Neighborhood Fellows

The Neighborhood Fellows (NF) program recruits up to five experienced urban leaders each year to UEP's mid-career Master in Public Policy (M.P.P.) program. Its objective is to increase enrollment among people of color who work in urban communities in Boston and surrounding cities on issues of urban community politics, economics, education, housing, and social life. Fellows receive a full-tuition waiver for the M.P.P. degree. Fellows must demonstrate deep experience and significant leadership in their work with urban communities.

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Past Fellows include (current positions):
  • John Barros, Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston
  • Elaine Ng, Strategic Planning Director, Special Education, Boston Public Schools
  • Alexandra Oliver-Davila, Executive Director, Sociedad Latina
  • Robert Terrell, Executive Director, Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston

2018 Fellows
Anthony Britt Anthony Britt is the Senior Program Manager for Economic Mobility Workforce Grants at Commonwealth Corporation. In this role, he manages a portfolio of public-private partnerships that prepare people who are unemployed or underemployed for in-demand jobs and address the immediate and emerging needs of businesses and communities. Anthony serves as a youth mentor and as a board member on the Malden Cultural Council and Young Education Professionals Boston. He is also affiliated with the Mel King Institute, New Leaders Council, and SPARK Boston. Previously, he held various roles in K-12 education in Mississippi and Massachusetts, most recently as an instructional coach and director at City Year Boston. Anthony grew up in Maine and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Government from Harvard and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice. Anthony's policy interests include improving access to education and housing, and he is dedicated to building an equitable society through systemic solutions and social supports that enable individuals and families to thrive in a changing economy.
Regina (Gina) D. Cooper Benjamin Regina (Gina) D. Cooper Benjamin is a technologist who advocates for women in technology and wants to see more diversity, inclusion, and equity in the tech field. Regina is the Director of Technology and Information Systems at Bridge Over Troubled Waters, an organization working to end youth homelessness. In addition to her daily work, Regina partners with other community organizations to bring opportunities for the youth of Bridge to learn to code. She enjoys planning youth hackathons on civic engagement and technology. Regina graduated from Wellesley College, as a Davis Scholar, where she majored in Political Science. Before starting her Master of Public Policy, she received a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice (conferred by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University).
Monica L. Dean Monica L. Dean is Vice President of Resident Services at Opportunity Communities (OppCo), a new non-profit founded by two Community Development Corporations - Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation in Roxbury, MA and The Neighborhood Developers (TND) in Chelsea, MA. She is responsible for overseeing OppCo's resident services program for families in Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester, South End, Chelsea, and Revere. Monica has been involved with politics, mental health counseling and community organizing for the past twenty years. Originally from Washington, D.C., Monica's research interests include exploring the impact the affordable housing policy has on low-income families and ex-offenders with felony convictions. She is currently on the Board of Directors at La Alianza Hispana, and Chair of the Women In the NAACP (WIN) Committee for the NAACP Boston. Monica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Johnson C. Smith University and a Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling degree from UMASS Boston.
Vanny Huot Vanny Huot is a Khmer refugee, community connector, mentor, and longtime resident of Revere, MA. She graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies. During her time in undergrad, she spent a semester in Khon Kaen, Thailand studying Development and Globalization. She returned home and became a paralegal. She would eventually leave her paralegal career to fully immerse in herself in community work by volunteering at two local non-profit organizations, both serving the low income and immigrant population: Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) and The Neighborhood Developers (TND), a community development corporation. In 2014, Vanny formally accepted a position with TND as their Revere Community Engagement Manager. Vanny recently left TND to pursue the UEP program full time with the hope to elevate her skills in community building, creative placemaking, small business technical assistance, and affordable housing organizing. She is interested in deepening her understanding of community economic development, housing and land use policies.
Teena Marie Johnson Teena Marie Johnson is a proud graduate of Madison Park High School with a certificate in Automotive Technology. She holds a degree BSBA in Public Administration from Suffolk University. She has spent the last 12 years working with and as a young person to increase youth engagement in Public Education Policy decisions and implementation across the City of Boston. She is passionate about Youth Leadership, Restorative Justice Practices, and Indigenous Teachings. She has previously worked with the Cambridge Housing Authority as an Assistant Affordable Housing Finance Planner. She is currently working as an Implementation Consultant through the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University. In her role she is working with five Boston Public Schools to implement Restorative Practices as a whole school approach to Positive school culture and climate. She is also working with The Boston Ujima Project as the Member organizer to build infrastructure to support and hold varied forms of membership participation. Her policy interests include radical democratic governance structures using restorative justice approaches to community engagement.
