EXECUTIVE BOARD of directors

Girmay Zahilay

Girmay Zahilay

RLI President; Attorney at Perkins Coie

Girmay is an organizer at heart and loves bringing people together around common causes. Girmay started his legal career at Skadden Arps in New York City, and co-founded Rising Leaders when he wasn’t sleeping under his work desk. After 3 years in New York, Girmay moved back to his hometown of Seattle to be closer to his family and start working in the community that raised him. So far, Rising Leaders has rallied dozens of mentors in Seattle and partnered with two local middle schools, including the middle school that Girmay himself attended. Full circle.

B.S. Stanford University, J.D. University of Pennsylvania Law School

When I was a kid: my mom shaved my head bald because I wanted to look like Michael Jordan. My friends in first grade made fun of me so much that I ran away from school and got lost downtown. Today, I am lost no more and rock a bald head with no shame! #Growth


RLI Director of Strategy; Senior Counsel of Policy & Advocacy at NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board

Harya focuses on analyzing NYPD misconduct data to issue policy reports and recommendations. She connects with community advocates and elected officials to develop strategies for improving the Agency’s connection to the public and advancing a legislative agenda.  As an advocate dedicated to trying to level the playing field and breaking the poverty cycle in the United States and worldwide, Harya brings with her a perspective shaped by representing indigent defendants in New York City, conducting bail reform in Nairobi, Kenya, and supporting incarcerated teens in Santa Clara Juvenile Hall. Finding so much joy in helping youth grow and achieve, she always finds a way to mentor youth.

B.A. Stanford University, J.D. New York University School of Law

When I was a kid: I skipped nap time and secretly ate the class plant instead.


Mondaire Jones

RLI Director of Strategy; Assistant County Attorney at Westchester County Attorney's Office

Mondaire is a litigator in the Westchester County Attorney's Office.  Previously, he was an associate at the international law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.  A product of public schools in the East Ramapo Central School District, located in Rockland County, New York, mentoring has always been one of his life's passions.  Mondaire is where he is today because of the people who helped guide him from a troubled childhood to academic and professional success.  His mission in co-founding Rising Leaders is to do the same for other young people.    

B.A. Stanford University, J.D. Harvard Law School

When I was a kid I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, particularly Leonardo.  I threw a temper tantrum when my mother brought Donatello to my sixth birthday party instead.  My mother did not deserve that.



Obinna emenike

RLI Director of Finance; General Manager, Partner Cities at Via

Obinna is the General Manager of Partner Cities at Via, a global ridesharing platform. He runs a team that launches and manages transit services on behalf of municipal and transit agency partners across the US and Europe. Prior to joining Via, he was a founder of a tech startup (Roast App), an investor at a private equity firm (AEA Investors) and a consultant at consulting firm (Bain & Co). Obinna is an entrepreneur at his core and big believer in taking risks and following your dreams. He recognizes that youth from some communities do not have equal opportunity to define their path. He believes Rising Leaders helps make it possible for students to follow their dreams.

B.S. Stanford University

When I was a kid: I was a huge fan of wrestling. I set a goal to be a 6'7" 290 lb wrestler... I've since changed my goals.


sADIE Miller

RLI Director of Communications; Director of Strategy at Reprise Media

Sadie is a social media strategist and brand storyteller for brands such as Spotify, Estee Lauder, Whole Foods Market, and Sony. She also works in event production, bringing to life tastings, conferences, and galas for clients that include Cherry Bombe and the Food Bank of New York. Sadie strongly believes in the transformative power mentorship can have on young people, and has seen first-hand how complementary these relationships can be to developing leadership and life skills.

B.S. and M.S. St. John’s University

When I was a kid: I used to blame my siblings for everything. I’m the oldest and usually got away with it. They still bring it up.