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Meet the 2016-2018 Empire State Fellows Class

Thomas E. Baines

Amir BassiriThomas joins the Empire State Fellows program after a career in housing and development working directly with State and Federal funding. Working for a private developer in the City of Buffalo, he began his career managing all facets of affordable housing. Thomas then served as the Executive Director of the Batavia Housing Authority where he was responsible for all fiscal and day-to-day operations. At the pleasure of the Mayor, he also served as the Director of Administration and Finance for the City of Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency where his primary duties were to overseeing the fiscal operations of the agency, as well as ensuring the appropriate use of all Federal Entitlement Grants. Thomas received his Bachelor's from SUNY Oneonta and M.B.A. from Medaille College in Buffalo, N.Y. Placement: Office of General Services

Terrence Byrd-El

Luana Y. FerreiraTerrence joins the Empire State Fellows program with 17 years of human service and community development experience. He is a passionate, committed, and ethical member of his community and he brings extensive knowledge, leadership and expertise working with communities of poverty. Most recently he served as Workforce Development Coordinator at State CEO Contractor, assisting over 200 individuals access employment or training opportunities. He began his career working with various community-based organizations as a case manager, program director, and program developer. His most recent work was in Community Economic Development, with a focus on workforce development. He is an active citizen in the Syracuse community, participating in various anti-poverty initiatives, speaking with youth throughout the community and serves as a researcher for the Street Addiction Institute in partnership with Syracuse University. Currently, he is completing his Doctorate in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College; he holds a Master of Science in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Albany in Sociology. He is also a member of the International Economic Development Council and working towards becoming a Certified Economic Developer. Mr. Byrd-El takes pride in being a public servant and considers himself a "Servant of Humanity." Placement: Department of State

Camilla Campisi

Dore FisherCamilla joins the Empire State Fellows program after more than a decade of advocacy and policy experience with a variety of international organizations. Most recently, she was a UN Representative with the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in New York, where she led the organization's peacebuilding program. Prior to QUNO, she was an Advocate with Refugees International (RI), based in Washington, DC. While at RI, Camilla carried out multiple assessment missions to a variety of countries in Africa and Asia, with a particular focus on advocating for the protection and humanitarian needs of refugees and internally displaced people. Before joining RI, she was the Field Relations Manager for InterExchange Au Pair USA, a nonprofit cultural exchange program. Camilla also has experience working on refugee resettlement with the International Organization for Migration in Geneva and the International Rescue Committee. Camilla has a Bachelor's degree in French from Rutgers University and a Master's degree in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Camilla was born in Sweden and grew up in New Jersey. She also speaks Swedish and French. Placement: Department of State

Kirk Dobson

Daniel FriedmanKirk joins the Empire State Fellows program after many years in political and management consulting in Massachusetts, New York, and most recently, Georgia. During his time consulting he has worked on various political campaigns and initiatives in various capacities, ranging from fundraising and communications to campaign management. Kirk has recently returned to New York after spending five years in the Atlanta area, where he pursued his doctoral degree in public administration with the University System of Georgia – Valdosta State University. His dissertation is titled "The Future of E-Filing in the State of Georgia," which focuses on the planning and implementation of a Statewide electronic filing system for the State of Georgia's judicial system. In addition to his doctoral work, Kirk received both a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) and a Master of Arts degrees from Fordham University. Placement: Department of Health

Sita Fey

Aaron GladdSita joins the Empire State Fellows program following a career as an educator. She is from the upstate region of Otsego County, N.Y. As an elementary school librarian, Sita transformed the learning space, curriculum, and expectations of certified school librarians in Cooperstown. She secured over $10,000 in local grants to integrate technology into the library, partnered with the public libraries for events, and paved the way for educational leadership in a teaching role. Her dedication to education was exemplified through her relationships with students, parents, and the community. Sita was named the 2014 Rotary Outstanding Educator of the Year for Cooperstown Central Schools. In addition to her teaching role, Sita's last year at Cooperstown was spent directly collaborating with the School Superintendent, Business Administrator, and Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. Prior to Cooperstown, Sita spent ten years at the Creating Rural Opportunities after school program with the Oneonta City School District at Riverside Elementary. Her community endeavors include previous service on the local board of Catholic Charities, the City of Oneonta Commission on Community Relations and Human Rights, and the ONC BOCES School Library Systems Council. Sita attended Schenevus Central School and has a BS in childhood education from SUNY Oneonta, a MSIS from The University at Albany, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration. She is a member of The New York State Library Association, School Administrators Association of New York, and Delta Kappa Gamma's International's educational network. She is currently the Vice President for Opportunities For Otsego, a community action agency. Placement: Executive Chamber

