Meet the staff

We continue to honor our roots as a community-based program with court advocates and administrators who come from the communities that we serve and who engage those communities in supporting our program participants.

Angel Rodriguez

Co-Founder and President

Angel Rodriguez


A long-time Lower East Side resident, Angel co-founded Avenues for Justice’s court advocacy program to keep young people out of jail. Incorporated in 1979, Angel expanded the program, opening headquarters inside New York City’s Manhattan Criminal Court building and a flagship community center on the Lower East Side in the 1980s. In 1999, Angel established a second community center in Harlem and in 2018, began to serve hundreds of young people citywide providing free court advocacy with HIRE UP services for job readiness, educational assistance, and mental health care.

During the 1980's, Angel collaborated with (ret.) Hon. Judge Michael Corriero to launch the Youth Part model in Manhattan---a court part which prosecutes youth separately from adults and promotes alternative to incarceration services. Today, this model is used nationwide.

Angel’s “meet the moment” approach is far-reaching as he continues to personally advocate for young adults in the courtroom and handles an active caseload of Participants. Over the years, Angel has been recognized for his service and dedication to diverting thousands of young New Yorkers from prison, along with his outstanding work in fostering alternative to incarceration efforts that exemplify problem solving on a community level. Angel received an honorary law degree from the CUNY Law School at Queens College and was selected as one of three outstanding community activists in New York City to receive the Robin Hood Foundation's Hero Award in 1996. Manhattan DA Bragg selected Angel to serve on the Juvenile Justice Sub-committee of his transition advisory team until his inauguration in January 2022. The transition team was charged with producing a document that outlines recommendations for short, mid, and long-term implementation. In 2024, the Juvenile Law Center selected Angel for their annual Leadership Prize which recognizes outstanding individuals working in any field—law, government, the arts, media, entertainment, sports, business, or any other sector—who are fighting for the rights and well-being of youth in the child welfare and justice systems.

Jalil Abdurraheem

Harlem Court Advocate

Jalil Abdurraheem

Prior to onboarding Jalil as a Court Advocate, he facilitated weekly fitness classes at AFJ’s Harlem and Lower East Side centers as a community partner. With more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry, Jalil helped our Participants achieve and exceed their personal goals for muscle building, toning and conditioning. Jalil is certified as a Boxing Instructor and holds certifications from the American Sports &Fitness Association for Personal Training and Advanced Senior Fitness Instruction. After being incarcerated for over 20 years, Jalil’s background and story resonates with our Participants because he understands the circumstances, peer pressure and obstacles that many of our young people experience in their communities. With the benefit of hindsight, Jalil has lived experience he can share with our Participants on how to avoid making some of the same mistakes that he made as a teenager.

Shantel Brooks

Job Developer

Shantel Brooks


Shantel Brooks joined AFJ in 2021 with over 5 years of experience spanning supportive housing, case management at a family shelter. Shantel was a 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, Shantel has worked with returning citizens, helping them reintegrate into their communities. In Spring 2023, Shantel was instrumental in AFJ’s paid internship initiative, partnering with two Black owned businesses, Buy Better Food & Stuart Cinema. After the completion of the first cohort and seeing the invaluable work experience that Participants gained, Shantel helped AFJ partner with 22 small owned business in NYC for the second cohort in Fall 2023. Shantel looks forward to her continued work with our Participants to assist them in securing internships, employment and training opportunities in 2024 and beyond. Shantel holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Samantha Fikilini

Program & Activities Coordinator

Samantha Fikilini


Samantha joined AFJ in 2021 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, and iMentor. Samantha provides exceptional programming geared towards the professional and personal growth of AFJ’s Participants. With a focus towards certifications, Samantha has helped increase AFJ’s programming menu to include more OSHA, CPR, and Food Handler workshops. Always looking to shape our Participants wholly, she is on the lookout for more opportunities to help lead our clients to safer and brighter futures. Samantha received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Affairs with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership and Biology from Seattle University and serves on the GOLD Council for her alma mater.

Elsie Flores

Lower East Side Court Advocate

Elsie Flores


While a Participant at AFJ, Elsie received legal support, supportive services, mentorship, and guidance. Through her own hard work and with the support of her Court Advocate, Elsie was able to navigate the court system without having to serve time. Additionally, Elsie was able to intern at AFJ after successfully graduating from the program and earn a Bachelor’s Degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in2020. Elsie joined the AFJ staff as a Lower East Side Court Advocate in June2010. Before joining AFJ, Elsie worked in the medical field for several years as a Pharmacist Technician and at a school-based health clinic on the Lower East Side. We are especially proud of her as a 1999 graduate of our program, a recipient of the Andrew Glover Program's Outstanding Youth & Second Chance Award in 2008,and a Robin Hood Heroes award recipient in 2022. In 2023, Elsie was accepted in the graduate school program at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. Elsie exemplifies the importance of second chances.

