VISTA 2012-2013 Summer Cohort

Jimmy Bulmer '12

Brighter Choice Foundation - Albany, NY
(518)-491-1672 |

Jimmy is a local who grew up across the Hudson in Troy and graduated from Siena College with a B.A. in Economics. He is currently working with the Brighter Choice Foundation attempting to answer the big question: “Does a Charter school education help low income youth escape poverty?” Jimmy hopes to eventually pursue a career working in Educational Administration.


Lamara Burgess (VISTA Leader)

Siena College AmeriCorps VISTA Fellows Program - Loudonville, NY

Coordinator of Training, Assessment, and National Connections | (518) 782-6962 |

Lamara has always been passionate about social justice, equality, and the betterment of youth. After graduating Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Lamara decided to serve as an AmeriCorps* VISTA for the Parent Engagement Project in Sacramento, CA. With the completion of a rewarding, insightful and successful year out west, Lamara will continue her national service journey closer to home. Born and raised in Bronx, NY, the presence of impoverished communities are too familiar. As a VISTA Leader, some of her responsibilities include mentoring a team of VISTAs, coordinating professional development opportunities, measuring the impact of the VISTA team, and establishing local and national connections with VISTAs across the country. After the completion of her service term, Lamara will pursue a career in social work. She aspires to inspire the youth, their families, and her community by proving to them, despite where you come from, hard work really does pay off.

Nathaniel Charbit

St. John's/St. Ann's Community Center - Albany, NY
Program Evaluation Coordinator | (518) 427-9091|

Nathaniel Charbit grew up in Congers, New York.  He will be the Community Outreach, GED Program, and Program Evaluation Coordinator at St. John's/St. Anne's Outreach Center in the South End of Albany.  Nathaniel graduated from SUNY Albany's Rockefeller College with a degree in Public Policy with a concentration in International Relations and a minor in French.  Nathaniel will be responsible for expanding the reach of the Center's various programs as well as fundraising and grant writing.


Justin Devendorf '12

Office of the Albany County District Attorney - Albany, NY
Program Coordinator | (518) 275-4785 Ext. 4785 |

Justin is originally from Syracuse, NY and went to Siena College where he received his bachelor’s degree in History and a certificate in Pre-Law. While enrolled in the Siena College VISTA Fellows program, Justin works as a Program Coordinator in the Crime Victims Unit at the Office of the Albany County District Attorney. Justin’s primary responsibility is to organize, implement and market outreach programs that are designed to build hope for the youth of Albany County and steer them away from a life of crime. In addition, Justin writes daily press releases detailing indictments, arraignments, convictions, plea bargains and sentencing for felony levels crimes that occur in Albany County. Justin is looking forward to a great year working with the District Attorney’s Office through its outreach programs spreading the motto “Fighting Crime, Building Hope”.

Odalina Duran (2nd Year VISTA)

Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls - Albany, NY

After School Program Coordinator | (518) 694-5550 |

Odalina is originally from Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, but she was raised in Queens, New York. She graduated from the University of Richmond, in Richmond, Virginia, with a Double Major in Italian Studies and Urban Practice & Policy. Currently, she serves at Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls as the After-School Program Coordinator. One of her major responsibilities is initiating partnerships with community organizations and designing after-school programs that meet our students' developmental needs. She is also responsible for recruiting and supervising volunteer facilitators.

Monee English

Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar - Albany, NY
Program Assistant |518 935-1046 |

Born and raised in the South Bronx, Monée English is the youngest of three with passion for youth development. Graduating May 2012 from Sage College of Albany with her Bachelors in Business Administration she is now joining Siena College 2012 VISTA cohort. As the Program Assistant for Capital Region Sponsor-a-Scholar Monee will be cultivating alumni relations by maintain an ongoing relationship with CRSAS alumni and donors to encourage future participation in the program.

Brennan Frazier

Mediation Matters - Albany, NY
Program Development Coordinator | (518) 446-0356 ext. 14 |

Brennan Frazier came to Albany from Marietta, Ohio and attended the Ohio State University where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and History. He serves as a Program Development Coordinator at Mediation Matters, a non-profit whose aim is to give communities the tools to handle conflict in a constructive way. His main responsibilities include researching successful programs across the country and assisting in the development and implementation of programs in the Albany area.

