Anna Halpine, WYA Founder
Anna Halpine is the founder of the World Youth Alliance and was the WYA president from 1999 to the spring of 2007. She has her Masters in Philosophy of Religion from Yale University (2009), and a Bachelor of Music, cum laude, from Mt. Allison University in Canada (1999). She has studied piano at the Taubman Institute and voice at the Juilliard School. As Founder and past-president of WYA, Anna has traveled and lectured extensively.
Maria Grizzetti, Director of Development
Born in Munich and raised in Rome, Maria first encountered the World Youth Alliance in 2000 during her participation in the Beijing +5 proceedings at the United Nations. In 2001, she was awarded a scholarship tour of Medieval Italy to study the writings of Dante Alighieri and Italian Renaissance Art. She graduated from Fordham University, New York in 2002 with a BA in Philosophy, Ethics and Italian and began what would become three years of teaching honors Italian at the Montfort Academy for boys in Katonah, New York. Maria has traveled extensively through Europe visiting England, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy with her family and husband, Christopher. She has studied Spanish and Latin, and is fluent in Italian and English. Maria joined the WYA staff part-time in 2003 and became the full-time Director of Development in 2005.
Alexis Kende, Director of Cultural Programs
Born in New York, Alexis previously worked for New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, first as a grant writer and then in the Special Events department. She received her A.B. in 2005 from Princeton University, with a major in religion and a minor in violin performance. Alexis began her violin studies at age five, was accepted for professional training at the Juilliard pre-college program at age 12, and pursued graduate work in violin performance and pedagogy at the Peabody Conservatory. She has since enjoyed teaching private violin students in New York, Princeton, and on Long Island. Currently, Alexis performs as a member of The Kende Trio, a string trio she formed with her two younger sisters in 1996. She also performs as a violinist in the Salome Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless ensemble of young people that performs frequently in Manhattan.
Emily Dy, Director of Marketing
Emily Dy graduated with a Master's Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Asia and the Pacific. Her 5-year experience in the marketing communications industry cover a mix of market research, public relations and advertising. Professionally, her interests revolved around the areas of corporate social responsibility, advocacy communications and social media. Outside of work, she is also a strong advocate of Social Entrepreneurship, Responsible Tourism and Nation Building in her home country, the Philippines. Emily did her New York internship with WYA in 2007. Since then, she has served as Philippine National Committee member to WYA Asia Pacific all the way until joining WYA Foundation as full time staff.
Miriam Grossman, Scholar in Residence
Miriam Grossman MD is a physician with training in pediatrics as well as child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. The author of three books about sexual health, she has been on over 200 radio, news, and television shows. Dr Grossman has spoken internationally to parents, students, educators, policy makers and health professionals. In March 2010 she spoke at the United Nations Council on the Status of Women. Dr Grossman graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr College and from New York University Medical School. She completed an internship in pediatrics at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, and a residency in psychiatry at North Shore University Hospital – Cornell University Medical College, followed by a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the same institution. Dr Grossman is board certified in psychiatry and in the sub-specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr Grossman lives in Los Angeles, California with her family.
Gabrielle Jastrebski, Reproductive Health & Sexual Education Program Coordinator
Gabrielle holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She first encountered the World Youth Alliance while writing her undergraduate thesis on intersection of human dignity and international development. Her experience traveling through Europe and eastern Africa served to form her understanding of human dignity and solidarity. Before joining the World Youth Alliance team, she devoted two years to service, working for FOCUS, the Fellowship of University Students. Serving with FOCUS, she worked as a missionary to train and mentor future leaders on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
Elyssa Koren, J.D. Director of Advocacy
Elyssa holds a B.A. in International Relations from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, in addition to a Masters in International Relations and a J.D. from the University of Toronto. A native of Miami, Florida and Cuban-American in origin, Elyssa is fluent in Spanish. She resided in Canada for seven years while attending university, and now lives in New York City with her husband, Michael. She joined the WYA staff full-time as Director of Advocacy in October 2011.
Dana Becker, J.D., Director of Education
Dana Becker is a native of New York and holds a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in New York, a Masters in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and a Teacher Certification from Easter Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She has previously worked as an attorney, an administrator and a teacher. She has also worked as a recording engineer in the music and film industries and lived in Australia prior to studying law and education.
Meghan (Grizzle) Fischer, Esq., Research and Policy Specialist
Originally from Orange County, CA, Meghan graduated from Harvard College with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Linguistics in 2007. She then spent a year teaching English on a Fulbright at a high school in Berlin, Germany. In 2011, she graduated from Harvard Law School. Her passions are defending religious liberty and the culture of life, traveling, and learning languages. Meghan lives with her husband, Nate, in Tampa, FL. She is licensed to practice law in the State of New York.
Lourdes Villanueva, Social Media Consultant
Lourdes Villanueva first encountered the World Youth Alliance in 2004, participating as a WYA Delegate to the International Solidarity Forum on Women. From 2005 to 2006 she volunteered for WYA Latin America and WYA Europe, and participated in the International Internship Programme in New York City. From October 2006 to April 2010 she held the position of Regional Director at World Youth Alliance Latin America. In 2010, she was invited to become member of the Mexican Advisory Committee of WYA LA. Lourdes was honored to represent the Youth of the Americas in the 38th General Assembly of the Organization of American States. She holds a master’s degree in Government and Public Policy, and a bachelor’s degree in Communications, both from Universidad Panamericana in Mexico. She is fluent in Italian, English and Spanish. She loves to travel, cook and enjoy time with her family. Lourdes is very proud to be part of the World Youth Alliance Family.