Who We Are

Board of Directors

Aimee Peoples, Director of Labor & Management & Employee Relations, District of Columbia Public Schools 
(Board Chair)

Anjali Nagpaul, Director of DC Programs, Fair Chance (Secretary)

Betty FengConsultant (Treasurer)

Avni Gupta-KaganEducation Consultant, Gupta-Kagan, LLC

Dwanna Nicole, Executive Director, Restorative Justice Partnership

Jasmine Hicks, Director of Youth Leadership Development in Community and Youth Engagement, Truth Initiative

Joseph Pate, Digital Campaign Manager, Center for Community Change

John Kern, Founder and PrincipalBeta Strategy Group 

Lee Whack, Senior Development DirectorChalkbeat (Vice-Chair)

Ryan ComptonOf Counsel, DLA Piper

Nicole Newman, Executive Director

A writer, passionate advocate, and nonprofit professional, Nicole learned how to organize from her aunt and grandparents who, at an early age, exposed her to collective action by those most impacted demanding equity. She was taught by her mother to ask as many questions as satisfied her curiosity. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, she graduated from Trinity University with a Bachelor's in Political Science and her Master's in Organizational Development from American University, both in Washington, DC. She has spent her career focused on creating more equitable, people-focused organizations through training and conversation around racial equity and inclusion; community organizing and client engagement; advocacy; strategic growth and planning; and navigating change and conflict. Most recently, she was the Senior Specialist of Community Relations at the DC Public Charter School Board, where she managed public engagement on behalf of the board. She likes traveling, sunflowers, unicorns, the enneagram, and being in nature.

Marisa Stubbs, Director of Development & Communications

Originally from smalltown Mississippi, Marisa's family moved to the DC area when she was elementary school, and DC is now her second home. Marisa brings more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit administration, fundraising, youth development, program management, and curriculum development. Outside of a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa, she has focused primarily on building the capacities of youth and small, community-based organizations. Prior to Critical Exposure, Marisa served as Executive Director of Food For Life, a social enterprise and culinary job training program for DC youth that she founded in early 2011.

Felicia Ramos, Interim Operations Manager

Felicia hails from Chicago with an extensive background in advocacy, youth development, and program design. Felicia’s experience working within Chicago’s school and housing systems, as well as for non-profit agencies here in DC has expanded her capacity to support and empower marginalized young people. Through her work in Chicago’s nonprofit field, Felicia revamped and facilitated teen dating violence prevention workshops and forums for over 1,000 high school students. As the Program Director for the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) Groundbreakers, she had the unique opportunity to partner with 30 high school students to plan and build over 30 new playgrounds each year. During her most recent tenure as the Academy Director for a hip-hop and arts education non-profit here in DC, Felicia developed a visual arts apprenticeship program, systems for outreach and enrollment of young artists, and established effective working relationships with local professional artists, educators and school-based staff.

Lewam Dejen, Communications Coordinator

Lewam Dejen (Lew) calls Arlington, VA home– specifically its Black and Brown immigrant communities. At university, Lew studied International Relations with a concentration in Africa and Film & Media Studies. Her political commitments manifested through her journalistic work as co-founder of a progressive zine, and as an organizing member of several campus coalitions resisting racial and class violence. The principle that all people deserve love, safety, and community is one of her core beliefs, exercised through her work as a member of BYP100’s DC Chapter and facilitator of Black Feminist Book Club’s DC Chapter.

Renée Gaillard, Program Operations Specialist

Renée was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and then lived in Boston, MA for about 8 years. After graduating from Boston University, Renée first worked in the international education industry and then later served in AmeriCorps for two terms. While in AmeriCorps, Renée served under Mass Mentoring Partnership and managed all aspects of a teen mentoring program at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a resident-led, community-based planning and organizing entity. Additionally, Renée received a certificate in Nonprofit Organizational Leadership from Wheelock College and participated in various trainings including: a youth worker certificate program, trauma awareness and resilience, community organizing, and popular education. Renée now lives in Ward 6 (Southwest DC) and is excited to support CE's work in developing youth as leaders and change agents for their communities.

I-Ra Abubaker, Senior Program Coordinator

I-Ra is from Northwest DC. Before joining CE staff, she was a graduate of the CE Fellowship class. As a DC native and DCPS graduate, she understands all too well what it feels like to have your voice go unheard as a young person. She credits CE with being able to learn how to effectively use her voice to create change as a young person and is excited to share her experience with young people.Through her experiences, she bring a holistic and authentic approach to the work she does at CE.

Nadia Richardson, Senior Operations Coordinator

A native Washingtonian, Nadia participated in CE's Internship and Fellowship Programs and was then hired as a Summer Youth Facilitator before joining CE’s staff. She studied communications and multimedia and has also worked in DC schools, teaching the arts, such as dance and photography, to younger children. Having grown up as a Black girl in DC, Nadia is able to bring a relatable voice and understanding in her work with youth. She loves that CE values the voices of young people and works to uplift those voices.

Desmond Cole, Program Associate

Des is from Southeast DC. Before working at CE full-time, he was a CE Fellow and youth internship facilitator. He brings a youth-centered perspective to his work, and as a young person himself, understands what young people need. He is excited for the chance to work with young people, hear their thoughts and concerns, and find ways to address them.



Thalia Payne, Program Associate

Originally from Wisconsin, Thalia joined CE as a DC high school student and has always brought an authentic, honest, and optimistic perspective to CE. The last thing Thalia did before joining CE staff was work at a café. While that was cool, it wasn't what she wanted to be doing. As a CE alum, she is excited to be part of CE’s leadership for the DC Youth Collective because she wants to give young people a platform to bring positive and effective change, while helping them build new skill sets to be the best version of themselves.