Staff

Get to know the people who've made AFJ a success.
Executive Director Angel Rodriguez, and Court Advocate Elsie Flores with her participant Keanu, the 2019 Second Chance Award honoree.

STAFF

Angel Rodriguez, Executive Director For over four decades, Angel Rodriguez has served as AFJ's Executive Director, working with youth in the community in which he grew up, went to school and still lives today. Part youth worker, part organizational leader, Angel has direct and daily involvement with clients, supervising the most sensitive advocacy procedures and carrying a heavy caseload. A known and respected figure both in the courtroom and on the streets of the Lower East Side, Angel's work continues around the clock as he moves through the neighborhood. Under Angel's leadership AFJ has been the recipient of many awards including: New York State Bar Association's Public Service Award, Manufacturers Hanover's Community Development Award and the Exxon Corporation Community Service Award. For his personal dedication to AFJ, Angel received an honorary law degree from the CUNY Law School at Queens College and in 1994, Angel was selected as one of three outstanding community activists in New York City to receive the Robin Hood Foundation's Hero Award in 1996.

Elizabeth Frederick, Chief Operating Officer As COO, Liz oversees fundraising and administration, board development, and evaluation and client data collection, in addition to providing leadership and direction in long-range organizational and program planning. Liz is committed to serving marginalized youth, having worked with AFJ participants for over a decade as Grants Manager, and with NYC young people through her previous position at Goddard Riverside Community Center. She holds a Masters of Arts from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a specialization in Juvenile Justice.

Gamal Willis, Manager of Court Advocacy and Outreach Gamal joined the AFJ team in October 2018, with an extensive background at CASES as a Job Developer, Director of Career Exploration, and Director of the Parole Restoration Project. He also brings relevant experience from his time at the Fortune Society. Gamal is responsible for managing a team of Court Advocates and ensuring effective outreach to new clients. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington and has completed the Criminal Justice Training Institute at CASES.

Weston Muench, Communications and Data Specialist Weston joined the AFJ staff in September 2018. Weston holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Spanish and Education from Colby College. Weston is responsible for managing AFJ’s social media accounts and communications, coordinating AFJ’s data collection, managing website changes and assisting the COO with administrative tasks. His educational background gives him a unique ability to connect with our youth and portray their second chance stories on our social media platform.

Nelson Valentine, Senior Court Advocate Nelson has been working at AFJ for over 30 years. Having grown up in the Lower East Side, Nelson understands the daily pressures our youths face and he serves as a role model for making a positive life out of early hardships. Nelson provides counseling to the youth and their families, always emphasizing that the youth must take moral responsibility for his/her life. Living in the same neighborhood as some of his clients makes him incredibly accessible to our LES participants and vital to AFJ. El Diario La Prensa profiled Nelson in the March 2015 issue of their “Buena Gente” (Good People) weekly section because of his drive to improve the quality of life for his fellow Lower East Side residents.

Carmen Arroyo, East Harlem Court Advocate Carmen joined the AFJ team in East Harlem in July 2008. Her work experience includes four years at the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center working in various positions including job developer, caseworker, and outreach worker. She grew up in and currently lives in East Harlem and is fluent in Spanish. Carmen leads a weekly RAP session at the East Harlem center and also spends much of her time counseling her clients, conducting home visits and facilitating educational trips and other prevention programs for all East Harlem youth.

Elsie Flores, Lower East Side Court Advocate Elsie joined the AFJ staff as a Lower East Side court advocate in June 2010. Before joining AFJ, Elsie worked in the medical field with several years as a Pharmacist Technician at a national drug store chain and at a school-based health clinic at Washington Irving High School on the Lower East Side. This year, Elsie finished her Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice at John Jay College. We are especially proud of her, since she is a 1999 graduate of our program and recipient of the Glover Program's Outstanding Youth & Second Chance Award in 2008.

Johnny Jara, Lower East Side Court Advocate / Activities & Volunteer Coordinator Johnny holds both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College in New York. During college and up to his joining Avenues for Justice he has worked steadily in the legal field as a records analyst and legal assistant with leading City law firms including Milberg LLP. With this professional work background that spans ten years, Johnny brings superb data management skills to AFJ. And very importantly for our work, he grew up and continues to live in the projects on the Lower East Side, contributing insight into the issues our youths face and an ability to quickly establish a life-saving rapport.

Brian Stanley, East Harlem Court Advocate Brian is the most recent addition to our Court Advocacy team at AFJ. Brian brings years of experience working with NYC students to his work at AFJ. Over the last 10 years, Brian has served as a writing tutor, a basketball coach, and an after-school art teacher with a focus on hip-hop. He has also run a center for teens that engaged Brooklyn youth in anti-violence work, college and job readiness, and sexual health classes. Brian's unique capability to connect with and understand our participants has quickly made him an asset to our team. 

VOLUNTEERS

Photography Marty Umans

Art Program Director Cindy Ruskin

WEBSITE

Developer and Webmaster Roger Manning

Drupal consultants Paul Lee

Digital consultant Michael Small

The relaunch of the website in April 2012 is dedicated to the memory of our excellent friend and former Avenues for Justice Board Member Kemp Mandeville.

Photo: Marty Umans