A new chapter in Newark

With a bold vision, strong leadership, and deep community engagement, Newark is working towards a strong economic future for all residents. Joining Newark in 2015, Braven is proud to be a partner in this community-wide effort.

Braven – Newark Jobs Report (2021)

The Work Ahead

Newark is poised for a renaissance, but only if all local talent thrives. The city’s established companies are growing, mixed-use development is booming and start-ups are being incubated. Yet 30% of Newark’s residents are living below the poverty line and 20% of Black residents are unemployed. Braven has joined forces with Rutgers-University Newark and local employers to help the Newark community meet its ambitious goals around college and career success.

An Innovative University Partnership

Chancellor Nancy Cantor and her team at Rutgers University – Newark have partnered with Braven since Fall 2015, and, to date, Braven has served more than 700 Rutgers – Newark students. Braven Fellows receive 2 elective credits for taking the Accelerator course. In the 2018-2019 school year, 93% of Braven Fellows identified as people of color and 58% were first-generation college students.

Employers fueling a new generation of local leaders

With a mix of well-established companies and start-ups, Newark employers are looking for innovative talent solutions to help them hire a new generation of local talent and ensure the strength of their community. With an anchor employer partnership with Prudential and strong support from companies ranging from Enterprise to Audible to College Board, local employers are leveraging Braven’s professional development opportunities for their employees while helping to build their future talent pipeline.

The Newark Braven Community

Our Fellows, volunteers, Employer Partners and University Partner are working together to ensure all college graduates are set-up for success.


Accelerator and Post-Accelerator Fellows


of Rutgers-Newark Braven Fellows are persisting in or have graduated from college


of Braven Fellows still in school have had a career aligned internship within the last year

Newark Area Schools

Rutgers University – Newark

  • Dates:  September 1, 2020 – December 15, 2020
  • Final Enrollment Deadline: September 1, 2020
  • First Week of Class – Fall 2020: Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday, September 1/2/4

Newark Employer Partners

Our employer partners encourage their employees to participate in Braven’s professional development and engagement opportunities, sponsor events and learning experiences, provide access to externship, internship and full-time opportunities, and offer critical financial support.

Anchor Partners

Deloitte sponsored Mock Interview Nights, treks, and pro bono projects in Chicago and the Bay Area.


Our Anchor Partner NBA Foundation is committed in supporting all of Braven’s regions through employees volunteering as Leadership Coaches and Professional Mentors. Their commitment to serving our Braven Fellows highlights what it means to be Braven and to live your legacy.

NBA Foundation

Prudential became Braven’s first anchor employer partner to help build a pipeline of strong talent and provide opportunities for students to be career-ready in Newark, their headquarters for more than 140 years.


Salesforce is an anchor partner committed to the idea that the next generation of leaders needs to emerge from everywhere. The company was a seed funder of Braven NYC. They have also hosted student events in NYC, Chicago, and the Bay Area and sponsored the Career Booster nationally.


Our Anchor Partner Workday is committed in supporting all of Braven’s regions through employees volunteering as Leadership Coaches and Professional Mentors. Their commitment to serving our Braven Fellows highlights what it means to be Braven and to live your legacy.


Keystone Partner

Innovation Partners

Impact Partners

Access Partners


Newark Supporters

Generous investments from our supporters fuel our model and complement the financial support we receive from our university and employer partners.

$250,000 – $999,999

Sarah Peter

Susan & Thomas Dunn

$100,000 – $149,999

$50,000 – $99,999

Arbor Brothers

John & Wendy Cozzi

$20,000 – $49,999


$5,000 – $19,999

Edison Foundation

Nick & Ellie Colucci


Alice Ricks

Benevity Community Impact Fund

Deep Patel

Desiree Vazquez Barlatt

Fuad Ligali

Hakim Thompson

Heidi Eggert

Isabel Siragusa

Jeffrey Key

Kim Johnson

Matt Iversen

Shadene Grant

Shannon Birk Jibaja

Sue Kalman

Thomas Lewis Brown


Newark Team

Adwoah Adomako

Adwoah Adomako

Program Manager, Accelerator

Adwoah oversees the overall student experience of Braven at Rutgers University-Newark. She runs operations and logistics for Learning Labs and Braven events, and supports the Post-Accelerator experience.


