Meet the Judges:
How we chose the 35
Nearly 400 young people logged into YouthVoices and answered the question, “What is your dream job and what’s standing in your way?” These entries were then reviewed by a group of 10 judges working in either journalism or youth development, then scored based on two pieces of criteria – storytelling ability and personal character.
Storytelling ability: How compelling is the story? Is it insightful? Did the writer clearly articulate goals, challenges or experiences?
Personal character: Does the writer demonstrate a passion for work, family or the community? Is the writer resilient in the face of adversity?
Writers with the highest scores were then contacted by GroundTruth editors, who worked with them to develop their voice and ideas presented in the story.
Andrew Baird is the director of the Workforce and Economic Growth Program at RTI International. As a private sector development specialist, he provides leadership and technical support in the areas of workforce development, youth, small and microenterprise development and entrepreneurship. He has more than 25 years of experience in private sector-led strategies to create broad-based employment and livelihood opportunities in Africa, the Middle East, Europe/Eurasia and Asia. Baird has managed economic growth and youth development programs in more than 20 countries around the world. He has held leadership positions in a range of organizations in the field and at home offices of RTI International, Making Cents International, Chemonics and the Peace Corps.
Benafsha Tasmim is originally from Afghanistan and moved to the US to go to graduate school. She graduated from the SIT Graduate institute and worked at RTI International as a project associate. In this role, she supported a number of youth and workforce activities, including the Global Center for Youth Employment. Her passion for youth programs began as a young female skateboarder serving as an education coordinator for a development program in Kabul called Skateistan, which used the sport as a way to engage with young people and their educations.
Janelle Tiulentino is a software engineer at Snapchat, joining as an early employee three years ago. She specializes in iOS and is currently on Snapchat’s Research team. Tiulentino is passionate about community involvement and social issues, particularly as they relate to the technology sector. She serves as a mentor and young advisory board member for UrbanTXT, a South LA-based non-profit that works to involve Latino and African-American young men involved in tech entrepreneurship. She also volunteers for the B-STEM project, a non-profit that focuses on exposing young women to STEM fields.
She graduated from Stanford University, earning a BS and MS in Computer Science.
Kelly Kasulis is the deputy digital editor of The GroundTruth Project and a freelance journalist writing for various national newspapers and magazines. She’s a recent graduate of Northeastern University, where she studied journalism and worked four full-time summers as a media fellow with NBC Connecticut and the Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interest in Media. In 2016, Kasulis also became a fellow in the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Voices program.
Meghan Mahoney is a policy manager at J-PAL Global, where she manages J-PAL’s Labor Markets Sector, which includes the Youth Initiative. Mahoney also oversees J-PAL’s work on cost-effectiveness analysis and is the managing editor for J-PAL’s monthly email newsletter. She works closely with J-PAL Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)’s policy staff on policy outreach in the LAC region. As a member of the policy group, she works with foundations, governments, NGOs and other organizations to share lessons on what works and help them integrate rigorous evidence into their program and policy selection process.
Prior to joining J-PAL in 2012, she was a trade policy analyst and conducted analysis for US policymakers while researching the effects of international trade on the US economy. Mahoney worked in rural Nicaragua as a Blakeley Fellow, evaluating a pilot microcredit and sustainable agriculture program. She holds an M.A.L.D. from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she focused on Development Economics and Program Evaluation. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics from American University.
An economist, Dr. Nicole Goldin is a recognized leader, entrepreneurial thinker and strategic doer in global development, emerging markets and international affairs. She’s well-known especially for her pioneering work and insights concerning youth, young women and girls. She was lead author of “Toward Solutions for Youth Employment” and is consulting Lead Economist and Policy Advisor at the World Bank. She also is in private practice -NRG Advisory, is professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and non-resident expert with the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), where she launched the Youth Prosperity & Security Initiative and was architect of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index. A supporter of social enterprise, Goldin is on the Board of Educate! and is an advisor to She’s the First. Her insights have featured in CNN, The Huffington Post, SSIR, The Guardian, Devex, U.S. News, Voice of America, WTOP and other fora.
