Who We Are

Meet Our Executive Team


President and Founding Director

kristen.jpgKristen L. Rouse served in the United States Army during three Operation Enduring Freedom deployments, leading troops and logistical operations for a total of 31 months in Afghanistan. She served as a non-commissioned officer both as a reservist and during three years of active service with the 10th Mountain Division before she was commissioned as an officer. She currently serves as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. In her civilian career, she worked for nearly six years at New York City Emergency Management, where she was a Senior Logistics Planner. She designed and managed logistics programs, authored and edited plans, and coordinated vital programs for movement of supplies and equipment for city emergencies. Her academic background is in literature, humanities, history, and government, and she holds degrees in English from Loyola University New Orleans and Florida State University. She has taught college-level composition and literature and authored articles on U.S. history and culture for encyclopedias published by SageScribner’s, and Oxford University Press. Her essays on military, veterans, and national security issues have appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily Beast, and Tampa Bay Times. She has also spoken about veterans and national security issues on CNN, ABC, NY1, Pix11, MSNBC, WNYC, and WHYY. She has been an active member of several veteran service organizations and an outspoken advocate for NYC veterans, as well as an advocate for refugees and civilians affected by war. Her advocacy work led her to take charge of the initiative to establish the NYC Veterans Alliance. She currently lives in Brooklyn. Email her at kristen@nycveteransalliance.org.

Executive Secretary

molly.jpgMolly Pearl is the Program Manager for Service Together at Intersections International, a program dedicated to connecting veterans and civilians through mutual dialogue and community service. Molly is a licensed social worker and specializes in community organizing. She has a passion for social justice and believes all work should be focused through an anti-oppressive lens. In her former life Molly taught middle school mathematics and art in South Louisiana. She then went on to work with soldiers at Fort Polk as a FAST instructor and education counselor. As the spouse and caretaker of a veteran, Molly believes bridging the military-civilian divide is crucial to building a more compassionate and responsible body politic. Email her at molly@nycveteransalliance.org.

Executive Board Member

meaghan_gol2.pngMeaghan Smith is the Gold Star sister of USMC LCPL Michael Hogan Smith, who served two tours of duty in Iraq (Ramadi and Fallujah) before losing his battle with PTSD upon returning home. She’s long worked to support active duty servicemembers and veterans, volunteering with a number of VSOs and relentlessly following-up with co-workers to support annual holiday troop drives. Her brother’s passing only reinforced her desire to support our military and their families. She’s also a Senior Vice President with Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm, where she’s responsible for helping professional services companies articulate their brand value and expertise to key stakeholders. Meaghan is excited to bring the storytelling and relationship-building skills she’s honed over the last 11 years with the company to bear for the NYC Veterans Alliance. She graduated from Boston University Questrom School of Business in 2003. She can be contacted at meaghan@nycveteransalliance.org

OurVeterans Program Manager

adrienne.jpgAdrienne Brammer joined the United States Air Force as a broadcast journalist in 1998. She was assigned to American Forces Network broadcasting detachments around the world and was recognized for her production and broadcasting achievements with awards from the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, and base commands. Adrienne was later assigned to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron and deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2011 as a combat videographer, documenting humanitarian missions, infantry-led patrols, and army/police graduations with joint and international military services. Adrienne completed her Associate of Applied Science in Public Affairs from the Community College of the Air Force. She separated in 2012 with an Honorable Discharge as a Technical Sergeant and moved to New York City shortly after to achieve her dream of acting and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting at Marymount Manhattan College (MMC). She participated in a six-week veterans externship program with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and works as a freelance assistant editor at 48 Hours on CBS. Adrienne is an Executive Board Member and Executive Secretary for the Society of Artistic Veterans. Email her at: adrienne@nycveteransalliance.org.

Director of Operations and Development

olivia.jpgOlivia Meier is an attorney who is currently overseeing operations, development, and fundraising for the NYC Veterans Alliance. She attended Bryn Mawr College where she studied international and comparative politics and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science. She then moved on to Brooklyn Law School where she received her J.D. and her Certificate in International Law (Human Rights, Litigation and Law of Nations). During law school, she interned at several women’s rights organizations and spent almost a year working in the United Nations’ internal justice system at the Office of Staff Legal Assistance. She also participated in Brooklyn Law School’s Military Legal Practice Clinic, which included an internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Regional Counsel at the Brooklyn VA Hospital. Olivia is a member of the New York State Bar. Though she never served in the military, she’s eager to bring her experience as an advocate to the community and join in the work the Alliance is doing. She can be contacted at olivia@nycveteransalliance.org.

