Meet University Life
Tenneh Sillah (‘22) is a graduate student in Columbia University's master of fine arts acting program. After getting a bachelor of arts degree from Quinnipiac University in public relations, she returned to Boston, her hometown, and began to act professionally. She is excited to return to the communications field and apply all that she's learned as an actor, PR student and freelance photographer. When she is not acting Tenneh has developed a passion for YouTube content creation and getting lost in any book about spiritual practices. Her favorite book of all time is "The One Life We're Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart," by Mark Nepo.
Ramona Rose King is the Content Strategist and Editorial Coordinator for the Office of University Life. Her background is in theatre, having worked previously at HowlRound Theatre Commons, Company One Theatre, ArtsBoston and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. During lockdown, she and her husband co-created the web series Home Office about working remotely from their small apartment. Ramona has a BA in English and Theatre from Boston University and a Masters Certificate in Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy from UMass Boston.
A recent transplant from Boston, Ramona has yet to visit Columbia’s campus, but she looks forward to getting to know it!
Olger C. Twyner, III, is Executive Director of Community Impact (CI) at Columbia, a non-profit with a mission to advance the public good in Upper Manhattan through volunteer and service initiatives in the areas of youth, adult education, emergency services, and health.
Olger earned a B.A. in History from Jackson State University, a J.D. from The Ohio State University College of Law, and an M.B.A. in Public and Non-Profit Management from Columbia Business School. He has worked with a variety of legal and non-profit organizations, including Southeast Mississippi Legal Services, the Ford Foundation, Mississippi Center for Justice, and Row New York. In higher education, Olger has also been engaged in community outreach and public service initiatives at Columbia Business School, NYU Law School, Double Discovery Center, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Olger is an avid New York Yankees fan and enjoys cooking and international travel. His favorite place on the Columbia campus is the Low Library steps, directly behind Alma Mater, facing Butler Library at Dusk.
Melissa Mayard is the Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in University Life. She has served in a number of programmatic roles focused on access and multicultural affairs in the higher education space. Melissa previously served as the Assistant Director for Student Services and Special Projects in Opportunity Programs at New York University, where she assisted traditionally underrepresented NYC students with academic, financial and counseling support. Melissa holds a B.A in English from Stony Brook University and a M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies from Hofstra University. She's been involved in a variety of organizations including her sorority Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and many community projects surrounding social justice.
Melissa is still discovering her favorite places on campus but loves Harlem for its rich history and culture. When she's not walking the grounds at Riverside Park, she is working on music as a DJ, traveling the world, or being a fun aunt to her niece and nephew.
Maya Castronovo ('23) attends Columbia College and is pursuing a major in film and media studies. She is interested in the intersections among social justice, awareness and video content. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Maya is excited to explore all the film opportunities that New York City has to offer. Her favorite spots in Morningside Heights include Yoga to the People and The Hungarian Pastry Shop.
Associate Vice President Marjory Fisher is Columbia University’s Title IX Coordinator, responsible for monitoring the university’s policies and procedures for resolving sexual and gender-based misconduct, harassment, and other complaints under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded educational institutions. In addition, Ms. Fisher provides guidance on investigations, oversees Deputy Title IX Coordinators at the University, and is responsible for training University staff and others on Title IX issues.
Ms. Fisher brings extensive legal and investigative experience to her post. She joined Columbia from T&M Protection Resources, where she served as Senior Managing Director of the Sexual Misconduct Consulting & Investigations Division. Ms. Fisher was formerly Bureau Chief of the Special Victims Bureau in the Queens District Attorney’s Office for 22 years, and prior to that served for eight years as Assistant District Attorney in the Sex Crimes Bureau and supervising Trial Attorney in the Homicide Bureau of the Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorney’s Office.
In her capacity at T&M, Ms. Fisher conducted sensitive investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct as well as provided Title IX trainings for investigators, adjudicators, faculty, administrators, staff and students at a wide range of colleges, universities and K-12 private and public schools. She also provided sexual harassment and investigations training for various private businesses and non-profit institutions.
Ms. Fisher has been a St. John’s University Law School Adjunct Professor, where she taught a course on Sexual Assault and Family Violence. She is the recipient of multiple awards for excellence in trial work and the pursuit of justice, including recognition from the Mt. Sinai Rape Crisis and Intervention Program and the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
She earned her juris doctor from George Washington University’s National Law Center.
