In 2013, under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Linda Mills, Melody Barnes helped found the NYU Leadership Initiative alongside Bethany Godsoe. Melody’s contributions in spearheading the inception and growth of the office are countless, first in her role as Vice Provost (2013-2016) and then as the Chair of the Leadership Initiative Advisory Council (2016-2017).
Melody came to NYU with an impressive career biography and significant accomplishments in both the public and private sectors. Her extensive experience demonstrated to her that effective leaders are not simply born, but rather they must work to develop the self-awareness, skills, and support networks needed to create change. Moreover, in this fast-paced and ever-changing world, this generation of students faces a unique set of challenges. Melody saw the need for a new way to support student success by equipping our youth with the skills required to create meaningful change in their communities and careers. She recognized that this new age calls for a new approach to leadership - one that is ethical, inclusive and collaborative. She came from Washington D.C. to Washington Square with this vision in mind. Her leadership has been critical in creating, developing, and realizing this vision here at NYU.
As Chair of the NYU Leadership Initiative Advisory Council, Melody provided strategic counsel across the department to prepare students more fully for leadership roles. She identified opportunities for university-wide collaboration to cultivate student development and arranged opportunities for students to engage with world leaders. In this role, Melody initiated the NYU Leadership Conversation Series in which prominent leaders from all sectors are invited to share their personal experiences, leadership journeys, and insights. During these public events, students are exposed to diverse perspectives, leadership approaches, and expertise on today’s pressing global challenges.
A former Assistant to President Barack Obama and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody has most recently been working as a private consultant and as chair of a new initiative at the Aspen Institute. From January 2009 to January 2012, she provided policy and strategic advice to President Obama and worked closely with members of the Cabinet coordinating the domestic policy agenda across the Administration. Prior to her work in the White House, she served on the leadership team for the Obama-Biden Transition Project and as Senior Domestic Policy Advisor to the Obama for America campaign. From 2003 to July 2008, she worked at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research institute and think tank, where she was named Executive Vice President for Policy in 2005. From 1995 to 2003, she worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, serving as his chief counsel from 1998 onwards. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.
Melody received her bachelor's degree in 1986 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors. She received her law degree in 1989 from the University of Michigan Law School.
Corey Blay serves as Program Director for the NYU Leadership Initiative. He is passionate about ensuring that all students, regardless of their demographic background or discipline of study, have access to meaningful leadership programs and experiences.
During his studies at NYU, Corey served as President of the Government and Business Association, Vice President of Stern’s Student Government, Senator At-Large and Chief of Staff of the Student Senators Council, and graduate student representative on the University Space Priorities Working Group. He received the Stern Service Award and President’s Service Award. Corey was named the 2014 All-University Commencement student speaker.
Corey began his career at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, an K-12 independent school in New York City, where he taught 7th grade history on the founding team for its new middle school and designed diversity and inclusion programming for students, faculty, and staff. Outside of the classroom, he managed political campaigns, served on the board of a national leadership development organization, and co-founded a youth advocacy organization in Harlem that partnered with Columbia University and the White House to develop leadership programs for low-income youth.
Corey was a 2011 Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Prep fellow. As a 2012 Education Pioneer fellow, he created a mentorship program for staff of color and of low-income backgrounds at Teach For America.
Corey received his BA in African-American Studies and Public Policy from the University of Chicago, an MBA from the NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business, and MPA from the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Grisel is the Co-Senior Director at the Leadership Initiative. As a founding member of the NYU Leadership Initiative, Grisel developed our initial leadership framework, built popular signature programs like the Leadership Fellows and Global Leadership Summit, and oversaw our assessment efforts.
Grisel brings a breadth of experience integrating leadership theory in to the design and management of professional and leadership development programs for diverse audiences including undergraduate and graduate students, nonprofit professionals and senior executives in the US and abroad. She also brings prior experience in career development at NYU Stern and in fellowship advising and management at Harvard. She earned a B.A. in economics from Boston University and a MPA from NYU Wagner where she also serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service.
