Neighborhood Fellows Program
The Neighborhood Fellows (NF) program recruits up to five experienced urban leaders each year to UEP's mid-career Master in Public Policy (MPP) program. Fellows are individuals from underrepresented groups, who – by reason of their background, culture, socioeconomic status, work and/or life experiences – already have deep experience working 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 MPP degree. Fellows must demonstrate deep experience and significant leadership in their work with urban communities. The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation is providing additional financial support to Tufts that covers some costs related to books, fees, and living expenses for Neighborhood Fellows.
To be considered for the Neighborhood Fellows program, applicants must first apply to and be admitted to the mid-career Master of Public Policy program.
2022 MPP Neighborhood Fellows
Jenny Lau is a social equity practitioner with over 15 years of experience. She is committed to a world where people can be their full selves and in harmony with other beings. She was most recently the Director of Programs and Outreach at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program. Previously, she advanced women in politics with the Barbara Lee Family Foundation/Political Office and the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Jenny began her work at the Chinese Progressive Association as a Civic Action and Worker Center Organizer. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in American studies and community health from Tufts University. She was a Community Fellow at the Institute for Nonprofit Practice and a 2014 New Leaders Council Fellow.
Darlene Lombos is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council (GBLC) and the first woman and person of color to be elected in this top leadership position. The GBLC represents over 100,000 union members and their families in the region. Before GBLC, she was Executive Director of Community Labor United (CLU), a partnership of unions and community organizations that protects and promotes the interests of working class families and communities of color in Greater Boston. Darlene has been organizing since 1996, including police accountability and home daycare justice at Direct Action for Rights and Equality in Providence, RI as well as transportation equity, gentrification and displacement, and education reform at Sisters in Action for Power in Portland, OR.
Juan Maldonado is Associate Director at Sociedad Latina, a youth development organization creating the next generation of Latinx leaders who are confident, competent, self-sustaining and proud of their cultural heritage. Juan earned his undergraduate degree in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music. Prior to Sociedad Latina, he founded and directed a music school near Boston. He is a skilled musician, appearing in events such as the Monterey Jazz Festival, Bean Town Jazz Festival, Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, Sarasota Jazz Festival, and Heineken Jazz Festival. In 2014, Juan was awarded the Berklee Urban Service Award. He sits on committees for Boston After School & Beyond and the Massachusetts Immigrant Collaborative.
Kadineyse Paz is a policy professional with experience in housing, education, and environmental justice. She is a Boston native passionate about working from a social change and equity lens. She is a Posse alumna and Bryn Mawr College graduate with a degree in Growth and Structure of Cities and environmental studies minor. She is Program Manager for the Family-Led Stability Initiative at Higher Ground, which leverages partnerships to support homeless families and students. Kadineyse has worked in environmental justice policy for Clean Water Action, housing policy with the Boston Tenant Coalition, and in education as the Dean of Enrichment at Codman Academy Charter Public School. In 2021, she received the Fair Housing Open Door Champions Award from the Citizens Housing and Planning Association.
Vernon K. Walker
Reverend Vernon K. Walker is the Program Director of Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW), where has served since 2019. His responsibilities include leading strategic planning, fund raising, providing thoughtful leadership, and managing staff. Under his leadership, CREW has grown a national network of Climate Resilience Hubs. Prior to CREW, he has been an associate pastor, political faith organizer, and case manager. Rev. Walker's public policy interests lie at the intersection of environmental justice, social justice, and racial justice. Originally from Philadelphia, he earned a BS in Organizational Leadership from Penn State University and a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University.
2021 MPP Neighborhood Fellows
Elvis Méndez is the Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts. Elvis previously led organizing efforts for the National Guestworker Alliance, Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative and Warehouse Workers for Justice. He has a bachelor’s degree in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Elvis was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts. He lives in Northampton with his wife and daughter.
Monique Tú Nguyen
Monique Tú Nguyen is a passionate change-maker on the leading edge of social justice. She is the Executive Director of Matahari Women Workers’ Center which is making strides in advancing rights for low-wage workers, women, immigrants, and their families and is largely known for their leadership in passing the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2014. As a skilled facilitator, strategist, and community organizer she has spoken on women’s leadership and empowerment, community base-building, workers’ rights, racial justice, and immigrant rights at events and in the media. She recently received the 2021 Immigrant Hero Award from Immigrant Learning Center, was selected as a 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Fellow, and was a 2018 Move to End Violence Movement Maker.
