OUR TEAM

 
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Sam Powers, Founder

Sam Powers’ career has spanned the worlds of nonprofit management, filmmaking, and national security. He has worked as an analyst supporting the public sector and has published articles and produced films on youth development in the Middle East, Europe, and the US. He is currently a Director at Dataminr, a company that uses AI to discover critical breaking news far in advance of existing information systems. He previously was the special projects manager at Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York and now serves on the organizations Emerging Leaders Council.

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Jack Powers, Founder

Jack is earning his masters degree in nonprofit management at Columbia University and serves as a disaster specialist with American Red Cross in New York City. As a former Director at Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York and Instructor at the Boys Club of New York, he has mentored hundreds of vulnerable youth and has developed mentorship protocol and community building techniques. He has spoken at youth summits throughout the US and Caribbean. Jack has directed several short films commenting on social issues in New York City, Ghana and Haiti.

 
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Trevor Gordon, Chief Financial Officer

Trevor graduated from Boston College with a Masters of Science in Accountancy and entered the public accounting sector with PricewaterhouseCoopers. During his time working as a public company auditor with PwC, Jack presented Trevor with the opportunity to join the team as a financial advisor. As Lens on Life grew, this roll blossomed organically into the Chief Financial Officer for the team. Through this alternative pursuit, Trevor found passion in empowering those without a voice. He left PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2018 to join the American Prairie Reserve in Montana, working to create the largest nature reserve in the continental United States, preserving an ever dwindling ecosystem.

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Will Benrubi, 
Manager, Events & Special Projects

Will Benrubi has been involved in the creative field as a professional musician and photographer since a young age. With a degree from the College of Charleston’s Arts Management program focusing in non-profits, the Lens On Life Project's cause remains very close to his heart. Will manages Lens on Life's marketing and P.R. initiatives that bring us closer to achieving our goals and growing as an organization.

 
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Mattias Westman, 
Head of European Partnerships

Mattias is pursuing a PhD in stem cells research at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. In parallel he's been working in projects on malaria pathology and disease control, sanitation and global health in Africa, and drug reimbursements of pharmaceutical companies. His aim is to support and empower impoverished people through self-driven structural changes. Mattias serves as head of European partnerships, where he will initiate and coordinate sponsorships enabling new projects.

 
 

Advisory Board

 
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Brad Zervas

Brad has spent over thirty-years dedicated to the advancement and development of urban children as the Director of The Boys’ Club of New and then Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York. As a community activist, author and veteran administrator, Brad’s primary focus has been of the restoration of families and the advancement of policies and practices that promote greater access and equity across all sectors of public-service.

Brad’s two most recent books, “They Are All Our Sons” and “A Father’s Job Is Never Done” have received high praise and have been widely promoted here in the U.S. and in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.K. His continued emphasis on our better angels and our capacity for goodwill continues to drive much of his writing and public speaking.

Zervas has also served on numerous local, regional, national and international boards. His work as a trustee and steward of the resources he was asked to over-see has produced groundbreaking programs promoting student exchange, professional development and institutional advancement and community enrichment. Brad lives in Bluffton, SC with his wife, Dr. Leticia Zervas-Gaytan. They have two adult children and five terrific grandsons who live in New York and Australia respectively.

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Stewart Lunanga

Originally from Bukavu DRC, Stewart graduated with a BA in Rural Development from the Higher Institute of Rural Development, in Goma.  Following the eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo and ongoing wars, Stewart worked with his sister Christine to start the NGO CAMME in Goma. He is also the founder of the Amani Language Initiative that operates an adult-education school in Goma that tutors English, French, and Swahili. In 2017, Stewart was selected for the prestigious Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Fellowship by the United States Department of State, representing CAMME and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the US and across the continent. 

 
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Michelle Heimerman

Currently a photo editor at Bon Appétit magazine and former photo editor and contributing photographer at Saveur Magazine, Michelle has shot, produced, directed, and reported food culture and travel stories across the globe for print and digital content.

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Shauna Aaron

Shauna advises Lens on Life on strategic initiatives, including fundraising, expansion, and corporate governance. After beginning her career at several arts nonprofits, Shauna has since devoted significant time to the arts and women's empowerment. Shauna earned a J.D. from New York University and a B.A. in the History of Art, with a minor in Economics and certificate in Photography, from the University of Pennsylvania 

 
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Dylan Jones

Dylan manages the quality assurance and performance measurement efforts for the Family Foster Care and Treatment Family Foster Care programs at Good Shepherd Services in the Bronx, NY. He began working in social services work as a youth counselor, and later case manager, for underprivileged NYC high school youth. Dylan manages Lens on Life Project’s annual report and collects data on our program metrics.

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Jenard Brown

Jenard Brown has worked in social services for nearly two decades. He currently serves as the Program Director for the consolidated apartment program at the Institute for Community Living (ICL), one of the largest social services non-profits in NYC. Prior to his work at ICL, Jenard was a residential manager at Boys Hope Girls Hope, an urban boarding and college preparatory program for youth from low income backgrounds. Jenard has worked extensively with at risk populations, including persons struggling with mental illness and substance abuse and persons involved in the criminal justice system.

Jenard studied sociology at Bowie State and earned his Masters in Social Work from Fordham. He enjoys photography, baking, and grilling outside on sunny days. Jenard lives in Brooklyn with his wife and infant son.

 
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Naomi Cohen-Thompson

Naomi is a New York State licensed and board certified Art Therapist and artist and works and practices out of Brooklyn, New York. 

She has spent the last decade focused on clinical work with adolescents and families and works for the School of Visual Arts as a clinical supervisor in their art therapy department. 

Presently she is acting as the Director of Wellness and Therapeutic Services at Boys Hope Girls Hope New York (bhghny.org) where she aims to incorporate art therapy, wellness support services and therapeutic structure to the youth and staff within the residential  community.

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Ehab Al Katub

Born in Kirkuk, Iraq, Ehab arrived in the US as a refugee in 2007 and began working at a law firm as a project coordinator to assist other refugees.

He pursued a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and joined the UNHCR to help develop programs for internally displaced persons.

He continues to be involved in high-level initiatives regarding migrant communities at forums such as Aspen Institute and has spearheaded efforts to bring policymakers’ attention to the moral obligation regarding refugees.

Ehab is committed to empowering refugees to tell their own stories and control their narrative.

He currently works as a Senior Associate at a high-tech firm, that uses artificial intelligence to discover critical events worldwide.

 
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Jed Heuer

Jed is a creative director based in Brooklyn, New York. He has worked on projects for Nike, Spotify, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and The New York Times among others. During his years with Wieden+Kennedy his work has won awards from Cannes, The One Show, Clios, and the Type Director’s Club.

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Mark Lauterbach

Mark Lauterbach currently works as a grant writer for a nonprofit mental health agency that serves Newark, NJ. In that role, he secures funding from philanthropic partners for on-site counseling in Newark Public Schools. Mark studied journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia and graduated in 2012. While in school, he worked as a business communication tutor for international students and non-native English speakers. He has been in the nonprofit sector for over four years and is currently earning his master’s degree at Columbia University in Nonprofit Management.