Kurt Davies is the Director of Global Awards at New York University. Kurt has been helping students realize their full potential for the better part of two decades. His current role is born of many adventures through school, careers and the world, from which he has learned to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a life you love.
He comes to NYU from James Madison University, where he served as the Director of Prestigious Scholarships. He has also worked in the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships at Villanova University and the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania. After a career as a travel agent, Kurt returned to college as a non-traditional student, receiving a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a master’s in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania. Kurt received a Fulbright grant in 2010 to research post-Soviet language policy in Kyrgyzstan.
When he is not advising students on fellowship opportunities, Kurt is likely to be found in line for discounted theatre tickets, playing tournament Scrabble, or watching UNC basketball. Kurt has lived in seven states and five countries and is particularly excited for this next chapter in New York City.
Mara Dorta is the Program Administrator for the NYU Leadership Initiative. Mara came to this role after serving for nine years as Development Associate at the New York University School of Law and New York University College of Dentistry. Working with alumni communities and hearing their narratives about how their experiences at NYU helped to shape their personal and professional pursuits, ignited in her a desire to be more involved in the student experience and to contribute to creating communities of support and opportunities for all students. This motivated her to join the NYU Leadership Initiative in 2016.
Mara’s personal mission is to build inclusive, equitable learning spaces so that all students can thrive, which is rooted in her own experience as a first-generation, low-income student of color. Mara is passionate about matters of diversity, inclusion and equality- especially as it relates to education equity. At the Leadership Initiative, Mara has been a key partner in coordinating the Global Leadership Summits in Prague, New York and Shanghai where she managed operations and student engagement. She has facilitated introductory leadership and networking workshops and leads the WeLead series to build community among students participating in different cohort-based Leadership Initiative programs.
Mara also serves as a college advisory instructor for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), an organization that provides college and career readiness for young people from underserved backgrounds.
Mara earned her BA in Sociology at NYU School of Professional Studies and is now completing an MA in Educational Leadership Politics and Advocacy at Steinhardt where she has founded the first Latinx graduate student organization. Mara served as the Steinhardt Graduate Student Organization’s Treasurer for the 2017-18 Academic year and has also mentored with the FairyGodsisters, a mentoring program that seeks to empower young women by helping them to develop leadership skills, attain academic success and grow personally, emotionally and professionally.
Bethany Godsoe is Associate Vice President for Career and Leadership Development. She provides strategic leadership for the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and the NYU Leadership Initiative, including the Office of Global Awards and is responsible for cultivating a vision and strategy that enable students to build meaningful and rewarding careers with impact
Bethany is an entrepreneurial higher education leader with a track record of creating innovative approaches to promoting student success. She brings 16 years of progressive experience managing high performing teams in enrollment, student services, research and leadership development. She came to this role after co-founding and directing the NYU Leadership Initiative for the past four years. Prior to the Leadership Initiative, Bethany served in two critical roles at NYU Wagner. First, as Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Student Services and next as Executive Director of the Research Center for Leadership in Action.
Bethany is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration at NYU Wagner where she teaches Strategic Leadership to the Executive MPA students and The Meaning of Leadership for undergraduates. She received her BA in Anthropology from Cornell University and her MPA from NYU Wagner.
An employee of NYU since 2000, Kris Larsen began his career as an administrator for the Department of Psychology. For eight years he oversaw admissions to to the doctoral program in Social Psychology. In 2008, he began working for the Graduate School of Arts and Science in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. Here he managed global and internal fellowships for GSAS students as well as graduate students from across the University.
Kris holds a BA and MA in Philosophy from the University of California, Riverside and Stony Brook University respectively. During his time as a graduate student at Stony Brook University, in association with the International Association for Philosophy and Literature, Kris gave panel presentations on phenomenology and architecture in Helsinki, Freiburg, and Nicosia.
