HERStory in the Making: Opening Ceremony 

Decorative image for Women's History Month

HERStory in the Making: Opening Ceremony

Friday, March 8, 2024  
C-Building, C-103  
10– 11:30 a.m. 

Welcome Remarks  
Alexis McLean, Vice President of Student Affairs 

Provost’s Remarks 
Provost Billie Gastic Rosado 

Guest Speakers
April Cardena, LaGuardia Alumna
Valerie Pires, LaGuardia Alumna
Denise Marquez, Veteran and LaGuardia Student
Aim-E Chi, Poet and LaGuardia Student

Keynote Speaker
Chaplain Dr. Victoria A. Phillips (Dr. V) 

Speaker Bios 

Chaplain Dr. Victoria A. Phillips (Dr. V)Chaplain Dr. Victoria A. Phillips (Dr. V), Keynote Speaker

Chaplain Dr. Victoria A. Phillips, better known as Dr. V, is a criminal justice, mental health, reentry, policy, and organizational behavior consultant. Dr. V holds five specialty certifications in neuro coaching, in addition to being a certified reiki master, certified crisis response chaplain, and death and birth doula.

Dr. V is a renowned and accomplished advocate for the reform of the criminal legal system, a recognized social activist for the cause of justice, a vociferous proponent of the rights of those with invisibly disabling conditions, and a seasoned practitioner in the field of medical and mental health care.

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She is currently the co-chairperson of the New York City Department of Correction Young Adults Taskforce. She previously served for six years on the Adolescents, Young Adults and Adult Board for the New York City Department of Corrections. Dr. V is also a long-standing adviser to The Frailty Myth Council in California, and Shalom International’s New York and Jamaica chapters. Further, she is a founding member of the Jails Action Coalition, HALT solitary, the Fair-Chance for Housing Coalition, BEYONDrosies, the Women’s Justice Taskforce, 13th Forward, Taskforce for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls of color, Treatment Not Jail, Youth Justice, Zero Profit and many others.

April CardenaApril Cardena, LaGuardia Alumna

April Cardena is a first-generation Mexican-American, native New Yorker, and was named on the top 100 Political Power Player Rising list by amNewYork and PoliticsNY.com, and to the Bronx Power List by Schneps Media for her extensive campaign and advocacy work across the borough.

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Professionally, April is a seasoned political operative, avid criminal justice reform advocate, and founding partner of Premier Strategies Inc, one of New York’s top 100 Political Consulting firms in 2023 as chosen by City & State. Most recently, she led the Kristy Marmorato for City Council campaign to victory as Campaign Manager – electing the first female Republican ever to the Bronx and the first Bronx Republican to the City Council in nearly 100 years.

April is a proud recipient of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations through her continued efforts to advance racial equity across New York and holds a degree in criminal justice and social sciences. April sits on several Young Advisory Boards that work with the underserved, underprivileged, and under-resourced groups of New York City and has worked with multiple DEI organizations and projects such as NYU’s IDEA committee.

Valerie PiresValerie Pires, LaGuardia Alumna

Valerie Pires is a New Yorker with an unconventional background. Following a nontraditional path, she worked in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking in the U.S. and abroad. In 2020, she decided to pursue her college dream and earn a degree in Journalism at LaGuardia. After graduating with High Honors, she pursued her B.A. in Film and Media Studies at Columbia University and is now weeks away from graduation in May 2024. In September, she will begin her graduate studies.

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As a social documentary photographer and filmmaker, Valerie focuses on investigative journalism and social documentary (photography and film). Using the written word, stills, and moving images, she develops investigative multimedia storytelling that promotes conversation and helps generate social impact. She is especially interested in issues related to human rights, marginalized communities, namely women, immigrants, refugees, and the LGBTQ community, realities of trauma, and stories that address the intersectionality of politics, education, and culture.

In 2022, she reported on the long-term consequences for LGBTQ refugees seeking asylum in Greece, a project supported by a Pulitzer Center Fellowship that was published in September 2023. The prestigious fellowship was an initiative promoted by LaGuardia’s journalism program and the then-director of the Journalism program, Professor Meghan Fox, when Valerie attended LaGuardia in 2021.

Valerie’s work resides in spaces of fiction and nonfiction. In narrative fiction, she is a screenwriter and director. “Left, Unsaid” (2023), which she wrote and directed, is her first short fiction film and was awarded the 2023 Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. While at Columbia, she co-founded Kinoculture, a film, arts & culture publication that will be launched digitally and in print on March 29.

Just as important as her creative work, Valerie advocates for nontraditional students in the US, especially women—of all ages—who dream of pursuing higher education like she once did.

