Meet the Ambassadors

Alen Amini currently serves as the Executive Director of CMEF. Previously, he taught as a Teach For America corps member and served as an assistant principal at Lakeside High School in Arkansas. He also served as the director of the Southeast Arkansas Community Foundation, disseminating funds to local charities, and he worked with the Mayor’s Office in Greenville, Mississippi to establish the Go Greenville! Program, placing college students at organizations for 10 week internships. In his free time, Alen enjoys playing basketball and reading. He will be attending The Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the fall to study Public Policy. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Amanda Smidt Panciera was raised in Waukesha, WI in a family of police officers, paramedics, and nurses, so public service is a fundamental value of Amanda's life. Following her graduation from the University of Nebraska, Amanda served two years with City Year Providence in 2009 and 2010 and continued working in youth development after her AmeriCorps term. Her role as City Year Providence’s Alumni Board Chair furthered her passion for catalyzing alumni as leaders of transformative change, and she now leads City Year's national career services program. She has served on the leadership teams of Boston GLOW: Ignite the Nite and AmeriCorps Alums - Milwaukee, and spent nearly a decade regularly volunteering with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  Amanda and her husband, also an AmeriCorps alumnus, recently chose to move to Milwaukee because they believe in its potential and love the community and culture. When she's not working to advance national service, she's listening to podcasts, playing with her dogs, thinking about puns, and attending some of the many amazing events and festivals in the Cream City.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Anna Lenhart is the founder of the Next Generation of Service, an alternative career center for recent graduates interested in service years. She became passionate about young people and the role service can play in their lives after completing a term as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Shakti Rising, a social change organization.  Her year of service was transformative both personally and professionally, altering her perspective on what matters in life and highlighting her natural skill set. She is a certified “Dharma” Coach – trained to help others in self-discovery – and has studied empowerment techniques for over 5 years. Anna graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BA in Civil Engineering and Engineering Public Policy. With her Fulbright Grant she studied sustainable waste management practices in Namibian townships. She has since staked a role in the San Diego community as a Salesforce and technology consultant, working primarily with non-profits and start-up companies. Anna is also actively involved with Citizens Climate Lobby and Run Women Run.  She loves surfing, rock climbing, and camping, and has visited 22/53 of the United States National Parks.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Beth Collins is an Appalachian mother and advocate who was born and raised in WV. Her passion for community development and environmental justice was strengthened through her Sociology and Environmental Science degrees from WV Wesleyan College and her time spent in Costa Rica and Nicaragua in 2008. After college, she entered Americorps VISTA for two years with the Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University. Learning and working on Appalachian issues developed a deep passion for her home region, ultimately resulting in obtainment of a Masters degree through Wheeling Jesuit and a position as Director of the Appalachian Institute. Her current work focuses on providing immersion experiences for over 350 students each year, advising student and faculty research on environmental and public health topics, and hosting public events on awareness and advocacy issues pertaining to the region. Beth enjoys organic gardening with her one-year-old daughter at home and at WJU's community garden, going to as many concerts as possible, and binge watching Netflix shows.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Brandon Bodor is co-founder and COO of The Bunker, an entrepreneurial community focused on cultivating early stage businesses led by military veteran entrepreneurs.  The Bunker is headquartered in Chicago, with chapters emerging in cities across the country. Prior to The Bunker, Brandon was appointed by Governor Pat Quinn as Executive Director of the Serve Illinois Commission, administering the AmeriCorps program for the State of Illinois.  A graduate of West Point, as well as the Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools, Brandon served a combined 27 months in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will complete his MBA at the University of Chicago in 2016, and continues to serve in intelligence as a Major in the US Army Reserve. Brandon lives with his awesome wife and two young boys in historic Fort Sheridan, IL.    

