Staff

Campaign & Advocacy Coordinators

Erika Civitarese is a fourth year studying Communication and Women.Gender and Sexuality Studies. She has been with CEPA since her freshman year working with the Student Labor Action Project. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the United States Student Association as the Working Class Caucus chair. Her interests include being in the water, reading in the sun, petting cats, going to shows and laughing at memes on the Internet. She's passionate about dismantling oppressive systems, her beautiful friends, and breaking down normalized intimacy. 

 

 

Andrea Nyamekye is a fourth year student here at UMass. She is majoring in Wildlife Conservation and Ecology, with a minor in Biology. She enjoys the outdoors, working on various conservation projects, biking, cooking good meals, and reading. She organizes because she believes that students and collective power are able to change the society and environment we live in. After graduation she hopes to go abroad and do conservation work with local communities. 


 

Education & Training Coordinators

Abby Alfaro is a fourth year Psychology and Political Science major at UMass. She's passionate about social justice work, rape crisis counseling, environmental justice, and breakfast food. In her time at UMass Abby has done organizing work as a member of CERC (Coalition to End Rape Culture), pushing for the institutionalization of a Survivor's Bill of Rights, as well as Divest UMass. She spent the last semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, her father's home country. Her favorite activities include hiking, reading, and spending time with friends, and she's thrilled to be a part of CEPA staff this year.

 

 

 

Allison Rigney is a fourth-year student at UMass studying history with a certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service.  Allison is from Reading, MA, and spent this past spring studying in Sevilla, Spain, where she traveled throughout Europe and learned how to take very long siestas. 

Allison has been organizing on UMass campus since her freshman year with the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign, and loves engaging with students about the different issues they see on their campus and how everyone can work together to make change.  In her spare time, Allison wishes she was in a ‘90s feminist punk band, and enjoys watching videos of dogs, making music and going to shows with her friends, as well as traveling, cooking, and reading social theory.  After college, Allison hopes to use her knowledge and experience to become a high school history teacher.

 

External Communication & Outreach Coordinator

Elin Dahal is a fourth-year student studying Sustainable Food and Farming. Originally from Nepal, Elin grew up in Boston, where he still usually spends his summers working. Elin is excited about organizing student power. In high school he was involved with organizing a student union to advocate for student voice. Since then he has been a part of many spaces dedicated to social justice, and likes working with people to critically engage with the world they move through. Currently, he works with the Food Project in Boston, combining his passions of sustainable agriculture and anti-oppression pedagogy. Elin became involved with CEPA this past spring working with the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign. When not working to dismantle oppressive systems, Elin loves to cook. He has passion for fermentation and makes a mean loaf of sourdough. Elin also likes producing music and recently is realizing his love for playing bass.

 

Internal Communication Coordinator

Gillian Teng (she/her) is a fourth-year Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies and Psychology double major. She hails from sunny San Diego and is often baffled at how she ended up in New England. Gillian is a poet and a bookworm adrift in the diaspora. She is a queer womxn of color dedicated to undoing the violence that permeates our lives, prefiguring a post-liberatory world, and imagining otherwise.
 

 

Policy, Legislative & Research Coordinator

Maija Ross-Hall is a senior Sociology major and African-American studies minor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the President of the Black Student Union, President of the Rho Kappa chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Director of Policy and Research at the Center for Education Policy & Advocacy (CEPA).

Through her work with these various organizations, Maija has advocated and fought for increased retention of students of color, student accessibility to resources, and free higher education. She has helped plan Public Higher Education Advocacy Day for two years through her roles in CEPA, and spent last summer at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC working in the racial policy division. Maija has planned various student actions throughout the past two years including the Student Walkout of Spring 2015, the Student Blackout of Fall 2015, and the Million Students March. As Policy and Research director, Maija will fuel her work with her passion for justice and dedication to student power. 
In her spare time, Maija loves to watch How to Get Away with Murder, cook, and read from the Black Feminism Syllabus.

 

CEPA Director

Koni Denham has served as the director for the past two years. She enjoys working with student organizers on campus as they strive to bring awareness to the issues impacting the campus community. Koni is inspired by students’ commitment to making the University a more socially just place to learn and work. Koni is an RPCV having served in Kazakhstan (1997-2000). She received her MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations from the School for International Training located in Brattleboro, VT. Her capstone explored the effects of interethnic mentoring on ethnic minority youth in Istanbul, Turkey. Koni also received a Master of Education with a concentration in higher education from the UMass Amherst in 2007. She has worked in the field of civic engagement, critical service-learning, and student organizing and activism for the last 10 years. She is currently working on her PhD at UMass. Her dissertation is exploring the topic of international critical service-learning. Koni loves to travel with her partner and spend time with their three dogs.