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For Immediate Release
March 24, 2009
For More Information Contact:
Ed Shelleby
(202) 662-3602


CLINTON, Tenn.— This weekend more than 100 youths, age 18-25, representing 33 states and the District of Columbia participated in three days of training at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Haley Farm in Clinton, TN, to build community organizing and advocacy skills around health care reform.

“The enthusiasm around political activity and organizing among young adults was instrumental in the 2008 elections; we must work to further cultivate and train these servant leaders in order to build the next movement for children,” said CDF President, Marian Wright Edelman. “The participants in this weekend’s training will return to their communities with an array of tools to help ensure that all those in America—especially children—are given access to quality, affordable health care in 2009.”

The training is designed to develop the next generation of leaders who are committed to social justice and improving the lives of all children in America. The youth participated in a variety of workshops in order to learn new tactics and strategies to help organize their communities around health care reform in 2009, especially health care reform for children. Part of the training included the participants creating action plans that they will implement upon returning to their campuses and in their communities.

The participants were chosen from a rigorous selection process and join an alumni network that is 1,000 members strong, with past members continuing work both in advocacy and with the Children’s Defense Fund. Many participants are already leaders in their communities and on college campuses. Lily Dorman-Colby, currently a junior at Yale University, served as the Student Director for the Berkeley Board of Education while in high school, representing 12,000 students in the district. Her interest in attending the training stems from a sense of social responsibility.

“I grew up in a low-income neighborhood with parents who suffered from mental health and addiction problems, and spent my teenage years in foster care where I was passed from one home to the next,” said Dorman. “At eighteen, I was given the challenge of becoming the temporary foster mother of my autistic brother. As one of the few foster youths who has made it to a four-year college, I feel a sense of responsibility to give back to underprivileged children.”

The full list of participants and the communities they are representing are included below. To learn more about the Children’s Defense Fund’s Youth Development and Leadership Programs, please visit

Alexandrea L. Frye
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL

Ayotunde Ajijolaiya
Children’s Defense Fund–California
Los Angeles, CA

D’Anthony Allen
California State University
Los Angeles, CA

Roxana Castro
Occidental College
Los Angeles, CA

Victoria Chia
Pomona College
Claremont, CA

Andrea Chicas
Occidental College
Los Angeles, CA

Alexis Fernandez
University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Vanessa Sanchez-Gonzales
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

Linnea Koopmans
Transition House
Santa Barbara, CA

Breana Marino
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA

Maria Ortega
California State University
Los Angeles, CA

LaTia Walker
Colorado College
Colorado Springs, CO

Renise Walker
Colorado College/ Denver Housing Authority
Colorado Springs, CO

LaTisha Campbell
Yale University
New Haven, CT

Lily Dorman-Colby
Yale University
New Haven, CT

Candace Yonina Simpson
Trinity College
Hartford, CT

Kayla Vinson
Yale University
New Haven, CT

Vanessa Baden
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Amanda Gonzalez
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

Kyrah K. Brown
Spelman College
Students Advocating for Youth
Atlanta, GA

Corelle Davis
Albany State University
Albany, GA

Mia Dunlap
Spelman College
Atlanta, GA

Heather Holman
Darton College
Albany, GA

Tesia Ogletree
Agnes Scott College
Decatur, GA

Brandon Joston Stewart
Emory University
Atlanta, GA

Joffe Wright
Darton College
Albany, GA

Carey Ash
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, IL

Jamie Lee Enge
Harry S. Truman College
Chicago, IL

Ashley Nichole Walters
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL

Melissa Janisch
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN

Christopher Rhodenbaugh
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN

Tytianna Nikia Maria Wells
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY

Jarika Johnson
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

Koieles Lomas
Southern University Student Government Association
Baton Rouge, LA

Nadia Jonise Oliney
Grambling State University
Grambling, LA

Mark Pollard
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond
New Orleans, LA

