Meet the AFJ Staff!

Angel Rodriguez, Executive Director

 For over four decades, Angel Rodriguez has served as AFJ's Executive Director, working with youth in the community in which he grew up, went to school and still lives today. Part youth worker, part organizational leader, Angel has direct and daily involvement with clients, supervising the most sensitive advocacy procedures and carrying a heavy caseload. A known and respected figure both in the courtroom and on the streets of the Lower East Side, Angel's work continues around the clock as he moves through the neighborhood. Under Angel's leadership AFJ has been the recipient of many awards including: New York State Bar Association's Public Service Award, Manufacturers Hanover's Community Development Award and the Exxon Corporation Community Service Award. For his personal dedication to AFJ, Angel received an honorary law degree from the CUNY Law School at Queens College and in 1994, Angel was selected as one of three outstanding community activists in New York City to receive the Robin Hood Foundation's Hero Award in 1996.

Elizabeth Frederick, Chief Operating Officer 

As COO, Liz oversees the agency's financial wellbeing, fundraising, and administrative operations, board development, programmatic expansion and codification, participant data collection and impact evaluation, in addition to providing leadership and direction in long-range organizational and program planning. In spite of the pressures of the COVID pandemic, Liz led AFJ in exceeding its program and fundraising goals with annual surpluses in both 2020 and 2021, breaking the $1 million mark for the first time in AFJ’s history for private sector grants in 2021.  She also led AFJ’s Development/Fundraising team to successfully expand public sector and government grants due to AFJ’s new citywide service area, expansive reportage, and program success. Liz is committed to supporting young adults impacted by the criminal justice system, along with underserved and marginalized communities having previously worked at Goddard Riverside Community Center. She holds a Master of Arts from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a specialization in Juvenile Justice. In July 2020, Liz was appointed as a board member to the Pace University - Lubin School of Business Design Thinking Certificate Program Advisory Board. In 2021, she was one of the leaders selected for Columbia Business School’s Programs in Social Enterprise – Developing Leaders Program For Nonprofit Professionals. In 2022, she was selected to join a team of executive professionals for the Cause Effective Fellows Program: Advancing Leaders of Color in Fundraising. Read more about Liz in Common Impact's 2021 Black Leadership Series!


Gamal Willis, Director of Court Advocacy and Outreach 

 Gamal joined the AFJ team in October 2018, with an extensive background at CASES as a Job Developer, Director of Career Exploration, and Director of the Parole Restoration Project. He also brings relevant experience from his time at the Fortune Society. Gamal is responsible for managing a team of Court Advocates and ensuring effective outreach to new clients. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington and has completed the Criminal Justice Training Institute at CASES.

Annie Troy, Operations Manager

 Annie joined the AFJ staff in May 2020 after consulting since 1995, providing development assistance. She brings a combination of fundraising, marketing, and administrative experience. Her background includes ten years in advertising, including as Creative Supervisor with Young & Rubicam's direct marketing division. In fundraising, she has worked in all facets of public / private funding. events, and communications including as the Development Director for the Mayor's Office Fund for the City of New York, Friends of Island Academy, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, and as a consultant for YMCA of Greater New York.

Samantha Fikilini, Program & Activities Coordinator

Samantha joins AFJ with 10 years of experience working with high-risk youth, homeless youth and alternative children's education programming. She has worked in program implementation, management and evaluation at multiple NY non-profits including Young Survival Coalition, New York Cares, Nontraditional Employment for Women and iMentor. Leading with her belief in the importance of education and the practicality and strength that comes with the application of those tools gained in the classroom into the real world, Samantha is looking forward to creating and providing exceptional programming geared towards the professional and personal growth of the clients of AFJ. Samantha received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Affairs with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership and Biology from Seattle University.