2017 Fellows
Nelson Butten Nelson Butten emigrated to Lawrence, Massachusetts from Dominican Republic in 1993. He has over 20 years of experience in community development and organizing. He started his career in the non-profit sector as an AmeriCorps member and is currently the Director of Community, Family, and Student Engagement at Lawrence Public Schools. Prior to working for Lawrence Public Schools, he was the Director of Community Organizing and then a Co-Executive Director at Lawrence CommunityWorks, a very active and respected community development corporation in the City of Lawrence. Nelson earned a Bachelor's degree from Cambridge College.
Hakim Cunningham Hakim Cunningham is a very experienced community organizer, operations manager and organizational development consultant with a proven track record of developing effective governance for grassroots social justice groups. He has worked on very complex issues for over a decade in the nonprofit sector from direct services implementation, criminal justice reform, workforce development, economic justice, and environmental injustices. Hakim has spent the past 6 years working in the community with Boston Workers Alliance and the Boston Jobs Coalition. Hakim also holds a degree in Social Science from Roxbury Community College and a Bachelor's degree in Management & Entrepreneurship from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University.
Shani Fletcher Shani Fletcher has pursued a career path that included bookselling, conference organizing, youth work, grant writing, and urban farming. Throughout her professional life, she has been committed to the social justice community of Eastern Massachusetts. She spent ten years in the youth development field, seven of them focused on raising funds through grantseeking. She then realized that her dual passions for social justice and gardening could be combined through a career in food justice. She became an urban farmer at ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester, serving first as the Grower and then as the Farm Manager. She has served on the Board of Directors of Reflect and Strengthen, helped launch the Food & Land Team of Alternatives for Community and Environment, and graduated from LeadBoston, a social justice leadership development program for upcoming Boston professionals. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology at Wellesley College.
Trina Jackson Trina Jackson has nearly 20 years of community-based experience as an organizer, facilitator, and strategist in the social justice movement. As the Practice Leader for Community Engagement at TSNE MissionWorks, she directs the Inclusion Initiative, which funds racial and economic justice work within communities of color. She is also a founding member of the Network for Immigrant and African-American Solidarity (NIAAS), the Women of Color Roundtable for Reproductive Justice, and Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. She is the producer of Grown By Herself, a multimedia project honoring the gardening traditions of black women. Trina serves on the boards of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition and the Center for Story-based Strategy and on the national steering committee of the Black Immigration Network. Trina earned a bachelor's degree from Goddard College.
Miriam Ortiz Miriam Ortiz is the founder and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Student Immigrant Movement, a statewide youth-led organization which identifies, recruits and develops undocumented students to become politically and civically engaged. Miriam has been involved in community organizing and nonprofit work since moving to the Boston area in 2000. Originally from Mexico, Miriam’s research interests include economic development and higher education access in immigrant communities. Miriam has served various nonprofit organizations in managerial, strategic and operational capacities. Most recently she was the Chief of Staff at Italian Home for Children and Associate Director at Centro Latino, Inc. Miriam holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.
2016 Fellows
Abrigal Forrester Abrigal Forrester is the Director of Community Action at Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC). He is a lifelong resident of Boston and grew up in the Codman Square section of Dorchester, MA. Abrigal attended the University of Massachusetts Boston and acquired a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. Prior to working for MPDC, Abrigal worked for YouthBuild USA as the Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives, managing a national contract from the Department of Labor to serve court-involved youth who attend YouthBuild programs across the country. Over the last 13 years he has also worked for STRIVE, Boston Employment Service Inc.,The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, and the Boston Foundation's StreetSafe Boston Initiative.
Maria Belen Power Maria Belen Power is the Associate Executive Director at GreenRoots Inc., an environmental justice community organization in Chelsea. Prior to GreenRoots, Maria Belen was the Lead Organizer for the Green Space Committee under the Chelsea Collaborative. Growing up in Nicaragua in the aftermath of a revolution, coupled with her work as an organizer in migrant communities, has informed her understanding of social justice and the need for systemic change. Maria Belen's organizing work with undocumented immigrants, day laborers, and public housing tenants has deepened her understanding of economic, social and environmental issues. Maria Belen successfully completed a year-long certificate program with the Institute for Non-profit Management and Leadership.
