca, NY, one of the youngest mayors in the country, where he helped spearhead an effort to pass a US Conference of Mayors resolution supporting the legalization of marijuana.

Evan has been mentioned in news sources such as the NY Times, Politico, Metro News, USA Today, NBC New York, YNN, and has been profiled in the Ithaca Times and Home News Tribune. He also received the 2011 NORML Student Activism Award and High Times Freedom Fighter Award for his advocacy.

Sheena A. Patel, Associate, Hoagland Longo Moran Dunst and Doukas LLPSheena-Patel-125x150.jpg

Sheena A. Patel is an associate attorney at Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst, and Doukas, LLP. Her practice is primarily focused on medical malpractice and healthcare law.

Sheena graduated from Boston University’s School of Management in 2005. While at BU, Sheena was Executive Vice President and then President of the School of Management Student Government. She also received the 2004-2005 School of Management Undergraduate Student Dean’s Community Service Award which is awarded to one member of the Senior class that portrayed excellence in community leadership.

After she graduated from BU, Sheena moved to New York City and worked as a paralegal for two years before attending law school at St. John’s University in Queens, NY.  While at St. John’s, Sheena was a staff member and then articles editor for the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development. She also was an active member of the South Asian Law Students Association serving as the Social Chair and then President.

Sheena was born and raised in Kentucky and now resides in Somerset, New Jersey. She enjoys cooking, traveling, watching University of Kentucky basketball and hiking with her dog, Miles and her husband, Sameer.

Thomas Reynolds, Principal, Green Stories, LLCTom-Reynolds-e1387402886745-150x150.jpg

Thomas Lorenzo Reynolds is a Montclair, NJ native graduating Montclair High School in 2002. Attended NJIT for Architecture. He is the President of Green Stories, LLC, a design firm that does web design, digital design and architecture.

Tom currently serves as President of the Montclair NAACP and Treasurer of the New Jersey State Conference NAACP. During his tenure, there has been an increased membership and grant funding.

Tom sits on the following boards and committees: Montclair Zoning Board of Adjustments, Architecture for Humanity: Newark, BlueWaveNJ, Essex Community Land Trust, IMANI Board, Montclair Democratic County Committee, Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, NJ Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. He also serves at Alumni national representative to Montclair State’s Alpha Sigma Phi chapter. Additionally, he is a member of the American Institute of Architects. Tom is also an Eagle Scout and Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 12 Montclair.

Elizabeth Thompson, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy AllianceElizabeth-Thompson-e1387402799434-150x150.jpg

Elizabeth Thompson is a Policy Coordinator in the New Jersey office of the Drug Policy Alliance. She holds a J.D. from Temple Law School and is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. Her interest in drug policy originally stems from personal experience; she has experienced many consequences of the drug war firsthand and witnessed other tragic results play out in the lives of those around her. She spent a significant portion of her time in law school working under the supervision of Scott Burris, researching and writing about various facets of drug policy, and interned in the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs before coming to work in New Jersey. Thompson is especially interested in sentencing reform and the removal of criminal penalties for drug use and addiction.

Conor Tucker, State Coordinator, Organizing for Action conor-150x150.jpg

Conor Tucker is the New Jersey State Coordinator with Organizing for Action (OFA), a national progressive grassroots organization. OFA runs multiple issue advocacy and educational campaigns in New Jersey, including climate change, comprehensive immigration reform, gun violence prevention, the Affordable Care Act, the Women’s Initiative, and a fiscal issues campaign.Before joining OFA, New Jersey, Conor worked on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in New Mexico.

Conor was born in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, to a Marine Corps father and a teacher mother. He has since lived in 11 states and moved 15 times. Conor graduated from Colgate University, and was awarded the Schupf Scholarship to Oxford University where he completed a Masters in Modern British and European History at St. Antony’s College. While at Oxford, Conor served as his college’s Secretary and Chair of the Constitutional Committee. He also started Oxford’s first student-run brewery, the St. Antony’s Brewery, and helped set up a similar society in another college. When the British Government cut funding to after-school programs, Conor co-founded and served on the board of VIP+, an educational charity which guaranteed access to extracurricular activities for underprivileged children in Oxfordshire.

Beyond his activism and professional life, Conor enjoys ice climbing, skiing, cooking and the game weiqi.