Staff and Board

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

Martha’s Table Juniors Program Coordinator

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 then becoming the Martha’s Table Juniors Program Coordinator.

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.

Laurentiis Gaines

Program Director

Laurentiis M. Gaines, Jr. is the Program Director for Urban Alliance, in which capacity he oversees internships for over 200 high school youth in the Greater DC Region. He joined Urban Alliance in 2018 where he has served youth in various roles on the Greater DC team. Previously, Laurentiis interned for US Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. in his Albany, GA District Office, and later in the Congressman’s Capitol Hill office through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

A native of Augusta, GA, Laurentiis is a 2016 graduate of The Unsinkable Albany State University with a degree in Political Science. While at Albany State, he had the honor of serving as the President of the Student Government Association for the 2015-2016 academic year. He is a Spring 2014 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and a 2015 initiate of Alpha Psi Omega, National Theater Honor Society. During his time at Albany State, Laurentiis also served as a 2016 Fellow with the Georgia Democrats and a Campus Organizer with the Clinton for America campaign.

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.

Stefanie Marin

Program Coordinator - Northern Virginia

Stefanie Marin joined Urban Alliance in June 2019 as a Northern Virginia Program Coordinator. Stefanie is from Alexandria, VA and a graduate of T.C. Williams High School, one of the schools UA serves in Virginia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in children and youth from George Mason University. As a first-generation college graduate, she enjoys working with students from similar backgrounds and helping them to succeed.

Jannel Monroe

Montgomery County Program Coordinator

Jannel Monroe joined Urban Alliance in February 2021 as the Montgomery County Program Coordinator. Before coming to Urban Alliance, she served as an Administrative Pastor for three years, then as an Interim Lead Pastor at the New Life Fellowship, located on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI.

A native of Montgomery County, Jannel completed a Bachelor of Arts in theology from Andrews University. She went on to obtain a Master of Divinity from the Andrews Theological Seminary in May 2020. During the tenure of receiving her education, Jannel served in multiple leadership and advocacy capacities that helped to support, empower and equip youth for success.

Laura Montgomery

Director of College and Career Readiness

Laura Montgomery serves as the Director of College and Career Readiness for Urban Alliance in the Greater DC Region. In this role, Laura oversees all college and career readiness support, underclassmen programming,  and continued engagement of Urban Alliance DC alumni.  Previously, she was responsible for oversight and guidance of direct service staff, interns, and recruitment and retention initiatives in the High School Internship Program. Laura first joined Urban Alliance in the summer of 2014 as a Communication and Curriculum Outreach Intern. 

Laura is a proud Washingtonian who believes deeply in the potential of young people in the District, and the distinct value of their contributions to the professional world they enter through Urban Alliance. Laura graduated from Virginia Tech where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.  

Erica Myers

Director of External Partnerships

Erica Myers became the Director of External Partnerships Greater DC Region in June 2021. She joined Urban Alliance Baltimore in October 2016 as a Program Coordinator and then became the Baltimore Director of Alumni Services in January 2019.

Erica obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spelman College and a master’s degree in education with a concentration in community and social change from the University of Miami.

Erica has always been passionate about equipping youth for success and analyzing the systems that impact them. She is excited to use her extensive direct service and relationship management to support current job partners and attract new employers to Urban Alliance.

Kameshia Tolliver

Regional Associate

Kameshia Tolliver joined Urban Alliance as the Regional Associate for Greater DC in May 2021. A 2015 alumna of the High School Internship Program, Kameshia received her bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Delaware State University. Before coming to Urban Alliance she supported the daily operations of a DC real estate construction and management organization. She aspires to give back to under-served youth by providing them with tools to help them develop integrity, self-sufficiency, and financial literacy.

Rajon Ward

Program Coordinator

Rajon Ward joined Urban Alliance as a Washington DC Program Coordinator in May 2021. Before joining Urban Alliance, Rajon worked with Washington DC’s very own Step Afrika as a teaching artist, serving students in Ward 8. He also worked in Prince George’s County Public School System as a teacher and coach.

A Washington DC native, Rajon received his bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business administration from North Carolina Wesleyan College. An educator, mentor, and advocate for youth development, he hopes to continue preparing youth for career success.