Daphne Principe-Griffin is Chief of Staff for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. She brings more than 25 years of experience addressing issues of equity and reducing opportunity gaps for children, youth, and families in underserved communities both locally and nationally. She has served as the Executive Director of Scholar Athletes, a state-wide youth-serving organization and as Boston’s first Latino-American appointed Chief of Human Services in the Menino Administration overseeing seven city departments with a combined budget of over $29 million. Prior to her career in the Mayor’s Cabinet, she was the Executive Director of Boston Center for Youth & Families, Boston’s largest public human service agency. She also served as the Executive Director of the Blue Hill Club, Boys & Girls Club of Boston. Principe-Griffin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. She is originally from Puerto Rico and is the proud mother of two daughters.
Elliot Rivera is a first-generation Salvadoran from Worcester Massachusetts, and presently calls Providence, Rhode Island home. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Youth In Action in Providence, focusing on the intersection of healing, leadership, and collective positive social change work through the development of BIPOC youth. He brings extensive experience as a non-profit executive, researcher, fundraiser, manager, evaluator, educator and community organizer in a myriad of settings (non-profit, municipalities, public education, higher education, community based and health care). He was a founder and Associate Researcher & Evaluator at the Collaborative For Youth & Community Justice, centering the power of youth and communities in research. Currently he serves on the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island After School Network and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of RI. Elliot’s focus through his studies is developing intergenerational access and knowledge on policy and power to create long term, community led positive social change.
Reginauld “Reggie” Williams
Reginauld “Reggie” Williams is a strategic communications executive with over a decade of advocacy, content strategy, and media relations experience. Currently, Reggie serves as the director of communications at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a leading think tank advancing racial and economic justice through equitable policy solutions. Prior to joining MassBudget, Reggie held roles on the Innovation and Government & Regulatory Affairs teams at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and served as development director at the Transformative Culture Project. As a small business advisor, Reggie leverages design thinking to train entrepreneurs to explore ideas and develop go-to-market strategies with the Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative. Reggie attended Morehouse College where he studied international relations and ethical leadership and graduated Cum Laude from Endicott College with a BA in Liberal Studies. In his commitment to philanthropy in service, Reggie serves on the President’s Council for the Dimock Center.
Hajar Logan has more than two decades of experience as a chief officer and operations executive in several social enterprises, businesses and nonprofit organizations and as a business and organizational development consultant. In 2017, Ms. Logan became a community organizer at New England United for Justice, where she focused on real estate development and civic design that is transforming neighborhoods and displacing families. In 2019, Ms. Logan became the Climate and Transit-Oriented Development Director at Alternatives for Community and Environment, where she organized the local community to build programs that demand just impacts from neighborhood redesign and transit-oriented development.
Kimberly R. Lyle
Kimberly R. Lyle is the Director of Strategy and Development at Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation. Kimberly previously worked in financial services, tech, and higher education. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Rutgers University, and she completed graduate coursework in social anthropology at Harvard University. A proud native of the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston, Kimberly has previously served on the board of the Roxbury Neighborhood Council. She serves on the boards of Cooperative Fund New England (CFNE) and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC). Her policy interests are at the intersections of race, social policy, housing, economic development. Kimberly is particularly interested in understanding policy opportunities for reparations to redress the harms done to African Americans by the United States.
Fidel Maltez is the Commissioner of Public Works for the City of Chelsea. Fidel has been with the City of Chelsea since 2017 and oversees all municipal construction as well as all public works related areas for Chelsea. Prior to Chelsea, Fidel spent 13 years with Cintas Corporation, 3 of which were spent in China as the Regional Engineering Manager. Fidel holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Lafayette College. Fidel is originally from Managua, Nicaragua. Fidel is married to Maria Belen Power, an MPP graduate and has two daughters, Maya (7) and Ana Victoria.
Paola Pelletier-Ozuna serves as the Cambridge Program Director at Enroot, where she supports and empowers 120 immigrant high school youth. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Paola moved to the United States over a decade ago. She earned a degree in 2013 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Latin American Studies. Upon graduation, Paola became a labor union organizer with UNITE HERE Local 26. Additionally, she worked as a paralegal at the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. Paola gained experience in project management and fundraising in the nonprofit sector at Be The Change, Inc. and Artists For Humanity. Paola is interested in using policy to improve the lives of BIPOC and disenfranchised communities through the study of economic development, housing policy, and urban planning.
