May 9, 2024

FUSE is thrilled to announce the launch of our Spring 2024 Cohort of FUSE Executive Fellows, who are set to embark on transformative projects across various cities and counties nationwide. This cohort is poised to tackle pressing issues ranging from urban resilience and sustainable revitalization to digital equity and healthcare innovation.

FUSE Executive Fellow Jennifer Scheel
Jennifer ScheelCleveland, OH
FUSE Project: Business Intelligence for Sustainable Community Revitalization

Jennifer Scheel, a seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience in strategic analysis and business development, brings her expertise to her hometown of Cleveland through her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow. With a background in consulting for defense, aerospace, and energy sectors, Scheel is now channeling her passion for sustainability and equity into the City of Cleveland’s ambitious initiative for community revitalization.

As part of her FUSE project, Scheel is collaborating with the City to address the pervasive issue of blighted properties and vacant brownfields that hinder neighborhood growth and economic prosperity. Leveraging her skills in data-driven analysis and strategic planning, Scheel aims to transform these neglected urban areas into hubs of opportunity and economic vitality.

Ultimately, Scheel’s project holds the promise of revitalizing 1,000 urban acres, contributing to environmental resilience and economic competitiveness. By promoting equitable redevelopment and fostering collaboration between public and private entities, she aims to create a blueprint for sustainable community revitalization that can serve as a model for cities nationwide.

The opportunity to use my expertise to help revitalize a ‘forgotten’ community in my hometown drew me to the FUSE fellowship. I hope to provide a roadmap, grounded in data analysis, to execute this revitalization equitably and sustainably.

FUSE Executive Fellow Martin Challinor
Martin ChallinorNew York City, New York
FUSE Project: Improving Efficiency to Combat Climate Change

Martin Challinor is a business transformation leader with a passion for leveraging innovation to drive organizational excellence. With a background in astrophysics and an MBA under his belt, he brings a unique blend of analytical rigor and strategic vision to his work.

Now, Challinor is embarking on a new challenge as a FUSE Executive Fellow, partnering with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in New York City to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. In response to the immediate risks facing vulnerable communities, DEP is establishing a Project Management Office (PMO) to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness in addressing environmental challenges.

Challinor’s mission is to streamline DEP’s internal support offices and cultivate a culture of performance improvement. Challinor will dive deep into DEP’s operations, engaging with leaders and stakeholders to understand organizational needs and aspirations. He’ll meticulously review best practices for establishing a PMO and supporting change management within complex government structures. Simultaneously, he will conduct a thorough horizon scan to identify opportunities for efficiency improvement in DEP’s critical cost centers, spanning IT, human resources, procurement, payments, and budgeting.

The ultimate goal is to operationalize the PMO and initiate high-priority efficiency improvements by April 2025, laying the groundwork for DEP’s enhanced capability to respond to climate change.

In the face of escalating climate change challenges such as flooding, extreme rainfall, and soaring temperatures, I am driven to play a part in safeguarding the wellbeing of every New York City resident, particularly those in vulnerable communities. With a background in climate science and project management, I’m eager to contribute my expertise to the crucial work of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. I’m excited about the opportunity to help establish a more agile and efficient operation, focused on shielding New Yorkers from the impacts of climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

FUSE Executive Fellow Gloria Wesley
Gloria WesleySavannah, GA
FUSE Project: Expanding Electrified Public Transit to Connect Affordable Housing

Gloria Wesley is a seasoned management consultant and CEO of Exodus Management and Consulting, LLC. With over 25 years of experience guiding organizations through complex business landscapes, Wesley is a true catalyst for transformative change. Armed with degrees from prestigious institutions like Strayer University, the University of Southern Mississippi, and Tougaloo College, as well as certifications in areas like Lean Six Sigma and Human Resources, Wesley brings a wealth of expertise to every project she tackles.

Now, Wesley is bringing her passion for transformative change to her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow, where she’s collaborating with the City of Savannah on an innovative project. The project focuses on enhancing community resilience in Chatham County by improving transportation connectivity, particularly in historically disadvantaged areas. Partnering with institutions like GeorgiaTech and Savannah State University, Wesley will explore zonal microtransit via electric vehicles (EVs) as a solution. Her goal is to develop a comprehensive strategy with a focus on equity and facilitate its implementation by April 2025.

The resilience of this community drew me to the FUSE Fellowship opportunity, reflecting my encounters with systemic issues. I aim to harness this shared struggle as a force for positive change, fostering collaboration between government and citizens through strength, unity, innovation, and equity. By nurturing resilience, this project will address challenges, strengthen social bonds, and pave the way for an inclusive, sustainable future that uplifts all.

