Meet Us

Our Board

Aaron Bos-Lun

Board Chair

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.

Elizabeth Fernandez

Vice Chair

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.

Victoria Fear

Board Secretary

A proud New Jersey native, Victoria has lived in Miami since 2012. She strongly believes in the power of community and economic development and civic engagement for a more just, equitable society. Victoria is a three-time AmeriCorps Alum and completed her M.S.Ed at University of Miami. She also serves on the boards of Philanthropy Miami and EPIP Florida.

Atqiya Khan

Treasurer

Born in Bangladesh, Atqiya was brought to Miami as a child and is a first-generation college student. As a strong advocate of equal opportunity and youth empowerment, she has dedicated her time to seeing these values nurtured within the South Florida community. Atqiya is the founder and CEO of Victor Labs, a non-profit dedicated to giving young people in underserved areas a foundation in computer science. She also spends much of her time volunteering with the Refugee Assistance Alliance and Amnesty International locally. She previously finished as a top graduate from Miami Dade College and is currently studying Political Science, Philosophy, and Mathematics at the University of Miami. In her free time, Atqiya enjoys photography and publishing zines with artwork cultivated by local Miami artists and friends.

Sara Yousuf

Board Member

Sara Yousuf, Esq. is a board-certified criminal defense attorney who has represented Miami’s indigent accused for 12 years. She chaired Engage Miami from January of 2016 to August of 2018 because she believes democracy works better when more people participate. Yousuf co-founded Emerge Miami, a grassroots community group that makes Miami better through progressive social events, and she also co-founded Sweat Records, Miami’s premiere independent record store. Yousuf can beat you at Scrabble and has a lifelong love of origami.
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Justin Winston Ono Wales

Board Member and Founder

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.

Justin Pinn

Board Member

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.

Aimee Ferrer

Board Member

Aimee Ferrer is a semi-native Miamian, who was born here, but grew up moving at regular intervals between New Jersey and Miami. She has a deep love for Miami as a city and believes it’s a better place when everyone who lives here is engaged, represented and involved. Aimee is a double Hoya, having attended Georgetown University for both college and law school. She’s now an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Miami Office of the Federal Public Defender. She believes deeply in ensuring that all members of our community are heard and have opportunities to excel. She’s lived all over, including stints in D.C., New York, Madrid, London, Quito, and Israel. She’s an avid adventurer who likes to explore the world as often as possible.

Jonathan Flores

Board Member

Jonathan is a first-generation U.S. citizen and raised in Miami. He served in the in the U.S. Army where he deployed to Afghanistan. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Public Administration. His dedication to public service has led him to serve with the Florida House of Representatives, 11th Judicial Circuit, Teach for America, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Public Allies Miami. As a full-time introvert, he likes to spend time with family and explore YouTube.

Our Staff

Rebecca Pelham

Executive Director

rebecca@engage.miami

Rebecca was raised in the beautiful green mountains of Vermont and is proud to call Miami home for the past six years. Her passions for democracy, sustainability, and education have guided her professional journey, and she is honored to work with the amazing team at Engage. She previously served as the Director of the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and as a leader of the Miami Climate Alliance Steering Committee after having completed a M.S.Ed. in Education and Social Change from the University of Miami. When she’s not at work her love for good books, modern dance, and gardening keep her more than busy.

Gilbert Placeres

Organizing Director

gilbert@engage.miami

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.

Elsa Roberts

Communications Director

elsa@engage.miami

Elsa has been practicing the delicate art of persuasion for nearly a decade through programming and communications work in the non-profit and labor sector. 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.

Briyana Joseph

Organizer

Raised in Liberty City, Miami, Briyana has always wanted to create a better reality for the people in her community. While finding her voice to speak up about many issues, she realized that she can help others find theirs too. She has been actively serving marginalized populations and fighting for the rights of sexual minorities for a while, but honed her craft (of civic engagement) the past four years while attending Mount Holyoke College, where she graduated with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. She is passionate about economic justice, feminism, affordable healthcare and providing people the tools to speak up for themselves so that they can change the world around them.

Martin Melgar

Organizer

Martin was home grown in the Little Havana side of Miami. Trying to have deep roots into his community, he put in hundreds of hours into community service while in high school. A UF graduate with a BA in Linguistics, Martin analyzes the effect language has on culture. Having found his passion for use of language in a sociopolitical realm, Martin hopes to look into ways to brings the communities of Miami together, as he believes we are all stronger together.

Jessica Saint-fleur

Organizer

Jessica was born and raised in Little Haiti. She has always exhibited a spirit of activism in her community, as well as the world around her. A recent graduate of Pitzer College, where she obtained a BA in Human Biology as a first-generation student, Jessica began to explore her identity and find her voice. Through her passion directed towards healthcare reform and the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement, Jessica naturally emerged with an intersectional social justice approach in life, leading her to give back to her own community now with Engage Miami.

Maryan Firpo

Organizer

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. 

Watsonie Denis

Organizer

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.

Nicholas Mayor

Intern

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.