Fellowship on Women & Public Policy


URSULA ABRAMS
NYS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS

Ursula Abrams has long been an advocate for underserved populations. At the New Israel Fund, she raised money for Arabs, Palestinians and Jews struggling in grassroots efforts to strengthen peace and democracy in Israel. During law school, at the City University of New York, she fought for the rights of immigrant battered women to remain in the U.S. At the Legal Action Center for the Homeless in New York City, and as a Guardian Ad Litem, in Seattle, WA, Ursula represented clients who needed backing to obtain public services. As a small business owner, Ursula continued her public service by reaching out to a wide sector of society buying and selling used books at very low cost. Ursula’s experiences in law school, studying feminist jurisprudence and working in the immigrant battered women's clinic, cultivated a profound interest in local issues. A proud single parent for 15 years, she is grateful for the opportunity to further develop her public service leadership. In her Fellowship placement with the New York State Department of Labor, Ursula is working in the Division of Labor Standards to ensure fair wages and job safety for New Yorkers. Ursula holds a J.D. from the City University of New York.

MARWA ELBIALLY
NYS DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFFICE OF NEW AMERICANS

While a student in the Political Science Department at the University at Albany in 2005, Marwa worked with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), where she developed a passion for political activism. After receiving her undergraduate degree, cum laude, she continued her activism on issues related to civil liberties for Muslims and underrepresented groups. She graduated from Albany Law School in 2010 where she was President of the Muslim Law Students Association. While in law school she had the opportunity to work in Cairo, Egypt, with Human Rights Associations on issues affecting prisoners, and assisted with the Taxpayer Clinic for low income individuals. She is deeply committed to advocating for the underserved. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the NYCLU. As a volunteer with the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), she has developed an extensive NCPCF database of pre-emptively prosecuted defendants. Her Fellowship field placement is at the Office of New Americans, New York State Department of State.

LEANNA GREENBERG
NYS OFFICE OF CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES
DIVISION OF CHILD CARE SERVICES

Leanna Greenberg possesses a passion for education, belief in the human potential, and a drive for social justice. These assets, paired with curiosity and enthusiasm, brought her to the study of mental health, wellness, and the impact of public policy on these issues. She holds a Master's of Science Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University at Albany. Bringing innovation to treatment planning and community outreach, Leanna spear-headed the curriculum development for a body positive therapy group at the College of St. Rose where she interned as a staff therapist. She received recognition for outstanding achievement in psychology and for excellence in research from Fredonia State University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. With a goal to increase gender and racial equity and a focus on non-traditional employment and training, Leanna sought placement as a graduate assistant at the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society (CWGCS). While there, she assisted in grant development, co-conducted research using both private and public use data systems and facilitated program development for CWGCS’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Working Committee. Returning to CWGCS now as a Fellow, Leanna is working with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Child Care Services where she continues to build her knowledge and skills and use her fighting spirit to find that place in the manifold universe where wellness and policy intersect.

MADELINE HANNAN
NYS COUNCIL ON CHILDREN & FAMILIES

An Albany, NY native, Madeline earned a B.S.W. Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Albany and went on to volunteer with AmeriCorps in NYC, where she worked at a group home for teenage girls in foster care. She then earned her M.S.W. from McGill University in Montréal. As a graduate student, Madeline designed and completed an analytical study of child protection training materials on behalf of the United Nations' Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Recommendations from this study will be reflected in the new standardized training modules used by UN peacekeeping troops. Concurrently, she completed a master's thesis evaluating New York State’s Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act that aims to support and protect children exploited by sex trafficking. Most recently, Madeline completed a fellowship at Polaris Project where she worked against human trafficking by researching and analyzing current issues in the field and offering policy-level solutions to eliminate slavery from the United States. She will be working with the New York State Council on Children and Families.

KATHARINA HELLING
NYS OFFICE FOR PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
DIVISION FOR PERSON-CENTERED SUPPORT

Originally from Germany, Katharina Helling has already lived in six different countries. At the age of 15 she spent a year in Russia, where she studied in a local high school and lived with a Russian host family. This experience piqued an interest in the differences between cultures particularly around issues of political participation and public policy. Back in Germany, she organized educational events for high school students to raise awareness of political issues receiving less attention by policy makers and in mainstream media. To deepen her knowledge in political systems and public policy, she obtained her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Macroeconomics at the University of Mannheim and then attended graduate school at the University of Melbourne in Australia. When offered a full athlete-scholarship from the University at Albany for her achievements in field hockey, she transferred to the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy. Driven by an interest in health policy and the American health care reform during her Master of Public Administration, she concentrated on public policy analysis while working for a financial consulting firm. At the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Katharina will help the Division for Person-Centered Support develop a managed care system that will improve care coordination and delivery for people with developmental disabilities in NYS.

