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Morayo Akande (who lovingly goes by “Mo”) has lived in Providence for six years prior to joining NLC. She holds a B.A. in Public Health and a Master’s in Public Health, both from Brown University. During her time at Brown, she was heavily involved in the Rhode Island homeless community. Mo worked with many different homeless-serving organizations on substance use, smoking cessation, and holistic health. From designing substance recovery programs and holding smoking cessation focus groups to teaching yoga at shelters and halfway houses and protesting city council meetings, Mo has established herself as an advocate to the underserved and underrepresented homeless population of Rhode Island.
In addition to her investment in domestic causes, Mo also has a passion for international health equity and equality. Her deeply rooted Nigerian-American identity compels her to travel to many different African countries for research and to help improve access to quality health care. Mo has been successful in securing grant funding and implementing new health protocols for existing hospitals in West Africa. Soon, Mo hopes to attend law school for health policy and eventually find work for governmental organizations that aim to improve quality of care around the world.
Apart from her professional aspirations, Mo loves exercising and making music. She has been in several rock bands, and currently plays shows along the East Coast with her latest acoustic R&B/Hip-Hop band. A former Division I athlete in Track and Field, Mo finally accepts that she is a regular person who hates running just as much as the next person. However, she loves rollerblading, riding her bike, and taking long walks with her cute puppy.
Akilah Alleyne was born and raised in Boston, MA but it was her experiences in the Newton, METCO (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc.) program that fueled her mission for equitable access to quality schools and culturally competent school leaders through the means of student and education advocacy and policy. Akilah attended Auburn University Montgomery, where she received her B.S. in Sociology, and later returned to Boston where she received her M.S in Education Policy from Wheelock College. Currently she works as the Assistant Program Manager at Princes 2 Kings, an Out of School Time – mentoring partnership between the Rhode Island Department of Health and Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence. Serving boys of color ages 12-18, Princes 2 Kings proves that when provided educational supports and mentoring services, students of color become ready for successful post-secondary options, positively impacting health outcomes for individuals and their community. Akilah also serves as an Education and Family Engagement Specialist for Vocal A.C.T.I.ON., LLC. a Washington D.C business committed to providing consulting and philanthropic services to various stakeholders investing and impacting the lives of minority youth and communities. Her experience includes developing and monitoring recruitment and retention strategies to meet students’ diverse needs in urban school districts; creating partnerships between community stakeholders and public schools in an Out of School Time and wraparound support services context; advocating for parents and families with regards to navigating urban school districts (parent/teacher conferences and school building conflicts); and engaging families as partners in setting educational goals for their children. Akilah is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and in her free time she enjoys journaling, reading, traveling and trying new restaurants.
Ashley Cavallaro was born and raised in Providence, RI. She graduated from Wheelock College with a B.A. in Studio Art with a certificate in Community Based Human Services. Ashley is currently the Youth Programs Manager at New Urban Arts (NUA) an after-school arts studio for highschool students. At NUA, Ashley pursues her passions in youth development, building community and fostering a lifelong creative practice.
Ashley’s own creative practice includes painting, photography and hiking up and down mountains. She strives to live honestly and create capacity for making mistakes and forgiveness of others and self.
Miriam Contreras-Morales is a first generation college graduate born to Guatemalan immigrant parents who raised her in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Justice Studies at Rhode Island College where she was also inducted to Alpha Kappa Delta, a national sociological honor society. She is passionate about advocacy, racial and social justice, and the criminal justice system in the United States, specifically the ways in which the United States justice system interacts with race and class.
During her time as a full time college student she also worked full time as a direct support professional, and later as Assistant Director, serving individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. She describes her time in this position as one of the most rewarding experiences of her life where her passion for advocacy and inclusion was further fueled. Her desire to make a difference led her to also travel to Ecuador with a group of students and professors to Conocoto, Ecuador in order to volunteer at the Henry Davis Foundation, an orphanage for children whose parents are incarcerated. There they developed a hydroponic system for self-sustenance, built and planted a garden, and served as substitute teachers. Miriam also traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana as part of a mission trip with Intervarsity, a Christian Fellowship at Rhode Island College, to work alongside Habitat for Humanity. By day, Miriam helped build a home in the 9th Ward of New Orleans for a family affected by Hurricane Katrina. By night, she discussed racial injustice and biblical scripture with students from various universities. Her internship at the Commission for Human Rights in Providence, RI was also centered around her passion to help people combat discrimination in communities all over the state. Her passion and commitment to serving marginalized and underserved individuals earned her the Mary Ann Hawkes Award in Justice Studies.
