Staff

Lawrence Barriner, II
Program Director, Community Media, Executive Editor, CoLab Radio

Lawrence is Program Director for Community Media at CoLab and Executive Editor of CoLab Radio. His work at CoLab includes communications, storytelling, narrative strategy, and using media and media platforms to advance economic democracy and self-determination with a focus on innovation from the margins.

Prior to coming to CoLab, Lawrence worked in the non-profit sector (with a brief stint in the private startup world) doing communications and strategy. His expertise in these areas includes implementation, facilitation, and teaching, and he has a penchant for bringing his whole self into work engagements and supporting others to do the same. He has consulted on a range of projects from city and regional food policy to digital storytelling to web and graphic design. In his non-CoLab time he runs a life coaching practice, teaches strategic storytelling workshops, writes, and listens to many podcasts. He is working towards a world that supports all people to imagine and achieve better, more whole futures for themselves and their loved ones.

Lawrence has a BS in Planning and a Master's in City Planning, both from MIT.

Alyssa Bryson
Deputy Director
617-253-7673

Alyssa is the Deputy Director of CoLab. In this capacity, she oversees program development, working to ensure strategic alignment and execution across CoLab’s diverse projects throughout the Americas. Previously, Alyssa led CoLab's Inclusive Regional Development work and collaborated with community, university, business, government, and NGO partners throughout Latin America and the Caribbean - primarily in Colombia, Chile, and Puerto Rico - to strengthen the involvement of marginalized communities in the formulation of development priorities and articulate efforts on the local, regional, and transnational scales. 

Before coming to MIT, she worked with the United Nations Development Fund for Women in Ecuador and Colombia on projects dedicated to promoting economic and civic participation in the Andean Region. Ms. Bryson holds a BA in Political Science from Northwestern University and a Masters in City Planning from MIT. Her Masters thesis used participatory mapping to examine how residents use their physical, sociopolitical, and economic mobility to adapt to situations of severe violence in peripheral neighborhoods of Bogotá, Colombia.

Alison Coffey
Research Associate

Alison is a Research Associate working with the Inclusive Regional Development team to support and document processes of alternative development at the sub-national level in Latin America. Since joining CoLab, her work has involved supporting capacity building for regional and territorial planning in Colombia and facilitating participatory action research processes in northeastern Brazil. Alison also contributes to the construction of learning and leadership networks between CoLab partners, with interest in how knowledge about innovation and development is produced and exchanged at community, regional, and transnational scales.

Alison completed her Masters in City Planning from MIT in June 2015. Prior to that, Alison worked extensively with community-based research initiatives in Latin America, with a focus on urban and community development in contexts of territorial conflict. She holds a B.A. from Tufts University in Latin American Studies and Urban Studies. 

Dayna Cunningham
Executive Director
617-252-1380

Dayna is Executive Director of CoLab. Prior to CoLab, as Program Director of the ELIAS Project, an MIT-based collaboration between business, NGOs and government, she worked with leaders using profound innovation processes to create multi-sector initiatives for economic, social and environmental sustainability. Before that, Dayna worked as an Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation supporting efforts to explore changing racial dynamics and new conceptions of race in the U.S., as well as civil rights legal innovation. Prior to the Rockefeller Foundation, Dayna worked as a voting rights lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, litigating cases in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and elsewhere in the South, and briefly as an officer for the New York City Program at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Dayna is a 2004 graduate of the Sloan Fellows MBA program of the MIT Sloan School of Management. She has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and a juris doctor degree from New York University School of Law.

Nick Iuviene
Program Director, Just Urban Economies

Nick Iuviene is the Program Director of Just Urban Economies at CoLab. His work focuses on urban economic democracy projects including the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative and the Emerald Cities Collaborative. Previously Nick worked as a community organizer in the Bronx and was co-founder of BlackLeaf Studios, a technology development firm in Brooklyn, NY. Nick has a Masters degree in City Planning from MIT. His graduate thesis, "Building a Platform for Economic Democracy: A Cooperative Development Strategy for the Bronx", looked at how to develop cooperative networks in communities as the organizational infrastructure for socially equitable and environmentally sustainable economic development.

