2018 ULF Atlanta Fellows
Adzua Agyapon is an educator, teacher leader, and former elected official. In 2017, she was a candidate for District 3 representative on the Atlanta Board of Education in Georgia. As a first time candidate, Adzua and her team planned and executed a grassroots campaign including field operations, fundraising, communications, and policy research. Adzua managed a team of 5 staff members and 50+ volunteers to knock on over 2,000 doors, raise $58,000, and defeat 3 other candidates to advance to the runoff.
Adzua received her bachelor's degree from Yale University and was previously elected to New Haven's Ward 1 Democratic Town Committee. In this role, she increased student engagement in city issues, and responded to community needs to develop a fair endorsement vote process.
Adzua is currently the kindergarten grade level chair at KIPP STRIVE Primary School in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta.
Anthony Colombo is currently working towards a Masters in Public Administration at Indiana University with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Public Policy Analysis. Anthony is a research assistant for the Indiana Nonprofits Project which is designed to provide information about the challenges, structure, and composition of the Indiana nonprofit sector. Before studying at IU, Anthony worked for Athens Area Habitat for Humanity for two years as a ReStore manager. He received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Georgia. During his time at UGA, Anthony was involved with WUOG, an all-student, all-volunteer alternative college radio station.
Brea Smith enters the Urban Leaders Fellowship upon finishing her second semester at New York University. After successfully completing two years with Teach For America-- Jacksonville, Brea is currently pursuing her Masters in Education Leadership, Politics and Advocacy. Her interests focus on access to quality education and equity for marginalized groups, particularly students of color. Brea has researched several educational systems outside the U.S., including the higher education systems in India. There she examined the reminisce of the caste system, intersectionality and its implications on educational attainment. She will be traveling to Argentina in the next couple months to further her research. Brea currently serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Uncommon Schools. After ULF, Brea will head to Argentina to pursue her research then finish her last semester at NYU and return to Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, New York.
Jennifer Anthony comes to the Urban Leaders Fellowship as an Assistant Principal in a Metro Atlanta School District. During this time, Jennifer has also worked closely with Teach For America in a variety of roles, including curriculum specialist and virtual content coach. She is a graduate of Auburn University as well as Brenau University where she received her Master’s degree in education. Jennifer is currently working on her doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis on culturally responsive pedagogy. She is a member of the Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) advisory for the Cobb County School District as well as an active member of her sorority. After ULF, Jennifer will continue her school leadership path with hopes of becoming a school principal.
Jonathan Newburgh comes to the Urban Leaders Fellowship having just finished his Master of Public Administration (MPA) at American University in Washington, DC. While a graduate student, he worked as a Data Analyst at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as a Graduate Assistant for Professor Carla Flink. Before pursuing his MPA, Jonathan worked in DC at the Brookings Institution, a think tank, and No Labels, a nonprofit that convenes policy makers and thought leaders from across the political spectrum. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. While in Montreal, he was an editor of several student-run academic journals, a director of and news journalist for The McGill Tribune, and tutor at the McGill Writing Centre. An avid baseball fan, he recently moved to Atlanta, where he is excited to root for the Braves and to work to improve public services in the metro area.
Jostin Grimes comes to the Urban Leaders Fellowship after completing his first year as a Kindergarten teacher at Kipp Vision Primary School. Before joining the Kipp family, Jostin attended Morehouse College, where he studied Sociology with a minor in Education Studies. During his time in undergrad, Jostin was a member of the Morehouse College Glee Club and also the lead scholar for the UPS Community Service Program at Fickett Elementary. As the lead scholar Jostin worked diligently alongside other students from the Atlanta University Center to provide enriching and engaging educational experiences for the scholars at Fickett Elementary in Southwest, Atlanta. After ULF, Jostin will continue to create narratives and opportunities for black and brown children at Kipp Vision Primary.
Kaylis Baxter comes to the Urban Leaders Fellowship after recently completing a Master’s degree in Political Science/Public Affairs with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida. During her time as a graduate student, she served as a M.A. Representative for the Political Science Graduate Student Council (PSGSC) and member of Women in Political Science (WiPS). Over the course of her graduate career, Kaylis was a Community Assistant for the university’s Graduate and Family Housing. Also, during her years as a graduate student at UF Kaylis interned for Mission: Launch, Inc, a non-profit based in Baltimore, Maryland that is dedicated to reducing recidivism rates. Prior to that, Kaylis obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and African-American Studies from the University of Florida. After ULF, Kaylis will be entering the PhD program in Public Policy at Georgia State University.
A Cleveland Ohio Native, Martinique graduated from Hiram College in 2014, with a degree in communication and business. As a student, Martinique served as a campus leader and activist as well as a Resident Assistant and Student Ambassador President. She led multicultural initiatives with the Office of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs to create sustainable support systems for underrepresented students.
