Leadership After City Year: Celebrating Black Excellence Among our Alumni
In celebration of Black History Month, we are featuring our incredible alumni, modern day heroes who continue to change the world. Keep reading to get to know these incredible alumni and learn more about the amazing work they are doing in their communities.
Alexis McKinney, City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2014-2015
“My year of service taught me resilience. It gave me lifelong friends and it truly showed the importance of serving others.”
Alexis McKinney is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Content Specialist for the Portland Trail Blazers. She is responsible for managing social justice content and works on planning content for cultural celebration nights and DEI staff initiatives. She graduated from Marquette with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. Following the killing of George Floyd, Alexis utilized her voice to create change. She created the “It Could Be Me” video and was a part of the Racial Injustice Task Force (RITF) at her organization. The RITF created the Racial Injustice initiative, a long-term commitment geared towards amplifying the work of non-profit organizations pushing for police reforms and fighting racial injustice. She also created the Black Employee Network at the Blazers and now advises two of the five employee resource groups in the company.
Alfredo Chavez Jr., City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2015-2016
After serving with City Year LA, Alfredo Chavez Jr. has dedicated his life to continuing to serve the students of Los Angeles. After serving with CYLA he started his teaching career at Larchmont Charter School as a Lead PE Teacher/ Cross-Country, Basketball, and Track ‘n Field coach. After two years he transferred to KIPP Corazón Academy as the Founding PE Teacher. During this time, he also worked as the Junior Los Angeles Lakers Coach during the summer. Alfredo is currently the Physical Education teacher and athletic director at KIPP Corazón Academy and was recently featured in the LA Times for supporting students through the pandemic and finding innovative ways to keep students active! He has developed the KCA Upper School P.E. YouTube channel, which provides virtual access to yoga and high intensity workouts, and created the @Kippcorazon_Athletics page on Instagram to spread school spirit and keep students excited about athletics even in the virtual academic space.
Christina Broderick, LSW, City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2012-2013
Christina Broderick, LSW is the Founder and CEO of IgnitEDU, where the mission is to provide a proactive, sustainable approach to student mental health literacy and initiatives. Through her work, she consults with schools, organizations and individuals on increasing mental health literacy for students, training staff on implementation within instruction and creating organizational change to best increase mental health outcomes. Before becoming a social worker, Christina was on the path for medical school, going on medical school interviews during her corps year. However, her intimate experience in education through City Year caused her to realize her true passion was in education and filling gaps in mental health care and services for students. After her corps year, she decided to pursue her Master’s in Social Work and continue working with students in various capacities. Through these experiences, she curated her own company aimed to transform students from statistics to success stories through proactive mental health literacy.
Christian Entezari, City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2013-2014
“City Year demonstrates that, with a foundation of idealism rooted with the support of representative role models, we can dismantle the many systems designed to keep black and brown students from thriving.”
Along with serving as the City Year Los Angeles Alumni Board Chair, Christian Entezari continued to work in the field of academia post City Year and is currently a Senior Advisor at Fortune Schools of Education. The Fortune Schools of Education are a group of nine public charter schools in San Bernardino and Sacramento which boast the second and third highest Black student populations in California and are focused on closing the African American achievement gap. Christian also proudly serves on the boards of two other non-profit organizations: Plus Me Project, a community partner dedicated to empowering middle & high school youth to build their confidence for college, career, and community advancement by teaching the art of storytelling, and California Black Women’s Democratic Club, a club dedicated to building the leadership and power of progressive Black women Democrats throughout California.
Dre Thomas, City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2010-2011
“City Year gave me the opportunity to home in on my passion to make a meaningful impact on young people, specifically young girls of color. I’ve always felt a calling to raise up the next generation of female leaders and I’m so thrilled to have had the chance to work, mentor, and lead in communities I called home.”
Dre Thomas is the founder of Smile On Me, a non-profit organization based in New York. The organization’s mission is to adequately prepare girls for puberty and provide a space where they can be authentic and discover something new. Since their 2017 launch, Smile on Me has provided more than 3,000 hygiene products to girls in under-resourced communities throughout the tri-state area. During the pandemic, they launched a members-only club called Homeroom, a space where girls can thrive in their comfort zones and discover the remarkable. One of their thriving online programs is Tiny Talks; an online conversation series where they tackle big topics in a tiny and intimate setting. To learn more, you can follow them on Instagram at @smileonmehq and hear more about their full story here.
Kellee Kemp, LMFT, City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2007-2008
Kellee Kemp is the Chief Programs Officer for Driving Force Group, an organization that works with clients and partners who focus on social justice, race equity and making a deep community impact. Kellee also serves as the Director for Yetunde Price Resource Center, providing free, high-quality healing-centered and trauma-informed programming to the community. Kellee is dedicated to social justice and passionate about empowering marginalized communities from within. The first-time Kellee drove down to Belize through Mexico with her family and witnessed abject poverty, she knew she had to be in a profession where she could make difference. She found her way to therapy because she believes it is important to have your experiences reflected to you by someone who looks like you and has shared experiences and background. She has worked mainly in student affairs and community mental health working alongside, Black college freshmen, LGBTQIA+ students, veterans, pregnant and parenting teens and residents in housing development projects all over Los Angeles County. Recently Kellee helped advocate for the CORPS Act, by writing an OpEd featured in Black Voice News that shed light on the importance of mentoring programs like City Year and called others to support their programming. Read her piece here.
Jessyka Ramirez-Holden, City Year LA AmeriCorps member, 2010-2011
“I would not be where I am today without City Year. Not only did I grow as a person, I grew as an educational leader. City Year is important to me because City Year honors young people who are usually not seen or heard, this was me as a student. Through City Year I was recognized for my quiet leadership and was able to amplify student voices’ and teach them to advocate for their communities. City Year fueled my passion to always create an environment in which ALL students are given the opportunity to contribute and change the world!”
Dr. Jessyka Ramirez-Holden is the Assistant Principal at Environmental Charter Middle School. Prior to this Jessyka had eight years of experience teaching English and social studies while holding teacher leadership positions as dean of student engagement, department chair, and grade level chair. As a social justice educator, her educational philosophy rests on her belief that every student is an agent of change with the academic ability to change the world. She also has a passion for community engagement, which led to involvement in her neighborhood council. As a board member, she effectively fostered community partnerships with stakeholders to leverage resources for the school community. Jessyka developed a monthly speaker series at her school site, which was born out of honoring Black leaders in the community and inviting them to speak to her students and share their story. To learn more, or get involved, check out the website here.
City Year L.A. alum, Erin Willis (’17 and ’18), shared her story of impact and reflected on her years as...Read more about When Service Changes Your Life - Erin Willis
What does it really mean to have someone, a mentor, change your life? The concept of being part of that...Read more about The Ripple Effects of Mentorship: Bianca Samayoa
City Year AmeriCorps member Sophia Torres reflects on her first year of service with City Year Los Angeles and why...Read more about Reflecting on a year of service: Sophia Torres
Emilio Monahan, who just completed his first year of service and will return next year on the Civic Engagement team,...Read more about Reflecting on a year of service: Emilio Monahan