2022-2023 VISTA Project Bios


zandra cuffVISTA Leader Bio: Zandra Cuff is a three time AmeriCorps VISTA, previously serving as a VISTA Leader for North Carolina Campus Compact in 2018. During her time at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she developed a passion for public policy and law, and how these tools can be used to address poverty. Her experience with AmeriCorps VISTA has deepened her belief of the power of community and how we must work together with unique partners to accomplish change. In her free time she enjoys listening to her diverse music collection and playing guitar.

VISTA Leader Bio: Jared McLean is a Maryland native, growing up on a family poultry farm. He received his B.A. at Salisbury University studying early Maryland history. After college, Jared decided to join AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) as a Member and traveled across the United States volunteering his time and service at food banks, national parks, and various nonprofit organizations. As a recent graduate of the NCCC program, Jared decided to join Transform Mid-Atlantic's AmeriCorps VISTA program as a VISTA Leader, where he will help to support, mentor, and advise the program's 30+ AmeriCorps VISTA members across the region.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA Leaders work directly with the members placed at higher education institutions across the Maryland-DC-Delaware region to encourage and promote the expansion of service and quality campus-community partnerships.

TMA Communications and Strategic Partnership Coordinator

VISTA Member Bio: Linda Thiele is serving as Transform Mid-Atlantic's Communications and Strategic Partnership Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA member. As an undergraduate student at The University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), Linda previously had the privilege of serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, where she worked with a local AIDS Outreach Program, designed to bring resources and assistance to underserved areas, within West Alabama. She received a B.A.Degree from The University of Alabama, majoring in English Literature. She is currently working towards a Master of Science Degree through The University of Alabama Manderson Graduate School of Business, with a focus on Digital Marketing.

Project: Generating new resources to use in the fight against poverty is a main outcome of this project. The TMA Corporate Partners project will strengthen the relationships between higher education institutions and the corporate sector. This project includes connecting the TMA mission, vision, and values with corporate civic engagement in the region, curating a robust communications and website presence tailored towards the business community, creating a corporate advisory board, and researching and incorporating best practices for corporate civic engagement.

Allegany College of Maryland

VISTA Member Bio: Jade Kenney is currently serving in her second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Allegany College of Maryland, where she has collaboratively developed ACM’s project titled “Tackling the Opioid Crisis: Building a Resilient Maryland.” The project has received support from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. Jade shares how her own personal story, challenges, and resilience led to her service at ACM and how ACM’s partnership with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine is transforming the lives of individuals affected by the opioid crisis in Western Maryland. To learn more about Jade, click here to listen a recent TMA podcast episode featuring her story and work!

Project: This VISTA project will establish the Allegany College of Maryland (ACM) Center for Mind-Body Medicine Holistic Education (CMBMHE).  The CMBMHE will serve as a national community college ‘Culture of Care’ (CoC) model, ready to scale and address the ubiquitous mental health crisis, which has accelerated during recent social/political unrest and COVID. The VISTA member will work with the ACM Culture of Care Steering Committee (CCSC) and the Community Resilience Collaborative (CRC) to embed Mind-Body Skills in the CoC and promote them within the region in addition to mapping ACM’s existing touchpoints, research, seek input, make best practice recommendations, and implement and evaluate approved initiatives.

Baltimore City Community College

VISTA Member Bio: Shaneen McNamee [Bio and photo coming soon!]

Project: The VISTA Success Coach Project provides success coaching for students who need extra support inside and outside of the classroom by connecting them with tutors or other beneficial resources on campus and by helping them maintain confidence and motivation. Intervention is provided at the earliest point of the participants academic career with BCCC, ensuring that students are provided with the tools, knowledge, and support necessary to be successful.

Bowie State University

VISTA Member Bio: Asia Fortune [Bio and photo coming soon!]

Project: The Bowie Bold: Feeding the Need Initiative plays a crucial role in educating the Bowie State University community about food insecurity and resources available for emergency intervention.  The TMA VISTA member will also utilize social media and other media sources to raise visibility of the Nutrition Lounge, a place where students can access free, healthy food while relaxing or studying.