FUSE Executive Fellow Jackson Wright
Jackson WrightNew Orleans, LA
FUSE Project: Curbing Commercial Energy Use Through Equitable Legislation Design

With a passion for justice and a commitment to public policy, Jackson Wright brings a wealth of experience to his role as a FUSE Executive Fellow. His journey from serving on Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’ policy team to coordinating federal infrastructure investments reflects his dedication to advancing equitable solutions, particularly in the Southern United States.

Now, Wright is supporting an ambitious project in partnership with the City of New Orleans. As the City strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance building energy efficiency, Wright’s expertise is instrumental in designing legislation that promotes equity and sustainability.

The project is rooted in New Orleans’ commitment to lead by example, despite challenges in regulating natural gas use in private buildings. Wright’s role is multifaceted, encompassing a listening tour to engage stakeholders and vulnerable communities, researching national energy-use standards, and drafting innovative municipal ordinances.

Beyond drafting ordinances, Wright’s vision extends to establishing robust implementation frameworks, tracking goals and policies, and exploring long-term funding opportunities. The ultimate goal? To not only reduce emissions and unlock energy savings but also to promote housing affordability, lower business costs, and enhance residents’ well-being.

In January, I wrapped up over four years of service for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. As a New Orleans resident, this project and the FUSE fellowship will allow me to connect more deeply with my community in a professional context that builds on my prior efforts to advance the state’s Climate Action Plan. The project presents an opportunity to galvanize community stakeholders toward achieving an important component of the city’s Climate Action Plan — reduction of energy use in private buildings. At the conclusion of the fellowship, I hope that the community has made critical first steps on a clearly defined path to building performance standards with knowledge of their benefits and enthusiasm for their implementation.

FUSE Executive Fellow Mary Austin Harrelson
Mary Austin HarrelsonNew York City, NY
FUSE Project: Building a System to Improve Customer Communication

With a rich background spanning over 15 years in consumer-facing roles across various industries, Mary Austin Harrelson brings a diverse set of experiences to her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow. Her expertise in client experience and operational excellence, cultivated through her tenure as CRM Americas at ETRO, positions her perfectly to support a transformative project with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The project at hand is both crucial and ambitious: enhancing customer communication systems within DEP to better serve millions of New Yorkers while safeguarding public health and the environment. With over 835,000 accounts and generating over $4 billion in annual revenue, the Bureau of Customer Services faces the challenge of improving external communications. This is where Harrelson steps in, supporting the development and implementation of a sophisticated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Over the course of the FUSE Fellowship, Harrelson will navigate the journey from information gathering to project scoping, design collaboration, testing, and ultimately, implementation. Her focus on integrating the CRM with existing systems, training employees, and establishing best practices underscores her commitment to optimizing customer communication and operational efficiency within DEP.

This particular project allows me to leverage existing professional experience and technical skills in an entirely new context. Building Systems of Communications for NYC DEP through the Fuse Fellowship will help bridge the gap between my graduate studies and my previous industry experience.

FUSE Executive Fellow Kristen Abraham
Kristen AbrahamLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Strategic Planning for Digital Inclusion

With a background in business process transformation and strategic planning, Kristen Abraham brings a unique blend of expertise to her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow. Over her impressive career spanning both corporate and nonprofit sectors, Abraham has honed her skills in developing innovative solutions to complex challenges.

Now, she’s lending her talents to the City of Los Angeles, where she’s supporting efforts to bridge the digital divide and advance the SmartLA 2028 vision. In collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, Abraham is leading the charge on crafting a Digital Inclusion Strategic Plan, recognizing the urgent need to ensure equitable access to technology and economic opportunities for all Angelenos.

Abraham’s approach is comprehensive and community-centered. She’s diving deep into stakeholder engagement, conducting thorough research, and mapping out the city’s digital landscape to develop a practical guide for digital equity work. Her plan, set to be completed by April 2025, prioritizes data analysis, community outreach, and collaboration, with a focus on amplifying the voices of marginalized communities. By grounding her work in the lived realities of those at risk of digital exclusion, Abraham is working to empower all Angelenos to seize digital opportunities effectively, regardless of background or income level.

