Young Invincibles grew up in a law school cafeteria in Washington, DC, after co-founders Ari Matusiak, Aaron Smith and a few friends realized that young people’s voices were not being heard in the health care debate. We always do our work in partnership with other organizations and committed individuals across the country. If you want to partner with us on any of our work, please let us know. We would love to work with you.
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Come meet them the folks who make up the YI team!
Washington, DC Office
Jen Mishory, Executive Director
Rory O’Sullivan, Deputy Director
- Tobin Van Ostern, Advisor for Strategic Partnerships
Marcus Braxton, Senior Director of Operations & Finance
Gabriela Batista, Senior Manager, HR & Operations
- Kalleigh Landstra, Finance and Operations Manager
- Morgan Golin, HR and Operations Coordinator
- Raychl Speigner, Director of Foundation Relations
- Brittany Alexander, Development Coordinator
Clarissa Unger, Strategic Partnerships Manager
- Hillary Farrow, Strategic Partnerships Coordinator
- Michael Madoff, Technology Development Manager
- Areeba Hasan, Strategic Partnerships Coordinator
- JeVonna Ephraim, Strategic Partnerships Fellow
Aaron Smith, Senior Strategic Advisor & Co-Founder
- Jasmine Hicks, National Field Director
- Erin Hemlin, National Training Director
Christina Postolowski, Health Policy Manager
- Cristina Calvillo-Rivera, Campaign Outreach Manager
- Tom Allison, Deputy Director of Policy & Research
- Reid Setzer, Policy & Legislative Affairs Analyst
Colin Seeberger, Strategic Campaigns Advisor
Nina Smith, Communications Director
- Sarah Schultz, Press Secretary
- Laura Adviento, Digital Campaign Manager
- Adriana Scott, Engagement & Storybook Coordinator
- Krieg Rajaram, State Outreach Coordinator
- Brittany Claybrooks, Virginia Navigator
- Vanessa Garcia, Virginia Navigator
- Sade Moonsammy-Gray, Virginia Navigator and Organizing Manager
Los Angeles, CA Office
Chicago, IL Office
New York, NY Office
Houston, TX Office
- Rebecca Fowler, Senior Outreach & Communications Coordinator
- Michelle Castillo, Southern Policy Director
Washington, DC Office
Jen Mishory, Executive Director
Jen Mishory is the Executive Director and a founding staff member of Young Invincibles. Jen has conducted extensive research and authored numerous reports on health, higher education, and economic issues facing the Millennial generation. She has testified before Congress in both the House and Senate on the issue of financial aid and student loans, and serves as a member of the inaugural Consumer Advisory Board of the CFPB. She also served as the consumer advocacy negotiator for the Department of Education’s 2012 negotiated rulemaking around student loans, and previously served as a consumer representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, where she worked with Insurance Commissioners around the country to ensure strong consumer protections in the health care industry for young people.
Jen has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, and PBS, among other media outlets. Jen graduated with honors from UCLA in 2007 and received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2010. She is admitted to the California bar. Jen hails from Los Angeles, CA, and is an avid fan of all UCLA sports teams.
Aaron Smith, Senior Strategic Advisor & Co-Founder
Aaron is a native of Yonkers, New York, an honors graduate of Swarthmore College (’04), and a cum laude graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (’10). After college, Aaron interned in the office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen and then worked for Emmaus Services for the Aging, a non-profit working to keep seniors in their homes in DC. He served as campaign manager for a State Assembly race in Yonkers in 2006, and went on to become the chief legislative aide for the Yonkers City Council President. While serving the city, Aaron helped to author a local living wage law and an affordable housing ordinance, and to create the first Yonkers Green Policy Task Force to promote environmentally friendly policies for the city.
