Staff Directory

Leonardo Vargas-Mendez, Executive Director
(607) 255-0674
ljv1@cornell.edu

As the Executive Director of the Cornell Public Service Center, Leonardo leads the Cornell team on NASPA LEAD Initiative Institutions. He is co-principal Investigator for the Cornell Upward Bound Program, Director of the Faculty Fellows-in-Service (FFIS) Program, Co-Director of the Cornell Urban Scholars Program and of the Public Service Scholars Program—both academic-based, experiential learning programs.  Leonardo serves as Cornell University’s liaison to the New York Campus Compact Advisory Board, and is a member of the founding Board of this statewide higher education membership institution. In addition, he serves in the Executive Council of Engaged Cornell and a member of Cornell Public Engagement Council. He is also a Carl L. Becker House Fellow at Cornell University.

In addition to his Cornell responsibilities, Mr. Vargas-Méndez is serving in the board of directors of the Alternatives Federal Credit Union, the board of directors of Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga Counties, a member of the founding steering committee of the Tompkins Worker’s Resource Center, and a co-founder Board member of the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County Inc.

Renee Farkas, Associate Director
(607) 255-1107
rcf1@cornell.edu

Renee has worked at the PSC since its inception in 1991.  Prior to that, Renee worked for CIVITAS. In addition to her duties as Associate Direct of the PSC, Renee coordinates the Community Work-Study Program and the Volunteer Program, leads the Pre-Orientation Service Trip (POST) program, and serves as the PSC liaison for many initiatives and committees both on campus and off, such as the First-Year Experience committee, College Orientation committee, Cornell Days, First-Year Family Weekend and many others.

Renee works closely with students and community partners and also serves in a variety of capacities in the local community including offering trainings for students and community partners, and helping to coordinate the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.

Amy Somchanhmavong, Associate Director, Service-Learning and Partnership
(607) 254-8072
ayk3@cornell.edu

As Associate Director of Community Service-Learning and Partnership Amy has dedicated herself to purposeful work that produces lasting impact. Amy's programs encompass student-centered programs such as the Public Service Scholars and Public Achievement, to faculty engaged scholarship via action research in teaching and practice, to delivering collective empowerment initiatives for improved community health and wellbeing. Most recently she launched the Patient Care Advocacy Team (PCAT) program  in collaboration with Cayuga Medical Center and Cornell Career Services to expose students interested in the field of medicine to a direct service partnership with Cayuga Medical Center for what Amy refers to as a process of instilling and building a "culture of care” into healthcare for future practitioners.

Austin Fay, PreK-12 Program Coordinator
(607) 255-0255
amf325@cornell.edu

Austin works with PreK through 12th grade outreach programs, helping to coordinate, support, and develop the connection between Cornell students looking for meaningful opportunities to work with youth, and this area's local schools and community agencies.

Austin holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and has a decade of classroom teacher experience with a range of ages and populations. She joins the Public Service Center from the Cornell Cooperative Extension working as a program educator. Her work has been firmly focused on equity issues, making the classroom and curriculum successful for children with complex needs through project-based learning.

Nicole LaFAve Nicole LaFaveProgram Coordinator, Community Service and Leadership Development
(607) 255-0094
nrw6@cornell.edu

Nicole comes to the PSC from the Multicultural Resource Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension and works on many student and PSC programs on leadership development. Nicole was born and raised in Harlem, New York, At the Center for Culture, Race and Ethnicity Nicole found her passion for exploring race relations in the United States and began exploring strategies for denouncing oppressive systems. She decided to stay in Ithaca, New York after graduating from Ithaca College because she believed this small city had the power and ambition to cultivate a space where true social change is more than possible but sustainable. She currently sits on the Ithaca City Community Police Review Board. 

Nicole has a BA from Ithaca College in Sociology with a concentration in juvenile criminal studies and race and ethnic relations. Her studies focused on equity issues, making the classroom and curriculum successful for children with complex needs through project-based learning.

Joyce Muchan, Assistant Director, Student Programs
(607) 255-8851
jdm1@cornell.edu

Joyce, ILR '96, has been with the Public Service Center since 1999. Her focus is student program leadership development and co-circular project management, evaluation, student leadership trainings, student-run grant allocation, curriculum based service trips, as well as the coordination of Cornell's largest student-run service projects.

Joyce has been a Tompkins County Human Rights commissioner and has served on several community boards task forces including, the City of Ithaca Rental Housing Commissioner 2004-2012, Ithaca City School District Affirmative Action Committee 1993-1996, Ithaca City Drug Task Force 2000, and Ithaca City Community and Police Conflict Management Task Force 1996.

She has also received several recognition awards for her community and student service work including, The Cornell University Outstanding Advisor Award Nominee 2005-12, Recipient in 2010. Cornell University Employee Recognition Award 2005, Tompkins County Human Rights Awards 1995 & 2001, Woman Making History Award 1995,  G.I.R.L. Award 2012, Notable Cornell Women Recognition 2014, Cornell University EZRA magazine Advisor acknowledgement 2015

Jennifer RudolphDirector, Pre College Opportunity Programs
(607) 255-5364
jlr343@cornell.edu

Jen directs two college access grants through the Public Service Center.  The Upward Bound Program, a free college preparatory program for qualifying students funded through the US Department of Education’s TRIO Programs and the Science Technology Entry Program (STEP), funded through the NY State Department of Education to support qualifying students on their path to higher education and careers in the STEM fields and licensed professions.

She has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Indiana University, and an M.A. in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  Jen has spent the last 15 years working with youth helping them maximize their potential and plan for their futures.

   Kurt Sarsfield, Assistant Director of the Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP)
(607) 255-5814
 

VACANT, Assistant Director of Upward Bound

Marge Wolff, Administrative Assist, Upward Bound & STEP

mal6@cornell.edu

Marge comes to the Public Service Center with many years of experience.  She assisted in the design and launch of the Language Learning Center at Noyes Lodge, managed CIT’s faculty media center, and created a student technology consulting program for all University faculty.  Most recently Marge was the Program Coordinator for the Prison Education Program where she was responsible for coordinating the program’s services, aligning student work-study positions, creating annual reports, writing grants and managing the budgets.

Marge splits her time between the Upward Bound and STEP Programs.

 

VACANT, Assistant Director, Communications and Community Relations for the Public Service Center
(607) 255-9382
mma86@cornell.edu

Leslie Montanye, Administrative Assistant
(607) 255-0144
lam79@cornell.edu

Leslie provides administration support for the Director and staff of the Public Service Center. She also oversees the day-to-day operations for the office. 

Leslie has worked in various areas at Cornell for over 15 years working in support positions in administration and accounting. Leslie holds a B.S. in accounting from Elmira College.

Sandy Hickey, Administrative Assistant
(607) 255-7882
sh36@cornell.edu

Sandy provides administrative support to staff members of the Public Service Center in addition to assisting the Associate Director, Renee Farkas, in the day-to-day operations of the Community Work-Study Program.

Sandy has worked at Cornell for 30 years, spending 25 years in the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment before moving to the Public Service Center. She has a B.A. from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.