Nine-Month Program Launched by NYU Wagner’s RCLA with Support from the American Express Foundation.

Thirty-two Professionals Selected for Inaugural IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector

The Research Center for Leadership in Action (RCLA) at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service is pleased to announce the 32 members of the inaugural IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector, a nine-month program enabling them to strengthen their leadership and management skills.

Offered with support from the American Express Foundation, IGNITE offers a diverse group of mid-career women directing nonprofit programs and organizations across the United States exposure to best practices, processes for building personal and organizational leadership, and opportunities to build and strengthen core management capacities.

American Express Foundation President Timothy J. McClimon said, “We are thrilled to support this extraordinary group of women working on critically important social issues who are poised to not only deepen their organizations’ impact, but strengthen the leadership of the sector as a whole.”

The Fellowship begins with a leadership institute in New York City from August 1-6, which includes a welcome reception in the NYU President’s Penthouse, a luncheon with top nonprofit leaders, and robust leadership and management sessions over four days. Over the ensuing nine months, Fellows will participate in peer mentoring and webinars to sharpen their leadership skills with the support of cohort members and Fellowship managers.

RCLA Executive Director Bethany Godsoe said, “These women are advancing justice initiatives in game-changing ways across the nation. We are excited about giving them a chance to reflect, learn and apply best practices, and build a national network they can call on for ideas and support as they undertake ambitious change agendas.”

To learn more about the IGNITE fellowship, please visit:

2013 IGNITE Fellows:

 Alethea Simon, Vice President of Programs and Policy, Greenhope Services for Women, New York, NY
 Ayeola Kinlaw, Director and Engagement Manager, Center for Public Research and Leadership, New York, NY
 Elizabeth Clay Roy, Chief Strategy Officer, Phipps Community Development Corporation, Boston, MA
 Erica Hamilton, Vice President and Executive Director, City Year, New York, NY
 Erika Davies, Director of Membership & Development, Association of Black Foundation Executives, New York, NY
 Gaylon Alcaraz, Executive Director, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago, IL
 Iliana Estevez, Federal Programs Manager, Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute, Washington, DC
 Imelba Rodriguez, Senior Program Director, Bridge Street Development Corporation, Brooklyn, NY
 Inez Gonzalez, Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Pasadena, CA
 Jennise Hall, Director of Finance, Turning Point, Brooklyn, NY
 Jovian Zayne Irvin, Managing Director for Regional Talent Recruitment and Strategy, Teach For America, New York, NY
 Joy Messinger, Deputy Director, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Chicago, IL
 Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy, The Opportunity Agenda, New York, NY
 Kia Chatmon, Development Officer, National Organization of Concerned Black Men, Washington, DC
 Krystal Portalatin, Co-Director, FIERCE, New York, NY
 Margarita Guzman, Program Director, Day One, New York, NY
 Meredith Freeman, Program Director, Fair Food Network, Ann Arbor, MI
 Monique Miles, Deputy Director, The Aspen Institute, Washington, DC
 Nathalie de Los Angeles Hodge, Program Director for the NYCHA Resident Training Academy, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, Brooklyn, NY
 Nicole Oglesby, Project Director, IUPUI Community Learning Network, Indianapolis, IN
 Pamela Saelieb, Advisory Services Consultant, Taproot Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
 Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director, Empower DC, Washington, DC
 Rachelle Olden, National Director for the Roosevelt Institute Pipeline, Roosevelt Institute, New York, NY
 Ramatu Bangura, Program Director, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, Bronx, NY
 Raquel Lynch, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte, NC
 Rosita Choy, Director of Operations, National CAPACD, Washington, DC
 Shreya Malena-Sannon, Program Director, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Brooklyn, NY
 Simone Sneed, Director of Development and External Affairs, Inwood House, New York, NY
 Sindy Benavides, Director of Civic Engagement and Community Mobilization, League of United Latin American Citizens, Washington, DC
 Tameeza Alibhai, Policy Manager, AKDN, AKF-Afghanistan, Washington, DC
 Tiffany McQueen, Director of Educational Programs, LINK Unlimited, Chicago, IL
 Tonya Davis-Taylor, Program Director, Palladia Inc., New York, NY

NYU Wagner’s Research Center for Leadership in Action conducts breakthrough research on leadership and offers customized leadership development and capacity-building programs. IGNITE is a program of RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network, which aims to strengthen communities of color by supporting leadership by and for people of color. Learn more at

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow
One of American Express' three platforms for its philanthropy is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social sectors, American Express is making grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 10,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector. The Academy brings together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and nongovernmental organizations.

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