Miriam aims to be a strong advocate for the Black and Latino population. Her goal is to attend law school and practice in either civil rights or immigration law. She currently works as a paralegal at a personal injury law firm and attends Boston University where she is studying to become a certified medical and legal spanish interpreter.
Rebecca Costello is a proud Rhode Islander who graduated summa cum laude in 2.5 years from the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies. While a student, she was co-President of the URI Bystanders, a student organization that works to teach students about active bystander intervention and the realities of sexual assault and domestic violence. In this capacity, she assisted in teaching a class and presented to the campus community on these topics and was responsible for seventeen student interns.
As an undergraduate she also interned for Rhode Island State Senator Louis DiPalma and U.S. Congressman James Langevin. After graduating she started working for the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training as a Program Manager/Analyst focusing on the Income Support division which encompasses the Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Disability Insurance and paid family leave programs.
In her free time, she volunteers on the Communications Committee of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island; as a Community-based Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State; and as an Aquidneck Island Chapter Leader for Dignity Matters which provides feminine hygiene products and undergarments for homeless women and girls. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration and Policy from the School of Public Affairs at American University. Rebecca is passionate about advancing gender equity in Rhode Island, the United States, and abroad. When she is not working, studying, or volunteering, Rebecca enjoys reading, walking her dog, Gus, and travelling.
Steve Duque is a Colombian artist born and raised in Rhode Island. His parents emigrated to RI in 1973. He attended Community College of Rhode Island studying Business Management. Steve has been an active member of AS220 since 2009 and a previous resident at the Mercantile Block. In 2010 he began upcycling skateboards into functional art and started his own business, Duque Skate Art. Steve currently works as Customer Care Advocate with Blue Hills Bank. In addition to the valuable service experience he has gained in the banking world, He also hand crafts, markets and sells his own art made from skateboards. Steve has collaborated and supported other local charities that share his philosophy of upcycling and creating expressive forms of art while incorporating a passion for skateboarding. Ultimately he plans to establish a gallery/studio/business storefront showcasing locally made art. Steve is passionate about giving back to his community by working with local skate shops and providing skateboards for individuals that are in need. He looks forward to strengthening his business knowledge, building his professional network and contributing from an innovative, artistic perspective. In his free time, Steve enjoys tending to his five pet geckos, woodworking, skateboarding, listening to podcasts, attending concerts and traveling.
Joshua Flanagan was born and raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and went on to the University of Rhode Island, graduating in the spring of 2012, receiving his bachelor's degree in Communication Studies. As an undergrad at URI, Joshua was a two year member of Student Senate and sat on the executive board of Brothers On a New Direction (B.O.N.D.), a Brotherhood that recognizes the need for unity among young men of color. The men of B.O.N.D. pledge to help guide adolescent men of color towards personal growth, provide the tools for academic success, and lead by example through their five values, Brotherhood, Leadership, Service, Responsibility, and Mentorship. Joshua now serves as the Vice President of the B.O.N.D. Professional Chapter. Joshua currently works as a College Advisor for The College Crusade of Rhode Island, the state’s most comprehensive college- readiness and scholarship program for middle school, high school and college students in low- income urban school districts. Working out of the CCRI Flanagan campus in Lincoln, Joshua advises a cohort of Crusaders, helping them to navigate the post-secondary landscape as first generation college students. Joshua is also the head JV basketball coach at his alma mater, Charles E. Shea High School in Pawtucket. Joshua is also the co-host of a sports, music and pop culture podcast named “Flanny and The Professor.”
Moriah is a Boston native and moved to Rhode Island in early 2016. She currently works as a Program Manager and Financial Coach at Compass Working Capital, a nonprofit financial services organization that specializes in asset-building and financial coaching programs for families with low-income. At Compass, Moriah oversees the implementation of programs at several HUD-assisted multifamily housing developments in MA, RI and CT. In addition, she provides individualized financial coaching to families in Providence and North Kingstown, RI. Her past professional experience includes legal advocacy for families with low income in housing and family law matters. She has done advocacy in Massachusetts and on a national level to increase access to the justice system for limited English proficient individuals. Moriah’s volunteer experience includes tax return preparation with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), serving on the Board of Redefining Our Community Neighborhood Organization and youth development work. Moriah holds a B. A. in International Studies from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Business Administration from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia as a scholarship recipient of the Organization of American States. She is passionate about social justice issues, the role of the private sector in creating positive social change, and building a more equitable and inclusive society. Some of her joys include being active, getting outdoors, spoken word, dancing and traveling.
