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New Leaders Council

2015 Fellows

Yulissa Arce, Community Outreach Coordinator, Orange County Property Appraiser

	Yulissa	Arce	Yulissa Arce currently serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Orange County Property Appraiser's office, where she is responsible for educating the public with the office functions and resources through organizing community events, social and traditional media, and public relations.

Before her time at the Property Appraiser's office, she served as the Florida State Coordinator for Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. There she was responsible for the voter registration and 501 (c)(3) voter education campaigns for the 2012 General Elections. During her time there, she assisted in surpassing the organizations 40,000 voter registration goal, organized various community events, and brought issue awareness to the local community through media outlets.

Yulissa was raised in Orlando, FL, where she attended the University of Central Florida earning a Bachelors Degree in Interdisciplinary studies and a Minor in Religious Studies. Her passions include working as a public servant, environmental sustainability, and healthy eating.


Andrew Bell, Strategic Project Manager, Orange County Tax Collector

	Andrew	Bell	Andrew Bell grew up in a small town in South Carolina, but moved to Florida 10 years ago when he was 18 to attend college. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors in Political Science. He currently works for Scott Randolph, the Orange County Tax Collector as the Strategic Project Manager. In 2010, Andrew began to volunteer on political campaigns such as Kendrick Meek's run for Senate. He volunteered as the campus campaign organizer at Santa Fe Community College.

In 2012, Andrew got more involved in local campaigns. He volunteered on several municipal elections including current mayor, Joe Kilsheimer's first election to city council. Andrew was then offered the role of campaign manager for then candidate Ryan Williams in his bid for State Attorney in the 9th judicial circuit.

In October of 2012, Andrew assisted on a massive coordinated campaign amongst 9 campaigns on a scale Central Florida had never seen before. 8 of the 9 candidates won. Following the election, Andrew lead the transition team for the new Tax Collector, Scott Randolph. Andrew's current responsibilities include overseeing large projects from inception to completion at the Tax Collector's Office. These range from new technologies to new processes. He describes his role as overseeing anything outside the normal day-to-day operations, for the Tax Collector. Andrew also continues to regularly consult on local campaigns.


Marissa Corrente, Assistant Director, Rollins College

	Marissa	Corrente	Originally from Rhode Island, Marissa received her BA in English from Bates College and her MA in Educational Leadership Higher Ed. from the University of Central Florida. Currently she serves as an Assistant Director at Rollins College in the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement.

Prior to Rollins, she spent over five years working with local universities in Central Florida. Extremely excited about her work with leadership development and community engagement, Marissa loves putting her passions into action through her work at Rollins. A strong believer in the power of education, Marissa supports students and helps them connect their interests with the needs of the community.

Marissa oversees the Democracy Project, leads programming initiatives, and coordinates assessment. She also works with faculty to develop service-learning opportunities and with community partners to create meaningful and sustainable partnerships. In her free time, Marissa thoroughly enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends. She enjoys serving her community, learning from those around her, reading, spending time at the beach, and traveling. Please don't hesitate to connect with her to learn more!


Cliff Davy, Public Engagement Manager, CommongroundMGS


Cliff Davy is the Public Engagement Manager for CommongroundMGS, the country’s largest multicultural Public Relations and Advertising Agency. CommongroundMGS manages the Public Involvement contract for the Florida Department of Transportation’s project SunRail, Central Florida’s new commuter rail line. For SunRail, Cliff Davy serves as the Public Information Manager who manages outreach activities and construction coordination.  Cliff is also founder of Global Public Intelligence, a General Strategy consultancy firm. There he has made strides in improving message targeting using data analysis of political and consumer trends.

Cliff is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in public administration. He is also a master’s degree student at New York University studying global business. Cliff has more than 14 years in public outreach campaigns with a diverse background in managing political, public, private, and non-profit outreach and communication campaigns. His skills in campaign management and strategy skills were developed in campaigns that span the United States across seven states and 17 cities; most notably securing managing roles on the 2008 and 2012 Obama Presidential campaign. Cliff was recently accepted as a Truman National Security Political Partner. He is also a member of the City of Orlando Mayor’s City Academy and volunteer for the Central Florida Urban League locally.



