Congratulations to the 2022-2023 Workforce Academy for Policy & Advocacy Graduates!

Mar 06, 2023

Congratulations to the 2022-2023 Workforce Academy for Policy & Advocacy graduating cohort! We are thrilled to add another esteemed group of talented and passionate workforce professionals to our academy alumni community! Please take a minute to shout out your colleagues below for completing this rigorous professional development training. 

For the last decade, the Workforce Academy for Policy & Advocacy has been equipping a coordinated base of advocates to educate local, state and federal policymakers about the critical role workforce development has in ensuring an equity economic recovery. Interested in learning more? Stay tuned for details on our next cohort application dates! 


MEET THE COHORT!

Aaron Covarrubias
NYC Department of Small Business Services
Director, Media and Entertainment Training
REGION: New York City

Aaron Covarrubias currently leads the Small Business Services Department of New York City (SBS) workforce development training strategy and related investments in the local media and entertainment industry as the Director of Media and Entertainment Training. Aaron is a workforce development and adult education professional with 10+ years of experience leading operations for local government, non-profit, and higher education institutions.

Before joining SBS, Aaron worked for leading non-profit organizations including Nonprofit New York and Upwardly Global spearheading programs and educational initiatives. Prior to that, Aaron worked in one of the top private universities in Mexico leading their faculty.

He holds a Bachelor's in Administration, a Master's in Education, an MBA, and a Ph.D. in Education. He's a graduate of the Workforce Systems Leadership Program at Coro New York. He lives in Brooklyn where he enjoys running, playing non-competitive soccer, and strumming the guitar, occasionally with independent bands.

 

Antoinette J Gregg
The Knowledge House
Associate Director, Development and External Affairs
REGION: New York City

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, and resident of New York City for over a decade, Antoinette J Gregg has worked across New York state serving education, racial justice and workforce development organizations to fund their missions and increase awareness of their work. She is currently the Associate Director of Development and External Affairs at The Knowledge House (TKH), an organization that bridges the gap in technology and racial equity through technical training and job placement. At TKH she is responsible for the management of external communications, advocacy, and institutional giving, as well as development and fundraising across the organization’s expansion sites.

Antoinette holds a B.S in Sociology, and a M.S. in Quantitative Methods where she has written about the practical dissemination of Reparations, and is an alumna of the Cause Effective Fellows Program: Advancing Leaders of Color in Fundraising. She believes that racial equity through workforce development is a commonsense solution to closing the gap in economic mobility for Black and Brown New Yorkers.

 

Asantewa Holley
Northland Workforce Training Center
Director of Operations
REGION: Western New York

Asantewa K. Holley is the Director of Operations for Northland Workforce Training Center. Ms. Holley is responsible for the day to day Operations at Northland which includes all Grant and State reporting requirements, management of the procurement process for all goods and services, accounts payables, audits, monthly financial reporting and management of Student Success Services. Asantewa Holley has worked in the financial industry for eighteen years, holding multiple operational management roles. In addition, Ms. Holley serves as an Adjunct instructor at The University of Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center. ‚Äč

Asantewa holds an MBA from The University of Buffalo, B.S. in Accounting from Empire State College and is a 2020 Graduate of Leadership Buffalo. Ms. Holley currently serves as a Board Member for House Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), the Michigan Street Preservation Corporation – Nash House and Trustee at True Bethel Baptist Church. Asantewa is a member of the National Black MBA Association, WNY Chapter.

 


Ben Naylor
Rockland Community College
Executive Director of Government Relations and Institutional Planning
LOCATION: Mid-Hudson

Ben Naylor serves as the Executive Director of Government Relations and Institutional Planning at SUNY Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY. In his role, Mr. Naylor represents RCC before federal, state and local elected officials and develops and implements a comprehensive government relations strategy to benefit the institution and the more than 4000 students who attend RCC each year. In addition to his government relations work, he also project manages a variety of research initiatives across the campus including the College's current strategic planning work. Mr. Naylor has been at RCC for eight years, serving as the Chief of Staff under two RCC presidents from 2014-2022. Prior to his work at RCC, Mr. Naylor served as the research analyst for the Cook Political Report in Washington, DC and as a political and corporate pollster for Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling firm in New York City.

