June 2021




Alumnus Jahvar Duffus ’17, a Bronx, New York native, has worked hard to accept himself as he advocates for those more vulnerable during his long journey to happiness and fulfillment. “My parents are immigrants from Jamaica, and being of Jamaican descent and gay, it can be difficult to explore and affirm your identity,” says Duffus. In his lifetime he’s come across bigots and judgmental people, but he now believes that they’re entitled to their opinions, so long as they don’t impose those views on him. “For me, Pride is the ability to express who I am without fear or the care of judgment.” Read More





When you’re speaking with Captain Jamiel Altaheri ’09 of the New York Police Department (NYPD), two things quickly become clear: He’s remarkably humble about his own personal achievements, yet intensely proud of the service the NYPD provides to New York City. Altaheri is an immigrant, one of the highest-ranking Muslim officers in the NYPD, and the first Yemeni-American to earn the rank of Captain in the department.  Read More





The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has awarded Criminal Justice Professors Deborah Koetzle, Ph.D. and Jeff Mellow, Ph.D., along with Political Science Associate Professor Verónica Michel, Ph.D., $2.5 million to survey prisoners in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama. They’re focusing on the prisoners’ perceptions and experiences regarding due process, the rule of law, and life in prison. Read More





Mateo Saenz ’22, a Queens, New York resident, has found great success at John Jay. He’s a PRISM student, Cell and Molecular Biology major, a SASP Peer Success Coach, and a medical school hopeful. But despite growing up in Queens, Saenz’s native Ecuador is never far from his heart. “I was born in Quito, Ecuador and lived there for the first few years of my life,” he says. We connected with Saenz to learn more about his journey to the U.S. and the exciting research hes conducting at John Jay. Read More





Sam Ascencio ’23 changed his major to a CUNY BA for Queer Education Reform for a very specific reason. “My dream is to come back to John Jay and work in the LGBTQ+ Resource Center. I love John Jay so much. I love the queer community at John Jay so much,” he says with an infectious smile. “I just want to work there forever.” We sat down with Ascencio, who has been the Vice President of John Jay’s LGBTQ+ Allies Club (now known as Spectra) and the Founder/Director of Q’onnections, to learn more about his pride in the queer community, his excitement for Pride Month, and his hopes for the future. Read More





Criminal Justice Professor Mangai Natarajan, Ph.D. received one of the most notable awards in the field of Comparative International Criminal Justice—an honor that was also awarded to former John Jay President Jeremy Travis—when the International Division of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) named her the 2021 recipient of the Gerhard O.W. Mueller Award. The award was especially meaningful to Natarajan because she studied under Mueller as a doctoral student. Read More





We interviewed retired NYPD Lieutenant Filipp Khosh ’19, whose civil service career spans across the U.S. Army, the Coast Guard Reserves, and the New York Police Department (NYPD) to learn more about his dedication to the safety of our City, his commitment to the education of our students, and his forward-thinking perspective on law enforcement. Read More





Since 2007 Sociology Professor Susan Opotow, Ph.D. has been educating scholars at John Jay College, but her extensive examination of justice issues dates back much further. “All of my work throughout my career is on one construct. It’s called the scope of justice,” Opotow explains. “When the scope of justice widens, more groups of people are included as deserving fair treatment. I think of the three Civil War amendments to the U.S. Constitution that abolished slavery and conferred citizenship and voting rights. They enlarged the scope of justice. But the scope of justice can shrink too, as we saw in Jim Crow. Read More





The Department of Online Education and Support has recognized three outstanding professors who have incorporated the use of innovative technology tools and platforms to help increase student engagement, create a sense of community, foster critical thinking, and promote active learning. Al Coppola, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, received the John Jay Digital Humanities Award for his innovative and creative use of Slack to promote student engagement. Madhura Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., Doctoral Lecturer in the English Department, has received the John Jay Digital Humanities Award for her innovative and creative use of Zoom breakout rooms and wikis. And, Marie-Michelle Strah, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor in the Department of International Criminal Justice, has been named a winner of the John Jay Digital Innovation Teaching Award for her innovative and creative use of Milanote.


Michelle Holder, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, has been named the new President and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. The organization “works to build a strong bridge between academics and policymakers to ensure that research on equitable growth and inequality is relevant, accessible, and informative to the policymaking process.”


The book Migration and Mortality: Social Death, Dispossession, and Survival in the Americas, edited by Jamie Longazel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Law and Society at John Jay, and Miranda Cady Hallett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Dayton, was recently published by Temple University Press. The collection “documents and denounces the violent impacts of restrictive migration policies in the Americas, linking this institutional violence to broader forces of racial capitalism.” The volume also features chapters written by members of the John Jay community, including Daniel Stageman, Ph.D., Director of Research, and alumna Shirley P. Leyro, Ph.D. ’04.


