Meet the Tow Fellows

10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1044Robert Americo is in his last year at John Jay College, completing his Master of Public Administration in Inspection and Oversight with a specialization in Investigation and Operational Inspection. Robert is currently a Tow Fellow at The Urban Justice Center, supporting its Mental Health Project’s campaign to abolish the use of solitary confinement in New York State prisons. The MHP also strives to restrict the use of solitary confinement particularly for elderly, youth, and mentally or medically ill populations. The MHP accomplishes these aims by working directly with clients, promoting advocacy from the community level, and attempting to influence policymakers to support relevant legislation. Aside from corresponding with clients on a one-to-one basis, Robert is responsible for generating a shadow report that highlights the misuse of solitary confinement in NYS prisons, particularly involving the admission and treatment of prisoners. Upon completing his MPA, Robert hopes to continue his work in the public sector in an oversight capacity, and he plans to pursue a PhD in Criminal Justice, with a focus on Policy, Oversight, and Administration.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1025Joanna Callen is currently in her second year of the Master of Arts International Crime and Justice program. She is an international student from Jamaica, where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in criminology. She also holds a degree in social work, which allowed her to work for the Child Development Agency in Jamaica. Joanna now serves as a Tow Fellow with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), which works to protect vulnerable children, who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. Joanna works directly with CDF’s Youth Justice Advocate, focusing predominately on juvenile justice, health, and education. Joanna conducts research to support the Cradle to Prison Pipeline campaign, a CDF initiative that provides preventive supports and services for children to eliminate the flow of youth from underserved communities to incarceration. She also supports Dignity in Schools, a national coalition of non-profits that seeks to reduce the harsh discipline policies that interrupt the education process. After completing her degree, Joanna plans to return to Jamaica and help reform the country’s juvenile justice system to improve outcomes for youth entangled in the criminal justice system.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1052Michael L. Coleman is currently in his last year at John Jay College, pursuing his Master of Public Administration with dual specializations in Organizational Assessment & Monitoring and Investigation & Operational Inspection. He is a Tow Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice, working with the Center on Sentencing and Corrections’ Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. Michael supports Vera’s team in partnering with corrections systems to reduce their reliance on segregated housing in prisons and jails across the country. His work consists of conducting research on best practices in restrictive housing, analyzing assessment data, and preparing presentations to stakeholders and Vera staff. After graduation, Michael hopes to contribute to social justice reform through performance assessments and evaluations. Outside of his academic pursuits, Michael is President of the MPA Student Association and serves as the Policy and Procedures Officer of the New York Urban League’s volunteer auxiliary, New York Urban League Young Professionals.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1038Jennifer Hernandez is in her last year at John Jay College, where she is pursuing a Master of Public Administration with dual concentrations in Operations Management and Emergency Management. As a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow for The Bronx Defenders’ Policy and Community Organizing Department, she is working on a civil forfeiture reform campaign, conducting political intel research on the winners of the 2016 New York State primaries, and shadowing members from the various departments to better understand the organization’s holistic defense model. She also works for Victoria’s Secret as an Operations & Staffing Supervisor. Jennifer is a graduate of Marist College, where she received her B.A. in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations/Organizational Communication and a double minor in criminal justice and social work. Jennifer previously worked in public relations for companies such as MTV, ABC, and KB Network News. She was also recognized in 2009 by then-New York Governor David Paterson for her strategic communication and event planning contributions to the Explore NY400 Celebration.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1073-1Edward Lopes is a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow for MFY Legal Services, where he is compiling research and contributing to the development of policy reform related to privately operated, unregulated three-quarter houses. As a Fellow with MFY, Edward engages on matters concerning multiple aspects of housing and tenant rights advocacy by working with a coalition base of non-profit organizations and legislators, conducting policy research, coordinating tenant outreach, and organizing campaigns. Edward holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in Humanities and Justice Studies and is a current Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Edward has chosen to specialize in Law and Public Management and plans to obtain a Juris Doctor degree to continue his focus on housing and property law. Edward currently works as a Senior Writing Consultant with the John Jay College Writing Center, tutoring both undergraduate and graduate students in various subjects.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1057Shameika Nixon is currently in her final year of pursuing a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Inspection & Oversight. She also attended John Jay as an undergraduate, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a minor in Law. Shameika serves as a Tow Fellow at the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY), a collection of over 200 nonprofit organizations working to expand supportive housing for vulnerable populations. In addition to housing individuals at risk of homelessness, SHNNY assists clients with employment services, mental health counseling, and other support. Shameika contributes to organizing SHNNY’s NY/NY III campaign, which focuses on providing supportive housing for youth who are aging out of foster care and potentially facing homelessness. Shameika is also supporting an initiative to determine the number of homeless youth in New York City and to obtain federal funding to develop housing for that population. After graduation, Shameika plans to continue her career in social services, particularly focusing on children in foster care.