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Brian Pawlowski currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor in South Bend, Indiana. His previous work experience includes providing support to global human intelligence operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency as well as working for Booz Allen Hamilton supporting operations for the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command. Prior to that, Brian served as an intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps deploying twice in support of the Global War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Brian remains in the Marine Corps Reserves serving as an intelligence officer and Headquarters Commander for 3rd Civil Affairs Group in Great Lakes, Illinois. He has been a Fellow at the Claremont Institute for Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, National Review Institute, the Foreign Policy Initiative, and participated in the Hertog Young Professionals Program where he studied foreign and national security policy. Brian has been published on national security issues in World Affairs Journal Online, Real Clear Defense, and National Review Online. He received his B.A. from Carthage College majoring in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy and Foundations of the Western Tradition.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Catherine Cheney has worked in a range of roles to support the causes she cares about: national service, international dialogue, and solutions journalism. She helped build NationSwell, a media company and membership network with a mission to elevate solutions to America's challenges, and remains an adviser. This role followed her work reporting on foreign affairs for World Politics Review and building the social media presence for a Middle East news site. As the West Coast reporter for Devex, the media platform for the global development community, Catherine will cover the work of organizations in Seattle, Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area. A graduate of Yale University, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Political Science and distinction as a Yale Journalism Scholar, Catherine has also worked for publications including POLITICO and The Washington Post. Whether domestically or overseas, speaking at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas or reporting on an International Center for Journalists fellowship in Berlin, Germany, she enjoys connecting people and ideas through stories. She also supports other storytellers, playing a key role for example in the annual Newseum conference for high school journalists with an interest in journalism and the First Amendment. Catherine is married to an Air Force officer stationed at Travis Air Force Base and is proud to serve as a Franklin Project Ambassador in Sacramento, California.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Chelsea Martin serves as the Civic Engagement Manager at the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and supports the Volunteer Centers of Michigan (VCM) as well as other members of the Civic Engagement Team at MNA including, Michigan Campus Compact, two national service programs, and The LEAGUE Michigan. She previously served as the program coordinator for VCM where she managed the Michigan Student Service Awards, Days of Service Mini-Grant program, and delivered volunteer engagement training to the field. She has a passion for supporting civic engagement opportunities for all individuals in our communities. Prior to joining the MNA team, Chelsea served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA at the Michigan Community Service Commission. Chelsea is a native Michigander, proud Eastern Michigan University alumnus; receiving her Bachelor’s degree in political science and public relations, and an avid supporter of local-sustainable foods.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Daniel S. Sullivan is a Foundation Ambassador of The Shafik Gabr Foundation and an inaugural 2013 Gabr Fellow. He served over a decade as Aide/Chief of Staff to the Dean of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Rep. David Flynn.  Daniel is North American Representative to the Youth Advisory Board of UN- HABITAT and Regional Representative to the United Nations Association Steering Committee, a Young Diplomat with the Global Diplomatic Forum, a Truman National Security Project Partner, Fellow of the New Leaders Council, Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and 10-year Clinton Global Initiative volunteer. Daniel received his ALB in Government from Harvard University Extension School, Certificate in Health and Human Rights from Harvard School of Public Health, and is graduate of the Leadership for Change program at the Winston Center on Leadership & Ethics at Boston College. He has been a U.S.-Spain Council Young Leader, Youth Ambassador of United Religions Initiative, IEL Education Policy Fellow, EUVP delegate, a Henry Toll Fellow, U.S. delegate to the First Global Forum on Youth Policies, American delegate to the U.S. State Department's Young Turkey/Young America program administered by The Atlantic Council & Istanbul Policy Center, and delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, UN Commission on Social Development, and UN Youth General Assembly. Daniel will also serve as a 2015 Caux Scholar in Switzerland. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Dev Zaveri-Tabb is an attorney who has experience working on a wide variety of matters ranging from multi-billion dollar corporate litigation to individual criminal defense cases.  Dev began her law practice as a Navy JAG where she was ranked as a top defense counsel, then moved into private practice with the international law firms Morrison & Foerster, and Cooley, LLP.  She later worked for the premier plaintiff's law firm, Bernstein Litowitz, where she prosecuted nationwide securities and employment discrimination cases before starting her own law firm.  Dev has regularly accepted pro bono cases, including representing John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban"), and co-drafting the complaint in a human rights case that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Dev is also active in politics.  She worked for U.S. Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), represented California's 52nd Congressional District at the Democratic National Convention, and currently serves as a policy adviser to a San Diego City Council candidate.  Outside the office, Dev serves on the board of APAPA, and volunteers for Lawyers for America and the Governance Committee at her children’s elementary school.  Previously, Dev co-founded the South Asian Bar Association of San Diego, and co-Chaired the San Diego Museum of Art, Committee for the Arts of the Indian Subcontinent.   Dev is a graduate of Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, and Harvard University.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Elizabeth W. Barrett, MA, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in marriages, families and developmental transitions. She is a lecturer in the Psychology & Child Development Department at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, and host of "A Conversation with the Reluctant Therapist," a weekly call-in radio program focusing on the ways in which our helping professions are either aiding, or getting in the way of our collective mental health and well-being. Her graduate work at Pacifica Graduate Institute, focused on utilizing the media as a tool for family connection and self-reflection. She received her undergraduate degree from UCSB in Communications. Elizabeth is a proud wife of 30 years, and mother to 2 daughters and her son-in-law. She is an avid tennis player, swimmer, hiker, and bicyclist, who also enjoys live music, time with friends, new challenges and the beginning of each school year when she faces each fresh group of students who arrive ready to discover their next life's adventure.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Geoff Wilson was born and raised in Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Psychology and spent the next 2.5 years working for Minneapolis Public Schools before leaving to fulfill his dream of serving in the Peace Corps. Geoff spent 27 months serving as an institutional development volunteer at a small start-up nonprofit in Tirgu Neamt, Romania. After returning from the Peace Corps, Geoff hoped to find an opportunity that combined his experiences and love of education and national service. He quickly found that opportunity with College Possible managing their AmeriCorps and VISTA programs across the country in their national office. After about 3 years in that role he moved to College Possible’s Twin Cities site location and now manages the administration of their office and also spends a good chunk of time managing relationships with external supporters. Geoff is looking forward to deepening his community’s commitment to service and working with all the great organizations and people in Minneapolis/Saint Paul that have so much to offer!

