Paula Figueroa-Vega, Moderator
Paula Figueroa-Vega, Director of Scholarship Programs, The Ammon Foundation, is a dedicated professional with over 20 years of progressive experience working in social service, nonprofit management, and higher education administration. Paula’s passion is working with organizations that help inspire and motivate people to achieve their highest potential, increase their power, and achieve personal success. Her career, in both administration and direct service, has provided her the privilege to work with college students, family and children’s services, recent immigrants, survivors of interpersonal violence, and individuals in addiction recovery. She is the Director of Scholarship Programs at The Ammon Foundation, whose mission is to empower individuals in addiction recovery through combating stigma and providing strategic support to enable personal success. In 2019, Paula co-founded MAPA Collaborative, LLC, a management consulting firm offering expert-based advice to individuals and organizations seeking to improve performance, create strategies, and optimize operations.
Between 2008 and 2018, Paula worked at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) as the Director of the Bonner Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. There, she led several service delegations to Nicaragua, established the first community garden at the College, provided platforms for the community to regularly discuss social justice issues and expanded programs in her department. Under Paula’s leadership and working with a team, Paula helped facilitate experiences for over 300 Bonner Scholars and 11,500 TCNJ students, logging all together over 100,000 hours of community service. Paula was a founding member of El Centro de Recursos para Familias, a Catholic Charities program in Trenton, NJ. Her connection to Womanspace, Inc. dates back to 1995 and she credits that experience as opening doors to her career. Paula holds a Masters in Public Administration from Rutgers University. Paula loves to write and has been journaling most of her life. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and near her sister and mother; they are the cornerstone of her life.
Jonathan Lin is currently a senior at Princeton High School. Since his junior year, he has been a president of the Ideas Center, a peer tutoring and learning center in his school. In this position, he’s had the privilege of collaborating with his two amazing co-leaders, along with the dozens of student volunteers, who help the Ideas Center achieve its mission of providing academic assistance to any student in need. As president, Jonathan is responsible for organizing events, recruiting and training new tutors, and ensuring that every student is paired with a qualified tutor. This school year, the Ideas Center has already provided tutoring to over 100 students.
Besides his work for the Ideas Center, he also participates in various other school activities. As a Peer Group Leader, he serves as a role model and helps to mentor a small group of freshmen through their first year of high school. He also is on the Student Council, and he is the captain of the varsity golf team. Outside of school, he is a certified Emergency Medical Technician and an avid hiker.
Sid Ramachandran has been actively working in the community since his 7th grade. It started with his desire to sponsor a day at the Trenton Soup Kitchen for his birthday, but being short on funds, he went around the neighborhood to fill the gap and exceeded his target amount. The success of that project and the enormous support received from everyone encouraged him to pursue doing several such initiatives. He has raised over $10,000 since then. He started an organization called FEAT4ever (http://www.FEAT4ever.org) with a vision to consolidate activities and to support not only the feeding, but also the education of needy children. Sid won The Intellectual Curiosity award from Chapin School, Princeton. He is currently a junior at The Lawrenceville School, NJ.
Eli Byrnes is the Pet Pantry Coordinator for Meals on Wheels of Mercer County. Eli is a sophomore at Allentown High School and has been a member of Mercer County 4-H for many years. The project goal is to provide pet food for its clients, because pet companionship is so important for elderly people and pet food can be hard to afford. Meals of Wheels on Mercer County has a website at http://www.mealsonwheelsmercer.org/, and has a facebook page.
Gabriela “Gaby” Perez is a high school senior that attends Foundation Collegiate Academy. She has worked in the community as one of the United Front coordinators since the middle of her junior year. When she and her other peers started United Front, she worked with nonprofit organizations and other people in her community. The meetings were attended by a diverse group, people from different cities, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds. Her goal is to see a change in the community so they feel more united.