Introducing NYATEP's 2023-2024 Policy & Advocacy Academy Cohort

Nov 07, 2023

Introducing the 2023 - 2024 NYATEP Policy & Advocacy Cohort!

NYATEP is thrilled to announce the 2023-2024 Policy & Advocacy Academy. It was a very tough and competitive applicant pool and we thank EVERYONE who applied this year.  We are honored to have selected the individuals below. Congratulations! 


Madeline Ackley
Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center

Madeline Ackley has a Master of Public Health degree from the University at Buffalo, with a concentration in Health Services Administration and a micro-credential in Strategies for Eliminating Health Disparities. Madeline has dedicated much research and time to the issue of maternal health. Her master’s thesis, "Disparities in Maternal Morbidity Rates: Implementing an Interprofessional Maternity Care Team", focused on strategies to combat maternal health disparities seen in Erie County, New York. Madeline is one of two Program Specialists for the Birth Equity Project with Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center (ENAHEC). She has been working tirelessly to train new doulas, help doulas complete all tasks necessary to become Medicaid-certified providers, support pregnant mothers, educate the community & providers on the maternal health crisis, and advocate for the doula role. She is a member of NYCDA (New York Coalition for Doula Access), sits on the NYCDA Medicaid Reimbursement Subcommittee, and plays an active role in supporting and leading the Erie County Doula Task Force.

Allan Avidano
New York Center for Interpersonal Development (NYCID)

After graduating from St. John's with a B.A. in History and English, I taught ESL in Nara, Japan through the JET Program then remained in Japan writing and tutoring before moving back to my hometown of Bologna, Italy to teach ESL in kindergartens. Upon returning to New York, I worked as a case manager in foster care at Seamen's Society and then transitioned to the role of Preparing Youth for Adulthood Specialist where I assisted young adults to prepare to age out of care by providing housing assistance, post-secondary planning, citizenship services, and job placement. During this time I also obtained my MS Ed in Mental Health Counseling and completed my internship at an in-patient state psychiatric facility. I took a brief stint teaching ESL in Poland, before returning and managing an 82 bed supportive housing program for the mentally ill with Catholic Charities, Beacon of Hope Program. In 2020, I became the Learning to Work (LTW) Program Director at Concord High School with NYCID before transitioning into the role of Director of Workforce Initiatives in 2022.

Adrienne Ceneviva
New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP)
REGION: Capital

Adrienne Ceneviva is the Training & Events Coordinator at the New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals (NYATEP). In this role, she leads the coordination and planning for NYARTEP hosted trainings, events, and meetings. In her previous role as Community & Events Planner, she was responsible for creating and fostering relationships with local organizations and businesses. Adrienne has experience planning events of all kinds as well as creating marketing and promotional materials. She holds a degree in marketing from Siena College in Loudonville, NY.

Carrie Coates Whitmore 
Tompkins Cortland Community College
REGION: Southern Tier

Carrie is an adult student earning an Associate's degree from Herkimer Community College, Bachelor's from SUNY Empire State, and Masters degree in Adult Education and Higher Education Administration from the University of South Dakota while raising her four children. She worked for over 10 years in government before beginning her career in higher education. Carrie has worked for Tompkins Cortland Community College since 2012 in the Continuing Education and Workforce Development Office. She was promoted to the Director's position January 2019. She serves on the Tompkins County Workforce Development Board, the Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Development Board, CEANY Resolutions and Advocacy Committee, YWCA of Cortland Board, and several College committees.

Luis Cortes
Restaurant Opportunity Center New York (ROC-NY)

Luis Cortes is a ROC-NY organizer. He is working on bringing restaurant workers voices heard in the Empire State Childcare Campaign. When he moved to NYC ten years ago his first job was in the restaurant industry. Prior to ROC-NY he worked organizing day laborer workers in NYC and fast-food workers in the Fight for 15 Campaign in Albany, NY. Luis holds a BA in Public Administration.