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Godfrey Plata is a Filipino immigrant who is passionate about fighting for social and political justice. He currently works full-time as a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) community organizing fellow, supporting The Metropolitan Organization Houston (TMO Houston) to organize families and community leaders around issues meaningful to the city's Third Ward and Alief areas. In particular, he brings 9 years of experience in education, first stemmed by being a Teach For America corps member in Houston and leading 7th grade reading classes for over 330 students. After his time in the classroom, Godfrey went on to support teacher preparation efforts for Teach For America, part-time in Chicago and full-time in Houston and Tulsa. Most recently, as the Senior Managing Director of its Tulsa Institute, he partnered with Tulsa Public Schools and the YMCA of Greater Tulsa to provide summer learning experiences for 5000 kids from early childhood to high school, while simultaneously offering professional development to 500 teachers. He holds a BA in Theater and American Studies (concentration: Ethnic Studies) from the University of Richmond in Virginia and a MA in Performance Studies from UC Berkeley, where his thesis focused on notions of performance in education policy. He is a proud product of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Unified School Districts. When he's not working, Godfrey loves traveling, eating, and attending arts events.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Gordon Liu is a three-term AmeriCorps Alum and a recent transplant to midcoast Maine. He serves as a commissioner for the Maine Commission for Community Service and chapter leader for the Midcoast Maine chapter of AmeriCorps Alums. Gordon is a fan of all-things electronic, literary, caffeinated, or geeky and currently works as the Marketing and Operations Manager for the Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL).  Rather than spend this valuable real-estate on his bio, Gordon recommends that you learn about these fantastic organizations:  Breakthrough Twin CitiesDoSomething.orgBroadreach Family and Community ServicesThe Maine Commission for Community ServiceChewonki, and The Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL).

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Gordon Rooney is the Development Manager at the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, where he helps produce and manage a range of arts and cultural events. Growing up in a military family and participating in the Boy Scouts introduced Gordon to the idea of service before self. Gordon earned a degree in government from the University of Texas and subsequently sought a way to give back. Serving a year with City Year in Columbia, SC ignited Gordon's belief that all young people should be afforded a quality education and that the future of our country depends on the training and development of our youngest citizens. Following his year of service, Gordon joined the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program where he taught Japanese students English and about American culture. While in Japan, he volunteered in the Tohoku Region, the area devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, an experience that continues to fuel his devotion to service. Gordon’s background also includes stints with the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, the Texas Senate Committee on Jurisprudence, the Texas Association of Regional Councils and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Gordon enjoys a good cup of coffee with the paper, trying out new restaurants in Charleston, and is currently training with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team for the Chicago Marathon in October 2015. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Greg Ericksen is a passionate public servant and community leader who is driven to engage others in volunteerism and community engagement. Greg is currently a Program Officer with the Corporation for National and Community Service. He has worked with CNCS for six years and currently manages a portfolio of AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps projects. Greg began his 12 year stint with national service as an AmeriCorps member with the American Red Cross in Los Angeles and the National and Preparedness and Response Corps.  Following his year of service, he remained at the American Red Cross and worked in various roles including: AmeriCorps Program Manager, Disaster Case Manager, and State Program Director.  Greg received a BA in Sociology from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio and a MPA from California State University, Long Beach. Greg is the Chair of AmeriCorps Alums Los Angeles, a board member of Young Government Leaders Los Angeles, and a board member of the West Los Angeles-Sawtelle Neighborhood Council.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jamiel L. Alexander was written off as a negative statistic due to the “street life” in Philadelphia. He was court appointed to do community service in York, PA in 2001.  There he was introduced and completed the Crispus Attucks YouthBuild Charter School AmeriCorps Program and is an active alumnus.  In his position as Manager of Youth and Family Programs at CAYB, Jamiel, for 10+ years served  and was responsible for a variety of tasks including; managing after-school & summer programs, professional & leadership development, youth & family workshops, and a wide range of community and state service projects. In 2012 Mr. Alexander was appointed to serve on the National Council of Young Leaders as an adviser to our policy makers. Earlier this year, Jamiel’s colleagues on the YouthBuild USA's National Alumni Council elected him as President. Mr. Alexander currently serves on Aspen Institute Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Leadership Council (OYIF). The OYIF is a collective impact work that brings stakeholders together from all sectors of the community to improve education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth. In his role as an Senior Fellow for the Aspen Forum For Community Solutions, Jamiel,  continues to strive to be the change we seek in the world.  

