Introducing our 2023-2024 Civic Innovation Fellows!

A person on a Citi Bike riding next to a colorful mural and trees.
One of our Apprentices, Nicholas, rides on a Citi Bike next to a colorful mural and trees.

It’s our favorite time of the year again–when we get to introduce our new cohort of Civic Innovation Fellows! Let us do the honor of introducing the 2023-2024 cohort who, this Fall, are going through our Civic Innovation Fellowship curriculum that focuses on civics, using data and technology for the benefit of New Yorkers, and mapping the public realm! 

With the decentralization of CUNY Service Corps, we have expanded partnerships, and our fellows this year are coming from new colleges. Two of our fellows are from Queens College Service Corps, a continuation of CUNY Service Corps specifically for Queens College students. Two other fellows are from Queensborough Community College and have undergone the Using Cloud Technologies to Develop the Data Analysis Skills of Community College Students 2023 summer boot camp, and they’ve joined us to apply their skills and continue to learn with us. 

We have developed a critical partnership with the Public Interest Technology University Network at CUNY College of Staten Island. Our mapping for equity curriculum is being used in a 212 Social Psychology class, where 6-8 additional students from this class will join this cohort in Spring 2024.  

With this expansion, we hope to increase our open data and digital civics by holding more Mapping for Equity events led by our fellows during 2024 Open Data Week, by increasing data collection on public space in OpenStreetMap, and by giving the next generation of civic technologists the tools to succeed. 


Nadia Baguaei

Hey! My name is Nadia Baguaei, I am a sophomore at Queensborough Community College, majoring in Information and Internet Technology. I am thrilled to be working alongside BetaNYC as a Civic Innovation Fellow, hoping to bring an efficacious impact to NYC. I also hope to make the great outdoors of NYC great again, in this fast-paced society we live in, we should be able to enjoy our spaces without traveling to the great beyond to find it. 

Similarly, I myself love adventure, camping, hiking, ziplining, you name it I’ve probably done it. Though what pulls me into that is the views I see while going on my little excursions. Night or Day the views are amazing! I also love reading, so there’s a balance of adventure and calmness. I guess you can say I’m an ambivert. 

Rashante Garland

Hi! My name is Rashante Garland. I recently graduated from Queensborough Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Engineering Technology. As a Civic Innovation Fellow, I am most looking forward to learning more about open data, playing a part in improving the lives of New Yorkers through data, and working on a project that I can show future employers.

During my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I love quality time and ensuring that my circle feels loved and cared for. I am drawn toward any activity that includes adventure, whether that’s ziplining, hiking, jet skiing, or jumping off of shipwrecks; I love them all. 

Samantha Sinnerine

Hi! My name is Samantha Sinnerine, and I’m a senior at Queens College majoring in Computer Science. I am excited to work alongside BetaNYC as a Civic Innovation Fellow for the opportunity to bring positive and progressive change to my community through civic technology, data, and design! During this fellowship, I hope to work on projects that directly impact New Yorker’s lives while gaining a deeper understanding of open data and its intersection with public policy and civil rights. A fun fact about me is that I love fashion and upcycling clothing. For me, it’s not just a creative outlet but also a way to promote a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle.

David Zhai

Hello! My name is David. I am a Quantitative Economics major and Computer Science minor at Queens College. As a Civic Innovation Fellow at BetaNYC, I look forward to working with open data to highlight and solve possible problems with NYC and improve public data that can benefit everyone. Being able to supply data for public officials or advocates for a better NYC is a fulfilling experience. A fun fact about me is that I do not sleep much despite wanting to most of the day.