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        New New York Leaders Initiative
        Empire State Fellows Program
        Empire State Fellows FAQ
        Student Intern Program
        Student Intern Program FAQ

Read What Some Current Fellows Have To Say About Their Experience in the Empire State Fellows Program:

Michael Baer Michael Baer

“My involvement with our Region 2 office in developing a proposal for how the State could deploy environmental mitigation banking as a tool to protect wetlands while fostering economic development has provided me with an opportunity to work with a wide variety of stakeholders who are impacted by both economic and environmental factors. Coming from a private sector background, it has been fulfilling to me to see how the Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State seek innovative economic solutions for meeting environmental regulations.”

“I find the breakfast sessions with senior policymakers extremely important and informative as it provides us fellows and opportunity to learn leadership lessons and how they think through critical issues that affect the State.”


Tamara Dewes

Tamara Dewes

“The Empire State Fellows Program has given me the perfect springboard to achieve my goal of strengthening platforms that enhance the lives of others. I currently manage the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MBWE) Program Unit at the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), where I am focused on eliminating barriers that prevent minority and women owned businesses from gaining access to New York State procurement opportunities. The chance to work on one of the governor’s signature initiatives has been an edifying experience. I look forward to continuing to serve as a positive influence in creating parity for our state’s MWBEs.”


Michael Baer Samuel Filler

“Governor Cuomo recently announced that a ‘one-stop shop’ will be established within Empire State Development to provide the wine, beer, and spirits industry a single point of contact for all assistance. As a result of my work on Governor Cuomo’s Wine, Beer, and Spirits Summit and my economic development background, I was asked to take the lead at ESD to organize and shape the structure of the one-stop shop. This policymaking opportunity allows me to contribute to the State’s economic future while learning the skills I need to take on a top policymaking role in State Government.”


Jennifer Gomez

Jennifer Gomez

“One of the most impressive opportunities I’ve had as a Fellow is to witness firsthand how the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance coordinated federal, state and local human services agencies to protect and assist New Yorkers affected by the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. I met with federal agents and local commissioners, visited disaster relief centers in NYC, and worked with staff on the recovery efforts. Additionally, the remarkable response from our staff, who volunteered numerous hours to assist with relief efforts, has been very inspiring.”

“At the highest levels of operations, whether it is in the office of the commissioner, legal affairs, budget or programs, women run this agency. Every day I am surrounded by smart and accomplished women who serve as models of effective leadership and provide me with invaluable mentorship. I’ve developed meaningful relationships, both professionally and personally, and that has been incredibly rewarding.”


Dylan Hayden

Dylan Hayden

“I would have to say my most rewarding experience as an Empire State Fellow was my part in overseeing the Department of Labor’s response to Superstorm Sandy. To be given the opportunity to coordinate nearly 200 employees who volunteered to serve in Disaster Assistance Centers across seven counties and assist people impacted by such a crisis is why I’ve always wanted to work in state government. Working with an incredible team of professionals to provide disaster unemployment assistance, career services, and hiring for cleanup efforts in the wake of the disaster was an honor and a privilege.”

“I believe the Empire State Fellows Program is truly a unique opportunity for mid-career professionals to make great contributions to public service at the highest levels while simultaneously receiving training to become the next generation of leaders in government. The ability to work across State agencies with other fellows and top-level leaders is an excellent way to bring increased coordination of services to people across the state.”


Kisha Santiago

Kisha Santiago

“Working on the planning and implementation of the New York State Homeownership Repair and Rebuilding Fund (HRRF) was extremely rewarding. The first round of checks were mailed just after Christmas. This required regular communication with FEMA, coordination with sister agencies, the creation of the HRRF IT system that captures information and processes checks, training staff on eligibility and award determination, and implementing customer service processes. Working on the HRRF allowed me to help New Yorkers whose homes were devastated by the storm and to work with people across HCR departments and sister agencies.”

“The NYS Empire Fellows program provides an amazing opportunity for mid-career professionals to join policy makers at state agencies. After working for several years in affordable housing, I am applying my experience and strengths to work on important programs alongside industry leaders. I strongly encourage people who want to do meaningful work to apply to the Empire Fellows program or find other opportunities to work for New York State agencies.”



Nora Yates

Nora Yates

“Through my work with the Government Affairs Unit at the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, I’ve been able to coordinate the Federal Block Grant Reporting for the agency. The magnitude of project has given me access to learn about all facets of the agency, as well as the field of addiction services. I’ve also been able to implement changes to the process for increased accountability and transparency.”

“Bringing my background into the Fellowship and my placement, I have been able to engage my agency in efforts to improve the cultural competency of providers through changing our reporting and training efforts. I have coordinated these efforts across divisions, allowing me to engage with leadership at my agency as well as facilitate cross-agency collaboration.”

“The combination of the Rockefeller Institute seminars, the networking events, and my agency placement has provided me with amazing access to high-level policy issues that are currently being debated, and allowed me to add input into the process, where I can make change in a real way across the State.”