Kristin Morse | Executive Director
Kristin brings a 25-year commitment to poverty reduction to her leadership role at the Center. She spent much of the last decade leading New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), an incubator of cutting-edge anti-poverty initiatives in the Mayor’s Office that won the prestigious Kennedy School Award for Innovations in American Government. She had a major role in developing programs that doubled the community college graduation rate, dramatically increased services for disconnected and justice-involved youth, and changed the way poverty is measured. She previously worked with local government leaders in Russia and co-authored a textbook on public policy in economies in transition, piloted education reforms in Brooklyn that were adopted by the New York City Department of Education, researched housing and homelessness issues, and developed and administered programs for battered women. Kristin holds a bachelor’s degree from Simon’s Rock of Bard College and is a proud alumna of Milano’s urban policy graduate program at The New School.
Bruce Cory | Editorial Advisor
Bruce provides editorial advice for all the Center’s projects and events. He has written for and about New York City government for close to 30 years. From 2002 until 2014 he was senior speechwriter for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and, briefly, Mayor Bill de Blasio. Before that, he was chief speechwriter for Manhattan Borough Presidents Ruth Messinger and C. Virginia Fields. His extensive knowledge of New York City and its government is rooted in his work on “Immigration in New York,” a path-breaking report for the New York Department of City Planning, and for the 1987-89 New York City Charter Revision Commission, for which he wrote and edited newsletters, op-eds, and other publications explaining the most extensive overhaul of city government in a generation. His reporting has appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, Texas Monthly, Texas Observer, and other publications. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Von Diaz | Food Editor, Feet in 2 Worlds
Von is a writer, radio producer and self-taught cook who explores Puerto Rican food, culture and identity through memoir and multimedia. Her work has been featured on NPR, American Public Media, StoryCorps, WNYC, PRI’s The World, BuzzFeed, Colorlines, and Feet in 2 Worlds. She is currently a producer at StoryCorps. Previously, she was editor of Feet in 2 Worlds, which brings the work of immigrant and ethnic media journalists from communities across the U.S. to public radio and the web. Von holds a dual master’s in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies from New York University, and a bachelor’s in women’s studies from Agnes Scott College. She was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.
Milan Gary | UX/UI, Graphic Designer
Milan is an UX/UI designer for the Center for New York City Affairs working on promotional design materials and website management. She received her Bachelor degree in Fine Arts and Art History from The George Washington University. This past year, Milan was living, teaching, and doing design work in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She has a broad range of experiences which include working in Smithsonian museums, an International Broadcast center, and a Design agency. Her passion lies in art, technology, and travel. Milan is fluent in Spanish and has lived in Costa Rica, Chile, and Vietnam. She is now pursuing an MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons, The New School for Design.
Jocelyn Gonzales | Senior Producer and Technical Director, Feet in 2 Worlds
Jocelyn Gonzales is technical director of Feet in 2 Worlds and co-producer of the Fi2W podcast. She teaches sound design and supervises first-year film production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She produces The New York Times Book Review, Music Popcast and Times Insider podcasts, and was one of the sound designers for the Modern Love animated series on NYT Video. As a public radio reporter and producer, her work has appeared on WNYC, Studio 360, Soundcheck, Marketplace, Weekend America, Sound Money, Radiolab, Musicians Radio and Minnesota Public Radio. She works in post-sound for short films and film documentaries. Gonzales helped launch the Soundworks podcast network for PRI Public Radio International, and has presented workshop sessions for Feet in 2 Worlds, NYU Abu Dhabi, NYS Youth Leadership Council, School of Visual Arts, CORO Immigrant Civic Leadership Program, and the AIR Full Spectrum Storytelling Intensive at Union Docs.
