September 19, 2013

Governor Cuomo announces 2013-2015 Class of Empire State Fellows

Governor Cuomo announces 2013-2015 Class of Empire State Fellows
Source: Office of the Governor

On September 19, 2013 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the members of the 2013-2015 class of Empire State Fellows.

The Empire State Fellows Program is one of the three parts of Governor Cuomo’s New NY Leaders Initiative, which is designed to renew the connection between the public and private sectors and prepare a new generation of leaders to serve in state government. The Excelsior Service Fellowship Program brings highly-talented recent graduates to serve throughout the state government, and the New NY Leaders Internship Program offers hundreds of college students an opportunity to work in state government.

The 21 experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds were selected through a highly-competitive process that analyzed the unique skills they bring to government, as well as their leadership potential, commitment to public service, and creativity.

Each Empire Fellow will work closely with senior administration officials and participate in the policy-making process while also engaging in educational and professional development programs, including completion of a unique, interactive curriculum developed specifically for the Empire State Fellows Program by the Rockefeller Institute at SUNY Albany in consultation with Cabinet-level officials.

The Program began with a class of nine 2012-2014 Empire Fellows who enhanced the diversity of New York government and brought unique and needed talent to the administration. The new class will also play important roles in the Governor’s key initiatives, including the New York State Office for New Americans, the Regional Economic Development Councils, Market NY, Casino Gaming, and the Local Government Restructuring Board.

A number of the newly-announced class will be placed in the Governor’s Executive Chamber, while others will be placed in state agencies to work with key advisers to the Governor.

The 2013-2015 Class of Empire State Fellows

Jalila Aissi

Jalila Aissi comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as an Attorney with Cleantech Law Partners, where she advised startups, not-for-profits and other companies in the renewable energy sector. She also managed a large government grant and contract portfolio for the Wildlife Conservation Society, a leading global conservation organization. Ms. Aissi previously led projects for the Net Impact Service Corps and sat on the Grants Committee of the NYC Venture Philanthropy Fund. She also served on the Energy Committee of the NYC Bar Association and completed the Cleantech-Execs Program at NYU Polytechnic Institute. Ms. Aissi earned her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from UCLA and her law degree from University of San Diego School of Law. She has been admitted to the state bars of California and New York. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Allison K. Auldridge

Allison Auldridge comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as a Policy Associate for Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). In that role, Ms. Auldridge was responsible for helping extend critical financial protections to same-sex older adults in New York, develop strategic partnerships with diverse aging, HIV and LGBT organizations, represent SAGE on state and regional advisory boards, and oversee SAGE’s national “Spousal Impoverishment Protections” Medicaid Initiative. Prior to her work with SAGE, Ms. Auldridge spent over four years as a communications and marketing professional, first with the Madison Park Development Corporation in Boston, and later with the Brooklyn Historical Society. Ms. Auldridge received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Smith College and her Master’s of Science in Urban Policy Management from the New School. Placement: Empire State Development Corporation.

Adam Bushey

Captain Adam Bushey comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where he served as a Democracy Specialist for the Center of Excellence for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance. Captain Bushey started at USAID in 2007, after he was selected for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, the federal government’s premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. At USAID Captain Bushey was responsible for assisting developing countries in strengthening their governance systems to better recognize and protect the rights of their citizens by providing technical expertise in governance and the rule of law. In addition, Captain Bushey is a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the New York State Army National Guard. In 2010, he was promoted to Captain while serving in Afghanistan, where he was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star for meritorious service during his ten-month deployment. In Afghanistan, Captain Bushey worked to establish a functional judicial system and build the capacity of the Afghan government. In 2011, Captain Bushey formed his own business with the civic purpose of bettering the neighborhoods of Syracuse by restoring dilapidated vintage homes.  Captain Bushey graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Le Moyne College and earned his law degree with Honors from the State University of New York at Buffalo Placement: Executive Chamber.