 


Christine James-McKenzie
JobsFirstNYC
Manager Communications and Policy
REGION: New York City

Christine James-McKenzie is JobsFirstNYC’s Manager of Communications and Policy. She leads the work to advance and implement sophisticated storytelling that communicates the organization’s impact. She also coordinates the expansion and management of an institutional communications strategy that drives content development for the organization. Christine develops and implements advocacy strategies that engage policymakers and key stakeholders around the organization’s work at the city, state, and federal levels.

Prior to joining JobsFirstNYC, Christine served as head of an award-winning public relations team at Sandals Resorts International and Appliance Traders Group; coordinator for print publication at Uniworld Group, focused on planning and preparing advertising and promotional communications; founded and led Zen Communication, which conceptualized and managed marketing campaigns; and, as an account manager for special projects at Staples Inc., where she piloted and tested new initiatives. She is well-versed in audio-visual and print media and has written for a range of work-related publications. Christine studied at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain, holds a Bachelors in Journalism and Spanish Studies, and is pursuing a Masters in Journalism at Fordham University.

 


Christopher Dowling
Staten Island Community Partnership
Director
REGION: New York City

Christopher Dowling is a lifelong resident of Staten Island with deep roots in the community. He is currently the Director of Staten Island Community Partnership since 2019. He has over 40 years of management experience within Collective Impact/Community Service, Customer Service, Information Technology. Christopher has been a Volunteer/Event Planner for the March of Dimes for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Community Leadership Course from Citizens Committee for Children and is currently attending NYU Silver School of Social Work’s Adaptive Leadership Laboratory.

  


Christopher Nardone
Columbia-Greene Workforce NY
Director, Columbia-Greene Workforce NY
REGION: Capital Region

Chris Nardone is the Director at Columbia-Greene Workforce NY and The Director of the Workforce Investment Office at Columbia-Greene Community College. He also serves on the Columbia-Greene Workforce Development Board, the Board of Directors of Columbia County ARC, and the Board of Directors at Reentry Columbia County. Before his appointment to his current position in 2020, Chris worked as Director of Employment Services for an ARC, and as a Labor Organizer for SEIU. Chris’ experience in Labor and Workforce Development spans over a decade, and his commitment to the field is driven by his belief that meaningful productivity is key to a person’s participation in their community and actualization of their citizenship. Chris is currently a Graduate student studying Work and Labor Policy and received a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Empire State College.

 

Chuchay Stark
Saratoga County Employment and Training
Employment and Training Coordinator
LOCATION: Capital Region

A former Employment and Training Supervisor and a Youth Center Director, Chuchay brings years of supporting the local workforce industry. She takes pride in having the  opportunity to create and implement programs that helps bridge the gap for those who are economically disadvantaged.

At her current role, Chuchay is responsible for assisting in the oversight, coordination of funding, and implementation of employment and training programs for a three-county area (Saratoga, Warren, Washington). Her work duties also include program development and assisting in the overall operation of the department.

Chuchay’s interest includes photography, traveling with the family, and investing in her two teens as they changeover into adulthood.

 

Colleen Blagg
MACNY
Manager of Apprenticeship & Workforce Development
REGION: Central New York

With 12+ years of experience, Colleen Blagg begins her new role as MACNY’s Manager of Apprenticeship & Workforce Development. States Randy Wolken, MACNY President & CEO, “We are thrilled to welcome Colleen to MACNY’s growing team. Colleen’s extensive experience in workforce development and youth programming makes her a wonderful
addition. She brings so much value to MACNY membership, our manufacturing community and to our workforce development initiatives.”

Colleen managed the Youth Workforce initiative at CNY Works, instituting a work readiness curriculum and implementing several projects geared toward underrepresented populations, especially youth. Earlier, she was a Career Readiness Counselor for Patriot Enterprises/AFSC; a Youth Training & Employment Specialist at the Northwestern Workforce Development Board; and a Career Consultant with Workforce Alliance. Colleen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Affairs from Florida State University.

Colleen’s focus will be on Apprenticeship Expansion grants and MACNY’s Youth Pre-Apprenticeship Program.