Clara Hemphill | Director of Education Policy and Insideschools
Clara is the founder of the Insideschools website. She leads the Center's policy work on economic segregation of the city's schools, examining why there are schools with high concentrations of poverty even in mixed income neighborhoods. The New York Times called her three books designed to help parents choose good public elementary, middle, and high schools for their children “the most definitive guides” to the city’s schools. New York magazine called her one of the 200 most “influential” New Yorkers for her work “empowering parents.” As a reporter and editorial writer for New York Newsday, she shared the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. New York magazine called her writing on the homeless “worthy of Dickens.” She was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and a producer for CBS News based in Rome. Clara lives in Manhattan with her husband, Robert Snyder. Their two children, now grown, attended New York City public schools from kindergarten through high school.
Yuchen Huang | UI&UX Designer for insideschools.org
Yuchen is a web designer who works to improve the user experience and accessibility of the insideschools.org website. He received his MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons the New School for Design in 2018. He also has a degree in software engineering from Tongji University in Shanghai, China. He is passionate about the InsideSchools project and believes that InsideSchools can help thousands of students in New York City to find the best schools for them.
Abigail Kramer | Editor
Abigail specializes in policy issues impacting low-income children, youth and families in New York City—especially those in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. Her research and advocacy work, along with that of her colleagues, has led to major policy reforms in child welfare and early education. Before turning to journalism and advocacy, she worked for several years with homeless youth and young people involved in the criminal justice system in California. Abigail holds a bachelor’s in comparative studies in race and ethnicity from Stanford University and a master’s in journalism from New York University. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Salon.com, the Daily News, Politico New York, City & State and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Nicole Mader | Senior Research Fellow
Nicole manages the statistical data on Insideschools and contributes research, analysis and data visualization to the Center’s k-12 education policy research projects. Before coming to the Center, she taught high school social studies for six years at Samuel Gompers CTE High School in the South Bronx and Lyons Community School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She holds a master’s in secondary social studies education from Fordham University and a bachelor’s in political science from Davidson College. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in public and urban policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School, where her focus is on the potential for integrated student supports to reduce the impact of poverty on educational outcomes in New York City public schools.
Joyce McMillan | Visiting Fellow
Joyce McMillan is a thought leader, advocate, activist, community organizer, and educator. Her mission is to remove systemic barriers in communities of color by bringing awareness of the racial disparities in systems where people of color are disproportionately affected. Joyce leads child welfare family engagement and advocacy efforts at Sinergia. She sits on several committees, is an active member of The West Harlem Democrats, and a board member of New York State Families Together. As a visiting fellow at the Center, Joyce is leading a series of public events and exploring ways to further strengthen parent voices in the child welfare system.
Kim Nauer | Education Research Director
Kim founded the Center for New York City Affairs Schools Watch Initiative, a project focused on creating a more effective school system for the city’s most disadvantaged students. She also assists Insideschools with research and data analysis. Kim has co-authored major reports on New York City school administration and accountability, high school reform, chronic absenteeism, college preparation and Common Core implementation. She is the lead author of “FAFSA: The How-To Guide for High School Students,” which has been distributed to more than 85,000 students in New York City and nationwide. Before joining the Center, Kim directed strategic initiatives at The Nation Institute. Kim was also executive director of City Limits magazine and the Center for an Urban Future and an award-winning journalist for many years prior. Kim earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Connecticut and a master's degree at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Anne Noyes Saini | Food Editor, Feet in 2 Worlds
Anne produces The Sporkful food podcast at WNYC and is co-creator of the MOTHER podcast. She covers food culture, immigration, women and the elderly in New York City — especially in Queens, where she lives. She has contributed to The New York Times, Latino USA, PRI: The World, Narratively, Serious Eats, and VICE, among others. She has a bachelor’s in English from Smith College and a master’s in journalism from New York University.
Tamara Oyola-Santiago | Senior Director & Mentor at the Institute for Transformative Mentoring (ITM)
Tamara Oyola-Santiago is Senior Director & Mentor at the Institute for Transformative Mentoring (ITM). She is a public health educator and activist who specializes in harm reduction. After earning graduate degrees in Public Health and Latin American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Tamara joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a Presidential Management Fellow. Since 2009, she has been part of The New School, working with students to mobilize for social justice, equity and liberatory practices of education. Areas of life work include harm reduction services grounded in social justice in Puerto Rico and New York City, HIV/AIDS de-criminalization, self-determination and anti-colonial practices, Queer liberation and LGTBQIAGNC health. She is co-founder of Bronx Móvil, a fully bilingual (Spanish-English) mobile harm reduction and syringe services program that strives for drug user health and mobilization. Tamara is also part of the What Would an HIV Doula Do collective, a community of people joined in response to the ongoing AIDS Crisis.
