Our Team

Program Staff

Nadia Williams, Program Director

Nadia Williams is Director of the Parsons Scholars Program, and is an Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design. She is an Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellow with CCCADI (Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute), participates in Race Forward’s Racial Equity Art Innovation Lab, sits on the National Advisory Council of NCORE (National Conference of Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education), and co-founded the Radical Mama Educator inquiry-to-action group through NYCoRE (NY Collective of Radical Educators).  Nadia is a graduate of the Parsons BFA Fashion Design department who began her career designing in corporate environments, and later moved to Mexico, where she explored part of her cultural identity and her commitment to social justice through design.   At The New School, Nadia has has led a range of university-wide initiatives that center communities of color, and is continually impressed by the brilliance of our students who hold our university accountable to values of social justice.  Over the course of 14+ years of teaching design courses at Parsons and in numerous public schools, she’s had the joy of working with young people who actively give her hope for the future.  At the center of all of Nadia’s work is the conviction that creative thinkers and makers as well as those who are tasked with devising creative solutions simply to survive modern society are are positioned to make the most meaningful societal impacts.  

Joelle Riffle, Program Coordinator

Joelle Riffle is an independent designer visual designer and arts admin from Cleveland, Ohio living in Brooklyn, NY. As the program coordinator for the Parsons Scholars Program, she supports the college access art and design program in operations, outreach, and programming. Joelle’s design practice and administrative work overlaps in the desire to center a people-focused approach to collaborate and mobilize from a lens of art and design for social change, particularly around promoting access to creative careers and educational and professional spaces for people from underrepresented populations.

Francisco Donoso, Program Administrator

Francisco Donoso was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Miami, Florida. After attending the prestigious New World School of the Arts, he received his BFA in Painting & Drawing from Purchase College, SUNY. In 2012 he was a fellow at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies and in 2013 a Van Lier Fellow at Wave Hill. He was also the Artist in Residence at Stony Brook University and named a Hot Picks artist by Smack Mellon in 2014 & 2018. He is currently participating in the Artist in the Marketplace program at The Bronx Museum. Francisco has exhibited throughout NY, Berlin, and Miami and continues to work and exhibit in NYC. He is also the Program Administrator for the Parsons Scholars Program, where he explores the intersections of art, education and social justice. 

Senior Advocates

Havanna Fisher, Youth Advocate

Havanna is a budding interdisciplinary artist from Harlem who works across the fields of design, performing arts and film. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design from Parsons and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in dance from Eugene Lang. She has a profound interest in using the skills and techniques that she has acquired to combine the arts with education to bring about political awareness and thus probable change within the American landscape of ideological identity.

Candice Iloh, Youth Advocate

Candice Iloh is a first-generation Nigerian-American writer and performer residing in Brooklyn, NY whose writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Fjords Review, The Grio, For Harriet, Blavity, No Dear Magazine, Glass Poetry Journal, Puerto Del Sol, Black Girl Magic: An Anthology, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of fellowships from VONA, Home School via Lambda Literary fellowship, as well as a Rhode Island Writers Colony Writer-in-Residence alum.  She holds an MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University, where she completed her forthcoming young adult novel in verse. She is a 2018 Hi-ARTS Critical Breaks artist residency recipient where she debuted her one-woman-show, ADA: ON STAGE.

Crystal Henry, Youth Advocate

Crystal Henry is an Artist working through photography, textile and other traditional art forms, using mediums to explore ideas and expand on theory. Her experience as a New Yorker of Caribbean descent has informed her experiences and her practices. Most recently, she has been creating work about family history. Graduating from Parsons School of Design has really shaped her experiences as an artist, pulling ideas of design and experimentation into her practice. Crystal is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell 2017 Young Artist Residency Pilot program.

Benefiting personally from free young arts education programs for underserved youth growing up in the city, she has seen the value that these programs can bring. Early experiences with the Joan Mitchell Foundation as well as working with the Parsons Scholars program throughout her years has provided opportunity to teach, organize and create for students interested in exploring their own path in the arts.

Junior Advocates

Sophia Mak, Youth Advocate

Sophia Mak is a queer, gender non conforming, chinese-american maker and performer, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Sophia received their BA in studio art and cultural anthropology from Bard College and their MA from NYU’s Dept. of Art & Public Policy (Tisch). Sophia uses performance as a method for decolonization and research to explore east asian trans-masculinities, intergenerational trauma, and ancestral connection through the racial metaphor of the banana. An alumni of The Hemispheric Institute’s EMERGENYC, Sophia continues their life investigations as an artist, youth worker, first-gen child of immigrants, dedicated friend and sibling.

Elizabeth Peralta, Youth Advocate

Elizabeth Peralta is a multidisciplinary designer of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, from New York City. Her work largely focuses on using technology as a medium to explore themes within identity, race, culture, gender, sexuality, spirituality, and perception. She uses her work to engage her audience in an environment that aims to have them explore, question, contribute, and reflect. Elizabeth takes great pride in being an educator and working within various communities. She graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Design and Technology. She looks forward to continue her journey creating work around the complexities of identity, and sharing the worlds she creates with others.

Sophomore Advocates

Nicolas Savvides, Youth Advocate

Nick Savvides is a designer, hip-hop artist, and community organizer from Queens, NY. Nicolas believes that strong, local communities can change the world. Nicolas’ work is a practice of sustainable design and economic development. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s in Architecture, where he was a New York Needs You Fellow and a Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar. Savvides focusses his work on community-based design and sustainable responses to urban problems. In 2012 he participated in the College of Human Ecology’s Terra Verde 2012 abroad program which evaluated eco-design and philosophy in Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. He also conducted an invited service trip to Rajasthan, India that mapped over 500 residential and infrastructural sites and surveyed over 2,000+ village residents on site usage patterns. While in college, Savvides co-founded and was program administrator of Practice Makes Perfect Inc. Savvides has worked as a teaching artist on various design build and career exposure projects in the East Brooklyn area. 

Kevin Cadena, Youth Advocate

Kevin Cadena is a Colombian-American designer, creative technologist, community organizer and artist who is currently based in Queens, NY. Kevin intersects these mediums together in different ways to critique, enforce or speculate on culture, conventions, and ethics in his environment.

Born in New York and raised in Orlando, Florida, Kevin graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in graphic design. During his time in college, he was involved in planning conferences, workshops, and events around Providence.Since graduating, he has worked with many different organizations ranging from research labs and design agencies to museums and co-working spaces. In his free time, he enjoys supporting local music, playing video games, watching basketball and organizing his room.

Undergraduate Mentors and Course Assistants