September 13, 2012
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces the Members of the Inaugural Class of Empire State Fellows

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces the Members of the...

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the members of the inaugural class of Empire State Fellows.


The nine fellows, selected from a pool of more than 900 applicants, hail from diverse backgrounds and varied professions and were selected on the basis of their academic and professional experience, leadership potential, commitment to public service, as well as creativity.


"It is so important to recruit talented professionals into public service, and thats the main goal of the Empire State Fellows program," Governor Cuomo said. "These men and women will bring new energy, ideas, and experiences to public service, as well as helping us create a new generation of leaders to guide our state's future. I welcome this first class of Empire State Fellows as they join with us in building a New New York."


The Empire State Fellows Program is designed to prepare a new generation of leaders for policy-making roles in New York State government. The Governor appointed each Empire State Fellow to a position in the executive branch matching their skills with the needs of state government. The fellows will work closely with senior administration officials, participate in the policy-making process, and engage in educational and professional development seminars at the Rockefeller Institute at SUNY Albany. Fellows may be selected to continue to serve in New York State government after completing the program.


The Empire State Fellows Program is a part of Governor Cuomos New NY Leaders Initiative, a new program put in place to renew the connection between the public and private sectors and prepare a new generation of leaders to serve in state government. In addition to the Empire State Fellows program, the Student Intern Program places students within the Executive Branch of government to gain hands-on experience serving the people. The Intern Program also provides interns opportunities to interact with government leaders and policy makers.


Information regarding the New NY Leaders Initiative and the Empire State Fellows Program is available at The 2012-2013 Empire State Fellows biographies are included below.


2012-2013 Class of Empire State Fellows


Michael Baer
Michael Baer most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer for JP Morgans US Equity, Global Multi-Asset Group, Private Equity, and Hedge Fund of Funds investment platforms where he was responsible for financial planning and strategy for more than $180 billion in client assets and financial oversight of an operating budget of over $275 million. Michael writings include policy papers about the use of social impact bonds as a new outcomes-based social finance investment vehicle in financing water supply and sanitation services in developing countries. Michael earned a Bachelor of Science in business management from Babson College and a Masters of Science of Global Affairs at New York University. Michael is certified as a Chartered Financial Analyst and a marathon runner and tri-athlete. Placement: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


Tamara Dews
Tamara Dews most recently managed the Business & Legal Affairs division of Sony Music Entertainment where she led the team responsible for identifying ancillary markets to promote and distribute Sonys music. Tamara earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and politics from Mount Holyoke College and an Intellectual Property Law Certification from the New York University School of Professional & Continuing Studies. Tamara serves on the Board of Directors of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow and speaks Italian, Spanish, Latin and some Japanese. Placement: New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities


Alejandra Diaz
Alejandra Diaz rose to Lead Experience Architect at NTT DATA, INC. where she managed a team in developing qualitative research approaches and uses the resulting audience insights to inform and design services, system interfaces, business processes, and communication strategies primarily in the pharmaceutical space. Alejandra earned a Bachelor of Arts in the History of Science, History of Medicine from Yale University, and a business certificate from the Columbia University School of Continuing Education. Alejandra serves on the New York community advisory board for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and HIV Prevention Trials Network. Placement: Executive Chamber


Rebecca Dixon
Rebecca Dixon most recently ran the Unemployment Insurance Modernization campaign for the National Employment Law Project in Washington, DC. Previously, Rebecca worked with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, which supported low-income working families and families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in English, and a law degree from Duke University and has taught courses on public interest lawyering at George Washington University School of Law. Placement: Executive Chamber


Samuel Filler
Sam Filler most recently served as the Director of Programs for the Transportation and Land Use Collaborative (TLUC), an urban planning consulting firm in Southern California that specialized in stakeholder engagement in Latino communities. Samuel was also a Coro Fellow in Southern California and a Americorps member with City Year. Samuel earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Vassar College, and a Master of Urban Planning from the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. Samuel speaks intermediate-level Spanish. Placement: Empire State Development


Jennifer M. Gomez
Jennifer Gomez most recently served as a Legislative Counsel at the New York City Council, where she advised council members on a wide array of issues, including the impact of policies instituted by the Administration for Childrens Services, the Department of Homeless Services, and the Human Resources Administration. Previously, she Jennifer was a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law and was a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett LLP. Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Latin American Studies, cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College and a JD from University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She is currently a board member of the Dominican Bar Association. Jennifer is a native Spanish speaker, conversant in French and Portuguese, and speaks basic Italian. Placement: New York State Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance


Dylan J. Hayden
Dylan Hayden served for six years in the United States Navy as an Arabic and Pashto-Afghan linguist, including a tour in Afghanistan. Dylan has worked at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, where he helped implement a revolutionary electronic fare collection system at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Dylan earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the State University of New York at New Paltz and an Associate of Arts in Modern Standard Arabic from the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, in addition to his Master of Public Administration from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Dylan is an avid SCUBA diver, holds a Private Pilot certificate and speaks Arabic and Pashto. Placement: New York Department of Labor


Kisha Santiago
Kisha Santiago most recently served as Vice President and Senior Project Manager at Rosenberg Housing Group (RHG), a private affordable housing development company that specializes in working with public housing authorities on mixed-finance projects. Before joining RHG, Kisha served as a Program Assistant for YouthBuild in Harlem, a General Management Coordinator at Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, and a Community Outreach and Special Events Coordinator at Parsons Child and Family Center. Kisha earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Masters in regional planning at the State University of New York at Albany. Kisha is certified as a LEED Green Associate. Placement: New York State Homes and Community Renewal


Nora Yates
Nora Yates most recently served as the Executive Director of the Pride Center of the Capital Region, where she revitalized and expanded the 42 year old organization. Nora previously worked at the Empire State Pride Agenda managing staff statewide. Nora developed and taught various courses as an adjunct professor at the State University of New York at Albany for six years, and served as a project manager at Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group. Nora earned a Bachelor of Arts in French and Womens Studies, and a Master of Arts in Womens Studies at the State University of New York at Albany. Nora also earned a Master in Public Administration from the Sage Graduate School. Placement: New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services