She founded a campus organization called TRUE seeking to bring men and women together to have open conversations about identity. After graduation, Martinique completed two years of service through Americorps with City Year Cleveland, an education non-profit dedicated on bridging the gap in low income communities between the support the students in the communities actually need and what their schools are designed to provide- as a mentor and tutor, coordinating youth development programming for elementary and middle school students.
During her year of service, she took on implementing an after-school program supporting the Healthy School Initiative using the Let’s Move curriculum, providing students with physical activity and nutrition education programs that seek to help students learn lifelong healthy habits and be better prepared to succeed in school. During her second year of service as a Team Leader, she advocated for food justice events, created clothing drives, and coordinated a Random Acts of Kindness Campaign.
Currently she works as a Community Ambassador for East End Neighborhood House an 111 year old Settlement house in Cleveland providing families of the community culturally diverse and compassionate social services, education and activities so that each member—from child to senior—can become self sufficient and thrive.
Her past experiences have impressed upon her the value of understanding that local and national policies affect opportunities and outcomes; policies profoundly affect people's lives; thus, she is excited to gain more knowledge and looking forward to supporting advocacy through the Urban Leader Fellowship of Atlanta.
Melina Hettiaratchi proudly joins the 2018 Urban Leaders Fellowship just before her third year of law school at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. She has spent the past two years tailoring her legal education to focus on public interest law and community organizing, primarily in issues related to education and youth advocacy. Law school in San Francisco has allowed Melina's to develop interests in other areas as well, including dependency law, disability rights, and affordable housing law. Melina received her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education--The Holistic Child at Mercer University. Through the fieldwork components of her degree, Melina taught and mentored in Title I schools across Bibb County, learning the value of a school for children and families facing poverty and homelessness. Melina's eyes were opened to advocacy and community organizing during her time on Mercer's Student Government Association, serving as student-body Vice President and senior class president. After ULF, Melina will participate in UC Hastings' Social Enterprise and Economic Empowerment Clinic to gain transactional lawyering skills to effectively enable community members to uplift their neighborhoods, and she will eventually put these experiences and new skills to practice after graduation.
Michelle Faggert is joining the Urban Leaders Fellowship in Atlanta after two years as a Teach for America Corps Member and Community Ambassador. Before joining Teach for America, Michelle attended the University of Virginia where she studied Environmental Science through a policy and conservation lens. While attending UVA, Michelle was the president of the Environmental Science Organization and Honors Society. Throughout her college career, she worked at a Charlottesville nonprofit organization called the Rivanna Conservation Society where she spearheaded community events such as legislative panels, river cleanups, and educational programs. Before beginning Teach for America, Michelle interned at the White House Council on Environmental Quality where she focused on national policy surrounding the country’s environment and natural resources. After the Urban Leaders Fellowship, Michelle is committed to teach 8th grade science another year in her placement school, during which she will become a teacher leader in a program called Charlotte Teachers Institute.
Rose grew up in the small town in North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel. While at UNC, she discovered a love of literature, critical theory, and social justice; resulting in her graduating with a major in English Literature and a minor in women and gender studies.
During her junior year, she was accepted into the UNC Honors’ Study Abroad Program and spent a semester in London. While in London, she also received an internship at the National Literacy Trust and worked with publishers to improve literacy levels in low-income areas of the UK. The summer of her senior year, Rose wrote a 23-page critical research article on the legacy of the theological figure ‘Lilith’ and was subsequently awarded the SURF Fellowship. During her senior year, Rose interned at Lavenson Press Studios and learned about publishing while helping to organize writing workshops.
Rose is currently a corp-member with Teach For America, working in special education on the big island of Hawaii. In August 2018, she will start her second year in the online Masters of Education program at John Hopkins University.
Attorney Harris has a passion for helping people. She has spent her life helping people in vast disciplines through her dominate talents – project management and advocacy. Currently she is the principal managing attorney of a general practice law firm and has published journal articles and comments on consumer rights and protections. Earlier this year she was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.
In the community, Attorney Harris is an officer on the Board of Directors for Georgia Watch, the state’s leading consumer advocacy organization. For 3 years, she has served the state as chair of a bar committee that reviews judicial applicants and makes recommendations to the Judicial Nominating Commission for appointment by the governor. She is also Vice Chair for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy Georgia Chapter.
Prior to and after graduating from the Yale Women’s Campaign School she uses her spare time working as staff for state and national elections/campaigns.
She is a former Fellow of the Georgia Women’s Policy Institute and graduate of the State Bar of Georgia Leadership Academy. Attorney Harris has received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, a Master of Business Administration degree in Strategic Management and a Juris Doctorate.
