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.
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.
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.
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.
Charita Gainey, PhD
Charita Gainey is an educator who was born and raised in North Carolina. She has over a decade of experience, teaching in a wide range of settings. She has taught at all levels from seventh grade through undergraduate, and has experience working with young people in both urban and rural as well as public and private schools. She comes to YNY as a student of African- American history and culture, viewing the organization’s work as an important intervention to historical and current institutional racism in our nation’s criminal legal system. She holds a PhD in African and African American Studies and a Masters in English from Harvard University, a Masters in Secondary English Education from Lehman College, and a Bachelors degree in English from Cornell University.
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.
Executive Assistant and Office Manager
Rose Paxton is a Brooklyn-based nonprofit professional and organizer. Born and raised in California, she comes to YNY with experience managing the operational and administrative needs of both large nonprofits and smaller grassroots organizations. Committed to addressing the systemic roots of violence and injustice, she holds a BA in American Studies from Vassar College.
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.
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.
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.