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Meet our staff

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Amatullah Mervin
Executive Director

Amatullah Mervin is a Boston-Cambridge, Massachusetts native. She is experienced in youth and community organizing, social justice program development and organizational leadership. As a youth and community organizer herself for 10+ years, her work has placed her at the center of supporting youth with recognizing their power and using that power to fight for liberation in grassroots movements. She has successfully worked on numerous campaigns both in the city of Boston and around the nation including Youthway on the MBTA, ending Stop-and-Frisk in New York City and the work to dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Amatullah is a lover of people, travel, good food, culture and difficult conversations around justice, equity and the fight to dismantle oppression for Black youth especially.  Her  sheros include Fannie Lou Hamer, Assata Shakur & Ella Baker, and she models much of her work after their ideology and methodology. Amatullah holds a B.A. in Sociology and is currently working on her Masters in Theology at Boston University.

What's your favorite memory of The City School?
My favorite memory​ of the city school is having my niece (Janessa SLP 17'') get in the car after attending the SLP retreat and explaining how much she would forever be changed from the 3 days and 2 nights she spent with her SLP cohort. It reminded me of the moment I realized youth organizing and social justice education has the power to drastically change who you are for the better.

Favorite TV Show:
Grey's Anatomy (A show created by a dope Black woman, which makes it revolutionary in my book)

Favorite Poem:
In the Event of My Demise by Tupac Shakur

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Gabriella Gilbert
Administrative Coordinator

Gabriella, or more commonly Gabie, spent 3 years at TCS in high school, participating in SLP 2009 and Pathways 2009-2012. While on SLP Staff in 2012, Gabie and a participant taught a Leadership Class in Haiti through a partnership with Empowering Through Education Camp. She is excited to return to TCS staff and support the growing team and powerful young people of Boston.
 

What's your favorite memory of The City School?
Very few experiences can compare to my first SLP Retreat in 2009. In a matter of hours, a group of strangers allowed themselves to become vulnerable with one another and set such a beautiful tone for the building and community we would share throughout the summer. I will never forget the space the staff cultivated for us that made us feel so safe and my fellow SLP folks who loved on each in such genuine ways.

What's something that inspires you and helps you sustain hope?The example that my parents laid out for me inspires all that I do. They navigated adversity with such finesse that I can’t help but believe that I too am capable of pushing through any circumstance that presents itself. 

If you could have coffee with one revolutionary, who would it be and why?
I’d be interested in having coffee with Toussaint Louverture who would shed insight on what it was like to carry out the Revolution, how they led the country and offer thoughts on the current state of affairs.

What are a few of the issues that you're most passionate about and why?
I developed a passion for matters concerning education early on through my father who was a public school teacher and my personal experiences in education have informed further issues that require reform.

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Kimberly Cajuste
Summer Leadership Program Coordinator

Kimberly (She/Her) is a former SLP grad. She joined the program as a participant in 2013 and has been affiliated with the organization since. Kim Co-Coordinated the Summer Virtual Program in 2020 and is now working as the City School program coordinator. She is passionate about youth growth and leadership development.

What's something that inspires you and helps you sustain hope?
I find inspiration in so many things, especially while working with young people. Being able to witness their growth over time gives me hope. I find comfort that we're giving our young people the tools they need to go out in the world and be their outstanding selves.

If you could have coffee with one revolutionary, who would it be and why?
Suzanne Béliar, She was one of the few black Haitian Woman revolutionaries that I learned about in school. She was only 15 when she joined the Haitian Army and shortly after became the First Woman Lieutenant. She was a Haitian Freedom Fighter and revolutionary, lieutenant in the haitian army.

What are a few of the issues that you're most passionate about and why?
I'm passionate about mental health in the POC community, especially the black community. I have a background in psychology, and people of color are not represented in mental health and wellbeing.  I can't just pick one; It's a tie between Insecure and Good trouble.

My favorite book is Salt by Nayyirah Waheed.

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Tara Venkatraman
Director of Programs and Strategy

Tara Deviki Venkatraman (she/hers) is the Director of Programs and Strategy at The City School and a youth worker, organizer, political educator and therapist. Tara has been rooted in Boston-area racial justice youth organizing for over a decade, starting as an alum of BCCJ's Leadership Initiative (InIt) and the Phillips Brooks House Association. From 2011-2017, Tara served as a youth worker and Program Director at The City School, where she co-directed the Summer Leadership Program and Pathways to Change, as well as supported organizational development and fundraising efforts. During that time, Tara also organized with Youth Justice and Power Union in their campaign to decrease funding for police to increase funding for youth jobs in Boston.

Tara also helped to found and continues to co-coordinate the Social Justice Leadership Institute, doing racial and social justice education at independent schools in New England. Tara is on the Advisory Board of Beantown Society in Jamaica Plain, as well as a former board member of Asian American Resource Workshop. Tara also co-coordinates the Boston Youth Justice Donor Circle, an effort to redistribute funding to the Unnamed Youth Coalition.

As a Licensed Clinical Social worker, Tara is also committed to building out mental health and transformative justice practices within communities of color and organizing spaces. She has a therapy practice focused on young people and young adults of color, drawing upon the Liberation Health model. Tara also loves reading, writing, astrology, teaching people to drive, baking, watching basketball and all things superhero (including grassroots organizing groups!)

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Mariko Dodson
Social Justice Leadership Institute + Social Justice Education Institute Coordinator & Coach 

Mariko Dodson (she/hers) grew up in Boston and is proud to call both New England and Southern California home. As a 4th generation (Yonsei) Japanese American, Mariko feels pulled to the intersection of her multiracial heritage. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Occidental College, and her true passion lies developing grassroots leadership for social change. Popular education, community building, martial arts, meditation, home-cooked foods and song are some of her favorite tools in the journey towards liberation. 

What's something that inspires you and helps you sustain hope? The return of spring, year after year, gives me an incredible bodily, felt sense of hope.

 

If you could have coffee with one revolutionary, who would it be and why? What's a surprising or interesting fact about you?

I’m learning to ride a bike at 28 years old!

 

Favorite TV Show

Steven Universe

 

Favorite Song

Que Será, Será by Sly and the Family Stone

 

Favorite Book

Radical Dharma by Lama Rod Owens and Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams

 

Favorite Poem

Right now I’m re-reading I Worried by Mary Oliver

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Particha Paul
Accounting Specialist

Patrica Paul is a sharp, driven professional with more than 14 years of proven experience in banking, accounting and business operations. Specialized ability to design tools for greater efficiency and profitability. She has Earned reputation as a perceptive and practical troubleshooter with a unique ability to solve large-scale problems often deemed too challenging for others. 


What's something that inspires you and helps you sustain hope? My Faith & Spirituality 

What's a surprising or interesting fact about you?
I was a cheerleader in high school.

What are a few of the issues that you're most passionate about and why?
Human rights, government oppression and economic equality.

Favorite TV Show/Movie:
Transformers!

Board of Directors

Khalida Smalls

Alexandria Monteiro (SLP Grad 10 ”)

Bhavin Patel

Iman Ali (SLP Grad 15”)

Lewis Bryant

Paula Lozano

Chloe Frankel (SLP Grad 01”)

Max Greenberg

Cheyanne Woodrow (SLP Grad 16”)