Jennifer Magida (Founder and Director) started Youth Advocacy Corps in 2015 to create service programs that address the resource gap and inequity pervasive in NYC and help shape the futures of NYC youth from communities impacted by poverty. Generally frustrated by the lack of services and information in low-income communities, Jennifer left her job as a litigator in 2014 to work directly with youth from the communities she served as a lawyer, with the goal of engaging them in the fight against poverty. Prior to 2015, Jennifer worked as a public interest lawyer in New York City; she litigated class actions and other impact cases as an attorney with the Special Litigation Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group, and before that worked as an attorney with the Homelessness Outreach and Prevention Project at the Urban Justice Center. Jennifer also worked in various legal capacities at a legal aid clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, at UNESCO in Paris, France, and at the AIRE Centre, a human rights organization in London, England. Jennifer received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. from Yale University.
Jennifer De La Cruz (Program Director) is a Brooklyn College graduate who majored in Children and Youth Studies with a minor in Psychology. She was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx. Jenny started as an intern with Youth Advocacy Corps and is now running both Youth Advocacy Summer Institute and the Mental Health Awareness Project. She is looking forward to exploring the mental health field further for her graduate studies, and she participates in events to raise awareness about social issues affecting children and youth. Jenny is the treasurer of the Children First Club and fundraises for national and local charities.
Toddossa Coleman (MHAP Program Associate & YASI 2019 Coordinator) Toddossa is currently a graduate student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She was born and raised in the Bronx. Toddossa enjoys working with youth and advocating for mental wellness. She loves to travel and read books during her free time.
Saddiq Abdul (MHAP Alum/Trainer and YASI 2019 Coordinator) is a senior at Baruch College and a member of the YASI 2015 founding corps. While in YASI 2015, Saddiq conceived of the idea for the Mental Health Awareness Project (MHAP), and he is currently working with Youth Advocacy Corps on implementing it. Saddiq grew up in East New York, and, while in high school, he interned with East New York Farms and Brooklyn Defenders. He is determined to improve conditions in East New York for himself and others, and he has been working to become an organizer and mobilize others, through social media and local campaigns, to reduce the stigma around mental health. Saddiq is on his local Community Board (#5) and was just appointed to be the head of the Communications Committee.
Hetheru Shango (MHAP Alum/Trainer) is a resident of East Flatbush, Brooklyn. She recently obtained her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Children Studies. In her near future she hopes to obtain her Masters in Mental Health Counseling and pursue a career ensuring the well-being of youth.
Karen Meza is a Hunter College graduate who majored in Psychology and is aspiring to be a Mental Health Counselor. Karen's interest in mental health emerged from her upbringing as a female in a Mexican household in the South Bronx. Karen hopes to properly inform people about mental health and break the stigma when it comes to talking about mental health.