Fellow Spotlight Archive

December 2019 Fellow Spotlight: Jaila Allen

 “Because of the Segal Network, I am able to fully step into my complete self. I am able to connect with amazing people who are doing exceptional work.

In general, when looking at the healthcare system and health outcomes, it is important for me to ensure that all people, no matter socioeconomic status, race, gender, or any other personal identifiers, are obtaining the best and most cost-effective care possible. By doing this, I hope to decrease mortality rates of low-income people, people of color and gender minorities. One of my main goals this semester is to expand my global understanding of the world of public health and health care through course work, field studies and volunteer work with local health care providers. During my time abroad in Denmark, I am pushing myself to step outside of what is expected and go above and beyond. I hope to be able to work with general practitioners as a way to be able to better understand how the Danish idea of universal health care is implemented and ways to bring about some of these practices back to the states. Ultimately, I am striving to be the global citizen leader that The Segal Program thought me to be.

Jaila Allen presenting successes from her summer internship with The Door, Inc.

I am currently studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. My studies include classes like Health Delivery and Prioritization, Gender and Sexuality in Scandinavia, Epidemiology: A Danish Case Study, Gendered Perspectives on Human Rights, and Danish Language and Culture. As a current junior, I am still working towards my Bachelor's degree at Brandeis in Health: Science, Society and Policy and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Studying and living abroad have been integral components of furthering my education around healthcare and how different healthcare systems function. Not only have I been able to expand my learning on a global context, but also living in Copenhagen and traveling to other European countries has pushed me to expand my understanding of the world outside of an American context. I now fully understand how harmful an ethnocentric view of the world can be; because of this, I am working on understanding the complexities of other countries and cultures, which allows me to better understand their healthcare systems. I see my time abroad as an extension of my Segal Summer Internship with The Door, Inc. in New York City, where I worked on increasing access to healthcare resources for underserved communities and to expand the voice of queer adolescents of color. Through my efforts, I was able to increase LGBTQ youth’s interaction with and feedback through The Door’s online portal, which empowers underserved youth to access resources that meet their needs.

Being a part of the Segal Network has afforded me with the tools that I needed to be able to fully advocate for myself, while also surrounding me with people who motivate me to be the active change I want to see in the world. Throughout my experiences within my internship and semester abroad, I have used my citizen leader trainings and lessons to properly navigate challenges and opportunities that may come up in my new career. I also was able to meet many other Fellows from the Network this November during the bi-annual Segal Fellow Retreat, which reaffirmed the many ways one can be a citizen leader. The Segal Program has not only provided me with the tools and resources to do be a citizen leader, but has also pushed me outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to self-reflect on ways to improve myself and the world around me. 

Pictured Above: Jaila Allen in Copenhagen Denmark during her fall semester abroad

November 2019 Fellow Spotlight: Stephen Larbi

“Because of the Segal Network, I am stronger in my conviction that I can make a positive impact in this world. I know I can, and I will, because I have an extended family in the Segal Network that I can count on to support and challenge me.”

In June 2019, I had the honor of speaking at Charles E. Shea’s High School’s graduation commencement. I was chosen to speak on behalf of the Pawtucket School Committee as an elected official and Shea High Alumni. I told the Shea graduates and their families in attendance that I never envisioned being there on that stage. Now here I am, as a public school graduate that was raised off of Main Street in Pawtucket to an immigrant father from Ghana and a mother that grew up in a development house in the Southside of Providence. I stood there on that stage proud of all that I’ve accomplished, proud to show those graduates that people like us can become successful in our state, country, and world. My ultimate goal in life is to make a positive impact in this world, and I believe I can do so by empowering others but, more specifically, our youth.