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1035Muhammad Rehman is in his final year of a Master of Public Administration with specializations in Human Resources Management as well as Operations and Management. Muhammad is a Tow Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), where he contributes to building coalitions to support safe drug policy reforms throughout New York State. He conducts regular outreach to constituents, tracks legislative meetings, and monitors related media. He also supports DPA’s Office of Academic Engagement, which strives to connect researchers and policymakers. Specifically, Muhammad is helping develop and maintain a database to track research relevant to drug policy. Muhammad previously served as the Treasurer for John Jay College’s Student Government and interned for President Jeremy Travis. After completing his degree, Muhammad hopes to combine his passion for social justice and policy analysis to address the needs of disadvantaged communities. He ultimately hopes to start his own nonprofit organization to help immigrants obtain education, employment, and stability.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1064Loreal Simpson is in her last year at John Jay College, completing her Master of Public Administration in Inspection and Oversight. She is also pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Criminal Investigation. Loreal is a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow for the Osborne Association’s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents, which partners with government agencies and nonprofit organizations to safeguard the needs of children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system. Specifically, the Initiative works to raise awareness about parental incarceration, advance policy reforms, and monitor the implementation of those reforms. Loreal previously worked as a Human Service Specialist in the South Carolina Department of Social Services’ foster care unit. Her social work experience with children and families provided insights to how policy affects vulnerable populations. Upon graduating, Loreal plans to continue working in the social justice field and advocating for the rights of women and children who are victims of injustice.
Ann ChevealleAnn-Chevealle is currently in her second year of the Master of Public Administration program with a specialization in Human Resources Management. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Culture and Deviance Studies from John Jay College as well. Ann-Chevealle is currently placed at The Fortune Society, where she is continuing the research efforts of the previous Tow Fellow, Crystal Charles, on criminal justice debt and issues pertaining to Fortune’s Reentry Veterans Initiative. Ann-Chevealle also helped the organization with launching its first Twitter Chat on mental health. After graduation, she plans to pursue an Ed.D. in Urban Education Leadership and hopes to become a superintendent to reform policies in urban education. Another long-term goal is launch her own non-profit organization that encourages the growth and fulfillment of children who have or had incarcerated parents and/or have been incarcerated. She wants to help individuals that are perceived as criminals by giving them a second chance and providing them with the resources they need to live a rewarding life.
KaylaKayla McCarroll is currently in her last year at John Jay College, pursuing a Master of Public Administration with specializations in Criminal Justice Policy and Emergency Managements. She is a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow for the Osborne Association‘s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents. The Initiative partners with government agencies and community-based organizations to advocate for policies and practices that meet the needs of children whose parents are incarcerated. She is actively researching current and prospective polices that may infringe upon children’s right to visit and maintain strong relationships with incarcerated parents. Kayla previously interned at the Kinds Country District Attorney’s Office, where she gained firsthand exposure to the impact of criminal justice policies. After graduation, Kayla plans to continue working to shape policies surrounding sentencing and other issues that negatively impact minorities.
RadoslavaRadoslava Mechkyurova is currently completing her master’s degree in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at John Jay College. Radoslava is passionate about promulgating social justice and implementing evidence-based practices within the criminal justice system. She would like to use her clinical and research experience to facilitate the implementation of more efficient policies pertaining to justice matters. Radoslava is a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at the Correctional Association of New York. She is working on the “Raise the Age” campaign, which aims to increase the age of criminal responsibility for 16- and 17-year-olds, who are currently arrested, prosecuted, and detained as adults in New York State. She is responsible for developing effective social media publications for the campaign by drawing from various sources in an effort to generate public awareness and policy revision. Radoslava also contributes to the design of advocacy strategies in the legislative process and collaborates with coalition members to initiate critical thinking on the issue.
GinaGina Moreno is in her final year of the Criminal Justice Master’s Program, with a specialization in Criminology & Deviance, at John Jay College. She also received her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with an English minor at John Jay. As a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Gina works on New York drug policy reform campaigns by conducting regular outreach to constituents, developing informational materials, participating in coalition and legislative meetings, and tracking related media. As an undergraduate at John Jay, Gina was a Writing Center tutor and a volunteer with the Prison to College Pipeline Program, where she participated in monthly learning exchanges with incarcerated individuals at an upstate correctional facility. She was also a 2014-15 John Jay Vera Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she worked on expanding access to college education in prison. After graduation, Gina hopes to continue working in the social justice field, conducting research and policy analysis.