Carroll Community College

VISTA Member Bio: Casey Rohwein has lived in Maryland her whole life and has grown up in Carroll County. She completed her associates degree at Carroll Community College in Liberal Arts. She plans on transferring to a university after her year with AmeriCorps VISTA, to get her bachelor’s degree in Political Science or Philosophy. She is excited to join AmeriCorps VISTA and have a job that makes a difference in the world. Casey believes with programs like AmeriCorps VISTA we truly can make the world a better place. In her free time she enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Project: The Community Resource Liaison TMA AmeriCorps VISTA project targets low-income students at Carroll Community College who are experiencing barriers to achieving their educational goals. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will help connect students in crisis with community resources by creating a clear process of intake, referral, follow up, and support. The member will also create proactive programming to connect students with resources prior to crisis points, as well as a website with community resources for students, faculty, and staff.

Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)

Bridges to Success

VISTA Member Bio: R. Nicole Magor [Bio and photo coming soon!]

Project: Bridges to Success is a partnership between Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS), and Baltimore area businesses to address the needs of low-income students in navigating college curriculum and increase their chances of being prepared for the job market. This program will provide a hands-on system to ensure high school and college students are making informed decisions in their course selection and have maps to guide them from non-credit to credit courses.

Pipeline to Living-Wage Careers for Veterans

VISTA Member Bio: Crystal Radford received her MA in Educational Policy and Leadership from The Ohio State University’s College of Education and Human Ecology. There, she also studied curriculum and instruction and gained expertise in educational equity. Previously, Crystal helped students with career readiness as a TMA AmeriCorps VISTA while serving as a Second Year Experience Coordinator for Morgan State University’s Center for Academic Success and Achievement’s Second Year Experience program.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will assist low-income veterans/military connected students living within the Baltimore Metropolitan Area to enroll in a short-term certification program that leads to a living-wage career. This project will serve as an intermediary between partners and assist with setting up a process of recruiting, enrolling, aiding, advising, and tracking students as they complete their program, and then establish a process to help veteran students find employment through partners and outreach to industries hiring within the veteran's career field. This will increase employment rates and income levels among veterans and military-connected families.

Delaware State University

VISTA Member Bio: This could be you, as this position is open and accepting applications! Click here to learn more.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will assist Delaware State University, in partnership with Delaware Multicultural and Civic Organization (DEMCO), in delivering universal prevention interventions to youth between the ages of nine and twenty, within the Kent and Sussex communities. This TMA VISTA project will deliver universal alcohol and drug use prevention interventions to youth between the ages of nine and twenty, within surrounding communities over the next three years. This will be accomplished through the development and coordination of prevention curriculum, community training and workshops, stakeholder engagement, and a resource and referral process.

Frederick Community College

VISTA Member Bio: Joanne Mateo is a proud new VISTA member with a desire to learn and grow from this experience. This program will allow her to help student parents in their journey to academic success. As a student parent herself, Joanne knows this journey all too well, this work is personal and important to her. Her passion to help others derives from her own painful realization of how unjust life can be for many people in underserved communities. She finds some peace in knowing that she can be a part of an organization that is trying to make a difference, be it big or small.

Project: The Student Support for Basic Needs and Security project is designed to build capacity for and implement a sustainable food security and basic needs program on campus that connects students to resources as needed to help eliminate barriers to academic and personal success. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member aims to offer critical support for students experiencing food security and basic need concerns that create barriers to academic and personal success. The goal will be to further support student success by working with campus and community stakeholders to create comprehensive, accessible, and sustainable solutions to identifying and responding to the health and well-being of our students.

Friendship Public Charter School

VISTA Member Bio: JaNell Friday is the VISTA member for the Office of Alumni affairs at Friendship Public Charter School. Ja’Nell is a DC Native, Class of 2015 Friendship Collegiate Alumna and a Class of 2020 University of North Carolina at Pembroke Alumna. Ja’Nell graduated with a B.S in General Biology and is looking forward to promoting food access and gardening during this service term. Ja’Nell’s career goal is to become a Horticultural Therapist.

Project: The Friendship Alumni Affairs TMA AmeriCorps VISTA project will provide program design, coordination, and support over three years for three key objectives: the development and implementation of the Class Connectors program; the design and launch of the Alumni Board and Alumni Association; and the growth of our Alumni Day/Week programming. The VISTA project will grow and strengthen the Friendship alumni community by increasing engagement and supports offered across the college and career spectrum for all alumni.

Goldey-Beacom College

VISTA Member Bio: Sulakshmi Vaid is a recent graduate from Cedar Crest College as a political science and history double major with a minor in pre-law. Vaid is an unapologetically queer first-generation born South-Asian American woman, and passionate about social justice and service work. Her new position through AmeriCorps will be working at Goldey-Beacom College to help train and connect college students to the local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and partake in community service. She is so excited to begin this next chapter of her life doing work she can be passionate about and help others in the process!