I’ve lived in LA for thirty years, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact a lack of access to necessary resources can have on the community. I was attracted to this particular project because of its potential to positively impact my community on a large scale. This project is focused on providing individuals and small businesses access to a broadband infrastructure that is necessary to operate in today’s digital environment. As we move away from traditional modes of communication and personal interaction to an increasingly digital world, the lack of access to technology and internet resources further widens the already existing divide between impoverished and wealthy communities. People rely on broadband access for a variety of reasons including access to government services, banking, healthcare, and educational opportunities. I spent two decades as a management consultant designing technical solutions for corporations. I am thrilled to now have the opportunity to leverage the skills I’ve acquired from my professional career and my personal experience to further the growth of this incredibly ethnically, religiously, and economically diverse community.

FUSE Executive Fellow Lawrence Ebo
Lawrence EboLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Digital Equity in Broadband Infrastructure

With over two decades of hands-on experience in information technology and a background in the United States Marine Corps, Lawrence Ebo is no stranger to tackling complex challenges head-on.

Ebo is diving into a groundbreaking project with the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL), focused on addressing the digital divide through broadband infrastructure. Leveraging funds from the American Rescue Plan, the project aims to install shared-access, fiber-optic-capable infrastructure on street light poles, bringing free public Wi-Fi and smart-city services to underserved communities like Crenshaw Boulevard.

Ebo will support the transition from infrastructure construction to network operations and management. Through research, stakeholder engagement, and a commitment to social justice principles, he aims to create a strategic plan that not only bridges the digital gap but also ensures increased connectivity access and affordability for all Angelenos.

The hope that I have that this project will bring to the communities of L.A. are access, power and wealth opportunities to people who will benefit from it the most. Fast and reliable wireless internet provides access to needed knowledge, which manifest into power and ultimately wealth. (When motivated to utilized it correctly and to one’s advantage.)

FUSE Executive Fellow Mokyou Hyun
Mokyou HyunLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Advancing Equitable and Sustainable Street Permitting

Mokyou Hyun, a finance professional and advocate for multidisciplinary solutions, is poised to make a significant impact on street permitting processes in the City of Los Angeles. With a rich background in finance, nonprofit advising, and clean energy, Hyun brings a unique perspective to her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow.

Hyun is taking on the challenge of enhancing the Investigation and Enforcement Division (IED) within the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA). This collaboration between FUSE and the City aims to address the pressing issue of processing a large volume of permit applications with limited resources, particularly impacting underserved communities.

The current fee structures, outdated since the 1990s, have created disparities that disproportionately affect Black and Latino neighborhoods, contributing to issues like illegal dumping and unpermitted construction. Hyun’s mission is clear: to revise the fee schedule to ensure equitable cost recovery and generate funds for additional staffing, empowering StreetsLA and IED staff to advocate for City Council approval of the updated fees.

Hyun will dive deep into stakeholder engagement, research, and strategic planning to lay the groundwork for a more equitable and sustainable street permitting process. By April 2025, she aims to have conducted a comprehensive listening tour, revised the fee schedule, and developed compelling justifications and advocacy materials for City Council approval.

The opportunity to work with one of the largest Public Works bureaus in the country to optimize its permit fee structure through financial/strategic analysis, community engagement and policy advocacy was compelling to me. Through increased revenue streams, StreetsLA can provide more reliable street services, stronger infrastructure and greener neighborhoods particularly in the most underserved communities.

Michael BuonvinoJacksonville, FL
FUSE Project: Addressing Flood Mitigation Through Innovative Infrastructure Design and Urban Planning

Michael Buonvino brings over three decades of diverse expertise to his role as a FUSE Executive Fellow, where he’s supporting efforts to address flood mitigation and climate resilience in Jacksonville, FL. With a background spanning project management, strategic planning, and architecture, Buonvino is well-equipped to lead transformative change in urban infrastructure.

In response to the pressing challenges posed by climate change, the City of Jacksonville is taking proactive steps to develop climate-resilient infrastructure design standards. Partnering with FUSE, the City aims to create comprehensive Climate Resilient Design Guidelines to mitigate flood risks and enhance water management through innovative green infrastructure solutions.

Buonvino’s role is pivotal in this endeavor. Through stakeholder engagement and rigorous research, he’s crafting strategic recommendations for resilient infrastructure design. By April 2025, Buonvino aims to deliver a comprehensive document that equips Jacksonville with standardized approaches to adapt to climate change while fostering community resilience and economic stability.

I believe in community action and I believe in FUSE’s policy objectives. FUSE has given me the chance to address policy for very real, present and future climate change resiliency needs and to contribute my depth of experience in a much needed endeavor that will benefit my local community.