John Matteson, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor in the English Department, has published his book A Worse Place Than Hell: How the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg Changed a Nation, with W. W. Norton and Company. Matteson’s work has received positive reviews from Booklist and Kirkus Reviews, and it was selected by Amazon.com as one of the best history books to be released in February.


Adjunct Associate Professor Karen Malpede’s impact on social justice extends well beyond her courses in the Communication and Theatre Arts and Environmental Justice programs at the College. As co-founder of Theater Three Collaborative, Inc., she’s developing and producing plays centered around pressing social issues. In May, Malpede’s new play, “Blue Valiant,” which she wrote and directed, made its world premiere. The story centers around a wild, untamable horse, the woman who risks her own life to discover the horse’s secret, the wily stable owner Sam Brown, and Maya Zelaya, a young refugee. Each has lost what they loved the most and must find a way to heal. 


Class Notes

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Zahid Quraishi (B.A. ’97) to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The appointment is historic. Quraishi is the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.


Reva G. Moten (B.S. ’84), a Supervising Probation Officer for the New York City Department of Probation, has been included in Marquis Who’s Who for her dedication to the field of Criminal Justice. Moten’s passion for penal law has driven her to become an expert in the field. She hopes to one day earn her doctorate degree and return to John Jay College as a professor.


Superior Court Judge William A. Daniel (B.S. ’78) has been nominated to be the Union County prosecutor by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Daniel has served as a Superior Court Judge in Union County since 2005. Before that, he served as a Municipal Court judge.


In Memoriam

With great sadness, we share the news of the sudden passing of alumna Elizabeth Yasmin Delacruz (B.S. ’16). She will be remembered as a devoted mother and protector of the community, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a police officer with the Harrison Police Department in New Jersey. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Officer Delacruz’s family, friends, and colleagues.


Alumnus Joseph “Joe” George Wolfe (B.S. ’78) passed away last month at the age of 81. A Brooklyn, New York native, Wolfe had an accomplished career in law enforcement, reaching the rank of Detective with the New York Police Department (NYPD) before retiring from the force after 20 years of service. He then moved to Ocala, Florida, where he worked for the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and retired after two decades as a Detective. Our condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.


Earlier this month, alumnus Cornelius Blackshear (B.S. ’71) passed away. An advocate for justice and a dedicated public servant, Blackshear worked with the NYPD for 16 years as a patrolman and a detective sergeant. He then became a judge in the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court in 1985, sitting on the bench for 20 years. During his noteworthy career, he received numerous accolades, including the Special Achievement Award from the Department of Justice, the Lloyd George Sealy Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the New York Institute of Credit’s Leadership in Education Award. We send our heartfelt condolences to Judge Blackshear’s family and friends.





Thursday, July 1 to Friday, July 30

Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery Viewing Room

This virtual exhibition explores how modern art has always stood against social injustice, communal exploitation, and political corruption—from the Dadaists to feminist art of the ’70s and from the early 20th century Russian avant-garde to the Situationists of the ’60s. For more information, contact: gallery@jjay.cuny.edu.


Thursday, July 1

8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. | Zoom

This presentation will focus on the competing interests of advocates, on the one side wanting to win for their clients and on the other recognizing their professional responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion. A central part of the discussion will be the Ray Corollary Initiative as a plan of action to change the paradigm in ADR neutral selection. Special guest: Homer C. La Rue, Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, and founder and co-director of the Howard Law School ADR Program and ADR Certificate Program.


Monday, July 12

11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. | Zoom

Learn how to use different resources to make the most out of professional networking. Register in advance.


Wednesday, July 14

2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. | Zoom

Each week, an agency will provide a 30- to 45-minute virtual workout designed to prepare you for what to expect on the physical agility test should you choose to pursue a career in law enforcement. Open to all students and alumni.

RSVP in advance: jjay.cc/careerfit


Tuesday, July 20

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. | Microsoft Teams

Students, alumni, and professors are welcome to participate virtually. For more information, contact careers@jjay.cuny.edu.


Wednesday, July 21

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. | Zoom

Executives in Residence presents NYPD Deputy Chief Thomas Taffe, who has been with the department for over 25 years.


Thursday, August 5

1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. | Zoom

Looking to build your professional network? This workshop will help you build a LinkedIn profile and teach you how to use the platform to connect with professionals and companies, and search for employment opportunities.


Tuesday, August 24

5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. | Zoom

Special guest: John Jay alumna Sharon Devonish Leid, CEO of NetStruc PR, publicity strategist, speaker, TV host, and author. Register in advance.










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