New York Leadership Directory
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As an emerging change-agent, Alfonso believes every young person has limitless potential. He believes with intentional exposure and support along with healthy spaces—each young person can actualize their potential. Prior to Summer Search, Alfonso worked as a Budget and Policy Analyst with the legislative branch in Prince George’s County, Maryland while working as a Program Coordinator with a non-profit organization in Washington DC that serves black and brown boys and young men.
Originally from Silver Spring Maryland, Alfonso graduated from Howard University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in English, and Masters of Social Work from the Howard University School of Social Work. He comes with vast experience and is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the mission and vision of Summer Search.
In his free time, you can catch Alfonso sitting in front of his laptop crafting blogs for his website, looking up cheap flights to different countries for his next trip, or exploring New York City and all the food and culture it has to offer.
As a dedicated proponent of educational equity and opportunity, Bethany is passionate about Summer Search’s mission. Having worked on the program side for several years, leading outreach and recruitment of new Summer Search students, Bethany is excited to bring her relationship-building skills to fundraising. She is driven by a deep desire to ensure all youth have equitable access to the resources and opportunities that cultivate self-empowerment, joy and growth.
Bethany spent several years as the Director of Youth Programs at Hartley House. She has also worked as a research assistant in housing policy issues and interned at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in D.C. She graduated from Pace University with a BA in Applied Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies and received her Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College. Proud of having lived in four out of NYC’s five boroughs, she can currently be found in Sunnyside, Queens.
Every human being deserves to live, learn, laugh, and develop their dreams in a just world. As a Program Associate at Summer Search, Borah supports mentees with love, advocacy, and strategy to help them realize future success and celebrate current triumphs.
Before joining Summer Search, Borah taught literacy and global citizenship in the Bronx. Borah was honored to receive the 2017 Excellence in Education award from the Committee for Teaching on the United Nations for her work as a NYC Junior Ambassador educator.
Borah holds a BA from Boston University and an MA from the Hunter College School of Education. An adventurer herself, Borah recently joined an archeologic expedition in Mongolia. Future adventures will hopefully include retracing a medieval pilgrimage route, climbing Machu Picchu, and skydiving. But on any given Tuesday, you’ll find Borah swing dancing (or trying!), haunting East Harlem farmers’ markets, and singing duets with her partner.
Braulio saw the strength of youth empowerment when he traveled to Malawi, Africa in high school. It’s there where he saw people of all ages, especially the teenagers building a school brick by brick. Since then, Braulio has been an advocate for youth development for over 8 years.
As a proud Bronx native and first generation American, Braulio has completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University. In addition, he received his Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Braulio has worked with organizations like City-Year, the Fresh Air Fund and the TRIO program: Upward Bound. Most recently, Braulio transitioned out of buildOn, where he served alongside Bronx youth in many service-learning projects. For nearly 5 years, he organized 25,000 hours of service and helped build 6 schools across the world with youth.
Cynthia is first generation Mexican-American born and raised in San Clemente, California. Being one of the first in her family, she graduated Loyola Marymount University in 2016 where she received her B.A. in Modern Languages. Soon after she committed to a year of service, providing counseling services to high school students in Bushwick, through Good Shepherd Volunteers.
Cynthia strongly believes that everyone deserves an opportunity to explore their highest potential. The phrase “It takes a village” highly resonates with the amount of support she believes we all need in order to help achieve all our goals. Cynthia strives to be able to help youth reach their goals, be part of that “village,” and be the support they need and want. When she is not at work, Cynthia enjoys spending time with her friends and going back to California to visit her family. Being relatively new to New York City, she enjoys exploring new areas and discovering what this city has to offer.
Danya is a visionary and a leader. She has had the opportunity to mentor individuals of all ages in various settings such as dance studios, foster homes, and correctional facilities. Driven by innovation and a desire to see a better tomorrow, Danya has utilized rehabilitative and restorative justice practices, as well as formal and informal therapeutic techniques, to encourage positive development.
After graduating high school, Danya took a gap year to volunteer with foster youth overseas. After a year of self-growth, she obtained her B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland.
