Accelerator and Post-Accelerator Fellows
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
LinkedIn has hosted networking events, recruited hundreds of volunteers, sponsored our Summit, donated product, and opened up their API, enabling us to track our Fellows’ job success over time. Braven is a proud member of LinkedIn’s Network Gap Coalition.
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.
Generous investments from our supporters fuel our model and complement the financial support we receive from our university and employer partners.
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.
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).
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.
Semi-Retired Teacher, Community Volunteer
Susan Dunn is a retired elementary school teacher who has spent the past 15 years as an active volunteer and philanthropic supporter focused on educational opportunities for children in under-served communities. She volunteers twice a week in the KIPP schools in Newark, NJ with students in elementary and middle schools.
Although raised in California and Washington state, Susan lived in New Jersey for 2 decades and continues to have strong connections there through her board service with Teach for America: New Jersey, The Nature Conservancy, and Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties. Susan is herself a “Big Sister” and she and her “Little Sister” have been matched for 8 years. Susan serves on the national and Newark boards of BRAVEN, a program to empower college students with skills for strong first jobs. Through the Braven experience, Susan has expanded her volunteering to colleges and now serves on the Trustee Board of Spelman College, a women’s HBCU in Atlanta. In New York City, where Susan now lives, she serves on the board of Soho Rep., an innovative small theater.
Susan taught at Kent Place School and The Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey. Prior to her career in education, Susan worked at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Media Planning on accounts like Mattel Toys, Kimberley Clark and American Express.
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 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 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 Simon is an Executive Director on the Advancing Black Leaders team at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He is responsible for leading the Student Strategy, which includes a portfolio of initiatives and programs to increase acquisition and retention of black talent. Primarily, Jonathan partners with campus recruiting and university relations teams to identify and coordinate recruitment efforts that support firm-wide campus hiring initiatives. In his role, Jonathan is also charged with deepening strategic partnerships across internal and external campus recruiters, diversity leaders, stakeholders and recruiting staff. Additionally, Jonathan is responsible for JPMorgan Chase’s firmwide recruitment strategy at HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities).
Jonathan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role. 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.
We are sitting at a historic crossroads as a country, and we have the opportunity to create a more just world for all Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic, the senseless murder of Black Americans by police and the resulting protests have forced a reckoning with the racism that’s embedded in our national DNA. Our systems have produced an unjust and inequitable America — not just in policing, but in health care, housing, criminal justice, education and the economy. As Black Americans, community members and leaders of nonprofits — Braven Newark and Project Ready — who are seeking to make a change in the lives of underrepresented students and families, we’ve seen solvable educational and economic inequities go unsolved for decades. Addressing these inequities will require a tectonic shift in our approach to race and a focus on equity as our guiding principle when we rebuild these broken systems.
Braven, a nonprofit founded in 2013 with a mission to empower first-generation college students, particularly low-income students of color, has something to celebrate. According to its new 2020 Newark Jobs Report, in 2019, 130 Braven Fellows graduated from Rutgers-Newark University and 75% of graduates have had “strong job attainment” within six months of graduation, compared to 46% of their peers.
Fellows graduating from their university-embedded program at Rutgers University-Newark are outpacing their peers by 30% in economic opportunity attainment.
Braven – Newark
c/o Teach For America
50 Park Place, Suite M200
Newark, NJ 07102
Sophomore and first-year transfer students are preferred, but the course is open to all undergraduate students in all majors who are:
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.
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:
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
The course takes place virtually.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.