The image shows four individuals sitting on a bench outdoors. The person on the far left is wearing glasses with a thin frame, a dark purple long-sleeved top, and dark pants. The individual sitting next to them is wearing a light-colored turtleneck sweater and pants with a creamy or off-white hue. The third person from the left is dressed in a vibrant pink turtleneck sweater and has their hair styled in twists. The person on the far right has on glasses, a light scarf, a cream-colored sweater, and dark pants. They all appear to be smiling and enjoying a sunny day. Behind them, we can see a tree, a statue, some buildings, and a blue fence, indicating an urban setting.

Welcoming back our 2023-2024 Civic Innovation Fellows!

Our Spring Semester is here and we want to welcome back our 2023-2024 cohort of Civic Innovation Fellows! Rashante and Samantha have been with BetaNYC since the Fall semester, but Chris, Jovany, Brianna, and Bianca are newly onboarded with us. The four new fellows experienced our public interest tech curriculum while taking a social psychology class at the CUNY College of Staten Island. We’re excited to see how this cohort will transform with more students from various degrees, boroughs, and backgrounds!

Ashley, BetaNYC’s Chief Technology Officer, hosts a QGIS workshop with the fellows.

This semester is divided into two sections. The first is where all fellows learn 101 workshops on data visualization, data bias, pivot tables, QGIS, and more. The second section is focused on hosting Mapping for Equity events during Open Data Week and beyond. Fellows will be divided into various teams: technical, event production, and documentation teams. They all learn to collaborate, manage projects, and create inclusive and informative mapping events. 

Mark March 16th and March 20th on your calendars as we launch our first two-part mapping series with the fellows! Sign up here for upcoming announcements and links to RSVP to events.

The first event will focus on mapping outside in McCarren Park and the second will focus on data entry and how to incorporate the appropriate tags on OpenStreetMap (OSM). 

Our fellows always help us better evolve our fellowship program and the Mapping for Equity project to be more advanced, more nuanced, and more inclusive. We are so grateful for their insights, motivations, and contributions, always. Welcome again!

Rashante Garland (she/her)

Hi! My name is Rashante Garland. I am incredibly grateful to be returning to BetaNYC this semester. This time around, I am excited to further explore open data analytics and ways that my community and myself can get involved. Additionally, with the arrival of Open Data Week, I am looking forward to networking with the attendees and stepping into possible leadership roles to develop better decision-making making, communication skills and to become more adaptable.

By the end of the semester, I look forward to applying all the skills that I have learned to my future roles in the community, at work and even in my social life.

Bianca Ghirardelli (she/her)

Hi! My name is Bianca Ghirardelli. I am currently attending the College of Staten Island (CUNY) and pursuing my Bachelors degree in Psychology. As a Civic Innovation Fellow, I am looking forward to gaining more knowledge and tools to help communities in need. I am also excited about the connections I will make during this semester. 

I am a born and raised New Yorker. I enjoy going to the city to find new places to eat. In my free time, I like to write reviews for movies and tv shows. I also like to go geocaching which is a great way to explore the city even more. The career I hope to achieve one day is becoming a human resources specialist. Participating in the Civic Innovation Fellowship will help me make connections with fellows who have knowledge to pass on.  

Thank you for this opportunity, BetaNYC. 

Jovany Mendez (he/him)

Hey, my name is Jovany Mendez. I am currently attending the CUNY-College of Staten Island (CUNY-CSI) and am expected to graduate this May 2024 with a BS in Psychology. I’m excited to be a part of the Civic Innovation Fellowship because I would love to learn new innovative ways to help my community with open data. I want to further grow my tools, resources, and knowledge of open data, civic tech, and more to help communities in need.

I am a born and raised Brooklyn Native. One of my favorite things is going out for a nice bike ride. It helps save on gas money and is a good way to exercise. Fun fact, I’ve actually biked from Brooklyn to New Jersey. I couldn’t feel my legs the next day, but it is something I can say I’ve done. Aside from biking, I share a passion for photography. I aspire to be a psychiatrist, and my goal in life is to open my own private practice. Within this space, I plan to provide free counseling for people who can’t afford to pay to see a mental health professional. Growing up in a Hispanic household, having depression/anxiety is unheard of and I think sometimes people are afraid to tell their families or to open up to them. I would love to be a safe haven for them. I just want to give back to the community that has given me everything. The community of people that have made me who I am.

Thank you for having me, BetaNYC.

Samantha Sinnerine (she/her)

Hi! My name is Samantha Sinnerine, and I’m thrilled to be returning to BetaNYC for another semester of exciting opportunities! As a senior majoring in Computer Science, I am enthusiastic about exploring how technology and data can reshape the urban landscape for the better.

This semester, I look forward to diving even deeper into the world of civic tech. I’m excited to learn more about innovative approaches to problem-solving, challenge myself to tackle complex issues, and further hone my skills in data analysis and design. By the end of the semester, I aspire to take the lessons I’ve learned and apply them to real-world situations. Whether it’s through creating innovative solutions or collaborating with fellow enthusiasts, I am to contribute to meaningful projects that go beyond theory, making a tangible and positive difference in the lives of New Yorkers!

Chris Stern (they/he)

Hey! My name is Chris Stern. I’m currently attending the College of Staten Island (CUNY CSI) and I am majoring in Computer Science. I am very excited to join the Civic Innovation Fellowship because I will be able to learn skills that can be applied in most places and use this as a medium to give back to the community. Having an opportunity to experience the combination of technology/data and civic engagement is not one I want to turn down. 

I am a born and raised Brooklynite who also enjoys running around the city at times. One fun fact about me is that I have always enjoyed photography, enough to also minor in it at college. I have a DSLR camera and am taking classes that allow me to better myself in the world of photography. One thing I hope to accomplish through BetaNYC is seeing what other opportunities I may have access to that involve helping others. I have grown up with an involved parent, so something that always resonates with me is giving back to the community, especially to those who need support the most.