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jamison Braun serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and develops strategy at the Pentagon.  After 17 years of service and direct support to contingency operations on 4 continents since 1998, he has seen first hand the power of community involvement and national service in transforming ecosystems. He sits on multiple strategy forums including the Harvard Business Review Advisory Board and the Defense Entrepreneur's Forum.  Additionally, he is a NCAA college baseball umpire traveling the Eastern seaboard.  He spent 12 years living overseas and has helped cofound two non-profits committed to local community service. He currently lives in the Washington DC Metro Area.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jason Crow is an attorney with Holland & Hart LLP in Denver, CO, where he assists clients with corporate investigations and litigation matters. Before becoming an attorney, Jason was a Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry. He served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since leaving the military, Jason has advised government officials on military and veterans issues. Jason currently serves on the board of directors for the Denver Police Foundation and Colorado Symphony Orchestra. He served on the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2014. Jason also is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver - Sturm College Of Law and serves on the law school’s Alumni Council. He was recognized as the Denver Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer of the Year in 2010, received the Outstanding Service Award from the United Veterans Committee of Colorado in 2011, the Catalyst for Change Award in 2012, and was featured in the Denver Forty Under 40 in 2013. Jason speaks regularly on leadership and public service. In 2011 he was the keynote speaker for the Daniels Fund New Scholars Celebration, and spoke to the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Jason earned his J.D. from the University of Denver and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Army ROTC program. Jason lives in Denver with his wife and two children.  

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jason Jaffery, throughout his twenty-two year career in public service, has lent his energy and leadership skills to mission-driven organizations dedicated to long-term social change. He has been privileged to work on causes such as housing for people with HIV and AIDS; provision of emergency food to economically disadvantaged families; free medical care; the protection of constitutional rights; and for the past year, library services to citizens of Cleveland’s urban core. He believes that philanthropy is a form of activism, and has worked with organizations and individuals, in both a professional capacity and as a volunteer, to fully realize their fundraising and giving as a tool for social change.  Jason’s personal motivation has always been the preservation and protection of human dignity through social and economic justice. He strives to inspire people to work together as a community to address core social issues, particularly economic inequality.  Our current cultural and historical climate presents an opportunity for great change, particularly if big ideas are pursued with courage and creativity. The Franklin Project manifests this opportunity, and Jason is both thrilled and honored to serve his country and pursue his personal mission as an Ambassador.  Jason lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio with his wife and daughter. In addition to his activism and professional work, Jason is a musician, writer, and passionate consumer of pop culture. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jeff Bryant, a native Nevadan, grew up in a small military town in the desert and completed his B.S. in Secondary Education with a minor in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Nevada-Reno.  After college, Jeff spent time in the Sierra Nevada’s with California State Parks and worked in environmental conservation throughout Nevada with the Great Basin Institute before building his current nonprofit, Urban Roots. Urban Roots is a small teaching farm that focuses on K-12 education through day camp programs and works with dozens of schools throughout northern Nevada. In 2013, Jeff introduced FarmCorps to northern Nevada. Partnering with over a dozen agencies and organizations, FarmCorps is aimed at creating unique agricultural experiences for youth and young professionals through national service while enhancing economic opportunities and leadership within the industry.  Jeff currently serves on the Renown Health Community Advisory Committee, Governors Workforce Development Board, and is a founding board member of Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. For his work and service to the community, in 2013 Jeff was awarded the Reno Gazette Journal’s Twenty Under 40 Award and his nonprofit received the U.S. Green Building Council's Education Leadership Award, and Best Innovative Nonprofit by the Reno News & Review readers. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jennifer McArdle is an athlete, gardener, NPR listener, crossword junkie, food addict, traveler, and want-to-be Michigander. After completing interdisciplinary study in Global Development at Coe College in Iowa, and a Master's in International Development from Ohio University, she spent a year living, working, and eating in South Korea through the Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteer Program. Returning stateside, Jennifer completed two terms of national service, as a VISTA engaging K-12 students in service-learning, then as a VISTA Leader. After that, she became the Program Manager for the Michigan Nonprofit Association Civic Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA Program, supporting Michigan Campus Compact, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, and The LEAGUE Michigan out of Lansing.  At the beginning of 2015, she accepted her current position as Civic Engagement Manager at the United Way of Genesee County in Flint, where she also managed Flint, Michigan's National Service Accelerator as the city's Chief Service Officer.  

