Meet our 2020 Peer Facilitators:
Chris-Ann Barnett, 19
A founding member of YVote and a returning facilitator. Her interest in politics started in 2014 due to the Ferguson Riots and rise of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. After joining YVote, her interest became her passion. Currently, she attends New York University with a double major in Politics and Sociology on the Pre-Law track. She has interned at the law firm Skadden Arps LLP and as an Analyst working in litigation support and security consulting. She has also served as the Director in Chief of Security at the National Security Institute at NYU. With the legal knowledge that she has and will continue to gain, she hopes to one day be able to start a nonprofit organization for restorative justice in minority communities.
“If our votes didn’t matter, then there wouldn’t have been historical struggles to get the right. Your vote is important and your voice deserves to be heard.”
Divine Soona Gertrude Ndombo, 20
A Cameroonian-born organizer and facilitator at YVote. Divine’s entrance into social justice began at at program in her middle called GirlsTalk/GuysTalk which was centered in community building. She then went on to work on the #OurVoice Campaign in 2014 to challenge the targeted advertisement of unhealthy beverages in low income Black and Brown and Latinx communities before finding her way to The YA-YA Network where she works as the Director of Youth Development. As a founding YVoter, Divine works to create a sturdy foundation of political education on which future members can stand upon in their cultivation of YVote’s #2020 vision campaigns centered on the goal of increasing youth accessibility to and participation in civic engagement. Her vision for the future includes an immense shifting of the political landscape where young folks have greater agency and influence over their local, federal, and global ambitions for civic engagement and community organizing, with YVote at the forefront of sustaining such leaders. Alongside her passions for social justice, Divine is also a rising junior at City College University, pursuing studies in political science, international studies, and business. Her recent entrepreneurial endeavor is the cultivation of ForeSee Miracles: a natural, organic, vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free black-owned hair care business. This falls in line with her social justice initiatives in striving to increase representation, this time, among Black people with 4-type natural hair.
“Voting is a tool, it fits into the bigger picture of civic engagement, which fits into the bigger picture of organizing. These are our tools, it’s time we use them, all of them. “
Frank Yang, 17
Former graduate from Stuyvesant High School, and he will be attending Georgetown University in the fall semester. Frank first became interested in politics after the 2018 midterm elections and joined YVote in the summer of 2019 to gain a more nuanced perspective on the current state of American politics. Outside of YVote, Frank has previously interned for his local assemblyman Felix Ortiz and has participated in StuyPrep, a program dedicated to preparing lower-income and disadvantaged students for the SHSAT. In school, he was an active member of his Model UN team, and was one of the chairs of the Big Sibs organization, which welcomed freshmen to the school and arranged events that helped them acclimate to Stuy. In his free time, Frank likes to learn languages (currently working on French and Portuguese) and watch movies and write amateur reviews on Letterboxd. Frank self-identifies as a moderate conservative and hopes to work on Capitol Hill one day. He is excited to meet all of you and cannot wait for the interesting discussions and actions ahead.
“To vote in a democracy is to use your brain and to have a spine.”
Jessica Rosario, 21
A first-generation college student and Higher Education advocate. Currently Jessica is enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- CUNY pursuing a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Law. She has worked tirelessly to push for increased funding in the City University of New York (CUNY) through campus organizing, peer education, and lobbying in Albany. From working on the campaign of the first Dreamer ever elected into the New York State legislature and proud CUNY alum Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz to interning in the district office of New York State Senator John C. Liu, her passion continues to shine throughout her community. Jessica is also one of the newest members of the Flip The Table Crew, a team of young people to lead the conversation in ending hunger and poverty. Her future aspirations include attending law school and running for New York City Council.
"The political decisions we make today will affect everyone in this country for years to come. Every state, every county, and every neighborhood. It's imperative we fight for a fair and equal nation for all of us."
Kai Velazquez, 18
A rising sophomore & Posse Scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont. She joined YVote as a summer participant in 2018 and is excited to be back as a first-time peer facilitator. She is an explorer at heart and is energized to learn as much as she can about art, education, immigration law, disability rights, political advocacy, & student empowerment. In 2019, she worked at the Brooklyn Museum as a Gallery/Studio Teen, a teen program providing free art classes and opportunities to teach younger artists. This summer, along with working at YVote, she is an undergraduate legal intern at UnLocal, Inc., an organization that provides direct immigration legal representation and community education to New York City’s undocumented immigrant communities. A firm believer that nothing works in isolation, she sees how all her passions & interests are interconnected struggles & issues. She believes in the power of students and communities. This summer, she wants to learn with and from YVote students as much as she can.