Sidra Chaudhary

Sidra Chaudhary joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a position as the Program Director for the Liberty Partnerships Program (“LPP”) at the State University of New York at Albany. In this role, Ms. Chaudhary was responsible for the acquisition and financial oversight of a 1.75 million dollar grant from the State Education Department, all program operations and development, and program evaluation. As director, Ms. Chaudhary created and implemented strategies designed to help close the achievement gap for underprivileged youth at risk for dropping out from middle school and high school. Before joining the LPP, Ms. Chaudhary worked in various human service organizations including the Young Adult Institute in Queens, NY, the Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region, and Clearview Center, Inc. in Albany, NY. Ms. Chaudhary received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the State University of New York at Purchase and her Masters in Social Welfare from the State University of New York at Albany. She is currently a board member of the Juvenile Court Accountability Board with the Albany County Probation Department. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Nora Cronin

Nora Cronin joins the Empire State Fellows Program after a career as a Senior Assistant District Attorney for the Brooklyn District Attorney. As a criminal prosecutor, Ms. Cronin gained extensive trial experience in both felony and misdemeanor trials, and engaged in post-verdict appellate issues, grand jury investigations, and motion practice. Ms. Cronin has also consulted with the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative in Panama, where she instructed attorneys and police on investigative and trial techniques. Before beginning her career as an attorney, Ms. Cronin was a Staff Writer for the Long Island Press, where she covered issues on politics and the environment. Ms. Cronin received her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Philosophy cum laude from Mary Washington College located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and her law degree from St. Johns University School of Law. Nora speaks and writes Spanish. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Carlos Cuevas

Carlos Cuevas comes to the Empire State Fellows Program after completing his term as the Executive Fellow at the Urban Health Plan (UHP), a federally qualified community health center network located in the South Bronx. As the Executive Fellow, Mr. Cuevas reported directly to the President & CEO on a variety of financial, policy and operational matters. At UHP, Mr. Cuevas developed a financial reporting system to help department managers better track spending and spot trends in visit volume and supply utilization. Additionally, Mr. Cuevas conducted research projects for UHP senior management on Integrated Delivery Systems to help the organization develop strategic plans to adjust to the changing care delivery models and incentives system. During his health care career, Mr. Cuevas has also worked with other health care organizations, including: The Military Health System of the United States Department of Defense, the William F. Ryan Community Health Network, the Greater New York Hospital Association and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Prior to his career in health care, Mr. Cuevas worked as an analyst at a hedge fund in midtown Manhattan. Mr. Cuevas is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Comparative Effectiveness and Outcomes Research (COER) from SUNY Albany. A native New Yorker, Mr. Cuevas was born in the Bronx and earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Economics, a Master in Public Administration (M.P.A.), and a Master in Public Health (M.P.H.), from Columbia University. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Raymond Cummings, Jr.

Raymond Cummings, Jr. joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as the Interim Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Staff Development for the Archdiocese of New York. Mr. Cummings was responsible for overseeing matters related to the Archdiocesan curriculum, providing schools with leadership and training in the use of cooperative problem-solving techniques, and in the understanding and implementation of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards. Mr. Cummings also engaged in strategic planning to identify and develop system-wide plans/programs for instructional interventions and professional development. In addition to his work with the Archdiocese, Mr. Cummings has taught courses as an adjunct professor at Fordham University and Teachers College, Columbia University. Mr. Cummings also spent four years as a middle school Language Arts teacher in Miami. Mr. Cummings earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and American Literature from Harvard University, his Masters in Education from the University of Florida, and his Doctorate in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Mr. Cummings feels that his experience in the Empire State Fellows Program will allow him to strengthen his knowledge, skills, and dispositions to continue to serve the educators, children, and families of the state of New York. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Ana Doroghazi

Anna Doroghazi joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as the Director of Public Policy and Communication for Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS), the coalition of Connecticut's nine sexual assault crisis services programs. While there, Ms. Doroghazi led successful efforts to update the state's stalking statutes and improve laws related to sexual violence and people with disabilities. She also managed the organization’s media and communications strategies and served on several statewide workgroups related to victim services. Prior to her work at CONNSACS, Ms. Doroghazi interned with Freedom from Torture in London, England, and worked as a domestic violence victim advocate in Michigan. Ms. Doroghazi received her Bachelor of Arts in European Studies and Spanish magna cum laude from Hillsdale College, and her Master’s of Science in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Tanisha Dyall

Tanisha Dyall comes to the Empire State Fellows Program with an international development and public policy background. Her work so far has focused on policies that address the root causes of socioeconomic challenges that stunt global development. In her most recent role as Senior Associate for National Membership Programs at the United Nations Foundation, Ms. Dyall was involved in designing and implementing programs that supported the success of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Ms. Dyall also mobilized 120+ grassroots Chapters across the U.S., and build a strong U.S.-UN relationship by developing relationships with UN agencies such as the United Nations Development Program, UN Women and the United Nations Department of Public Information. Ms. Dyall also worked with the U.S. Department of State to educate the American public about U.S.-UN policy. Ms. Dyall earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics, her Masters of Arts in International Relations, and a Graduate Certificate in International Law from St. Johns University. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Alexandra Greene