Ruchi Gala

15 Love - Albany, NY
Project Coordinator for Education and Healthy Living | 518-438-2039 |

Ruchi Gala was born and raised in Hopewell Junction, New York. She graduated with a Bachelors in Sociology from Stony Brook University in May 2012. She is currently serving at 15-LOVE as the Project Coordinator for Education and Healthy Living. Ruchi is in charge of creating activities and projects for the book club and healthy cooking classes run by 15-LOVE. She will also be working on fundraisers such as the Fore Love and Money, recruiting volunteers, and writing grants throughout the year.

Michael Gioia '12

Capital Region YMCA: Troy Family Branch - Troy, NY 
Coordinator of Community Outreach | P (518) - 272-5900 x 2212 |

Michael is from Branchburg, NJ and and a recent Siena College graduate with a degree in English.  He is serving his term of service as the Coordinator of Community Outreach at the Capital District YMCA Troy Family Branch.  Michael will be spearheading a new program at the Y that directly addresses a facet of poverty in Troy, as well as devising and distributing a monthly community newsletter, and administering advisory board meetings in collaboration with local partners.  Michael is planning on attending graduate school after his VISTA year, in the hopes of becoming a writer and professor.  


Carolyn Holthausen (VISTA Leader)

Siena College AmeriCorps VISTA Fellows Program - Loudonville, NY

Coordinator of Strategic Communications and Media Production | (518) 782-6963 |

Carolyn Holthausen is from Albertson (Long Island), New York and graduated with a bachelor's in Cinema and Screen Studies with a minor in Creative Writing from SUNY Oswego. She served her first VISTA term at Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region as Coordinator of Assessment and Development in the South End of Albany. Currently she is serving her second year as a VISTA Leader with Office of Academic Community Engagement as Coordinator of Strategic Communications and Media Production. Carolyn's passion is in documentary production and she is very excited to pioneer the ACE News Broadcast.


Melanie Iannacone

Hackett Middle School - Albany, NY
Coordinator of Program Development | |

Melanie is from the small town of Sparta, New Jersey.  She graduated from Siena in 2012 with a degree in Psychology.  Her service site is William S. Hackett Middle School in Albany, NY as the Coordinator of Program Development.  In this position she is creating and implementing an anti-bullying program that focuses on the particular needs of the school.  She is refining the recycling system in the school to get the students more involved and grow the program. Melanie will also create a program that aims to have students take ownership of their academic and social career paths.

Joy Landas '12

Commission on Economic Opportunity: Youth Build - Troy, NY
Community Partnerships Coordinator | (518)237-0583 x13 |

Joy was born and raised in East Greenbush, New York.  She graduated from Siena College in 2012 with a degree in Political Science.  Having lived in the Capital District all her life, she felt the desire to serve her community.  Becoming a Siena College Americorps VISTA Fellow was a natural choice, and she is excited to participate in a year of national service.  She is currently serving as the Community Partnerships Coordinator at CEO YouthBuild in Troy, NY.  In this position, she works on community outreach, partnerships with local businesses, and recruiting mentors for the program participants.

Thomas Lombardi

Affordable Housing Partnership - Albany, NY
Coordinator of Community Outreach and Program Evaluation| (518) 434-1730 ext 418 |

Tom is originally from Jamestown, NY and received his BA in Geography from the University at Buffalo.  Through VISTA, he is serving at the Affordable Housing Partnership of the Capital Region, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting successful homeownership and healthy neighborhoods.  As Coordinator of Community Outreach and Program Evaluation, he works to increase public awareness of as well gauge and improve the effectiveness of educational workshops offered at his site.

Marie Lovato

Albany Barn/Stage 1 - Albany, NY
Programming and Community Outreach Coordinator | (515) 935-4858 |

Marie is from Newburgh, NY and has resided in Albany, NY for the past few years. She graduated from SUNY Albany in May of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Marie is serving at Albany Barn as the Programming and Community Outreach Coordinator and she will be in charge of planning and executing programs and events at the Barn’s Stage 1 gallery, as well as garnering community support for the long term reconstruction of St. Joseph’s Academy in Arbor Hill.