Pictured Above: Stephen Larbi and LaShawn Simmons, celebrating LaShawn’s City Year Providence Excellence Award

I work at a middle school in Providence, RI, as a School Culture Coordinator. My role was created to find ways to bring non-traditional educators into school leadership positions to help bridge the gap between our communities and schools. It has been a challenging role, but everyday I’m reminded of how important it is for our students to have adults in the building that they can see themselves in. In addition to my work in Providence, I am the Director of the Pawtucket Youth Commission and the President of Brothers On a New Direction (B.O.N.D) Professional Chapter. I consider myself a youth advocate because, in all my roles, I use my voice and access to power to advocate and bring attention to issues that affect our youth and their families. Recently at the Segal Fellow Retreat, I received the inaugural Segal Fellow in Action Award, and I was able to share my poetry and words of inspiration to newer and veteran Fellows.

Being a part of the Segal Network has helped me find power in my voice. Despite making some ground in my field early in my professional career, I couldn’t imagine being in the position that I’m in today had it not been for the Segal Program.  Joining a network filled with established leaders and like-minded peers helped me realize how much I do have to offer this world. Each time I engage someone from this Network, whether it’s a founder or a fellow, I feel a sense of rejuvenation.  Because of the Segal Network, I am stronger in my conviction that I can make a positive impact in this world. I know I can, and I will, because I have an extended family in the Segal Network that I can count on to support and challenge me.

Pictured Above (From left to right) 2017 Segal Fellow LaShawn Simmons, Segal Program Founder Phyllis Segal, 2013 Segal Fellow Stephen Larbi. Advisory Board Chair and Segal Founder Mora Segal, Program Director Susie Flug-Silva



October 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Angelina Hwang

“Because of the Segal Program, I now believe that I am a citizen leader capable of great, positive change, and because of my summer internship, I know that I do belong in the field that I am passionate about.”

I have always loved working with children because they say the "darnedest" things. For example, my two sisters, who are my everything, say the wildest, most unpredictable statements which make me appreciate the value of listening and relating to others. I spend majority of my time with either them or students with disabilities, especially children with autism and down syndrome. Their behaviors often vary from day to day; however, I realize that it’s through my empathy and consideration to their challenges that I’m able to hopefully be an ally for them. Going to Brandeis, my focus was to bridge the equitable education gap for these students, since I believe education is empowerment. Through the Segal Fellowship, I interned this summer at The Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, which confirmed my commitment to continue working with individuals with disabilities. I decided to postpone taking the GRE and applying to graduate school until I discover which route to pursue to best advocate for students with disabilities, whether that may be through behavioral therapy, educational psychology, or educational policy.

Pictured Above: Angelina Hwang presenting with her Cohort at the 2019 Segal Fellows in Action Presentations

I am finishing up my undergraduate adventures this December, a whole semester earlier than I expected to be done. It is terrifying not to know where I will be in a couple months, but I am confident about the future, as I remember that I have the support of the Segal Network and The Center. I will be graduating as a Psychology and Education Studies major with a minor in Legal Studies. This semester, I have the exciting opportunities to intern at the Office of the Child Advocate, an independent government agency ensuring that all state agencies provide quality services to all children in the Commonwealth, and to work with twins with autism.

Being a part of the Segal Network has been a true blessing. I found a community that is just as passionate about working for the common good as I am. Before connecting with my Segal Buddy and The Center, I had no one to talk to about the field I am passionate about, because I did not know anyone who had gone down similar paths as mine. I felt silly going on and on about my passions to people, because I did not know if they felt the same way I do about neurodiverse advocacy. Before my summer internship, I did not have a mentor that inspired me to continue working with individuals with disabilities, but now, I have amazing mentors- Jeanne Anne, Nick, Hazel, and Pedro at The Center- to look up to. Before our cohort meetings, I knew about citizen leadership but had never viewed myself as a citizen leader. I have occupied leadership positions since running for Vice President in 8 th grade on a whim and being class president all throughout high school. However, I had always doubted my abilities to be a leader that actually facilitates meaningful change. The Segal Program has significantly transformed this mindset of mine.

