Current Fellows

Class of 2014

Nicole Guliano
Nicole obtained a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Saint Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York, graduating in three years. While at St. Joseph’s, Nicole completed a research internship with the family service nonprofit organization HeartShare Human Services of New York.

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Nicole traveled to Northern California to participate in an AmeriCorps volunteer program. Her service focused on ecological restoration and wildfire prevention in various national forests.

After spending a year with AmeriCorps, Nicole assumed a full-time position as a research associate for the Quality and Improvement Department at HeartShare. As a data analyst, she was responsible for conducting case record audits, incident investigations, consumer satisfaction research and various analyses of the quality of the services provided by the agency.

Joel Pietrzak
Joel received his undergraduate degree in drama from New York University in 2008. Always concerned about social justice issues, Joel applied and was selected for the New York City Teaching Fellows program.

Through the program, Joel earned a master’s degree in special education from Brooklyn College and spent the next three years teaching seventh and eighth grade in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn. Joel taught students with a range of disabilities — from emotional disturbance to autism to mental retardation. Trying to accommodate his students’ individual needs and personalities while keeping structure in his classroom was the most challenging and rewarding job Joel has ever had.

As a teacher, Joel worked hard to bridge the gap between students, teachers and parents at his school. He served on the United Federation of Teachers Consultation Committee and worked as the chairperson of his School Leadership Team, a group of teachers, administrators and parents working to create an effective comprehensive education plan for the school.

Mikila Thompson
Mikila received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Barnard College, Columbia University, in 1998. While at Barnard, Mikila created a special interest group that tutored middle school children in Harlem, New York.

In 2009, Mikila’s 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe speech and language disability. During her daughter’s IEP meetings, Mikila realized the importance of legal assistance for families with special needs children. Mikila continues to work toward securing proper services for her daughter and encounters many parents who need an advocate for their children.

Her experience sparked an interest in providing counsel to special needs children and their families — advocating for their educational equality and helping families develop trust and estate plans to ensure proper care for their children as adults.

Mikila currently works with Healing Women Win and Beginning Anew Community Development Corporation. Both organizations assist women and children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Mikila is also a hospital crisis advocate for the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where she assists victims of domestic violence or sexual assault while they are being examined in the hospital.

Mikila has a background in investment management, real estate, and debt management. In addition to her work with victims, she works with a foreclosure attorney and is a partner at a credit counseling company based in Brooklyn, New York.

Lauren Wylie
Lauren attended Colorado State University and graduated with a double major in social work, and human development and family studies. Throughout college, Lauren volunteered as a leader and mentor for high school students through Young Life, a youth ministry organization. She also developed a love for coaching soccer, volunteering and working as a women’s high school soccer coach for four years.

After college, Lauren worked for 2 ½ years as a transition facilitator for the Matthews House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with at-risk youth and young adults in Fort Collins, Colorado. During this time, Lauren acted as a case manager for youth paroling from the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, youth working with the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, and homeless youth seeking employment and housing.

This work sparked her interest in family law, particularly as it pertains to youth and families involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

Class of 2015

Allison Flood
Allison graduated in May 2012, summa cum laude, from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies, public advocacy and rhetoric and dual minor in law, public policy and society, and Criminal Justice.

As an undergraduate, Allison worked as a public policy and research volunteer with The Home for Little Wanderers, a national nonprofit child and family service agency. She advocated on behalf of foster youth for “One Judge, One Family” (OJOF) legislation in Massachusetts.

As a service learning teaching assistant, she drafted the legislation which will create a synergy throughout the family court system. She garnered support from family court judges, state legislators and the co-chairman of the key joint legislative committee. OJOF currently stands as a working bill which will reform general state law within the next year.

During the summer before law school, Allison continued her efforts and brought her commitment to advocate as a legislative aide intern with Massachusetts state Senator Jennifer Flanagan, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Senator Flanagan champions the causes of foster care youth as a member of the Youth and Families Advisory Committee and the Foster Care Caucus. Allison provided research for the senator’s sponsorship of foster care reform to ensure a better future for the state’s foster children.

In 2011, Allison worked as a public policy research assistant and campaign outreach associate with Boston’s Office of At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, chairperson of the Committee on Women & Healthy Communities. Allison contributed to the councilor’s successful re-election initiatives and continued as an intern throughout the past year supporting the committee’s plans to address domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect, bullying, substance abuse, mentoring, hunger and homelessness.

In 2009, Allison worked for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the state’s chief civil rights agency. She became an investigator for the commission in 2010. She examined and evaluated discrimination case evidence to establish probable cause or lack of, and wrote legal dispositions to support her findings.

Allison’s experiences sparked her interest in child advocacy and family law and the juvenile justice system. She is eager to further develop her efforts on behalf of foster care and legislative reform as a Child and Family Advocacy Fellow.

Carolyn Kim
Carolyn received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from New York University in the winter of 2009.

During her time at NYU, she taught elementary school children through the organization America Reads, helped develop leadership for high school students through service projects and children’s ministry during a summer internship in San Jose, Costa Rica, and served as an LGBT peer educator, through which she planned and facilitated programs, discussions and trips for the NYU community.

After graduating, Carolyn spent a year teaching English to elementary school students in Korea. During her time in Korea, she also worked with a local orphanage ministry, and participated in a service trip to Nepal, where she educated children on basic hygiene and safety guidelines.

Since returning to the States, Carolyn has been working as a marketing assistant and has continued to volunteer through her high school youth group.

Carolyn’s first internship as a fellow was with the Center for Family Representation, an organization that provides families in crisis with free legal representation and social work services to enable children to stay with their parents safely.

Mary O’Neill
Mary graduated from the State University of New York College at Oneonta in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and a concentration in educational psychology.