LaurenLauren Moriarty is in her final year of the Public Administration Master’s program, specializing in Criminal Justice Policy and Operations Management. Lauren is a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow for The Bronx Defenders, working with the Policy and Community Organization Department. The Bronx Defenders is known for its holistic defense model, offering legal services for the destitute communities of the Bronx. As a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow, Lauren is continuously expanding her exposure to the legislative process and actively contributing to community organizing efforts to reform NYPD policies and issues involving the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Working directly with community members and The Bronx Defenders clients, Lauren collects stories to provoke policy advocacy within the Bronx community. Lauren has extensive experience working in the private sector, where she gained administrative skills in a fast-paced environment and established a well-rounded work ethic. She received her B.A. in English with a minor in Urban Studies at Queens College. Lauren is a native New Yorker who aspires to amend police and community relations through progressive policy changes.
IngridIngrid Olsson is a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at the Citizens Budget Commission and a second-year Master of Public Administration student concentrating in Criminal Justice Policy Analysis and Operations Management. At the Citizens Budget Commission, Ingrid researches how city and state legislators develop their budgets and allocate their funds. She is also researching overtime expenditures among city agencies, resiliency in New York City, and the availability and disparity in access to Broadband Internet. Before her work at CBC, Ingrid interned at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, where she oversaw nonprofit contracts and reviews. Ingrid was also a New York City Teaching Fellow, through which she earned a Master of Science in Education from City College and taught high school and middle school special education in New York City for five years.
MegMeg Osborn is a second-year MA student in Forensic Psychology and a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated women earn college degrees. Within CCF, Meg works primarily with the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a group that advocates for removing barriers to higher education for current and formerly incarcerated individuals. She conducts outreach efforts with allies and legislators at the state and national level, with the goals of reinstating funding eligibility for incarcerated students and ending the practice of criminal history screening in the college application process. Meg’s other interests include economic and racial disparities in pretrial practices and the treatment of women and LGBTQ individuals within the prison system. Her previous work has included volunteering as a sexual assault crisis counselor for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and designing a mentoring program for tenants of a women’s supportive housing organization. After completing her MA, she hopes to continue her study of criminal justice policy at the PhD level.
KristinKristin Vick is a Tow Fellow at MFY Legal Services. At MFY, Kristin is working toward meaningful policy reform to improve three-quarter houses. Also called “sober homes,” these unregulated private residences are known to provide unsafe, illegal, and inhumane living conditions to the city’s most marginalized and vulnerable populations and often engage in illegal Medicaid kickback schemes with drug treatment providers. By fostering a dedicated and passionate coalition base of policy leaders and legislators, conducting policy research, and coordinating tenant outreach and organizing campaigns, Kristin is engaging the issue on multiple fronts. Kristin is a second-year MPA student specializing in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration. She holds a BA in Honors Psychology and Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and has previously worked as a Research Fellow at Rutgers Graduate School of Criminal Justice, a Research Assistant in the Social Perception Lab at Rutgers, and an intern at multiple organizations including the Drug Policy Alliance, Middlesex County Jail’s Adult Substance Abuse Program, and Advocates for Children of NJ.
CrystalCrystal Charles was in her third and last year of the Public Administration Master’s program, Public Policy track, specializing in Human Resources. Her Bachelor’s degree, also from John Jay, is in Humanities and Justice with a Philosophy minor. Crystal was also the Vice President of the MPA Student Association. She is passionate about empowering, informing, serving, and connecting disadvantaged groups. As a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at The Fortune Society, Crystal researched Criminal Justice Debt and justice-involved veterans, assisted with participatory budgeting efforts, and participated in Three Quarter House Coalition meetings. Crystal looks forward to pursuing a PhD in the future. Her main research interests are transparency, communication, collaboration, and the use of technology by governments and nonprofits to improve services (i.e. social media).
JanerJaner Cordero was a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow for the Policy and Community organization Department for Bronx Defenders, an organization that utilizes a holistic defense model to provide legal services for the indigent population of the Bronx. As a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow, she gained exposure to the legislative process, and was able to participate in activities that propel meaningful reforms within the criminal Justice System. Additionally, she is responsible for researching, collecting, and analyzing information from clients as a method of informing policy advocacy. Prior to this opportunity, Janer interned for the investigations department of the Legal-Aid Society, and was also a Pinkerton Fellow for the Bronx Community Solutions (BCS), a demonstration project for the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration with a specialization in Criminal Justice Policy. As a native to New York City, Janer has directly witnessed the adverse impact of draconian policies within the Criminal Justice System and hopes to use her career to help inflict systemic change.
