WASHINGTON, D.C. – Urban Alliance, a national youth development nonprofit, today announced the selection of Monique Rizer as Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. region.
Rizer comes to Urban Alliance from Opportunity Nation (now part of the Forum for Youth Investment), where, as Executive Director, she built a coalition of nonprofits dedicated to preventing and reducing youth disconnection – including Urban Alliance – and brought national attention to the need to close the opportunity gap facing underserved youth.
“We are thrilled that Monique will be leading our Washington, D.C. program, Urban Alliance’s oldest and largest region,” said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance. “Monique’s unique background as a first-generation college graduate and later as an advocate for the young people we serve gives her a strong understanding of the barriers faced by underserved youth.”
Rizer is a graduate of Gonzaga University, which she attended on a full-ride scholarship as part of the first class of Gates Millennium Scholars and holds a master’s degree from Syracuse University. She began her career in marketing and freelance writing. She later served as Deputy Director of Spouse Programs, Marketing, and Contract Services for the Military Officers Association of America, and then as Senior Director of Communications and Marketing for Child Care Aware of America. Since 2014, Rizer has also served as an ambassador for the Aspen Institute’s Ascend program, which focuses on helping families achieve educational and economic success.
“After spending four years helping to give voice to the obstacles faced by underserved youth, I felt a calling to work more directly with young people, and am excited to join such a well-respected organization with a history of success,” said Rizer. “The fact that I am able to do this work defies statistics, and I have dedicated my career to helping people from a similar background as mine do the same.”
At Urban Alliance, Rizer will lead a growing team that provides internships and job skills training to hundreds of economically-disadvantaged youth each year in Washington, D.C. and southern Maryland. Urban Alliance was founded in the city in 1996, and D.C. remains the organization’s flagship region. Rizer will take the helm in a period of growth for the region, with new partnerships and programs launching in the coming program year.
Rizer takes over from Nathaniel Cole, who will be stepping down at the end of June after five years at the helm. An alumnus of Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program, Cole oversaw the D.C. program’s expansion to southern Maryland, as well as major new partnerships with The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., the Citi Foundation, and Venture Philanthropy Partners, among others. Starting as a program coordinator in 2010, Cole spent eight years at Urban Alliance. Cole will next serve as Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships for America’s Promise Alliance where he will continue to advocate for youth and youth-serving organizations on a national platform.
“From the start, Nathaniel has been a role model and leader for our interns,” Smith said. “He brought a deep empathy and understanding to his work that elevated everything he touched. Nathaniel has a profound passion for youth development that will be greatly missed, but we know that his commitment to improving outcomes for young people will last a lifetime.”
Urban Alliance partners with the business community to provide economically-disadvantaged high school students with paid, professional internships, job skills training, and individualized mentoring. The goal is to expand their idea of what is possible for the future and prepare them for lives of economic self-sufficiency. In addition to Washington, D.C., Urban Alliance serves young people in Baltimore, Chicago, and Northern Virginia. To date, Urban Alliance has placed over 4,000 students in paid internships, and served another 18,000 through job skills training.