Denise MarquezDenise Marquez, Veteran and LaGuardia Student

Denise Marquez is a student at LaGuardia studying Computer Science, and plans to graduate in December 2024. Denise completed 4 years of active duty in Virginia Beach, Virginia where she was tasked with coordinating and facilitating the transportation of supplies across locations.

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Denise is grateful for the invaluable growth and opportunity that her experiences in the military afforded her, preparing her with skills and perspectives that she can now apply in the civilian world. The Veteran Resource Center at LAGCC has helped Denise transition back to college by providing support, fostering a sense of camaraderie, and connecting with fellow veterans who share similar experiences. LaGuardia has been helpful with guiding Denise onto the right path, including choosing a major of study. Her plans include completing a 4-year degree at John Jay, and pursuing a career in technology, specifically, cybersecurity. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, and spending time with her family and dog, Ace.

Aim-E ChiAim-E Chi, Poet and LaGuardia Student

Aim-E Chi is a woman with a warrior mentality living in the way of the Dao. She is a poet, curriculum designer and educational facilitator on Rikers Island. As a New Media Technology major at LaGuardia, she uses her studies to develop self-empowerment materials for incarcerated individuals. Her vision is to see minds from behind bars reach beyond imagination and inspire all individuals to tap into the source of divine power within.

HERStory in the Making: Resource Fair 

Friday, March 8, 2024  
C-Building Lobby  
11:30 a.m.– 1 p.m.   

Resource Fair Participating Organizations and Groups

New Women New Yorkers
At New Women New Yorkers, we unlock the untapped potential of immigrant women. Our mission is to empower these tenacious women through workforce development and supportive programs, providing them with the tools they need to secure meaningful employment or advance their education in NYC. We also offer a welcoming, inclusive haven where immigrant women can build community, connect, and share their unique narratives. 

The Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention (SAVI) Program
SAVI is dedicated to validating, healing, and empowering those who have experienced intimate partner violence and their supporters to lead safe, healthy lives through advocacy, free and confidential counseling, and public education. We offer an education newsletter, workshops, and educational office hours on Mondays 3-5PM over Zoom.  

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Bureau of Early Intervention)
The Early Intervention Program provides services for infants and toddlers between 0-3 years old who have developmental delays or disabilities. Within our program, we also provide Developmental Monitoring for infants and toddlers who may be at risk of developing a delay or disability, through ongoing screenings.  

LaGuardia CARES
LaGuardia CARES (College Access for Retention and Economic Success) connects students with resources, referrals and local community services to overcome financial barriers, stay in school and graduate. LaGuardia CARES provides resources for daily living expenses, including food, healthcare, rent, utilities, childcare, emergency transportation, medical expense, tuition, books, supplies, and more! 

The Liberal Arts Option in Women Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGS) @ LAGCC
WGS is an academic liberal arts option of study designed for students who have a strong interest in becoming better-informed world citizens who are equipped to tackle the systemic implications and outcomes of particular local, national, and global forces that disproportionately affect women and LGBTQ people. 

Women’s Community Justice Association (WCJA)
The Women’s Community Justice Association (WCJA) is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of women and gender expansive New Yorkers affected by mass incarceration. Founded in 2018, WCJA is led by justice-impacted women and focuses on change through policy advocacy, community organizing and service. WCJA leads the #BEYONDrosies campaign and the Justice 4 Women Task Force. 

Malikah is a grassroots anti-violence and wellness organization advocating against gender and hate based violence through self-defense training, healing justice, economic empowerment, and community organizing for safety and power. We facilitate, train and organize women and girls across all five boroughs in New York City through partnerships with CBOs, public schools and religious institutions. Through our trainer model, we equip women and girls in our communities with our four programmatic pillars 1) healing 2) self-defense 3) organizing and 4) financial literacy. 

Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities
Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities, Inc. was started in 1965 by a group of concerned parents and senior citizens in the East Elmhurst/Corona area of Queens, New York. At the time, the organization consisted of three neighborhood recreational programs and a senior’s club. Elmcor developed from that small volunteer organization into a major provider of human services with clients ranging from pre-schoolers to seniors. Today, Elmcor is one of the largest non-profit community-based service agencies in Queens, serving youths, young adults, seniors and more.

Women’s History Month: HERStory in the Making Committee

Alexis McLean, Co-Chair Cory Rowe, Co-Chair 
Deema Bayrakdar, Co-Chair Allia Abdullah-Matta
Heather BarikmoHara bastas
Charlene BryantDonniece Davis-Cooper
Daryl GriffinJessica Perez
Patricia QuesadaAlexandra Rivera
Nedelka SoteloNathan Tosh
Ingrid VerasCharis Victory