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Jillian Hishaw, Esq. is the Founder & Director of Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), a non-profit that provides legal, hunger relief, retail marketing and educational services to farmers of color, landowners and rural youth in the Southeast.  Prior to FARMS, she raised nearly $100,000 in her effort to establish the Kansas City Youth Conservation Corps Chapter, an environmental education program geared towards educating inner city African American males in ecology and agriculture.  Ms. Hishaw also worked as an Environmental Planner on water quality issues plaguing low income communities of color and as a civil rights Adjudicator for the USDA prior to establishing FARMS. Ms. Hishaw is the former board member to several environmental and land protection organizations and has extensive legal publication experience focused on environmental and agricultural law issues. Some of her additional work includes providing legal assistance to African and Native American claimants during the settlement phase of discrimination class action suits against USDA.  Ms. Hishaw possesses a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Tuskegee University and a Juris Doctorate and Legal Masters in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville Law school. 

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

John-Paul Smith was born in Winston-Salem, NC, raised in Maryland, groomed in Charlotte, NC and inspired at Elon University (2009, B.A. in History). He learned about his blessings volunteering in Guatemala City, Guatemala and about human brokenness working on a congressional campaign trail in South Carolina. His goal is to help cultivate an environment in which people recognize their value and that in others, in which humanity flourishes. He is currently the Director of Innovate United for United Way of the Greater Triangle. He previously worked as Chief Innovation Officer for Forward Communities, Replication and Scaling Manager for Bull City Forward in Durham, North Carolina and Manager of Small Business and Entrepreneurship the Greensboro Partnership in Greensboro. His work focuses on nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystems for place-based communities, social innovators and entrepreneurs. He helped launch Queen City Forward in Charlotte, spearhead the Piedmont Triad’s first Startup Weekend, and lead the United Way of the Greater Triangle’s inaugural Childhood Hunger Innovation Challenge in 2014. He’s volunteered with the NC Institute for Emerging Issues, the North Carolina Fourth Sector Cluster Initiative, the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Summit, and the Longleaf Collective. He is a member of Leadership North Carolina Class XXI.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Josh Fryday is currently the Chief Operating Officer for NextGen Climate, founded by Tom Steyer. Prior to NextGen Climatate, Josh served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy (‘09-‘13) as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He served overseas in Yokosuka, Japan, where in addition to his legal duties, he augmented the Navy’s 7th Fleet’s Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief efforts during ‘Operation Tomodachi’ following the March 11th earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. He was also stationed in the Office of Military Commissions, working on the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detainee cases, and testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the closing of Guantanamo. Before serving in the Armed Services, he worked as a political advisor and organizer on local, state and national campaigns, including the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections. Josh received his law degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law, and clerked in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California as well as the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. He also received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors.  He is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a Term-Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Demos, the Democracy Alliance and Tech4America.org.  

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Josh Visnaw's passion for community development and assisting marginalized populations was sparked by his involvement in national service upon completing a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University in 2008. As an AmeriCorps member in Iowa and Louisiana, he served in a disaster relief capacity and saw the immense hardships that flood affected communities experienced. Consequently, national service afforded him an opportunity to gain different perspectives while collaborating with inspirational AmeriCorps colleagues who shared his commitment for social change. Josh went on to further his experiences for public good at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. While earning his master's in public service, he completed field service projects that involved public health of Arkansas Veteran's, at-risk youth in Belize and parent engagement in Little Rock. Like his time in national service, Josh was heavily influenced from collaborations with his colleagues and mentors at the Clinton School, who granted countless opportunities for personal and professional growth.  After graduate school, Josh has helped manage community development projects for Peacework International in Belize. In the future, he wishes to pursue initiatives that increase educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged youth and families, as well as projects that promote cultural understanding and exchange. He looks forward to representing his adopted home of New Orleans as a Franklin Project Ambassador!  