Kris has intellectual and agricultural interests in wine and the wine industry. He has worked as a cellar rat for a prominent Oregon winemaker. Unable to produce, what he would call “good wine” in a Brooklyn apartment, his practice of zymology is currently limited to brewing beer.
Stephanie Liu serves as the Assistant Director of the Breakthrough Scholars Leadership Development Program. In this role, she supports a community of undergraduate students who receive generous scholarship awards through NYU Stern. Students gain leadership development and have access to mentorship opportunities throughout their four-year course of study.
In addition to her position at the NYU Leadership Initiative, Stephanie is completing her final semester as a Masters student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, here at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Stephanie was born and raised in California (30 minutes east of LA), where she studied Sociology and Education at the University of California Santa Barbara. After receiving her bachelors, she lived on the Big Island of Hawai'i and worked as an educator in the K-12 system while simultaneously earning an MS in Elementary Education. Seeing the inequities her students faced of access, persistence, and retention in higher education, led Stephanie back to her work in student affairs.
In her free time Stephanie enjoys calligraphy, painting, dancing, and yoga as outlets and self care tactics
Sasha Massey serves as Assistant Director at the NYU Leadership Initiative, where she manages immersive leadership programs for undergraduate and graduate students at NYU. Sasha is passionate about creating pipelines for traditionally underserved communities through education and leadership development.
Growing up in the halls of her mother’s Montessori school, Sasha was exposed to the transformative power of education early on. Through her own education and teaching experiences, she has learned that students achieve the highest when their existing skills are seen, affirmed and nourished. It was this belief that brought her to the NYU Leadership Initiative, where she helps students discover and develop their superpowers.
In her role as Assistant Director, Sasha manages the NYU Leadership Initiative Mentoring Groups, a cohort-based program for undergraduate students early in their NYU careers. Through intensive skill-building workshops and one-on-one mentoring, Sasha works to help her students gain a greater understanding of who they are, engage deeply in activities that matter to them and build meaningful relationships. She also supports NYU's Social Sector Leadership Diversity Fellowship, which equips graduate students of color with the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to take up leadership roles in organizations across the social sector. In addition to her work at the NYU Leadership Initiative, Sasha is a Math Instructor for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), empowering the confidence and capacities of NYC high school students to get to and through the nation’s top colleges.
Sasha holds a Master’s of Public Administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, specializing in nonprofit management, and a BA in International Relations and Political Science from the University of Calgary.
In her personal time, Sasha can be found cooking, reading about cooking, watching shows about cooking and taking trips to her beautiful hometown in Alberta, Canada.
Sheena is the Assistant Director of the Breakthrough Scholars Leadership Development Program where she provides leadership development, academic support, and career coaching to undergraduate students who receive generous scholarship awards through NYU Stern.
Prior to joining the Leadership Initiative Sheena held various career development, coaching, and program management roles within higher education and the nonprofit space where she helped thousands of students identify and pursue their purpose. She believes that there is nothing more fulfilling and powerful than when we identify our gifts, talents, and abilities and use them to meet a human need in the world. Her goal is to support as many students as possible toward that end.
Sheena McCullers also recruits and leads a team of students to represent NYU in the Collegiate Leadership Competition (CLC). CLC is a nonprofit organization that creates a unique opportunity for student leaders to learn leadership terms and concepts, and then put them into practice in a fun competition. Students practice for 10 weeks leading up to a regional competition where they compete against other schools. In April 2018, Sheena’s team won the Process Award boasting the higher score received by any team to date.
She holds an MPA from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, where she specialized in Nonprofit Management, and a BA in Interpersonal Communication from Bowling Green State University.
Sheena likes to have a lot of fun outside of work! Ask her about taking Kukuwa dance classes, brunching all over Brooklyn, and biking to vintage flea markets.