Pictured Above: Angelina Hwang (third from the left) and her colleagues at The Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders



September 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Gabriela Fish

“Because of the Segal Program, I am energized to keep moving forward in my journey as an entrepreneur for social change. I know I am not alone in this journey, but I have a family of like-minded and like-hearted individuals that are guided by our shared principles of equity, justice, and empathy.”

My goal is to amplify and empower the voices of youth in underserved and undervalued communities. The prevailing approaches to educating historically marginalized communities are insufficient, ineffective, and ignorant of the needs, beliefs, and values of the communities they operate in. In the current education ecosystem, students do not have a genuine seat at the table when it comes to designing better educational options. The curriculum I am in the process of creating (with input from students and at every iteration) will affirm young people as leaders, able to safely explore their identity, curiosities, and life vision alongside a supportive creative community.

Pictured Above: Gabriela Fish with young designers from The Bridge Design Thinking Fellowship

In June of 2019, I completed my ninth year with DC Public Schools and left the classroom to pursue my Master’s Degree through the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Entrepreneurship program. Last school year, I co-piloted a Design Thinking Fellowship called  The Bridge, where students across the public school continuum united to design change in their community. Our design project centered on the gun violence that has been enveloping neighborhoods in Southeast, D.C. Through purposeful interviewing, students created an empathy map to organize their insights and define what an overarching need is for the community. While addressing the defined need, students then ideated solutions and prototyped their models (a variety of experiences, products, or services). Our young designers brought their original models to life at an event they called “The Community Reunion,” including a signature peace t-shirt, a healing circle, and even a space where respected older members of Ward 8 could converse with youth to discuss the issues of gun violence. One of the Segal Program’s core competencies is having visionary goals for social change. I take this strength with me as I develop relationships, build trust, and collaborate with multiple diverse communities. This month, while studying, I have been holding focus groups and gathering insights from community members, families, and youth about what it is they need and want from a curriculum that aims to empower them. I expect my venture will pivot and take shape in renewed forms throughout this season of inquiry, but I am excited to follow our students and families as they co-create this with me.

The Segal Network has been a constant source of inspiration since my induction in 2012. Whether I am following along with Stephen Larbi’s journey into becoming an elected official on his social media, or keeping [the late] Rhonda Shackleford-Ulmer's words of encouragement from years back still close to my heart, or being excited to reconnect and share dreams with Manu Fairley, Lila Givens, and others at this year’s retreat, the Segal Network to me represents a unified coalition of change-makers that fuels me with both joy and hope. Because of the Segal Program, I am energized to keep moving forward in my journey as an entrepreneur for social change. I know I am not alone in this journey, but I have a family of like-minded and like-hearted individuals that are guided by our shared principles of equity, justice, and empathy.

Pictured Above: (center): Gabriela Fish with her homeroom class of fifth graders


August 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Leah Shafer

Leah Shafer, Segal Fellow

“Because of the Segal Program, I had the opportunity to work in the Mayor's Office this summer, doing meaningful work and gaining in an area I'm passionate about!”

I've always loved being around young people, and I've been interested in education and youth development since I served with City Year, right after college. It took me a little while after that, though, to figure out what areas I wanted to focus on and what types of skills I needed to make the biggest impact. What I landed on was working on my Master of Public Policy and MBA at Brandeis, with a focus on child, youth, and family policy. I've done a lot of work in the last year with college and career pathways students, including working with first-generation students at Brandeis, helping them get acclimated with the ins and outs of a four-year college and tutoring them on their writing. I've completed several class projects on policies and programs that help nontraditional students, such as parents or low-income students, successfully persist in college. This summer, I got to work on a youth summer jobs program that gives Boston Public School students a well-paying internship in expanding, lucrative fields.

