staff and board

The Urban Word NYC team consists of professional artists and administrators trained in both academic and creative spaces. In the past year along, UW staff and interns have helped to provide over 5,000 hours of free writing workshops, produce more than 100 sold-out events, and manage more than 120 organizational partnerships.

Michael Cirelli
Executive Director
Michael Cirelli is an writer, educator and arts administrator. He is the author of four acclaimed collections of poetry, two award-winning curricula, and his work and writings have been featured on a range of both local and national media news outlets, including HBO, CNN, and elsewhere. Michael is the co-founder of Street Smart Press, and teaches courses on critical literacy and hip-hop education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. As the Executive Director of Urban Word NYC, Michael manages the organization’s financial development and strategic growth.

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Sofía Snow
Deputy Director
Sofía Snow is a Boston-raised multimedia artist, educator, and arts administrator. Her work has been featured in a range of publications, television, and theater, as well as in The Boston Globe, Cosmopolitan Magazine, American Girl, WWE Network, The Public Theater, and elsewhere. Prior to her arrival in New York, Sofía was the Education & Outreach Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin’s pioneering First Wave program, the world’s first and only full-tuition scholarship program for hip-hop and urban arts, of which she is also an alumna. Sofía oversees all of Urban Word NYC’s day-to-day operations, including key program development, staffing, and organizational growth & strategy.

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Mahogany Browne
Artistic Director
Mahogany Browne, host and curator of the Friday Night Slam Series at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, is a Cave Canem Fellow who facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. She is the editor of His Rib: Stories, Poems & Essays by HER and author of Destroy Rebuild & Other Reconstructions of the Human Muscle and Swag. She has released five LPs, including the live album, Sheroshima. As Urban Word NYC’s Poet-in-Residence, Mahogany plays a number of vital roles, including her development and management of the organization’s Youth Leadership Board, coach of the NYC Youth Poetry Slam Team, Master Teaching Artist and Mentor, and more.

Shanelle Gabriel
Program Director
Shanelle Gabriel is a poet, singer, and health advocate. She’s featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, The Rachel Ray Show, HuffPost Live, competed in the National and Individual World Poetry Competitions, and has toured internationally. As an advocate for Lupus, she has spoken for the National Institute of Health, performed at numerous Walks For Lupus, appeared in Women’s Health Magazine, and presently facilitates the South Brooklyn Lupus Support Group. In her role as the Urban Word NYC Program Director, Shanelle is responsible for managing our many partnerships, overseeing the organization’s core recurring programs, as well as the recruitment, contracting, and professional development of Urban Word NYC Mentors and teaching artists. 

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Sergio Jimenez
Office Manager
Sergio Jimenez is a spoken word artist with goals of succession. From being 3rd in the National Brave New Voices Slam Competition, becoming Poet-In-Residence of InspiredWordNYC, and an Ambassador of UrbanWordNYC, as well as being the President of the Brooklyn College Slam Team, Sergio has intentions of only growing in his craft. With a focus in poetry and performing arts, Sergio has performed in Theaters such as The Apollo, The Mist and The Snapple Theater. He is currently working on a book entitled 1,001 Prompts and his first Chapbook entitled, “Church Boy Cries Wolf”. Sergio continues his craft by teaching writing and performance workshops around the city.

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Adam Falkner
Director of Special Projects
Adam Falkner is a writer, educator and consultant.  His work has appeared in a range of literary and academic journals, and has also been featured on HBO, NBC, NPR, TED, in the New York Times, and elsewhere. A former high school English teacher in New York City’s public schools, Adam is the Founder and Executive Director of the pioneering diversity consulting initiative, the Dialogue Arts Project, and an Arthur Zankel Fellow and PhD candidate in the English Education program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Adam helps manage all of Urban Word NYC’s day-to-day operations, and supports Deputy Director’s vision for organizational growth & strategy.

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Erica Miriam Fabri
Creatively College Bound Director
Residency Manager
Erica Miriam Fabri’s first book, Dialect of a Skirt, was a finalist for the 2011 Paterson Poetry Prize and was included on the lists:’s Best Books of 2010, Small Press Distributor’s Bestseller list and The Poetry Foundation’s Bestseller list. She has worked on projects as a writer, editor and performance director for The New York Knicks, HBO, Lincoln Center for the Arts and Nickelodeon Television. She teaches Performance Poetry at Pace University, and as Urban Word NYC’s Creatively College Bound Director, manages all aspects of the CCB program including instruction, curriculum development, school partner management, and more.  
Roya Marsh
New York Native, Roya Marsh, is a nationally ranked poet/performer/educator/activist and has the dopest sneaker collection to date. Roya was a finalist in the 2013 Poetry Idol, 2013 Inspired Word Slam Master Jam Champion, 2014 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion and captain of the first all female slam team in the tristate area, representing Nuyorican Poets Cafe. She ranked 2nd in the world at the Woman of the World Poetry Slam. She also, took home the N.U.T.S championship as a member of team Reparations. Ranked 2nd in both the indi slam and team slam at Rustbelt 2016. Ranked 2nd at the 2017 National Poetry Slam in Denver, Co. She has been featured in the Village Voice, Huffington Post, Blavity, The Root, Button Poetry, Def Jam’s All Def Digital, Lexus’ Verses and Flow, and BET. She serves as the Poet in Residence with Urban Word NYC and has co-coached the Urban Word Slam team for the past two years.
Dr. Camea Davis
National Youth Poet Laureate Director
Dr. Camea Davis is a poet-researcher and teacher educator with a doctorate in critical educational policy studies. Her research and community work explores minoritized youth civic action and youth spoken word as tools to advance equitable democracy. She is currently managing all participating cities of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program.
Khalin Vasquez
Program Assistant
Khalin Vasquez is a Boriqua poet born and raised in Brooklyn.  She’s performed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C, as well as several well-known venues around NYC such as the Apollo Theatre, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Lincoln Center, and many others. She was published in Lincoln Center’s 2015 Poetlinc Anthology. A member of the 2016 Urban Word Youth Slam team, Khalin traveled to Washington, D.C to represent New York City at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam. She wrote and performed her own one woman show in the Journal2Journey program, in collaboration with Hi-Arts NYC and New York Live Arts. Khalin is currently a 2017 Youth Poet Ambassador for New York City, and is a founder of the first ever Hunter College Slam team.

Ayodiran Noah-Fabian
Web Developer


Ellen Wahl Parker

Board Chair
Principal and Associate General Counsel, KPMG LLP

Monica Hodges

Board Vice Chair
Independent Marketing Consultant

Yana Chernobilsky

Board Secretary
Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, JPMorgan

Heta Desai

Board Treasurer
Vice President & Tax Counsel, Macquarie Group

Eric Adisa

Assistant Principal, Hunter College Elementary School

Antar Al-Qawwee

Vice President, Blackrock

Kevin Buddhdew

Vice President, Credit Suisse

Harrison Thompson

Global Marketing Manager, Bloomberg LP

Edward J. Jacobs

Partner, BakerHostetler LLP

Tina Jacobson

Chair, Space Matters Inc.

Amanda Jacobs Wolf


Heather Marotta

Director, Google Inc.

Nkosi D. Shields

Counsel, BakerHostetler LLP

Jason Wadlow

Standard Chartered Bank New York

Ayana Walker

Manager, HBO Product Management

Each year, Urban Word champions the voices of more than 25,000New York City teens in the art of spoken word poetry.