2018 NGen Fellows Bios


Joyvin Benton is the development director at the Arkansas Public Policy Panel where she creates and implements all fundraising efforts from large grants to grassroots donations to events. She has a passion for youth advocacy and educational justice. This passion was stoked in 6th grade when she and her twin sister led a petition and sit-in to protest girls not being allowed to play on the basketball court during recess. The protest led to the policy being changed, and girls could play basketball at recess. From this experience, she learned to always stand up for her rights and demand justice. After finishing her master’s degree in social psychology from San Diego State University, she became the director of an academic enrichment program for high school students, the W.E.B. Dubois Scholars Institute, at Princeton University. She holds a PhD in education policy from Rutgers University.


Terri Seay Bryant is the program director for Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI), a leading authority on leadership development and school improvement. In her role, Terri supports incumbent and aspiring education leaders across the state, coaching them through school improvement, change management and talent retention and development. In addition to leading school improvement efforts, Terri recently pioneered research in administrator decision-making processes related to implicit bias while earning a PhD in Educational Leadership from Mercer University. Other achievements include an appointment to Georgia’s State Superintendent Teacher Advisory Board, selection for Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s Education Policy Fellowship, nomination for 2008 Teacher of the Year, and recognition as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “People on the Move”. She holds membership and committee affiliations with Junior League of Atlanta and Learning Forward and is a graduate of Learning Forward Academy and Learning Forward Georgia’s Executive Leadership Program.


Elizabeth Cervantes is co-founder and the director of organizing with the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP), an immigrant rights organization in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. In her current role, she oversees the implementation of civic and youth leadership programs and leads the advocacy efforts for issue-based campaigns that SSIP is part of, at the local, state, and federal levels. Elizabeth has been advocating for change and justice for the immigrant community since 2009. Her involvement with policy and community organizing begun in college as an immigrant student herself. She obtained her bachelor’s in sociology in 2012, becoming the first college graduate in her family. Today, Elizabeth actively works to empower immigrant youth and families. Part of her life’s mission has become building SSIP to be a sustainable community-based organization in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, that will continue the work of empowering directly impacted leaders that will spring into action and transform their communities.


Kenya Collins is the Mississippi Program Manager for FoodCorps, Inc. With more than 10 years of management experience with political and nonprofit organizations, Kenya is a well sought after political strategist. She was a state director for Obama for America–Mississippi in April 2012 after volunteering as a community organizer for President Obama’s 2008 campaign. She went on to serve as the state director for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Committee. She has also served as a consultant for the Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute in Jackson, Mississippi, and as an ambassador and advocate for the American Cancer Society’s Mid-South Division. She is the former chief of staff and executive assistant to Mayor Errick D. Simmons of Greenville, Mississippi. In addition to her role at FoodCorps, she is the engagement manager for P3 Strategies, LLC, of Jackson, Mississippi. A fiercely proud native of Jackson, Mississippi, Kenya was a member of New Hope Baptist Church throughout her childhood and is a current member of St. Richard Catholic Church. She is also a proud product of Jackson Public School District before completing a bachelor’s in elementary education at Jackson State University.


Maria Dautruche is a vice president in the Partnerships and Advancement Office at the National Urban League where she fundraises for the historic civil rights organization. Over the course of her career, Maria has raised more than $40 million for a variety of causes and charities. Maria is a PURPOSE Productions Organizer and completed Yale SOM’s Facilitating Interpersonal & Group Dynamics Learning Lab. She was a 2017 92Y Women in Power Fellow and a Young Nonprofit Professionals Network national board member in 2010. In 2004, Maria co-founded New Voices for Reproductive Justice – a social justice organization headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA with offices in Philadelphia, PA and Cleveland, OH and a budget over $1 million. Maria earned her bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies and Communications from the University of Pittsburgh where she co-founded the Students of the Department of Africana Studies (S.O.D.A.S.). She earned her master’s degree from Pratt Institute. Maria and her spouse, Lopez-Joel, live in NY and are proud parents to a bold and bright toddler.