Talia Gerstle is excited to join the Urban Leaders Fellowship in Atlanta after working with refugees in Europe for the past three years. Prior to this, Talia attended the University of Michigan, where she studied International Studies with a focus in global health in Latin America. Outside the classroom at U of M, Talia was the Executive Director of a student-run service learning organization, The Detroit Partnership, where she oversaw 35 weekly volunteering programs in community centers and schools throughout Detroit. This experience deepened her commitment to social justice, and following graduation she moved to Madrid, Spain where she worked as an English teacher for two years. During this time, she also became the Volunteer Manager of Madrid for Refugees, an organization supporting refugees in the local Madrid community and promoting awareness of the refugee crisis through education events. This past fall, she spent 3 months volunteering at a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece. She looks forward to being part of the ULF team to help develop equitable policy ideas with her cohort, community partners, and local officials.
Tanasha Mahone is a leader in urban education and began her career as a Teach for America (TFA) Corps Member in Atlanta Public Schools. Her interest in teaching grew after completing her degree in Public Relations at Alabama State University. After four years of teaching at her TFA placement site, she was selected to live and work abroad with the Japanese Exchange on Teaching (JET) Program in Miyazaki, Japan. A year later, Tanasha returned to teaching in Atlanta and served as a new teacher mentor and TFA Institute Curriculum Specialist. Tanasha's interest in making a larger impact on education inspired her to pursue graduate coursework at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Organization and Leadership with a focus on School Building Leadership. In 2011, Tanasha was recruited as a Principal Fellow in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her leadership included coaching as a Master Teacher and leading as Assistant Principal and Principal in Indianapolis Public Schools. As a school leader she was able to establish school partnerships, strengthen family engagement, reduce suspensions & referrals by 20% with Positive Behavior Support & Intervention, and increase reading proficiency for a diverse population of English Language Learners. Her relocation back to Atlanta in July 2017 afforded her opportunities to serve as a teacher leader in Atlanta Public Schools. Tanasha aspires to lead and enhance early childhood initiatives in education as well as further efforts to implement PK - 12 Social Emotional Learning standards and SEL curriculum supports in Georgia.
Tayler Simon is a recent Master of Social Work graduate from the University of South Carolina and has been working in the nonprofit realm for the past 5 years. A majority of the work she has done has been in gender-based violence prevention and advocacy. Tayler also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the College of Charleston. During her time in undergrad, she was a Bonner Leader and completed over 900 service hours, as well as leading and attending service trips to places such as Cuba and Ghana. After the Urban Leaders Fellowship, Tayler hopes to take this experience with working in a nonprofit and with city council to the gender-based violence and advocacy field to better merge public and nonprofit relationships.
Grace Lee, Regional Director
Grace Lee is returning to ULF Atlanta as the Regional Director, after participating as a fellow in 2016. As a fellow, she and her policy teammates analyzed the alternative education landscape in Atlanta and provided recommendations on how to best support students, schools, and communities to prevent students from falling into the “school-to-prison” pipeline.
Most recently, she served as the Managing Partner at Sunhee’s Farm & Kitchen as well as a founding board member of Sunhee’s Community Place, 501(c)(3), located in Troy, New York. The mission of Sunhee’s is to provide employment opportunities and educational & career services for immigrants and refugees.
Prior to her time in upstate New York, Grace worked as a high school math teacher in Clayton County, where she dramatically increased the percentage of students passing the Algebra I GMAS. She led her school to have the highest proficiency rate in Algebra I of all the traditional public high schools within the district. She was selected as one of two Algebra I teachers to create state assessment preparation materials that were shared countywide. Additionally, she volunteered as the Executive Director of Kollaboration Atlanta, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to promoting an accurate and positive portrayal of Asian Americans in the entertainment industry.
After ULF 2018, Grace will attend Georgetown Law.
Matt Westmoreland, Elected Official
Matt Westmoreland is the Post 2 At-Large member of the Atlanta City Council. Prior to his election, Matt was the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education’s District 3 representative, serving as chair of its Budget Commission and legislative liaison to the Georgia General Assembly.
During his tenure, the board recruited and partnered with a new superintendent to rewrite the school system’s mission and vision, revise its strategic plan, define equity, adopt a new operating model that pushed decision-making down to schools, develop a turnaround strategy for chronically struggling schools, and build a $545 million capital-projects plan.
As chair of the Budget Commission, Matt led efforts to cut waste from the central office, increase teacher pay, allocate funding based on student need, and direct more dollars to classrooms. During his tenure, Atlanta Public Schools’ graduation rate increased 19 points from 58 percent to 77 percent, and the district saw improved SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement test scores system-wide.
An Atlanta native, Matt attended Morningside Elementary School, Inman Middle School, and Henry W. Grady High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, where he served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian. After graduation, Matt returned to Atlanta as a Teach for America Corps Member and taught history at Carver Early College High School in southeast Atlanta.
Matt previously served as programs director for Horizons Atlanta, an educational non-profit serving low-income students across Metro Atlanta through summer enrichment programs. He also worked for the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Washington, D.C. Public Schools System, in the D.C. office of Congressman John Lewis, and was an Urban Leaders Fellow with Colorado Senator Mike Johnston.
A lifelong and active member of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Matt lives in Midtown.