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Who We Are at CCEL

Julie Gafney

Julie Gafney - Executive Director
Julie Gafney holds a B.A. in English and Spanish from Tufts University, an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the CUNY Graduate Center. She comes to Fordham after spending nearly a decade teaching and working on student and faculty initiatives within the CUNY system, as well as experience working on public policy for Governor Andrew Cuomo. She also serves as an external evaluator on a number of NSF (National Science Foundation) and NIH (National Institutes of Health) grants supporting student support initiatives among underrepresented undergraduate student populations.


Vanessa Rotondo

Vanessa Rotondo - Assistant Director of Immersions and Student Leadership
Vanessa Rotondo received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Fordham College at Rose Hill and completed a double minor in Italian and business administration, the latter at the Gabelli School of Business. As an undergraduate, she served on many student leadership councils and teams through the Office of Campus Ministry. She was the recipient of the 2017 Reverend Joseph P. Fitzpatrick student leadership award, awarded to one senior who exhibits a deep passion for and commitment to social justice and awareness within the Fordham community as well as within the greater New York community. She also worked in political consulting and campaign management as an undergraduate. After graduation, Rotondo matriculated into Fordham’s Graduate School of Education and received her master’s degree in Catholic Educational Leadership in May of 2019, during which she was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit universities, which recognizes students who excel in scholarship, loyalty, and service, and promotes Ignatian values for life. While in graduate school, she was a graduate intern to the Office of Campus Ministry, for Ignatian programming at Fordham. She began working for the Center for Community Engaged Learning as the assistant director for operations and leadership in April of 2019. In September of 2019, she began pursuing a doctorate in religious education in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham, with the aspiration of becoming a triple Ram.


Candace Johnson

Candace Johnson - Assistant Director of Operations and Evaluations
Candace Johnson received her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, with a focus on public relations and marketing. While an undergraduate, she was an avid participant in the Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Program; which is a service-learning and leadership program that plays a vital role in the holistic development of Hampton University students by providing community service experiences and interpersonal and leadership skills training opportunities. She has found that those experiences at Hampton have aided in her development of becoming a highly motivated self-starter. She has also earned a master’s degree from Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service. During her tenure at Fordham, she was also inducted into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi for high academic achievement. Her experiences in both institutions, as well as the time she has spent working within the nonprofit sector and the New York City Department of Education for the majority of her professional career, has taught her innovative strategies that she practices daily to solve problems.