Chris Donnell

	Chris	Donnell	Chris is currently pursuing a Masters in Entertainment Business at Full Sail University and interning at Mojo Brands Media, home of the nationally syndicated television morning show, The Daily Buzz. He has a Business Administration degree in Music Business from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Before moving to Orlando in July 2014, Chris lived in Dallas, Texas and served an Americorps term with nonprofit organizations. He worked in marketing and outreach for a list of non-profits that includes, Dallas Afterschool, Trinity River Mission, and Reading Partners.

When he is not tutoring his elementary student, you can find him at a food pantry preparing meals, or reading books like Daring Greatly and Lean In. Chris is an advocate for volunteering and helping others in the community. Chris believes in the power media, entertainment and technology has to influence and inspire those around him.

He wants to use that power to shine light on the social issues we face in our communities and our world. At the top of Chris' list for social progress is education reform, gender & LGBT equality, childhood hunger and closing the opportunity gap for low-income communities.


Morgan Harvey, Accounts Payable Research Analyst, Sonepar USA

	Morgan	Harvey	Morgan Harvey is consummate volunteer, currently devoting some of her time to being a mentor for F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). F.I.R.S.T. organizes national robotics competitions for students from elementary through high school. She spearheads the promotions committee for a local team helping them craft fundraising materials. She has also served for the past year on the professional development leadership team for The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, working to create monthly networking and development events for members and the wider nonprofit community.

Morgan holds two degrees from Florida State University, an English degree with a focus in creative writing and a social science degree in international affairs.

In pursuit of her minor in theater she traveled to London, England to participate in Florida State University's Theatre Academy London where she learned how to create the quintessential story and engage an audience; beneficial skills to a future career in nonprofit development. She has recently applied for the University of Central Florida's graduate degree in nonprofit management, which she hopes to use to build her own nonprofit catering to the needs of women pursuing careers in technology.

When Morgan is not serving her community she is building her web development skills and learning Spanish. Morgan currently works as an accounts payable research analyst for Sonepar USA; a multinational utilities distributor.


Nicole Higgins, Rally Director, Downtown CREDO

	Nicole	Higgins	Nicole Higgins currently serves as the Rally Director for Downtown CREDO, a nonprofit in Orlando, Florida that is dedicated to improving the quality of lives by building networks of people living with meaning, impact, and community. She began her time at CREDO in 2012, serving as the Coffee Director for the nonprofit's name-your-price coffee shop.

Nicole currently manages the organization's formal community partnerships and its social enterprise accelerator, Rally Makers, LLC. Her work at CREDO brought her back to her hometown Orlando after some time working in several nonprofits in both Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California. Her professional experience in these places included work with community organizing, nonprofit administration, and outreach; and in all of them she has found the secret ingredient to sustaining community transformation: sharing meals together.


Ali Kurnaz, Communications Coordinator, Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida

	Ali	Kurnaz	Ali has a history of cultivating public, community, and government relationships. He also consults in digital strategy and is a passionate grassroots organizer. Throughout his professional career, Ali has applied his digital talent for several elected government officials and for various nonprofit organizations and causes. A graduate from the University of Central Florida, Ali holds a degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. With his leadership and community involvement, Ali has helped mobilize thousands of Central Floridians for several campaigns and causes.

In 2011, he co-founded a campaign aiming to preserve the existence of Central Florida's flagship PBS station, resulting in the creation of Orlando's new public television station: WUCF TV. He has shared recognition from UCF for his role in a grassroots campaign that registered nearly 11,000 students to vote in 2012. Ali has also been recognized with the Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama. In 2013, Ali became the Central Florida Regional Director at Emerge USA and engaged the American Muslim community to become more civically involved. He led regional civic education programs and volunteer-based voter engagement campaigns through the elections in 2014.

