The Steering Committee (SC) is a non-hierarchical entity which provides direction and support to the project. Members of the SC provide supervision to the interns, facilitate workshops and labs, and represent URIP out in the community.
Sasha Neha Ahuja is a community organizer and advocate from New York City. She has organized at the intersections of migration and labor for almost a decade. Sasha has devoted her work to political education projects with South Asian and Indo-Caribbean youth, organizing for justice in the labor movement, policy formation that is driven by directly impacted communities, and social work practice from an accountable, anti-racist framework. Sasha currently serves as Deputy Director of the Policy & Innovation Division, within the Speaker's Office, at the New York City Council. She holds a BA from Hunter College of the City University of New York (free CUNY!) and a MS in Social Work from Columbia University, where she also served as President of the Student Union Executive Board (SUEB). Sasha interned with URIP during the 2010-2011 school year where she organized with fellow students to build a powerful voice of students of color across campuses in NYC calling for institutional change at schools of social work. Sasha firmly believes that social workers who are grounded in an anti-racist and anti-oppressive politic can be catalysts for racial, economic and gender justice.
Hollisha Liverpool is current URIP Steering Committee member and a MSW student at Hunter Silberman School of Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing, Planning and Development. Her gender pronouns are she/her/hers and she identifies as an Afro-Caribbean woman. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Law and Society at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She considers Trinidad and Tobago home because she was born and raised there until she was 9 years old. Since immigrating to the United States she currently calls Brooklyn home and considers herself a proud Brooklynite. As a social worker she hopes to work with young adults who have been in contact with the Criminal Justice System. She currently worked at Girls for Gender Equity as a Co-Facilitator for the Young Woman's Advisory Council. In Hollisha's down time she finds herself working in her bullet journal and learning more about different forms of hand lettering.
Beatriz Rivera is a recent graduate of Columbia School of Social Work with a focus in Social Enterprise Administration. She is a first-generation Salvadorian American from Los Angeles, CA where she received her BA in Psychology and Child Development. Beatriz was formally a Social Security case manager for two years at a nationwide law firm which exposed her to the government policies that successfully oppress low-income, disabled, communities of color. Beatriz realized while being a case manager, she wanted to change the system that is fueled by race and racism. As the 2014-2015 intern, Beatriz was able to cultivate her racial analysis and organize students from all over the city on anti-black racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Beatriz believes that spreading URIP’s mission will allow other social workers and social services professionals to connect the communities they serve, to knowledge and power, and collectively start a people’s movement to end racism. Her preferred gender pronouns are “she,” and "her" and enjoys running, fried foods, and date night with her partner.
Kristi Sun is a second-year MSW student at Columbia School of Social Work with an Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming method, focusing on Contemporary Social Issues. Her gender pronouns are she/her/hers, and she identifies as Taiwanese-American WOC. She considers the Bay Area to be home, and has spent her life primarily in California. Kristi received her B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Spanish from Scripps College, an all-women’s college where she developed her intersectional feminist identity. Kristi is interested in learning more about community organizing and the potential of anti-oppressive, anti-racist spaces. In her free time, Kristi loves being by the ocean and keeping up to date with current issues re: social justice, politics, and pop culture.
Kris Kelsang Lipman was born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens, uses she/her pronouns, and identifies as bi-cultural, Bhutanese, Jewish, and mixed. She received her MSW from NYU's Silver School of Social Work and her BSW from Portland State University. She has clinical experience working with women living with substance dependence and co-occurring mental health diagnoses. She currently works as a case manager at the Guardianship Project, a project of the Vera Institute of Justice, where she advocates for people who have a court appointed legal guardian. Kris is an avid critic of the institutionalization of social work practice and its roots in white supremacy, imperialism, and capitalism. For this and many more reasons, she could not be more appreciative or proud of her work with URIP.
Ashley Merriman is a social service and HR professional, currently working in recruitment at Open Society Foundations. She obtained her MSW degree from NYU Silver School of Social Work in Spring 2018 with a focus on Macro Practice in Organizations. She is a queer, black woman from Los Angeles, CA and her gender pronouns are she/her/hers. As an undergrad obtaining her BA in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, she developed an interest in critical race theory and social justice activism. Through her work as a case manager, serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and as an after-abortion counselor, she refined her passion for and identity as an intersectional feminist/ womanist and prison abolitionist. As a social worker, she hopes to create spaces for people of color to heal from oppression, build their personal activism, and develop radical self care. She is also critical of the oppressive roots of social work and believes that URIP plays a vital role in dismantling those roots. In her free time, Ashley loves to travel, craft, and cook delicious vegan food.
Elizabeth Rossi is a community educator, arts-based facilitator, and artist. She has facilitated trainings, workshops, and created curriculum around community organizing, sexual violence, Know Your Rights, and the prison industrial complex with a large emphasis on how women of color are affected by these issues. Elizabeth activism began with teaching arts-based workshops to youth in Rikers Jail with Blackout Arts Collective. This thee evolved to working in juvenile justice policy through the Vera Institute of Justice Center on Youth Justice. From there, her work shifted to focus on issues related to transformative justice and sexual violence. Elizabeth graduated from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, majoring in the Community Organizing, Planning, and Development method. With her masters, she focused on community organizing, feminism, and collective healing. Through Gallatin the School of Individualized Studies within New York University, she earned a Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Structural Violence and How it Creates Identity and Activism. With this degree, she studied activism in communities of color, the prison system, and how identity is formed in the midst of oppression. Currently she is working as a teaching artist, community organizing educator, and gallery curator. She also continues to work on her art as a painter and poet.
Eleni Malka Zimiles joined URIP as an intern organizer in 2013 before she transitioned to the Steering Committee. Eleni works at the cross-sections of social work, education and organizing, focusing on youth and racial justice issues in New York City, where she is from. Her personal history along with her work in schools, youth shelters, settlement houses and neighborhood organizing, grounds her commitment to transform the root causes of violence and exploitation. Eleni is a white, queer woman with Ashkenazi Jewish and Greek heritage, and sees these identities along with her class privilege and others, as crucial to her personal and community work in challenging domination and building authentic relationships. A writer and artist, Eleni has also completed work on conflict, historical trauma and youth identity politics. While receiving her MS in Social Work at Columbia University, she experienced how student organizing had the power to hold institutions accountable for having necessary dialogues around systems of power and oppression. Eleni sees URIP’s work as crucial in fostering critical self-reflection and active responsibility in order to dismantle oppression in our institutions, relationships and bodies.