Since co-founding YI, Aaron has appeared in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Politico, and PBS NewsHour, among other media outlets, discussing a variety of issues impacting young Americans from the cost of college to unemployment to health care. In December 2010, he testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, and has met repeatedly with President Obama and top lawmakers around critical youth policy issues. Aaron was selected as a young Jewish leader as part of the Jeremiah Fellowship in 2011, was a Politic365 Game Changer in 2012, and is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Aaron believes strongly in the power of young Americans to change the world. He also serves as the President of YI Advisors, the Millennial engagement consulting arm of Young Invincibles.
Rory O’Sullivan, Deputy Director
Rory is the Deputy Director at Young Invincibles where he directs the organization’s policy and advocacy strategy. He is an expert in a variety of issues related to young adults including federal financial aid, skills acquisition, youth employment, health insurance coverage, and consumer information.
Rory serves on the Board of Directors for the Campaign for College Opportunity. He was also the student negotiator for the Department of Education’s 2013 negotiated rulemaking on the gainful employment regulations.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, MSNBC, Reuters, Business Week, and the LA Times among others. He graduated from Pomona College in 2006 with a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and completed a joint J.D./M.P.P. in 2011 at Georgetown University.
Tom Allison, Deputy Director of Policy & Research
Tom Allison is the Deputy Policy & Research Director at Young Invincibles, responsible for the organization’s research and data analysis, products ranging from major econometric reports to monthly data pulls and fact sheets about young adults in the economy, health care, and education. His specialties include federal education statistics, state higher education budgets, survey design and implementation, focus groups, temporal analyses, and demographic comparison research.
Tom brings a communications acumen to his work as well, understanding that even the best research will fall short of its goals without a concerted communications strategy. He’s appeared live on MSNBC, and been quoted in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Vox, Forbes, and others.
Tom earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mary Washington and his Master of Public Policy from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy at George Washington University.
Christina Postolowski, Health Policy Manager
Marcus Braxton, Senior Director of Operations & Finance
Marcus is the Senior Director of Operations and Finance at Young Invincibles and oversees the organization’s finances and general operations. Marcus has over eight years of experience in the nonprofit sector and is an expert in nonprofit governance, compliance and operations.
Marcus has previously worked for organizations in the social sector such as Arabella Advisors, a philanthropic consulting firm where he managed approximately $25 million in various philanthropic initiatives, and the Pew Charitable Trusts where he supported the organization’s fundraising efforts.
Marcus is a graduate of Rhodes College and is currently pursing his MBA from Johns Hopkins University. He is originally from Tennessee and enjoys spending free time relaxing at home and catching up with friends.
Tobin Van Ostern, Advisor for Strategic Partnerships
As the Advisor for Strategic Partnerships, Tobin manages external partnerships that help advance the organization’s mission to expand opportunities for young Americans. He previously was the Deputy Director of Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress. There he focused on overseeing the development of policy recommendations that help young adults and the coordination of the government affairs work that leads to their enactment.
Prior to his work at the Center for American Progress, Tobin was the co-founder and National Director of the official student wing of the Obama for America Campaign.
He is a graduate of The George Washington University where he received a B.A. in International Affairs and specialized in conflict and security studies. He has been interviewed or written about by ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox News, Inside Higher Ed, NPR, PBS, Politico, RealClearPolitics, techPresident, The Hill, The Nation, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, Univision, and others. Tobin also serves as the Vice President of YI Advisors, the Millennial engagement consulting arm of Young Invincibles.
Raychl Speigner, Director of Foundation Relations
Raychl is the Director of Foundation Relations for Young Invincibles, where she is responsible for leading and managing the foundation relations efforts to reach fundraising targets.
Prior to working at Young Invincibles, Raychl worked for the nonprofit KaBOOM! as the Coordinator of Foundation Relations. She was very dedicated to ensuring that all kids get the childhood they deserve through play. In this role, Raychl wrote grant proposals, letters of inquiry, cultivated new foundation partnerships, developed and managed program budgets, and worked with individual donors. Raychl also has experience working in Community Relations for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns and National Basketball Association. Raychl has a M.S. in Sport Management from California University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Sports & Leisure Humanities from The Ohio State University.
