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Fatima Shama is the executive director of The Fresh Air Fund, the over 140 year-old nonprofit agency that provides free summer experiences for New York City children from low-income communities through summer camps and a host families program in rural and suburban communities across 13 states, and provides year-round academic enrichment and support both at camp and in New York City.
Ms. Shama served in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration as the commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs from 2009 through 2013. From 2007 through 2009, she served as Mayor’s senior education policy advisor, and in 2006 when Ms. Shama joined Mayor Bloomberg’s office she worked on a special initiative on the intersection between health care, language access and literacy. Immediately after the administration and prior to joining FAF, Ms. Shama served on the senior team at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York overseeing their External Affairs department and special projects.
Ms. Shama serves as a Trustee on the boards of the New York Foundation, the Pinkerton Foundation, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Coro Leadership New York. She is a graduate of Binghamton University and Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs Executive Program. Born and raised in the Bronx, Ms. Shama is the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a Palestinian father, and speaks several languages.
Jonathan Bowles is executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a leading NYC-based think tank that focuses on expanding economic opportunity and growing the economy in New York City. During his 20 years at the Center, he has been the architect of the Center’s policy agenda and is responsible for making it one of New York’s most innovative and influential organizations. He has written extensively about a range of topics that are important to New York’s future, including spurring more middle class jobs, upgrading the city’s aging infrastructure, boosting community college graduation rates, helping more New Yorkers access tech careers, and scaling up more of the city’s small businesses. He co-chaired the Economy and Jobs subcommittee of Mayor-Elect de Blasio’s transition committee, and was once named “New York’s Finest Troublemaker” by Time Out New York. He lives in Queens with his wife and his kids.
Andrew Rich became Dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at The City College of New York in February 2019. As Dean, he oversees the social science departments at CCNY as well as the core leadership development and public service programs at CCNY. Before becoming dean, from 2011 to 2019, Rich was Executive Secretary and CEO of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in Washington, DC, a federal agency that supports young Americans committed to careers in public service. From 2009 to 2011, Rich was President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive non-profit think tank and leadership development organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Rich is the author of Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and has written about think tanks, interest groups, foundations, individual donors, and the role of experts and ideas in the American policy process. From 2003 to 2009, he taught political science at CCNY, and, before that, from 1999 to 2003, he was at Wake Forest University. He received his BA from the University of Richmond and his PhD in Political Science from Yale University.
Bill Chong was appointed DYCD Commissioner by Mayor Bill de Blasio in January 2014. Previously, he served as Deputy Commissioner for Program Operations at the Department for the Aging, where he oversaw a portfolio of nearly $200 million in services and fostered a more streamlined and inclusive process for service providers, simplifying their relationship with the City and helping better match services with community needs. He also worked to bring more stakeholders into disaster preparedness plans and involve neighborhood groups on the frontlines in protecting seniors during emergencies.
In eight years at DYCD during a previous tenure, Chong was a leader in implementing the Out-of-School-Time Initiative—an after-school program serving more than 630,000 youth. As Deputy Commissioner for Youth Services and Assistant Commissioner for Capacity Building, he partnered with NYCHA, the Parks Department and the Department of Education to fund over 500 programs across the city, helping reach disadvantaged youth.
Prior to his service at DYCD, Chong was Vice President for Programs at the Citizens Committee for New York City, administering grants to local volunteer groups to address neighborhood concerns ranging from alleviating poverty to street beautification. He has held positions at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the New York City Department of Personnel, and the New York State Division of Human Rights.
Ursula Helminski has worked with the Afterschool Alliance since its inception, and was part of its founding team. She develops strategy and communications for the organization, and oversees public awareness initiatives such as the nationwide Lights On Afterschool grassroots rally and This is Afterschool campaign. Before coming to the Afterschool Alliance, she worked at a consulting firm supporting social issue campaigns and communications strategies for nonprofits and foundations. She has served as editor of a trade journal covering policy in Washington, D.C., worked in cause related marketing at The Nature Conservancy and taught English in a Moscow public school. Ursula has a B.A. in Political Science and English from Duke University.
Arva Rice is a passionate community leader who has dedicated herself to creating pathways for success for young people with a focus on girls and women. She has more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit arena, ranging from working with New York City entrepreneurs in a micro lending program to working with young people as a counselor, mentor and tutor. Arva is President & CEO of the New York Urban League (NYUL) and organization that has a rich history and long legacy of service to New Yorkers. NYUL is leading the way underserved African-Americans are educated, employed and empowered across the 5 boroughs of New York City. For the past 100 years, NYUL has inspired, influenced and ignited over 1 million black people to achieve their highest aspirations. Arva is a Commissioner for the NYC Equal Employment Practices Commission. She is also a member of the Women’s Forum and Greater New York Chapter of The Links Incorporated. She is on the Board of Trustees of First Corinthians Baptist Church and a Commissioner for Mayor Bill deBlasio’s Commission on Gender Equity. She is a recipient of The Network Journal’s “Forty Under 40” Black Achiever’s Award Winners, a Community Award from NV Magazine, the 25 Most Influential Women in Business Award from The Network Journal and an alum award from Northwestern University. Arva was selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, as one of 16 leaders from across the country for its 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellows. Arva graduated from the Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. She currently lives in Harlem.
Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Dr. Anael Alston “Dr. A” is currently the Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Access, Equity and Community Engagement in the New York State Education Department. In this capacity, he informs educational policy across the state and administers over $200 million dollars to help support students across New York State from pre-Kindergarten through college. Prior to that, he was the Superintendent of Schools for the Hamilton Central School District. As a superintendent, Dr. A distinguished himself as one of the few superintendents across the state to have a 100% graduation rate while moving an agenda that included creating a program that allows international students to pay tuition to attend public school and involving the entire school community in creating a Board-adopted 5-year strategic plan to improve access, opportunity, and fiscal responsibility to the small rural school district. Dr. A is a former New York State Middle School Principal of the Year and this spring received the City University of New York’s Black Male Initiative Champions Award. A former Golden Gloves champion, Dr. A fights for children each day knowing that if not for the battles waged for him as a child, he would not be where he is today.