Staff

We’re a group of passionate individuals working
to help build tomorrow’s workforce.

Monique Rizer

Executive Director

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.

Stella Afolabi

Program Associate - High School Internship Program

Stella Afolabi is a 2012 Urban Alliance Alumna who first joined the team as a part-time administrative assistant to the D.C. Alumni Director. In 2017 she became a full-time Operations Associate on the national team, before returning to the DC region as a Program Associate in 2020.

Through Urban Alliance, Stella held internships at the Boston Consulting Group and Children’s National Medical Center. Stella holds a B.S. in biology from Howard University.

Chris Allen

Program Coordinator

Chris Allen joined Urban Alliance as a Washington DC Program Coordinator in September 2019. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations & Marketing from West Virginia University. Before coming to Urban Alliance Chris worked as a youth outreach coordinator for a summer youth employment program, where he facilitated outdoors training and conservation education. Most recently, Chris served as a youth educator and counselor in the city, where he provided students with after-school support in STEM and English.

Demitria Flores

Program Coordinator - Suitland High School

Demitria Flores joined Urban Alliance in November 2019 as the Suitland High School Program Coordinator. Before coming to Urban Alliance she worked with under-resourced youth and their families as an enrichment facilitator, an academic and life skills coach, and a summer camp career guide.

Demitria received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Leadership from Colorado State University. She recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a master’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies.

Laurentiis Gaines

PROGRAM SPECIALIST - Montgomery County

Laurentiis Gaines, Jr. joined the Urban Alliance team as the World Bank Program Coordinator in summer 2018. He stayed on to serve as the Program Coordinator for Montgomery County during the 2018-19 program year and became the region’s Program Specialist in August 2019. 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.

Alexis Hardy-Wills

Program Coordinator

Alexis Hardy-Wills joined Urban Alliance in August 2018 as a Program Coordinator in Northern Virginia, and moved to the DC region in the same capacity in November 2019. Before joining UA, she served as an AmeriCorps Achievement Fellow with Higher Achievement—a nonprofit organization specializing in middle school academic enrichment. In this role, her main focus was high school preparation for underserved eighth grade students, including assisting students and families with the high school application process in Washington, D.C. Alexis also has previous teaching experience with Kindergarten, fifth, and sixth grade students. Her years of mentoring, teaching, and building connections with young people are evidence of her strong passion for education. Alexis attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology.

Evan Metz

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.

Laura Montgomery

Alumni Services Director

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. In September 2020 she became the Alumni Services Director for the DC region. 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.

Alberto Otero

Program Coordinator

Alberto Otero joined Urban Alliance as a Program Coordinator for the DC region in March 2020. Before coming to Urban Alliance Alberto worked in several community-based organizations and schools, building more than 20 years of experience in classroom management, training and curriculum development, youth workforce development and direct service delivery.

A proud alumnus of Teach for America and a former 6th-grade classroom teacher, Alberto received his bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland College Park.

Sahaan Sozhamannan

Program Director

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.