Alina Yang

Alina Yang

  • Site Director, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Alina oversees Braven program implementation at Rutgers University-Newark. Alina ensures the successful execution of the Accelerator course, recruits and trains volunteers, and builds and supports partnerships with the university, employer partners, and other stakeholders.


Elena Baurkot

Elena Baurkot

Associate Software Engineer

Elena is Braven’s Associate Software Engineer and works with the tech team to help implement features for Braven’s software.


Joshua Owusu-Gyimah

Joshua Owusu-Gyimah

Data Analyst – Braven X/Online

Joshua currently works on the Braven X/Online team as a Data Analyst. Prior to Braven, Josh worked as a Project Manager at The Chad School Foundation in Newark NJ from 2015 – 2020, overseeing their scholars program and assisting the Executive Director in policy and grant-making efforts. With a background in Information Systems and Economics, Josh is an alum of Rutgers University Newark. He loves to spend time with his church youth and watch basketball with friends.


Lissete Estrada

Lissete Estrada

  • Program Manager, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Lissete oversees all student recruitment and the overall student experience of Braven at Rutgers University-Newark. She runs operations and logistics for Learning Labs and Braven events, as well as overseeing the Post-Accelerator experience (student club and e-board).


Vince Marigna

Vince Marigna

  • Executive Director, Newark
  • Newark, NJ

Vince joined Braven as the Executive Director of the Newark Region in 2018, where he is responsible for the growth and sustainability of the region. Before joining Braven, Vince assumed the role of Chief Academic Officer and Chief People Officer for KIPP New Jersey, and Vince’s position as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member inspired him to dedicate his life’s work to ensure all students have access to a quality education. After completing his two-year corps commitment, he joined the staff of TFA in 2005 as a Program Director. Vincent worked closely with corps members to identify skill gaps, set goals for closing those gaps, and create plans that helped them achieve significant gains with their students.


Newark Board of Directors

Jackie Rider

Jackie Rider

Vice President and Private Banker, J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Jackie is a Private Banker with J.P. Morgan’s Private Bank.  She leads a team of experts who support wealthy individuals and their families by providing advice and creative solutions to address the full spectrum of their wealth management needs.

Before rejoining in 2017, Jackie worked at Citi Private Bank as a Private Banker.  She spent the first ten years of her career in equity research most recently as an Analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, covering the Healthy Lifestyle segment within Consumer Products.

Jackie is an active member of the Montclair Art Museum, participating on the Development and Events committees.  She is a former member of the Junior League of Montclair-Newark and Impact 100 Essex.

Jackie holds a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry from New York University.  She lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband Sean and has three children.

Lisa Amato

Lisa Amato

Board Chair of The Writing Revolution

Lisa is an active volunteer, serving a variety of education and health organizations over the past 20 years. She is currently the Board Chair of The Writing Revolution, a nonprofit organization that trains educators and supports schools and districts in implementing the Hochman Method, an evidence-based method of expository writing instruction.

Lisa also serves on the KIPP New Jersey board, Newark, NJ chairing the KIPP Through College & Career committee. She also serves on the BRAVEN Newark, NJ Board, Partners for Health Foundation Board, Montclair, NJ and the Montclair Art Museum Board, Montclair, NJ. Lisa is a member of the New York Museum of Modern Art Contemporary Arts Council.

After raising their three children in New Jersey, Lisa and her husband Joseph now live in New York City.

Liz Almeida

Liz Almeida

Director of HR Business Partners, Panasonic North America

Liz is presently Director of HR Business Partners for Panasonic North America in Newark, NJ.  Prior to joining Panasonic, Liz held different HR roles in the technology, education and retail sectors both in the US, EMEA and LatAm. Her focus is on effectively balancing the needs of employees with the business strategy. She started her career as an INROADS intern with Prudential in Newark.  Liz studied Labor Relations and Psychology at Rutgers New Brunswick and remains a proud Scarlet Knight.  She is a mom to two boys, a dog and a bunny.

