2023-2024 VISTA Project Bios

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2023-2024 Transform Mid-Atlantic VISTA Leader

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.

2023-2024 Transform Mid-Atlantic VISTA Leader

Asia Fortune is a Philadelphia native who attended Bowie State University and recently received her B.S in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing in 2022. After graduating, she completed a year of service as a VISTA member supporting Bowie State's Nutrition Lounge. There she maintained a close relationship with her campus community while making an effort to decrease food insecurity. Asia enjoys caring for impactful issues while building a sense of community by giving back and serving. After her first year, Asia decided to continue on working with Transform Mid-Atlantic's team and became a VISTA leader for this 2022-2023 service year   

TMA Community Education and Grants Support Project

Desmond Hearne Morrey is the TMA AmeriCorps VISTA member in the Grants and Community Education Support position.

He has a B.A. from Oberlin College in creative writing, with a minor in gender studies, and is passionate about literature, the arts, which he believes are key to creating a deeper understanding of our entanglement with the natural world and with each other. Desmond also loves to work with kids, and has worked with children and teenagers in fencing classes, acting classes, summer camps, and writing workshops. 

TMA Communications and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator VISTA Member

Justin Heimberg is a Maryland native who returned home after a stint in Los Angeles, where he worked as a teaching artist for an arts education organization that taught in juvenile detention centers, while simultaneously working as a professional Hollywood comedy writer. A graduate of Duke University, Justin has continued to work to give voice to those who too often go unheard, serving as a refugee family mentor and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster care youth.

Coppin State: A Civic Engagment Student Experiance

Angela Gilliam, As a learning facilitator and a motivator, I take on the role of instilling hope and providing assistance to a diverse range of individuals hailing from various socio-economic backgrounds. My primary focus is on the development of citizens within the workforce.

Having graduated from Coppin State University, I was introduced to the TMA VISTA program during my time there. This program involved collaborating with freshmen and sophomores, and I engaged in projects sourced from community partners to strive for excellence.

My initial year was spent as a member of AmeriCorps, where I contributed to Coppin State University's initiatives.

Homes Not Borders

Jack Rader is a 2022 graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, earning a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history. Originally from Middleton, Wisconsin, Jack has been involved in service work and advocacy for disadvantaged communities throughout his time in high school and college. Most recently, he volunteered with a local community center to tutor and support disadvantaged youth in the Madison area. This past year, he worked as a legal assistant at a consumer affairs law firm in Madison. Jack will now participate in AmeriCorps by serving Homes Not Borders, a non-profit with the mission of providing housing and resettlement services to refugees in the Washington, D.C. area. Here, Jack will focus on continuing the development of secondary services, including implementing an online jobs board for refugees, facilitating an online Artisan store, and assisting HNB with various other capacity-building initiatives. In his free time, Jack enjoys cycling, skiing, exploring new locations to hike, and staying up to date with world news and current affairs. Jack is extremely excited to begin his year of service and hopes to positively affect the lives of refugees and communities in the D.C. area

International Rescue Committe - Baltimore 

Hi! My name is Hannah Goodman. I am a recent graduate of Goucher College with a BA in International Relations and Spanish. Throughout college I volunteered with a nonprofit that grew my love of working to build stronger communities. I hope to continue this work in my professional life. I also enjoy sewing, making jewelry, and anything creative!

Johns Hopkins - Volunteer Mapping and Training Project

Laura Scholfield is the 2023-2024 Volunteer Mapping and Training VISTA at Johns Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering Center for Educational Outreach. Laura completed her B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology in 2021, and her passion for education equity led her to begin her career as an Education Administrator at an early childhood center. Her desire to make a positive impact on a larger community of students and educators using her administration skill set is what led her to becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Laura is extremely excited to serve her community and hopes to make a positive contribution to Baltimore City's students and educators. 

Loyola University Maryland - York Road Schools Project

Cierra Bolding is a Maryland native, growing up in Prince George's County, MD. She worked in the banking industry for 5+ years, most recently at Tower Federal Credit Union. Cierra completed a year of service as a VISTA member supporting Loyola University's Center for Community, Service and Justice.

There she served at two Baltimore City public schools, assisting with various programming, food distribution, and service opportunities throughout the year. She is passionate about serving the community, families, and our youth. After her first year, Cierra decided to continue working with Loyola University CCSJ and coordinate the tutoring program and increase parental engagement for the 2023-2024 service year.

Maryland Nonprofits

Cecilia Schenking is a Virginia native who attended Christopher Newport University.

She recently graduated with a BA in Sociology. Passionate about making a difference, she joined AmeriCorps VISTA and is serving at Maryland Nonprofits. She also enjoys reading, hockey, painting and anything creative. 

Montgomery College - Achieving the Promise Academy

Hanan Sinnokrot is a native Maryland growing up in Montgomery County. She received her Associates Degree from Montgomery College in 2021 and is currently finishing up her last semester at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) Campus for her B.S.W in Social Work with a minor in Psychology.