Magali García-Pletsch is originally from the U.S./México bordertown of Laredo, Texas, but has called Providence, Rhode Island her home for the last eight years. As the daughter of a fourth+ generation American (with Irish and German ancestry), and a first generation Mexican immigrant, a core piece of her identity has always been her bicultural and binational background. Growing up in this environment, Magali has always had a tendency and passion for “crossing borders” (literally!) and connecting people across those boundaries, whether geopolitical national borders or the less visible boundaries that exist in our own backyards. Thanks to a childhood dream of attending college in New England (surrounded by colorful fall leaves), Magali left the South Texas desert to attend a school she knew little about: Providence College (PC). While at PC, Magali majored in Global Studies, with minors in Latin American Studies and Public/Community Service Studies, actively trying to find ways to immerse herself in her new hometown. After graduating in 2013, she felt as though she didn’t know her city well enough, so she decided to stick around, and served a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Serve Rhode Island and Roger Williams Middle School. That was the year where Providence truly started to feel like home. She currently works in the Feinstein Institute for Public Service at her alma mater, coordinating the community work-study and global service-learning programs, while also overseeing the Feinstein Institute’s college access/persistence partnerships. She is active with several campus-wide initiatives which seek to promote access to and engagement with higher education, and serves as a board member of the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet (CYC). Magali regularly co-facilitates Global Studies courses, eagerly learning alongside her students and co-facilitators about how to live and make positive change in communities across borders and throughout the world.
Roscoe Lee Gay is a Boston native. In 2014 he moved out to Rhode Island to start as a Community Builder in Residence with Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV.) While serving NWBRV he was honored as a Lights on Champion through RIASPA for his baking class enrichment with NWBRVs after school summer for the middle school students.
Roscoe is avid music lover. He plays the organ, sings at his local church, plays the piano and plays drums which is his first love. However, he is very passionate about the culinary arts. He is a self-taught cook, baker and cake decorator. In June 2017 he quit his job as a business analyst for CVS to pursue his passion of becoming a business owner. Roscoe opened up his catering business Every1sChef where is specializes in custom cakes and southern gourmet cuisines. Roscoe also, serves NWBRV as an AmeriCorps Vista at the Millrace Kitchen. He supports NWBRV’s new Kitchen Incubator Special Initiative which aims to increase capacities and skills of lower income food service business owners and others to increase earning potential. If Roscoe is not in the kitchen or on an instrument he thoroughly enjoys fishing and spending quality time with his family and loved ones.
Jerryanne was born and raised in Western Massachusetts and currently residences in Springfield, MA. She is a first generational college graduate, receiving her B.A. in Legal Studies from Elms College in 2014. Throughout her college experience Jerryanne worked fulltime as a Certified Nursing Aid. Jerryanne is also a mother of four-year-old twins.
Jerryanne currently works as a Skill Trainer for Stavros Center for Independent Living, where the mission is to keep individuals with disabilities in the community rather than a nursing home or facility. Jerryanne is an Adult Educator tutor with Valley Opportunity Council who is dedicated to eliminating poverty and helping individuals in the community gain self-sufficiency through free educational services. Jerryanne works with Adults striving to gain their GED and/or U.S. Citizenship. She is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate with the Hampden County District. As a volunteer, she works closely with children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Her focus is to advocate for the youth, ensuring the youth does not get lost in the overburden legal and social service system. Jerryanne stays with each case appointed by a judge until the youth is permanently placed in a safe home.Jerryanne’s main goal is to bring reform to the Criminal Justice System, social services, and to the education system to create an equal society for all. Jerryanne’s passion for change and to serve others comes from her own personal experiences; as a child, she spent time in the Foster Care system and knows firsthand how it feels to be the “underdog”. Jerryanne hopes to help people find their strengths and reach their full potential in life. Jerryanne is hoping to attend Springfield College next fall to enroll in their Master in Social Work Program and eventually enroll in the dual MSW/JD program. Jerryanne ultimately hopes to become an Attorney.
