January 4, 2018

From the Peace Corps to the Bronx to the World:  IPED Fellows at UNHP

Angela and Andres surveying buildings in the Northwest Bronx
Angel and Andres survey buildings in the Northwest Bronx

Since 2006, UNHP has welcomed Peace Corps Fellows from Fordham’s International Political Economy and Development (IPED) Master’s program as three-semester interns. Fordham University offers the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellowship to selected returned Peace Corps volunteers. The prestigious fellowship offers tuition for the IPED program and a Bronx community internship; UNHP is one of the internship sites. After proving their dedication to community development abroad through their Peace Corps service, in countries as varied as Nicaragua or Madagascar, Fellows have risen up to the challenge of working with our organization while completing their Master’s in Development.

The contributions of these Fellows towards the work of UNHP cannot be underestimated; they have supported the work of UNHP through their commitment to community development, their data analysis skills, their assistance in our Tax Preparation Program and their desire to learn from our advocacy efforts in the Northwest Bronx. Thanks to the length of the internship (three semesters), the Fellows can fully engage with our work to create and preserve affordable housing and bring needed resources to the Northwest Bronx.

Josh filing taxes during UNHP Free Tax Preparation Program
Josh assists a Bronx resident during UNHP Free Tax Preparation Program

Each IPED Fellow has shared their unique background and skillset with UNHP. Andres Romero helped to launch our Free Tax Preparation Program, Josh Kyller assisted us to track our energy conservation efforts, and Angel Ventling assisted us with fundraising work. IPED alum, Kristen O’Neil (IPED 2014), helped us manage and update our Building Indicator Project Database. Anthony Cotton who served in Senegal, supported our work on water and sewer rate reform to preserve affordability in community-controlled housing.

Fellows have also been major contributors in our research on housing affordability in the Bronx. In addition to helping us update our website and update the BIP, Elizabeth Wisman Strojan (IPED 2013) co-authored our report, Nowhere to Go: A Crisis of Affordability in the Bronx with Deputy Director, Greg Lobo Jost. She stayed on to assist UNHP form a collaborative with our neighborhood partners, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation and Fordham Bedford Community Services. Thomas Zuber, served in Benin, West Africa, as a Peace Corps volunteer and assisted us with tax preparation, updating the BIP and adding videos, blog posts and photos to our website. Thomas is an African History Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University. Richie Koch was instrumental in the writing and research for UNHP’s “Affordable Water for Affordable Housing Report” in 2015, as well as updating the BIP. Adam Pearlman, served in Namibia for the Peace Corps. He helped with the BIP and developed a survey for home-based daycare providers. Jessica Way assisted with small business development in Nicaragua for her Peace Corps service. Jessica assisted UNHP with the BIP and housing research and was also able to help our many Spanish-speaking residents with financial services assistance. Donovan Hotz served in Paraguay for the Peace Corps and has assisted Spanish-speaking clients for UNHP’s Free Tax Program and was instrumental in helping UNHP upgrade their Salesforce database that tracks Northwest Bronx Resource Center program use. Megan Madeo served in Tonga, South Pacific for the Peace Corps and increased rainwater storage capacity in her village. Megan assists UNHP’s Free Tax program by gathering survey data from UNHP clients, created UNHP’s one-pager and assisted us with affordable-housing research. Our most recent IPED fellow, Anna Margarita Canero, served in Guinea and is helping us train staff and volunteers working to assist neighborhood residents with our free financial and housing services.

Matt during UNHP's Free Tax Preparation Program
Matt and Johanna meet with a Rose Hill tenant during a senior housing mobile tax day
UNHP staff picture with IPED Fellows Elizabeth and Kristen
IPED Fellows Elizabeth and Kristen at UNHP’s Bronx Ale House fundraiser

The combination of volunteer work abroad, a Master’s degree and work in community development in the Bronx has served our Fellows well. IPED UNHP Fellows have found employment with the government (US Department of State, USDA, USAID), International NGOs (Catholic Relief Services) and the private sector. Joshua Kyller is employed with Catholic Relief Services and is working in Greece. In his previous CRS assignment, Josh was a senior manager responsible for their efforts to restore livelihoods and housing in those areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. In the private sector, Matt Ladd went on to work at Ernst and Young and Nathan Snyder was able to parlay his BIP data skills into his job as a senior data analyst for Haver Analytics and is currently with the Kansas Board of Regents. Fellows have also gained employment in community development in the United States. Elizabeth Wisman Strojan continues to partner with UNHP in her post-Fellow life at Enterprise Community Partners and now as a VP for Government Affairs for NYC Housing Development Corporation.

In addition to our Coverdell Fellowship interns, other IPED students have worked with UNHP in our Free Tax Preparation Program, namely: Drew Loizeaux, Katie Jaitner, and Michelle Virgin. We are grateful for and proud of the work of all our IPED interns. Special thanks to Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg, Director of the IPED Program, for his work to sustain the program and provide meaningful placements for his students. We look forward to a renewed collaboration with IPED Fellows and Fordham University in years to come.

Kristen and Thomas with UNHP Financial Director, Johanna
Kristen and Thomas with UNHP Financial Director, Johanna, get ready for UNHP Building Tour

UNHP IPED Fellows and Where They are Working Now:

Angela Ventling, Intern 2006-07, US Department of State

Andres Romero, Intern 2007-08, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Anthony Cotton, Intern 2008-09, USAID

Brian Quinlan, Intern 2009-10, US Department of Homeland Security

Matthew Ladd, Intern 2009-10, Ernst and Young

Joshua Kyller, Intern 2010- 11 Catholic Relief Services, Greece

Nathan Snyder, Intern 2011-12, Kansas Board of Regents

Elizabeth Wisman-Strojan, Intern 2012-13, New York City Housing Development Corporation

Kristen O’Neil, Intern 2013-14, NYC Department of Education

Thomas Zuber, Intern, 2013-15, African History Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University

Richie Koch, Intern 2014-2015, Human Network International- Mali

Adam Pearlman, Intern 2015-2016, Tester Construction Group LLC

Jessica Way, Intern 2016-2017, Catholic Relief Services Iraq

Donovan Hotz, Intern 2017-19, Brightwire (Latin American Office)

Megan Madeo- Intern 2018-2019, Boren Fellowship applicant

Anna Margarita Canero, Intern 2019-2020

Katie during Tax Preparation
Katie uses her Spanish language skills to assist during Tax Preparation
IPED Fellow Richie Koch, is joined by Ariva’s quality reviewer Chris and Fordham student volunteer Kevin at a 2015 UNHP tax day at Refuge House.
IPED Fellow Adam Pearlman mans the student volunteer booth at Lehman College.
IPED Fellow Adam Pearlman mans the student volunteer booth at Lehman College.
IPED fellow, Jessica Way and Donovan Hotz, worked with other UNHP staff and volunteers to offer the NYC online affordablehousing lottery enrollment to Bronx residents.
IPED fellow, Jessica Way, and Donovan Hotz, worked with other UNHP staff and volunteers to offer the NYC online affordable-housing lottery enrollment to Bronx residents.
Megan encourged our free tax prep program users to take a survey, so UNHP could better understand the needs of neighborhood residents.
Megan encouraged our free tax prep program users to take a survey, so UNHP could better understand the needs of neighborhood residents.
Anna Margarita trained our student volunteers at our Bronxtober Fest Resource fair. Volunteers helped Bronx resdeints enroll in Housing Connect.
Anna Margarita trained 29 student volunteers at our Bronxtober Fest Resource Fair. Volunteers helped Bronx residents enroll in Housing Connect.

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