2021 Grove Fellowship Leaders

 Elliot David

Elliot is an aspiring Carbon Warrior on a mission to promote sustainability and peace. He is currently the US Business Development and Partnerships Manager at Carbonbase, a climate change fintech startup that helps businesses and individuals eliminate their carbon footprint and fight climate change. He is also the Executive Organizer of the Greenlight Festival, a Climate Conference for CUNY students. Elliot was a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing where he studied International Clean Energy Transition and Global Affairs, and wrote his graduate thesis on CCUS Opportunities in China. He previously studied at Hunter College as a Macaulay Honors Scholar, where he graduated in 2019 with honors in Political Science and Economics. Elliot has served in the military, worked in the nonprofit and public sectors, and more.

Margaret Egan

Margaret Egan is the Executive Director of the New York City Board of Correction, which establishes and ensures compliance with minimum standards regulating the conditions of confinement and correctional health and mental health care in the New York City jail system, including Rikers Island. One of the oldest permanent correctional oversight agencies in the country, the Board monitors conditions in the City’s jails, addresses issues related to safety and health care of people in custody, evaluates the performance of the Department of Correction, reviews person in custody and employee grievances, and makes recommendations in areas of correctional policy and planning.

Prior to this role, Margaret Egan served as Vice Chancellor for Human Resources as well as Director of Strategic Initiatives at CUNY, managing an administrative and academic restructuring to bring CUNY’s core functions to best in class, making the university more efficient and effective. During that time, she also oversaw the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance’s (ISLG) work, developing systemic reforms for the New York City Department of Correction, including ISLG’s work with the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. Prior to joining ISLG, she was the Assistant Secretary for public safety to Governor Cuomo when she supported the Governor’s public safety portfolio management efforts, and supervised agency operations and implementation of the governor’s priorities for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Division of Criminal Justice Service, and the New York State Police, among others.

Previously, Egan served as the Director of Policy and Government Affairs to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, overseeing intergovernmental affairs for the Sheriff as well as the development and implementation of a number of interventions to reduce the jail population and improve outcomes for those involved in the criminal justice system. She also led efforts to reduce illegal gun trafficking and oversaw the Sheriff’s work to reduce evictions throughout Cook County. Margaret also served as the Acting Director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council, developing criminal justice reform and violence reduction strategies for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. She served on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s public safety transition team and the advisory committee to the Mayor’s Public Safety Action Committee, as well as Mayor de Blasio’s Behavioral Health Task Force. She currently serves on the Board of the New York City Criminal Justice Agency and the Advisory Board of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

Egan is an attorney, with a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago, Masters degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, and a Bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Carol Jenkins

Carol Jenkins is Co-President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality, sister organizations dedicated to the passage and enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment. A board member since the beginning in 2014 and an active participant in all of its initiatives, she joined the leadership team in 2018, becoming Co-President with ERA Coalition founder Jessica Neuwirth.

Carol is an American women’s rights activist, author and filmmaker. She was founding president of The Women’s Media Center, a nonprofit created in 2004 by Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and Jane Fonda to increase coverage and participation of women in media. As president, she conceived the Progressive Women’s Voices program to provide media training for women and girls, and she expanded SheSource, the largest portfolio of women experts in the country. At FCC hearings in 2007, she testified on the “crisis in representation” in mainstream media.

As past chair and current board member of Amref Health Africa USA, an arm of the largest health NGO in Africa, she is engaged in efforts to support health programs for African women and girls. Amref has a goal to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by the year 2030. Her other board work includes the Feminist Press, the Veteran Feminists of America, The Steering Committee of the Gloria Steinem Chair at Rutgers University, the Anne O’Hare McCormick Journalism Scholarship Committee, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, and Certified Humane.

As a pioneering African American television reporter, Jenkins was an anchor and correspondent for WNBC TV in New York for nearly 25 years. She hosted Carol Jenkins Live, her own daily talk show, on WNYW-TV. Early in her career she co-hosted one of the first daily public affairs programs in New York City, Straight Talk on WOR-TV; and co-hosted Positively Black for WNBC TV, one of the earliest television programs dedicated to Black issues in the United States.

An Emmy Award-winning former television journalist, she hosts the Emmy-nominated interview show, Black America, on CUNY TV. She is also executive producer, writer and correspondent of its documentaries, including the PBS-aired “More Than a Building, A Dream Come True,” an award-winning film detailing the creation of the new African American Museum in Washington, DC and “Conscience of America: Birmingham’s Fight for Civil Rights, a special on the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument. Carol is the co-author of Black Titan: AG Gaston and the Making of an African American Millionaire, a biography of her uncle and winner of Best Non-Fiction Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She is currently writing a book on her family’s long experience in journalism as a window on gender and racial bias in media.

Yeen Lama

Yeen Lama is a proud Hunter College and Eva Kastan Grove Fellow 2017 Alumni. She worked with Jessica Neuwirth to create the first Campus ERA Day at the Roosevelt House. Since graduation, Yeen went on to work in the field of policy and development for Hunter College Foundation, Donor Direct Action, Hon Justice Sapna Pradhan Malla- Supreme Court of Nepal, the World Bank, and the UNICEF. Yeen is passionate about gender justice and economic opportunities. She holds an MPA in Public Policy from NYU Robert Wagner School of Public Service and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Human Rights from Hunter College.