She served in senior positions in the Obama Administration at the State Department and USAID, receiving commendations for her work (incl. USAID’s first Youth Policy), and she played a key role on conflict minerals, economic growth, urbanization, and gender among other initiatives. Her earlier career focused on education, growth and institutional development, democracy and governance, rule of law, emerging markets and private sector social initiatives. She has experience leading collaboration among public, corporate, finance, philanthropic and non-profit sectors with organizations such as the United Nations, International Youth Foundation, Hilton Worldwide, Clinton Global Initiative, Gerson Lehrman Group, Chemonics and IFES. She has been in 70+ countries on all seven continents. Goldin holds a Ph.D. in economics, and masters degrees in development and international political economy. Goldin is a native New Yorker, a volunteer with the Reading Connection, an avid skier and supporter of Arsenal Football Club.
Shawn Jacqueline Bohen is a member of the executive leadership team Year Up, responsible for crafting and orchestrating this social enterprise’s influence strategy and its R & D, and related programmatic experimentation and execution, including the Grads of Life campaign. Over the last 30 years, Bohen has made a career as a collaborative strategist, creating, growing and strategically managing mission-driven organizations. Bohen is recognized for her ability to turn great ideas into dynamic, diversely-staffed, fiscally-viable entities.
Prior to Year Up, Bohen spent more than a decade working at Harvard University in a series of leadership roles facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle some of society’s most challenging and interesting social, political and economic dilemmas. Partnering with academic colleagues, alumni and donors, she led the strategic evolution of four university-wide start-ups, including the Harvard Initiative for Global Health, the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at the John F. Kennedy School, the university-wide Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative and the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions. In her last post at Harvard, Bohen served as assistant provost, co-creating and co-leading the first institution-wide Office for Faculty Development and Diversity committed to transforming Harvard’s approach to finding, developing and promoting a diverse, world-class faculty.
She began her career conducting grassroots environmental and consumer affairs campaigns for the Public Interest Research Groups in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She is married and has five children, three of whom are teenagers.
Stacia N. Frederick is a firm believer in advancing human rights, social and economic justice for all. Frederick is currently a senior program associate at BRAC USA, an affiliate of BRAC, which is an international development organization founded in Bangladesh and also the largest non-governmental organization in the world.
Prior to joining BRAC USA, Frederick was the housing coordinator at Bellevue Hospital Center, where she was instrumental in the design and development of the new housing program, in addition to its implementation. The program provided a bridge between hospitals and the community to help ensure access to appropriate housing services and resources available to the homeless patients. Frederick did similar work at Common Ground, a nonprofit social services organization in New York City that aims to create high-quality permanent and transitional housing for chronically homeless people in the streets.
As a full-time Americorps volunteer with City Year New York and later as an advocate counselor at East Brooklyn Community High School, Frederick has also worked within marginalized communities to help students reach their full potential.
She holds a Masters Degree in International Affairs from The New School and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science with a minor in Africana Studies from Rutgers University.
Tom Herlehy is a highly-skilled food security and agricultural specialist with deep experience in business development, proposal writing and program management. He’s an enthusiastic and passionate facilitator of sustainable business relationships from the farm to the consumers’ table, especially between smallholder farmers and both agricultural input supply companies and the buyers and processors of crops. Herlehy has deep experience in analyzing agricultural marketing systems opportunities and constraints and prescribing holistic approaches with private sector partners to resolve problems and take advantage of opportunities. He’s Culturally sensitive in selecting, managing and leading socially and ethnically diverse teams of professionals working in diverse countries across Africa, the Middle East and former Soviet Union on USAID and USDA funded projects with a cumulative value of over $100 million. He is a knowledgeable speaker on issues around agribusiness development, public-private partnerships, climate smart agriculture and the challenge of involving rural youth in order to feed a global population of 9 billion people a balanced, nutritious diet by the year 2050.
Tom Owens is the director of Children International’s skills training and job placement program, Into Employment, which currently operates in seven countries. Owens also leads the Career Readiness Initiative to expand access for youth to skills development, job search resources and counseling. Through these programs, Owens works with the field staff to develop the potential of underprivileged youth and connect them to the needs of local businesses. Owens has worked in various capacities with Children International for over 30 years, including global program management to establish and expand operations in Latin America, Asia and Africa. He led the housing reconstruction program in Honduras following Hurricane Mitch and, in Colombia, he directed the housing and livelihood program for displaced families. Owens also initiated Children International’s institutional fundraising through our field offices.
Owens is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Following graduation, he worked as a peace corps volunteer in El Salvador and taught English as a Second Language in Kansas City, Japan and Spain.