NYU Female Founders Fellowship Welcomes 6 New Fellows


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In 2020, the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute launched the NYU Female Founders Fellowship to further its commitment to supporting gender equality in entrepreneurship. The Female Founders Fellowship program provides access to community, training, mentorship, networking, and grant opportunities to entrepreneurs at NYU who are committed to advancing gender equity. Fellows get fully plugged into NYU’s ecosystem of resources, and, upon graduation, invites them to apply for Student Loan Alleviation Grants of up to $50,000 each to help alleviate the financial burden of early-career startup costs. The grants are made possible through the generous support of the program’s lead donor, entrepreneur and NYU alumnus Mark Leslie (WSC ‘66, Trustee) and his wife, Debra.

This fall we welcome 6 new NYU Female Founder Fellows including:


Photo of Adriana Teresa

Adriana Teresa Letorney (GSAS '21)

Founder & CEO of Visura 

Adriana Teresa Letorney is a journalist, visual editor, and media entrepreneur based between Vermont and New York. She is the Founder & CEO of She is also the Co-founder and Executive Producer at Scout Film Festival.

Visura is a new market network for publishers to discover freelance visual journalists worldwide ready to get hired and license their work. Currently, the platform offers freelance visual journalists worldwide access to tools to build websites, share exclusive content, and connect with a global marketplace of visual content buyers (publications, newsrooms, magazines, brands, and nonprofit organizations) looking to hire and license work. The database includes 6000 members from over 107 countries, including photo editors from the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, and National Geographic Magazine. 

Participated in: NYU Summer Sprint ‘21, NYU Summer Launchpad ‘21, Founder in Residence at Leslie eLab



Photo of Aleksandra Medina

Aleksandra Medina (Abu Dhabi '21) 

Co-founder & CPO of Frich

Aleksandra Medina completed an Interactive Media degree at NYU and subsequently developed an expertise in design and brand strategy working across Europe, Asia and the US, building global brands with a focus on the Gen Z customer. 

Frich is a social finance app that empowers you to take control of your finances through goal setting and saving challenges with friends. 

Participated in: NYU Summer Sprint ‘21, NYU Summer Launchpad ‘21



Photo of Ayman Mukerji

Ayman Mukerji (Silver '21)

Founder of Jivika

Ayman Mukerji Househam is on a mission to create a mindful world by demystifying its biological benefits. Ayman is a former Wall Street executive turned mindfulness-based therapist for organizations. She is a neuroimmunology researcher (NYU) and TEDx speaker on mindfulness and its effects on gut microbes - which is the topic of her published research with Dr. Deepak Chopra. Ayman’s current research on gut microbes and stress is with Stanford Neurosurgery and Harvard Biostatistics and she now teaches mindfulness to frontline health workers to address burnout.

Jivika breaks down mindfulness into micro-habits, to help physicians and frontline health workers reduce burnout in their non-stop busy lives. Jivika offers a series of workshops and subscriptions to its digital product that teaches mindfulness through micro-habits.



Photo of Caylin Waller

Caylin Waller (Steinhardt '22)

CEO & Co-Founder of Theatre Advocacy Project (TAP)

Caylin Waller has a BFA in musical theatre performance with a minor in journalism, emphasis in social media marketing and graphic design. She began her career working regionally as a performer, and Off-Broadway in marketing and development. She is currently working on her MA in Performing Arts Administration at NYU Steinhardt. In addition to being a full-time student and CEO of TAP, Caylin works in early childhood education, focusing on social-emotional growth and participating regularly in anti-racist and equity, diversity, and inclusion workshops.

Theatre Advocacy Project solves the problem of unsafe and inequitable working conditions for theatre artists and administrators by providing external HR and EDI consulting services to theatre managers.

Participated in: NYU J-Sprint ‘21, NYU Summer Launchpad ‘21, Female Founders Circle



Photo of Dessa Shepherd

Dessa Shepherd (Steinhardt '19)

CEO & Founder of VisionVoiceInc.

Dessa Shepherd is an immigrant to the USA from Guyana, an NYU Steinhardt alum, and an NYSED Certified School Counselor. She founded VisionVoice, Inc. because she saw a unique opportunity to support female AfroX students and entry-level software engineers to persist through the unique obstacles they face as they pursue careers as software engineers. Dessa is committed to empowering female AfroX students to discover and access successful careers as software engineers by leveraging the power of structured mentorship.

VisionVoice Inc. is a virtual community that leverages the power of structured mentorship to empower female Black/AfroX 8th-12th grade students as well as college & bootcamp graduates who are entry level software engineers. VisionVoice Inc. increases their access to careers as software engineers in the tech ecosystem by pairing participants with software engineer volunteer mentors who are seeking a meaningful way to grow their social impact & who are employed at organizations seeking to diversify their engineering teams.

Participated in: NYU J-Sprint ‘21, Female Founders Circle

Photo of Tinsley Maier

Tinsley Maier (Gallatin '20)

Co-founder & CPO of Edgi Learning 

Tinsley graduated from NYU Gallatin with a focus on education & the future of work. As a director at NY edtech company eChalk, Tinsley built accessible websites for NYC public schools. She co-founded edgi to prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

Edgi is where high school students from around the world go to learn about the issues that matter most to the future, like the rise of artificial intelligence and the ethics of capitalism. Edgi programs are grounded by student-led discussions and a vibrant community. Edgi is pioneering a new kind of learning, one that takes full advantage of the opportunities enabled by technology, yet is based on the rich human connections and vibrant community that are essential for a lasting education.


These phenomenal female founders join our existing female founder fellow community which includes:

  • Paige Anderson (Steinhardt ‘22)
    Founder of HealthBoxed
  • Ann Andrews (Stern '23)
    Founder & CEO of Techfunic
  • Caitlin Ellen (Stern ' 21)
    CEO & Co-Founder of Sabai Design
  • Sutton King (College of Global Public Health ‘20)
    Co-Founder of ShockTalk
  • Jade Kearney (Steinhardt ‘20)
    Co-Founder & CEO of She Matters, Inc.
  • Thanisha Pariage (Wagner '20)
    Founder and CEO of KinNect Careers
  • Rina Patel (Gallatin ‘20)
    Founder of SHE
  • Phantila Phataraprasit (Law ‘20)
    COO & Co-Founder of Sabai Design
  • Nikki Powers (Stern '21)
    Founder of Nourish & Refine
  • Laura Rocha (Wagner ‘20)
    CEO and Co-founder of Dathic
  • Ashley Xie (Steinhardt '20)
    Co-founder & CEO of Rooted Fare


The deadline to submit an application to join the next cohort is December 10, 2021 at 6pm. For more information or to apply to the Fellowship, visit the The Female Founders Fellowship web page here.