Project: Goldey-Beacom College and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware (BGCDE) have formed a partnership to strengthen the relationship between the College and the community while providing more volunteer opportunities, access to the College’s facilities and events, and BGCDE-based programming. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA will serve as the liaison between GBC and BGCDE.

Homes Not Borders

VISTA Member Bio: Amber Medero is from Queens, New York. She graduated from Wheaton College Massachusetts in May of 2022 double majoring in International Relations and Hispanic Studies. Right after school, she started her professional career doing public service, through AmeriCorps specifically working as a Homes Not Borders VISTA. Since she interned with the local refugee resettlement agency, US Together in Cleveland, Ohio, last summer she knew she wanted to continue doing refugee-centered work. Homes Not Borders' primary focus is to furnish the homes of refugees, but she focuses on its secondary programs, which are just as crucial in that they offer economic opportunity. During her year-long position, she will be working on developing and launching their new Artisan online store, creating a job board specifically for refugees in the DMV area, and will help to restore the carpentry program by finding partner organizations for the space and training. A fun fact about Amber is that she played ice hockey in college. 

Project: The Refugee Community Support VISTA will work to increase the access to Economic Opportunities that our clients have through the development, piloting and implementation of a Refugee Jobs Board and Artisan Store. They will also work to establish current economic opportunity programs at HNB including our carpentry training program and the Moving Up Fund which will subsidize housing for refugees undergoing vocational training.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

IRC Silver Spring & Baltimore

VISTA Member Bio: Michalina Kulesza is a first-generation American and college student who moved from Albany, New York to serve her first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring, Maryland. Growing up in an immigrant family sparked her interest in promoting accessibility, equity, and empathy at the institutional level, namely in the public sector and now in the humanitarian sector. Prior to beginning her service year, Michalina graduated with her Master of Public Administration degree with academic focuses in women in government, foreign languages, and international affairs from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy and worked in the New York State legislature for three years, leading constituent services efforts and policy initiatives. Michalina also worked as a researcher for the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society where she studied the internal and external barriers that women face when pursuing elected office. Finally, Michalina is a board member for the Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve & Farm Inc., a nonprofit which works to empower individuals to enjoy the natural world while promoting environmental conservation.  Michalina’s goals are driven by her belief in an empathy that is locally focused and globally aware. Her experiences in foreign languages, constituent services, research, and program and event development and evaluation empower her to connect individuals to the services that they need to succeed. In her free time, Michalina enjoys traveling, running, and is a yoga instructor.

Project: the TMA AmeriCorps VISTAs will build the capacity of the IRC in Baltimore (IRC-BAL) and the IRC in Silver Spring (IRC-SIL) to engage the community in a variety of poverty-reduction initiatives as well as to spread the word about the challenges, needs, and successes of humanitarian immigrants across Maryland.

Center for Economic Opportunities for New Americans – Communications

VISTA Member Bio: Sara Farsiu received her doctorate in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2020. She held a post-doctoral fellowship at UW-Madison in 2021, focusing on the educational experiences of Afghan refugees in Iran. She has turned her educational expertise in sociocultural linguistics and her migration background into improving services for the most vulnerable individuals. Sara has broad experience working with non-profit and community-supported organizations in the United States, including Jewish Social Services (JSS) and Open Doors for Refugees (ODFR). She actively helped them in resettling refugees. She volunteered as a translator/interpreter for Afghan refugees, helped their children with the school enrollment process, interpreted at their job interviews and workplace meetings, and facilitated meetings between schools and refugee parents. Sara’s service led to recognition by the University of Madison Office of the Chancellor for outstanding community-engaged collaboration in 2018. As AmeriCorps Community Engagement VISTA, Sara observes the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) strategic action plan and program activities and assists the resettlement, asylum, and integration volunteer coordinator in running the volunteer and in-kind donation programs, expanding IRC’s capacity.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Coordinator will build capacity within the IRC to raise awareness of, and ultimately affect change in, the underlying systemic and structural issues that limit economic mobility for low-income, credit-thin immigrant households in Baltimore. IRC seeks to strengthen the IRC’s economic empowerment and resettlement programs for the benefit of refugees and other low to moderate income populations in the Baltimore metropolitan area across Central Maryland.