Elizabeth Frederick

Executive Director

Elizabeth Frederick


In 2020, Elizabeth (Liz) Frederick was selected by Avenues for Justice’s (AFJ) Board to become Chief Operating Officer (COO). As COO, Liz has overseen development and fundraising, the agency's financial wellbeing, administrative operations, HR, board development, and Participant data collection and impact evaluation. During her time as COO, Liz has advanced the organization’s development efforts and fundraising strategies to successfully secure several larger, multiyear grants, including the largest grant gift in organizational history. In 2024, AFJ’s Board selected Liz to become the organization’s next Executive Director to build on the45-year successful track record of the organization and Co-Founder, lead AFJ into the future and expand its programmatic reach. She holds a Master of Arts from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is a proud Ithaca College alumna. In 2021,she was 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. In 2024, Liz was selected for Cause Effective’s Blueprint for Executive Leaders of Color to Achieve Mission Impact program. She is a member of Impact 100 NYC which compromises of a dynamic village of empowered women empowering others through transformational grantmaking to help organizations doing critical work move forward to provide services which impact so many New Yorkers.

Coniqua Johnson

Development Manager

Coniqua Johnson


Coniqua Johnson-Reed is a transformative force in the non-profit sector, with over a decade of diverse experience in communications strategy and development. From her early advocacy work with organizations like Planned Parenthood and the New York Civil Liberties

Union, where she championed causes ranging from comprehensive sex education to LGBTQ+ rights in schools, Coniqua has embodied audaciousness in pursuit of social justice. As the Founder and Chief Consultant of Fearless Spaces Consulting, she has led organizations through culture assessments and develops inclusive workplace frameworks. Her extensive experience leading development and communication efforts includes roles such as Development Officer Consultant at the Institute of Black Imagination, where she collaborated with organizational leadership to design sustainable development pipelines and secure government grants; and Communications Manager at the Harry T. Burleigh Society, where she crafted high-impact messages for marketing media, grew the organization's social media following, developed strategic plans for organizational growth and awareness, and designed outreach strategies to highlight Black classical singers. As Development Manager, Coniqua brings her passion for social change to AFJ’s development team to drive impactful fundraising initiatives and further the mission of transforming the lives of young people involved in the justice system. With a Master of Science in Non-profit Management from The New School, a Women's Entrepreneurship Certificate from The Bank of America Institute at Cornell, and a Bachelor of Science from Sage College of Albany in Public Policy and Public Affairs, Coniqua has honed her skills as a leader and visionary.

Weston Muench

Communications and Data Specialist

Weston Muench


Weston joined the AFJ staff in September 2018 and holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Spanish and Education from Colby College. Weston has overseen the development and growth of AFJ’s social media platforms and was an integral part in the overhauling of AFJ’s website. In partnership with the Program and Development teams, Weston manages our new client data collection database and will continue to be the liaison with the developer. Through data collection, social media content, writing weekly newsletters and more, Weston is essential in helping AFJ tell its story to our supporters. 

Julia Price

Harlem Court Advocate

Julia Price


Prior to joining the team as a Court Advocate, Julia was an active member of AFJ’s Junior Board, where she assisted with fundraising, event planning and outreach endeavors. She co-founded a dining club based in Brooklyn which aims to build community through responsible, sustainable local foods and strives to promote friendships across borough, ethnic, language and racial lines. Julia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Ohio State and believes that Neuroscience can play a major role in the effectiveness, equity and fairness of the criminal justice system.  Julia has helped strengthen the organization's reputation in the Bronx Court system, and as a result, she now serves as the primary liaison between AFJ and the borough. Additionally, she spearheaded AFJ's Internship Program with Court Advocate, Shantel Brooks. Together, they have grown the initiative to serve over 30 Participants through partnerships with 15+ local businesses and collaborations with similar organizations.

Stephanie Santana

Harlem Court Advocate

Stephanie Santana


Prior to joining AFJ as a Court Advocate, Stephanie worked in the homecare field as a Lead Case Coordinator at Heart to Heart Homecare for seven years. As a case manager, Stephanie managed 100 patients, providing homecare for the elderly as well as providing care for kids in need. She developed personal health care plans, tracked patient referral services, and consulted with family members about long- and short-term plans for her patients. Stephanie is passionate about ensuring that young people get individualized plans and the resources needed to ensure their success. Her work experience translates perfectly into the case management skills needed to be an effective Court Advocate at Avenues for Justice.