Ernest Modarelli IV

Omar J. HerreraErnest is a community activist, pedestrian safety advocate, and Hell's Kitchen resident who comes to the Empire State Fellows Program after a career in the field of Digital Communications where he worked for The United Nations International School and on Gale Brewer's Campaign for Manhattan Borough President. He also started a Digital Communication and Development service for nonprofit organizations throughout the Tristate area. Ernest was appointed to three terms as a member of Manhattan Community Board 4 beginning in 2010, where he served on The Hell's Kitchen Land Use Committee, was the Transportation Committee Co-Chair, and was elected as the board's Second Vice-Chair. Ernest served as Vice President of The Chelsea Hell's Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Society (CHEKPEDS), an organization that advocates for pedestrian safety improvements throughout New York City. He was elected to the Manhattan Democratic County Committee in 2014 and was a candidate for Judicial Delegate. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Academy of St. Joseph of the Palisades and is a member of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club. He earned his Masters and Bachelor's Degrees in Public Administration from The City University of New York, John Jay College. A New Jersey native, Ernest moved to New York City in 2002. Placement: Executive Chamber

Hanna Reyes

Giancarlo PellegriniHanna joins the Empire State Fellows program following her role as Confidential Stenographer for New York State's Executive Chamber. During her time with the Chamber, Hanna assisted on the implementation of the Governor's Ethics, Risk and Compliance State-wide initiative. While obtaining her Master of Science from the King Graduate School-Monroe College, Hanna conducted research on re-entry and wrote her master thesis entitled: Role of Social Service Programs on Successful Reintegration of Ex-convict Mothers into Society. Hanna was formerly a Rhetoric co-instructor for Binghamton University's Michael J. Boyd Educational Opportunity Summer Program, and an English-Social Studies Tutor/Counselor for La Guardia Community College's upward bound program. Hanna is a McNair Scholar, a volunteer for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) and is a CASA Jr. Board member. She has an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Fordham University, a Master of Science from the King Graduate School-Monroe College and a Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University. Placement: Executive Chamber

Kimberly Wedderburn

Michael Sean-SpenceKimberly joins the Empire State Fellows as a recent graduate of Fordham University School of Law and a former Special Education teacher. Kimberly began her teaching career as a New York City Teaching Fellow and received her Master's Degree in Special Education from Brooklyn College. Kimberly taught both special and general education high school students in English and Social Studies classes. She also served as the Services for Students with Disabilities Coordinator and Testing Supervisor for the College Board, and designed the curriculum and taught Introduction to Law and SAT Preparation courses. Kimberly worked as a public school teacher while attending law school in the evening. As a law student, she interned with Samsung Corporation's Legal Compliance Department in Seoul, South Korea; she was a Judicial Intern in the Superior Court of New Jersey; she completed an externship with New York City Conflicts of Interest Board; and she worked as a Law Clerk for the Law Office of Sybil Shainwald. Kimberly received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award for her dedication to public service law and was a staff member of the Environmental Law Review. Kimberly earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is originally from Brooklyn, NY. Placement: Department of Labor

The Empire State Fellows Program is one of the three parts of Governor Cuomo’s New NY Leaders Initiative, which is designed to renew the connection between the public and private sectors and prepare a new generation of leaders to serve in state government.  The Excelsior Service Fellowship Program brings highly-talented recent graduates to serve throughout the state government, and the New NY Leaders Internship Program offers hundreds of college students an opportunity to work in state government. Information regarding the Empire State Fellows Program is available at