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

VISTA Member Bio: This could be you, as this position is open and accepting applications! 

Project: MICA is committed to the development of partnerships, programs, and initiatives within Baltimore’s communities so that the College’s community can be critically engaged, empathetic participants in contemporary society. MICA’s mission includes an institutional commitment to “thrive with Baltimore” and to the importance of artists, designers, and educators as cultural innovators and agents of creative and progressive social change. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA will strategically expand the impact of this commitment for and with Baltimore City residents, specifically its young artists.

Maryland Nonprofits

VISTA Member Bio: Sydney Biggs is a 2020 graduate of Elon University, where she finished her BA in Media Analytics with minors in political science and poverty and social justice. Sydney will be an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) division of Maryland Nonprofits. She has a passion for service and is excited to embark on her VISTA journey!

Project: Maryland Nonprofits is on a journey to strengthen the nonprofit sector’s capacity to operate in an equitable fashion and to achieve equity in outcomes in communities in Maryland. The JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) training program helps nonprofit organizations work toward building boards of directors and staff that are diverse and representative of their culture and client base.

Morgan State University

VISTA Member Bio: Evelyn DiSalvo graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2022 with a Bachelor’s in Design and Public Policy. She’s originally from Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Baltimore to work on community based planning projects as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Evelyn is interested in participatory urban design because she believes communities should have the power and resources to shape their own spaces. Throughout her year of service, she’s excited to develop new methods of engaging residents in urban design and placemaking. Outside of work, Evelyn loves all things fiber arts, from embroidery to knitting to needle-felting!

Project: The Inclusive Community Planning in Low Income Baltimore Neighborhoods project is a partnership of the Morgan State University School of Architecture + Planning (SA+P) and the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) focused on redressing the exclusion of low-income adults in Baltimore city’s low-income neighborhoods from community planning initiatives. The project’s key goals are to expand economic opportunity and support residential and neighborhood stability in Baltimore neighborhoods.

Montgomery College

VISTA Member Bio: Evan Blanpied is joining the team for 12 months of service with the Achieving the Promise Academy with the AmeriCorps VISTA program through a partnership with Transform Mid-Atlantic. Evan is originally from Baltimore and graduated from Davidson College in 2020 as a Mathematics and Computer Science double major. In his free time, he likes to watch sports (especially Charlotte Hornets & Baltimore Orioles) and comedy TV shows (recently Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm). After graduating, Evan completed a fellowship at a Community Health Center in Charlotte, NC working mainly as a data analyst. Evan is participating in the AmeriCorps VISTA program to learn more about how he can apply his technical background to alleviate injustice and help students, particularly those from underserved backgrounds, meet their educational goals. Evan’s time at Montgomery College will focus on supporting ATPA and the Learning Centers’ transition from WCOnline to Accudemia, especially its capacity for student-friendly scheduling and success tracking, but he’s excited to help the Achieving the Promise Academy team accomplish its goals however he can.

Project: The VISTA Academic Coaching for Course and College Success Project will support Montgomery College’s Achieving the Promise Academy in providing holistic academic coaching to low-income, historically-marginalized, and under-presented students. This 3-year VISTA project aims to grow our capacity to serve more students by implementing specific capacity-building projects: self-paced training pathways for academic coaches, technology tools for improved student access to coaching sessions, and enhanced College and community partnerships to improve pathways into Academic Coaching for potential and current students.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

VISTA Member Bio: This could be you, as this position is open and accepting applications!

Project: The York Road Education and Service (YES) Program strives to improve academic outcomes and the holistic health of students from Govans Elementary and Tunbridge Public Charter Schools. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will serve as a key member of a YES Program implementation team, charged with maintaining and expanding existing academic tutoring and mentoring programs, exploring and researching health and wellness need, and identifying opportunities for future implementation in partner schools, with special focus on student and family health concerns identified by project partners.

Prince George's Community College

VISTA Member Bio: Cynthia Proctor retired from Federal service in 2018 after almost 40 years of service. She had a very interesting career which included working for the Navy, Army (junior rifleman program), Federal courts and finally Treasury Department. Over the years Cindy has volunteered with AARP fraud division and DC Feed the hungry campaign, Capital and local food bank through her church and VITA tax preparation program to assist low- and moderate-income taxpayers for 8 years and ongoing and had also been a mobile notary for five years. Cindy loves to help people and travel. Her most significant achievement was being married to my soulmate almost 50 years. We have two children and two grandchildren.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member at PGCC will develop a web-based resource center that will empower families, especially those with low and moderate income and minimal education, by providing a tool to assist with their decision-making process. The site will address a variety of topics that affect families, such as education, employment, personal finances, childcare, housing, and other relevant topics. Education to make well informed decisions is a factor that empowers low-income community members and supports their growth out of poverty.