Lueteshia Raymond has over a decade of experience in public housing administration with the Boston Housing Authority. In her current role as Special Assistant, Lueteshia works to implement strategic initiatives and systematic tools to strengthen resident engagement and create opportunities for greater self-sufficiency. Lueteshia is a lifelong Boston resident and her interest lies in understanding the disparities in Boston communities and creating opportunities to enhance the quality of life and economic mobility of underserved families. Outside of work, Lueteshia is an avid traveler and enjoys experiencing diverse cultures. Lueteshia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Suffolk University and a Juris Doctor from New England School of Law. Lueteshia is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.
Juan Bonilla is Deputy Director of Lawrence CommunityWorks, Inc. in Lawrence, MA. He joined LCW in 2004 and as the organization’s first housing counselor. Prior to LCW, Juan served as a Financial Services Representative and Compliance Officer at MassMutual Financial Group. He brings over 17 years of experience in management, personal finance, housing and economic empowerment initiatives. He holds dual Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Spanish from Bowdoin College and is a graduate of the Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership certificate program (now the Institute for Nonprofit Practice at Tufts University). Juan sits on the board of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) and is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank Community Advisory Council. Born in Puerto Rico, he came to Lawrence at age 9 and grew up in the City. As an MPP student, Juan is interested in digging deeper into policies that promote and hinder the upward economic mobility and financial well-being of low-to-moderate income, minority and immigrant individuals and families.
Georgiana Chevry is a higher education administrator with 15 years’ program development experience in student and academic affairs. She has a demonstrated commitment and success working with diverse staff, faculty, employer, and student populations in the following federal and regional workforce development initiatives: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
(WIOA), Success Boston, Massachusetts Life Science Internship Challenge, Mass Clean Energy and Hack Diversity. A longtime resident of Medford, Georgiana is also the two-time governor -appointed Commissioner of Medford Housing Authority. Her public policy interest lies at the intersection of education, economics and public housing.
Genie Polycarpe-Nortelus is Deputy Director of Civil Rights Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. Genie is responsible for cultivating a work and learning environment that encourages and supports diversity. Genie has developed and incorporated inclusion initiatives, such as organization-wide diversity training and multicultural events. Genie has been charged with creating strategies to recruit a diverse workforce. In some cases, this includes ensuring that the Commonwealth complies with affirmative action or equal employment opportunity regulations. Genie has also identified areas where the Commonwealth has lacked in multiculturalism and minority support. Genie also investigates and rectifies any charges of discrimination or harassment. Genie is currently working on the barriers of transportation and housing and how it affects individuals with disabilities. Genie is currently developing an action plan to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Aliesha J. Porcena
Aliesha J. Porcena currently serves as the Senior Manager for the Emerging Leaders Initiative in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration at Interise. Aliesha helps 60 locations throughout the U.S. and its territories find and recruit small business owners from low and moderate income communities to develop their success infrastructure by providing innovative support, consultative resources, and programmatic information in order to achieve accelerated growth. Aliesha is passionate about leveraging local community capacity through entrepreneurship. health, education, and civic empowerment to uplift communities. She brings over 7 years of development, relationship management, and public health experience, which are essential to her ability to advocate and transform underserved communities. Prior to joining Interise, she worked in several capacities for Partners In Health. Most recently, she served as the Haiti Development Associate. A Boston native, Aliesha graduated Cum Laude from Northeastern University with a BA in Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies. In her graduate studies, Aliesha is interested in social policy and the intersection of poverty, policy, and health in communities of color.
Dana Rebeiro is finishing her third term as a New Bedford City Councilor (Ward 4). Dana attended Howard University in Washington D.C. where she majored in literature and double minored in communications and political science. Following college, she worked in the film and entertainment industry, producing films, music videos, commercials, and television shows. She also worked as a media liaison for a production company that produced concerts and as an associate editor for High Times magazine in New York City, where she also became involved with radio. She then returned home to New Bedford, during a rash of unsolved shootings. She produced a feature documentary and several shorts in an effort to spark change. She ran two unsuccessful campaigns for Ward 4 City Councilor before being elected. After 3 terms, she decided not to seek re-election, as she believes in term limits. As a Councilor, she helped bring refrigeration to the Pier allowing longshoreman to work throughout the year, added a bus route along the fisheries after she learned immigrants were being targeted for robberies, and wrote an ordinance that allows the city to be able to issue licenses for the ever growing aquaculture industry.
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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 BA from Bryn Mawr College and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.
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 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.
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 Winnisimmet Regional Opioid 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 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 BA 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 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 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.