 


Dan Murphy
SUNY University Center for Academic and Workforce Development
Senior Staff Associate
REGION: Capital Region

Dan Murphy serves as a Senior Staff Associate at the SUNY University Center for Academic and Workforce Development. In this role, Dan supports educational opportunity centers and sister organizations across the state in providing tuition-free educational and career training programs to educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged New Yorkers. His duties include partnership development, communication and marketing, and management of legislative engagement events and activities. Prior to joining SUNY, Dan served as Chief of Staff to the Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of New York, as well as a Principal Communication Coordinator with the New York State Assembly. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from The College of Saint Rose, and master’s degree in educational leadership, administration and policy from Fordham University.

 


Dawn C. Torres
Consortium for Worker Education
Assistant Director of Training Operations
REGION: New York City

Dawn C. Torres is the Assistant Director of Training Operations for the Consortium for Worker Education. Dawn oversees, develops, and coordinates with her team to work in partnership to provide successful skills training to participates, leading into a direct entry referral program. Her most notable and recent accomplishment with her team, is that throughout the height of the pandemic, without pause, they continued to provide services to more than 130 program participants.

With over 20 years of experience, she is a highly motivated and driven Latina/Asian professional whose career spans through workforce, economic, community and business development. She recently earned a certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace from the University of South Florida, Muma College of Business. Born and raised, she continues to reside with her family in Brooklyn, New York. Dawn is a graduate of SUNY, College at New Paltz, and Lifetime Member of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

  


Hannah Lupien
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
Managing Director of Social Services
REGION: New York City

Hannah Lupien is the Managing Director of Social Services, overseeing five of Met Council's program areas: Benefits Access, Chesed Center in Boro Park, Crisis Intervention, Family Violence, and Geriatrics & Holocaust Survivors. In this role she leads strategic program planning, staff development, and raising the profile of Met Council's social services within the New York City nonprofit & funder community. Prior to this position Hannah was Met Council's Director of Strategic Initiatives, Food Programs.

Hannah has spent her career serving vulnerable populations in New York City at a variety of social services and emergency feeding organizations, including Queens Community House, the NYC Food Assistance Collaborative, and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger. She has experience in program planning & implementation, logistics, strategy, government relations, and management.

Hannah received her B.A. in History from Yale University and a Master's in Public Health from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

 


Jaime Crispin
Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE)
Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement
REGION: Long Island

Jaime Crispin (She/Her) has her M.A. in Expressive Art Therapy with Mental Health Counseling and has been working in the behavioral health field for the past 15 years. She has been a staunch advocate of human rights, disability rights and mental health awareness through various roles within the nonprofit sector. Currently, Ms Crispin, is the Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE). She works with individuals and families to empower them to be Self-Advocates and to speak up for their rights and the rights of others. Prior to joining the team at FREE, Ms. Crispin worked at Maryhaven Center of Hope for 11 years as the Director of Community Services. She oversaw various programs on the east end of Long Island including an OPWDD Day Hab, an OMH PROS program, as well as an OASAS Outpatient 822 drug/alcohol treatment program.

 


Jessica Ramos Cuttone
Greenwich House
Director of Workforce Services
REGION: New York City

Jessica Ramos Cuttone joined Greenwich House as Director of Workforce Services in August 2022. She oversees a newly created 5,000 square foot space dedicated to workforce programming and innovation for older adults and adults with barriers to employment, such as individuals experiencing mental health and other behavioral health issues. GH’s program, funded by New York City’s Department of the Aging, is the first Workforce initiative in the area to incorporate the needs of adults 60 and up, a group adversely affected by pandemic-related job loss and still encounters frequent experiences of ageism.

Jessica brings over a decade of experience leading innovative programming for various organizations. She previously was Director of Youth Programming for Opportunities For A Better Tomorrow and Director of High School Programs for Global Kids, Inc. She obtained two degrees from Columbia University: Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Cultural Anthropology and a Master of International Affairs degree in Urban Social Policy.

Jessica grew up in the Bronx and lives in Queens. She enjoys the outdoors and traveling internationally with her beloved friends and family.

 


Joelle Monaco
Director of LevelUp Professional Development and Training
NYATEP
REGION: Capital Region

Joelle Monaco is passionate about educating others from a People First Principle; an organization's employees are their most valuable asset — each with their own experiences, assets, and purpose. Joelle's expertise expands over thirteen years in organizational development with over eight years in the mental health field.