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Kevin D. Ward is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Public Service at Seattle University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public policy and nonprofit management. His research interests include national service programs such as AmeriCorps, nonprofit governance, motivations of public and nonprofit employees, and cross-sector collaboration. His research on AmeriCorps has appeared in Public Administration Review, Public Personnel Management, and Risk, Hazards, & Crisis in Public Policy. Ward has also held research appointments with the RAND Corporation and the Urban Institute. He holds a Ph.D. and MPA from the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Illinois.  He served as a corps member (Class IX) and team leader (Class X) in the national service program AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps on the Denver, CO campus. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Lauren Boswell has always been captivated by space, urban landscapes, culture, and the policy making process that creates diverse and sustainable communities. At the age of 16, Lauren was nominated by Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer to represent Maryland’s 5th district as a House of Representatives Congressional Page. This experience solidified her desire to study Urban and Environmental Planning and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia and work towards creating sustainable policy for America’s most disadvantaged cities and communities.  After college, Lauren enthusiastically embraced the challenge to become a Teach for America 2010 Corps member. Lauren made the commitment to teach Kindergarten for two years in Washington, D.C. and taught a third year in Richmond Public Schools. It was her experience as a teacher in two urban districts that lead Lauren to fight for educational equity for all children. Lauren comes to the Franklin Project with great admiration for those who choose to serve their country in any capacity. While being a civil servant has always been a life goal for Lauren, she hopes to use this platform to encourage other young Americans to recognize the value of giving back to their community and how life-changing serving under-served communities can be. Lauren looks forward to working with the Franklin Project to make national service a cultural expectation for young Americans in Atlanta, Georgia. 

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Mark Payne is a native Chicagoan with a passion for neighborhoods, particularly on the south and west sides. As the Executive Director of CeaseFire, Mark supervises the operations of the organization including partnerships, government relations, fundraising, finance, board relations, administration, and public affairs. He has spent his entire career organizing and building partnerships focused on youth and economic development initiatives throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. In the past he has served as an outreach coordinator for the Near West Side Community Development Corporation, general manager of government and community relations for the CTA, director of public affairs for the Independent Police Review Authority, deputy chief of staff for public safety for the Chicago Mayor’s office, and most recently worked with DePaul’s Egan Urban Center to design and develop a curriculum to train community organizations and Chicago Police Department officers to establish long-standing and sustainable partnerships that include community residents, ultimately changing the way community policing works.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Marquis Hawkins is a dynamic and devoted millennial committed to closing the opportunity gap between underrepresented communities and their affluent counterparts. His passion to fill this gulf has propelled him to be a trailblazer in the education reform movement.   Raised in Dallas, Texas, Marquis has worked tireless in his short career to ensure the doors of opportunity swing open for scores of kids who's fate in life is determined their zip code.  Specifically, he served as a Teach For America Corp Member in Houston at KIPP Sharpstown College and worked as an Education Pioneer for the Harris County Department of Education. In Dallas, Marquis is a e-board member for The Network for Teaching Effectiveness, serves on the alumni board of Young People For, member of LEE, mentor in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and a member of Reading Partners at a local Dallas elementary school.  He holds a Bachelors in Political Science from Morehouse College and a Master in Public Administration from Cornell University. Marquis currently serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for the Human Capital Management department at Dallas ISD.  Over the next year, he hopes to use the Franklin Project Ambassadors Program to expand registered voters around issues of education in Dallas.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Matt Blackwell is thrilled to be a Franklin Project Ambassador, and looks forward to championing his passion for national service. He is a United States Army combat veteran, deploying to Iraq with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault). A Distinguished Military Graduate at the University of Georgia, highlights of his career include Airborne and Air Assault training, serving as a cadre member at UGA Army ROTC,  leading two platoons in combat, and completion of the Army's strenuous, world-renowned leadership program, Ranger School.  Currently, Matt works as a service supervisor for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, focusing on sales and customer relations. His leadership expertise has resulted in his handling of the company's largest number of accounts in the entire Southern division.  Matt is the proud father of 2 precious girls. His passions include spending time in the great outdoors, traveling on missions trips to Haiti with his church, and Georgia Bulldog football. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Meghan Hughes Hickman serves as the Executive Director for EngenuitySC, a nonprofit focused on regional competitiveness. In her role as Executive Director, Meghan leads the organization's efforts to make Columbia and the Midlands of South Carolina more economically competitive and prosperous. As Executive Director, Meghan oversees EngenuitySC’s ongoing economic development initiatives including local industry clusters; regional collaboration and project management; and regional marketing, research and analysis tools. Prior to joining EngenuitySC, Meghan spent nearly six years working for United States Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). During that time she sharpened her skills in campaign finance, event management and served two years as his press secretary on Capitol Hill. Following that, she entered the private sector with Stratacomm, a Fleishman-Hillard Company, and managed full-service, national public relations campaigns for clients ranging from federal government agencies to large coalitions and associations.  Meghan, a self-proclaimed news junkie, is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina Honors College (a proud Gamecock!). She's also a new wife and homeowner, and she enjoys visiting her seven nephews and two nieces every chance she gets. 

