Our Team

  • Felicia Akerele

    Felicia Akerele is a Masters of Urban Planning candidate, specializing in economic and housing development. Before pursuing her master’s degree, Felicia worked as a preschool teacher and later at two non-profits focused on empowering low-income communities of color. She graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a B.A. in Psychology and is passionate about creating safer and stronger predominately African American neighborhoods and cities – especially for children. 

  • Omar Al Faleh

    Omar Al Faleh joined NYU for a masters degree in Integrated Digital Media (IDM) at the Tandon School of Engineering in 2018 to work on urban data and location-based media using augmented reality and virtual reality. Omar has been working as a senior interactive developer and creative technologist for over 16 years, during which time he built multiple web and mobile applications in addition to interactive media installations. He has consulted for international and multi-national clients and agencies like adidas, Bombardier, Phizer, Garnier, Ogilvy, Sid Lee, and JWT. Omar holds a Bachelors degree in architecture from the University of Damascus, a second Bachelors degree in computer science with a major in computation arts from Concordia University, a Master’s degree in virtual reality from the University College London, UK. Omar published papers in many conferences on art, media, technology, and architecture, and was a graduate researcher at the Topological Media Lab at Concordia University, a part time faculty at the Design and Computation arts department at Concordia University, and is currently a graduate researcher at the NYU Furman Center.

  • Tristessa Arthur

    Tristessa Arthur is a first-year Masters of Urban Planning candidate, specializing in Economic Development and Housing. She received her Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Florida. She spent most of her time at UF working in Multicultural and Diversity student affairs, growing a passion for social justice and advocacy for under-represented populations. Tristessa is interested in furthering social equity with intentional urban development, and hopes to research issues of gentrification, economic inequality, land use/zoning regulations, and private-public partnerships.

  • Max Brueckner-Humphreys

    Max Brueckner-Humphreys is currently a MS candidate in Applied Urban Science and Informatics at NYU CUSP. He is interested in how cities can better leverage technology and data to influence equitable, resilient policy for the rapidly changing urban landscape. Max graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BA in Geography.

  • Alexis Captanian

    Alexis Captanian is a graduate student at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service,pursuing a Master of Urban Planning with a specialization in International Development Planning. Previously, Alexis worked at Prevention Institute, where she coordinated the organization’s Mental Health Team, focused on promoting mental wellbeing and preventing substance misuse through comprehensive population-level approaches. In her role, she facilitated Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys, a national initiative to transform community conditions that influence wellbeing, especially among boys and men of color, veterans and their families. She has contributed to research at the Public Health Institute identifying opportunities for action at the intersection of climate change, health, and equity, and has worked with a variety of other organizations in areas such as youth leadership, environmental education, and homelessness. Alexis studied as a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Health.

  • Maia Cole

    Maia Cole is a second-year student at NYU School of Law and a Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholar. Maia is passionate about housing justice and would like to work on issues of affordable housing, gentrification, and desegregation. She graduated from Amherst College in 2014 with a degree in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. After graduating, she worked as a civil rights paralegal at Relman, Dane & Colfax, working with attorneys on fair housing and fair lending cases. In this capacity, she saw the variety of barriers from government organizations, banks, and private individuals that her clients faced when trying to find and maintain their housing. Following two years as a paralegal, Maia moved to London to pursue her M.A. in comparative literature at SOAS, focusing primarily on African and African-American literature about slave narratives. 

  • Scott Davis

    Scott Davis is a second-year student at NYU School of Law. A native of the mountains of western North Carolina, Scott graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied English and Creative Writing. After college, Scott worked for a voting rights nonprofit, worked in publishing, and later spent a year as an AmeriCorps Vista member serving at a shelter for families experiencing homelessness in Durham, NC. Scott is interested in civil legal services - especially around the issues of eviction prevention and foreclosure prevention - and affordable housing policy.

  • Jiaqi Dong

    Jiaqi Dong is a first-year Master of Urban Planning student, with a specialization in Urban Analytics. She graduated from NYU Shanghai in 2018 with a B.S. degree, double major in Business and Finance and Interactive Media Arts. Her prior research focused on street food vending and urbanization in Shanghai, as well as bike sharing system data visualization and operation analysis. She is interested in economic inequality associated with urban planning practices.