Alexandra Greene comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as Legal Associate at the Office of Labor and Employee Relations within the Newark Public Schools (“NPS”). In that position, Ms. Greene was responsible for addressing legal and policy issues pertaining to a variety of matters such as new school initiatives, federally funded grants, as well as the negotiation of and compliance with collective bargaining agreements between NPS and eight labor unions. Ms. Greene assisted in the creation of district-wide policies to address emerging needs and maximize human capital. Ms. Greene earned her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development (Educational Psychology) from Boston College, Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and is currently working towards a Masters of Arts in Sociology and Education at Columbia University. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Imran Khan

Imran Khan has served as a policy fellow with the U.S. Department of Energy and as an Education Pioneers fellow in Houston, his hometown. In 2009, he founded Develop U, a non-profit organization aimed at community development, urban renewal, and neighborhood revitalization in South Dallas. During the summer of 2010, Mr. Kahn worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, teaming up with PepsiCo and CitySquare to deliver food as part of a student nutrition and summer enrichment program for underserved communities in Dallas. Prior to this, Mr. Kahn taught high school science in Dallas area public schools and worked at 3M as a materials scientist. His professional interests include anti-poverty programs, community development, and resource access through the use of effective social policy and government operations. Mr. Kahn received his Bachelors of Science in biochemistry from Texas A&M University, Masters in Education from Southern Methodist University, and Masters in Public Policy from the University of Virginia’s Batten School. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Richard Lecky

Richard Lecky joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as the Director of Regulatory Compliance for the Institute for Family Health, where he worked to ensure compliance with federal and state rules and regulations. Prior to joining the Institute for Family Health, Mr. Lecky was a real estate attorney with the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, and a Real Estate Appraiser & Research Analyst at Cushman & Wakefield. Mr. Lecky has also dedicated substantial time volunteering with the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc., which is committed to reforms in healthcare and criminal law that promote a public health approach to substance abuse. Mr. Lecky received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and his law degree from Howard University. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Ana Liss

Ana Liss has a background in economic development, fiscal policy, public budgeting, local government ethics, and journalism. Ms. Liss comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as a Business Development Associate at the Greater Rochester Enterprise, where she managed a regional business retention and expansion program and performed labor market research. Previously, Ms. Liss was a Research Associate for the Center for Government Research, where she traversed New York State assisting local governments interested in consolidation. Ms. Liss also worked for WETM 18 News Today and 13 WHAM News as an on-air television reporter, producer and anchor, focused on political, economic, and social events in upstate New York. Ms..Liss graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Ithaca College and earned her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Shaymaa Mousa

Shaymaa Mousa brings experience as a doctor, medical researcher, and public health policy Ms lisslyst to the Empire State Fellows Program. Ms. Mousa worked as a medical intern at Cairo University Hospitals, where she moved through rotations in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, and Anesthesiology. Subsequently, Ms. Mousa conducted medical research at Pharmaceutical Research Institute at Albany College of Pharmacy. Ms. Mousa received her Degree in Medicine from the University of Cairo and her Master’s in Public Health from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ms. Mousa speaks fluent Arabic and basic French. Placement: New York State Department of Health.

Laura Valeria Gonzalez Murphy

Laura Valeria Gonzalez Murphy joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as an Assistant Research Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Albany. During her tenure at the University, Ms. Gonzalez Murphy co-directed implementation of a project titled “The International Context of Immigration Reform: US, Mexico and Beyond,” which involved researching and comparing immigration policies and reform in the United States and Mexico. Ms. Gonzalez Murphy has also published a book and numerous articles on topics including Mexican migration to the United States, Mexican immigration policy, and boarder security. Previously, Ms. Gonzalez Murphy spent seven years working for the New York State Office of Rural Affairs, where she focused on farm worker services. Ms. Gonzalez Murphy earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science summa cum laude from Elmira University, her Master’s of Science in Urban Planning and Environmental Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and her PhD in Comparative Politics/International Relations at the State University of New York at Albany. Ms. Gonzalez Murphy is fluent in Spanish. Placement: New York State Department of State.