A. Bayoán Rosselló-Cornier A. Bayoán Rosselló-Cornier has been an organizer since graduating Boston College in 2006. Since 2012, Bayoán has been a community organizer and planner for the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). He has led organizing efforts around community processes for local development projects and the integration of cultural creative placemaking practices. He is also the lead organizer for DSNI's food planning initiative, Dudley Grows. Prior to DSNI, Bayoán spent three years organizing food service workers for UNITE HERE Local 100 in Newark and New York City, and also worked with at-risk youth at Action for Boston Community Development. He spent a year as an English instructor in Bucheon, South Korea.
Mary Wambui Mary Wambui is the Asset Manager at Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC) in Dorchester, MA. She oversees 900 units of housing, scattered across 60 buildings. She sits on the policy committee at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations and on the real estate committee of an affordable housing nonprofit in Lowell, MA. Prior to DBEDC she worked with Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation in Roxbury. Mary is originally from Kenya where she worked as a development officer with Kenya Women Finance Trust, a micro finance agency that worked with women in rural Kenya. Mary received her B.A. from Kenyatta University and moved to the US to study community economic development in 2002. Her passion is to make systems, especially economic systems, work for all people.
2015 Fellows
Dimple J. Rana Dimple J. Rana is the Manager of the Healthy Community Initiatives for the City of Revere, Massachusetts. She co-Manages Revere on the Move, a Mass in Motion healthy eating and active living program, and oversees the Winnismmet Regional Opoid Collaborative, a part of the Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Collaborative. She volunteers as the Executive Director for Revere Youth in Action, a youth leadership program, which she co-founded. She also serves on the board of directors for Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc. and The Neighborhood Developers. Originally from Revere, Dimple is a first generation Gujarati Indian American. Prior to returning to her hometown, she worked as an immigrants' rights organizer and advocate for families and communities facing the injustices of the US deportation system. A graduate of Hofstra University, she is now pursuing her Master of Public Policy at Tufts UEP, focusing on the economic empowerment of gateway cities through a social justice and health equity lens.
Kye Liang Kye Liang was the project coordinator and organizer for the Chinatown Master Plan 2010 and community planning projects in Boston's Chinatown. In 2012, working in collaboration with Friends of the Chinatown Library and the Chinatown Coalition, he launched and ran the operations for the Chinatown Lantern library, an experimental model on community participation and private financing to increase public spaces and services for a neighborhood that had lost its library. He has volunteered on city planning and advisory committees for the Harrison-Albany Corridor Study and the South End Ink Block redevelopment, and served on the steering committee for the Boston Alliance for Community Health as the Chinatown coalition representative. He is currently an Audi Brand Specialist after having spent time with Toyota in the mid-2000s. He received his B.A. in community planning from UMass Boston College of Public and Community Service.
Maria I. Ortiz Maria I. Ortiz was born and raised in Boston. She earned a BA in Community Planning from UMass Boston. Maria co-administers the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) in the Boston Public Schools and has demonstrated her commitment to youth leadership and student engagement through a wealth of professional experience serving in several non-profit organizations. Past positions include: Director of Bikes Not Bombs, focused on promoting community based education and projects involving recycled bicycles and environmentally sustainable transportation; Co-Director of Boston Do Something, focused on challenging and supporting young people in their efforts to make Boston a better, more just place to live; and Trainer for Youth on Board, where her work centered around successfully involving youth in decision making within organizations, committees and/or board of directors.
Sibusisiwe Malaba Sibusisiwe Malaba serves as Executive Director for the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus (MBLLC). Raised in Lawrence, MA, she has committed herself to mobilizing low-income communities of color for many years. Upon graduating from Emmanuel College, Sibu began her professional career fundraising for an educational nonprofit designed to raise the achievements of under-performing urban children. She later entered politics as a field organizer for candidates, including Alan Khazei for U.S. Senate, Governor Deval Patrick, and MBLLC member, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. Prior to leading the MBLLC, Sibu served as Legislative Aide to Senator Chang-Diaz where she focused on constituent services, legislation and budget work, and acted as neighborhood liaison for Boston’s Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan neighborhoods.