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Michael Auerbach is thrilled to join the Franklin Project’s inaugural class of Ambassadors. In 2006 he was awarded a Barry Goldwater National Scholarship to conduct research for Project Vote Smart – a non-partisan organization strengthening democracy by providing access to factual information regarding political candidates and elected officials. The following year Michael co-founded and directed a Girls’ Mentoring Center in Mauritania as part of Peace Corps’ Gender and Development Initiative in West Africa. Utilizing a community capacity building model, his program participants established a Young Girls’ Mentoring Center focusing on early childhood development. He was later granted a competitive third-year extension in China to serve as a teacher at Chongqing University of Science and Technology. In 2010 Michael was selected to be a Shriver Peaceworker Fellow in Baltimore where he managed The Choice Program’s College Night – an AmeriCorps organization with a community-based approach to youth empowerment. As a Fellow, Michael drew upon his experiences living in Asia, Africa, Central America, and Europe to complete his Capstone entitled “Human Rights as an Element of Globalization: Confronting Geopolitical Realities.” In 2013 Michael oversaw New York Common Pantry’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Program that provided approximately 19,000 meals per month to residents in Staten Island, Coney Island, and Rockaway Beach. Michael currently serves as Blue Engine’s Director of Public Partnerships.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Ed.D., is a cultural worker, documentarian and lecturer based in New Mexico. Working primarily in the fields of creative leadership, community based media production and transformative social change, Mi'Jan Celie is a 2015 Women's International Studies Center Fellow, a New Mexico Humanities Council Scholar, and she currently serves as the Executive Director with Youth Media Project in Santa Fe. Additionally, Mi'Jan Celie serves on the Northern New Mexico Radio Foundation Board of Directors; the Advisory Board with SxSWedu; and is an advisor on the planning effort for the Gloria Steinem and Wilma Mankiller School for Organizers at Smith College.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Mike Meaney is a Project Manager in President Michael Crow's office at Arizona State University (ASU). He manages a portfolio of strategic projects and partnerships that advance ASU's model as a New American University. Mike helped lead ASU to become the first institution of higher education in the country to join the Employers of National Service Initiative. He also played an integral role in helping ASU launch the first ever Public Service Academy in the United States. He currently oversees ASU's contribution to the Markle Foundation's "Rework America Connected" initiative, which aims to build a virtual workforce development hub in order to help more Americans succeed in the networked economy.   Mike earned a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from ASU while serving as a 2012 Teach for America Corps Member in Phoenix, AZ, where he taught 8th grade science at Isaac Middle School. Mike is a 2012 graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he was a John Carroll Fellow and served as Student Body President. He serves on the board of directors of the Bring on the Books Foundation and Young Education Professionals Network of Phoenix. He is originally from Tucson, Arizona.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Nikki Gusz, until recently, was the Strategic Initiatives Director in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. In this role, she advanced partnerships, projects and grants for one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the country, ranking in the top 20 education schools nationally. Also at ASU, she worked in the Office of University Initiatives supporting entrepreneurship and education initiatives. Previously, Nikki taught secondary social studies in the Mesa Public Schools through Teach For America, an AmeriCorps program, which generated her interest in national service. She is also the daughter and granddaughter of military veterans. Nikki earned her M. Ed. from Arizona State University and B.A. from Cornell University. In fall 2015, she will begin an M.B.A. program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business as a CASE Social Sector Scholar. In her free time, Nikki enjoys trying new culinary experiences, hiking and visiting National Parks.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Patrick Murray is a Boston-based Ambassador for the Franklin Project.  Patrick is also the Founder and Managing Director of The Ridgevale Group, a Boston-based financial services company that is focused on small and medium sized businesses, predominately in the software, aerospace & defense and business services sectors.  He also serves as Director for two early stage technology companies.  Patrick earned Masters degrees from Harvard University and London Business School, and a Bachelors degree from Boston College. As a Massachusetts native and a resident of Massachusetts for most of his life, Patrick has maintained an active presence with various Boston- and Massachusetts-focused organizations since high school. Currently, he serves on the City of Boston's Audit Committee and supports a few New England-based non-profits. Patrick lives in the South End neighborhood of Boston with his wife, Aimee.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Pete Kalenik is committed to improving Chicago, its communities, and our country. This attitude has led Pete to serve as a Soldier, an AmeriCorps educator, and a Chicago Police Officer.  As an Ambassador with the Franklin Project, he is excited about the possibility to make national service a civic rite of passage in America. Pete is a proud product of Chicago Public Schools and graduated from the University of Chicago. He also earned a Master's degree in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University and a Master's degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois-Chicago. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Randy Frazier Jr. joined the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in Houston, Texas, on April 1999 as an attorney in the agency’s Legal Department. Since that time, METRO has promoted Frazier to several positions including Senior Staff Attorney, Associate Vice President of Corporate Development and Associate Vice President of Information Technology. Randy Frazier is an alumnus of Leadership Houston Class XXX. He served in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps from  1988 to 1995. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and was also an aviation operations specialist while stationed  as a Marine in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Today, Randy is the Chief Technology Officer for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, a Captain and the Executive Officer for the 447th Air Support Group, Texas State Guard.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Roch Turner enlisted in the Navy immediately following his high school graduation in 1997. Following boot camp, he went to the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Dam Neck, Virginia. Roch served as an Intelligence specialist on board the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and at the NATO Allied Forces Northern Command in Brunsumm, the Netherlands. Following the Navy, he earned a my baccalaureate degree in history and a master's in public administration. He is currently pursuing a doctorate of education at the University of Montana. His area of focus is philanthropy and volunteerism in public education. Presently he oversees workforce programming and academic affairs at the Bitterroot College in Hamilton, MT. Additionally, he is the executive director of the Greater Ravalli Foundation (TGRF). TGRF meets community needs such as scholarships, food and clothing insecurities, and general educational needs. 