An avid dancer, Danya has practiced many forms of the art including: West African, Jazz, Modern, Afro-Jazz, Ballet, and, her favorite and most studied, Hip-Hop. Her favorite animal is the baby elephant and she has never eaten a waffle that she didn’t love!
Dariela is a Summer Search alum who is passionate about youth development and giving back. After high school, Dariela learned just how critical it is to have a strong support system and access to resources. Dariela had a community she could turn to for support but knew this was not the case for everybody. She decided to pursue a career in youth development and work towards bridging the equity gap. Before joining the Summer Search team, she worked with buildOn where she engaged youth in service-learning. This experience allowed her to explore different ways to support students and work with them to address community issues that mattered to them.
Dariela attended Fordham University where she earned her B.S in Psychology and is currently pursuing her MPA from Baruch. When she is not at Summer Search, Dariela can be found reading poetry, spending time with her family, exploring new recipes or training.
Dariela is excited to be a part of the team and give back to a community that had such a profound impact on her.
Emily works with Summer Search’s corporate partners to build strong relationships that result in more opportunities for Summer Search students. She is thrilled to be part of a team that is focused on helping young adults reach their full potential, and is inspired by the many successes – both big and small – of Summer Search students and alums.
Prior to joining Summer Search, Emily was the Development Manager at Community Solutions International, where she worked with foundations and corporations to fund systems-level initiatives aimed at improving public health outcomes. She has also held development roles at CCS Fundraising, Freeman Philanthropic Services, and New York Needs You.
Emily graduated from Furman University with a degree in Economics and went on to take classes at Columbia University’s Masters in Fundraising Management program. In her spare time, you might find her updating her list of New York City restaurants to eat at or reading back issues of her favorite magazines.
Emily believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive. Her commitment to education equality is her constant compass.
Emily came to Summer Search as a mentor and helped launch the College Success program. She experiences the beauty and power of the longevity of Summer Search as college freshmen become college graduates before her eyes.
Emily holds a B.A. in Classical Languages from Hamilton College and worked at NYC Audubon as the Development Associate and Membership Director. She served in AmeriCorps as a Literacy Tutor at an elementary school in Oakland, California and taught English along the Amazon River in Peru.
When she’s not laughing with her hilarious coworkers, she can be found doing crossword puzzles, hiking in the Hudson River Valley, exploring her hometown on her bicycle or birding in the city’s parks. She lives in Brooklyn and plays Frisbee with her husband.
Gisel comes to Summer Search with a deep passion for intersectional justice. As a first-generation migrant born in Ecuador, they understand first-hand the effects of environmental racism on low-income brown and black communities. They have facilitated youth-based workshops with Theatre of the Oppressed & Centro Corona and hold a BFA from the School of Visual Arts here in NYC where they studied Visual and Critical Studies.
When Gisel is not working at Summer Search, they are organizing in their community and cooking up new foods!
Ivan is passionate about social justice and creating a more equitable world that creates opportunities for those that lack them. He was inspired to do this work when he served as a youth mentor in his hometown of Stockton, California.
Motivated by the desire for all people to see their true value, Jason is wholeheartedly committed to Summer Search’s mission and vision.
Jason supports newer mentors and is particularly focused on using data to inform decisions and improve program quality.
Jason earned his BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida and his MA in Mathematics Education from the University of Central Florida. Prior to Summer Search, Jason was a math teacher and spent semester breaks touring the eastern US, singing songs for strangers and sampling local cuisine.
These days he enjoys quiet mornings of prayer and louder evenings with friends, family, and food. Jason resides in Brooklyn with his lovely wife.
Dedicated to social change and a commitment to understanding history, culture and the impact that racism and other intersections have on individuals and communities, Jené is continually inspired by authentic conversations and relationship building.
Jené provides mentoring and training support to Program Associates and loves the opportunity to create spaces where people feel supported and heard.
Jené graduated from Brandeis University and holds a MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work.