Brian Stanley

Manager of Court Advocacy

Brian Stanley


Brian has brought 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 made him an asset to the AFJ team.

Brian is the lead facilitator of AFJ’s Legal Rights & Responsibilities workshop---a weekly series aimed at educating our Participants on their legal rights and responsibilities, criminal law, the criminal and juvenile court process, and collateral consequences.

Edison Taborda

Facilities Coordinator

Edison Taborda


Edison Taborda brings five years of experience with security, facilities management, and customer service to the AFJ team. Having joined the AFJ team in 2020, Edison was instrumental in keeping our centers and Participants safe during the pandemic.

Nelson Valentine

Senior Court Advocate

Nelson Valentine


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.

Gamal Willis

Chief Program Officer

Gamal Willis


Gamal's remarkable career is a testament to his commitment to justice and community service. Currently overseeing a demanding caseload, Gamal supervises the Court Advocates, the Activities and Facilities Coordinators and all of AFJ’s HIRE Up facilitators. Gamal manages programs and activities, ensuring the highest quality of service, successful outcomes for AFJ Participants, and strict adherence to court advocacy requirements. His strategic programmatic leader ship played a pivotal role, between 2020 and 2023, in deepening services offered to the largest number of Participants in AFJ’s history. Notably, Gamal instituted and expanded AFJ’s Summer Youth Employment Program in 2021 and 2022. A graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts, Gamal honed his skills at the Criminal Justice Training Institute at CASES, where he served before joining AFJ in 2018. Gamal's achievements extend beyond his professional role, as he has been the recipient of numerous awards in the criminal justice field. His expertise lies in Project Management, and he has actively participated in the Robin Hood / Berkeley Executive Coaching Program.


A diverse group of major executives

Our board is a diverse group of major executives who are committed to our mission of criminal justice reform and offering second chances to at-risk youth. The board is compromised of financial, real estate and legal experts.

Chair Emeritus
Josh Baer
Art Dealer & Publisher

Alanna C. Rutherford
Head of Commercial Litigation

Vice Chair
Dean H. Schaffer
Manager Director,


Laura Sweeney
Labor Relations Specialist

Richard C. Trepp
Chairman, Rockport PA, LLC & Rockport VAL, LLC

Executive Director
Angel Rodriguez
Avenues for Justice, Inc.

Marc de Swaan Arons
Founder, Institute for Real Growth

Bernie Huddlestun                                                                    
Senior Director of Operations,
Uber Technologies

Rebecca Lewinson
Vice President Infrastructure Solutions, BlackRock

Danielle S. O'Bannon
Private Wealth Advisor,
Goldman Sachs

Charles Radcliffe
Managing Director & Wealth Manager, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management

Suzy A. Reingold
Consultant, Real Estate

Allen Rothman
Member and General Counsel, Countryside Ventures LLC

Scott Wilcoxen
Managing Director, Head of Digital Infrastructure Investment Banking

Advisory Council
John Mosler, Chair
Charles E. Binder
Benjamin Brafman
Hon. Michael Corriero
Lucy Lang
Dr. Amy Lopez
Wayne McKenzie
Ernest Morales III
Hon. Judge Padro
Hon. Leslie Crocker Snyder

our junior board

A group of dedicated young professionals

Our Junior Board is a group of young professionals committed to increasing awareness of Avenues for Justice’s mission in their social and business networks and creating an exciting environment where members can deepen their understanding of community issues, gain governance experience and socialize.

If you would like to learn more about joining the Junior Board or sponsoring a Junior Board event, please contact Wes Muench.

Alex Ehat
Business Operations Manager

Bianca Di Mauro
PREP Associate
Cushman & Wakefield

Nancy Eveleigh
Associate Director

Laura Holmes
Physician Assistant
New York Presbyterian Queens Hospital

Jeff Huang
Senior Lead

Simran Jagtiani
Marketing Coordinator

Avanti Joshi
Infrastructure and Security Engineer
Truss Inc.

Aman Kaur
Vertical Lead, Americas

Kimia Khatib-Shahidi
Policy and Advocacy Associate
Responsible Business Initiative for Justice

Robert Lambeth
Product Research Lead

Chelsea Leeds
Senior Project Manager
Dartcor Food Services

Jill Wickham
Physician Associate
Mount Sinai


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