Introducing Year 7 Civic Innovation Fellows

Fellows and staff during our first virtual meeting

Introduction to the NYC Civic Innovation Fellowship Program

The Civic Innovation Fellowship is a unique opportunity for CUNY Service Corps fellows to learn all about NYC government, local communities, and how data and technology can help strengthen our City’s civic life. Being immersed in BetaNYC’s Civic Innovation Lab allows fellows to develop a deeper understanding of civic technology, data, design, and community engagement. For this unique year – Spring 2021 – our program consists of a 14 week program through which fellows will learn to deliver Open Data Trainings for communities across New York City.

On January 29, 2021 we welcomed a special cohort of CUNY Service Corps fellows, on the heels of an immensely fraught year, who emerged with hope and enthusiasm. We have students hailing from Westchester County, Nassau County, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice, LaGuardia Community College, and New York City College of Technology. Please meet these new fellows below!

This program is a partnership between the Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, BetaNYC, CUNY Service Corps, and Fund for the City of New York. The program is supported by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Data & Society Research Foundation, the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, and New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

Kiona Barnes

Hello, I am Kiona and I am a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice working on my bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology. I’m excited to join the 7th cohort of the Civic Innovation Fellows because I enjoy community organization and I hope to expand my knowledge in organizing and analytics. I anticipate the connections I will develop here that will last me a lifetime and the experience of working in an area where I can grow my skills as an effective communicator. A fun fact about me is that I absolutely adore psychological thriller movies and I love being in the dark. It has become a running joke with my friends that if you call me on video, all you will see is a pitch dark room.

Vansh Sharma

My name is Vansh Sharma and I am originally from India where I was born and raised. I emigrated in 2019 and instantly fell in love with New York City. Currently, I’m working on completing my Associates degree in Computer Science at LaGuardia Community College and plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in this major upon transferring to a four year-college. Fun fact about me is that I’m a fan of art and music, especially 80’s rock.

I am fortunate to be a part of the 7th cohort of Civic Innovation Fellows where I will learn to use open data along with data-driven tools to support the community board members of New York City. In addition, I will have a clear understanding of what happens behind the scenes of civic engagement along with the necessary knowledge for developing technology-based solutions. I’m really excited about this opportunity and look forward to serving our community officials for the betterment of our city.

Joseph Liu 

My name is Joseph Liu. I am a senior at the New York City College of Technology. I currently major in Data Science. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Informatics. I am excited to join the 7th cohort of Civic Innovation Fellows because I will be able to gain more experience working with data, meet new people, and get more involved with NYC. I am a Chinese-American born in the USA. I spent most of my life living in Brooklyn. A fun fact about myself is that I have a habit of hoarding things, including the stuffed animals from my childhood, video games that I haven’t touched in years, and the piles of notes I’ve accumulated from all my college classes.

Sarah Park

My name is Sarah Park and I am a junior majoring in criminology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I am also in the ACE program at John Jay. I am excited to be part of the Civic Innovation Fellowship because of my interest in policy and the government structure. Working on how government data can be more accessible to local communities is what I am looking forward to. I also look forward to gaining experience and furthering my knowledge in the relationship between technology and the public. I grew up in NYC that exposed me to diversity and allowed me to stay connected to my cultural background. A fun fact about me is that I have some experience working with kids. I used to be an after-school teacher and a teacher’s assistant at a Korean school.

Aaryan Nair

I am a sophomore at City Tech and I am very interested in large projects related to the environment or energy, and generally improving the quality of life of the urban population.  I see this as a great way to earn experience in a field I am highly passionate about, and something that I would consider as my future employment niche. I have several college-level intensive research experiences in the field of Energy Principles, Sustainability and Material Science, including a 600 hour long intensive Research program at CUNY in developing cleaner alternatives to conventional concrete as a building material. This would help build cheaper, environmentally cleaner homes which could be built with much less energy and pollution.

I’ve also had experience organizing large scale events such as the IIMUN (The largest MUN series across Asia) where I served as Under-Secretary General of Student Affairs and various debate and quizzing events on a regional and national level. Presently on a STEM research front, I am also leading a team of High School students in the field of STEM research in Engineering Product and Research Development in creating devising composite material blends in wind-turbines to reduce the risk of lightning strikes.I hope this would encourage confidence in renewable energy.

Avi Severino

My name is Zoellys Severino but I go by my preferred name Avi. I was born and raised in The Bronx. I’m a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, majoring in Fraud Examination and Financial Forensics. I’ve journeyed through many colleges and majors from computer engineering to biochemistry, I seem to gravitate towards science but I feel like I’ve found my home with my interest in fraud and financial forensics. This major has opened my eyes to many new interests like policy work, cybersecurity, and ethics. A fun fact is that I enjoy sports like competitive swimming, hockey, and soccer. Though I cannot play the latter two, I do enjoy supporting teams and the leagues by watching games.

I’m really excited to be part of the 7th cohort considering that we almost didn’t happen, so I’m extremely happy to be part of this short program. The CIF program will be my first ever time working within a nonprofit as well as working in a data analytical space. I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the city I call my home and use the experience to continue being an advocate for transparency and civic engagement.