FUSE Executive Fellow Sara Hammes
Sara HammesLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Updating Urban Forestry Systems

Sara Hammes brings a wealth of experience in environmental advocacy, technology innovation, and market strategy to her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow. With a background spanning international trade, journalism, and infrastructure development, Hammes has consistently championed sustainability and community engagement. Most recently, she spearheaded infrastructure development for organic residual recycling, aligning with California’s SB 1383 to achieve environmental compliance. Hammes holds a BA in Economics from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Through her FUSE Fellowship, Hammes is partnering with the City of Los Angeles to modernize the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) fee schedule within the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services. Managing over 700,000 trees across 6,500 miles of public roads, the UFD oversees the nation’s largest municipal urban forest. However, the existing fee schedule, outdated by more than 25 years, fails to accurately reflect the financial costs incurred by the UFD or the environmental and well-being benefits associated with tree preservation.

Hammes is tasked with collecting and analyzing financial and ecological data, engaging key stakeholders, and proposing a new fee schedule by April 2025. Her objective is to ensure that the fees appropriately capture the true value of UFD’s work and the positive impact of trees on the health and well-being of Los Angeles residents.

I was drawn to this Fellowship because I am looking forward to developing and implementing sustainability initiatives that are comprehensive in nature and impactful because they focus on the community at large and the interconnections between population sectors, environmental interdependencies, market realities and requirements and overall health and well-being of people and the planet.

FUSE Executive Fellow Joshua Clark
Joshua ClarkLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Advancing Justice Reform Through Multimedia Storytelling

Joshua Clark brings his creative expertise and passion for social impact to his role as a FUSE Executive Fellow with the City of Los Angeles. With over a decade of professional media experience, including senior management positions at Exposure Labs, a prominent film and impact production company, Clark is well-equipped to support transformative projects that merge storytelling with social change.

Departing from conventional incarceration-focused approaches, the Justice, Care, and Opportunities Department (JCOD) prioritizes supporting justice-impacted individuals and communities through re-entry services and community investments. Clark’s partnership with JCOD through FUSE underscores the vital role of effective communication in advancing its mission.

Clark’s project represents a transformative endeavor that amplifies the innovative nature of JCOD’s mission. Clark will support the development of a comprehensive visual and multimedia storytelling approach for JCOD. By leveraging visual and multimedia storytelling, Clark seeks to foster community engagement, build trust, and convey the human impact of JCOD’s unique approach to justice and care. By engaging stakeholders, crafting culturally relevant communications products, and implementing assessment methodologies, Clark aims to empower JCOD to effectively communicate its mission and progress across diverse communities in Los Angeles County.

Too often stories within the alternatives to incarceration and anti-recidivism spaces are somber and melancholy. While it’s important to acknowledge the complex realities of the justice system I believe it necessary and achievable to tell stories that inspire, stories of hope that not only tell the truth but move audiences to act.

FUSE Executive Fellow Mario De la Ossa
Mario De la OssaNew York City, NY
FUSE Project: Monetizing Renewable Energy Investments

Mario De la Ossa brings his expertise in renewable fuels project development and sustainability programs to his role as a FUSE Executive Fellow. With a background in leading asset management and commercial structuring teams, De la Ossa has a proven track record of driving impactful initiatives in both the private and public sectors.

In collaboration with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in New York City, De la Ossa is supporting efforts to monetize renewable energy investments. This aligns with the City’s ambitious environmental goals, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and diverting all waste from landfills by 2030. De la Ossa’s focus is on exploring renewable energy and resource recovery projects within the City’s water and wastewater operations.

By April 2025, Mario aims to deliver comprehensive implementation plans, business models, and procurement strategies that will propel these renewable energy systems forward, contributing to New York City’s broader environmental impact goals.

Carbon circularity has been a focus of mine for the past few years. When I read about NYC’s commitment to making the most out of improving waste management in ways that benefit New Yorkers while also helping mitigate climate change I knew I had to try and help with the process. I hope to help the city achieve an economically attractive outcome that accomplishes the carbon recycling and creates measurable value that can be reinvested into the city.

FUSE Executive Fellow Edidiong Mendie
Edidiong MendieLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Equitable Redevelopment of Public Green Spaces

Dr. Edidiong “Didi” Mendie is a powerhouse in the realm of environmental justice and policy. As the Executive Director of the Ezrach Brain Trust Association, based in Los Angeles, Didi brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Her background as a licensed attorney in Nigeria, coupled with her extensive work with marginalized communities, policymakers, and clean energy stakeholders, makes her a formidable force for positive change.

