Meet the 2018-2019 cohort of Public Allies Miami!
January 23, 2019
Please welcome these incredible young adults who are completing 10-month apprenticeships in Miami nonprofits as part of the Public Allies AmeriCorps program. Through this program, these Allies sharpen their leadership skills and gain real-world experience working for social justice. The mission of Public Allies is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.
Back row: Megan Bennett, Kenneth Mobley, Elijah Muhammad, Roxy Azuaje (program manager), Shekita Tookes; Middle row: Kathy Rodriguez, Alexis Miller, Kayla Jean-Baptiste; Front row: Yareliz Mendez-Zamora, Mauricio Montealegre
Kenneth Mobley serves as a Community Outreach Specialist at Catalyst Miami. He specializes in strengthening community cohesion by collecting, analyzing, and reporting data that provides an opportunity to develop leadership and other comprehensive programs. Before working with Catalyst, Kenneth’s worked as a Pharmacy Technician. After being denied from another AmeriCorps program, undeterred and tenacious, Kenneth applied to be a Public Ally. Someone once told Kenneth, “You’re at the table or on the menu.” Today, Kenneth strives to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.
Elijah Muhammad is a recent graduate from Miami Northwestern Senior High. His commitment to helping his community led him to apply to the Public Allies Miami program. He is placed at the Miami Children’s Initiative where he does community outreach work and collects data for personal development and growth. Elijah spends his time helping others in the Liberty City area, dancing, and tinkering with technology. One of Elijah’s goals is to break stereotypes surrounding young black men through dance. Though he is young, Elijah knows that through Public Allies, he can sharpen his skills, build his leadership potential, and challenge the notion that young people do not care about their future.
Kathy Rodriguez is currently a Public Ally at Catalyst Miami. She is a Community Outreach Specialist at Live Healthy Miami Gardens. Her role as a Community Outreach Specialist focuses on promoting wellness programs, such as SNAP and WIC. She is a recent graduate from the University of Florida where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications. Apart from being passionate about traveling and learning about different cultures, Kathy is passionate about women’s rights. She hopes to work with young women empowerment organizations to promote education, self-empowerment, and hope.
Shekita Tookes is a Miami native and the daughter of small business owners in Liberty City. Growing up, Shekita had fun with her friends, and was an entrepreneur alongside her parents. As an adult, job opportunities and cost of living caused Shekita to try out her talents in Metro-Atlanta, but that did not stunt her love for the city of Miami. With every vacation or visit home, changes throughout her beloved city became more prominent, talks around climate change and gentrification could no longer be avoided and the need for resilience has become personal. Becoming a Public Ally has allowed Shekita to reconnect with the city she loves and be a part of the change. As a Community Outreach Specialist for Miami Gardens, Shekita hopes to be a part of conversations and initiatives to build a stronger Miami.
Alexis Miller is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. As a Public Ally, she is with the Federation of Families in Miami Gardens where she works as a Youth Coordinator for their Positive Development After School Program.
Megan Bennett is a Tampa native with a dedication to equipping and empowering vulnerable communities. She currently serves at Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation as their Tech Hire Coordinator where she links youth to tech training, and jobs. Prior to joining Public Allies, Megan worked connecting individuals to grassroots community initiatives. She has overseen operations at a mission camp, facilitated volunteer trips with Alternative Breaks, and taught English abroad. Megan graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Certificate in Latin American Studies from Florida International University. She hopes to pursue higher education in Public Administration. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, butchering languages, and travel. #jackdidntneeddie
Mauricio Montealegre is the son of Colombia immigrants and a born native of Miami, Florida. He graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and currently is seeking to further his education by earning a Master’s degree. Mauricio serves as the Community Outreach Specialist for Homestead, where he explores what resiliency is in an area that faces many challenges, but is still filled with people who have hope. Mauricio’s interest include podcasts, TV shows, horror movies, traveling, and reading.
Yareliz Mendez-Zamora is an activist, story-teller, and writer. Born and raised in Miami, Yareliz grew up listening to her family’s immigration stories and constantly draws inspiration from them. Her family comes from La Tierra de Lagos y Volcanes– Nicaragua. She graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in English and History, as well as a Minor in Latin American Studies in 2016. Yareliz is currently enrolled at the University of Miami, where she is getting her Masters in Community and Social Change. She is working as a Public Ally and is serving as a Community Outreach Specialist at Catalyst. In the future, Yareliz wants to continue fighting for equity and liberation.
Kayla Jean-Baptiste is currently a Public Ally at Catalyst Miami. She is a Community Outreach Specialist for the Little Haiti/ Little River area. Her role as a Community Outreach Specialist focuses on promoting community engagement and involvement. Kayla is from Wynwood, Florida. She is a currently a student at Florida Atlantic University majoring in Criminal Justice. Kayla has an Associate of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Miami-Dade College. She is passionate about advocating for youth because when the youth stand for their beliefs and understand the impact of their voices, they can represent themselves, and their communities, with pride and courage. Kayla’s interest is watching horror movies, listening to music, and reading. She hopes to work with the Juvenile Justice Department.