2013 Summer Fellows
James-Paul Cumming was born and raised in Portland where he threw himself into Portland’s environmental justice community at a young age. A graduate of the Sunnyside Family Co-Op and the Sunnyside Environmental School, he experienced hands on the kind of power motivated volunteers can bring to a movement and is looking to hone those recruitment skills. He recently earned his B.A. in Media Studies from Pomona College, where he also served as an RA, competed on the varsity swim team and mobilized students around environmental issues. He’s looking forward to a summer jam-packed with organizing, politicking and whatever other adventures PolitiCorps will bring.
Hailing from the Windy City, Chanel West is a rising senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She brings a deep commitment to anti-oppression work that flows through her love for politics and political activism. Creating a non-discriminatory judicial system lies at the center of her dedication to public service. Chanel’s got designs on representing her hometown in elected office and she’s coming to PolitiCorps to learn how to do this right. In her not-so-spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, feeding an addiction to Mexican food (preferably steak tacos), and being a role model to her three younger siblings.
Annabel Torres is a native of Chicago and a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2011 she scored an internship for her Senator in Washington, DC, which first exposed her to the importance of politics and public policy. The next year Annabel served a 5 month non-partisan campaign organizing fellowship with the New Americans Democracy Project. Still bit by the travel bug, Annabel went on to study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she learned more about Oaxacan culture, sharpened her Spanish speaking skills and connected with her Latina heritage. Looking to add to these formative experiences, Annabel comes to PolitiCorps eager to dive headfirst into the world of grassroots organizing.
Amanda Arella was born and raised in the vibrant city of Montreal, Quebec. She is a rising senior of Concordia University where she studies Political Science and Women’s Studies. Amanda has served on her college’s Board of Governors, and as an executive of both the Dawson Student Union and the Canadian Federation of Students. In Canada’s last federal election, Amanda coordinated an education campaign aimed at first-time voters, so she’ll fit right in at the Bus. Some of her favorite things include reading, hot chocolate, spontaneous dance parties, and anything related to Sherlock Holmes.
Cristina Flores is a Texas native and true to form her resume is *big*. She graduated from University of Texas at Austin, earning an Honors B.A. in Sociology, and Minoring in Spanish, Government, Latin American Studies, and a Bridging Disciplines Certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice. (Whew, that’s a mouthful.) During her time on campus, Cristina rose to the top as a member of the executive board with the Hispanic Student Association, and in 2012 she completed the Texas Governor’s Fellowship Program interning for the Criminal Justice Division. Afterwards, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Rio de Janeiro where she interned with Criola. The following year she interned at the Social Office in The White House under the direction of Michelle Obama. Her passion for public service and research fuels her future goal of pursuing a Masters in Foreign Service, but first there is important work and lessons to be learned in the homeland, which is why she’ll be adding PolitiCorps to her resume this summer.
Minh Ha is a Denver native and received her degree in Political Science and International Relations from Tufts University in Massachusetts. Her passion for politics led her to join the family at New Era Colorado (the Bus’s sister org in the Centennial State), help elect Elizabeth Warren, and serve under Governor Deval Patrick’s Administration. Her heart belongs to grassroots movements and will come to PolitiCorps to reunite with her love. She enjoys movies, every single type of food, and twerking.
Jennifer Alejo is pursuing a Political Science and International Studies double major and a minor in Communications at Humboldt State University. An LA native, she misses the city but is enjoying her time with the redwood trees. Jennifer loves spending time with her friends and family members and lives her life by the three A’s—”Advocate”, “Activist”, and “Ally”—in subjects like immigration, Women’s issues, and the representation for marginalized communities. She hopes to one day learn how to ride a bike in order to ride around the forest, which will give her one more thing to try to pick up in Portland this summer.
Stephanie Hartwell will be graduating with honors in May from Eckerd College. She spent her four liberal-arts years finding herself and her passions, emerging as a confident queer woman looking to make some serious change in the social justice world. Her strongest passions include feminism and anti-racism but she also enjoys teaching her peers about sex as a peer sex educator certified by Planned Parenthood. A semester abroad in Italy sparked wanderlust, which she believes is just as good for the soul as volunteer work. Stephanie will come to Portland this summer looking to get a little of both.