Keyonn Sheppard | Youth Program Facilitator, Institute for Transformative Mentoring
Keyonn Sheppard is the Youth Program Facilitator for the Institute for Transformative Mentoring, where he leads ITM’s Youth Program. Keyonn most recently was the lead mentor at the Harlem Justice Community Program (HJCP) and with the ARCHES/Next Steps programs in the South Bronx, both of which focus on anti-recidivism. Keyonn’s career spans 30 years, beginning as a founding member of the Citykids Repertory Company. He is the former Leadership Training Coordinator for the IMPACT Repertory Theatre Company in Harlem. Keyonn also serves as the Assistant Pastor of the New Beginnings Tabernacle of Deliverance in Brownsville, Brooklyn. When Keyonn isn’t mentoring youth in his programs or at his church, he is a proud husband and father of three beautiful children.
James Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies
James brings to the Center over 30 years of experience in New York City economic and fiscal issues from positions in city and state government and the private sector. Most recently he was deputy director and chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute. He regularly analyzes the city’s economy and job market and has written extensively on topics including income inequality and the City and State budgets and tax policies. His research helped bring over $20 million in federal funds to New York following 9/11 to aid dislocated workers, and he coordinated the economic research in support of New York State’s $15 minimum wage policies adopted in 2015 and 2016. He has been one of the leaders in the citywide campaign to raise wages for nonprofit workers providing services under government contract. James is a frequent media commentator on economic and fiscal issues, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times and The American Prospect. He has served on various city and state task forces and advisory bodies, including on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tax Reform and Fairness Commission. James received his B.A. in American Studies from Illinois Wesleyan University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has taught public policy and labor economics at CUNY institutions.
Melanie Quiroz | Research Assistant, Graphic Designer
Melanie is an Education Policy Data Analyst at the Center, assisting with data management for InsideSchools. She is currently pursuing her BA in Urban Studies through BPATS and an MS in Public and Urban Policy through Milano, through the Bachelor’s Master’s program at The New School. Prior to her arrival at The New School, Melanie studied at Columbia University and is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy. She worked at the educational non-profit Prep for Prep as a student advisor, helping high-achieving, disadvantaged, minority NYC middle school students transition to independent day and boarding schools, both socially and academically, and is an alumna of the program herself. Melanie has also worked in Community Outreach at Target through their Human Resources department, and is currently a Respite Service Coordinator at the non-profit Human First, providing in-home support services to adult individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
Sajjadur Rahman | Program Director, Institute for Transformative Mentoring
Saj Rahman directs the Institute for Transformative Mentoring, a training program for Credible Messengers who use their experience to work with young adults to reduce incarceration and violence. Saj has more than a decade of experience in youth development, community based research, curriculum development, advocacy and non-profit management. Saj has designed and implemented programs in New York City that foster personal transformation and build leadership skills among formerly incarcerated credible messengers. Saj previously served as the founding director of Arches Alumni Academy for Advancement at Community Connections for Youth. Saj graduated with a bachelor and master’s degrees in Psychology from Wesleyan University. He received the 2006 Holzberg Fellowship in Clinical and Community Psychology.
Lydie Raschka | Writer and Reporter, Insideschools.org
Lydie reviews schools and writes for the Insideschools blog. She is a graduate of Bank Street College and is interested in education in all its forms. With Clara Hemphill, she co-authored a 2015 report called “Conquering Teachers’ Math Anxiety.” Lydie is a former public school teacher (grades 1-3) and continues to work as a Montessori teacher-trainer during the summers. Her son attended public school in Manhattan. As a teacher, parent, writer and consultant she has been inside hundreds of New York City schools.
