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These Changemakers Are Ready for Their Year of Public Service

We’re proud to welcome the FUSE Spring 2020 cohort, armed with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. Read about what compelled them to join FUSE for a year of public service and social impact.

 

Norvell Thomas

Norvell is working with the L.A. County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services to streamline its operations so it can better serve residents.

“Quite literally, our world is on fire. Climate change has the potential to fundamentally wipe out entire species on our planet. War and conflict continue to threaten our societies. Man-made and natural disasters are increasing in duration, severity, and costs in terms of lives impacted and economic prosperity. If we could completely design from scratch the role that the government plays in the lives of everyday Americans, what would it look like today? That question leads me to wonder how I can contribute to helping create a new partnership between the government and the people it serves. We as FUSE fellows have a wonderful opportunity to bring fresh, innovative ideas to tackle the problems in our society. I joined because I want to be a part of the solution to help answer these important questions.”

 

Sonia Punjabi

Sonia Punjabi is leading the planning and implementation of a new rental registry in Oakland, California, to help prevent illegal rent increases and evictions.

“I am a proud Oaklander, and I’ve been witnessing the housing and rental situation and its serious challenges firsthand. Given the current pandemic, it is increasingly important to protect people from being displaced due to illegal rent increases and evictions. In order to protect and preserve the rich social, economic, and racial diversity of Oakland, developing a robust rental registry, along with an active outreach and compliance plan, is a necessity. Working on this fellowship, I will be able to leverage my skills and expertise towards a cause that I truly care about and help create a foundation for anti-displacement legislation for current tenants, as well as long-term permanent affordability for future tenants.”

 

Nathaniel Sanga Bencivenga

Nathaniel Sanga Bencivenga is working with the L.A. County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services to improve how it connects residents with services.

“In the private sector, I was scaling national operations and business development, but having grown up as an immigrant in a disadvantaged neighborhood in Los Angeles, I wanted to redirect myself back to serving my community. As a FUSE fellow, I will be connecting community members to enhanced services and bridging data with the stories behind the data. With its more human-centered approach, this fellowship is an opportunity for me to engage with the local communities of Los Angeles and serve disadvantaged individuals at the grassroots level. Having lived the ‘Why,’ I believe that executing the ‘How’ with this project and making an impact in my community is the next step in my journey, and I could not be more excited.”

 

LaDonna Gooden

LaDonna Gooden is working with Kansas City, Missouri, to expand economic prosperity to underserved neighborhoods.

“The FUSE model of partnering with local governments is an innovative approach to enabling a focus on the key challenges of communities, and the fellowship provides a unique chance for me to use my professional experience to serve the public interest. I’m thrilled to be working with the Office of the Mayor to craft a strategy that will expand economic development opportunities for all members of the community.”

 

Lorie Fiber

Lorie Fiber is working with San Jose, California, to evaluate the success of its Rent Stabilization Program and its impact on residents.

“I’ve always gravitated to work that supports fundamental needs: food, health, a home. I’ve worked in hunger relief and in healthcare, so the opportunity to do work that supports housing, and specifically affordable housing, resonated with me. Housing is a key social determinant of health, a subject that I’ve been exploring for the past few years, and this project will help me further my knowledge about housing, notably for some of the more vulnerable populations in our society. I also think my eclectic skill set is a particular fit for this project, because I’ve conducted listening tours since the mid 1990s and have a strong background working with data and using it to tell a story.”

 

Nancy Lambert

Nancy Lambert is helping the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering maximize its resources to better serve residents.

“I’m driven to improve the way that people work, and I’m excited to use my consulting background to help the Bureau of Engineering figure out how to transform its knowledge infrastructure so that each employee is more supported and productive in serving Angelenos every day. I see it as helping those who are literally building the future of L.A.”

 

Anjali Menon

Anjali Menon is working with Stockton, California, to help improve housing security for residents and strengthen communities.

“In my lifetime, there has never been a better time to serve vulnerable populations. We are living through historic times, through a pandemic that has not only reshaped how we view modern health, but also how we view work life, family life, community, and more. Having worked in tech my entire career, I’ve seen how it can shape political discourse. I worked at Twitter where the power of the hashtag to spark political movements was readily apparent. So I know how important it is for tech to work in tandem with the government. I look forward to helping bridge that gap.”

 

Susan Tarka Sanchez

Susan Tarka Sanchez is helping the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services become more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint.

“I am always compelled to serve the common good and learn, so when I was contacted about this opportunity, which is focused on a big problem where I live, I was instantly intrigued. During my fellowship, I will help build an environmentally sustainable roadmap for L.A.’s more than 500 miles of streets and street services. Taking what I have learned in the private sector, and all I am just beginning to understand about how this great city ‘works,’ my goal is to weave that knowledge into a feasible plan to support the people’s plan for building resilience to climate change. Even in these pandemic times, I feel prepared, and honored, to embark on this journey.”