 
Jill Kronberg
Administrative Assistant

Jill is the Administrative Assistant in the CoLab. She supports Executive Director, Dayna Cunningham, and provides support for the CoLab office as a whole. Her duties include processing payments, coordinating events, calendaring, and general office management. Before starting at the CoLab, Jill held several different positions in the Communications, Administrative, and Development fields. She has worked at MIT in an administrative capacity for the last two years. After earning her Bachelors from Suffolk University, she moved to West Virginia to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA. While there, she directed several afterschool and summer youth programs. Through her connections is mountain state, she Co-founded and ran RC4GA (Rock Camp 4 Girls Appalachia) a musical and women empowerment camp for girls. Her experience in the nonprofit sector and love for community involvement, in conjunction with her administrative skills, makes Jill feel like the CoLab community is the perfect place for her to be.

Katherine Mella
Program Associate

As Program Associate, Katherine is coordinating the development of a Community Health agenda and relevant prototypes, like the Bronx Healthy Buildings Program, with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) and partners. 

Katherine also supports a group of key Mel King Community Fellow alumni as they work together to strengthen their collaboration across sectors and grapple with how low-income people of color can shape the economy. Katherine will also assist with prototyping activities to further collaboration as well as developing and testing economic democracy models. Examples include an experimental financial product for union members in Massachusetts and a three-site project, which seeks to leverage the Affordable Care Act and emerging health reform initiatives to drive the connections between health, wealth, and resilience in California, New York, and Florida. 

Katherine earned her Bachelor’s degree from Brown University in Urban Studies and completed her Master’s in City Planning at MIT. Prior to earning her Master’s, she was a research assistant for a Cambridge-based entrepreneur working on projects across a variety of sectors, including energy and affordable housing.

Yorman Nunez
Program Manager, Community Engagement

Yorman is interested in playing a role in lifting people out of poverty through redesigning the economic system that is our economy. His commitment to designing systems to address the causes of poverty emerged out of his work as a community organizer with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC), where he organized young people around issues of sustainable economic development, education, and voter education. It was during this time that Yorman co-founded the Urban Youth Collaborative, a city-wide youth organization working on education reform. He moved on from NWBCCC to lead a career in electoral organizing, where he managed many political campaigns. He currently coordinates the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, a local effort in the Bronx that seeks to leverage local assets to drive economic development strategies targeted at building wealth and ownership among low-income residents. Yorman, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, has taught both community organizing and spoken word at the high school level.

Mercedes Soto
Manager of Operations
617.715.5435

Mercedes Soto is the Manager of Operations for CoLab. She works with staff to: manage grant resources and projects; hire and onboard staff, students and fellows; improve effectiveness of existing processes; and create strategies to improve productivity and efficiency.

Mercedes believes that we have what we need to effectively collaborate and work with others to create the inclusive, equitable and just world we want for ourselves and future generations.

Mercedes Soto has worked in high poverty neighborhoods in Cambridge, Puerto Rico, New York, New Haven, Hartford, and Chicago to improve access to housing, learning and career opportunities for adults and youth.  As an experienced manager, trainer, advocate, and community organizer, she has led program development, business planning, staff training, program outcomes evaluation and networking for community-based organizations. She has also provided funding and management support and resources to more than one hundred nonprofits that provide technology access and training to community residents, and helped to start several schools.

Mercedes lives in Cambridge with her son and partner.  A grandchild of the Puerto Rican diaspora, she was born and raised in Gary, IN and is a graduate of Harvard University.

Allegra Williams
Campus and Community Learning Director

As the Director for Campus and Community Learning, Allegra facilitates cross-disciplinary research and knowledge co-creation, supports practice-based learning engagements, and develops programming to connect campus and community audiences with CoLab’s work, values, and partner networks.

Having spent the better part of the past decade working as an urban planning practitioner, community activist, and educator, Allegra firmly believes that the city should be used as a classroom and that education should serve as a means for social change. Most recently, as leader of CoLab's work around arts and social change, Allegra developed a deep appreciation for the value that aesthetic inquiry can bring to traditional planning education and to broader economic democracy through the support of collaborations between urban planners and socially-engaged artists. Prior to joining MIT, Allegra led a variety of collaborative community revitalization initiatives, including the transformation of an abandoned pocket park with diverse public art and programming, the creation of a seed grant program to fund citizen-engaged neighborhood improvement projects, and the development of a Comprehensive Sustainability Plan for a local municipality. Allegra holds a BA in Community Development and graduate degrees in Regional Economic and Social Development and Community Psychology.