Raychl is a Cleveland native and a diehard sports fan. She spends her time watching Cleveland sports, Ohio State football, shopping, traveling to beauty tradeshows and learning how to cook.
Colin Seeberger, Strategic Campaigns Advisor
Colin Seeberger is Young Invincibles’ Strategic Campaigns Advisor, leading public education and outreach efforts around higher education reform and the 2016 elections. Colin formerly served as Young Invincibles’ Press Secretary where he led the daily execution of the organization’s media outreach strategy. Colin came to Young Invincibles from BerlinRosen Public Affairs’ National Public Affairs practice, where he worked with clients dedicated to social and economic justice. He also worked with Grindstone Research during the 2012 and 2014 campaign cycles.
Colin studied Political Management with a concentration in Strategic Communications at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and graduated summa cum laude from Pace University’s Pforzheimer Honors College in New York City. He is a native of Dallas, Texas, the home of his beloved Dallas Cowboys, and enjoys cycling.
Erin Hemlin, National Training Director
Erin Hemlin, National Training Director, grew up in Sugar Land, Texas just outside of Houston. She has a B.A. in Political Science from St. Edward’s University (‘08), and a M.A. in Political Science with a focus in American Politics and Government from George Mason University (’12).
After moving to the Washington, DC area, Erin interned for the Congressional Research Service where she contributed to CRS reports in government operations, such as reports on the demographics of Members of Congress, rules and authorities of committees, committee expenditures, and other areas of congressional administration. She later worked as a legislative research intern for The Sheridan Group, a DC-based advocacy and government relations firm dedicated to social change. At The Sheridan Group, Erin focused on federal education policy, technology-based economic development, poverty, and other domestic social issues.
In her position as Health Care Campaign Director, Erin manages the outreach strategy for YI’s Healthy Young America campaign, as well as the on-the-ground organizing work across the nation. She also contributes research, analytical, and writing skills to the policy team on public policy questions affecting young adults.
Jasmine Hicks, National Field Director
Gabriela Batista, Senior Manager, HR & Operations
Gabriela Batista grew up in New York City and the Dominican Republic where she saw first hand that one person can make a difference. Gabriela’s mother helped hundreds of individuals with disabilities and raised millions of pesos to help fund the local chapter of the Dominican Rehabilitation Association. This served as a major inspiration for Gabriela to join an advocacy organization like YI. By obtaining a B.A. in Organizational Psychology at PUCMM in Santiago, Dom. Rep. and various HR Certifications in the US, Gabriela has over 8 years of practical knowledge in organizational development, HR law and conflict resolution as well as a passion for service and community.
She has worked in various industries ranging from government contracting, construction and hospitality, where she was a key player in building culture, leading change management and developing talent. Gabriela’s worldview is informed by her experiences traveling all over the world from Caribbean nations, Europe and Central America. This is reflected not only in her sense of fun and zest for life, but also in how she approaches Human Resources and leadership.
In her downtime, Gabriela can be found taking part in culinary adventures around DC, booking last minute travel, at some random underground concert, or visiting her family in New York.
Cristina Calvillo-Rivera, Campaign Outreach Manager
Cristina is a Campaign Outreach Manager at YI. Prior to joining YI, Cristina was a youth program specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) of New Mexico where she created and implemented educational programming on underage drinking and DWI prevention throughout the state of New Mexico. Cristina’s experience in public speaking, community engagement, organizing, and educational programming has been ongoing for over ten years. She has served in leadership and activist roles in diverse communities where she has utilized her experience as an LGBTQ Diversity Trainer and storyteller as means of activism.
Cristina received a B.A. in Communication Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies at the University of Texas El Paso and a M.A. in Educational and Organizational Leadership at the University of New Mexico. Cristina is a self identified Chicanariqueña and proud to call El Paso, Texas her home. She misses El Paso Mexican food and the smell of desert rain.
