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For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2018
Contact: 518-486-9846

Secretary of State Rosado Announces Newest Empire State Fellows Class

Prestigious Program Recruits and Prepares Next Generation of Policymakers for Public Service

Over 25 Fellows Have Gone on to Senior Roles in State Government

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado today announced the 2017-2019 class of Empire State Fellows. The program, now in its sixth year, recruits mid-career professionals from the private and private sectors to cultivate the next generation of New York State government leaders and policy-makers. Eight new Empire State Fellows, chosen for their professional experience, leadership potential, creativity and commitment to public service from a highly competitive field of candidates, are currently serving a two-year fellowship.

“The next generation of leaders needs real-world experience in public policy,” said Governor Cuomo. “The Empire State Fellows program promotes their growth and helps hone the skills they need to guide us in the future. With these talented individuals leading the way, I am optimistic for the future and I am proud to work with all of them.”

“This program attracts the best and brightest who are committed to serving their fellow New Yorkers,” said Secretary of State Rosado. “New York has forged a positive path forward through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, and these Fellows will contribute to the ongoing work. Congratulations and welcome the newest Empire State Fellows class.”

Governor Cuomo appoints each Empire Fellow to work directly with a Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or another high-level policy-maker. Each Empire Fellow works at a State office or agency, such as the Department of State, the Department of Health, the Department of Labor, or in the Governor’s Executive Chamber.

During their two-year fellowship, Empire State Fellows both teach and learn by bringing diverse and modern perspectives into the governing process, and through participation in education and professional development. Empire Fellows complete a unique, interactive curriculum developed by the Rockefeller Institute of Government in consultation with Cabinet-level officials. Once placed and paired with a mentor, Empire State Fellows must continue educational coursework in addition to their regular employment.  

The Empire State Fellows program continues its tradition of selecting outstanding leaders from different backgrounds to enter public service and make contributions to the wide spectrum of State government.

Members of the new class bring expertise from various professional fields, including community service, not-for-profit management, education, and the legal profession.

Since the program’s inception, over 25 Fellows have gone on to senior roles in State government. In these roles, graduated Empire State Fellows have helped shape the state’s Superstorm Sandy housing and building initiatives, assist Puerto Rico reshape its Medicaid program, and helped move the State’s behavioral health services from a fee-for-service system into managed care.

The 2017-2019 Class of Empire State Fellows

Tiffany Battles -Tiffany joins the Empire State Fellows program after extensive work in mental health services, ranging from individual, family, and group therapeutic services to research and analysis on children's behavioral health, public health, state and federal policy.  She began her career as a Day Treatment Clinician with Parsons Child and Family Center providing therapeutic services to children and youth who have serious emotional disturbance and in need of integrated clinical and educational programming for school achievement and success. This direct-service experience informed her later mental health policy work, particularly focused on improving clinical and recovery outcomes for children and youth. Tiffany worked as part of a four-person team at the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene on the development and implementation of a complex interagency project under the Governor's Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) to address the needs of an array of populations, including children and youth with behavioral health needs or are in foster care, the medically fragile, the developmentally disabled, and those who have issues with substance use. In this role, Tiffany managed the children's transformation workplan and was charged with maintaining ongoing communication with both senior and executive staff.  Tiffany was the project lead in the development of a cross-systems provider designation process for the children's behavioral health and health transition to Medicaid Managed Care and conducted webinars and presentations to providers.  Earlier in her role, Tiffany also assisted in the development of the assessment tool for Health Homes Serving Children and Home and Community Based Services and led the development of the Medicaid State Plan Provider Manual for Children's Behavioral Health Early and Periodic Screening and Diagnostic Testing (EPSDT) Services. Tiffany received her Bachelor's in Human Development from SUNY at Oswego and Masters in Social Work from SUNY at Binghamton. Placement: Executive Chamber