Her earliest professional experience involved work with developmentally disabled adolescents transferred from Willowbrook State School to a small unit on the grounds of a local state psychiatric center. Witnessing the hardships associated with institutionalization of young clients influenced the course of her professional career.

Mary enrolled in a master’s degree program at Columbia University School of Social Work, and following graduation in 1981, she worked in a variety of case management, advocacy and supervisory roles providing services to children and families.

Working for many years as an administrator in a psycho-social rehabilitation agency dedicated to providing residential and support services to psychiatrically disabled individuals, Mary was responsible for contributing to the direction of the agency mission and overseeing the daily operation of designated program components. In addition to her management responsibilities, she had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to develop new and comprehensive programs for larger and more diverse client populations.

The implementation of a new residential program for homeless women and children required the development of an array of additional services to meet the needs of families struggling with issues related to poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse. Ongoing oversight of the program allowed Mary to provide direction and supervision for case management staff as they advocated with external service providers and worked to empower individual families.

Mary’s clinical experience in a nonprofit organization committed to providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse served as an introduction to the legal system and became the foundation for her work as a clinician and advocate in private practice.

Her practice currently includes work with children, adolescents and adults who have experienced repeated trauma associated with loss, abuse and domestic violence. Working with survivors as they attempt to process the impact of emotional, physical and sexual abuse remains a focus of her practice.

In addition to her private practice, Mary volunteers as an instructor and Disaster Mental Health Services worker for the American Red Cross.

Rachel Summer
Rachel graduated cum laude from Muhlenberg College with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and a minor in women’s studies. Throughout her time at Muhlenberg, she was a member of the RJ Fellows Honors Program.

She volunteered at the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley, where she assisted in providing medical care for uninsured Allentown residents. Rachel also volunteered at The Caring Place, an after-school program designed to keep inner-city youth off the streets. Her work in the community resulted in her receiving a 2012 City of Allentown Mayor’s Service Award.

While studying abroad in Granada, Spain, she helped teach English to local elementary school students.

Rachel became interested in education advocacy while interning the summer between her sophomore and junior years with the education unit at Graham Windham, one of the oldest and largest foster care agencies in New York City. At Graham Windham, she attended meetings with schools and families, and created Tip Cards outlining key topics and questions for caseworkers to discuss during school visits.

The following summer she interned with the education unit at the Administration for Children’s Services. While there, she wrote a proposal for the implementation of The Dignity for All Students Act for children in foster care and children with incarcerated parents in New York state.

Class of 2016

Kristy Candela
Kristy received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and English from the University at Albany in 2012.

As an undergraduate student, Kristy interned at St. Anne Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of children and families who have experienced crisis situations.

As an intern, Kristy supervised the agency’s residents in an intensive needs unit. She aided in providing therapeutic care for children and adolescents and assisted in implementing the daily programs for her unit.

During her time at Albany, Kristy also volunteered at Sydney’s School After-Care Program, where she helped tutor and supervise children with autism spectrum disorders. She also helped plan fundraisers for Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities.

After graduating from Albany, Kristy spent a year working as a paralegal, which helped solidify her desire to go to law school.

Annam Farroq
Annam received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Stony Brook University, graduating cum laude in only three years.

While at Stony Brook, Annam interned at the International Human Rights Funders group and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Annam also served as a mentor for middle school students as part of a campus program designed to give students from New York City public schools a new perspective on math and science and on themselves.

Upon graduating, Annam continued to intern, alongside her part-time work as a legal assistant at a local law firm.

She served as an outreach intern and tutor at the Center for Integration and Advancement of New Americans, an organization developed to provide free family services for new Americans living in Queens, N.Y. Through her work there, she tutored elementary school students in subjects such as math and English. She also instructed a civics class for legal residents taking their U.S. citizenship test.

Over the summer of 2013, Annam participated in a teach and travel program in Ankara, Turkey, where she taught English to high school students.

Chibogu Nneka Nzekwu
Nneka graduated in 2012 from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science.

While a student at Hofstra, Nneka volunteered with the Foundation Fighting Blindness, where she worked to raise funds, increase awareness and improve resources for those with a wide variety of retinal degenerative diseases.

As a volunteer, Nneka learned that retinal degenerative diseases affect all age groups, even the younger population, leading her to become a supporter of the Long Island Bombers Beep Ball Baseball Club. The organization provides visually impaired youth with opportunities to participate in the sport of baseball.

Nneka has worked at The Kennedy Center, a nonprofit organization located in Connecticut, as a child support associate and a community activity coach. During her time working at the center, Nneka worked at an intervention program for children with autism spectrum disorders and behavioral issues. She assisted in creating curriculums to teach social skills and anger management.

Nneka regularly travels to Nigeria, sparking an interest in international children’s rights.

Felicia Winder
Felicia received a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of Delaware in 2011.

While at Delaware, Felicia was very involved with a number of student organizations, the most transformative of which was her time devoted to philanthropic efforts on behalf of Autism Speaks and research alongside faculty in the area of international genocide.

These experiences shaped her passion for social justice issues, which led her to apply for and be selected as a Teach for America 2011 Corps member in the Greater New Orleans region.

Felicia taught 10th grade English at one of New Orleans’ largest open enrollment high schools. Her students were oftentimes five or six years below grade level and faced a multitude of inconsistencies and uncontrollable challenges outside the school walls.

Felicia focused on building relationships with students, families and the community to create a culture in her classroom that pushed her students toward their own versions of success. Her experience as a Teach for America Corps member has been the most demanding, yet the most rewarding, job she has had so far.

Felicia was driven to become a Child and Family Advocacy Fellow by the disparities in our educational system and the impact she witnessed them having on a child’s life.