Weston Muench, Communications and Data Specialist 

 Weston joined the AFJ staff in September 2018. Weston holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Spanish and Education from Colby College. Weston is responsible for managing AFJ’s social media accounts and communications, coordinating AFJ’s data collection, managing website changes and assisting the COO with administrative tasks. His educational background gives him a unique ability to connect with our youth and portray their second chance stories on our social media platform.

Nelson Valentine, Senior Court Advocate 

 Nelson has been working at AFJ for over 30 years. Having grown up in the Lower East Side, Nelson understands the daily pressures our youths face and he serves as a role model for making a positive life out of early hardships. Nelson provides counseling to the youth and their families, always emphasizing that the youth must take moral responsibility for his/her life. Living in the same neighborhood as some of his clients makes him incredibly accessible to our LES participants and vital to AFJ. El Diario La Prensa profiled Nelson in the March 2015 issue of their “Buena Gente” (Good People) weekly section because of his drive to improve the quality of life for his fellow Lower East Side residents.

Elsie Flores, Lower East Side Court Advocate

 Elsie joined the AFJ staff as a Lower East Side court advocate in June 2010. Before joining AFJ, Elsie worked in the medical field with several years as a Pharmacist Technician at a national drug store chain and at a school-based health clinic at Washington Irving High School on the Lower East Side. This year, Elsie finished her Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice at John Jay College. We are especially proud of her, since she is a 1999 graduate of our program and recipient of the Glover Program's Outstanding Youth & Second Chance Award in 2008.

Shantel Brooks, Lower East Side Court Advocate

Shantel Brooks joined AFJ in 2021 offering over 5 years of experience spanning supportive housing, case management at a family shelter, Mental Health Intake Coordinator at Fortune Society and Housing Advocacy Case Manager at University Settlement Society of New York.  In addition to working with those impacted by issues of mental health and homelessness, she has worked with individuals who were incarcerated, helping them re-enter into society. Shantel holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 

Brian Stanley, East Harlem Court Advocate 

 Brian brings years of experience working with NYC students to his work at AFJ. Over the last 10 years, Brian has served as a writing tutor, a basketball coach, and an after-school art teacher with a focus on hip-hop. He has also run a center for teens that engaged Brooklyn youth in anti-violence work, college and job readiness, and sexual health classes. Brian's unique capability to connect with and understand our participants has quickly made him an asset to our team. 

Nora Mitchell, East Harlem Court Advocate, LMSW

 Nora joined AFJ as an LMSW with extensive involvement in advocacy and trauma-informed care serving individuals affected by incarceration and interpersonal violence. Her experience includes providing crisis intervention for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence in Los Angeles, performing mitigation on death penalty appeal cases in Texas, facilitating workshops on healthy relationships and consent in schools, and most recently interning at The Bronx Defenders as a social worker in their Criminal Defense Practice. Nora currently leads AFJ’s Mental Health Umbrella of Initiatives for our Participants. She holds a Licensed Master’s in Science of Social Work from UT Austin and a Bachelor’s in Gender Studies from UCLA.

Tiffany Quelix, East Harlem Court Advocate 

Tiffany has provided case management to court-involved youth with group and individual mentoring at the Brooklyn Mental Health Court. Prior to this experience, she was a case manager for Project Renewal’s Fort Washington Men’s Shelter, SCO Family of Services in Woodside and Jamaica, Queens, and At Praxi Housing Initiatives. Tiffany earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies of Education and Psychology at Touro College.

Edison Taborda, Facilities Coordinator

 Edison Taborda bring five years of experience with security, facilities management, and customer service to the AFJ team. AFJ was excited to welcome him to the team in the Fall of 2020. Edison is ready to help AFJ battle the pandemic and is excited to meet our participants when workshops and trainings return to community centers. 

Photography Marty Umans


Developer and Webmaster Roger Manning

Drupal consultants Paul Lee

Digital consultant Michael Small

The relaunch of the website in April 2012 is dedicated to the memory of our excellent friend and former Avenues for Justice Board Member Kemp Mandeville.

Photo: Marty Umans