Seyron Foo is the director of public policy and government relations at Southern California Grantmakers. In this position, he develops and implements efforts to create a well-connected network of grant makers and policymakers to strengthen communities and advance the public policy goals of SCG’s member organizations and Philanthropy California. Seyron has experience in various government sectors, beginning his career as a legislative aide to the California State Senate Majority Leader, where he managed a diverse policy portfolio that included civil rights, transportation, and housing. His work led the successful passage of legislation in health, tenants’ rights, and banking reforms. Prior to SCG, he served in the City of Long Beach as the Senior Policy Analyst to the Director of Public Works. He serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the California Board of Psychology, an advisory council/Impact Fellow at the John Calley Foundation, and co-leader of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Annual Giving campaign. Seyron earned his master’s in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and his bachelor’s in rhetoric and political science from the University of California, Berkeley – go bears!


Nesha Jairam is the data and systems manager at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. The division works to prioritize the safety of Georgia’s children by providing support to children and families across the state of Georgia. Nesha is working to ensure self-sufficiency and a positive permanency for youth in foster care, by focusing on high school graduation, specifically for African American female youth in the foster care system. She works to ensure high school completion, which will lead to a life of self-sufficiency, increase the likelihood of obtaining a stable job, and decrease the likelihood of adverse health outcomes. Nesha has also conducted research and data collection with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of Georgia, and University of Michigan. She is a graduate of Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience. She received her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Georgia.


Jose Luis Plaza is a manager at The California Endowment, one of the largest private health foundations, working on various statewide portfolios ranging from immigration, civic engagement, Latinos, and LGBTQ issues among others. Previously, he served as the Bill & Melinda Gates Higher Education Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) where he furthered his research and practice focusing on macro policy and political issues to ensure quality impact in his home base. He worked in the office of Congressman Raul Ruiz as part of his placement. Following his role at CHCI, Jose served as the national director for Latino engagement for Enroll America. Jose has served on the boards of the Latin American Youth Center, New Leaders Council- DC, and most recently was president and board chair of the Latino LGBT History Project. Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Jose is the proud son of migrant laborers. Jose earned bachelor’s degrees in social science and English from San Diego State University. He also holds a master’s in counseling from California State University, Long Beach and is pursuing a doctorate in higher education from the University of Southern California.


Matthew Roberson is the executive director of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Department of Athletic Regulation and an enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Keechi). Matthew also serves as the chair of the Wichita Tribe Sports Commission, president of the Association of Combative Sports Commissions, Region Six Director for the North American Indigenous Games Board of Directors, and manager for Quivera, LLC, a tribally owned 8(a) company. Matthew is also a nationally certified boxing and mixed martial arts judge and timekeeper. While under his leadership, The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Department of Athletic Regulation was recognized as the 2017 Promoter/Organization of The Year by the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame. This was the first and only a time an athletic commission was bestowed this honor. Hailing from Anadarko, Oklahoma, Matthew has been a strong advocate for Indian Country as well as a trusted leader in athletic regulation. He attended The University of Central Oklahoma on a football scholarship while studying business management. Matthew is a 2016 graduate of St. Cloud State University’s MLCV Casino Leadership Program.


Sean Tennerson is the director of social innovation at The Case Foundation. In this position, Sean leads the Case Foundation’s Millennial Engagement portfolio, including the Millennial Impact Project. She has also contributed to the Foundation’s work on the Impact Investing movement, specifically working on the Impact Investing Network Map to use publicly available data to demonstrate where and what sort of impact investments have occurred globally. When not at work, Sean is usually out exploring Washington, DC. She loves to go on runs with her big gray dog Blue. She also tries to flex her creativity muscles through drawing and crocheting and is always working on improving her French skills. Sean holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from University of California, Berkeley.

Resource Types: NGen Fellows