Renee Campbell - Renee joins the Empire State Fellows program after a career at the armed services. Renee served as Chief of Police at two military installations, where she interpreted federal laws and policies for the protection of personnel and resources.  As Chief of Police, Renee led a $2 million nuclear weapon storage upgrade and achieved nuclear certification for the site. She worked on enhancing protection through the implementation of federal laws, policies, and discipline. As a Branch Chief at the Pentagon, Renee researched over 400 federal policy inquiries that were critical to $166.3 billion in corporate appropriations. Additionally, Renee earned a Bronze Star for her role in strategic policy partnerships advances in Kabul, Afghanistan, and helped to enable Afghan police growth through conflict resolution and multinational policy decision making. Most recently, Renee worked at the Peace Corps, where she built and managed the budget for a regional office. Renee holds an MS in Urban Policy and Leadership from Hunter College, an MA in Organizational Management from George Washington University, and a BS in Criminology from Florida State University. Renee received military education at the Command and General Staff College. Placement: Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Briane Cornish -  Briane joins the Empire State Fellows program from the justice policy field. For the last 10 years, Briane's work and volunteer experiences have centered on justice and public policy. As an undergraduate, Briane interned in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Charles Rangel's Harlem Office, the Public Advocate for the City of New York, and the Judiciary Joint Committee at the Massachusetts State Senate. As a law student, she interned at the Department of Justice's Office of Policy and Legislation as well as with a nonprofit advocacy group focused on raising the minimum wage. After graduating, Briane served as Project Manager at The Clean Slate Initiative, where she managed the deployment of an online assistance web tool for pro-bono attorneys writing their first criminal record expungement petitions. She later served as Access to Justice Fellow at Responsive Law, where she performed a state-by-state analysis that resulted in a published report on the legal access in the 50 states. Briane co-founded and served as operations chair for the DC Reduced Fee Lawyers Group, a web-based criminal and civil legal services directory for D.C. residents of modest means. Most recently, Briane served as Legal Fellow at the District of Columbia Corrections Information Council, where she conducted inspections of correctional facilities, including holding confidential interviews with inmates to gather information on confinement conditions. Briane received her Bachelor's Degree from Tufts University and her JD from Stanford Law School. Placement: Council on Community Reentry and Reintegration

Candi Griffin-Jenkins - Candi joins the Empire State Fellows after serving as Assistant Dean for Graduate Admissions and Student Services at the University at Albany's School of Social Welfare. As Assistant Dean, she was a member of the Senior Leadership Team, which is responsible for creating school policy, planning, and strategizing on implementation. Additionally, Candi was a member of the school’s Masters of Social Welfare Program Committee, which is responsible for the oversight of the masters program's policy, curriculum, admissions outcomes, and student recruitment plus engagement practices. Formerly, Candi served as the Director of the Liberty Partnerships Rising Stars Program at the University at Albany for more than 10 years. Liberty is a program that was created to address New York's drop-out rate and provides services such as tutoring, mentoring, employment readiness, and college preparation workshops. During her tenure as Director, Candi served as the Co-Chair of the Legislative Advocacy Statewide Committee, which was responsible for managing relations with members of the legislature. She also served as a member of the Statewide Steering Committee of the State Education Department as well as the President of the Capital Region’s Liberty Partnerships Programs.  Candi is a recipient of the YMCA Adult Achiever Award and the Initiatives for Women Scholarship Award from the University at Albany. Candi received her MSW from the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare. Placement: Higher Education Services Corporation