JESZENIA JIMENEZ
NYS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
OFFICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTICE

Jeszenia graduated Cum Laude from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Driven by a desire to economically empower women and families, Jeszenia transferred her marketing expertise from the retail sector into public service. With skills honed through various marketing and operations positions in federal, city and non-profit entities, she refocused her interest to research and develop social media proposals that increased awareness of economic development resources among businesses led by women, Hispanics, and Veterans. Her present MPA specialization is in Management & Operations where she has performed research on social media recruitment, policy analysis, New York state contracts with women-owned businesses, and management analysis of government organizations. As a Fellow she is working at the New York State Department of Health in the Office of Public Health Practice creating innovative strategies for online and instructor-led training sessions that increase performance management and quality improvement of its public services and programs.

JENNIE LAW
NYS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
OFFICE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Jennie is currently completing a Masters of Public Administration through the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany. A traveler at heart, Jennie has worked internationally supporting resource acquisition for vulnerable youth, living and volunteering in children's homes and creating programs that supported positive youth development. Stateside, Jennie has worked with emergency response organizations, homeless services organizations, and the United States Congress as a legislative intern for (NYS) Representative Nita Lowey. This background gives her a unique understanding of the barriers and leverage points in the distribution of basic needs materials in the face of emergency. Her experiences served as foundation for her major research interest in food security and network analysis. As a Fellow, Jennie is working with the New York State Department of Health, Office of Project Management to promote transparency in governance and research excellence.

ELIZABETH MORRISEY
NYS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
CAREER DEVELOPMENT AND YOUTH INITIATIVES

Liz is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work at the University of Albany, School of Social Welfare. In 2007, Liz graduated cum laude from the University of Rochester, where she majored in History. During a semester abroad in the Netherlands, Liz's passion for social justice began to take root when she became involved in efforts to interview sex workers and work against human trafficking. After graduation, she spent several years teaching in public schools which included a G.E.D program for incarcerated youth. She spent a semester immersed in the media world and television at the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in New York City as an intern. This past summer, Liz was honored by the US-Africa Partnership to travel to South Africa and Ghana to explore multidisciplinary and multicultural collaboration, social justice and participatory learning. This experience coupled with the experience in the Netherlands years prior, grounded her interests and passions in learning about labor protections and women's rights. Liz now aspires to continue to advocate for women at both the individual and policy level in New York State. In her placement with Career Development and Youth Initiatives in the New York State Department of Labor, she is expanding her knowledge of government regulations and developing the skills necessary to establish effective policies that support women.

KERRI NEIFELD
NYS OFFICE FOR THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Beginning with her on-campus work educating undergraduate students about women's reproductive health and rights at Elmira College and continuing on through the present, Kerri has long been passionate about working on behalf of underserved women. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in 2003 Kerri has continued to work on the front lines of human services in both not-for-profit settings, such as Catholic Charities and the YWCA, and local government agencies like Albany County Department of Children, Youth, and Family. Kerri has planned and hosted several large-scale community education and advocacy events on behalf of the YWCA. She has also worked one-on-one with women and children affected by domestic violence by providing advocacy on legal and family court issues. Kerri began the Master’s in Social Work program at the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare in the fall of 2011. She hopes to continue to learn new ways to improve the lives of the underprivileged in her community through both clinical work and work in the policy arena. Kerri is placed with the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

SORA PARK
NYS LEGISLATURE
OFFICE OF ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARBARA CLARK

Sora is a first year PhD student of Public Administration at Rockefeller College of Public Administration and Policy at SUNY Albany with a specialization in Financial Market Regulation. Originally from South Korea, she graduated from Dickinson College with a double major in Economics and International Business & Management and has worked in the financial industry. She became interested in women’s economic and financial issues while completing a senior seminar on Women in the Economy by Professor Ebru Kongar who currently serves as Executive Vice President and Secretary of the International Association for Feminist Economics. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Economics from SUNY Buffalo, she worked in the New York State Assembly for the 2012 legislative session as a Graduate Scholar, which provided an opportunity for her to better understand the public policy making process. As a 2013 Fellow, she is enthusiastic to work in the New York State Legislature with Assemblywoman Barbara Clark to advocate for legislation responsive to women's needs.