Jessica Neuwirth

Jessica NeuwirthJessica Neuwirth, Distinguished Lecturer and Rita E. Hauser Director, Roosevelt House Human Rights Program, is an international women’s rights lawyer and activist. She is one of the founders of Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization established in 1992, and the founder and Director of Donor Direct Action, an offshoot project now hosted by the Sisterhood is Global Institute to support women’s rights organizations around the world. She is also a founder and Co-President of the new ERA Coalition, mobilizing a renewed effort to get the Equal Rights Amendment into the United States Constitution. To aid this effort, she has also written a book Equal Means Equal, Why the Time for the ERA is Now.

Jessica holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in History from Yale University. She has worked for the human rights organization Amnesty International, for the Wall Street law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and for the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, as well as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She served as a special consultant on sexual violence to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for its landmark Akayesu judgment holding that rape is a form of genocide, and again worked for the Rwanda Tribunal on the Media judgment holding print and radio media accountable for their role in the Rwandan genocide. More recently she directed the legal team that drafted the judgment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone convicting former Liberian President Charles Taylor of war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a guest lecturer, Jessica has taught international women’s rights at Harvard Law School.

Melva Miller

Melva M. Miller, the Association for a Better New York’s first Chief Executive Officer, works with the Board of Directors to ensure the overall success of the organization through economic development, long-term planning, stakeholder engagement, strategic partnerships, and the expansion and evolution of ABNY’s membership. Prior to this role, Ms. Miller led the organization’s Census initiative for an accurate count of New York where she supported and supplemented the 2020 census efforts by the US Census Bureau, State and City of New York, and in coordination with community-based organizations in an effort to help New York City and State achieve the most accurate census count possible.

A resident of South East Queens, Ms. Miller has dedicated her life to community development through equitable economic growth, creative organizing and inclusive stakeholder participation. Ms. Miller started her community work in 1993 when she began working with children using the arts as a tool to promote civic responsibility while fostering positive imagery of youth in her community. Through this work, Ms. Miller used dance, music and artistic expression as a conduit for community empowerment, collective consciousness and individual pride. She then sought to supplement her tacit community development knowledge with evidenced-based practice and attended the Hunter College School of Social Work where she earned a Master’s degree in Community Organization and Planning, and received the school’s Dorothy North McNeal Award for achievement in Community Organization.

Upon graduation, Ms. Miller quickly put her formal organizing training to work and became the founding Executive Director of the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID). While leading this community based not-for-profit organization, she created and administered programs that served as catalysts for economic revitalization along Sutphin Boulevard in downtown Jamaica, Queens. During her tenure, she was charged with providing supplemental sanitation and security services throughout the district while advocating for the growth of local small businesses. She also implemented marketing strategies to boost local economic development and enhanced neighborhood quality of life for local businesses and residents by building partnerships and local and regional coalitions. While at the BID, she also served as Project Director of the Downtown Jamaica Cultural District formed to support to the artistic development of downtown Jamaica through marketing, brand identity, cultural development, public space utilization and real estate initiatives.

July of 2007, Ms. Miller joined the Office of the Queens Borough President to serve as key advisor on, and provide assistance to, small businesses throughout Queens, and to develop a borough-wide workforce development strategy to support the borough’s under and unemployed populations. June of 2008, she was promoted to Director of Economic Development and among her new responsibilities, implemented a $13 million capital improvement program designed to encourage economic growth and

sustainability in commercial corridors throughout Queens. In February of 2015, Ms. Miller was appointed to the post of Deputy Queens Borough President charged with serving as second in-command in New York City government’s highest executive office in Queens county, representing over 2.3 million residents and managing over 150 employees. In addition to this role, she continued as the Economic Development Director creating and implementing a borough-wide strategy to enhance the Borough’s economic growth

through the creation of comprehensive neighborhood initiatives that promoted commercial growth, good paying jobs, and quality of life improvements throughout 107 Queens neighborhoods. Ms. Miller’s achievements include the creation of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, a $153 million stakeholder-driven strategy to increase quality employment, economic diversity and financial security in downtown Jamaica, and led the Western Queens Tech Strategic Plan, an initiative that produced a five-year $300,000 planning initiative that produced a blueprint for equitable growth of the Long Island City and Astoria tech ecosystem.

Ms. Miller holds a Bachelor’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a Master’s degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work, and recently received a second Master’s Degree in Philosophy from The Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Social Welfare program at CUNY’s Graduate Center. Ms. Miller has been on the Board of Directors of the New York City Economic Development Corporation since 2009 and also serves on the Boards of Habitat for Humanity New York City and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

Miesha Smith

Miesha Smith serves as the Director of Student Life at Hunter College. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2009 where she earned her BA in American Government Philosophy and Sociology, Miesha worked for multiple politicians and political campaigns including Obama for America 2012. Since 2016, when Miesha became the Director of Student Life, her portfolio has included managing Hunter’s food pantry and fresh food program, emergency support and other initiatives that improve student retention and graduation rates by fostering health, intellectual curiosity, and experiential learning for all Hunter Students.