Meet the Team

Jesse-Justin Cuevas, Editor in Chief

Left-Independent; Writing from Brooklyn, NY

Jesse hails from Nashville, TN. Her interest in activism started from a very young age, when her mother founded their town’s first public library and an adjacent food and clothing center for impoverished and homeless residents. In high school, Jesse joined a board of youth leaders at Nashville’s Oasis Center, a safe-haven and counseling center for at-risk youth that works closely with Nashville’s Mayor’s Youth Council. Her experiences at Oasis exposed her to the plights of homeless youth, which quickly led her into the realm of reproductive rights–Jesse’s political raison d’être  to this day.

While attending New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Jesse’s compassion quickly turned into political action. She worked closely with the Women’s Liberation Coalition and the Birth Control Project, two groups heavily involved in the legislative efforts that made Plan B over-the-counter for men and women 17-years and older. Jesse worked in the justice system as a legal intern for Nashville’s 1st Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden and New York’s Ruth Yang, Esq. She also worked with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer during her senior year, under the supervision of the General Council and the LGBT Liaison. In the office, Jesse also assisted Deputy Borough President Rose Pierre-Louis.

Jesse graduated in May 2009 with an individualized concentration in Political Philosophy and Gender and Sexuality Studies. She began writing for The Politicizer as a columnist in November 2009, and she joined the publication’s editorial team the following June. Jesse recently returned to her home town and is thrilled to cover a different geography’s political atmosphere after five-plus years in the Northeast.

Stephanie Rushford, Associate Editor

Feminist Libertarian; Writing from New York, NY

Stephanie’s interest in politics and current affairs started in her childhood, as her father brought the news issues of the day to the dinner table each night. Stephanie’s earliest memories of politics were of then first lady Hillary Clinton’s desire to create public health care and the Persian Gulf War. The stamps in her passport speak volumes about Stephanie’s world view; throughout her life–from visiting her mother’s home country, Ecuador, to studying abroad in college–learning other nations’ opinions of the U.S. has contribued to Stephanie’s politics.

During her time at St. John’s University, Stephanie regularly wrote for her University Paper, The Torch, on the political affairs of the day. She graduated in 2007 with a degree in English. Combining her passions for politics and journalism, she interned and freelanced for MTV and NBC and worked at Fox Business. She is an active member of the professional organization New York Women in Communications, and currently dividing her time between two of the organization’s Committees. In addition to editing for Early Risers, Stephanie is a columnist for The Politicizer.

James Sasso, Associate Editor

Liberal; Writing from The University of Parma in Parma, Italy

Since his youthful nights at the dinner table, James’ parents never hesitated to talk politics, but his own interest in the subject grew out of his studies at Boston College—a double major in history and political science. In Boston, he has served as a journalist for the liberal campus newspaper (The Gavel), as a junior fellow at the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy and as an assistant history editor of the Clough Journal. James is passionate about Generation Y, which he defines as the “under-30 generation who will next manage the world and who most will bear the brunt of present policy decisions.”

James is decidedly a liberal because he does not fear government. Rather, he believes that the government has an increasingly important (yet increasingly difficult) of regulating the market to protect our individual rights—especially for those underrepresented minorities. He follows a “living” interpretation of the Constitution that protects both democratic ideals and civil rights. James is quite the food enthusiast, and he is currently studying abroad in Parma, Italy. Read about all that he eats here.

Allison Boldt, Contributor

Progressive; Writing from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota

Allie Boldt lives in Minneapolis, MN, where she is a law student at Hamline University School of law with a focus on Public Law and Human Rights. She is a self-defined progressive, and she is particularly interested in examining how Generation Y’ers are contributing to grassroots projects around the US.  Her role models include Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein.

Allie is excited to be an occasional contributor to Early Risers, and welcomes comments and questions.

Nyeleti Honwana, Columnist

Liberal; Writing from Maputo, Mozambique

Nyeleti was born in Mozambique, but lived most of her life in Cape Town, New York and the UK. This international upbringing strongly influenced Nyeleti’s views about the world and her understanding of politics.

Today her interests lie in international politics, especially African youth in politics. It is her belief that in many African countries there seems to be a rumbling movement by young people to get involved in national politics that in many ways goes unseen by older generations. She enjoys researching the more unconventional ways in which young people express themselves in the political sphere. While being a firm believer in the foundations of democracy, Nyeleti resents the need to impose democratic values on other countries. She graduated from the University of Sussex, UK with a BA in Contemporary History and International Relations. She is currently finishing an internship in Mozambique with C.I.P., a journalistic NGO developing research on politics and corruption.

Matthew McDermott, Columnist

Progressive-Left; Writing from the London School of Economics in London, England

Matthew has long advocated for youth engagement and activism, and he hopes to bring that passion to Early Risers.  Growing

up in Warwick, RI he worked with a number of student leadership organizations to get youth access to elected officials and motivated in political activism. As an active Democrat in Rhode Island, he’s worked on countless campaigns, including the 2006 Sheldon Whitehouse Senate campaign and the Draft Obama movement in 2007. Matthew is a strong believer that government is an essential mechanism for realizing social justice and equality.

Matthew currently attends The George Washington University as a political science and environmental studies major, though for the next year he’ll be studying abroad at the London School of Economics. He’s been an active member of the GW College Democrats, working in 2008 for the Obama campaign as well as other progressive Democrats. More recently, Matthew has worked for the Student Conservation Association and Outdoor Nation, spearheading efforts to reengage youth in environmentalism and outdoor recreation. Click here to follow Matt on Twitter.

Malik Neal, Columnist

Center-Right; Writing from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts

Malik has been active in politics from a very young age. A native of Philadelphia, he has been active in numerous local campaigns, as well as several national campaigns. Malik has provided commentary on Fox News and the nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt radio show. He has also been featured in both the Evening Bulletin and Philadelphia Inquirer. Awarded the Union League of Philadelphia’s Good Citizenship Award, Malik was appointed by Councilman Jack Kelly on the Philadelphia Youth Commission.

Malik combines his interest in politics with a deep love of history. In 2008, Malik was a finalist in the national debate/history competition, “Now Debate This,” for his successful argument that Abraham Lincoln was a greater president than George Washington. Malik is currently a sophomore at College of the Holy Cross, where he majors in History. At Holy Cross he writes for the Fenwick Review and is active in the Holy Cross Political Union. In his spare time, Malik enjoys reading, writing, playing his bass guitar and spending time with friends.

James Di Palma-Grisi, Columnist

Ideology: Social Democratic; Writing from Princeton University in Princeton, NJ

James became interested in politics by reading philosophy and wondering how it applied to daily life. He realized the intersection was in politics, which questioned existing authority and drew upon the rationality of persons to make collective decisions. James was drawn to Early Risers for its cross-cutting perspective and promise of discussion. He believes markets are the best economic option but should be regulated to benefit all citizens–not just the bosses. The only difference between this and libertarianism, James says, is that social democrats believe the government can and should smooth out the sharp edges of capitalism.

Eric Waters, Columnist

Conservative; Writing from Secaucus, NJ

Eric started following politics in the early years of his high school education, but his conservative realization came his freshmen year of college. During a course on science, technology and society, he quickly found that the course’s liberal professor was using her position to indoctrinate a captive student body. These political biases are an impetus that brings Eric to Early Risers; he finds that our exposure to such a biased media prevents real education and passing of knowledge, and he is eager for debate.

Eric is a conservative who maintains a severe lack of trust for either the Democrats or Republicans, but he has more libertarian views on some social issues like marriage equality and marijuana legalization.

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