Ali is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida, which is one of the largest civil rights organizations in Florida. He is also the Vice President of the Young Democrats of Orange County and the Young Democrats Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party. Ali is a Turkish-American born and raised in Orlando. No matter the odds, he sticks to his motto: Fair is worth fighting for.


Domenico Laurenza, Correctional Sergeant, Orange County Corrections

 Domenic was born in Rhode Island and moved to Florida when he was 14. He is employed with Orange County Government in the corrections department and was recently promoted to Sergeant.

Domenic holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. He is a member of the hostage negotiation team and crisis intervention team. Domenic has a lot of experience in working and dealing with people who suffer from mental illnesses. Domenic has been married for five years, and has two young sons, ages 4 and 1. He enjoys playing and teaching sports to his sons.

Domenic is a loyal New England Patriots fan, and loves to watch them with his sons. Domenic is passionate about affordable education for everyone; helping our state lead our nation in education, jobs, and economy. He also believes that everyone should receive quality and affordable health care.


Ricky Ly Ly, Drainage Engineer, Civil Engine

 Ricky Ly, is a graduate of the University of Central Florida (UCF '08), currently working as a civil engineer in Orlando, FL. He is the author of the book, the Food Lovers' Guide to Orlando and the founder of the local award-wining Orlando food blog, He currently serves in the community as a board member for the City of Orlando Families, Parks, and Recreation Board, UCF Alumni Governmental Affairs Committee, and the National Philanthropy Chair for Pi Delta Psi Fraternity.

In the past, he served as a member of the WMFE Community Advisory Board, founder of the Asian Pacific American Coalition at UCF, and as a UCF Student Government Senator. His work has been featured on ABC's The Chew, WESH 2 Sunrise News, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly, New York Post, and many other media outlets including Asia Trend Magazine. His passions include giving back to the community as well as traveling and eating around the world with his wife, May Wong, UCF '07.


Whitney Magers, Volunteer and Events Manager, Clean the World

Whitney Magers is an accomplished event planner and producer with a decade of experience in nightlife management and event production. She has directed numerous high-profile events with tremendous success while building a powerful reputation in the Orlando entertainment industry.

In an effort to merge her business experience with her desire to make the world a better place, Whitney joined Clean the World in 2013 and took on the role of Volunteer and Events Manager. Whitney is a natural in the event world. Her enthusiastic personality, flawless precision, and attention to detail result in event success and client satisfaction. She is certified in volunteer management by the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, and coordinates programming and scheduling for approximately 10,000 Clean the World volunteers annually.

Prior to joining Clean the World, Whitney worked in marketing and promotions for high-end nightclubs in Ohio and Florida. She also developed new business concepts, built sponsorship deals, and provided creative direction for the WWE and in the recording industry.

With a bachelors degree in entertainment business from Full Sail University, Whitney supplements her real-world experience with the in-depth study of how business and management fundamentals can be applied in the event and entertainment industry.


Jerry Pena, Executive Director, Faith in Florida


Born in Chicago and raised in Cleveland, Jerry speaks from the heart when he addresses issues surrounding impoverished communities of color because he grew up in similar circumstances. Prior to Faith in Florida, Jerry provided leadership to social change organizations addressing housing and employment in Cleveland, gained voter engagement experience through Wellstone Action, served on the Board of the Young Latino Network, led multicultural efforts in South Africa and the Black & Brown Project at Policy Bridge.  Jerry’s life experience has given him an extraordinary ability to connect with individuals of diverse social, economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds, and he is truly passionate about community empowerment and social change.

Jerry previously served as the Director of Organizing for FOCUS and PICO United Florida, where he led policy victories ranging from foreclosure prevention to tuition equity.  In 2012, Jerry managed the field team for the successful “No on Amendment 3” campaign, and last year led the Florida Campaign for Citizenship, which trained over 300 leaders, organized 33 meetings with Members of Congress, and mobilized 4,600 people to 7 public actions in the I-4 Corridor. Jerry has a B.A. in Organizational Leadership from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH. Married to Margarita Peña for the last 15 years, they have established a home in Central Florida and have two wonderful children.