Director of Civic Engagement

corey.jpgFirst generation Dominican-American, Corey Ortega has made tremendous change as a community advocate and organizer in West Harlem. Corey’s passion for his work comes from his background of being a child of immigrants and a lifelong resident of the West Harlem neighborhood. His upbringing and early community work gave him insight on the struggles of residents and ignited his interest in making positive change in his neighborhood through the participation of community members. Corey’s first contact with addressing community needs came as an undergraduate student working in his family-owned day care center, Give Be Grow LLC. In 2002, Corey created Give Be Grow with his mother, a retired New York City Public School history and special needs teacher. The experience gave Corey a first-hand understanding the unique set of challenges to childcare providers and children of the shelter system. It is work he cherished and has continued. In July 2012, Corey was elected to the Executive Board of the UFT Child Care Providers and was elected Manhattan Borough Chair. Since that time, he has been deeply involved in labor issues affecting childcare providers. In 2006, Corey earned a Bachelor of Science from St. John’s University’s Peter J. Tobin College of Business. After graduation, Corey joined P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. Harlem, a  tenants’ rights organization. As a founding member of P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. Harlem, Corey worked as a tenant advocate for Harlem residents living in rent stabilized and federally subsidized buildings. During his time with P.A.’L.A.N.T.E., the group organized thousands of tenants in New York City and improved their living conditions. In 2008, Corey made his first foray into politics, joining New York State Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright’s office as a Special Assistant. In the position, he addressed housing, labor and quality of life issues for the 70th Assembly District. His growing experience in public service and politics led Corey to start the West Harlem Progressive Democratic Club with former West Harlem Democratic District Leader Jamaal Nelson. In his role as the President and co-founder, he worked on Congressional campaigns, was a member of the County Democratic Committee, and served as a Judicial Delegate of the New York Democratic Party. In 2013, Corey was the Borough Director for Talking Transition, which pioneered a new model of civic engagement during the transition to a new administration. Following the 2013 mayoral election in New York City, tens of thousands of New Yorkers came together online, in the streets, and in a central pop-up “think tent” to inform the priorities of newly elected and appointed officials citywide. His continued dedication motivated him to run for Vice President of the New York State Young Democrats for the Downstate region. Since 2014, Corey has encouraged youth involvement in the Democratic Party, hosted recruitment and strategic political events, and continued efforts to grow the state party. He has created opportunities and events catered to the broad diversity of New York and the party, including high school students, college students, young workers, professionals and families. In 2015, Corey was the Field Associate for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He was responsible for the new and growing VetTogethers initiative, which encourages community building through member-led monthly events. Presently Corey is the Director of Civic Engagement for the NYC Veterans Alliance. He will  lead and develop the NYC Veterans Alliance's Civic Leadership initiatives, engage their membership in Policy & Legislative Advocacy and the Get Ready to Run programs, and further build their work to have veterans, spouses and families, and our civilian community more engaged as civic leaders and changemakers. Email him at corey@nycveteransalliance.org.

Public Affairs Manager

JessO.jpgJessica Ostroska served on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps for nine years, with a combat deployment to Afghanistan. She is originally from Washington State and North Carolina. She has an extensive background and experience in public affairs, community relations, media training and engagements, social media management and marketing. She has a strong passion to work with her fellow veterans to get them connected with the tools and resources they need as they transition from the military to being successful after their military service. She is currently attending Berkeley College for her bachelors in Business for Fashion Merchandising and Management and is an entrepreneur, with a 70’s themed beauty salon called Wild Oleander, in Bushwick. Email her at jesso@nycveteransalliance.org

Founding Advisor

coco.jpgCoco Culhane is the founder and director of the Veteran Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center. She is an adjunct professor of clinical law at Brooklyn Law School, where she teaches the Veterans' Rights Clinic. From 2011-2013 she was an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by the CIGNA Foundation and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.  She was formerly on the Steering Committee of the Veterans' Mental Health Coalition and chaired the Communications Committee in New York City for two years. She has presented on veterans' legal issues and conducted trainings for attorneys, social workers, and students at conferences across the country. Culhane received a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, where she was the symposium editor of the Brooklyn Law Review and president of the student health law association. Prior to law school she was an editor at The New Republic for six years. She received a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University.


Meet Our Members

Below is a listing of our current members. Members may opt to keep profiles private, so this is not a complete listing.

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