Reid Setzer, Policy & Legislative Affairs Analyst
Reid is the Policy and Legislative Affairs Analyst at Young Invincibles. In his capacity at YI, Reid is responsible for maintaining relationships with Hill staff, partners, the Administration, and other stakeholders in the context of YI’s health care, young parents, higher education and youth jobs advocacy strategies, as well as conducting policy research and writing about those topics.
Reid graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh and moved to Washington D.C. to study at Georgetown University Law Center in 2010. While enrolled at Georgetown Law, Reid did legal research and writing at the Center for American Progress and interned for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He also had the pleasure of working at Young Invincibles as a Legal Intern in the summer of 2012, and graduated from Georgetown Law with his Juris Doctorate in 2013. Reid is originally from Northern New Jersey, and enjoys reading and going to baseball games.
Konrad Mugglestone, Policy Analyst
Konrad is the Policy Analyst at Young Invincibles, responsible for writing policy reports and conducting statistical analyses. Raised in South Carolina, he grew up in a family of educators and environmental advocates who instilled in him a passion for political affairs. He completed his undergraduate work in Political Science and History at Furman University, and earned a masters degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to his responsibilities at Young Invincibles, Konrad is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Maryland in American politics and public policy. During his spare time, he enjoys a good game of flag-football, plays his guitar, or watches the West Wing all over again.
Kalleigh joined Young Invincibles in July 2014 as the Operations and Finance Coordinator. Previous to joining YI, she worked as a digital literacy instructor at a community based organization in DC, with the aim of bridging the digital divide through adult education. In addition to teaching classes, Kalleigh worked on connecting community members to resources online allowing then to apply to jobs, earn a GED or High School diploma, and use social media for the first time.
Kalleigh grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received a Bachelors of Arts in Media Arts & Technology from Michigan State University in 2012. While in college, she worked with many different organizations focusing on issues including LGBT and women’s rights, racial justice, youth advocacy, and environmental/food justice.
In her spare time, Kalleigh can often be found in her kitchen trying a new vegetarian recipe while watching far too many documentaries on Netflix.
Hillary Farrow, Strategic Partnerships Coordinator
Hillary Farrow is a Strategic Partnerships Coordinator at Young Invincibles. Hillary recently graduated from The George Washington University where she received a B.A. in International Affairs and specialized in Global Public Health and a minor in Sociocultural Anthropology. While in school Hillary interned for Cornerstone Government Affairs where she assisted in tracking legislative activity, synthesizing research on various policy issues, and organizing Hill days for clients. She also worked as a Government Relations intern 1-2-1 Strategies and Government Relations where she focused on healthcare, immigration, and privacy and data security issues. In addition Hillary spent time at FOOD Share, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to providing food security, nutrition education and advocating a reduction of the root causes of hunger, where she helped to develop the Kids Farmer’s Market Program. Hillary is originally from Southern California, and enjoys cooking and reading in her spare time.
Brittany Claybrooks, VA Navigator
Brittany Claybrooks serves as a Virginia Navigator. As a former assistant community engagement coordinator at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Brittany shares a passion for making a difference in the lives of youth and their communities, particularly those that are underserved.
In addition, to her involvement with community relations, Brittany brings a wealth of administrative, leadership, and organizational skills as she has served on the planning committees for several national conferences and has assisted in the evaluation and improvement of two Florida State government agencies. More recently, she is a recent alumnus of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Emerging Leaders program where she interned in the House Democratic Cloakroom under the Office of former Speaker and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Brittany is a native of Detroit, Michigan and a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University with a bachelor of sciences degree in Health Care Management.
Michael Madoff, Technology Development Manager
Michael is the Technology Development Manager at Young Invincibles, where he directs the YI Advisors mobile application development offering. He also consults YI Advisors’ partners and clients on technology strategy.
