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Meet the AmeriCorps Alumni Champions of Change

August 17, 2012

Today, AmeriCorps Alums with CNCS and the White House Office of Public Engagement are at the White House cohosting a convening of AmeriCorps Alumni for a momentous event known as AmeriCorps Alums Day.

As part of the day-long program, the White House will honor 12 AmeriCorps Alums as “Champions of Change.” They’re pretty impressive, though McKayla Maroney isn’t so impressed.

These extraordinary leaders demonstrate how AmeriCorps alumni have leveraged their national service experience to become influential in their careers and leaders in their communities. They will have the opportunity to share their stories with Administration officials and AmeriCorps members across the country. The Champions of Change program was created to honor ordinary Americans doing great work in their communities.

You can watch AmeriCorps Alums Day live starting at 9:30am ET and the Champions of Change panels at 1:00pm ET here.

Read more to learn about the 12 Champions of Change.

Christine Riley, Boston, MA 
Christine Riley brings 18 years’ experience in nonprofit fundraising, cause branding, community relations, strategic philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. As the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Dunkin’ Brands, she leads The Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation as well as sustainable business practices company-wide. Prior to joining Dunkin’ Brands, she was the Director of Business Development at Cone, a brand strategy and communications consultancy where she worked with clients to develop integrated marketing campaigns that benefit businesses, nonprofits and communities. Christine has previously worked at the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, JFK School of Government, Harvard University and with Jumpstart for Young Children. Christine began her career as a member of the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She was then selected to participate in AmeriCorps Leaders Program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Sharon Wagner, Bangor, ME
Dr. Sharon Wagner is an Assistant Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Maine. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a California Single Subject Teaching Credential for Chemistry from National University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on the environmental, social and economic implications of energy decisions, with a main focus on solar energy solutions, and she teaches courses in sustainable energy economics and policy. Dr. Wagner was an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps volunteer – stationed in Charleston, SC, her team completed seven projects in the areas of education, the environment and unmet human needs throughout the southeastern United States. Dr. Wagner also worked as an environmental technician and middle school Science teacher in San Diego, CA and a high school Environmental Systems teacher in Quito, Ecuador.

Marissa Mikoy, Dallas, TX
Marissa Castro Mikoy embarked on her career post college in the Lower East Side of Manhattan as an AmeriCorps VISTA* volunteer for the nonprofit University Settlement. After her time in New York, she returned to her home state of Texas and led an Even Start Family Literacy Program for under-resourced families in West Dallas. The program focused on arming parents with the skills and knowledge to not only to be their child’s first and most important teacher in life, but to also propel their own education by way of attaining their GED and gaining access to college or a trade. Wanting to return to making more of a “direct impact”, Marissa went to work for a DC community based organization, CentroNia where she was the founding Director of a bilingual early childhood satellite location for over 100 under-resourced families in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Marissa recently moved back to her home state of Texas and serves as the Director of Operations and Evaluation for an education reform, principal preparation non-profit, the Teaching Trust. She lives in Richardson, Texas with her husband Chris and 2 year old son, Xavier.

Mayor John Fetterman, Braddock, PA
John Fetterman, a Harvard graduate with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, moved to Braddock in 2001 to work with AmeriCorps. Four years later he became the town’s mayor – winning the election by a single vote – and has been at the forefront of a massive effort to revitalize the once prosperous town ever since. In 2009, Fetterman won a second term by nearly a 3-1 margin. As of this writing, Braddock is in its 40th consecutive month without a homicide. A relentless advocate for reimagining and redesigning Braddock, Mayor Fetterman is focused on creating a safer, more just Braddock by developing youth-oriented programs, attracting artists and other ‘creatives’ to his community and by pursuing green urban renewal and economic development.

Rhonda Ulmer, Odenton, MD
Rhonda Ulmer served in AmeriCorps from 2004-2007 at Volunteer Maryland, where she helped launch the Van Bokkelen Family Network, a program that provides local community resources such as GED, health, and housing education to children’s parents. After her term of service, Ulmer was awarded the 2008 Eli J. Segal AmeriCorps Alums Entrepreneurship Award- AmeriCorps Alums highest honor. With the award, she founded University for Parents (UfP), where she is currently the Founding Director. UfP is a community organization that provides parents with the tools and resources to help their children succeed in school.