Seth was born and bred in Arlington, Virginia. He got his first taste of social justice work as a sustainable community development volunteer for AMIGOS de las Américas in Mexico during high school. It was a formative experience. Seth became interested in communities and systems, passions which led him to work on projects in Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Senegal, and India. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale with a degree in Ethics, Politics, and Economics. Realizing that change also needed to happen back home in the United States, Seth began his career in Central Falls as a high school math teacher through Teach for America - then fell in love with the city and stayed. After the presidential election, Seth organized a trip of 42 Central Falls youth to attend the Women’s March on Washington; they stayed in his hometown of Arlington with families that included Seth’s parents and his fifth grade teacher. This year, Seth is working as a FUSE Architect to redesign ninth grade and increase student voice at his school with support from the Highlander Institute. He also teaches a course called “How to Change the World,” which includes a weeklong student-designed trip to Washington, D.C. And he gives out tons of “Kolker Kash” as rewards to students who surprise and impress him every day. Seth likes to read, travel, blow glass, and dance salsa in his free time. He is currently completing a Master’s in Education part-time at Rhode Island College. And through NLC, Seth looks forward to being part of a community that will help him find more innovative ways to prepare young people for participation in our amazing, fragile democracy.
Kerri has dedicated her professional career to the financial empowerment of others. In her current role as Financial Education Coordinator at Pawtucket Credit Union, she provides financial education to communities throughout her home state of Rhode Island. She serves on the Board of Directors for RI JumpStart Coalition, an organization that empowers teachers to provide high quality financial education to students. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the MassSaves Coalition, a cross sector collaborative of organizations dedicated to enhancing financial capability of individuals and families. Prior to joining the credit union industry in 2011, Kerri was a certified credit counselor at a large non-profit, full service credit counseling agency. Working in both RI and Boston, Kerri empowered clients from diverse backgrounds and income levels to achieve their financial goals.
Kerri’s passion for understanding and combating economic inequality was sparked while studying at the University of Rhode Island. She received her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Family Financial Counseling and Planning. While at URI, Kerri could very often be found at the campus multicultural center. She was very active with Students Organized Against Racism and other groups dedicated to diversity and inclusion.
Stephanie has worked recently as a community organizer on rights for disabled people, and advocacy on education and women’s rights. She is originally from the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and speaks fluent Spanish, as it is her native language, her family originally hails from Colombia. Before she started doing community organizing in Rhode Island, she worked in the Tourism and Event Industry. She interned for the US Open in New York in 2010 soon after graduating from Johnson & Wales University. Stephanie received her M.A. in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island and currently is the Co-Chair for Emerge RI Organizing Committee, her goal is to launch the Emerge America affiliate in RI this coming spring. She wants to start getting Democratic women trained and ready to run for office!
Max Silva is a Cape Verdean American who is a native to Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Since graduating from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2013, Max has been serving in the United States military for the Rhode Island Air National Guard at Quonset Point. When he's not serving, Max works full time for The College Crusade of Rhode Island as a High School Advisor within three inner-city Providence schools. He's also a member of the boys basketball coaching staff at Juanita Sanchez Education Complex as a varsity assistant coach and head coach for the boys freshmen team. Following in his father's footsteps as an educator, Max has always been passionate about youth within the community through education and public service, and hopes to expand his mission through the NLC. Max is also a father, crediting all of his recent accomplishments to fatherhood and his daughter, Aria Rose.
Patricia Socarras is a recent graduate of Salve Regina University and current Field Organizer at the Rhode Island Democratic Party. Though Socarras has lived all across the southern New England seaboard, she calls Northford, Connecticut home. In her time at Salve Regina University, Socarras earned a degree in Anthropology, Sociology, and Philosophy, served as a resident advisor for two years, served her Student Government Association for four years in the capacity of Senator, Vice President, and President, and started the first ever Black Student Union on Salve's campus. Through her degrees and the various leadership positions she has held in her time at Salve, Socarras has shown fierce dedication to addressing social justice issues through grassroots organizing as well as working from within large infrastructures.
Upon graduation, Socarras transferred her knack for organizing to the Rhode Island Democratic Party where she began as a Fellow. Socarras worked extensively with the Rhode Island Democratic Women's Caucus, creating plans of action, organizing meetings and data, and translating major documents into Spanish. Currently, Socarras has been officially brought onto the RIDP team as a field organizer and has begun assisting and organizing a variety of caucuses across the state to have an active role throughout the upcoming election cycle. Socarras hopes to continue this work, helping people find their voice and power in the politics that affects them.