Casey Mackesey

Unity House of Troy, Inc. - Troy, NY
Volunteer Program Assistant | (518) 271-2633 x291 |

Casey grew up in Clifton Park, NY.  She attended Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY where she received her Bachelor’s degree in English with minors in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies.  As a VISTA, Casey serves at Unity House of Troy as the Volunteer Program Associate.  Her main responsibility is to maintain and organize all aspects of Unity House’s Volunteer Program.  In this program Casey assists with the needs of the community through the use of volunteers.  Her duties include community outreach and maintaining databases, along with recruiting, orienting, training and managing volunteers.


Johan Matthews

Trinity Alliance - Albany, NY
Coordinator of Development and Assessment | (518) 449-5155 ext. 105|

Born in Kingstown on the island nation of St. Vincent – came to America at the age of 14 and has been an avid student of Social Justice ever since. Before becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA, he has sojourned through the State of New York, first making his way through the concrete jungles of Brooklyn, then through the pine filled swamplands of Schenectady and eventually through the formerly royal badlands of Buffalo. There, he graduated From the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he earned His Bachelors degree in Philosophy.  Now serving as the Coordinator of Development and Assessment at Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, he will be working to further cultivate capacity in the broad spectrum of services and programs offered by Trinity’s Family and Neighborhood Resource Center with the purpose of the fruitful development of the family and its livelihood in the Capital Region.


Nicole Passante

Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls - Albany, NY
Financial Literacy Program Coordinator | (518) 694-5300 ext. 227 |

Nicole Passante is from Westmoreland, NY a small rural town located in the Central New York region. She attended St. John Fisher College, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management/Marketing, and Nazareth College of Rochester receiving her Master’s Degree in Business and Marketing Education. She is serving as the Financial Literacy Program Coordinator at Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls, an all-girls college preparatory charter high school, located in Albany, NY. Utilizing her professional experience in business and education, Nicole is coordinating and developing the curriculum for a financial literacy program that will be implemented in the school to educate and equip the girls of Albany Leadership with the essential life skills necessary to become financially independent individuals.


Emily Patka

Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility - Albany, NY
Coordinator of Program Outreach and Sustainability | (518) 782-6836 |

Emily Patka was born and raised in Albany, NY. She went to SUNY Binghamton and studied Sociology and Spanish. She is currently serving at Siena College as Coordinator of Program Outreach and Sustainability for the education program at Mt. McGregor Correctional Institution. Through this program, inmates have the opportunity take for-credit courses in a variety of subject areas such as Social Work, Political Science, Poetry and German. Through her work on this program, she hopes to play an active role in shifting the main focus of incarceration from punitive measures to rehabilitative ones

Justine Rosen

Hackett Middle School - Albany, NY
Coordinator of Culture and Climate | |

Justine Rosen is from Clifton Park, NY and is spending her VISTA year serving as William S. Hackett Middle School’s Coordinator of Culture and Climate. She attended SUNY Geneseo and received a degree in English Literature. Her main projects for this year include developing a Positive Behavior Program in order to reward students who behave correctly at school, as well as assisting with after-school program development and creating fundraising opportunities for students to give back to the community.


Maureen Whitcomb

Office of the Albany County District Attorney - Albany, NY
Community Justice Program Coordinator | (518) 275-4768 |

Maureen hails from Seneca Falls, NY a small town in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. She graduated in May 2011 from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor's Degree in Women's Studies. Maureen is currently serving at the Office of the Albany County District Attorney's Community Justice Outreach Center as the Community Justice Program Coordinator. In this position, she engages in volunteer recruitment, helps to coordinate volunteer training, participates in community outreach and community presentations, and works on event planning for programs involving the empowerment of youth and alternatives to incarceration. She will also be working on research projects focused on truancy and drug crime throughout the year. Maureen is very excited to have been placed at the Community Justice Outreach Center and is looking forward to the year ahead.