Morgan Tracey, Lake Placid, NY
Morgan Tracey is from Champion, Ohio. Upon graduation from Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, Morgan spent ten months as a corps member in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. As a Corps member, Morgan built homes for low income families in Blythe, CA. She also worked within the community on fire safety with the United States Forest Service in Pollock Pines, CA. While in Astoria, OR, Morgan and her team worked with Clatsop Community Action to restore a historic building for community use and with the local food bank. Morgan also prepared taxes for the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program in Phoenix, AZ and with the Boys and Girls Club in Pasadena, CA. After AmeriCorps Morgan spent summers working with the Forest Service as a wildland firefighter and a senior firefighter on the Eldorado Interagency Hotshot Crew. In the winters, Morgan went to law school and in 2010 passed the bar exam. Currently, Morgan is part of the United States National Skeleton Program training at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid with her sights on Sochi, Russia and Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Shonak Patel, Boston, MA
He is currently working as Co-founder of Gather Education, a virtual classroom platform that makes teaching and learning on-line simple, natural, and more accessible to all. Prior to Gather Education, Shonak was CEO and Co-founder of Swellr, a finalist in the 2011 MassChallenge start-up competition and accelerator. In 2009, he served in AmeriCorps as the Finance and Development Fellow with the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative (NONDC) in New Orleans, LA. Shonak graduated with honors from Babson College in 2006 with a concentration in Finance.

Nicole Trimble, Seattle, WA
Nicole Trimble is the Director of Corporate Responsibility at Coinstar, Inc. She is responsible for developing and supporting the company’s community engagement, philanthropy and environmental sustainability initiatives while working to encourage “innovation for good.” Nicole is a visionary leader with diverse experiences in the national service, nonprofit and philanthropy arenas including working for Casey Family Programs and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is a Social Venture Partner and the Chair of the Washington State Commission for National and Community Service. She lives in Seattle, Washington and is the mother of two young sons who she hopes will serve their country someday.

Delores Morton, Atlanta, GA
Delores Morton is the president of Points of Light’s Programs Division where she is responsible for developing program initiatives and models to address the organizations core impact areas – education, economy, environment, and emergency response and preparedness, and veterans and military families. Prior to joining to Points of Light, Delores served as the Director of the Center for Nonprofit Resources at Volunteer Baton Rouge, Executive Director of the Louisiana Association for Community Economic Development, and the Chair of the Mid-South Collaborative for Nonprofit development. She began her career in the voluntary sector in 1995 as an AmeriCorps Member in her home community of St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.

Seth Marbin, Oakland, CA
As a Program Manager on Google’s Social Responsibility Team, Seth helps encourage and enable employees to use their skills, talents and resources to have an extraordinary impact on the world through service and philanthropy. He joined Google after five years in the social sector, as an AmeriCorps member three times, then as a founder of City Year New Hampshire. Seth was selected as a First Movers Fellow with the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program and served on the steering committee of California Volunteers Business Partner Program. He founded and maintains, a free, collaborative encyclopedia of team-building activities and ice breakers. He graduated from Brown University, where he studied the intersection of public and private sector organizations and social entrepreneurship. Seth lives in Alameda, California with his wife Jyothi, daughter Kaia and son Jahan.

Noelle Ito, New York, NY
Noelle Ito is the Director of Community Philanthropy at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), a national membership and philanthropic advocacy organization dedicated to advancing philanthropy and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. In her role at AAPIP, Noelle is shepherding AAPIP’s 5 Year Giving Circle Campaign to develop 50 giving circles and launch a national giving circle movement to build democratic philanthropy. Noelle served as an AmeriCorps National Youth Project Fellow from 2001-2002. She completed 900 hours of service at New Community After School and Advocacy Program and participated in weekly leadership trainings through the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.

Tim Morehouse, New York, NY
Tim Morehouse is a New York City native and Teach for America alum. He taught underprivileged students while working with Teach For America, teaching 7th grade at Intermediate School 90 in Washington Heights, Manhattan from 2000-2003 and worked at the organization in New York City from 2004-2008 where he trained and mentored teachers working in the East Bronx. He is an Olympic silver medalist in fencing two-time individual U.S. National Champion, 7-time world cup medalist and #1-ranked U.S. men’s saber fencer from 2008-2011. He is a 3-time Olympic Team member and most recently finished 8th at the London Olympic Games. Morehouse is unique in that he worked full-time while pursuing his Olympic dream. After the 2008 Olympics, Morehouse worked to promote the sport of fencing and established programs to attract new participants to the sport.

As a motivational speaker, Morehouse spoke to over 30,000 children and young people in urban schools about his Olympic story. He has also given presentations to Fortune 100 and 500 organizations. He was the youngest recipient of Brandeis University’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2010 for his achievements as an athlete and his work with Teach For America and he was named by Fast Company as one of the most influential alumni of Teach For America. In 2011, Morehouse founded the Fencing-in-the-Schools foundation – a non-profit program dedicated to bringing the sport of fencing to under-served communities throughout the country. He is the author of the book, American Fencer: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Sport (2012), in which he shares experiences as an Olympic athlete and teacher

What do you think of our “Champions of Change”? Let us know in the comments below!

UPDATE: We’ve included links to the Champions of Change’s White House blog posts hyperlinked to their names.

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