Jennifer Maurici - Jennifer brings to the Empire Fellows program a background as diverse as the New York City borough of Queens where she was born and raised.  Her commitment to public service spans two decades and began as a reporter for the Queens Tribune, where she wrote stories communicating quality of life issues faced by Queens residents and advocated for change on their behalf to government agencies and elected officials.  Jennifer then began a career in the non-profit sector.  As Senior Director of Education at Junior Achievement of New York, Inc., she fostered partnerships between public and private schools and Fortune 500 companies throughout New York City.  She then worked as Program Supervisor of Best Buddies, International, where she oversaw the general operations of three regional offices and ensured the quality of high school and adult volunteer programs that advocate for people with disabilities.  For the past ten years, Jennifer has worked in the child welfare system, first as a child protective services specialist, then in supervisory positions in foster care and adoption programs.  Most recently, Jennifer worked as a social worker at the Center for Family Representation, where she provided direct social-work support and advocacy to parents involved with the child welfare system. Jennifer believes in the importance of volunteerism and worked with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Arizona to raise the minimum wage and participated in the first Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) with the NYC Department of Homeless Services.  Jennifer holds a BA in Journalism from SUNY New Paltz and an MSW from Arizona State University. She was awarded Student of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Arizona Chapter.  Jennifer is currently working on her PhD in Social Work at Fordham University, specializing in Children and Families Policy. Placement: Office of Children and Family Services

Monique S. Owens - Monique comes to the Empire Fellows program from the field of social and economic justice. Monique has local government as well as coalition building and community organizing experience. She worked as Legislative Aide for the City of Buffalo Common Council, where she served as liaison to constituents, city departments, and local governmental agencies and community organizations. She also worked as Government Affairs Associate at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and as Community Advocate at the Long Island Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House. Most recently, she worked as a Documentation and Learning Specialist at Open Buffalo, a nonprofit organization dedicated to social and economic justice. Monique was awarded the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, the Buffalo State Diversity Fellowship, and was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the global honor society for public affairs and administration. She has presented research evaluating the extent of third-sector participation in emergency management planning and presented her findings at the annual conference of the American Society for Public Administration. Beyond her academic accomplishments, Monique has shown a commitment to community service and the enhancement of social equity as an advocate for a variety of vulnerable and historically marginalized communities. Monique has served as a committee member for the Erie County Democratic Party and as committee member of the Miss Borinquen Leadership Development Program, an initiative to empower Latina youth to become leaders in their communities. Monique holds a BA in International Studies and Global Gender Studies from SUNY at University at Buffalo and an MPA from SUNY at Buffalo State. Placement: Division of Criminal Justice Services

Abbey J. Marr - Abbey comes to the Empire State Fellows program from the field of law and policy advocacy. Abbey worked as a Paralegal Specialist at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, drafting memoranda and pleadings for cases regarding violations of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, and Title IX of the Education Amendments. Abbey focused on expanding the parameters of legal education, helping campaign for, develop, and teach Harvard Law School's Reproductive Justice course. As a Ford Foundation Legal Fellow at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Abbey drafted a primer on labor law and domestic workers' rights in ten states and localities. Most recently, Abbey worked as Policy Analyst and Reproductive Justice Law Fellow at Advocates for Youth, where, under Abbey's leadership, the organization began its first involvement in litigation, filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, which addressed abortion restrictions. Abbey also served as an adjunct professor at University of DC Law School, teaching the Summer 2017 Reproductive Rights and Justice seminar. Abbey holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor's in Political Science and Women's Studies from George Washington University. Placement: Executive Chamber    

Deborah Zamer – Deborah joins the Fellowship from the field of social work, reproductive rights advocacy, and private business. She served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (UHPP), overseeing the selection of a CEO, helping to set forth a new strategic plan, and working to strengthen the organization's fiscal health. After her tenure as Chair, Deborah was founding Chair of a philanthropic group benefitting UHPP, making a significant mark on its donor fund. Deborah was awarded the Fellowship on Women and Public Policy by the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society and was then selected for the Public Management Institute of New York State, leading her to the New York State Division of Budget. Deborah served with the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa, worked as an addiction counselor to female inmates at Peter Young Treatment, Housing and Industries, and most recently worked in her family-owned real estate business. Deborah holds a BA in Political Science from SUNY at Binghamton and MSW from SUNY at Albany. Placement: Executive Chamber

The Empire State Fellows program is one of the three parts of Governor Cuomo’s New NY Leaders Initiative that prepares 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.

New York State is now accepting applications for the 2018-2020 class of Empire State Fellows. For more information about the program, visit here.