Matt Iversen

Matt Iversen

  • Braven Newark Board Chair
  • Associate Vice President, Wells Fargo

Matthew Iversen is a Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors.  He and his team focus on the wealth management needs of families, privately held businesses, and foundations.  Prior to joining Wells Fargo Advisors, he and his team worked at Merrill Lynch Bank of America.  

Matt was born and raised in Montclair, NJ.  He graduated from Connecticut College in 2000 with a double major in Government and Spanish.  Upon graduating, he worked on Al Gore’s Presidential campaign and the subsequent election recount in Florida. After the recount ended, Matt went to work for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in Washington, DC.  The following year Matt returned to New York City to complete a year-long Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. 

Driven by a belief that strong democracies are based upon social justice and access to high-quality education for all children, Matt joined Teach For America in 2003 and taught in the Bronx.  Matt spent six years teaching at his original placement school PS 170. He consistently led his students to achieve 1.5-2 years of growth. His students, unfortunately, often regressed or stagnated academically in the years after leaving his classroom.   This harsh reality led Matt to seek out a teaching environment that ensured positive growth for all students year after year. 

So in 2009, Matt joined a small team of like-minded educators tasked with founding KIPPNJ’s first elementary school SPARK Academy in Newark, NJ.  Matt along with eight other teachers and their school leader, Joanna Belcher, set out to establish a consistent, results-driven educational pipeline for students in Newark, NJ.  Matt spent six years teaching at SPARK Academy bringing the school to and through full growth, serving over 500 children in grades K-4. After 12 fulfilling years in the classroom, Matt changed careers in 2015 to build a practice in Wealth Management.  

Matt currently lives in Montclair, NJ with his wife and daughter.  He serves on the boards of the Montclair Film Festival, Teach For America NJ, and Braven.  

Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn

Semi-Retired Teacher, Community Volunteer

Susan has been working for educational equity in Newark, NJ since 2004. She currently volunteers with K-8 students in the KIPP schools. She is the co-chair of the Teach For America – New Jersey Board and also serves on the board of Braven and the local Big Brothers / Big Sisters. Susan’s other commitments include the New Jersey Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Montclair Public Library Foundation. She received a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Chicago and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Bank Street College.

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer, KIPP New Jersey

Ryan is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KIPP New Jersey and was the founding principal of TEAM Academy, a KIPP middle school in Newark, New Jersey’s South Ward. Prior to founding TEAM Academy, Hill was a Teach For America corps member in New York City, where he taught sixth grade.

He is a winner of the Bank of America Local Heroes Award and the New Schools Venture Fund Impact Award. Ryan is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and he holds an M.Ed. in Education Leadership from National Louis University. He is also a graduate of the Broad Academy for Urban School Leadership.

Solomon Steplight

Solomon Steplight

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Prepfoleo

Solomon is an entrepreneur, tech aficionado and education advocate who has spent his career creating opportunities for students and parents. After earning a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania, Steplight went on to lead a number of education software startups. He then turned to public service, managing the finances of both Newark (under Mayor Cory Booker) and Hoboken – improving the latter’s credit rating from near junk bond status to AA+.

He currently serves as COO and CFO of the national nonprofit Girls Who Code, where he strives to shrink the gender and racial achievement gap in tech.

Rick Radice

Rick Radice

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, Prudential Financial

Rick Radice is the Chief Operations Officer for Law, Compliance, Business Ethics, External Affairs (LCBE). Radice provides day-to-day leadership and management of the service organization dedicated to supporting the 700+ associates of LCBE. Radice also serves on the PRU/Rutgers University Advisory Council where he provides strategic support of the BRAVEN program rollout at Rutgers-Newark. Recently named member of BRAVEN’s Newark, NJ Board of Directors.

Most recently, Radice was the primary contact with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s examination staff in connection with Prudential’s prior designation as a non-bank systemically important financial institution (SIFI). Previously, Radice led the Global Business Solutions Center which provides consulting services to support individual or cross-business strategic initiatives. Radice also served as the executive chairperson of Prudential’s Project Management Council from 2006 – 2016. During the last 25 years, Radice has led or been a part of teams that have successfully completed more than 90 strategic initiatives for Prudential’s businesses. Radice has also managed various operations functions including the company’s Mail & Imaging and Executive Transportation Services departments.