“I think that movements, feminist movements, other movements are most powerful when they begin to affect the vision and perspective of those who do not necessary associate themselves with those movements” - Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle
Katrice Ramirez, 18
First joined YVote in 2017 as a founding member. She was excited to learn about all of the different ways young people could make a change and hopefully make the change herself. Katrice is a rising sophomore at Syracuse University with a major in Political science. One of her biggest goals is to help educate black and brown people in underserved neighborhoods about civics and the power of voting in local elections. In addition to being a YVote facilitator this summer, she is also a facilitator for Big Brother Big Sister summer practicum, a program that focuses on elevating youth power and potential by giving them a mentor to guide them through challenges they may face in high school and college. Katrice is super excited to be a YVote summer facilitator for the second time and is looking forward to meeting you all!
“The power of voting is not to be underestimated. It is the people’s chance to hold representatives accountable and shape the future they want to see. That power is yielded when we don’t participate to the fullest extent.”
Muqadas Mir, 19
A rising sophomore at Long Island University Brooklyn. She is pursuing a B.S in Health Science on the Pre-Med Track. She is also very civically and politically active: Muqadas recognizes that politicians affect people’s lives every day through the policies they implement, especially in the medical field. This is why she has built an interest in Health Policy and Public Health. She is very passionate about issues revolving Islamophobia, Women’s Rights, and Medicare for All. Muqadas joined YVote in the summer of 2018 in order to engage with other youth regarding issues affecting our communities. As a result of her participation with YVote she was able to step out of her comfort zone and take on different responsibilities and roles. Muqadas credits YVote with allowing her to build up the courage to use her voice civically. This summer will mark her 2nd year as a facilitator for YVote Summer Cohort. She is extremely excited to meet and work with all the incoming Y-Voters. In her free time Muqadas likes to watch Bollywood Movies, cook, and explore the City. Her favorite TV Show is The West Wing.
“Decisions are made by those who show up.” -Jed Bartlet from The West Wing! It is one thing to use your voice to advocate for the issues you are passionate about. But it’s another to actually act on those issues, and voting is one of the most important ways decisions are made.
Nuzhat Wahid, 19
A rising Junior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, double majoring in International Relations and Religious Studies. After being devastated by the election results of 2016, she looked for opportunities that would allow her to learn, understand, and enact the processes necessary for civic change. Wahid began her tenure in activist movements at the age of 17 through Yvote’s summer pilot program. In 2018, during her first year of college, she ran for first-year class President, and then for student body Vice-President. While VP, she implemented the first Free-menstrual Hygiene Product initiative in the colleges’ 200-year history. While at YVote, Wahid has learned the principles and ethics behind pursuing equity within higher education, and launched her campaign for student trustee on those principles. Now as student-trustee, Wahid serves as an intern for the Hope Fund at the Legal Aid Society, works on HWS Votes, and is using this summer to learn and grow through being a Yvote Peer facilitator.
"These last 10 years, Voter apathy, alongside numerous other facets of our government, have decided the fate of millions of American-and we continue to pay for it every day. There is no such thing as 'I’m don’t want to be involved with politics,' regardless of what you want, you are involved. Every choice we make in our lives is a reflection of political action, and every consequence we face as a result of those choices is a reflection of political inaction. I just want people to realize that."
Saskia Van Horn, 19
A founding member of YVote, joining due to her interest in engaging in political discussion with those her age after the 2016 election. Saskia was able to find that home and make interest-like minded friends at YVote. Saskia is a rising junior at Queens College (CUNY), majoring in Finance and minoring in Business and Liberal Arts. Beyond YVote, this summer Saskia is a summer series participant at Goldman Sachs. Through her participation at Yvote, Saskia has been able to grow, cultivate, and hone in her voice as a leader. Saskia has participated in higher education campaigns and has been profiled in several media outlets such as NPR radio, Voice of America, NYT, and in Kathleen Cushman’s upcoming book, “Fires in Our Lives.” This past winter, Saskia worked with YVote in our efforts to expand our civic workshops amongst middle schoolers in the Girl Scouts of New York. While Saskia is leaning towards pursuing a career in real estate and investment banking, she still dedicates time to be civically active and participate in YVote to continue her growth as a leader. As a result, in her freshman year, she was elected Vice President of her school’s ALPFA chapter, which is a nationwide organization that aims to open pathways and career opportunities for low income and Latino students pursuing business. This summer marks Saskia’s 3rd year as facilitator for YVote’s summer cohort! She is excited to meet all of our incoming YVoters and passionate to continue to guide YVoters into becoming greater leaders. Saskia also encourages YVoters to feel free to reach out to her for any college readiness or college career advice.