Originally from Brookline, MA, Michael moved to DC in 2009 to attend Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and graduated cum laude with a B.S. in International Politics. While at Georgetown he served as communications director for student government and interned for Senator Bernie Sanders. During a semester abroad, Michael witnessed events of the Arab Spring and became inspired by the possibilities for digital technology to drive political change.
Prior to joining YI, Michael worked as a research associate at the Moffett Group, a boutique strategy consulting and government relations firm. He then joined the Public Sector consulting practice at Citrix where he managed software implementations and technology strategy for Fortune 500 and government clients. In his spare time, Michael loves to travel and explore new places.
Areeba Hasan, Strategic Partnerships Coordinator
Areeba is a Strategic Partnerships Coordinator at Young Invincibles. She is originally from the great state of New Jersey, and graduated with a B.A. from Rutgers University. She recently finished her Masters in Middle Eastern Studies, with a focus on post-war economic redevelopment, from the University of Chicago. During her time at U of C, she completed an intensive Arabic program at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, and researched post-war reconstruction companies focused in downtown Beirut.
Prior to coming to YI, Areeba worked for the Morris County Trust for Historic Preservation, and interned for the Alliance for Positive Youth Development; a national initiative focused on collecting best practices and developing effective strategies to support youth needs. She also interned for Parsons Brinckerhoff: Middle East in Kuwait, and worked on sustaining business relationships between PB and the Ministry of Public Works. In her spare time, Areeba enjoys traveling and running.
Sarah Schultz, Press Secretary
Sarah Schultz is Young Invincible’s press secretary. She joins the organization after spending several years working at a New York City based public relations agency. During her time there, Sarah worked on developing and implementing strategic communications campaigns for clients across a number of industries with a special focus on nonprofit organizations in the healthcare space. At Young Invincibles, she oversees media relations and press inquiries.
JeVonna Ephraim, Strategic Partnerships Fellow
Jevonna Ephraim has an extensive background in community health and health policy research demonstrating her passion and commitment to addressing health equity and increased access. Originally from Tulsa Oklahoma, JeVonna received a Masters of Public Health in Health Administration & Policy from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a Bachelors of Science in Health Education & Promotion from Oklahoma State University.
Prior to joining Young Invincibles, she served in previous positions with a DC public policy consulting firm working to promote equity and eliminate social injustices in communities of need and also as a Researcher within the Health Planning at the Oklahoma State Department of Health working to promote various state health initiatives such as streamlining the state’s health reform marketing strategy, exploring Medicaid efficiencies, team-based care models, payment reform approaches, and healthcare workforce retention strategies
Gustavo Herrera, West Coast Director
Gustavo is the West Coast Director for Young Invincibles, where he is responsible for leading YI’s California offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, including its West Coast expansion. As director, he sets strategic direction and advances YI’s policy priorities on health care, higher education and jobs for the region.
Before starting at Young Invincibles, Gustavo was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of L.A. Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LAPCA), overseeing the day-to-day operation of a county museum. He managed senior-level staff in administration, fundraising and external affairs, and was responsible for strategic planning and government relations.
From 2010-2012, Herrera led the Maestro Foundation, a classical music and performance arts foundation, as the Director of Organizational Development. Between 2007-2010, he assessed and recommended business growth strategies in the US marketplace for the global Fortune 500 Company, American Honda Motors, Co.
Herrera holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from American Jewish University, formerly the University of Judaism, and a dual Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with an emphasis in socio-politics and economics and Art History from the University of California Santa Barbara. Herrera served on the Board of Directors of the Create:Fixate Arts Organization (2006-2010).
Kristin McGuire, CA Director of Partnerships & Organizing
Kristin grew up in Wentzville, MO and Palmetto, AL. Growing up in very small towns, Kristin realized early on that her voice stood out and often differed from public opinion. This still holds true today.
Kristin built her career advancing social justice movements. She has worked for various organizations advocating for disenfranchised communities, from paroled young adults to those without access to quality heath care. Kristin has played a large role in shaping and implementing some of the most progressive tobacco policy in Southern California, namely smoke-free housing, parks, and outdoor areas in Compton. Prior to joining YI, Kristin spent the last three years operating her own campaign consulting business in Los Angeles.
