Staff

Angel Cotto

Angel joined the Hub in September 2015 as an Action Researcher. He is a very energetic young man who gives a younger view to the hub. Since he is a teen, he has experience in the way youth talk, what they like, and what ways they get information. He joined to better help people and make a difference. He recently graduated from High School Inc., a business and insurance academy located in Hartford.

Angel is currently attending Capital community college until he transfers to Central Connecticut State University to study Community Psychology. He is currently working for Bear’s Smokehouse, a restaurant in Downtown Hartford, but he also likes to volunteer in the community and help others in his spare time. Angel is a part of youth advocacy group in Hartford called Compass Junior Peacebuilders. He volunteers there in different communities to help advocate for educational rights. He wants to advocate more for youth and LGBTQ+ rights and spends time helping youth organizations around Hartford. He has worked with neighborhoods and organizations advocating for different rights and community issues, event planning, social media outreach, and getting youth involved. In his spare time, he competes in triathlons, travels, and loves to play video games.

For inquiries about our Photovoice project, contact him at:  Angel.Cotto@icrweb.org

Tania Qimari Banks,

Tania joined the HUB in February of 2020 as a researcher. She was born and raised in Hartford, CT growing up in the Upper Albany and the Clay Arsenal neighborhoods, and continues to live there presently. She attended Martin Luther King School (elementary), Annie Fisher (middle) and Hartford Public High school academy of Engineering and Green Technology. Tania loves the arts and tries to incorporate it in her everyday life. She has been working and volunteering in youth development and community work since she was 13 years old, and hopes to continue doing this work as long as she is able to.

Growing up in Hartford she witnessed violence, crime, homelessness, addiction, and struggle. Her personal experiences started her passion with community work. Once Tania was in high school she realized she had a voice and everything about her life changed. Working with groups like Hartford’s Proud Drum, Drill, & Dance team, Opportunity Youth and Blue Hills Civic association was life changing in a positive way for her. She now has a passion to help people and hopes that the work she puts into the community will have an impact on those she works with and continue to change the lives of those around her.

In addition to being a research assistant for the Youth Action Hub, she is also a consultant for the Youth Action Council, a dance coach at Hartford’s Proud, member of the Obama Foundation and a volunteer at the Hartford Food shares.  She has two kid’s ages 2 and 4, with her third child soon to come. Tania strives to never stop being who she is and is determined to teach her kids that no matter what you face in life you can & will overcome it.

Alexander Keith,

Alex joined the team in February of 2020 as a researcher with lived experience. He’s funny, kind, and a bit of a nerd with a passion for Computers, Photography, and Graphic Design. He wants to pursue a future in Digital Arts and Activism.

Alex joined Youth Action Hub to do everything he can to prevent others from experiencing homelessness. He wants to bring more focus to wealth inequality, because he believes bringing more equity into the world will have a butterfly effect of positive change.

Alex also hopes to focus on the LGBT+ community and their needs revolving around homelessness. He believes that helping to mediate family relationships and bringing awareness to other LGBT+ topics will help lower youth homelessness.

Diana Fontaine

Diana joined the team as an Action Researcher with direct experience with youth homelessness in September 2015. In the summer of the same year, she helped to establish a crisis hotline for youth and young adults through Advocacy Unlimited and received an award from the Keep The Promise Coalition for being active in advocacy and research towards ending homelessness and improving her community’s mental health. As a member of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps, she continues to strive for a better Hartford as she learns new skills and builds community relationships to expand her work at the Youth Action Hub.

Diana aspires to use her professional training and experience to make a difference in the LGBTQ+ community by advocating for equity in housing and employment resources, as well as affordable, accessible and competent healthcare. She is a Hartford resident, where she lives with her partner Autumn, and Gracie the calico cat.

For inquiries about our social media presence, contact her at diana.fontaine.icr@gmail.com

Jay Perry

Jay is an Action Researcher at the Institute for the Community Research. He joined the Youth Action Hub in February of 2016. Jay’s research interests focus on understanding the scope of youth homelessness in Connecticut and what can be done to end youth homelessness.

Jay is currently enrolled in college to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work. He has completed two years at Capital Community College and earned an associate’s degree in human services. In addition to his educational background, he has had direct experience with homelessness and DCF.  He enjoys watching TV, cleaning and hanging with his family and friends. Jay is a very opened minded person who enjoys having fun. He is a big supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

Natalie Garcia