Sarah Hinstorff 
General Assembly

Sarah is the Program Manager for Government and Workforce Partnerships at General Assembly. She leads the implementation of community partnerships and scholarship programs dedicated to opening low/no-cost pathways into GA’s world class tech bootcamp programs. She began her career in workforce development at Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a national nonprofit supporting job seekers who recently returned home from incarceration. In her first two years at CEO, she managed the organization’s largest grant portfolios totaling over $18M. In her second role on CEO’s Inclusive Hiring team, she directly counseled leadership at Fortune 100 companies to update their HR policies and practices to be more inclusive of job seekers with past convictions. Her prior experiences include working for a small family foundation investing in future leaders and a college job in youth development that changed the course of her life. Sarah is passionate about increasing systemic equity through direct investment in workers, reimagining the employment ecosystem, and building concrete tools for upskilling through nontraditional education. She hopes to devote her career to building pathways for young people, people with convictions, immigrants, and others from groups often locked out of the traditional workforce to build power and autonomy through work.

Amanda Karch
Columbia-Greene Community College
REGION: Capital Region


Amanda Karch is the Director of Community Engagement and Professional Development at Columbia-Greene Community College. Amanda is a dedicated educator and has spent her career in service of learners in a variety of settings. In her work across the public and private sectors she has seen firsthand the value of lifelong learning and recognizes the importance of not only formal education, but informal opportunities that allow people to better themselves and their communities. Amanda’s work in leading the Office of Community Engagement and Professional Development has her overseeing all non-credit enrichment, career development, and workforce training operations at Columbia-Greene Community College. During her time in this position, she has endeavored to transition the institution into the leading career and training provider in the two-county area she serves. Her work in developing effective, accessible, and person focused training opportunities has allowed Columbia-Greene Community College to serve student populations that have substantial barriers to achieving their educational goals. Her service as Chairperson of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Committee has opened doors to previously marginalized communities and led CGCC to develop innovative approaches to DEI and make the campus a more equitable environment available to all.

Emily Langan
MACNY - the Manufacturers Association
REGION: Central

Emily Langan, MPA, Manager of Partners for Education & Business, works with schools and local business partners to establish work-based learning opportunities for students, as well as to connect more school partners to industry in the greater Central New York region. Previously, she served as the community engagement coordinator at Syracuse University, engaging with administration, professors, staff, and staff involved in community-engaged work. Emily also worked at the United Way of CNY in the community impact and resource development departments. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Nazareth College and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Roxanne Marin 
Ibero-American Action League: Centro Civico
REGION: Capital

Roxanne has twenty plus years of firsthand experience in human service, Social & public policy advocacy, human service advocacy, social justice reform, and a community action professional. Experienced Employment Specialist with a demonstrated history of collaborating with individuals and families. Skilled in Management, Community Organizing, Justice, and Career Development. Hate and Bias Prevention Unit regional council member (Capital region of NY) for the New York State Division of Human Rights: • Was Awarded the 2022 “Workforce Trailblazer award” from NY Association of Training & Employment Professionals and the NY State Economic Development Council. • 2022 Recognition from the NY State Assembly for exemplary service in the workforce development system and economic mobility needs of New Yorkers. I am a person with a passion for learning new skills and increasing my skills daily. I am currently studying for my Doctor of Education (EdD) degree at the University of New England. I hold an M.A. degree in Social and Public policy and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Community Advocacy from SUNY Empire State University.

Elise Martin
Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP)
REGION: Capital Region

With over 15 years of experience in human services, Elise is a strong advocate for social and economic justice. As a Director at the Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP) she supports a skilled team in providing housing, employment, reentry and resource navigation services. She is a liaison to government, professional organizations and other community partners. She collaborates with these partners to advocate for lasting solutions to systemic issues, improve services, increase resource to the community. Elise has been at SCAP for 10 years and she received her Masters in Social Work from the University at Albany.