Segal Fellows Pem Brown, Leila Quinn, John Valinch, and Leah Shafer
Pictured Above: (left to right): Segal Fellows Pem Brown, Leila Quinn, John Valinch and Leah Shafer

I just finished up my summer internship at the Economic Mobility Lab in the Mayor's Office in Boston. My main job there was work on a youth summer jobs program that gives BPS students a well-paying internship in expanding, lucrative fields. I designed an evaluation for the program, surveying the students and interviewing the adults who made it happen. I also worked on planning professional development for the students, drawing on skills I'd learned at Heller for the past year. The internship sparked my interest in local government -- looking ahead, I'd love to stay involved in creating policies and programs that work on a city-wide level. Before the fall semester starts though, I'm trying to remember to relax a little and go out for ice cream as much possible.

Being part of the Segal Network has introduced me to so many opportunities, colleagues, mentors and internships. The Segal Network helped me secure my internship this summer, which was an invaluable professional experience! It's also introduced me to so many talented, passionate people at various stages in their careers. My conversations with my buddy have helped me think strategically about how I can get the most out of my remaining time at Heller. Hearing from older fellows has helped me think more about what type of work I'm interested in after grad school. Talking to all of these people has made me realize that I don't need to limit myself -- it's okay to dream big and act big!

Pictured Above: (left to right): Jason Ewas and Alexandra Valdez from the City of Boston, and Segal Fellows Leah Shafer and Ashley White


July 2019 Segal Fellow Spotlight: Tia Renier

Tia Renier, Segal Fellow

“Because of the Segal Program, I learned new ways to change the world and met the people who will make change happen.”

Being a part of the Segal Network inspires me. On more than one occasion I’ve second-guessed whether I deserve a seat at this table. Not because I doubt myself and my aspirations, but because everyone around me is so remarkable. I’m always blown away when I get on a Segal cohort call or connect with other Fellows and hear about their work. Segal Fellows are driven yet humble. It’s a real treat to have a community focused on thoughtful conversation and progress.

 Once you leave school, there isn't a ton of spaces where you intentionally come together with people from different backgrounds to dive into material and talk about topics like cultural competency, privilege or the history of a social movement. Segal cohort meetings provide the space for such discussion and building camaraderie. When I finally met the other fellows in my cohort we instantly had a bond because of the time spent together in these convenings.

2018 CNCS Fellow Tia Renier

Coming into this fellowship caused a shift in perspective for me about what a career in service meant. Previously, I worked as a social worker in child welfare. I knew how important the job was but it can also be heartbreaking. Coming to CNCS opened my eyes to the positive impact that’s possible when coordinating efforts for a much larger group of people. I want to combine both of these experiences moving forward. I hear daily examples of AmeriCorps members and grantees as change-makers, and it makes me hopeful about the world. These are the people I want to work alongside. Still, I know there’s more to learn, and to better serve others as I want to go back for my Master’s eventually. Also, in true millennial fashion, work-life balance is important, so part of my career path involves getting back to my happy place, the Pacific Northwest.

I am over half-way through my Eli Segal Fellowship position at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which comprises the first year of my lifelong Segal Fellowship.  This role has been a tremendous opportunity to grow my career skills and learn how a federal agency functions. One of the best parts of my job is the variety of work that fills my calendar. On any given day I support a network of 600 employers looking to hire AmeriCorps alums, help unify the member experience, strategize updates to agency safety trainings or analyze and document the agency’s work related to the opioid crisis. One of the greatest opportunities I’ve had thus far came early in the fellowship. I chaired a subcommittee that reviewed training for members, volunteers and staff. Although I was the point person for our group, I learned so much from the leadership and work styles of each staff member in the group, and I represented our group in providing recommendations to senior leadership.

As I look forward to the second half of my time at CNCS, my attention will focus more on how to improve the member experience, to ensure all AmeriCorps members know the proud network they’ve joined. In addition, I’ll have another opportunity to round out my service skills by helping with grant application reviews. Having the Segal Network as a resource is immensely helpful as I transition into a slightly new career path with national service. I’ve already had several one-on-one calls and meetings with other Fellows or people invested in the program, giving me a springboard into my next chapter.

Tia Renier with an AmeriCorps Colleague in Washington, D.C.