Kwame Akosah comes to the Commission from the New York City Law Department, where he serves as a 2017-18 Corporation Counsel Fellow. Before joining the Law Department, he was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where he served in the Democracy Program, and prior to that, he interned with the Mayor’s Office of Operations, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, and Project Vote. Kwame is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles and Fordham Law School where he received the Monsignor James J. Murray Prize for Achievement in Public Service, and the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award.
Christine Billy is the Commission’s General Counsel and Deputy Executive Director for Legal Affairs. She comes to the Commission from the Bureau of Legal Affairs at the New York City Department of Sanitation. She previously served as Senior Counsel in the New York City Law Department’s Legal Counsel Division. Billy holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.Phil from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, and a B.A. from Yale University. After clerking for the Honorable John T. Noonan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, she joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter, LLP. Billy is the co-author of the award-winning book, Mariners at War: An Oral History of World War II (2008). She is an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law.
Deputy General Counsel Aaron Bloom comes to the Commission from the New York City Law Department, where he is a Senior Counsel in the Appeals Division, handling appeals in state and federal court on a diverse range of issues. Before joining the Appeals Division, Bloom was a Senior Counsel in the Law Department's Affirmative Litigation Division, and prior to that served as an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. Bloom is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and clerked in federal district court in Brooklyn for then-Chief Judge Edward R. Korman.
Candice Cho is Chief of Staff and Special Counsel of the Commission. She is also the Deputy Chief of Staff of the New York City Law Department. She previously served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Legal Counsel Division and the Law Department’s first Corporation Counsel Clerk (now Fellow). She has degrees from Columbia Law School and Harvard University.
Torrey A. Fishman serves as Senior Policy Advisor for the Commission. He also serves as Special Counsel in the Mayor’s Office of Appointments. Prior to his time at Appointments, Fishman served in a variety of other legal roles in the Office of the Mayor under both the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations. Fishman holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Southern California. He also has a rescue dog named Crispus, whom he has taken the liberty of appointing as the Baron of Brooklyn Heights.
Sabrina Fong is the Associate Director of Operations at the NYC Charter Revision Commission. She also serves the role as the Policy and Research Advisor at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), where she helps lead the office’s research and data work to inform and design immigrant inclusive policies and programs. She joined MOIA from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations. Prior to that, she was a NYC Urban Fellow and had also worked at the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing. Sabrina graduated from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter.
Matt Gewolb is the Commission’s Executive Director and Counsel. Gewolb is the Assistant Dean and General Counsel of New York Law School, where he advises the Dean and President, members of the Board, and the senior administration on significant policy, management, and legal issues. He was previously the Legislative Director of the New York City Council. He is the former Director of Government Programs and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School and an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, where he teaches Law of the City of New York.
Assistant General Counsel Ingrid Gustafson also comes to the Commission from the New York City Law Department’s Appeals Division, where she is a Senior Counsel. Gustafson is a past recipient of the New York City Bar’s Municipal Affairs Award (as are several of her colleagues on the Commission staff) and is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where she was an Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
John Jurenko is the Director of Intergovernmental Relations for the New York City Charter Revision Commission. In this role, Mr. Jurenko works with New York City’s elected officials. Prior to this, Mr. Jurenko was the Vice President for Government, Community Relations and Planning for NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public healthcare system. In this role, Mr. Jurenko was responsible for working with City, State and Federal elected officials, government agencies and community organizations. He also oversaw Planning activities, Housing initiatives and a Family Court support unit. Mr. Jurenko lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn.
Rebecca comes to the Commission from the New York City Law Department's Legal Counsel Division. At the Law Department, Rebecca counsels the Mayor's Office and various city agencies on a range of policy and legal issues, and helps draft state and local legislation. Prior to joining the Law Department, Rebecca clerked for federal Senior Judge Anne E. Thompson in the District of New Jersey. Rebecca graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.
Jorge Montalvo is Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Commission Affairs. Prior to joining the Commission staff, Montalvo spent more than a decade in senior managerial and policy making positions in state government, including as Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity, Associate Commissioner at the State Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance, and Director of Policy for the State Consumer Protection Board. Montalvo was the Founder and Inaugural Director of the New York State Office for New Americans—the first state-level immigrant integration office created by statute in the country. Montalvo also led the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative, a first-of-its-kind community effort to fight poverty in 16 localities throughout the State. Before his state government service, Montalvo managed corporate relations and volunteerism efforts for New York City’s 2012 Olympic Bid and served in Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development agency. Montalvo graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in chemistry and spends his weekends teaching free GED and SAT prep classes to youth in the South Bronx.
Prior to his work on the Commission, Steven served as Special Counsel to the President at NYC Health + Hospitals and as the Senior Health Policy Adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Steven previously served as General Counsel to then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Before his tenure in government, Steven was a litigation associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP. Steven has taken an active in voting rights and the promotion of democracy generally. He has been an attorney or election monitor in various federal, state, local, international, and labor union elections, including working with Cayahoga County (Ohio) Board of Elections, the Virginia Democratic Party, four U.S. presidential campaigns, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In 2004 and 2005 respectively, Steven co-founded a state-wide and national organization dedicated to voting rights. In 2007, he was seconded by the U.S. State Department to serve as an American monitor for elections in Eastern Europe. Steven has taught public policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.
Joshua Sidis is Deputy Executive Director for Operations for the Commission. He comes to the Commission from the Mayor’s Office of Operations, where he is a Senior Advisor and manages Intergovernmental Affairs, External Affairs, and Communications. Prior to his time at Operations, Sidis worked as an organizer and Operations administrator for the Public Advocate’s Office. Prior to joining government, Sidis owned a small business in Brooklyn.
Michael Smilowitz comes to the Commission from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS), where he serves as an Assistant General Counsel. Before joining MOCS, Smilowitz was an attorney for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Smilowitz is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.
Emily Sweet serves as Special Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel of the New York City Department of Social Services (DSS). At DSS, Emily has, among other things, helped establish a Source of Income Discrimination Unit, dedicated to combatting discrimination by landlords and brokers against people who use government assistance to pay their rent. Prior to working at DSS, Emily was a Senior Counsel and supervisor in the General Litigation Division at the New York City Law Department, where she cofounded the Municipal Litigation Clinic. Before joining the Law Department, Emily worked as a Staff Attorney at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as a law clerk to a magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York. Emily served on election protection teams in connection with the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.
Bruce Thomas is a Senior Policy Advisor for the New York City Charter Revision Commission. Before the Commission, Mr. Thomas was a Legislative Analyst in the Mayor’s Office of City Legislative Affairs.
Hannah Wikforss-Green is a Swedish-American high school student who served as the 2018 summer intern. In Stockholm, where she lives, she founded and still runs a non-profit organization focused on promoting the integration of recently arrived refugees in the Swedish school system.
The staff also included Essence Franklin, Advisor for Outreach and Engagement and Mary Van Noy, Senior Policy Advisor.