She decided to become a AmeriCorps VISTA member after attending a required seminar for her student success organization (ACES) about a Year of Service. She is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Montgomery College, Achieving the Promise Academy (ATPA) on their Year Two Project. She is passionate about giving back to her community who has helped her pursue a higher education and looks forward to helping students achieve their dreams as well. 

Neighborhood Design Center

Maddy Silberger-Franek is the 2023-2024 Community Planning VISTA at the Neighborhood Design Center, a nonprofit that supports the growth and development of healthy, equitable neighborhoods through community-engaged design and planning services. She is a designer focused on cultivating urban environments that promote health and wellbeing through creating and reinforcing future states of equity, justice and sustainability. She completed an MFA in Collaborative Design at Willamette University. In this program, Maddy employed codesign processes, such as community-based and participatory action research. She received a thesis award for creating tools advocating for the inclusion of mental health communities in local planning processes. In her free time you may find her going on food tours, laying in grass, doing art and hanging with friends.

Notre Dame of Maryland University - The York Road Education and Service (YES) Program

Kristina Pickering graduated in 2022 from Notre Dame of Maryland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Philosophy on a Pre-Medical Pathway. Being the ever-active person she is, she started volunteering while in middle school. Though not a conventional path, throughout the years she has volunteered in various areas dealing with food stability, spiritual guidance, mental health, professional development, elderly retirement, and academic improvement. However, her favorite projects or service sites involve interacting with children- whether it's waiting in a doctor's office before an appointment to helping them make cards for their teachers. These experiences have offered her many opportunities, to lead, create and mentor the next generation. When she is not volunteering, you will typically find her drawing, making costumes, reading comics, or spending time with family and friends. 

Prince George’s Community College: PGCC Community Garden

HI! I am Amanda Sames a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park with a BS in Plant Sciences and a BS in Agricultural Science and Technology. While at UMD, I held numerous leadership positions with the Community Learning Garden where I used my skills and knowledge to direct  the student team and forward the CLG’s mission of promoting sustainable agriculture, physical and mental health, and supporting those experiencing food insecurity. I am passionate about bringing the numerous benefits of community gardens to other colleges and helping bolster their food systems. On the side, I enjoy playing musical instruments and getting outside in nature. 

The Civic Circle: Lift Every Voice Project 

Meredith Warden (she/they) is the 2023-2024 VISTA member for The Civic Circle, a nonprofit in Silver Spring that engages kids in civic education through music and the arts. She recently graduated from Oberlin College with a major in History and a minor in Comparative American Studies. Meredith is looking forward to learning more about the ins-and-outs of nonprofit work, helping children learn about the different types of civic education and why it's important, and applying their love of research and writing to the Civic Circle's mission. In her free time, Meredith enjoys reading, playing field hockey, and practicing guitar

Towson University: Basic Needs Hub

Gurjot Chand is a New York native who has lived in Maryland for the past five years. She has worked with a variety of non-profit organizations including the American Red Cross. She received her B.S. in Molecular & Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University, where she also conducted research in viral oncology. As an undergraduate, Gurjot organized TEDx talks to give a platform to the voices of the DMV. Gurjot is also an advocate for women of all backgrounds as a member of Delta Xi Phi. In her free time, Gurjot enjoys volunteering as an EMT in Baltimore City and weightlifting.

Towson University North East: Food Security Initiative

My name is Emma and I am a VISTA Member at the Towson University Northeastern Campus. We are a satellite campus of Towson University, and my role is to operate the Food Share. Our Food Share is not only a pantry with unlimited access to foods, produce, clothing, hygiene products, and cooking utensils for all students and staff, but it is also educational in order to help increase food security, knowledge of cooking and healthy eating, as well as information on how to budget groceries for low-income individuals. We also have a garden that I help maintain with the assistance of student volunteers and recipes that are accessible and easy to follow along. 

University of Baltimore: Bee Well Initiative

I am Rennae Anderson, a Maryland resident who recently completed a Master in Public Health (MPH) degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This is my second term of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA and my areas of interest within the public health field include Health Education and Health Promotion. I am passionate about engaging and empowering communities to become more aware of available health and wellness resources. I believe that a healthy future can be reached by gaining skills required to access resources while also advocating for vulnerable and marginalized community members in need of help. 

University of Maryland College Park: Campus Food System Education Project

I am Sophia Batman, I am a recent graduate of the University of Maryland and I will be starting service as an AmeriCorp VISTA member Campus Pantry affiliate. I am passionate about environmental science and am excited to work in this position to connect food with sustainability.

University of Maryland College Park: First Gen Next Gen

Originally from Long Island, NY, Melissa Schwab  came to the Washington, DC area to pursue her undergraduate education at the George Washington University. She was a first-generation college student herself, and was motivated by her experiences in college to continue first-generation and low-income (FGLI) student advocacy work post-undergrad through the VISTA position at the University of Maryland, College Park. She hopes to facilitate the college experience and future success of other FGLI students. 

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