Meet this year's class of John D. Solomon Fellows:
Walter Arzu is pursuing a master's degree in Public Administration at City College of New York's Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. Prior to graduate school, he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from City College. While working in the nonprofit and government sectors as a social worker and advocate, Walter was inspired by the remarkable ways organizations work together to create better opportunities and outcomes for individuals. As a fellow with New York City Police Department's Auxiliary Police Program, Walter is looking forward to learning more about how the city prepares, protects, and empowers communities.
Zahnay Gates is pursuing a Master of Public Administration In Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from The University of Alabama in 2017. Since graduating Zahnay has worked within the legal field and volunteered for various organizations in the Tampa Bay area. As a fellow with the American Red Cross in Greater New York, she is excited to support community-based outreach and awareness within New York City.
Taylor Gerber is a Rochester native pursuing a master degree in Health Policy and Management with an advanced certificate in Emergency Management at New York Medical College. Prior to graduate school, she earned a bachelor's degree in Public Health and Education from the College at SUNY Brockport. She has had previous experience in community healthcare settings working to enhance comprehensive and integrated patient centered care. Currently, she serves as Vice President of the Student Healthcare Executives (StuHE) organization, a local chapter of the American Healthcare Executives (ACHE). As a member of StuHE she actively organizes an on campus micro-pantry and is involved in project management for several campus activities. Her interest in emergency management stems from her background in community health and patient advocacy. As the fellow for NYC Department of Education, she looks forward to learning more about the department's efforts to prepare and protect communities.
Esmeralda Huerta is a labor organizer at Brandworkers, a Queens-based worker center that supports food factory workers in building their union through the Industrial Workers of the World. She is also pursuing a Masters in Public Health and a certificate in Disaster Science, Policy, and Practice from New York University. Esmeralda is on the core leadership team of the Women's Organizing Network, a non-profit that supports women & nonbinary organizers around NYC by bringing in an intersectional analysis into workplaces and into campaigns. Esmi is active in her community garden in Crown Heights. Her experience of growing up in an immigrant family along the US-MX border helped shape her interest in labor organizing, workers' rights, and resilient communities. Esmeralda is proud to be joining as this year's fellow for NYC's Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.
Seth Kerr is pursuing a Master of Urban Planning degree at New York University Wagner School of Public Service. Before graduate school, he served as a United States Army Officer specializing in medical logistics for eight years, with six years spent in Kenya and Germany. Seth is passionate about infrastructure, climate resiliency, and the intersections between emergency management and urban planning. He is humbled to be a part of this year’s cohort and is looking forward to working with NYC Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center.
Zi Lin Liang is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Prior to Wagner, Zi Lin spent eight years in sales and marketing in the private sector. Zi Lin enrolled at Wagner to transition into urban policy. As a Brooklyn native, she is inspired by the scale of positive impact city government has on everyday people. Zi Lin is excited to serve as a fellow at NYC Emergency Management's Strategic Partnerships unit, where she will be partnering with business and business improvement districts on emergency preparedness.
Joselyn Molina is currently studying for her Master's of Public Administration and her Master's of Public Health at New York University with a focus in global health and international development. She also works as a Finance and Grants Assistant at the Rockefeller Family Fund. Prior to relocating to New York, she worked at the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development. With an interest in emergency preparedness and effective communication, she is excited to serve the city with the NYC Fire Department.
Leanna Molnar is a graduate student at Pratt Institute's Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, pursuing a Master's degree in City and Regional Planning with a focus on environmental and resilience planning. Before starting her master's, she worked for the NYC Parks Department in the GreenThumb division as a Project Coordinator for their Community Garden Improvement Program, focusing on infrastructure improvements for community gardens across the city. Her interest in planning and the environment stems from her undergraduate thesis in the Environmental Studies program at Pace University, where Leanna studied green gentrification and its effects on communities in Chelsea. As the fellow for NYC Emergency Management's Risk Reduction and Recovery Bureau, she looks forward to learning about and contributing to the city's long-term resilience planning initiatives that serve communities throughout all five boroughs.
Joseph Yun is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration with specialization in Emergency Management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He originally worked in the film and visual effects industry in NYC before transitioning into community based non-profit work. His interest in emergency management originated from his love for the outdoors and knowing the dangers brought on by Mother Nature. He is excited to serve as a fellow at NYC Department for Environmental Protection. He is looking forward to working in emergency management and response after completing his graduate studies.
Katherine Otilia Zapata is currently pursuing her master's degree in Global Affairs at the University of Denver. Before her graduate degree, she received her bachelor's degree from the University of Denver as well in International Studies and Political Science. Throughout her time in her undergraduate degree, she worked to dismantle systematic barriers to ensure that more individuals like herself receive the education they deserve. She was born and raised in Queens, New York and is a First - Generation Latina. As an inner-city student, Katherine has allowed for her own personal experiences as a Latina to navigate her civic engagement passions across policy and community organizing. Katherine is eager and excited to work with her home-based communities as the fellow for NYC Emergency Management’s Government Relations unit.