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.