For Immediate Release
May 8, 2018

Luisa Guaracao

Washington, D.C. – The Frank Karel Fellowship in Public Interest Communications today announced its sixth class of Fellows. There are eight Fellows in this year’s cohort. The Fellows are first-generation and/or minority college students, all coming from different schools. They will spend nine weeks together in Washington, D.C., interning at different nonprofits.

The Karel Fellowship is focused on translating personal passion for a more just world into communication skills that elicit social change. It is named after Frank Karel, who established, led and nurtured the field of public interest communications during his 30 years as chief communications officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation.

Over the past six years, the Karel Fellowship has matched first-generation and/or minority college students with leading nonprofits in the D.C. area, where they work on social justice issues under the guidance of a communications mentor. Most of the hosts this year are new to the program. This year’s hosts are:


This year, for the first time, the Fellowship will be managed by a former Fellow. “I’m honored to be in this position,” said Luisa Guaracao, the new program manager. “The Karel Fellowship was by far the best professional experience I had during college. My goal is for all Fellows to have just as good as an experience as I did, or even better.”

This year’s Fellow are: Tarek Deida from Columbia University, Lauryn Fanguen from Montgomery College, Tamara Gomez-Ortigoza from Dartmouth College, David Guirgis from Northwestern University, Dayna Hood from Trinity Washington University, Inaya Payne-Wilks from Williams College, Lia Tavarez from Franklin & Marshall College and Tamarra Thal from the University of Florida.

Andy Burness, a former colleague of Karel’s who chairs the Fellowship, spoke enthusiastically about this class of Fellows: “These students are what our country needs. They are talented, passionate, hardworking and eager to learn. We are thrilled that they have chosen to devote their energies to the public interest communications field, as this evolving profession needs more diverse change agents committed to social justice.”

Support for the Fellowship comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with additional contributions from W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Spitfire Strategies, Burness, Brodeur Partners, the Viola Fund and Betsy Karel. Now in its sixth year, the Karel Fellowship is administered by the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, a network of funders dedicated to promoting effective and responsible philanthropy in the Greater Washington region.