Catie Theisen, a native Oregonian, graduated in May with honors from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon with a degree in Politics and minor in Art History. After interning in high school with the Bus Project and registering her peers to vote before the 2008 election, she interned and worked for Representative Ben Cannon during the 2011 legislative session. She took a brief break from politics to spend a fabulous semester studying abroad in Prague and traveling through Europe. In her spare time, Catie likes to drink coffee and adore her dog and enjoys graphic design, Volvos, and food.
Fiona Yau-Luu was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She recently graduated from Western Washington University, where she studied BioCultural Anthropology, a mix of biology and anthropology. To balance her major with her political passions, Fiona was active with political clubs and committees and went on to work for the Obama campaign in 2012. She earned big-time bragging rights when her turf was the highest producing in the state. She hopes to eventually use her studies in combination with her political experience to work in health policy. To balance school and intense campaign canvassing, Fiona maintains her status as a pho snob.
Luke Rebecchi is a rising senior at Boston University, hailing from the “mediocre city” (his words!) of Syracuse. He studies economics, but he swears he still enjoys the presence of other human beings. Outside of class, you are most likely to find Luke playing basketball at the park, or posted up with a book, or trying to save the world through student politics. Luke’s political experience includes a ton of canvassing, Student Government, and staying up on the political news of the day in his Google Reader feeds. He applied to PolitiCorps to learn more effective organizing techniques, and he’s coming to Portland ready to absorb everything in his black composition notebook.
Maria Belen Prokopetz was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and migrated to the United States when she was four years old. She was raised in Miami, FL and recently graduated from Florida State University with a B.A in International Affairs, B.S in Criminology and minor in Psychology. Since High School she has interned with her local representatives in Miami and the Florida House and Senate in Tallahassee. Maria has also done a semester in Washington, D.C. doing research on Mexico and its role in transnational crime and was named a Social Science Scholar by The College of Social Sciences, awarding her with a grant to volunteer in both Ghana and Argentina last Fall Semester. On campus, she has written for the FSU newspaper and has edited for the Hispanic Latino Student Union Newsletter. She has served on the Executive Board of Kauz4Unity Coalition, has been actively involved in Dream Defenders, an organization that empowers minority communities, and PeaceJam Southeast, where she facilitates dialogue at a local High School on a variety of social justice issues. More recently she has served as Policy Analyst for the Florida Youth Immigrant Network and has helped in the creation of a foreign policy think tank on campus. On her spare time she enjoys traveling, trying new food, reading a good novel and moving her feet (whether it is to ballet or merengue).
Dustin Bishop is a recent graduate of Willamette University where he studied politics and economics. While at Willamette, he sang in the men’s ensemble choir, played tons of intermural sports, and interned in varying capacities at the Oregon State Capitol. In the spring of his junior year, Dustin studied abroad in Ukraine and traveled through parts of central Europe. He credits this experience for opening his mind to the world beyond and forming a new cultural perspective. When he’s not keeping up on the latest political news, you’ll find Dustin running, reading and enjoying the outdoors.
Benjamin Goggin is currently a political science scholar at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Ben is most passionate about gay rights and their institutional propagation through the political process. When not studying gay rights and politics in school, Ben is working with them in the field; in the summer of 2012, Ben assisted his home state through his work as a finance intern at Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign that helped to successfully defeat a proposed constitutional ban of gay marriage. Ben continued his work by affecting the 2012 election through organizing an absentee ballot drive on his campus. At Reed, Ben serves on the student senate and leads his student organization, Frontiers Human Rights. Aside from his passion for politics, Ben enjoys science and lab work, spending time with friends, dancing, cheesy jokes, cooking, going to live shows, his iphone, and long walks on the beach…
Paolo R. Esteban is a 23-year-old senior at Portland State University, majoring in International Studies and minoring in Business. Though Paolo was born in Tualatin, OR, he was raised in the Philippines until the age of 7, when he returned to Oregon to reside in Portland. Paolo has an abundance of experience working with the local Filipino community on collaborative performing arts programs, and recently became the cultural chairman for the PSU Filipino-American Student Association, Kaibigan. Paolo currently works as a bilingual organizer, a civic engagement coordinator, and an interpreter for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. Paolo thoroughly enjoys engaging his community, and is excited to see how he can continue to serve his people through the guidance of the Politicorps program!