Mendie’s academic journey is equally impressive, holding a Ph.D. in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University, along with an LL.M. in Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Law from the University of Houston, Texas. With a deep understanding of legal frameworks and environmental issues, she’s poised to make a significant impact on her latest endeavor with FUSE.

Mendie’s FUSE project with the City of Los Angeles focuses on the Taylor Yard rail site along the LA River. This initiative, born out of concerns over “green gentrification,” aims to ensure that the revitalization of the Taylor Yard site benefits all communities, particularly those historically marginalized.

The goal of this project is to develop strategic recommendations that not only address community concerns but also pave the way for equitable development and access to public green spaces. By designing and implementing the Community TYES Action Plan, Mendie aims to create tangible and sustainable change that uplifts communities while preserving their cultural richness and stability.

In life, our experiences mold us and prepare us for the paths we seek. Through my work in nonprofits and collaboration with elected officials, I am positioned to elevate policy to the next level, recognizing the need to drive impactful change. As a servant-leader, I work in the nonprofit space and with communities where I gained first-hand insight into our society’s core challenges. I firmly believe in the power of bottom-up strategies in effecting change. Additionally, as a volunteer leader with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, I advocate for environmental causes, collaborating with elected officials to enact equitable policies that advance the climate movement. The opportunity with FUSE, where equitable systems are fostered through collaborative partnerships among government agencies, nonprofits, and communities through strategic projects was a natural fit. My diverse background in community engagement, nonprofit, and policy advocacy aligned well with FUSE’s mission. Having worked as an attorney, I understand how policy implementation in partnership with key stakeholders is powerful in effecting meaningful change within our community. Joining the FUSE family would enable me to pursue my lifelong passion for equity and justice, and also connect me with like-minded colleagues to make a difference in society. Most importantly, it gives me an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for my generation and future generations in the fight for sustainable climate solutions.

FUSE Executive Fellow Trace Lane
Trace LaneLos Angeles, CA
FUSE Project: Economic Assessment of Extreme Heat Toolkit

Trace Lane is an interdisciplinary climate resilience and equity specialist with a passion for community engagement and environmental justice. With a background in climate resilience, equitable water access, and energy equity, Lane brings a unique blend of expertise to her role as a FUSE Executive Fellow.

In collaboration with the City of Los Angeles, Lane is supporting a vital initiative aimed at combating the escalating urban heat crisis exacerbated by climate change. This project is a crucial response to the disproportionate impact of heat waves on marginalized neighborhoods, a pressing issue that demands urgent attention.

Lane’s role is pivotal in conducting an Economic Assessment of Extreme Heat, a comprehensive study that will guide the selection and implementation of cooling strategies tailored to Los Angeles’ diverse urban landscape. Through a meticulous listening tour and engagement with diverse stakeholders, Lane will gather crucial insights to inform the development of cooling solutions that prioritize environmental justice and address historical infrastructure imbalances.

Ultimately, Lane’s work will contribute to the enhancement of Los Angeles’ climate policy and overall climate solutions investment strategy. By delivering actionable cooling infrastructure solutions backed by data and community input, Lane is paving the way for a more resilient and equitable future for all Angelenos.

I am passionate about advancing equitable strategies for extreme heat resilience in Los Angeles.

Alvaro D. CubidesLos Angeles County, CA
FUSE Executive Fellow Alvaro D. Cubides
FUSE Project: Healthcare Systems Addressing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism

Alvaro D. Cubides brings his expertise and passion to his role as a FUSE Executive Fellow with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). With a dedicated focus on advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Cubides has spent his career tackling organizational discrimination and fostering inclusive environments. As the founder of ADC Consulting, he has developed academically grounded DEI methodologies that address human differences in the workplace.

In partnership with the DHS, Cubides is supporting the implementation of Objective 3 of the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism (EDIA) Initiative. This transformative project aims to address the public health crisis of racism by building a fairer healthcare world for patients and staff alike. Cubides’ role is crucial in designing and implementing a system-wide EDIA capacity-building program for all 30,000 DHS workforce members, leading to more equitable health outcomes for all residents of LA County.

I was drawn to this project due to its dedicated focus on advancing health equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Recognizing that discrimination and implicit bias within medical institutions can have life-or-death consequences, I am eager to raise awareness of these issues in healthcare. My aim is to apply the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism to improve access, patient care, and workforce dynamics. Ultimately, leading to better health outcomes for underprivileged communities