2015 Fellows

High Road Fellows are Cornell ILR students, mostly undergraduate, who are selected for the Buffalo program based on their academic and community service records and interests. Since 2009, eighty-five students have worked on diverse projects that help revitalize the Greater Buffalo economy, while learning about economic development through hands-on experience.

Fellows 2015

Kelly Bouzi, '18

experience report / high road

Kelly Bouzi

CWA and Health Sciences Charter School

  • Researched new NYS bill regarding workplace violence and created policy for implementation  at my organization.
  • Created a presentation for staff regarding potential retirement plans for the future.
  • Created policy for record retention and disposition.

Nabiha Qudsi, '18

experience report / high road

Nabiha Qudsi

The Fargo House/Assembly House 150

  • Interviewed stakeholders and created a strategic plan for the organization.
  • Worked with other High Roaders to foster collaborations between organizations in order to find a viable community-oriented use for a local building.
  • Researched different community art programming and woodworking schools in order to create a sample woodworking curriculum for ASSEMBLY HOUSE 150's future program. 

Melissa Bravo, '16

experience report / high road

Melissa Bravo

Grassroots Gardens

  • Created a guide on how to make community gardens accessible to all community members, included a tool to measure accessibility.
  • Compiled list of organizations in the disability community to help with outreach.
  • Assisted with workshops for children on the importance of community gardens.

Seth Lutsic, '17

experience report / high road

Seth Lutsic

The John R. Oishei Foundation

  • Assisted Vice President of Philanthropic Support, Knowledge Management Officer, and Director of Communications in the areas of fund development, governance, organizational development, strategy, and research.
  • Coordinated a  retreat for Oshei’s leadership development initiative, Oishei Leaders, which included a creative Tape Art exercise.
  • Analyzed and presented findings on local philanthropic educational investment.

Zachary de Stefan, '18

experience report / high road

Zachary de Stefan

Learning Disabilities Association of WNY

  • Assisted with the implementation of the  Pathways to Employment program by networking with local nonprofits and matching clients with relevant volunteer and job opportunities.
  • Developed and co-taught a 90 minute seminar on the identification of personal leadership skills.
  • Spearheaded a brainstorming committee for the LDA's annual Business Mingle event.

Kibrett Facey, '16

experience report / high road

Kibrett Facey

Massachusetts Avenue Project

  • Created and taught a workshop on Privilege, Class, and Disparities for MAP’s summer youth.
  • Successfully assisted with marketing and outreach to promote the WNY Environmental Alliance's "The People's Movement" Event .
  • Developed Social Change Education Curriculum.

Carunya Achar, '18

experience report / high road

Carunya Achar

Open Buffalo

Community Justice Fellow

  • Created a summary  document defining community oriented policing to help provide clarity in how it could be best applied in Buffalo.
  • Made an annotated index of power in Buffalo outlining and describing individuals/organizations who could influence efforts to implement community oriented policing .
  • Researched national best practices of community oriented policing.

Lauren Lang, '17

experience report / high road

Lauren Lang

Open Buffalo

Leadership Development Fellow

  • Created an introductory document describing the inaugural  Emerging Leaders program which was chosen as 1 of 5 documents to be sent in Open Buffalo's annual report to the Open Society Foundations.
  • Developed a paper and online application for the Emerging Leaders Program.
  • Successfully recruited mentors for the inaugural class of the Emerging Leaders Program.

Deandra Fike, '18

experience report / high road

Deandra Fike

Partnership for the Public Good

  • Coordinated and organized “Working Successfully with Immigrants and Refugees” training focusing on language access issues for service providers working with refugees and immigrants, which had a turn-out of 100 community members.
  • Created and edited six Cultural Fact Sheets to inform the community about numerous ethnic groups.
  • Updated a brief outlining various statistics and descriptions of the local refugee and immigrant community.

Robert Johnson III, '17

experience report / high road

Robert Johnson III

Partnership for the Public Good

  • Authored a report on racial disparities in Buffalo.
  • Analyzed data about the black labor market in Buffalo compared to the county, state and nation.
  • Helped the Living Wage Commission enforce compliance measures for first and second quarters of 2015.

Cole Norgaarden, '17

experience report / high road

Cole Norgaarden

PUSH Buffalo

  • Created a flyer and slideshow presentation to be used at information sessions for local property owners interested in PUSH's Main Streets grant program.
  • Performed compliance inspections of three properties previously assisted by the program.
  • Catalogued and researched the status of 97 existing vacant sites in PUSH's Green Development Zone.

Shira Kotz '18

experience report / high road

Shira Kotz

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

  • Authored an 11 page community brief on high school graduation rates in Erie County.
  • Created a marketing document publicizing high school graduation rates for social media using Infoactive and Excel.
  • Formulated an advocacy letter to New York State Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes in support of the Community Schools Act.

Erin Killian, '17

experience report / high road

Erin Killian

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper

  • Composed a report on alternative financing models for monetizing environmental services and public/private partnerships.
  • Collaborated on a pilot stewardship business structure that is now being considered by the County, City and the Buffalo Greenfund. 
  • Was asked to stay on after the end of the fellowship to continue working on an array of projects for Riverkeeper.

Daniela Archila, '16

experience report / high road

Daniela Archila

Center for Employment Opportunities

  • Created a Workforce Development Map and Report as a resource for creating more unity and cohesion amongst organizations providing workforce development programming in Erie County. 
  • Met and interviewed the directors of over twenty nonprofits and foundations to discuss CEO’s services for previously incarcerated individuals.
  • Collaborated with other High Road Fellows and partner organizations to discuss potential reuses for a property employing CEO’s clients.

Kyle Friend, '17

experience report / high road

Kyle Friend

Coalition for Economic Justice

  • Created a comprehensive policy brief about proposed earned sick time legislation in the City of Buffalo.
  • Supported the Fight for $15 movement, to raise 180,000 workers out of poverty and government assistance. Wrote an op-ed piece published in the Buffalo News urging the State’s Wage Board to support a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers, which it eventually did.

Maria Chak, '18

experience report / high road

Maria Chak

WNYCOSH Worker Center

  • Executed a research plan to support Gov. Cuomo’s nail salon campaign in New York.
  • Established a regional outline of nail salons in Erie County for canvassing purposes and visited a number to gather qualitative data.
  • Compiled a statistical report on wages, safety and health precautions in nail salons. Utilized art and creative representations of the information to enhance messaging and outreach.

Emily Sharp-O’Connor, '18

experience report / high road

Emily Sharp-O'Connor

WNY Law Center

  • Gained an understanding of the mortgage foreclosure process, as well as common problems experienced by those facing foreclosure.
  • Authored a report on the foreclosure process with analysis linking a foreclosure process with minimal delays to an increased chance of being approved for a loan modification.
  • Contributed to a study on discriminatory practices by auto insurance providers.

Abigail Philips, '16

experience report / high road

Abigail Philips

Young Audiences of WNY

  • Produced resource packet to distribute to students on  career, college, and post-high school options.
  • Delivered a presentation on resume-building and professionalism to 30 ArtWorks apprentices. 
  • Coordinated logistical details: coordinating college tours, ordering supplies, supervising when needed.