Brittany Quale is a native and true Oregonian. She graduated with honors from the University of Oregon in September 2012, where she earned her B.A. in Planning, Public Policy & Management and a minor in Architecture. Brittany’s earliest passion for clean water manifested itself as she co-coordinated a campaign at her University to end the sale, use, and distribution of single-use plastic water bottles. Following graduation, Brittany worked with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon to elect local women’s health champions and to promote policies in the state legislature. In her free time, Brittany enjoys discovering new vegan recipes, competing in trivia, paddling on the Willamette, and embarking on urban adventures.
Kevin Ventura, an Oregon native, was born in the wonderful City of Roses where he has spent most of his time helping around in his community. Currently in college and spending most of his time in his studies, Kevin aims to help the community by mentoring the bright minds of our future generations by staying after school at local elementary schools around the Portland area. Volunteering is a passion for Kevin, for he has in the past been able to do phone bankings and canvassing for equal rights amoung the LGBT community. Aside from his volunteer work, this young Oregon native has a deep passion for arts. At a local high school in Portland, Kevin and two other artists designed and create a glass mural of a rose on the side of the high school’s Fine Arts building. Along with art, Kevin is also part of his college choir group, and is able to find an escape through music.
Adam Hasz grew up a Cubs fan in suburban Chicagoland, but he spent the last five years in St. Louis suffering through the successes of the Cubs’ arch-rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2012, where he found a passion for global sustainability and got hooked on climate justice advocacy. Adam has been heavily involved with the youth climate movement, organizing with SustainUS, 1Sky, 350.org, the Sierra Student Coalition, and the Energy Action Coalition. Over the past year, Adam has served as the state coordinator for the MO Student Coalition for Climate Justice, a statewide student network with 7 different campuses running climate-related campaigns. After several years of urging his climate movement friends to “get more political,” Adam is excited to head to Portland to learn what “getting more political” actually means. When he’s not dreaming about passing national climate legislation or creating a global climate treaty, you’ll find Adam running, sharing a meal with friends, engaging in meaningful conversation, or simply taking a minute to appreciate life.
Nicole Johnson grew up in Portland, attended Franklin high school where she was involved with many volunteer opportunities and community events. Her experiences have fostered passions for grassroots organizing and encouraging the civic engagement of youth. This led her to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Portland State University. Since graduation, Nicole has become very active in the environmental justice movement, interning with OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon. This social change agent is now politicized and excited to be a part of the 2013 PolitiCorps cohort. Nicole loves dancing, enjoys exploring Portland and takes comfort in our city’s abundance of trees.
A Portland native, Ebony Oldham received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of Oregon in June 2012, where she served as the President of Black Women of Achievement and the Community Outreach and Programs Director for the Black Student Union. As a student leader, she valued advocating for and organizing the on-campus electorate, with regard to racial and social justice as an essential part of her education. Ebony is most passionate about mitigating the affects of oppression and equalizing the power imbalance in our justice system. She is certain that Politicorps will teach her how to effectively organize around equity in regards to law and policy. When her schedule allows, she thoroughly enjoys a good book, (autobiographies or specifically on topics of race, ethnicity, class, identity and gender are her favorites) journaling, social networking and listening to any Beyonce album, top to bottom!
A homegrown Oregonian, Megen Ickler grew up riding the Max into Portland from the suburb of Beaverton. She is fresh out of the University of Oregon with honors and a duel degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management and Economics. Megen’s college career focused on transportation planning and health promotion. She is passionate about gender equity and has contributed to event planning at the Women’s Center. In the future, she hopes to continue traveling after visiting and learning about the political climate in the Netherlands and Cape Town, South Africa. In her spare time, she plays softball and enjoys knitting, running and biking.
If you want to be here in 2014, apply for a shot at an opportunity of a lifetime. Apply now!