Kalila Barnett Kalila Barnett is the Executive Director of Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a leading environmental justice organization based in Boston. For over twenty years ACE has worked to build the power of low income communities and communities of color in Massachusetts and in the region. Kalila first got involved with ACE as a volunteer and a member then later served on the board of directors. Kalila has over a decade of experience in community organizing around affordable housing, land development and environmental justice. She is a Roxbury native and lifelong resident of Boston. Kalila graduated from Bates College with a degree in American Studies and Spanish. Prior to assuming this position, Kalila was a Senior Organizer at Community Labor United, and worked at Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and Madison Park Development Corporation. Kalila serves on the boards of Right to the City Alliance, Mass Budget and Policy Center, and The Center for Environmental Health.
2014 Fellows
Suezanne Bruce Suezanne Bruce is a native Bostonian who is committed to human development. With a multi-faceted outlook, she continues to work with organizations that serve culturally diverse individuals and families impacted by socio-economic concerns. Suezanne has a professional history of grassroots organizing, strategic planning, community development, housing advocacy and CORI reform. She also works in the field of mental health services as an independent consultant.
Lauren Hunter Lauren Hunter M.M., SPHR, is Director of Human Resources at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Throughout her career in both the nonprofit, government, and corporate environments, Ms. Hunter has designed, coordinated and managed innovative policies and programs that have made a tremendous impact on local and state economies. Ms. Hunter assisted with the coordination and training for a 10 million dollar per annum Welfare-to-Work project in California for San Diego County, and assisted numerous other states to recoup Federal TANF MOE and Contingency Fund Dollars. She is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Entrepreneurship. She also received her Master of Management Degree in Nonprofit and Public Organization Management from Cambridge College. Ms. Hunter has also earned her Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification.
Marc Henry Germain Marc Henry Germain is a seasoned professional with significant community development, public policy, and international and domestic grantmaking experience. In the Greater Boston area, Marc previously served as the director of the Research and Policy Analysis Division at the MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, associate program officer at The Boston Foundation, project director at the DuBois Institute at Harvard University, and various positions with a number of community-based institutions. Overseas, he has worked with Africare and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on community stabilization and municipal governance projects. He currently works at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) on land use and economic development projects.
Khalida Smalls Khalida Smalls was born and raised in Boston, MA. She is the proud mother of her eighteen year old son, Ziquelle G Smalls. Both enjoy living in their active Jamaica Plain community. From 1997 to 2012, she worked at Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a community based environmental justice organization based in Roxbury, MA. As an ACE organizer, she played a lead role in forming Boston's first public transit riders' union, coordinated campaigns with residents and community allies to fight for transportation justice, and support the development of youth and adult leadership. She is now developing and coordinating the Community Support and Strategic Partnership Program at SEIU Local 32BJ New England District 615 in Boston, MA. Khalida is a 2005 graduate of Springfield College School of Human Services (Boston Campus), with a Bachelors of Science in Human Services.
2013 Fellows
Allentza Michel Allentza Michel is a Boston-based community organizer and social policy advocate. Previously she worked for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), where she served as a Community Liaison for over 30 projects in the metro-Boston region, as well as organizing various public events and providing trainings on community engagement. She also worked for the City of Cambridge's Coordinating Council on Children, Youth, and Families where she supervised the Youth Involvement Subcommittee, a youth civic engagement program recognized by the Cambridge City Council and the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). Allentza is the co-founder of Beantown Society, a multi-award winning youth-led violence prevention program in Boston's Jamaica Plain, and is a steering committee member of URBAN.Boston, a participatory action research network. In 2013, Allentza was selected to as co-chair Boston's first Participatory Budgeting project, representing The City School. She also holds a graduate certificate in non-profit management from Boston University’s School of Management and two BAs in English and Social and Political Systems from Pine Manor College.
Jacqueline Calderón Jacqueline Calderón has a Bachelor's degree in Business Management from Boston University. As a result of working in the homelessness community for over five years, Jacqueline developed a genuine interest Green Affordable Housing and the impact that poorly constructed dwellings have on human health.
Lilly Marcelin Lilly Marcelin is the Founding Director of the Resilient Sisterhood Project (RSP) Boston. RSP is an emerging social justice nonprofit organization dedicated to inform and empower women of African descent regarding common but rarely discussed diseases of the reproductive system that disproportionately affect them.