Joelle has extensive experience in assessment, planning, directing, and training enhancements for people and organizational success, working with more than 1,500 individuals annually through creative sessions, training and development, and consulting. These experiences have provided Joelle with professional opportunities to build the skills and abilities required to lead teams and empower individuals to achieve professional and organizational goals while fostering a people-first approach.

Joelle is a current lecturer for SUNY Albany's Professional Adult & Continuing Knowledge department and has been a trainer for the National Council for Mental Wellbeing for over six years. Additionally, Joelle currently sits on the board of directors for the New York State Public Health Association.

Joelle received her MBA and BS in Psychology with a minor in Education from the University at Albany, New York.

When Joelle isn't at work, Joelle enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring new restaurants and shops, and meeting new people!

 

Jordon LeBlanc
North Country Workforce Partnership (NCWDB)
Programming Director
REGION: North Country

Jordon LeBlanc is the Programming Director of the North Country Workforce Partnership, Inc. Jordon’s responsibilities include new program development, co-leadership of the innovative Authentic STEM program, and implementing initiatives that empower the North Country to become more intentionally underserved populations (with a special focus on people with disabilities). He is committed to raising the collective tide of the region through collaboration, inclusion, equity, and partnership. He is passionate about coffee roasting (and drinking), smoked meat BBQ, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 

Joseph T. McDonald III
ICD- Institute for Career Development
President
REGION: New York City

Joseph T. McDonald III is the Co-President of the Institute for Career Development (ICD). He leads all fundraising, communications, and external affairs in support of ICD’s mission to transform the lives of people with disabilities through employment, most recently overseeing a strategic expansion into New York City high schools to provide workforce expertise to special education departments and the students with disabilities they serve. Prior to joining ICD, Joseph spent more than two decades working in nonprofit higher education. He oversaw engagement and communications activities for Cambridge University in the US, developed strategic fundraising and engagement programming for The Cooper Union, and assessed and redesigned strategies and practices to optimize individual fundraising performance for The New School.

 


Kortney Keyes
Seneca Nation - Visitor Economy Management Office
Manager
REGION: Western New York 

Kortney is the Manager of the newly formed Visitor Economy Management Office (VEMO) for the Seneca Nation. She is a Western New York native and has over 12 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. She is a graduate of Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism which has championed her recent change into the tourism field. She states “I am very excited to lead the Seneca Nation’s tourism initiatives and look forward to creating a brand that everyone will know, love and respect. Our office focuses on our Seneca community first, building on our assets which help create that positive visitor economy we are looking for.”

 


Dr. LaTasha Hamlett-Carver
Westchester Community College
Division Coordinator
REGION: Mid-Hudson

Dr. LaTasha Hamlett-Carver is the Division Coordinator of Workforce Development and Community Education at SUNY Westchester Community College (WCC) and serves as the Jacqueline & Allan Stuart Endowed Faculty Co-Chair in Workforce Development. Dr. Hamlett- Carver is a workforce development professional with over 10 years’ experience designing and managing workforce, education, college, and social services programs. During her tenure at WCC she has identified, coordinated, and advanced strategic public-private partnerships and effective programming with businesses, business associations, and community organizations to advance workforce development initiatives. These initiatives served various populations including adults, youth, and individuals with barriers to employment and training, entry-level job seekers, and professionals in need of specialized training and degree programs.

Prior to joining SUNY Westchester Community College, Dr. Hamlett-Carver spent several years with the Westchester Putnam Workforce Development Board (WPWDB) under the auspices of the Westchester County Department of Social Socials (WCDSS). Highlights of tenure at WPWDB includes authoring their Career Pathways strategy that is used to guide and place residents of Westchester and Putnam counties on a career track that improves their technical and employability skills; while providing them with continuous education and training that leads them recognized credentials and subsequent employment opportunities. 


Naheed Khan
Nassau Community College
Assistant Dean
REGION: Long Island

Naheed Khan is Assistant Dean for the Nassau Community College, Workforce Development Department, a Psy.D. Candidate in Human and I/O Psychology concentration in leadership and Vice President of NAMI CLI. Naheed strongly believes in diversity and inclusion in the workforce. She is passionate about creating new programs and employability opportunities, developing existing employees for better positions within their organizations helps community members and organizations. She believes in a win-win for all!

