Lisa Rawlings, PhD
President and CEO
Lisa Rawlings is a public service leader, a strategist, and a creative problem solver with a tireless work ethic. She brings experience in the nonprofit and public sectors and in academia. Her social impact portfolio spans from criminal justice, public health, and immigration to child welfare, disaster recovery, and youth development. As a member of the Senior Executive Service of the federal government, and throughout her career, her work focused on assessment, accountability and programmatic and organizational effectiveness.
Dr. Rawlings is an alumnus from the National Urban Fellows Class of 2011 and has been an active NUF supporter ever since. She led the creation of Research and Statistics Boot Camp for incoming fellows and served on the Academic Partner Search Committee, responsible for recommending Georgetown University as our new academic partner.
Dr. Rawlings is a lifelong learner. In addition to earning her MPA from Baruch College, she also holds MSW and PhD degrees in Social Work from Howard University. And she recently earned an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley, where she received awards for values based leadership.
Chief of Staff
Cynthia works closely with the President & CEO to expand and enhance NUF’s operational and programmatic capacity. She has spent decades uplifting community leadership, advancing resources, and strengthening organizational infrastructure in New York City and the Bay Area, most recently serving as Director of Organizational Development at the New York Immigration Coalition. As Senior Program Director at Coro New York Leadership Center, she launched two leadership programs to bring greater youth voice to public decision-making processes. Cynthia also oversaw grants and technical assistance programs for the Union Square Awards, a family foundation supporting New York City grassroots activists and community arts organizations.
A proud graduate of the class of 2012, Cynthia has served as an active NUF supporter and member of its inaugural alumni advisory board. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley, a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College in New York City.
Senior Director for Programs & Impact
Melissa has always been a fierce advocate for justice. Melissa served as the Director of Leadership Trainings at JustLeadershipUSA, a national organization where she organized leadership development and advocacy trainings across the country for formerly incarcerated leaders. Prior to that, Melissa was the Director of Fellowships at the Institute for Justice & Opportunity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. There, she was responsible for developing and managing several fellowship programs for students passionate about youth justice, advocacy, and philanthropy. Before John Jay, she served in AmeriCorps at the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University where one of her main projects was to develop and manage music mentorship programs for incarcerated young men at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Melissa earned a Project Management Certificate from Baruch College, CUNY, a joint Master’s degree in Human and Community Development and Urban Planning with concentrations in Community Studies and Outreach & Community Development for Social Justice from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earned her B.S from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and also participated in the National Urban Fellows-Executive Leadership and Coaching Program.