"Voting is important because it allows everyone to exercise their voice without having to physically use their voice on who they want to represent them. We must be grateful that we're able to vote in the US because in other countries you aren't able to vote because one way or another our vote is yielding towards a change in power and policy. Having the right to vote divides the power into the people's hands and is what makes the American political arena so powerful and threatening to despotic regimes across the globe."
Stefany Lema Rodriguez, 20
A rising junior at Syracuse University double majoring in Sociology and Citizenship & Civic Engagement. As a first-generation, queer, Latinx womxn from Brooklyn, NY, she is prepared to advocate for the underprivileged communities that she is a part of in order for everyone to be heard and seen. Previously, she has teamed up with IntegrateNYC, a youth-led organization working to integrate the country’s most segregated public schools, to organize a #RetireSegregation Party in Times Square for the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Currently, she is supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in New York City and Syracuse, NY by raising funds to make collective donations to Black-led organizations and distribute free protester safety supplies to those attending protests. This Summer, she is a Youth Organizer for Blue Future’s Summer for Progress & Change Program, a virtual opportunity to work for some of the most competitive campaigns across the country. Now, she is so excited to start her journey as a Peer Facilitator for YVote this Summer!
“One single hashtag will not bring awareness. One single word will not compile a list of demands. One single song will not bring justice for all. One single person will not change the world, so one single vote will not suddenly end all systems of oppression that have been founded on years of U.S. injustice... however, if you do not take that one single step, then you will remain in the same spot for the rest of time.”
Steven Pineda Porfirio, 19
Steven Pineda Porfirio (he/him), is a rising sophomore at Skidmore College. He is new to YVote but is actively engaged and interested in politics and issues regarding systemic inequality--healthcare, education, and juvenile justice. As a Latinx, first-generation college student from Harlem, he became interested in politics after seeing mass levels of gentrification occur in his neighborhood, hearing unjust stories from friends, and photographing various forms of activism. Previously, Steven has interned for teachers, reviewed pedagogical material, and advocated for students who were often undermined by the education system. This summer, Steven took on a summer class--studying youth advocacy and legislation. Now, he looks forward to being a part of YVote, furthering meaningful discourse, and amplifying youth voices.
“‘Oh, I have ambitions, dreams but dreams don’t come cheap… Little did I know all my reading would be a bother… This a new vanguard, this a new vanguard. I’m the new vanguard.’--Noname, Song 33. We hold the power to pave the way for a future we want to see, through our everyday actions, and what we do beyond public sight. We hold the power to advocate for those who cannot!”
Yesenia Burgos, 20
Yessii is a passionate young person pushing to get younger people to practice their right to vote. Yessii joined YVote in Fall 2017 while a student at the NYC iSchool, and now serves as not only a facilitator but as the Social Media Director, (@yvoteny on all social media sites). She is a huge advocate for environmental issues in society such as environmental injustices when it comes to race and the crisis that the human population is causing towards the environment. Yessii believes social media combined with powerful in-person interactions can be the right platforms to engage youth. Yessii works as a poll-day worker and census-enumerator. She truly wants to learn how to engage people with their communities and encourage people to go out to vote. She has also done campaign work and phone banking. She truly believes in all forms of activism: individual, collective, and electoral. She stands in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement by attending protesting and currently boycotting against many big corporations and disciplining her spending to mostly minority-owned-businesses. Yessii is currently a third-year, first-generation student at Baruch College (CUNY) majoring in Finance and minoring in Political Science. Yessii enjoys playing volleyball and strength training on her free time. Yessii is exploring and gaining intellect in the world of politics while at the same time encouraging others to be politically involved in their community, city, state, nation, and world.
"Being able to vote is a privilege, why not use this privilege to change your community, state, and nation?"