A graduate of New York University with a BA in English and American Literature, Jasmin Nazarian began her career in the publishing and media industries with a focus on digital marketing. Passionate about the power of higher education and student development, Jasmin joined the NYU Leadership Initiative in 2015 in order to contribute to the growth of inclusive communities of support and opportunity for all students. In this role, she is responsible for the department’s communications strategy, media publications, public events, and website and social media content. As someone with who performs both creatively and strategically, Jasmin has proven success in leveraging technology and new media to advance educational equity and student success.
She has planned and executed an array of university-wide events, including NYU Leadership Week, Leadership Conversation Series, and the Lunch & Lead open workshops, intended to expose students to diverse examples of leadership across sectors. Jasmin cares deeply about access to higher education, experiential education, and career development.
Outside of her professional life, you can find Jasmin in the park with her dog Sam, binge-watching a new Netflix series, and experimenting with DIY nails art.
Lorelei Ormrod, a faculty member in the Expository Writing Program, helps to convene the NYU Leadership Initiative Mentoring Groups and advises students on distinguished awards emphasizing leadership and service, especially to the UK. She spent ten years studying and teaching twentieth century English Literature in Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. A devoted teacher, she cares deeply about helping people grow into their full potential and make their way in the world. She has advised hundreds of students about distinguished fellowships, and served on several scholarship selection committees.
Passionate about international education and civic engagement, Lorelei also leads the Social Justice League for the Residential College of Goddard and Broome. Previously, she was Assistant Director of the Morehead Scholars Program, responsible for mentoring outstanding student-leaders from across the US, UK, and Canada, and for coordinating their enrichment education of outdoor leadership expeditions, public service internships, overseas travel/study experiences, and career development placements.
She also served as Junior Dean of Oxford University’s Jesus College; as Dean of Students for International Baccalaureate Summer Schools based in Oxford and Cambridge; and as a Warden and Tutor responsible for the Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) component of the IB curriculum at St. Clare’s International College in Oxford.
Jenni Quilter is the Co-Senior Director at the NYU Leadership Initiative. Prior to this role, she served as the Director of Global Awards for four years, where she diversified and more than doubled the number of NYU students competing for and winning prestigious scholarships and fellowships. Her work has widened the scope and understanding of what scholarship implies and has generated creative approaches to supporting students in developing their voice and articulating their academic narrative.
Jenni also serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Expository Writing Program at the College of Arts and Science where she has been recognized for her extraordinary commitment to students with a Golden Dozen award for teaching. Prior to working at NYU, she taught at Oxford University, where she also obtained her M.Phil and D.Phil in English Literature as a Rhodes Scholar from New Zealand.
Executive Director, Cultural Investments, Time Warner Inc.
Head, Global Community Programmes, Standard Chartered
Past Chairman of the Fulbright Scholarship Board, appointed by President Barack Obama
Co-Founder, Harlem Children’s Zone; Founder, Institute For Urban Leadership
Brooklyn Defender Services Family Defense Practice Staff Attorney; NYU Grad Student Alumna
Former Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Assistant Manager, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, Office of Global Programs at New York University
Linda G. Mills
Vice Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life at New York University; Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Financial Support, NYU Abu Dhabi; Lisa Ellen Goldberg Professor
Andy C. Ng
Ed.M candidate in the Technology, Innovation & Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Clinical Professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Steinhardt and New York University
Managing Director of PropelNext at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
Senior Presidential Fellow at NYU and the Martin Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy & Management at NYU Wagner
Author of Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up;
former CEO of Public Allies
Deborah J. Borisoff
Professor of Media, Culture and Communication
NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
Associate Professor, Technology Management and Innovation, NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Erica Gabrielle Foldy
Faculty Co-Director, Research Center for Leadership in Action, and Associate Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management
NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison
Vice Dean of Faculty, ITT Harold Geneen Professor in Creative Management, and Professor of Management and Organizations
NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Sonia M. Ospina
Faculty Co-Director, Research Center for Leadership in Action, and Professor of Public Management and Policy
NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Wendy A. Suzuki
Professor of Neural Science and Psychology and leader of the Suzuki Laboratory
NYU’s Center for Neural Science