New Fellows Named to Women in Leadership Program

Seven women stand behind five seated women, all wearing facemasks and professional office clothing, in front of shelves of books.
Back row (L to R): Amy Harwood, Olivia Morrow, Sujaya Balachandran, Shakera Tems, Wenqian Robertson, Alexis Arnett and Alyssa Broome-Quissimisse. Front (L to R): Erin Hogan, Sarah Peter, Alice Antwi, Lauren Prosper and Karen Chang. (Photo by Brian Busher)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 15, 2022) — Twelve graduate students and professionals have been awarded fellowships to a leadership development program through the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society (CWGCS) at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

The 2022 Fellowship on Women & Public Policy program provides an intensive program to develop participants for careers in public policy. The award-winning program has been preparing women for public service leadership since the early 1980s through academic and experiential learning, supplemented by professional development workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities. The Fellowship draws highly qualified graduate students and mid-level career candidates who have a deep passion for advancing a vision of a world where people of all background participate equally in shaping the future. Women selected to the program have demonstrated experiences and commitment to public service and to social justice.

“Their fellowship experience is enriched by the diversity of their disciplines and how they tackle public policy issues and social problems from multiple perspectives inside and outside the classroom,” CWGCS Director Dina Refki said. “The one thing they all have in common is a profound commitment to the rights of women and their families and a shared perspective that systems need to be responsive to the needs of everyone in our communities.”

During the six-month program, fellows will complete three graduate seminars focused on making, implementing and influencing public policy, examine leadership theories and practices from gendered and non-gendered perspectives, and complete policy field placements in state government and nonprofits. They also will complete a professional development workshop series and receive intensive mentoring from women in leadership roles. Fellows are paid a stipend of $12,000 and receive tuition assistance during their fellowship.

This year’s fellows, their degree programs and their field placements, are:

  • Alice Antwi, master’s in Public Health. Antwi received a bachelor’s in public health with a minor in psychology from Russell Sage College. Her professional interests focus on closing the health and educational disparity gap and removing structural inequities and systemic roots of disparities. Policy field placement: NYS Office of Mental Health.
  • Alexis Arnett, a licensed social worker. Arnett has an MSW from Fordham University and is completing the Advanced Certificate in Public Policy and Public Administration at CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. She has extensive experience in the child welfare system, including assisting clients through foster care, housing courts, homeless shelters, public assistance offices and criminal justice proceedings. Policy field placement: NYS Office for Children & Family Services.
  • Sujaya Balachandran, master’s in Criminal Justice with a concentration in problem solving and analysis. Balachandran is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and has served as a Youth Justice Institute scholar where she researched social issues affecting youth. Policy field placement: office of New York Assembly Member Patricia Fahy.
  • Alyssa Broome-Quissimisse, master’s in Public Health with a concentration in health policy and management. Broome-Quissimisse, who is also completing a graduate certificate in Global Health, has been a volunteer EMT and firefighter, and served in the Peace Corps in Mozambique on projects that included youth development, nutrition, malaria and child marriage prevention. Policy field placement: NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.
  • Karen Chang, master’s in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Chang has a bachelor’s in sociology from Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. She has conducted research on a wide range of social issues, including healthcare, citizenship, reproductive justice, the LGBTQ movement and migrant workers’ rights, and co-runs a podcast focusing social issues through a feminist lens. Policy field placement: NYS Office for Children & Family Services.
  • Amy Harwood, a professional in the nonprofit, private and public sectors. Harwood holds a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan, a Master of Social Work from Boston University, and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College. She has worked as a social worker, legislative fellow, case investigator, political campaign aide and community organizer. Policy field placement: NYS Department of Transportation.
  • Erin Hogan, master’s in International Affairs with a concentration in diplomacy and global governance. Hogan graduated from St. Lawrence University with a double major in government and psychology and a minor in Italian Studies. Her published paper, “Human Security and Feminist Security Approaches to Human Trafficking in the Mediterranean,” analyzed critical humanitarian approaches to ensuring the safety and security of migrants in the Mediterranean corridor. Field Policy Placement: office of New York Assembly Member Amy Paulin.
  • Olivia Morrow, master’s in Public Administration. A Binghamton University graduate in environmental science, Morrow completed a fellowship at the NYS Division of Budget and is a community advocate and organizer focusing on environmental justice, sustainability and food security. Policy Field Placement: NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.
  • Sarah Peter, a journalist from Saint Lucia. Peter has served as a United Nations Journalist Fellow and a foreign correspondent for Reuters, reporting from Paris, Switzerland, London, New York and the Caribbean. Her journalism, recognized by the Inter-American Press Association and the U.S. Department of State, raised awareness about violence against women and girls. She is a graduate of Columbia University and Cardiff University in Wales, and has two master’s degrees from UAlbany, in Communication and Political Science. Policy field placement: NYS Office for Temporary & Disability Assistance.
  • Lauren Prosper, doctorate in Anthropology focusing on cultural anthropology. Prosper graduated from UAlbany as a double major in Sociology and Anthropology, earning awards for leadership and research. She has worked on educational programs at the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence,  and in communications for the National Alliance for Mental Health, and was a facilitator of youth workshops at the Underground Railroad History Project. Policy field placement: Prevent Child Abuse New York
  • Wenqian Robertson, doctorate in Educational Psychology. Robertson has two master’s degrees from UAlbany, in Educational Psychology and Curriculum Design and Instructional Technology. She has been a researcher at CWGCS, studying the gender pay gap and disparities in wage compensation in state and local government. Policy field Placement: NYS Office of Children and Family Services.
  • Shakera Tems, master's in Public Administration with a concentration in Health Policy and Public Management. Tems is also completing two graduate certificates in Women and Public Policy and in Maternal and Child Health. She graduated from SUNY Westchester Community College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her professional experiences include education, public relations, public health, public policy, research, data management and project operations. Policy field placement: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II.

Applications for the 2023 Fellowship program will open in May 2022. For further information about the Fellowship on Women & Public Policy and the Women’s Leadership Academy, visit the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society website.