SARAH PODBER
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF NEW YORK STATE

Sarah is a feminist through and through. She brings an intersectional feminist analysis to everything she reads, everything she does, and everywhere she goes. Driven by a background in Women's Studies and a passion for social justice, Sarah completed a Master's in Social Work from the University at Albany School of Social Welfare in 2012. She has worked at a number of nonprofit community organizations, including the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, where she advocated for the rights of New Yorkers with disabilities and cemented a disability rights framework into her worldview. Since 2010, she has served on the Board of Directors of Holding Our Own, a women's foundation in New York State's Capital Region that works to advance feminist social and economic justice and which owns and operates the Women's Building, a women's community center. As the current Holding Our Own Board President, Sarah has led the organization in creating, supporting, and growing a network of feminist advocates and activists in the Capital Region that centers the experiences of women from marginalized communities. She is committed to engaging more women in the world of politics, and to creating more avenues for those on the margins of our society to have greater power in shaping the policies that affect them. Sarah is placed at the League of Women Voters of New York State where, amongst other projects, she will be engaging in legislative advocacy for issues of women's equality.

XIAOYE SHE
NYS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
POLICY & PLANNING DIVISION

Coming from a family with three generations of education and public service in China, Xiaoye has determined to follow family role models and explore the efficiency and equity issues in public policy from a comparative and international perspective. She holds a Master of Economics from Shanghai International Studies University, and dual Bachelors of Southeast Asian Studies and International Economics from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Prior to her doctoral work here, she worked as a marketing analyst in the energy industry in Southeast Asia. After returning to school for advanced degrees, Xiaoye worked as a part-time research assistant on projects relating to financial market regulation in China and United States. In the past three years, Xiaoye has been serving as a teaching assistant for undergraduate level courses on Comparative and International Politics, Women & Politics, and Citizenship here in Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. She is currently developing her dissertation prospectus, which connects the transitional context of developing economies, public policy reform, and issues of economic flexibility and security. She is placed at the Policy and Planning Division, New York State Department of Transportation.

SYMONE WANGO
NYS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BUREAU OF WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS

Symone Wango is a native of the Capital Region. She is currently pursuing a Master's of Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs at the University at Albany in NY. She was awarded a Bachelor's of Arts in Public Administration from SUNY Albany in 2011. She is a member of Phi Alpha Alpha the Public Administration Honor Society. While an undergraduate, she was accepted to a combined, BA/MPA program of study. She interned for the New York State Assembly where she worked with Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee advocating for women's issues. She helped secure funding for the displaced homemaker program, and helped research legislation related to childcare subsidies for low income families. She spent several years working in the private sector where her experience pushed her to become passionate about advocating for low income women. Symone would like to work with women living in poverty to equip them with the skills and tools necessary to pursue education and vocational training to move out of poverty. She has been placed with the Department of Labor in the Bureau of Workforce Solutions.

NAHYUN BRIANNE YOO
NYS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
DIVISION OF IMMIGRANT POLICIES & AFFAIRS

A hologram exhibition about the 11th Century when international trade was booming in Korea sparked Nahyun's interest in foreign affairs. She continued her passion by double majoring in International Relations and Asian Studies at SUNY New Paltz and participating in study abroad programs in Germany, Japan, and Switzerland. Opportunities to combine theory, life experience and language skills in nonprofit organizations promoting understanding between the U.S. and Northeast Asian countries, encouraged Nahyun to pursue her master's degree in Public Administration at NYU Wagner specializing in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. In pursuit of her long term career goal to become a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State, she seeks to deepen her knowledge of government and public policy. The "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All" article (Atlantic Magazine by Prof. Ann Marie Slaughter) reinvigorated her interest in women’s leadership and the delicate issues of work-life balance. She considers the Women and Public Policy Fellowship a great opportunity to explore the potential challenges ahead and to learn from the stories of how other women leaders have overcome them. The Fellowship will also enhance her perspective on state government through her placement at the New York State Department of Labor in the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs which will enable her to pursue interests in migrant worker issues.

If you have questions, please contact CWGCS at cwgcs@albany.edu.