Christopher Ortiz

Christopher Ortiz comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as an Associate Attorney at the New York law office of Kaye Scholer LLP, where he focused on antitrust, general commercial and real estate litigation matters. During his tenure at the firm, Mr. Ortiz maintained a robust pro bonopractice representing immigrants seeking asylum in the United States and defending the City of New York in tort litigation. Outside of Kaye Scholer, Mr. Ortiz led the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, a voting rights affiliate of the New York State Democratic Party, as Secretary and a Committee Co-Chair in the organization, where he recruited and organized Election Day poll-monitors and advocated for measures to increase voter-participation. Mr. Ortiz graduated Summa Cum Laude with his Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics from St. Johns University and earned his law degree at Cornell Law School. He also served as an editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Rajiv Shah

Rajiv Shah joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General, where his caseload ranged from statewide environmental crimes, including cases involving air and water pollution, solid and hazardous waste and endangered species, to auto insurance fraud and other white collar crimes. Previously, Mr. Shah served as a judicial clerk for the Kings County Civil Court and as a judicial intern for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Shah worked as a scientist first at the Stroud Water Research Center's Microbiology Laboratory, and later at Dr. Nathaniel Heintz's Neuroscience Laboratory at the Rockefeller University. Mr. Shah received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from Fordham University. Placement: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Jahnhoy Smith

Jahnhoy Smith comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as an Operations Manager at New York City Health & Hospital Corp/Metro Plus Health Plan. In that role, Mr. Smith was responsible for overseeing the operational and policy issues related to Government sponsored health programs, namely Medicare and Medicaid. Mr. Smith managed Medicare Operations and business strategies to meet planned objectives and external business partners to ensure that the Medicare program performance was consistent with the corporation’s business and regulatory requirements. Mr. Smith received his Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from the City University of New York-Brooklyn College, and his Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from Baruch College/Mount Sinai Medical School. Placement: New York State Division of Budget.

Trey Joseph Wadsworth

Trey Joseph Wadsworth joins the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as a Transportation Planner for Sustainability at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. In that role, Mr. Wadsworth functioned as the Project Manager for a strategic multimodal plan, weMove Massachusetts, which is a data driven capital investment prioritization methodology and MAP-21 compliant state long-range transportation plan. Mr. Wadsworth was also the principal designer of the performance management framework for MassDOT’s progressive GreenDOT Policy Implementation Plan that utilizes state-of-the-practice performance management techniques, and was the author of MassDOT’s bold statewide mode shift goal, using a pioneering measure specifically chosen to minimize the use of limited staff and financial resources for future performance management. Mr. Wadsworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Concordia University in Montreal, and both a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Masters of Regional Planning from the State University of New York at Albany. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Peter W. Walke

Peter W. Walke comes to the Empire State Fellows Program from a role as a Naval Intelligence Officer, having risen to the rank of Lieutenant. Mr. Walke deployed twice in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his final posting at NORAD -Unites States Northern Command, Mr. Walke was regularly required to distill potential threat indications and decide whether they represented an imminent danger to the United States and Canada. For example, when North Korea launched ballistic missiles, within seconds, Mr. Walke was required to assess whether or not it was a threat. He was also called upon to decide whether a commercial airliner that had lost communications represented a September 11th-style threat and needed to be shot down. During his nine years in the military, Mr. Walke also developed budgets for new organizations, managed civilian and military direct reports, contributed to the initial operating capability of United States Africa Command, and wrote policies governing the entire United States European Command targeting enterprise. Mr. Walke received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science cum laude from Williams College, and his Masters of Applied Geography from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Angela Wu

Angela Wu joins the Empire State Fellows Program after a first career during which she rose to become a Senior Project Manager at the prestigious landscape architecture firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. In that role, Ms. Wu developed and managed a $12 million budget and coordinated the initial stages of a 300-acre waterfront revitalization project in Toronto, which was recognized by the Clinton Climate Initiative as one of sixteen founding climate positive “Cities for the Future”. Ms. Wu has also worked for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she analyzed various development project proposals’ potential impact on and economic contribution to New York City. Ms. Wu graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History of Art & Architecture from Harvard University and earned both her Master in Business Administration and her Master of Environmental Management from Yale University. Placement: Executive Chamber.

Information regarding the Empire State Fellows Program is available at


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