Kaubin Neupan
Workforce Development Institute
REGION: Capital 

Kaubin Neupane is a Research and Policy Analyst for Energy and Climate Workforce at the Workforce Development Institute. He serves as organization lead for tracking, analyzing, and reporting on workforce issues related to New York's Climate Act and other national, statewide, and local energy and climate-related policies. He is currently designing a familiarization training program for pupil transportation workers in New York State to support them transition to electric school buses. Kaubin is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at University at Albany (SUNY), with concentration in public policy. He received his BSc in Environmental Policy Analysis from the University of California at Davis and a Master of International Public Affairs degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Dontai Nottingham
Eastside House
REGION: Eastside House

Picture this: a Bronx native with a Master’s Degree in Social Work, dedicated to a decade of service in a Nonprofit Organization. Yes, you read that correctly – ten incredible years! I'm Dontai Nottingham, and I am deeply passionate about making a meaningful impact in the world of education and social services. My journey began as a social worker, servicing youth and families. Over time, my role expanded to Supervisor, Director, and most recently, Director of Government Relations. Throughout this journey, I've been at the forefront of leading diverse portfolios of middle school and high school programs. I’ve managed substantial budgets and developed cross-functional teams with the finesse that the Bronx is known for. In addition to my professional growth, I have a passion for cultivating powerful partnerships. As a dedicated community builder, I've spearheaded community day events right in our local neighborhood, fostering connections among South Bronx residents. Moreover, I've collaborated with internal and external organizations to secure valuable resources for communities. With my recent promotion to the role of Director of Government Relations, I'm tasked with implementing a strategic policy agenda while overseeing public policy issues that profoundly affect our local communities. I’m excited to continue this journey.

Noel Parish
CareerWise New York

Accomplished professional, with the vision to lead innovation, capacity building, and systems change initiatives in educational and non-profit settings and a passion for improving student outcomes through the thoughtful and forceful disruption of systemic inequality. This includes vast experience in the fields of education, workforce, technology and public policy. Recent areas of focus include education reform at the intersection of workforce and talent development.

Melissa Pennise
Common Ground Health
REGION: Finger Lakes

Melissa Pennise has a wide range of experience planning, executing and evaluating initiatives to improve community health for a variety of populations including the health care workforce, older adults, rural residents and people with disabilities. As Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at Common Ground Health, she contributes to regional health planning in the Finger Lakes region. Her current work supports the Regional Consortium on Health Care Workforce and the Sage II Commission, a planning initiative focused on developing a community-based system of care for the growing older adult population. Melissa has been recognized for her ability to connect with community partners and to transform data into actionable recommendations. Previously Melissa has served as an adjunct professor in the State University of New York – College at Brockport’s Department of Public Health and Health Education and St. John Fisher University’s MPH program. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, such as Public Health Reports and Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Vicki Sylvain 
Child Care Council of Nassau, Inc. and Nassau Community College
REGION: Long Island

Vicki Sylvain is a forward-thinking professional dedicated to advancing workforce development, program management, and community engagement. With a strong track record in driving intentional Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging (DEIAB) initiatives, she excels in fostering growth within organizations and communities. Educated with a Master of Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Policy from Stony Brook University, Vicki possesses a solid academic foundation. At the Child Care Council of Nassau CCCN), Vicki serves as the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. Here, she leads a team supporting families and childcare providers, cultivating an inclusive environment and expanding training accessibility. She is also responsible with representing CCCN in Albany to advocate on behalf of families and early childhood professionals. Her accomplishments also extends to program development; Vicki created "The Anatomy of the Resume" curriculum series, benefiting over 800 students in work readiness and employability programs. As a Professional Development Instructor/Program Manager at Nassau Community College, Vicki excels in delivering remote and in-person employability training, highlighting their adaptability in a changing work landscape.

Ahmad Yousufzai
Journeys End Refugee Services

Ahmad Yousufzai  development expert with over 10 years of work experience in management, business development, and technical assistance delivery. Over the last 8 years my work has focused primarily on private sector, industry competitiveness, and public-private partnerships.