Kristin received her B.S. in Public Administration from CSU Dominguez Hills. When she isn’t trying to change the world, Kristin is a PTA mom, blogger, and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. — the best sorority in the world.
Chicago, IL Office
Eve Rips, Midwest Director
Eve Rips is the Midwest Director for Young Invincibles, where she is responsible for the development of all programs in Chicago, Illinois, and the Midwest, as well as for overseeing the Midwest office on a day-to-day basis.
Before starting with Young Invincibles, Eve was a legal fellow and attorney with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Her work there focused primarily on issues of educational equity in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, and included components of impact litigation, direct representation, policy work, and community organizing.
She received her juris doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School in 2012 and her BA from Stanford University in philosophy with honors in ethics in society. She is a Chicago native and loves the city, even in January.
Elena Sakopoulos, Midwest Outreach Coordinator
Elena is a Northern California native who moved out to Chicago in 2011. As a political science and human rights student at the University of Chicago, she developed a passion for community organizing and youth civic engagement. Before arriving at Young Invincibles, she interned at Chicago Votes, where she registered young Chicagoans to vote and engaged them on state and local policy issues. She now chairs Chicago Votes’ alumni engagement committee. Elena also worked as a field organizer on a city council race in Chicago, and interned with Democracy for America’s electoral campaigns department. She is excited to work with Young Invincibles to continue elevating young voices on crucial policy issues.
New York Office
Kevin Stump, Northeast Regional Director
Prior to joining Young Invincibles, Kevin served as a board memebr and later interim Executive Director of an immigrant and labor rights organization in New York City and Long Island. Before then, he was part of the Roosevelt Institute where he worked with young adults across the country to address local challenges by research, writing, and advocating for progressive policy solutions.
Kevin spent four years at the New York Public Interest Research Group where he was responsible for leading its higher education policy work. This included budgetary and policy issues involving SUNY and CUNY, opportunity programs, community colleges, student loan debt, and more. During his time at NYPIRG, Kevin started and led the Coalition to Reform the NY Tuition Assistance Program that had two statewide legislative victories in its first year.
He has testified before the New York State Legislature, Board of Regents, and the New York City Council and has written several issue reports and policy briefs. Kevin has appeared in the Gotham Gazette, Next New Deal, Truthout, Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, and others. He has also appeared on the Regional News Network and CBS Evening News as well as NPR. He received a B.S. from SUNY Plattsburgh in Community Organization & Advocacy and is half way through his MPA at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College. Follow him at @KevinStump.
Ryann Wenke, New York Organizing Fellow
Ryann was raised in the Hudson Valley but has spent the past four years in the Bronx attending Manhattan College. She recently received her B.A. in psychology and spent her time interning at two nonprofit organizations. The first organization was Project Sunshine, an international nonprofit that aids children with medical challenges and their families by providing social, recreational, and educational services. The American Red Cross was the second organization she interned with, where she was a Club Consultant and provided guidance to Red Cross Clubs in Manhattan and the Bronx. In her spare time, she loves to read memoirs of inspiring people, act in plays, and spend time with friends and family. Ryann is thrilled to be part of Young Invincibles because of their mission to help young adults across the country.
Gabe Recchio, Hudson Valley Navigator/Organizer
Gabe is currently helping expand Young Invincibles’ reach into the Hudson Valley region of New York as our Hudson Valley Organizer and Navigator. Gabe started organizing and advocating professionally as a canvasser with the New York Public Interest Research Group, working on an ultimately successful campaign to ban fracking in New York. He went on to lead NYPIRG’s outreach and organizing efforts in various different communities and college campuses across New York, focusing on building student-led campaigns on voter registration, public higher education access and affordability, financial justice and environmental protection. He grew up in the western Finger Lake region of upstate New York and went on to attend State University of New York (SUNY) colleges by NYC (SUNY Purchase) and in the North Country of New York, graduating from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2012 with a B.A. in sociology. He has helped organize rallies and lobby days, taught organizing workshops on campaign tactics, public and persuasive speaking, and civic engagement. He is most passionate about achieving tangible policy change and inspiring life-long advocates.