The Catholic University of America

Cardinal Cupboard

VISTA Member Bio: Caitlin Wilson is the AmeriCorps VISTA member overseeing the Cardinal Cupboard food pantry at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she graduated from The Catholic University of America in 2022 as a double major in Politics and Spanish for International Service. During her undergraduate studies, Caitlin became involved with community outreach and advocacy for migrant rights, and grew in her passion for creating sustainable social change. As a VISTA at Catholic U, she loves getting to know the community of patrons the pantry serves, and hopes to continue in nonprofit management after her term of service. When she’s not working, Caitlin enjoys watching the New York Rangers hockey team and visiting the National Gallery of Art.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA will develop a comprehensive campus pantry program (Cardinal Cupboard) at The Catholic University of America that will provide nutritious and healthy food, resources, and referrals for additional resources to reduce the effects of food insecurity for the campus community.

Center for Cultural Engagement - Pathways to College

VISTA Member Bio: Caroline Zuniga [Bio and photo coming soon!]

Project: Pathways to College allows the Catholic University to become a resource for students in economically disadvantaged communities throughout the Washington D.C. area who are seeking access to higher education by providing them with current college student mentors, equipping them with information about the college admissions process, and building up their resiliency. Parents will gain a better understanding of the college admission process, and how to support their children throughout high school and college. The project will help the university improve the programs, resources, and support provided to first-generation college students and increase their retention and graduation.

The Civic Circle

VISTA Member Bio: Kari Jones Shapley has experience in youth development, advocacy, and homeland security. She was a Leadership Launchpad intern at the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA), and also interned at The Minotaur Group, a global risk consultancy in Washington, D.C. She’s worked as a camp counselor, advocated on behalf of military families, and volunteered for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She recently received a B.A. in World Politics, with a minor in History, from Ohio State University

Project: The Lift Every Voice project closes the equity gap in civic learning and engagement by providing low-income students of color in Eastern Montgomery County the opportunity to learn seven civic skills we call “steps to democracy” through civic songs and songwriting workshops. Civic learning correlates directly to improved academic achievement, fewer discipline incidents, college completion, and the development of skills that lead to employment.

Towson University

Food Security Initiative

VISTA Member Bio: Faith Borras is a recent graduate from Towson University with a degree in Health Education and Promotion. She is extremely passionate about social justice, community health, chronic disease development, and health equity. Faith jumped at the opportunity to serve at the TU FoodShare not only because she is an alumni - but because it aligned so clearly with her interest, her prior experience, and her future goals. Faith is looking to go back to school for her master's within the next two years, and wants to continue studying public health with her focus being nutrition/food equity. In her free time, she enjoys working out, volunteering, training for trivia, and spending time with her 5 pets. She is so excited to return to Towson for her first year of service and utilize her skills toward fighting food insecurity in one of the most affected populations - college students!

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA Food Security Initiative at TU expands the campus food pantry (Food Share) along with additional programming and resources that are currently offered on Towson’s campus. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will develop a curriculum for a workshop series around financial and food security, including topics such as meal planning, cooking demonstrations, and budgeting. Additionally, the TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will work to build the capacity of the Food Share by creating and implementing a training curriculum for pantry volunteers.

Food Security Initiative at Towson University in Northeastern Maryland (TUNE) 

VISTA Member Bio: Yasmeen Espinal is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with Towson Northeastern University. Her project goals are to help students with food insecurity gain access to food and other essentials for free, while also working closely with local churches and organizations to donate food and other items for our students. Through these hard times of inflation, Yasmeen understands that it can be hard for individuals to afford groceries. Her project’s mission is to have food and toiletries at no cost to the students that come onto their campus. Yasmeen’s role as a VISTA will be to reduce the impact of food and financial insecurity for at least 50% of eligible students and promote the Food share with flyers and other sources. She is passionate about this work because of her love to help people any chance she gets and believes it is important to connect with her community.