 


Pamela Lewis
St. Lawrence County Workforce Development Board
Executive Director
REGION: North Country

Pam Lewis is the Executive Director of the St. Lawrence County Workforce Development Board. She has engaged in Workforce Development activities for 30+ years in various capacities. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Pam was active as an Employment & Training Counselor at the One Stop Career Center in Canton, NY, under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program. Pam has extensive experience working with Employers, Adults, Dislocated Workers, and Youth. She was also responsible for overseeing the TANF Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). In addition to working with the St. Lawrence County Workforce Development Board, Pam has previously served on the St. Lawrence County Youth Advisory Board, the NYATEP Board as the North Country Regional Vice President, and currently serves on the St. Lawrence County Economic Development Advisory Board. Pam has demonstrated her dedication to workforce development in her many years of service to St. Lawrence County.

 


Rev. Prabhu Sigamani
ROC-NY
Director
REGION: New York City

Prabhu joined ROC-NY in Jan 2010 as a case manager and, in 2014, transitioned to do policy work. In 2020 he became the director of the chapter; he comes with 12 years of experience. Prabhu graduated BA Cum Laude from NYACK College, majoring in Theology. He continued his education at New York Theological Seminary and earned his Masters in Divinity. Prabhu received a certificate in Project Management, Complex Decision Making from Cornell University. Prabhu was recognized for his work during the pandemic in 2021 by New York Labor Power 100. He visions to make service, education, and knowledge accessible to restaurant workers, which will lead to industry transformation.

Prabhu is also an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, currently ministering at Farmingville UCC. He serves on the Advisory Board for Worker Justice Project, a non-profit that works to improve day labors' lives.

 


Samuel M. Pierre
Executive Director
Haitian American Caucus
REGION: New York City

Samuel M. Pierre is currently a Co-Founder and the Executive Director at the Haitian American Caucus (HAC), a global community development nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide Haitian communities worldwide with access to information and resources that will foster self-development and success. With operations in the US and Haiti, HAC helps over 3,000 people annually through advocacy and service training in education, healthcare, workforce, and economic development. With ten-plus years of government experience in local, state, and federal government, Sam has built relationships and contacts that have helped him complete projects and create programs that assisted and secured funding for the religious, nonprofit, and private sector communities.

A compassionate manager with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, Sam is dedicated to fostering a working environment that encourages collaboration and optimizes team performance. Sam uses his experience as an expert public affairs professional to bring innovation and new public-private partnerships to the nonprofit sector.
Sam holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Finance from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications with a specialization in Political Science from St. John’s University.

Sam also serves as Adjunct Faculty Professor at schools like St. Francis College and LaGuardia Community College, where he teaches entrepreneurship and business management.
Sam’s ultimate goal is to increase awareness about issues that Haitian Immigrants and Haitian Americans deal with daily while keeping to the mission to help them solve these complex problems through advocacy and service. 

 

Stephanie Birmingham
New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC)
Director of Community and Operations
REGION: New York City

As Director of Community and Operations, Stephanie provides direct support for members and oversees daily operations for NYCETC. She aims to ensure quality experience and high satisfaction among a diverse and inclusive community of over 200 workforce providers, education institutions, and labor management organizations that provide job training and employment training to over 600,000 New Yorkers. Stephanie brings over a decade of experience in New York City’s arts and culture sector. Prior to joining NYCETC she was the Senior Membership Manager at the Whitney Museum of American Art. During her tenure the museum’s membership saw exponential growth, and she established operations central to the opening of the Whitney’s new building in 2015. Stephanie has additionally taught classes and worked in student services at community colleges. Stephanie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina.

 


Susan Litera
The Arc Madison Cortland
Director of Development & Communications
REGION: Mohawk Valley

Susan Litera is an accomplished fundraising and public relations professional, working in the non-profit sector for 25 years. Sue specializes in relationship building and stewardship of donors. She began her career as a special events professional and quickly found her niche cultivating donors for major gifts. Her background in journalism lends itself perfectly to her public relations and relationship-building acumen. “Getting to know donors really isn’t very different from investigative journalism; it’s about listening and looking for cues,” Litera said recently. When she isn’t busy working to raise funds for those with developmental disabilities, she is a Mom to five children, and working on the non-profit, she began to support people in crisis.