Wilnelia Rivera, Founder and Principal
“If we want a better future, we need to think and live beyond silos. We must participate in local planning and political processes that affect our everyday life and future (for all existing generations and those yet to be born). With action, comes change. With patience and strategy, change can occur at scale.” - Wilnelia Rivera, Founder of Rivera Consulting, Inc.
From leading statewide policy campaigns for the reform of the criminal record system to integrated voter engagement and candidate campaigns, Wilnelia Rivera, Founder of Rivera Consulting, Inc., leads a movement building firm that inspires and enables social change while operationalizing solutions for the 21st century. Wilnelia is a political strategist, urban planner, and project management professional. Her journey began in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where her childhood was defined by the duality of injustice and persistent hope - planting her lifetime commitment to social change. This commitment took her first to the neighborhoods of Chicago and Detroit as a union organizer and then back home with Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts (N2N-MA).
At N2N-MA, she took a deep dive in the grassroots and progressive political movement of the Commonwealth, where she represented over 18,000 members. Together they elected dozens of candidates to political office, recruited 8,000 new members, and ushered a new era of criminal justice reform with the Commonwealth CORI Coalition. During this time, she also deepened her professional experience, through strategic partnerships and learning journeys that brought her to Los Angeles, Oakland, New Mexico, Miami, and New York City (Brooklyn and Bronx), Mondragon, and Venezuela. The course of Wilnelia’s career shifted when she joined Governor Deval Patrick’s senior staff as the Director of External Affairs, ushering a profound phase of public service in state government. She then established a cross-sector early college consortium at Madison Park Vocational High School and now is the Founder and Principal of Rivera, Consulting, Inc.
Wilnelia’s track record of success thrives at the intersection of cross-sector collaboration, engagement, and research. By focusing on the nexus of people, planning, and politics, Wilnelia has come to understand that the most important economic and social issues from race, class, the environment, education, transportation to healthcare are all interconnected. Her professional career and academic work centers on social justice, collective prosperity, and sustainability, key ingredients to producing successful results for clients but most important, the community at large. She has created change from the street level to the ivory tower in the political and public policy making process.
Wilnelia holds a B.A. in International Relations, B.A. in Women's Studies and an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning from Tufts University. She is the past recipient of the Mel King Fellowship at Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s CoLab, focusing on public policy research related to urban politics, economic democracy, community planning, and sustainable community economic development.
gina Christo, Senior Consultant Associate
Gina Christo grew up just south of Boston in Quincy, Massachusetts. After graduating from high school early, she left for Ohio to study Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the The College of Wooster and completed her senior thesis entitled “Women Undeterred: A Comparative Study of How Lesbian & Heterosexual Young Professional Women Perceive Motherhood.”
Since graduation, she has dedicated her time to electing progressive candidates and to the organizations that support them. In 2014, Gina was the Campaign Manager for Ohio House District 36. In a challenging year for Ohio Democrats, she led a campaign that was seen as one of the only viable State Representative races. After the election cycle, Gina worked as a Legislative Aide in the Ohio State House for Kathleen Clyde. She worked with her official side team, and political stakeholders, in preparation for the 2018 Secretary of State campaign she is currently running. In 2016, Gina joined former Governor Ted Strickland’s Senate race as a Deputy Finance Director and raised nearly a million dollars from Central Ohio alone. After a devastating electoral year, Gina was brought on at EMILY’s List to travel the country to raise money from grassroots level donors. It was there that she learned the power of connecting with individuals who are seen as modest donors, but have untapped passion and commitment. This experience deeply informed the work Gina did as the Finance Director on Ayanna Pressley’s insurgent Congressional campaign - successfully raising $1.2 million dollars without any corporate PAC money, while challenging a 20-year incumbent through grassroots fundraising events, donor stewardship, and digital outreach.
Gina is dedicated to this political and grassroots work because she wants to make the Commonwealth and country a better place and sees no truer way to do so than by supporting organizations and candidates who share her values: justice, equity, and feminism. She uses her privilege to demand space in our societies institutions and to directly support communities of color, queer, and immigrant communities as they participate in the transformation of our democracy. Through candidate recruitment and grassroots organizing, Gina will continue to do this work until all of us can reach our own full potential.
JOn HILLMAN, Senior Consultant Associate
Jon Hillman comes to Rivera Consulting Inc. with a passion for understanding the intersection of policy, politics, and community engagement. After growing up in Newton, Massachusetts, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received his bachelor's degree in political science. Following graduation in 2008, he became an organizing intern for Senator Barack Obama and was eventually hired to organize a large part of northern Wisconsin for his presidential campaign. The campaign bug bit him hard, and he began a long career in political organizing.
In 2015, he became a Community Engagement Liaison for the Boston 2024 Organizing Committee. A seminal learning experience, Jon worked with community activists and planners across several Boston neighborhoods with the goal of bringing a sustainable and equitable olympic games to Boston. Seeing the possibilities of community-centered policy engagement inspired him to attend Northeastern University, where he received his Master’s degree in public policy in August of 2017. He served as a Health and Human Services researcher for the City of Newton, Massachusetts, designing and implementing a mixed-methods project that assessed the opportunities and barriers to preschool utilization for low and moderate-income families. Later, he joined a project team led by Professor Alicia Sasser-Modestino at Northeastern University that analyzed the effects of the Summerworks Jobs Program on the behavior of Boston Public School students.
Prior to shifting into the world of public policy, Jon organized for Democrats across the state and Greater Boston area. In 2012, he was the Field Director for both Joe Kearns Goodwin for State Senate and Peter Koutoujian for Middlesex Co. Sheriff. The following year saw him lead the organizing efforts for the Boston mayoral campaign of Mike Ross, as well as Suzanne Lee’s campaign for Boston City Council District 2. In 2014, he was both the Field Director for the reelection campaign of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and the Get-Out-The-Vote Director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party throughout the 3rd Congressional District. Most recently, he held a senior position on the Ayanna Pressley Congressional campaign, helping to elect the first woman of color to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.
Armed with skills in both social science research techniques and community engagement practices, he is focused on urban planning research projects that promote sustainable, inclusive, and equitable community development. He specializes in techniques of policy and program evaluation, survey design, and both quantitative and qualitative urban planning analysis.