John Rudolph | Executive Producer, Feet in 2 Worlds
John created Fi2W to bring the work of immigrant and ethnic media journalists and underreported stories from immigrant communities to audiences on public radio and online. He has been a radio journalist for four decades, working as a program host, reporter, editor and producer of documentaries, podcasts and news reports. John has covered a wide range of subjects, including presidential election campaigns and global environmental issues, for National Public Radio and Monitor Radio (the broadcast service of the Christian Science Monitor). After the attacks on 9/11 he led a team of more than 50 journalists and audio engineers to produce a series of hour-long, six-month-after documentaries. His work has won numerous journalism awards including multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for programs produced by Feet in 2 Worlds. John developed a journalism course based on Feet in 2 Worlds for graduate-level students at The New School, and has taught radio journalism at Boston University.
Rachel Stevens | Social Media Director, Feet in 2 Worlds
Rachel initially joined Feet in 2 Worlds as an immigration lab intern in 2015 to support Feet in 2 Worlds’ partnership with Americas Quarterly, a Latin American policy magazine published by Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Upon completion of the internship, she transitioned to a role coordinating Feet in 2 Worlds’ social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Rachel became passionate about immigration issues while working with a large number of immigrants as a case manager at Clinica Family Health Services, a community health center in Adams County, Colorado. Rachel is fluent in Spanish and has lived in Spain, Costa Rica, and Zambia. She is currently pursuing a master’s in international affairs with a concentration in media and culture at The New School.
Kamille Vargas | Assistant Director of Operations
Kamille is the Assistant Director of Operations for the Center for New York City Affairs where she manages grant funds and expenses, manages the independent and vendor contracts, and supervises the events and design teams. Kamille brings six years of nonprofit administrative experience to the Center. Previously, Kamille has served as the Care Navigator at Housing Works Health Home where she regularly managed client intake and assessments. She has also held the position of Human Resources Office Manager for Madison Strategies Group where she assisted with the hiring, payroll, and benefits administration. In this role, she also implemented and managed the volunteer program by establishing connections with agencies, managing the workflow of volunteers, and their schedules. Kamille obtained her Master in Business Administration from Capella University with a concentration in Human Resources and received a Bachelor of Art from Iona College in Speech Communication.
Jacqueline Wayans | Contributor, Insideschools.org
Jacquie is the outreach coordinator and on-camera voice of Insideschools. She offers workshops and advice for parents on school choice. She is a co-author of the “New York City Best Public School” guides and has visited more than 350 city schools. Most important, she is the mom of three children who’ve all successfully completed their education in New York City public schools. Her passion is to inform low-income and minority communities about all of the options available to them.
Ben (Cincere) Wilson | Program Assistant, Institute for Transformative Mentoring
Ben Wilson is a Program Assistant for the Institute for Transformative Mentoring, where he leads trainings, offers college and career counseling, and coordinates program operations. He also serves as a high school equivalency instructor at Exodus Transitional Community Inc. and has personal experience with the criminal justice system. For over 15 years, he has facilitated GED, mentoring, poetry, and theater programs in correctional facilities. He designed a creative writing course with the primary focus on college prep. As a mentor, Ben has helped young men navigate the pitfalls of the street life that leads to prison by helping them focus on formal and informal educational pursuits. While helping these young men, he won an “Honorable Mention” award for his submission to the prestigious PEN Prison Writing contest (2015). Ben obtained a bachelor’s degree from Bard College.
Laura Zingmond | Senior Editor, Insideschools.org
Laura reviews schools, writes for the Insideschools blog, advises parents on school choice, and contributes to policy research for Insideschools and the Center. She has visited hundreds of schools across the city and led the research on middle and high schools for a multiyear project evaluating science and math instruction. Previously, Laura worked as a litigation attorney and administrative law judge. Since 2014, she has served as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s appointee to the New York City Panel for Educational Policy. Laura is a lifelong New Yorker and her two children are the fourth generation in her family to have attended the city’s public schools. She holds a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.