We’re a group of passionate individuals working
to help build tomorrow’s workforce.
Monique Rizer is the Executive Director of Urban Alliance D.C. She previously served as executive director of Opportunity Nation, which works to ensure all people in the United States have an equal opportunity to succeed. Under her leadership, the campaign expanded partnerships with national brands like PwC, developed a new Opportunity Index, and provided platforms for two bipartisan bill introductions in the United States Senate. Previously, Monique was deputy director of military spouse programs for the Military Officers Association of America, where she founded “Keeping a Career on the Move®”. The program earned the American Society for Association Executives ‘Power of A’ Silver Award.
Monique is a national spokesperson on economic opportunity and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise, and NPR, and served as a speaker of choice for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Negro College Fund, among others. Monique is a first-generation college student and attended community college. She was selected as the first class of Gates Millennium Scholars, which allowed her to complete a B.A. from Gonzaga University and M.S. from Syracuse University. Monique is also the mother of two sons; her younger son is in high school and the eldest attends college while also serving as infantryman in the U.S. Army National Guard.
Program Manager - Martha's Table Partnership
Kierra joined Urban Alliance in December 2015 and first served as the Program Manager for the Northern Virginia High School Internship Preparatory Program before moving to the Washington, D.C. region to manage the Martha’s Table Partnership. Prior to joining the UA family, Kierra served as the Program Director for an agency that provided mental health services to under-resourced youth. Kierra has dedicated her career to improving youth outcomes and skill growth through the use of problem solving, conflict resolution, anger management, community responsibility, and appropriate peer relations.
Program Coordinator - Montgomery County
Laurentiis Gaines, Jr. joined the Urban Alliance team as the World Bank Program Coordinator in summer 2018 and became the Program Coordinator for Montgomery County in the 2018-19 program year. A native of Augusta, GA, he received his B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from Albany State University in southwest Georgia. Prior to joining Urban Alliance, Laurentiis spent a year at AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) providing national and community service opportunities to disadvantaged youth. He considers voter education, rights, and participation, particularly for youth, to be some of his biggest passions.
Mukta Ghorpadey joined Urban Alliance as a Program Coordinator in January 2018. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Women’s Studies from The George Washington University. Before coming to Urban Alliance, Mukta was as an advocate for public housing, working with public housing authorities across the country to ensure that every family has a safe and affordable place to live. She believes deeply in Urban Alliance’s mission and is excited to empower young people through employment as a Program Coordinator.
College and Career Specialist
Jessica Gilbert joined Urban Alliance as a Program Coordinator in August 2014. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography with a focus in Environmental and Urban Planning from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Prior to joining Urban Alliance, Jessica served in AmeriCorps for 2 years at DC SCORES. She brings experience of creativity and positive relationship building toward working with youth in urban communities.
Born and raised in the southeastern part of Washington D.C., Jessica is passionate about Urban Alliance’s mission to engage and inspire under-resourced youth to succeed. She knows directly the needs and challenges of our D.C. youth and takes great care in helping them connect to opportunities. She served as the D.C. Alumni Services Director for two years, and in August 2018 became the region’s College and Career Specialist. She is currently seeking her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Trinity Washington University.
Program Specialist - Suitland
Francesca joins Urban Alliance as the Suitland HS Program Specialist. She received her B.S. in Human Services from St. John’s University in Queens, New York, then returned home to work in the community she was born and raised in, Southeast, DC. Before joining Urban Alliance, Francesca worked for City Year DC in the schools providing academic interventions and social-emotional mentoring to high school students. She spent her last two years at City Year supporting AmeriCorps training and creating resources for their secondary school’s social-emotional and attendance interventions. She looks forward to supporting the students at Suitland HS and building a strong partnership with the staff and administrations.
Alicia joined Urban Alliance in May 2018 as a program coordinator for the Washington, D.C. team. Before UA, Alicia spent two years working to promote empowerment programs to D.C. youth at the Latin American Youth Center. Alicia is originally from Florida and received her MA in international training and education from American University. She considers career readiness to be one of her biggest passions.
External Partnerships Manager
Evan joined Urban Alliance in April 2018 as a Curriculum Outreach Specialist, and became External Partnerships Manager for the Washington, D.C. program in October 2018. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs. Her passion for working with youth began as a summer camp counselor when she was 16, and grew in her work teaching English abroad and as a study abroad program assistant. Prior to joining Urban Alliance, she served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year in Miami, Florida, providing academic interventions and social-emotional mentoring to high school students.
Program Manager - High School Internship Program
Laura joined Urban Alliance as a Program Coordinator in August 2016 and became the Program Manager of the High School Internship Program in D.C. in August 2018. She is a proud graduate of Virginia Tech where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Laura began her time at Urban Alliance in the summer of 2014 as a Communication and Curriculum Outreach Intern. She went on to serve as the Program Coordinator to the summer internship programs the following two summers. Laura is grateful for the opportunity to work with Urban Alliance and empower the young people of DC.
Sahaan joined Urban Alliance as Program Director for the Washington, D.C. region in August 2018. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Sahaan graduated from Boston College where he majored in both biology and sociology. After graduation, he taught biology and coached baseball at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He left teaching to complete his master’s degree in Health Education and Health Communication. He recently completed a fellowship with Global Health Corps where he served as the Schools Program Manager for The Grassroot Project in DC. While at The Grassroot Project, he also served as a mentor for two Urban Alliance interns, and was awarded Urban Alliance D.C.’s Mentor of the Year Award in 2018.
Heather Urban joined Urban Alliance D.C. as a Program Coordinator in January 2019. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Kutztown University, Heather relocated to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area where she pursued her passion for working with students by completing her Master of Education in School Counseling at the University of Maryland. Before joining Urban Alliance, Heather spent three years as a school counselor for Prince George’s County Public Schools. Her love for fostering student growth and creating opportunities for career exposure and access led her to pursue her passion with Urban Alliance.
Charles joined Urban Alliance as a Program Coordinator in February 2018. Previously, Charles served as a teacher with NAF Baltimore where he partnered and coordinated with organizations, such as BioEyes, to further unlock his students’ innate creative abilities through hands-on experiences with Zebrafish. He also served as a tutor with Life Pieces to Masterpieces through American University’s DC Reads Program, where he taught and mentored young black men who were members of an empowering organization. Charles graduated from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Education Studies.