HeatherHeather Han was a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at the Prisoner Reentry Institute, where she assisted with the development of the National Online Certificate Course in Reentry (NOCCR) project. The NOCCR is a practice based training program designed for front line prison staffs working with formerly incarcerated individuals returning home. The NOCCR hopes to equip front line prison staffs with knowledge and information for successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals. Prior to the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship, Heather interned at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she assisted federal investigators with allegations of employment discrimination. Heather is pursuing an MA in Forensic Psychology. Her research interests including racial microaggression, subtle forms of discrimination towards ethnic/racial minorities and the LGBT population, multicultural issues in Psychology and the criminal justice system. She holds a BA in Psychology from Stony Brook University. After graduation, Heather plans to pursue a PhD in Psychology and hopes to become a researcher to reform the criminal justice. She is a member of Asian American Psychological Association.
BriannaBrianna Jackson was a Tow Public Policy and Advocacy Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) while pursuing both her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and an Advanced Certificate in Crime Prevention and Analysis at John Jay College. At DPA, she worked on a number of policy campaigns by conducting outreach to constituents, participating in coalition and legislative meetings, developing materials, and completing analysis and tracking of legislation and related media. A transplant to Brooklyn from San Diego, Brianna actively participated with the local ACLU, USD Pride, Trans-Border Institute, and USD Women in Politics and Public Policy Initiative groups during her undergraduate education in Sociology at the University of San Diego. Previously, she worked as a behavior modification intern at the BI, Incorporated San Diego Daily Reporting Center, a research assistant with the Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics. She was also a teaching assistant in statistics and working with Jon Shane and Richard Curtis on research projects on NYC drug injector behaviors/networks, internet-facilitated prostitution in NYC, and police policy pertaining to gun violence and homicide in New York State.
EricaErica Murphy was a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow, CUNY Service Corps Member, and second-year graduate student in the Forensic Mental Health Counseling program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. As a Tow Fellow, Erica served at the nonprofit coalition Education from the Inside Out (EIO), where she contributed to their campaign of abolishing barriers to higher education for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. Erica focused her efforts on encouraging EIO’s main goals of ending discriminatory practices in higher education application processes as well as supporting reinstatement of Pell Grant and TAP eligibility to people who are incarcerated. In the years to come, Erica plans to combine her health counseling training with her policy advocacy experience. Her aspirations include obtaining her LMHC licensure after graduation and continuing her work in the social justice sphere by assisting victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
DanielleDanielle Owens was a second-year Criminal Justice MA student, specializing in criminology and deviance. As a Tow Fellow, she worked at MFY Legal Services with their Three-Quarter House Project as a policy analyst and advocate. At MFY, she assisted with planning coalition meetings with other major players in housing and criminal justice policy in order to help reform the illegitimate transitional housing called “Three-Quarter Houses,” which provide shelter to many individuals who are formerly incarcerated or previously residing in substance abuse programs. She also advocated for residents of Three-Quarter houses to know their rights as a tenant, especially when faced with illegal lockouts, which are prevalent. After graduating from John Jay, Danielle hopes to continue her work in the field of criminal justice policy and obtaining a PhD in Criminology, to further research the subject.
MeganMegan Penney was a second year M.A. student studying criminal justice and a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow placed with the Osborne Association’s Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents. The initiative works towards achieving goals such as family responsibility statements, easier prison visitation for families (proximity, televisiting, etc.), and appealing to higher decision-makers to help with the needs of children with incarcerated parents. Megan graduated with multiple honors from the University of New Haven with a B.S. in Criminal Justice in 2013. She is also involved with multiple animal welfare related non-profits on the east coast. Her goal after graduating is to work for a non-profit on policy advocacy or direct services until she completes a PhD program. Megan’s overall long term goal is to acquire a PhD and pursue research on animal-related policies and procedures such as those affiliated with canine policing and police training.
CeemaCeema Samimi-Luu was an MPA student focusing on Public Policy & Administration. Ceema hails from Denver, Colorado, where she majored in Political Science at the University of Colorado. Prior to moving to New York, Ceema worked with high-risk youth populations, including homeless youth living on the street, HIV positive youth, and young people involved in the child welfare system. She also worked to train systems-involved youth to become restorative justice facilitators, volunteered as a mediator in a court diversion program, and organized around police brutality and racial profiling. Ceema received a Master’s of Science in Social Work from Columbia University in 2010 and subsequently worked with court-involved youth as a Forensic Social Worker in The Bronx and Staten Island Family Courts. She was placed as a Tow Policy Advocacy Fellow at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, where she works on school climate issues.