Antonio Richardson
City Year Louisiana
Baton Rouge, LA

Selena Sloan
Louisiana State University
Americorps-Boys and Girls Club

Baton Rouge, LA
Saia Smith
The Lousiana Justice Institute

New Orleans, LA
Aubry Watson
New Orleans, LA

Daniel C. Gay
University of Southern Maine
Gorham, ME

Olusolape Oluborode
Baltimore City Public School System
Baltimore, MD

Scott Harris
University of Massachusetts–Amherst
Amherst, MA

Sakura Noda
Amherst College
Amherst, MA

Lara Solinsky
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA

Joshua Stroman
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, MA

Hilary Ann White
Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA

Megan Argillander
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Cinamon Lynn Branigan
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Katelyn Marie Brookshire
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Lauren Haas
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Kadi Marie Janssen
Michigan State University, School of Social Work
East Lansing, MI

Khalilah Reed
Thomas M. Cooley School of Law
Lansing, MI

Latrell Beamon
Peace Foundation
Minneapolis, MN

Tracina Coward
North Hennepin Community College
Brooklyn Park, MN

Katherine DeSantis
Gustavus Adolphus College
St. Peter, MN

Blanca Martinez Gavina
St. Olaf College
Northfield, MN

Lily Moua
University of Minnesota/CDF-MN
Minneapolis, MN

Kenneth Scales
Peace Foundation
Minneapolis, MN

Tyron Searight
Minneapolis, MN

Shenita Ford
Jackson State Univeristy
Jackson, MS

Terrance Johnson
Jackson State University
Jackson, MS

Brittany Robinson
Jackson State University
Jackson, MS

Laura Hawkes
Washington University–St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

Taylor Hoffman
Rockhurst University
Kansas City, MO

William Kinder
Rural Dynamics, Inc./Americorps VISTA
Great Falls, MT

Amanda Krohn
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT

Sherita Diaz
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada
Reno, NV

Sarah Munley
Vernon Township High School/Pass It Along
Sussex, NJ

Brandon Gassaway
Albuquerque, NM

Shawn Gibbs
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM

Jessica Coleman
State University of New York at New Paltz
New Paltz, NY

Tiffany Collins
City University of New York, York College
Jamaica, NY

DeShaun Davis
New York University
New York, NY

Nickheisa Ewen
CUNY – Brooklyn College
Brooklyn, NY

Elio Genao
Gregorio Luperon High School
New York, NY

Kenneth Johnson
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY

Aoife Kenny
New York, NY

Bako Nguasong
New York University
New York, NY

Eliana De Los Santos
Bronx Community College/Alianza Dominicana
Bronx, NY & New York, NY

Shakira Abney-Wisdom
St. Johns University
Jamaica, NY


Kahlida Lloyd
North Carolina Central University
School of Law
Durham, NC

Francinia McKeithan
UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

David Poms
Students Advocating for Youth–Davidson College Chapter
Davidson, NC

Emily Coler Hanson
North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND

Danielle Edmonson
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH

Lamar Graham
Wilberforce University
Wilberforce, OH

Jazmine Jackson
Wilberforce University
Wilberforce, OH

Catlin Jacob
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH

Amanda Pratt
Wilberforce University
Wilberforce, OH

Sarah Schneider
Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland
Cleveland, OH

Kristin R. Sparks
University of Akron
Akron, OH

Stephanie Spiegel
Children’s Defense Fund–Ohio
Columbus, OH

Lindsay Stone
Ohio State University School of Social Work
Columbus, OH

Kristopher Allen Turner
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH

Jennifer Newton
Northeastern State University
Broken Arrow, OK

Natalie Williams
Langston University, Oklahoma City Campus
Oklahoma City, OK

Brittany Smith
Children First, Oregon
Portland, OR

Linda Donatoni
Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, PA

Marvin Dutton
Lincoln University
Philadelphia, PA

Angela Young
Benedict College
Columbia, SC

LaShunda Shecuna Hill
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Chattanooga, TN

Charity J. Miles
University of Tennessee College of Law
Knoxville, TN

Amanda Aguirre
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

Jessica Brisby
University of Houston
Houston, TX

Jessica Ann Hannah
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

Yesenia Plancarte
Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office
Houston, TX

Angel Ponce
Lonestar College/Willowchase Center
Houston, TX

Danyca Singleton
University of Texas at Arlington
Arlington, TX

Tyrell White
Texas Christian University

Christopher Devon Burton
Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education
Richmond, VA

Amy Elizabeth Leggett
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA

Michael Lopez
Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA

Bishara Addison
The George Washington University
The National Student Partnerships
Washington, DC

Johanna Bergan
Youth MOVE National
Washington, DC

Danielle N. Cooley
Trinity University
Washington DC