IGNITE Fellows are changing the face of leadership in their communities, and ultimately, across the United States. 

A premier fellowship program for civically engaged young women who are on the path to become the next generation of political leaders. Every year IGNITE recruits a new cohort of diverse and passionate women in communities across the United States and provides them with resources, training and networks to launch political careers. These young women serve as ambassadors for IGNITE’s mission and vision and play a valuable role in our efforts to spread a national message that it is time for young women to step into political power.

Each Fellow:

    • Launches a regional college council for 20-30 politically ambitious young women from a group of local college campuses. Each College Council meets for bi-monthly weekend retreats to develop political leadership skills, learn in-depth information around a specific policy area, and receive mentorship from several elected women.
    • Works with the College Council members to start and sustain IGNITE College Chapters on their home campuses, thereby reaching many more politically active young women. Chapters build political and civic engagement among students and organize activities like voter registration drives, policy workshops, and meetings with elected women and candidates. Chapters members have the opportunity to target their organizing efforts to the specific needs of their campus.
    • Organizes a regional IGNITE events for an even broader audience of young women and community stakeholders to expand IGNITE’s program reach and audience.

Meet our 2017-2018 Fellows

Zunera_Ahmed_(1)_NYC.jpgZunera Ahmed serves as our New York Fellow. She is currently a senior at Brooklyn College, City University of New York pursuing a degree in psychology. Her passion for politics began at a young age and has carried into her college career.  She serves as the Speaker in her campus student government has previously interned at Brooklyn College’s NYPIRG chapter. These experiences sparked her passion for advocacy. Zunera was a member of IGNITE’s inaugural college council in 2016-2017 where she was introduced to politically ambitious peers from across New York’s boroughs.  As a Fellow,  Zunera hopes to educate and support her fellow college women to pursue careers in government, while creating a  safe space for women to ask questions and challenge themselves. After graduation and the fellowship, Zunera plans to run for City Council in New York. For New York college related inquires, please contact Zunera at zunera@ignitenational.org.


 

Kirsten_Jackson_(2)_Atlanta.jpgKirsten Jackson serves as our Atlanta, GA Fellow. Her path to political leadership and advocacy started in high school where she launched, the Forgotten Ones, an organization devoted to supporting individuals with their basic needs from sanitary products to backpacks. Kirsten is a junior at Agnes Scott College, an all women’s college, where she is studying Political Science with a minor in Business Management. On campus, she had holds a number of leadership roles including: an executive position on the Judicial Board, Resident Assistant, and Tower Council. As a fellow, Kirsten will combine her passion to advocate for the unrepresented with her goal to get more women elected to office. Kirsten’s goal is to empower women by helping them see they are capable of becoming political leaders and shattering the glass ceiling in politics. For Atlanta college related inquiries, please contact Kirsten at kirstenj@ignitenational.org. Read Kirsten's interview in Her Campus.


 

Sam_Lichtin_(2)_Denver.jpgSamantha Lichtin serves as our Denver fellow. She is a writer, organizer, policy maker, and climate scientist who studied Geology & Geophysics and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Yale University where she focused on paleoclimatology and large-scale impacts of climate change. After graduation, she returned to the metro area after graduation to learn how politics actually works behind the news coverage and get involved in Morgan Carroll’s campaign for CD-6. She has since served as a lead organizer for the Denver March for Science, and worked energy and environment policy for members of the Colorado State Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor’s Office. Sam is fiercely committed to expanding access to the experiment known as self-governance, such that we create a truly representative democracy and more equitable and just world. She is proud to work with IGNITE in its dedication to empowering young women from all backgrounds in the political process. When not encouraging other young Coloradans to engage in public service or fighting for evidence-based policy at the State Capitol, you might find Sam preparing tax returns with VITA, playing viola with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra, cooking up a storm, or curled up with a good book. For Denver college related inquiries, please contact Sam at sam@ignitenational.org.