Project: The Food Security Initiative will offer the Food Share, the new campus food pantry, to the campus of TUNE. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA will be responsible for creating a framework for the project by utilizing data gathered from campus surveys and institutional data, develop a curriculum and co-facilitate education workshops around finances, food security, and sustainability, and host events like a farmers market or wellness fair.

University of Baltimore

VISTA Member Bio: Shaniqua "Nikki" A. Singleton is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with University of Baltimore’s Bee Well initiative. She is currently pursuing her bachelors in Human Service Administration, with a double minor in Psychology and Victim Studies, and will be graduating in 2023. Nikki plans to one day open Bella Lives, an organization that will focus on holistic treatment for women including but not limited to support groups for women survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and childhood sexual abuse. Bella Lives will also have a division called CHARM (changing hearts about recovery and more) that will focus on addiction, recovery, and treatment of diagnosable mental health conditions. Her favorite book is , “The Lovely Bones” and her favorite song, “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. Nikki also lives by the following quotes “Remember you deserve a seat at the table. BUT if others won’t accept you create your own table and invite others to join you.” & “Always remember the baseline is 1, if one person has a problem we all have a problem."

Project: The Bee Well Initiative will work to create resources and programming initiatives focusing on mental, physical and sexual wellness. The Peer Health Educators program, establishment of an Active Minds student organization, and developing of educational resources will address this need. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA will establish partnerships both within the University of Baltimore and the greater Baltimore City community to fuel this mission forward. Additionally, a campaign to end the stigma around mental health will be implemented. Through awareness, outreach, and advocacy, the TMA AmeriCorps VISTA will aide in the overall wellness of the University of Baltimore community.

University of Maryland

Campus Pantry

VISTA Member Bio: Juliana White is a native of Brazil who holds a BA in communication studies. She has been living in the United States for the past 10 years, and recently received her American citizenship. The immersion into the American culture has increased her awareness regarding socio-economic disparities in our communities, especially related to the issues of hunger and food security. As part of her upbringing, she was an advocate for zero food waste and believes that food connects people and brings communities together. In her free time, Juliana enjoys working out so she can find the best tacos in the area, catching up on movies and TV shows, planning her next vacation, or enjoying a porch hang out. She is excited for the opportunity to serve her community with her AmeriCorps VISTA service.

Project: The UMD Campus Pantry will partner with the Capital Area Food Bank and Maryland Hunger Solutions to implement an innovative project to address hunger in the UMD community through programmatic interventions led by students who have experienced food insecurity as well as through strengthening policies on campus for sustainable change.

First Generation Student Success

VISTA Member Bio: Melissa Schwab [Bio and photo coming soon!]

Project: The University of Maryland College Park’s (UMD) First Generation VISTA will be working on a division-wide effort to understand and comprehensively remove barriers to the academic success of first generation students. This project includes the establishment of new programs and strengthening relationships among departments and organizations both on and off-campus to address the needs of this student population. The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA Member will be instrumental in coordinating and advancing first generation initiatives among UMD staff and students.

UMD SAFE Center - Building Equity and Survivor Leadership Capacity

VISTA Member Bio: This could be you, as this position is open and accepting applications! Click here to learn more.

Project: The TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member will help build the capacity of the SAFE Center to serve human trafficking victims in the metropolitan Washington, DC area with a focus on Maryland’s Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. As structural racism is a root cause of human trafficking, the SAFE Center strives to work through an anti-racist framework that incorporates survivor input in our policies, programs, and partnerships. The VISTA will build the SAFE Center’s capacity to serve our clients by supporting the creation of internal policies and program updates with a focus on systemic racism and operationalizing the SAFE Center’s survivor leadership program.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

VISTA Member Bio: Michael Morgan is a University of Maryland Eastern Shore graduate student, currently pursuing a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling. He is from Oxon Hill, MD in Prince George's County and is in his second year as a VISTA member for The Shoreway Experience Project at UMES. Click here to listen to a recent TMA podcast episode featuring Mike's story and his year of service at UMES.

Project: The ShoreWay Experience is a partnership with University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and the local elementary, middle, and high schools in Somerset County, designed to increase college and career readiness within the traditionally underrepresented people of color on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Within the ShoreWay Experience, students will receive intensive college preparedness, ongoing academic and success coaching, experiential learning opportunities, along with life and leadership training. Concurrently, local business partners will provide students with workforce skills, mentoring, and project-based internships to ensure that they can attain and succeed in high-demand careers.

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