In her spare time, Jené enjoys laughing, learning from, and supporting her friends and family. She enjoys music, reading fantasy books, cats, swimming in the ocean, and sleeping in. She has spent the last couple of summers travelling to Cuba, and getting involved with community organizing efforts.
She currently lives in Brooklyn, and dreams of spending the winters in the Caribbean.
Jill is inspired by generosity and courage, and she is grateful to learn from, and be challenged by, Summer Search students. Jill currently manages our foundation relationships, grants and proposals to help ensure that more students can feel appreciated, respected, and at home – while being pushed to reach for big dreams.
With over 17 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Jill’s previous roles have included teaching and managing sexuality education programs in Boston, as well as working in HIV-prevention and treatment services in Boston, New York City and the North Carolina Department of Corrections.
Jill holds a BA in Psychology-Sociology from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. When she isn’t typing, Jill prefers to be swimming laps in any kind of pool, dreams about writing a novel that makes people laugh, and chases two overly active small male children.
As a Summer Search Alum, Joceline is passionate about supporting and uplifting youth in her community. She believes that today’s youth with flourish greatly through having significant, therapeutic relationships with adults. From her own experience with an individual mentor, she knows that the holistic guidance provided can change a students’ life! Her goal is to give back and support the youth in her community.
Joceline grew up in Brooklyn but went to New Paltz for college. She enjoyed being close to the mountains and trees but not too far from the city and her family. Joceline graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Deaf Studies. After college Joceline worked as a Case Planner in Foster Care for 2 years where she worked to safely reunite families in her community. After Foster Care, Joceline worked at Bottom Line for 2 years supporting over 150 low-income, first-generation college students through their undergraduate career.
In her free time, Joceline enjoys watching tv shows like Supernatural, Grey’s Anatomy and The Office! If not watching tv shows Joceline enjoys playing PS4 games like Borderlands, Beat Saber, or the SIMS. She has also started to learn how to knit and crochet and hopes to make her dog some homemade outfits!
Julian’s path to Summer Search was motivated by his experiences post High School. Being the first in his family to go to college, he struggled to find his footing and a home in a setting so unfamiliar. Not knowing where to access resources or how to ask for help, it took Julian a bit of time to get settled. Eventually, he found his footing and found his community while studying Anthropology at Princeton. He explored affordable housing at Princeton, advocated for the rights of immigrants, challenged standardized notions of Latinidad, and learned to become a better accomplice, friend, and comrade.
Previously Julian was a college advisor where he assisted students in planning for life after high school. Being the oldest of five, working with youth and providing support for them always came easy and has always been a passion of his. He sees the immense potential and the amazing goals students of color have and wants to support that.
Julian is a first-generation American and proud of his Mexican parents who have given everything to support him. He loves the Bronx and thinks it is the best borough and is excited to be working in the community he loves so much.
In his off time, he loves playing and watching soccer. He wants to travel more once the opportunity arises and wants to make more use of his experience with Ballet Folklorico.
Mariah comes to Summer Search with passion for social justice and youth development. After spending several summers working with Summer Search participants as an outdoor educator, Mariah was thrilled to join the team as a mentor. Mariah is dedicated to making education accessible regardless of socioeconomic status and enjoys sharing her love for the outdoors with youth.
Mariah began her career with Colorado Youth for a Change where she did dropout prevention and student advocacy work with high school students. Before coming to Summer Search Mariah managed a peer mentoring program in the Denver area with students at Adams City High School.
Mariah was born in Oregon and attended high school in New Mexico, where she fell in love with the desert and mountain landscapes of the southwest. Mariah holds a BA from Hampshire College in Massachusetts, where she studied developmental psychology and public health. In her free time, you can find Mariah hiking, backpacking or making art.
Harvey Fierstein said “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” It is this sentiment of courage and ambition that motivates me to empower our amazing students to make the same decisions for themselves.
Mat holds a BS degree in French Education from Bowling Green State University and has thirst for knowledge that led him to study and work in France, Burkina Faso, French Canada & China.
Mat has worked at a summer camp that taught peace, social justice & environmental stewardship, and at buildOn where he engaged high school students in community service and led service trips to developing countries.