Staff BIOs

Walden Anderson

Program Teacher

Walden Anderson grew up in the Bronx and was incarcerated at an early age. During his time in prison Walden participated in the Rehabilitation Through the Arts programs, and earned a Bard College degree through the Bard Prison Initiative. Walden brings a depth of lived experiences to YNY’s classrooms and has been teaching with YNY since 2014. 

Mansura Khanam

Graduate Program Coordinator

Mansura Khanam is Bangladeshi-born, Brooklyn- and Jersey City-raised documentary photographer and teacher. Her work focuses on women and incarceration, and the human condition. She studied History and Africana Studies at Rutgers University and International Affairs at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School. Khanam completed her human rights practicum for her Masters in Hong Kong, where she led cases involving women and children going through the UNHCR refugee status determination process. She then pursued a certificate in Documentary Photography from the International Center of Photography in New York.

Rachel G. Barnard

Founder, Executive Director

Rachel G. Barnard is a Brooklyn resident and social practice artist. Barnard’s practice brings together large groups of diverse communities to create new spaces of justice. Since 2012 she has developed strong relationships with multiple criminal legal agencies, making YNY a go-to sentencing option for young people. Barnard is the NYC Public Artist in Residence with the Department of Probation, a fellow at A Blade of Grass, and a 2019 recipient of the League Prize. She holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from The University of Queensland.

Azeya Webb

Arts and Wellness Facilitator

Azeya Webb is a Canadian born Brooklyn resident with a Bachelors of Science in the field of psychology from St. John Fisher College. She is a former teacher and full time painter who strongly believes in the restorative and therapeutic component of art. She combines all of her passions into one to help students identify their strengths and goals, express their identities and show their ideal society through their artwork. 



Shawnti Hayes

Program Assistant and Peer Mentor

Shawnti Hayes is a graduate of YNY’s Inaugural All-Women’s 8-Week Program, an unstoppable advocate for social justice and criminal legal reform, a Brownsville local, and an artist. YNY hires Shawnti on an hourly basis to act as an Ambassador at events and as a Program Assistant and Peer Mentor in YNY Diversion Programs.



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Ashley Rucker

Teaching Artist

Inspired by her own lived experiences with a sibling suffering from drug addiction, Ashley founded TherapArt during her own self-discovery journey, shaped by dance as her form of healing. TherapArt's mission is to provide individuals with a community-led space that shapes healing and growth through creative expression- dance movement, art, music- all that we can relate to on a soul level and connect. 

TherapArt amplifies voices unheard, and provides safe and sacred spaces for vulnerability through storytelling. In addition, TherapArt facilitates programs that guide students on the power of healing pain and trauma through movement and self-expression.

Alumni Staff Bios

Jordan Morris, PhD

Program Evaluation and Innovation

Jordan Morris is a passionate social justice advocate and research/evaluation specialist who firmly believes in the power of education, culture, and art to build communities.  Jordan designs and evaluates informal learning environments that use experiential pedagogies to cultivate narratives of empowerment and create social awareness. She is interested in the impact that creating and sharing verbal and visual narratives has on meaning-making, resiliency, and community-building.  

Phumzile Sitole

Teaching Artist

Phumzile Sitole is is an actress and voice over artist from Johannesburg, South Africa with an MFA in acting from Columbia University School of the Arts. Recent theater work includes her NYC debut at Playwrights Horizon of the world premiere of If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be A Muhfucka; Yellow Card Red Card at the New Ohio Theatre, The Comedy of Errors and Othello at Classic Stage Company, and Macbeth at The Connelly Theater. Her televsion credits include: Orange Is The New Black, Elementary, and The Good Fight. Phumzile participates on panels and gives readings and speeches with The Aspen Institute and The Public Theatre. She has devised two original works, Sent - which showcased in New York and Johannesburg as well as Nonqawuse. She is a teaching artist and collaborator with many different institutions but is most excited to be working with her favorite organization Young New Yorkers.

Layqa Nuna Yawar (LNY)

Founding Member, Curator, Teaching Artist

Layqa Nuna Yawar is a founding member of Young New Yorkers and has rallied over 80 artists to support us each year through their donations at our Silent Art Auction. We could not have done it without them. They are also our regular teaching artist and inspiring role model for our participants. LNY is a prolific muralist, painter, artivist and speaker working in public space with their artworks being commissioned by individuals and institutions throughout the world.