WPS Team

WPS Team



Nicole M. Rishel Elias is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY and Research Fellow at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office. She earned her MPA and Ph.D. in Public Administration and Affairs from the Center for Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Tech. While at Virginia Tech, she also received the Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate and served as managing editor of Administration & Society for three years. Her recent work appears in Administrative Theory & Praxis, Public Administration Quarterly, and The American Review of Public Administration



Maria J. D'Agostino is an associate professor in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Dr. D’Agostino’s recent research has focused on women in public service including a co-edited book, Women and Public Administration: Theory and Practice. Maria D’Agostino is a recipient of the Section for Women in Public Administration Rita Mae Kelly Distinguished Research Award. She is also a member of the UNDP roster of experts in Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Public Administration and co-founder of Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College.

Maria D’Agostino is currently working on a solo authored book that aims to understand the difference women make in New York City Public Administration and a co-edited volume that examines the role of women in public administration from a global perspective.  She is also co-editor for the forthcoming Administration & Society Women and Public Administration symposium and a recipient of the Faculty Mid-Career Research Award.

Affiliated Faculty


Leigh T. Graham, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Deartment of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and in Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research focuses on the political conflicts in urban redevelopmen, especially after disasters. Since Superstorm Sandy, Leigh has been conducting qualitative research on neighborhood reconstruction in Rockaway, Queens. This work is part of a comaparative analysis of community resilience between the Lower East Side and Rockaway, published summer 2016 in Global Environmental Change. Her work on community economic redevelopment and public housing conflicts after disasters has been published in Economic Development Quarterly, the Journal of the American Planning Association, and Housing Policy Debate. Leigh has also served as a consultant to foundations, non-profits and the public sector on urban economic development and affordable housing, most recently to MassDevelopment, the real estate and finance agency of Massachusetts. She was the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation in Boston, MA, prior to joining CUNY. Leigh is a co-author with five other women planning faculty of a recent invited essay in Planning Theory and PRactice on gender disparities and bias in on-line academic communities. At John Jay, Leigh coordinates the Urban Affairs specialization for MPA students and is the Faculty Director of the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship, housed at the Prisoner Reentry Institute and supported by the Tow Foundation. She also sits on the Faculty Senate and College Council.

As part of WPS, LEigh is working on a initiative to recruit, train and assist women ans their allies to join NYC community Boards as an opportunity for civic engagement and public participation.



Ashley Marrero is a third year Master of Public Administration candidate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, dual specializing in Criminal Justice Policy and Management and Operations. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Public Administration at John Jay College. She comes to Women in the Public Sector having previously interned at Bronx Community Solutions, a non-profit organization.  Her goal after graduation in Spring 2016, is to become a Policy Analyst for the federal government. During her internship at WPS, Ashley performs the day to day maintenance of the organization's website, in addition to working alongside other team members organizing WPS events.



​Zoe is a first year Masters of Public Administration candidate at John Jay College, specializing in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration. Zoe earned her B.S. cum laude in Psychology from Tulane University. Prior to interning with WPS, Zoe interned with Women's Prison Association and Federal Defenders of New York. From these roles she gained experience in research and advocacy, as well as direct service, assisting criminal justice-involved indivudals during and after their legal cases. Zoe aspires to establish a career in criminal and justice reform and advocacy - specifically focusing on reentry challenges and bail and sentencing reform.
Michael Mellette is a first year Master in Public Administration candidate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, dual specializing n Emergency Management and Human Resource Management. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in History from Florida State University. Michael has previously interned at Hanahan Police Department in South Carolina, assisting in day to day operations. Upon graduation, he intends to pursue a career with the Federal Emergency Management or American Red Cross.