  • Gabe Friedman

    Gabe is in his first year of NYU Wagner's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Public Policy. Gabe began his career as a Fulbright Fellow in Brazil. He returned to the United States to work on former Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s education policy team, then served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Education in the Office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Since then, Gabe has served in various education nonprofit organizations, most recently as Turnaround for Children’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. Gabe holds a B.A. in History from Yale University.

  • Emily Golchini

    Emily Golchini is a rising senior at NYU Gallatin's School of Individualized Study and office assistant at the NYU Furman Center. Her area of study combines elements of economics and psychology to understand the influencing factors behind human behavior. Before working at the Furman Center, Emily worked as a legal assistant at both Varghese & Associates, P.C. and The Margolis Law Firm. She is interested in how gentrification affects affordable housing across the city and how individuals can advocate for those in need of more affordable options.

  • Benjamin Heller

    Benjamin Heller is a first-year Masters in Public Administration student, specializing in Policy Analysis. Before moving to New York, he worked for Ernst & Young and for London's Metropolitan Police, focusing on organizational culture, ethics, and accountability; he also volunteered with the UK Restorative Justice Council. Ben graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in political science. He is interested in using research to understand and address neighborhood change, urban poverty, and crime.

  • Luis Hernandez

    Luis Hernandez is a Master of Urban Planning candidate at NYU. Before joining the NYU Furman Center, Luis worked on the policy and communications team at Airbnb for three years overseeing the East Coast and Canada team operations. He has also worked on several political campaigns, including the 2013 mayoral campaign of Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the targeting director, and held several positions on the 2008 Barack Obama campaign for President. Luis has also worked in Cleveland, OH as a community organizer where he helped create a neighborhood recreation league and worked on other economic development initiatives. He has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Dayton. 

  • Olivia Lee

    Olivia is an office assistant at the NYU Furman Center. She is currently a sophomore at NYU Stern School of Business, pursuing double concentrations in Finance and Computing and Data Science with a minor in English Literature. She is interested in learning about sustainable business practices and more specifically, how they address the needs of low-income residents and foster communities.

  • Anastasia Lopatina

    Anastasia Lopatina is a Master of Public Administration candidate at NYU Wagner specializing in Policy Analysis. She holds an M.A. degree in International Economic and Political Studies from Charles University in Prague. Before moving to New York, she worked on international development projects at the Institute for Capacity Development and Eurasia Foundation in Washington, DC. Anastasia is interested in exploring the relationship between geospatial and sociological factors and the effectiveness of public policy initiatives.

  • Brittany Mazzurco Muscato

    Brittany Mazzurco Muscato is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service, specializing in Public Policy Analysis. She also serves as a Teaching Assistant for two classes (Intro. to Public Policy and Public Economics) and as Co-Chair for the Wagner Policy Alliance. Prior to joining the NYU Furman Center, Brittany ran her own marketing, digital media, and public relations consultancy for non-profit organizations and has given several talks on social media marketing at industry conferences across the country. She has a B.A. in Marketing and Music Business from the Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

  • Kayla Merriweather

    Kayla Merriweather is a junior at New York University in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, concentrating in Race, Politics and Spanish. On campus, she is a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar, the Chief of Staff for the Black Student Union, and the Chair of the Student Government Assembly’s Student Success Committee. Passionate about social justice, advocacy, and public service, Kayla plans to attend law school after graduation with hopes to become a lawyer and eventual politician.

  • Chris Shenton

    Chris is a rising second-year student at NYU School of Law. Chris graduated from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Literature/Creative Writing in 2014, and continued working at the university before coming to NYU. Chris is interested in how land use policy affects affordable housing, fair housing, and racial inequality, and hopes to work on housing justice and sustainable development after law school.

  • Xingzhi Wang

    Xingzhi Wang is a Master of Public Administration candidate at NYU Wagner, specializing in financial management and public finance. In addition to his research position at the NYU Furman Center, he is working with Professor Bialek as a teaching assistant of public finance at NYU Wagner. Growing up in one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, he is passionate about financial reforms and sustainable growth, as well as research focusing on fiscal policies and financial stability. Xingzhi holds a B.A. in Finance from Shanghai International Studies University.