Annette has been involved in public life for ten years, as a teacher, staff assistant for a member of Congress, and community organizer in Hialeah. She currently teaches middle and high school Social Studies. She has a BA in Economics and is pursuing a Masters of Liberal Studies in Education and Philosophy at FIU.
Aaron Bos-Lun moved to Miami for Teach For America, and spent four years at Homestead Senior High as a teacher and instructional coach. He holds a Master’s in Education and Social Change from the University of Miami and an Education Masters Degree from Harvard University. In 2014 he was recognized as one of SAVE’s “Luminaries of LGBT Equality” for his work with students to start GSA’s in South Florida.
Justin Winston Ono Wales
Justin Wales is a First Amendment lawyer and activist who believes that the free flow of information is necessary for a functioning society. He is a founder of Engage Miami and The Plantain. He loves the Beatles.
Elizabeth Fernandez is a writer, communicator, and longtime activist fighting for LGBTQ rights, immigrant communities, domestic violence survivors, the labor movement, and increased political engagement. In addition to serving as the board secretary of Engage Miami, she’s the communications manager for Florida Immigrant Coalition and a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami. She has served as the communications director of SEIU Florida and the managing editor of The New Tropic, and prior to that she worked in publishing, specializing in editing books and magazines. A South Florida native, she always finds her way back to the beach again.
Justin is from Springfield, Ohio and was a first-generation college student at Georgetown University. He came to Miami in 2013 as a TFA Corps Member and taught secondary science at Miami Central Senior High School. Justin is passionate about working with youth, particularly first-generation college students and ensuring they have the access and resources to achieve their goals. Currently, Justin works for Breakthrough Miami as the STEM Academy Director and is working on his doctoral degree at Barry University. In his spare time, Justin loves to go fishing, camping, hiking, and hang out in Miami with friends and family.
Rob has been in a deeply committed relationship with Miami since 2010 when he moved here from the West Coast. He became hooked on Miami after meeting many fellow dreamer-leaders, who have built bold and ambitious dreams into reality for themselves, their families, and the Miami community. Previously an educator, Rob is now insanely excited to lead Engage Miami’s movement of dreamer-leaders as Engage’s Executive Director and ensure Miami remains a city of opportunity for all.
Ariel was born in the Bronx, but raised in Homestead, Florida—a burgeoning young immigrant community in the rural agricultural area of Miami-Dade. Intense conversations with politically engaged friends in college fostered Ariel’s own involvement in the Young Dems at the University of Texas San Antonio while she was earning her BA in History and American Law. Ariel stayed in Texas for a time and honed her organizing skills at a scrappy new civic organization – MOVE San Antonio- running voter engagement and turnout campaigns. Now she is happy to be back home in the 305 speaking youth to power at Engage Miami, a local organization that is developing new civic leaders who will become the next generation to advocate and develop strong local policy in Miami-Dade that would advance climate justice issues, affordable housing, and education.
Elsa has been practicing the delicate art of persuasion for nearly a decade, doing programming and communications work for progressive organizations in Miami and Michigan like The Aqua Foundation and SEIU Florida. She has been actively working for women’s freedom and rights for sexual minorities since her college days at Michigan Tech, where she graduated with a BA in Communication and Culture Studies in ‘09 and an MS in Rhetoric and Technical Communication in ‘15. Her passions include urbanism and placemaking, feminism, and how open public discourse can make us all a little more understanding of one another.
Gilbert grew up between New York City, Santo Domingo, Dom. Rep. and Miami. He was first trained as an organizer during President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 here in Miami, before attending Tufts University where he double majored in Political Science and Quantitative Economics. He continued to organize by joining NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s re-election campaign in 2014 and founding a Students Against Mass Incarceration chapter on his campus. Gilbert is passionate about affordable housing, economic justice and empowering marginalized communities, and in the long-term would like to combine his organizing and policy & data analysis skills to advance these causes.
Watsonie was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but lived her first eight years in Haiti. At a young age, Watsonie became civically engaged by participating in the 2008 presidential election campaign and rallies advocating change and equality. She went on to earn her BA in Political Science and Psychology at St. Thomas University, while working directly with marginalized populations in the community through her leadership role as president of the Psychology Club. In addition, Watsonie has worked as a research assistant and presented research on a primary health care grant through a community initiative, Live Healthy Miami Gardens. As the desire to promote change are still embedded in her, Watsonie is passionate about her journey at Engage to make significant progress in Miami.
A Hialeah native, Maryan’s preferred language is Spanglish. She has been an active participant in Miami’s cultural scene since 2011 through involvement in community events. During this time, Maryan also dedicated herself to practicing Applied Behavior Analysis as a Registered Behavior Technician, working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to help them understand, be understood by, and effectively communicate with the world around them. Maryan’s first, biggest, and yummiest taste of community organizing was with Foodspark Miami in March 2016. She hopes to merge all these passions and talents into something sustainable, inclusive, and progressive to benefit and empower children from marginalized communities.
Nick was born and raised in Miami. From a young age, he dreamed of helping the people around him through public service. He is currently a college student at Miami-Dade College. The main area he wishes to drive support for is education. He believes it can be the most impactful force in community development.