 

Nayda_Okamoto_(1)_Boston.jpgNadya Okamoto serves as our Boston, MA fellow. Nadya is a sophomore at Harvard College. At 16, Nadya founded PERIOD, a global organization providing and celebrating menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service. Since its founding in 2014, the organization has reached  110,000 individuals and have registered over 100 campus chapters. She is also the co-founder of E Pluribus, a post-partisan media platform that engages young people in discussions around issues that they truly care about, and pushes them to take action. Nadya will share her organizing experience and political ambition to empower young women in the Boston community to step up into leadership roles. Nadya herself is stepping into political power and is running for Cambridge City Council in fall 2017. For Boston college related inquires, please contact Nadya at nadya@ignitenational.org.


 

Geovanie_Ordonez_(1)_San_Antonio.jpgGeovanie (Geo) Ordonez serves as our San Antonio, TX fellow. As the second to attend college in her family, Geo decided to focus her career in public policy. She is a recent graduate of St. Mary's University where she earned a Bachelor's in Political Science and International Relations. Throughout her college career, Geo was deeply involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) where she served as president for the 2016-2017 school year. Along with the SGA, she has served as Vice President for the Social Justice League, Service Intern with the Civic Engagement Center, and intern with the Center for Legal and Social Justice. Geo is a recipient of the Marianist Student Leadership Award and Presidential Award. Geo is committed to sharing her experience to motivate young female minorities to declare their political ambition and run for office on campuses and in communities across San Antonio. Geo aspires to bring back all the knowledge she has gained to her hometown of Fort Worth where she hopes to one day work to bring more political representation for minorities in her hometown of Fort Worth and across TX. For San Antonio college related inquiries, please contact Geo at geovanie@ignitenational.org.


 

dalila_final_photo.jpgDalila Valdez Renteria serves as the Southern California Fellow. Dalila was born in Mexico and immigrated to the Inland Empire when she was a child. As an immigrant, Latina woman she is passionate about social change through political advocacy and is committed to getting more  young women of color involved in local government. She is currently working on a Masters of Public Policy at UC Riverside and will be graduating spring of 2018. During her undergraduate career at the University of California, Riverside, Dalila was an inaugural member of the 2015-2016 college council in Southern CA and also led the efforts to launch an IGNITE chapter on campus. For Southern CA college related inquires, please contact Dalila at dalila@ignitenational.org

 


 

Zeenat_Y_(2)_Seattle.jpgZeenat Yahya serves as our Seattle fellow.  This fall, she is starting a Masters of Education Policy program at the University of Washington. Zeenat is passionate about empowering young women to become political and civic leaders in their communities. Previously, Zeenat has served as the California Program Coordinator for IGNITE, where she worked on program development and administration of our CA high school and college programs. Zeenat is excited to continue her work with IGNITE as the organization combines her passions: education, politics, and women’s empowerment. Zeenat holds a B.A. in Political Science-Public Service from the University of California, Davis. For Seattle college related inquiries, please contact Zeenat at zeenat@ignitenational.org.

 


 

Elizabeth_Zalanga_(2)_Minneapolis.jpgElizabeth Zalanga serves as our Minneapolis Fellow. She is currently completing an Associate in Arts Degree with an Emphasis in Social Science/Public Affairs at Saint Paul College. This past spring Elizabeth was elected to serve on her school’s student senate as the Diversity Officer. She was also elected to serve as the Metro North Region - Governing Council Representative. In both of these positions Elizabeth erves as an advocate for her school’s student body and for the greater campus community of public two-year community and technical colleges in her region. After completing her associate’s degree Elizabeth hopes to transfer to the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) to complete a bachelor's in Global Studies and eventually a Master's in Public Policy. Elizabeth is deeply committed to dedicated to advancing racial, social, and economic equity. Her passion extends to her service on the Board of Directors of several nonprofit organizations that address disparities faced by young people of color. During her Fellowship, Elizabeth wants to foster the leadership skills and confidence of young women who are passionate about policy-making and running for elected positions. For Minneapolis college related inquiries, please contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@ignitenational.org.


 

Fellowship Cohort I: 2016-2017

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Left to right: Jade Goins, Atlanta Fellow; Kayla Farhang, Minneaplois Fellow; Monica Sibri, New York Fellow; and Tiffaney Boyd, Southern California Fellow Read the bios of our former fellows.