Michelle Stile, Attorney, Self-Employed

	Michelle	Stile	Born and raised in the great State of New York, Michelle Stile is a 2003 graduate of Dickinson College. Ms. Stile moved to Orlando, Florida in 2004, and later became involved in Obama for America 2008 campaign.

Ms. Stile is a 2013 graduate of Florida A&M College of Law, where she received a full academic scholarship.

Ms. Stile is a consumer protection attorney, specializing in Debtor-Creditor relations.



Leland Taylor , Global Program Manager , United Parcel Service

 Leland C. Taylor Sr. is a transformational leader that embraces a Socratic approach to solving complex problems. He wholeheartedly believes that humility, empathy and mild doses of anarchism are among the primary ingredients for successful leaders. He is currently a Global Program Manager at United Parcel Services which is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and is currently managing and supporting large global healthcare supply chain initiatives for enterprise healthcare clients.

Leland received his B.S. in Business Administration from York College of Pennsylvania and his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Maryland.

Leland was born and raised in Charm City (Baltimore, Md.). In 2012 he relocated to New Jersey where he worked out of the UPS New York City office, prior to moving to Orlando, FL to support his wife's career advancement.


Robert Walters , Communications Assistant , Orange County Tax Collector

 Robert Walters is an Orlando based political organizer who currently works as a Communications Assistant for the Orange County Tax Collector's Office. Robert works on many different tasks at the Tax Collector's Office, mainly to ensure the office remains responsible to the residences of Orange County.

Robert's passion for politics started the summer before his senior year in high school when he completed the Boy's State program in Tallahassee, Florida. Boy's State started his passion because it taught him the legislative process and the importance and impact that government can have on the state, the society and the individual.

Robert's goal in his political career is to make government organized, efficient, and effective, along with creating equality and fairness for all. In 2012, during Robert's college career at the University of Central Florida, he delved into political organizing. He started as a volunteer for a city council race, which he ended up managing, in Titusville, Florida. That race in particular taught him how crucial voting and political organizing is, especially that every vote counts. The campaign lost the race by less than one half of one percent, which was 86 votes. After the 2012 elections, Robert continued his political organizing career by becoming involved in various progressive political organizations. Robert's senior year of college led him to being elected treasurer of the College Democrats at UCF.

Robert ran the club's finances, fundraising, and voter registration efforts. Following the College Dems, Robert knew his political reach could be broadened and he joined the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee in January of 2013, and a year later he became the Precincts Committee Chair . Robert's discovered his true passion, social and economic inequality, when he became campaign manager for Shayan for Congress. Shayan's campaign led Robert to further develop his skills in fundraising, community organizing, and voter outreach.

Despite the loss in August of 2014, Robert continued his career in politics. Immediately after the campaign, Robert was hired on as Deputy Communications Director for the Campaign to Re-elect Alan Grayson. Robert still remains active within the Democratic community, being reappointed to the board of the OCDEC in January of 2015 and giving advice to individuals finding ways of becoming more involved with the political process.


Leslie Wolcott , Instructor , University of Central Florida

Leslie is a writer and organizer. She has worked organizing for peace and justice, transit and transportation options, and to reduce homelessness, and has written for newspapers, periodicals, and blogs (particularly, but not only, about environmental issues, place, and social justice).

Leslie also has experience doing grant and other contract writing, and writing in nonprofit settings. As a writing instructor at UCF, Leslie teaches introductory writing classes as well as Rhetoric and Civic Engagement and Writing for Social Change. Leslie was a Foundation Fellow at the University of Georgia where she received her BA, and continued at the University of Nevada, Reno where she received her MA, focusing on environmental justice and environmental rhetoric.

In Orlando, Leslie has found community with fellow outdoors adventurers at the Central Florida Triathlon Club, where she is on the executive board, and with the devoted fans of Orlando City Soccer. She has recently joined the board of the Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment.

Leslie lives in Audubon Park with her husband, Doug, and her husky dog, both redheads.

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