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2019 Comcast NBCUniversal Leadership Awards

The City Year Alumni Leadership Awards recognize outstanding alums who are continuing their commitment to strengthening community by inspiring, mobilizing and empowering others and who exemplify City Year’s values.

2019 Comcast NBCUniversal Leadership Awards

Congratulations to this year’s recipients who were honored in Boston at our Impact Summercharger on July 15, 2019!

A City Year alum wearing a black suit jacket and blue tie smiles at a podium
Matt Axelrod
(Boston ’88)

Since serving in the founding Boston summer corps in 1988, Matt has worked in a variety of public service roles. After college, Matt returned to City Year from 1992-1994 to lead teams of corps members working in Boston elementary schools. Since finishing law school, Matt has spent the bulk of his legal career working for the federal government. Matt served as a judicial law clerk to two different federal judges—the Honorable Ralph K. Winter, Jr. and the Honorable Janet C. Hall.

He later spent more than 12 years working for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ): six years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Miami, where he prosecuted among others a corrupt sheriff, husband-and-wife Cuban spies and two founders of the Cali Cartel; then six years at the DOJ headquarters in Washington, where Matt helped oversee the DOJ’s efforts nationwide. In Matt’s most recent role at the DOJ, he served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, one of the DOJ's most senior officials. Alongside Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Matt helped supervise the DOJ’s 113,000 employees including all of the DOJ’s prosecutors and law enforcement agents. Matt is currently a partner at Linklaters LLP where he conducts internal investigations and advises clients on how best to navigate crises. Matt has remained involved in City Year and has served on both the Boston and Miami Advisory Boards.

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A City Year alum wearing a blue shirt and striped yellow tie stands at a podium
Rob Barnett
(Seattle / King County ’10)

Robert Barnett is the co-founder and chief operating officer of the Modern Classrooms Project, which empowers teachers to leverage technology in creating classrooms where all students truly learn. He has taught math, entrepreneurship, computer science and IB Theory of Knowledge at Maret School and Eastern High School in Washington, D.C., and Leysin American School in Leysin, Switzerland. He previously founded the Eastern SERVE Portal and has written about education for Education Week, The Washington Post and Washington City Paper. A native of Washington, D.C., he served as a corps member with City Year Seattle / King County and holds degrees cum laude from both Princeton University (A.B.) and Harvard Law School (J.D.).

A City Year alum wearing glasses, a grey plaid suit jacket and floral shirt speaks at a podium
Imran Siddiquee
(San José / Silicon Valley '08)

Imran Siddiquee is a writer, filmmaker and activist challenging limiting representations of race and gender in popular media. Their essays on white supremacy and patriarchy have been published by The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Bitch Magazine, Longreads and more, as well as in the anthology Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage. Imran is the communications director at MediaJustice, a national nonprofit leading the fight for racial, economic and gender justice in a digital age.

They are also a collaborator with the South Asian American Digital Archive in Philadelphia, where they lead a radical South Asian American history walking tour. In their previous role as a founding staff member of the Representation Project, they helped launch nationwide campaigns to call out sexist media and advised on "The Mask You Live In," a documentary about American masculinity that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Imran's short film, "Love Reset," was a winner of MTV's 2015 Look Different Creator's Challenge.

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A City Year alum wearing a black suit jacket and red top speaks at a podium
Laura Toni-Holsinger
(Boston '04)

After serving on the Young Heroes team during her corps year, Laura worked as a program manager for two years, leading the Civics in Action team, City Year Boston’s first formal partnership with Boston Public Schools. Tasked with supporting eighth grade teachers in implementing a district-wide civics curriculum, Laura’s team led the service-learning component of the course. With the support of funding from a Bill and Hillary Clinton National Service Innovation Award, Laura and her team developed CiviCon, a “Civics Convention” for eighth graders throughout the city to display their civics-in-action projects. Since her work at City Year, Laura has continued her commitment to social justice through her career in the nonprofit sector, first with Big Sister Boston where she served as a volunteer recruitment coordinator and then manager of administration and human resources while being a Big Sister to her Little Sister, Toni.

Since 2014, Laura has served as the executive director of United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, leading the organization through an evolution toward being a collective impact-driven organization. Leveraging the power of 1+1=3, she has led United Way in the launch of Build United, a home improvement initiative for low-income homeowners, and Empower Harrisonburg Rockingham, a coordinated care network that aims to more effectively connect individuals to both medical and social services. Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts from Virginia Tech and a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University with a focus in community leadership and public engagement. She and her husband Brent, also a City Year Boston alum and 2017 recipient of the Comcast NBCUniversal Alumni Leadership Awards, live in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with their two children and aspiring corps members, Lucy and Myles.

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A City Year alum wearing a light denim top and red lipstick speaks at a podium
Alissa Ziemianski
(Cleveland '99, Seattle / King County '00)

Following her corps years, Alissa held a variety of positions including event manger, corporate partnership manager, program director, fundraising director and academy director as a staff member with City Year. Her time with City Year ended after spending seven months in Texas and Louisiana providing relief and recovery support from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In the three weeks immediately following the storm, she was a member of the Incident Command Center at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas, where she developed and managed the process for receiving and distributing $38 million of cash and in-kind donations. She worked in partnership with the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana and co-led the development team that launched a new City Year site in Baton Rouge.

The following years in Austin, Texas, Alissa transitioned to a more macro approach of addressing community needs – consulting and training. As the Director of Education with Greenlights for Non-Profit Success and the Training and Development Specialist with OneStar Foundation, Alissa provided guidance and resources for organizations to increase their mission impact. In 2008, Alissa became the director of marketing and the director of youth programs for the Austin Film Festival. Youth programs were offered free of charge in Austin Public Schools and in partnership with youth-based organizations in town including Dell Children’s Blood and Cancer Center. Alissa then joined the staff of AllClear ID. As the Business Program Manager, Alissa successfully provided high-profile corporate clients with a single point of contact for federally mandated crisis management and response to breaches in their data security. As a volunteer, Alissa served as the fundraising chair for Austin Voices for Education and Youth (supporting school success in systemically under-resourced communities) and the president of the Austin Coed Soccer Association (nonprofit providing a safe and inclusive recreational sports community for adults). Alissa currently serves as the operations and marketing director at Chico Natural Foods Cooperative a position that oversees the produce, grocery, deli, front end, facilities, marketing and IT departments. In this role, she is dedicated to creating better alignment and increased efficiencies across all departments, supporting the growth and development of the staff and building a stronger and more sustainable community through cooperation. In a grassroots capacity, Alissa has helped to organize and grow the local pick-up soccer community, and she played a critical role in mobilizing volunteers, cash and in-kind donations that provided relief and recovery for the victims of the devastating campfires that destroyed Chico’s neighboring community of Paradise.

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2018 Comcast NBCUniversal Leadership Awards
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