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John D. Solomon Fellows
Meet this year's class of John D. Solomon Fellows:

Michael Castelblanco is a master in urban planning candidate at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. After eight years of military service in the United States Marine Corps, he has continued to pursue his dedication to serving others, most especially with vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. As a fellow with the NYC Department of Education, Michael is assisting the agency's emergency management team in developing and formalizing operations during an emergency response, and supporting agency efforts to improve information management and notification during emergencies.

Dara Fulton is pursuing a master's in human services from Concordia University. Dara volunteered during Hurricane Sandy where she gained experience in client casework and mass care, and is trained in coastal storm sheltering, disaster assessment, and client casework. She is a fellow with the NYC Department for the Aging, and is interested in learning more about emergency preparedness and planning.

Isabelle H. Lacson holds bachelor's degrees in international relations and economics from the University of Southern California, and is pursuing a master's in public administration at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, specializing in urban policy and management. Prior to her graduate education, Isabelle served as a chief of staff to a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, and also worked in the nonprofit/philanthropy sector in Los Angeles. As the intergovernmental affairs fellow for the NYC Office of Emergency Management, Isabelle is providing legislative, research, outreach, and project support to include city, state, and federal elected officials in emergency preparedness initiatives.

Natasha Murphy holds a B.S. in health sciences from Howard University, and is a master of public health candidate in health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition to her interest in health policy implementation, Natasha is interested in risk communication for vulnerable populations. Natasha is the public/private initiatives fellow at the NYC Office of Emergency Management.

Quentin O'Brien has a B.S. in environmental science (with a minor in ecological economics, values, and policy) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is a master of public health candidate in environmental health sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, where she is also pursuing a certificate in health and human rights. Recently, Quentin worked as an intern with the Fund for Public Health and DOHMH where she participated in a variety of projects related to food safety research. As a fellow at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, she is delving into the world of emergency preparedness and response from a health standpoint.

Scott Richmond received his bachelor's degree from Lehman College in political science and geography and a master's degree in urban planning from Hunter College, and is currently pursuing a master's degree in public administration at Baruch College. As well as being a full-time student, Scott worked as a photographer and was a volunteer firefighter in Australia. Scott enjoys working with technology and social media and is an avid Mets fan, and is a fellow with the NYC Fire Department (FDNY).

Denise Patel holds a B.S. in marine biology from the University of Miami, and is pursuing her master of public health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health with a focus on climate and health. A former AmeriCorps service member and environmentalist, she has dedicated her career to working with nonprofits to empower people and communities to improve their local environments. Denise is a fellow at the American Red Cross - Greater New York chapter and will work with ARC disaster program leaders, government and community partners to build relations, foster understanding, and define coordination roles and practices during large-scale emergency responses.

Claudia Triana is pursuing her master's degree in international educational development at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is interested in advancing the field of education in emergencies, with an emphasis on education access for displaced persons. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, Claudia worked in creating curriculum for refugee children targeting psychosocial needs. Claudia is the training and exercises fellow at the NYC Office of Emergency Management.

Gagan Verma earned an undergraduate degree from Barnard College in biochemistry, and is pursuing a master off public health at Columbia University's School of Public Health, studying environmental health science, with a concentration in applied biostatistics. She has extensive experience in both the social and private sectors, most recently completing a two-year fellowship with Teach For India in Mumbai, preceded by a Fellowship with AmeriCorps in Washington, D.C., as an HIV/AIDS outreach and education provider. As the NYC Digital fellow, Gagan is looking forward to an engaging and multifaceted experience with the aim of extrapolating current digital platforms into resources that can benefit New Yorkers and strengthen disaster preparedness systems.





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