Kevin Pitt is currently the Associate Vice President of Student Conduct and Community Standards where he oversees the student conduct adjudication and Title IX adjudication. Previously Kevin served as the Director of Student Conduct at Rutgers University. Previous to his tenure at Rutgers University, Kevin has served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Pennsylvania. Kevin has also had extensive professional experience serving in residence life and fraternity and sorority life at the University of Maryland, College Park. Kevin is currently a Ph.D. student in higher education policy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
Joseph Defraine Greenwell serves as vice president for student affairs in University Life. A leader and strategic partner in student affairs for more than 20 years, he has served at University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State, Stanford, Colgate and Vanderbilt Universities. In his role at University Life, Joseph partners with Columbia's 17 schools, central student services and students, staff and faculty on a wide range of student affairs and campus climate topics. He focuses on wellness and mental well-being, equity and inclusion, and community citizenship in order to best support students at Columbia and beyond.
Joseph received his doctorate of education in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University, where he also earned his bachelor's of music and master's in education degrees. He is passionate about the arts, plays piano, enjoys exercise and hiking and is excited to collaborate with all members of the Columbia University community to continually enhance the student experience.
Jie Zeng is the director of special projects for the Office of University Life. She previously worked in PK-12 education for the NYC Department of Education, with a focus on system-wide instructional supports for school leaders and teachers. She holds a master's of Public Administration from Columbia University and a B.A. in mathematics and psychology from the University of Rochester.
Her favorite spot on Morningside campus is Revson Plaza where one can take in some art while enjoying the urban scenery of Amsterdam avenue. She meditates regularly and appreciates time outdoors hiking in the Hudson Valley and exploring Prospect Park.
Jessica Pavone is the Executive Director of Communications for the Office of University Life. Jessica has a wide ranging background in communications and operations over the past 15 years, and has served in leadership roles in the public and private sectors. She is a skilled storyteller and has crafted and managed high impact communication strategies and marketing campaigns over the course of her career.
Jessica has worked in the field of education since 2014. Her past experiences include Chief of Staff for the KIPP Foundation’s Policy and Public Affairs team, the NYC Department of Education, where she led operations for the Universal Pre-K expansion. Prior to that, Jessica worked in urban planning, economic development and disaster resiliency at the American Red Cross and New York City Economic Development Corporation. She holds a Master’s in Urban Policy from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a B.A. in Spanish and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
A lover of great public spaces, Jessica enjoys summer picnics near Low Library with her family, and looks forward to exploring Columbia’s campuses.
Rev. Dr. Ian Rottenberg directs Columbia’s Earl Hall Center for Religious Life. Dean Rottenberg has academic degrees in philosophy and theology from Haverford College, Yale University, and Fordham University. As a leader of faith communities, he is passionate about increasing multi-faith dialogue, promoting mutual understanding, and working to meet the diverse religious needs of our university community.
He loves appreciating Columbia’s collection of outdoor sculptures and frequenting the many great coffee shops on and around campus.
Gabriela is the Program Coordinator for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in the Office of University Life. She formerly served in the Office of Global Inclusion at New York University (NYU). Gabriela began her career in local government where she gained skills in community engagement, collaboration, and event planning. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from San Diego State University and a Master of Public Administration from NYU.
Gabriela is originally from San Diego, California, and enjoys listening to podcasts, exploring NYC, and DIY projects. She looks forward to exploring Columbia University and finding a favorite place on campus!
Finley Peay ('22) is pursuing her master's in higher education and student affairs at New York University. She earned her bachelor's degrees in Political Science, American Studies, and Theology from Fordham University, where she worked for the Office of Student Involvement and discovered her interest in student affairs. Finley is originally from Southern California, and enjoys spending as much time as she can outside with her family and pets. She is excited to continue exploring New York – especially parks, cafes, bakeries, and bookstores.
David is the Social & Multimedia Specialist for the Office of University Life. He has a BA in Journalism from Brooklyn College and has spent the past few years in the non-profit and public education world where he loved sharing the stories of students and staff alike on social media.
David was born and raised in Queens and is a big New York sports fan. You can often find him at Yankee stadium or Citi field catching a baseball game, but he's also looking forward to exploring his new home at Columbia University.
Caroline Hirsch is the executive assistant for the vice president for student affairs and the associate vice president for student life in the Office of University Life. Caroline formerly worked at Manhattan School of Music as an executive assistant to the executive vice president and provost where she worked with all faculty and students on academic projects and programs. Caroline has also worked in theatre management at Shakespeare Theatre Company, New York Musical Festival and other local theatres. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College in Psychology.
Caroline was born and raised in New York and excited to be back on campus where she will revisit her favorite spots: Low Library Steps and Lerner Hall.