Before joining Prudential, Radice was a licensed financial advisor for PNC Financial and CitiStreet. His responsibilities included managing retirement plans for individuals as well as employees of various state and local municipalities.

Radice holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Rutgers University.

Jonathan B. Simon

Jonathan B. Simon

  • Braven Newark Board Member
  • Executive Director – Head of Student Strategy Advancing Black Leaders, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Jonathan Simon is the Head of Leadership Development and Diversity for Apollo Global Management. Prior to this role, he was an Executive Director on the Advancing Black Leaders team at JPMorgan Chase & Co. responsible for leading the Student Strategy, which included a portfolio of initiatives and programs to increase acquisition and retention of black talent. Primarily, Jonathan partnered with campus recruiting and university relations teams to identify and coordinate recruitment efforts that support firm-wide campus hiring initiatives. Additionally, Jonathan was responsible for JPMorgan Chase’s firmwide recruitment strategy at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities).

In prior leadership roles at Citi, he was a Director in Corporate & Investment Banking in the Global Public Sector group and, previously, was the Head of Diversity and Employee Programs for Citi’s Institutional Clients Group.

Jonathan remains actively engaged with several professional and non-profit organizations, which includes serving as Chairman of Montclair Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees in Montclair, NJ; member of the Art Acquisitions Committee of the Montclair Art Museum; Trustee of Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ; member of the Advisory Board of the Honors Program at the Howard University School of Business in Washington, DC; He is a former member of the Acquisitions Committee of the Studio Museum of Harlem; and a former member of the Board of the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) in New York City. Jonathan is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and holds an Honors Degree in Finance. He is married to his wife of 17 years, Sidney, and has two children – McKenzie and Jackson.

Newark Stories

Local Nonprofit, Braven, Helps Rutgers-Newark Student Land Job Straight Out of College

Rutgers University-Newark student Christelle Louis shares her experience in Braven and how it provided her the ability to pursue a successful career path.

Read More

NBA Awards Newark Nonprofit Grant to Sustain Outreach Programs

Braven can further support its programs aimed to create employment opportunities in Black communities thanks to a recent grant from the NBA Foundation.

Read More

Students will graduate soon. We need to help them find a job during a pandemic.

We must expand inclusive programs like Braven, elevate the visibility of Rutgers-Newark, and support public policies that level the playing field.

Read More

Contact the Newark Team

Braven – Newark
c/o Teach For America
50 Park Place, Suite M200
Newark, NJ 07102
Email: vince@bebraven.org

Braven Accelerator: Fall 2021

Rutgers University – Newark


Sophomore and first-year transfer students are preferred, but the course is open to all undergraduate students in all majors who are:

  • In good academic standing and able to register for a 3-credit elective course during the semester
  • Able to meet virtually once a week on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 6pm to 8pm, or Fridays from 11:30 am-1:30 pm, during the semester
  • Able to commit an average of 4-5 hours a week to this course

Course Description

This course prepares students for the increasingly competitive, globalized job marketplace. Through online and peer learning, interactive experiences, and reflection, students will build meaningful networks, discover their innate leadership, and cultivate the “hard” and “soft” skills and habits of mind needed to thrive in twenty-first-century workplaces. This course will require your commitment. Nothing good comes easy, but this course will be equally rewarding as it is challenging.

Course Section

The Braven Accelerator is a 3-credit elective course that meets Tuesday or Wednesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, or Friday mornings from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. The course is housed under the HLLC:

  • HLLC Special Topics II: Braven Accelerator

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Exercise habits to persist through and thrive beyond college
  • Know and demonstrate the skills and mindsets employers hire for
  • Navigate the workplace
  • Build a record of achievement and apply skills to land a career-accelerating internship or research opportunity
  • Expand personal and professional networks
  • Lead with their assets and values


The course takes place virtually.

Enroll Now

Volunteer in Newark

We are looking for professionals from all fields who are willing to share their career experience, personal stories, and unique talents with our diverse and driven Fellows.

All volunteer opportunities will be virtual while social distancing orders are in effect. To receive alerts about upcoming volunteer opportunities:


Please contact alina@bebraven.org with questions.