Denali Tiller is an artist named one of 110 “filmmakers to watch” by Variety Magazine in 2015 for her short film, Sons and Daughters of the Incarcerated - now a feature documentary titled Tre Maison Dasan. She has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development, NYU, and is currently adjunct faculty at Rhode Island School of Design. Through her work, Denali is interested in how artists’ literacies can provide unique insights into complex, human- centered problems. She is most passionate about children and youth advocacy, and how we raise boys in America.
Adam Toobin grew up in New York before coming to Providence to attend Brown University. In college, he wrote for the City & State Section of the Brown Daily Herald, where he covered education, gun violence, and elections across the state. While working for the newspaper, he gained his first real exposure to many of the activists and community leaders working to make Rhode Island a more just and equitable place. He was inspired by their example to serve as a Juvenile Justice Coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA at Rhode Island for Community and Justice in Providence after graduation. In this role, he worked to support the state’s 32 Juvenile Hearing Boards by bringing together police, board members and local service providers to improve outcomes for youth arrested for low-level offenses. He also advocated for the reestablishment of a Juvenile Hearing Board in Providence, and worked with members of the City Council, police and community organizations to pass an updated ordinance that reflected best practices. Shortly after the new ordinance was passed, he was appointed a member of the Providence Juvenile Hearing Board, which is now up-and-running. Following his time as an AmeriCorps VISTA, he joined U.S. Congressman David Cicilline’s office as District Press Secretary. He is responsible for supporting the Congressman’s efforts to communicate his message to his constituents through the press, Internet and other media. He is also a dedicated soccer player.
Jessica Vega was born in the Dominican Republic and migrated to Rhode Island at the age of three with her family. Jessica was raised between Providence and Central Falls, where she currently resides. In 2010 she became the first in her family to graduate college, receiving a B.A. in psychology from Rhode Island College.
She has over six years of experience in the demanding field of social work, advocating for children, youth, and families dealing with challenges due barriers caused by poverty and mental health issues. Jessica currently works as a Recruitment Specialist, at Foster Forward a non- profit agency whose goal is to empower the lives of those affected by the foster care system. She recruits caring adults to foster, adopt, and mentor children and youth in care. She also facilitates a ten-week training course: Trauma Informed Parenting for Safety and Permanence- Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP) in Spanish for potential Latino foster families. Jessica’s ultimate goal is to bring equitable and structural changes in education and the criminal justice system. However, she understands that revolutions take time and is laying the foundation for change through daily practices.
For over a year she has been mentoring a youth who aged out of foster care through the Real Connections Mentoring Program. She has also volunteered in the Pivot the Hustle Program at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies teaching work readiness to incarcerated men. She is lead on the Race and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion Design Lab at Foster Forward, a project dedicated to bring racial equity for youth in foster care. She also serves as president of the Juvenile Justice Hearing Board in Central Falls working to keep youth from entering into the judicial system.
Jessica is also a member of the Democratic Women’s Caucus in hopes to bring inclusion to people of color in the political sector. Jessica is currently working on her Master’s in Community Development at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies and plans on enrolling in a PhD. program once she graduates.
Katie is a lifelong Rhode Islander and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island, which she attended for both her undergraduate and graduate education. Katie's work and service experiences at URI greatly influenced her career path and desire to work for mission-driven organizations that seek to change systems. Since completing her BA in 2008, she has worked for several nonprofits, including the RI Association for the Education of Young Children, on a project to promote access to high quality early childhood education; the Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America at URI on the SNAP Outreach Project, which supports access to nutrition assistance for low-income individuals and families; and most recently, at the Housing Network of RI on a new initiative to increase the production and preservation of safe, healthy, and affordable housing across the state and equitably reduce the housing cost burden for low and moderate income Rhode Islanders. Katie has also volunteered as a street outreach worker with the RI Homeless Advocacy Project for the past two years. In 2015, she completed a Masters Program at URI in Public Administration with a certificate in Labor Studies.
Katie believes in constant growth and the necessity of examining how her race, class, and gender privileges shape her daily life. She is interested in building her advocacy skills through the NLC Institute.
Katie currently lives in Warwick and in her free time enjoys taking long walks at local parks with her dog Max, kickboxing, and, though you wouldn't know it if you visited, cleaning and organizing her home.
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