Jose Sanchez, Southern Regional Organizing Director
José Eduardo Sánchez is the Southern Regional Organizing Director for Young Invincibles, where he is currently responsible for advancing the organization’s work in the state of Texas. He comes from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, but has called Houston home for the past 17 years. Throughout his professional experience, he’s been committed to fighting for social change through innovative, community-based policy and research initiatives. His organizing and campaign work has led to legislative victories on the state and municipal level improving conditions for low-wage and immigrant workers – including the passage of the first-ever Houston Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance and Texas Wage Theft Law. In 2011, he co-founded the YO Collective, a capacity building organization for young organizers in the Houston area. He’s also worked directly with students of color to improve higher education opportunities at the MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs and in various public health projects targeting young people with the UT School of Public Health. He’s currently a Greensboro Justice Fund Fellow at the Highlander Center. José Eduardo attended Rice University and the University of Houston-Downtown, where he received his degree in political science.
Marianela Acuña Arreaza, Southern Organizing Director
Marianela Acuña Arreaza is the Southern Organizing Director, where she is currently responsible for building networks of young adults who have the power to make changes in the region.
Marianela was born and raised in Venezuela, and she accidentally migrated to the U.S. She started organizing through the United Students Against Sweatshops and the Student Farmworker Alliance while studying sociology and arts at the University of Houston. Meanwhile, she lead quantitative research on day laborers and the issue of wage theft and volunteered at the local Interfaith Workers Justice Center.
After graduating with honors, Marianela worked on several participatory research projects: first, volunteering with the Food Chain Worker Alliance, then she coordinated local initiatives with the National Domestic Worker Alliance and with Houston United, a coalition for migrants’ rights.
Voting rights and civic engagement have also driven Marianela’s career. She has led educational and GOTV campaigns, as well as voter protection programs, with national non-profit organizations in the region, such as Mi Familia Vota, Texas Civic Engagement Table, VoteRiders, and Common Cause.
Her deep passion for facilitating collective learning and democratic decision-making has kept her consistently involved in movement building since 2008 outside of work as well. In 2014, Marianela coordinated a grassroots and intergenerational community organizing training series for people of color in Houston. In the same year, she was a recipient of the Houston Peacemaker Award, a Greensboro Justice Fund Fellow at the Highlander Center, and co-founded of a social justice school in the Houston Area.
Rebecca Fowler, Senior Outreach and Communications Coordinator
Rebecca Fowler is the Senior Outreach and Communications Coordinator at Young Invincibles, having joined in May 2014 as an Organizing Fellow. Her work centers on engaging young adults on issues of health care, higher education and workforce development, and connecting them with decision makers in the community to ensure their voices are heard. Rebecca is a proud Texan, growing up in the beautiful capital city, Austin. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, where she studied Government and Middle Eastern Studies and earned the honor of Distinguished Scholar, graduating in the top four percent of her college. While enrolled at the University of Texas, Rebecca interned in the Texas House of Representatives as a legislative aid during the seventy-eighth Texas Legislature.
Prior to coming to YI, Rebecca joined AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service to America (VISTA), a national service program. She served with a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase college access and success for low-income, first generation students in Houston. Upon completion of her term of service with AmeriCorps VISTA, Rebecca continued in the college access and success field. Her expertise in this area led her to manage AmeriCorps members during their year of service, and to develop the foundation of CollegeCommunityCareer, a non-profit dedicated to college success, as Program Director. In her free time, she enjoys watching anything that is food or travel related, and photographing Houston’s street art. Rebecca is an active member of the Volunteer Houston Young Leaders, Young Non-Profit Professionals Network, and Houston AmeriCorps Alums.