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Roger Wong is a dreamer, doer, and explorer. He enjoys working with, and bringing together, diverse and creative people to help solve complex problems in mutually beneficial ways. He promotes cross-sector dialogues and learning, encourages multi-level participation, and advocates for systems-oriented solutions to community challenges. He is the first Service Years Director at NYC Service (Office of the Mayor), an award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility veteran, a nationally-recognized AmeriCorps leader, and a former Associated Grant Makers Diversity Fellow.  As a first-generation immigrant who came to the U.S. from Hong Kong, Roger knows firsthand what it’s like to live the dream of a better life, but it was through his struggles with self-identity and the loss of a friend on September 11, that he became inspired to make ‘service’ his life’s work. Roger graduated from Boston University but considers the world his classroom. He has also learned invaluable lessons from selling Tickle Me Elmos, delivering Pu Pu platters for his family’s restaurant, and teaching soccer at a peace camp. He currently resides in Jackson Heights, NY, a foodies paradise!

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Sarah Guy is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Wisconsin - River Falls Graduate Certificate in Service-Learning program.  She completed two terms of service with AmeriCorps, first with ACCION New Mexico and then with the San Jose Conservation Corps.  After AmeriCorps, Sarah worked with Amizade to plan and lead alternative spring break programs in DC that focused on hunger and homelessness and later joined Youth Service America where she managed a STEM-based Learn and Serve grant program and developed service project planning guides for youth and educators.  She currently serves as an Advocate Leader with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, is the company manager for Taurus Broadhurst Dance, and volunteers with the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Thomas Howard Jr. served as a Corps Member in Class IV of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC),  as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and as a team leader in Class IX of the AmeriCorps NCCC at the Capital Region Campus in Washington, DC. He has been involved in the National Service movement for the last eighteen years serving as AmeriCorps Program Coordinator at Catholic Volunteer Network, a Program Officer for AmeriCorps State and National and is currently serving as a Unit Leader with the AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps at the North Central Region Campus, in Vinton, IA.  Thomas also served as Programs Director at the Matthew Shepard Foundation where he facilitated discussions on the impact of hate and violence in communities across the United States and Canada.  He has an undergraduate degree in social work and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

He can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Tynisha N. Worthy is an experienced facilitator of group processes and in program design and development, particularly in the areas of volunteer service, civic engagement, and advancing equity and inclusion. Currently, Tynisha is the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Coordinator for JOURNEY to Successful Living, a program of the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. Tynisha is an Ohio native, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and has lived in Cincinnati for 15 years. Tynisha is a Bearcat and a Norse, an avid sports fan, a half-marathoner, and loves to travel. 

She can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Whitney Parnell, the child of a Foreign Service officer, grew up between Latin America and West Africa, and realized her social responsibility as she witnessed the surrounding social injustices that contrasted her own privilege. At Washington University in St. Louis, Whitney doubled majored in English and Spanish, and minored in Communications and Journalism, during which she also embraced her calling as a “professional humanitarian.” Whitney’s passion for service and social justice brought her to Washington, DC to serve with the Americorps program, City Year, where she planned monthly service days for the larger community. Since City Year, Whitney has worked in homeless services, where she currently serves as the Community Engagement Manager for Capitol Hill Group Ministry. Her responsibilities include running the street outreach services provided to homeless neighbors, volunteer and advocacy opportunities, event planning, and general community involvement. Whitney believes that if everyone collectively did something small to serve their community, then large scale social justice would be accomplished relatively quickly--and her goal is to work towards accomplishing this reality. In her spare time, Whitney enjoys singing, running, and the outdoors. 

She can be reached at: [email protected]